Paradise Hotel 51

Where Gaming Dies

Epoch: Chapter 10

Emir remained unshaken by Coyote’s fervor. Tensions were running riot, currently. He was confident that they wouldn’t run him over, or through. This was right. This was exactly what was supposed to be happening. The ease in the process had betrayed that fact…not just the raising. Everything. There was little doubt that these people were vital members of history. They positively deserved to be members of the ‘future’.

Art by Starstabbed Moon

‘Time Paradox,’ Emir thought to himself with a lackluster of humor. Then there was an unexpected voice; smooth. Female.

“Look,” Kaede said, approaching the tall man. Emir was unsurprised she didn’t recognize him; fear was blinding, and disorienting. Kaede had been panic struck with the carnal emotion at the Union. And she had no clue who he was. It was a benefit Emir cursed and blessed simultaneously. Kaede put a slender hand upon Coyote’s shoulder, and he watched her carefully for signs of a meltdown as he suppressed his own. None came. She stood just behind Coyote, definitely not in direct proximity to Emir, himself. Few could blame her. Dan narrowed his eyes upon her back…and Emir took slight pause as a depth of thought took Dan’s facial features.

Kaede swallowed, and continued speaking.

“If there’s something you want, then we deserve to hear what it is. If you have demands, then you could at least have the decency to lay them out. You don’t strike me as someone to bullshit.”

Emir smiled, and succeeded in holding back a chuckle at the girl’s resolve. Then again, dying is a resolve booster, for certain. When you have the chance to progress past failures that end all…you take them. There is no debate, no question. You take them. Dan watched Kaede intently, lungs through spine, through porcelain skin. Of course, the porcelain was well-hidden by gray. A great deal of ‘school spirit’ gray.

“I only want…to welcome you,” Emir replied, meaning it. “I have no demands. Only requests. You may take the requests, or do as you please with them. I can only offer what I have to give.”

The Smiths were silent. But, Con stood taller at Coyote’s side.

“The only thing I know about you is that you tell the truth when you speak,” he said. “It’s hard to read a man’s mind when you’re not psychic.”

Coyote squeezed Con’s shoulder, and Kaede’s eyes floundered for a bit. Found their way to Dan’s face. He looked back at her without a flinch or a reprimand. Still, she looked away. Con went on.

“I don’t know what you’ve got in mind, but as long as you’re talking, I guess we can work something out.”

Coyote kept the hand on Con’s shoulder. And stared Emir straight in the face.

“I trust this kid with everything I’ve got. If he says you’re the truth, then I can’t argue that. But I can keep my head to the ground. Do I make myself clear?”

“You have every right,” Emir replied. “To do so. And I doubt very much there will be any arguments from your peers.”

Mask smiled, absolutely unmasked, and face to the world.

“Children recognize the truth when they hear it, don’t they?,” he said.

“Easy on the ‘children’ riff, Ric,” Con nearly snorted. “But thanks.”

“Here,” Kev spoke up. “You say you have requests.” Kevin stood calmly, blood still staining his hand, his wrist, from the makeshift daggers he’d crafted out of his fractured room mirror. He then released his grip upon them, and flung them forward onto the carpet before Emir in a brilliant display of shards and red gloss plasma. They toppled neatly before his feet, and even Dan raised an eyebrow; Emir doubted anything could really surprise Dan anymore. Then again, he really didn’t need to doubt. But many things peaked Dan’s interest, and especially things that were soaked in blood.

“If we’re to be honest as gods,” the Brit, barely thirty, continued. “Then I have no need for weaponry. I will simply strike you down in all nobility, if you falter in your intentions. And I don’t need any words or knives to do that. Do you hear the truth in that statement, lad?” Kevin directed the ending sentiment to Con. The teen smiled approvingly.

“I have no wish for you to be injured any further, in pride or person, Kevin,” Emir said. “Of that, I’m sure you’ve had your fill.”

“That’s not all he’s had his fill of,” Dan volunteered, very well out of place. No one paid him any mind.

“But I believe,” Emir continued, undaunted. “You owe it to yourselves to listen to my counsel. And not only listen…but heed. I mean you no harm. I mean you benefit.”

There was another silence. Peripheral eyes dragged in Con’s general direction.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll tell you if he’s lying. Swear. So far…we’re good.”


“Let me begin humbly,” Emir began again. “By saying…it’s an honor to have you all here. You truly…have no idea.”

“No,” Dan snorted. “We really don’t. That’s what you get when you work for an omnipotent bastard for four years.”

“Seven,” Kevin groaned.

“Eight,” Mask said blithely.

“Three,” Con held an arm up, waving it as if waiting to be called upon by a teacher.

Kaede and Coyote remained silent; he glanced over her protectively, and she nodded that she was alright, in reply. Coyote didn’t necessarily agree. Emir somehow maintained focus. It was easy, by standards.

“I want to officially begin by telling you where you are.”

“If Jimi isn’t here, then I don’t subscribe,” Con wise-cracked. Coyote squeezed his shoulder again, signaling silence; Con complied immediately.

Art by Dcat

“You’re in the Elysian Fields Facility – a government affiliated institution providing free agents and the schooling of such for the U.S. and several other friendly nations. We serve a multitude of purposes for a multitude of tasks, all of them noble. Or, at least…reasonably noble.”

“I don’t think any of us are phased by issues of semantics in that respect,” Kevin offered. None commented. But Emir continued.

“We’re based in Napa Valley.” Emir paused, straightening his tie again. “California,” he finished.

“Thanks, Jimmy,” Con said. It was obvious he wasn’t referencing Hendrix twice. Emir managed a modest smile in his introduction.

“You have no further direct affiliation with your prior employer.”

This statement was nearly the grand finale. It brought stares and further signs of awe.

“This, I will explain as we progress,” Emir continued. “But the gist is this; you’re welcome here. You are all now considered free agents, without affiliation of any kind, and our guests. I mean to tell you what we have to offer, as a society, and as an organization. I also mean to make you all an offer of hospice and solace. You are safe here, and we extend our protection – our dedication – to you, even in mere greeting.”

There was a solemn, almost intimate silence once more. Coyote glanced to Kaede, and she flushed, confused – taken aback. Who here wasn’t taken aback?

“So, do we get a tour?,” Dan asked, digesting at 88 mph. Most Smiths looked at him directly. Con just ‘rolled’ his eyes.

“This isn’t ‘Universal Studios’, ass-hole,” Con reprimanded, nearly sounding serious. “As cool as all this sounds…I mean, Jesus, Dan.”

“What?,” Dan shrugged jaggedly. “I want a tour. I want to see where we are now that the wicked ‘witch’ is dead. Can you blame me?”

No,” Con said honestly. “I’m just scared shitless is all. Sing along if you know the words.”

“Sorry, tone deaf,” Dan shot back like the ass-hole he was. “And…well? Do we?”

The whole of the Smiths looked to Emir for an answer. Emir tried not to let his relief swell too much in response to the motion. Ego was seldom a problem these days, regardless of the ‘alter’ aspect.

“You get better than that,” Emir said. “You get a personal tour.”

“From whom?,” Kevin asked, perfectly articulate.

“Why, from the Director of the Fields,” Emir replied with another knowing smile.

“And who exactly might that be, amigo,” Mask baited Emir.

“Come on, Ric,” Con folded his arms again. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“Apparently, not to the entire class,” Coyote supported Con.

“Well, then…let me school you without our host feeling left out,” he replied.

“You’re looking at him.” Con grimaced. “And I’m telling you all you need contacts.”

The whole of the Smiths looked again to Emir, who stood confidently, without an ounce of objection in his being. It was beyond obvious that Con had been right.

“Is ‘Director’ your official title,” Kevin actually smiled. “Or can we be creative?”

“Actually,” Emir responded. “Most call me ‘boss’.” No response. “However, the official title is still Mr. Parkreiner. The rest depends upon the paperwork and who’s handling it.”

“Touche’,” Kevin said.

“Don’t ever say that again,” Dan groaned. Then he was rubbing his face. “Tour?,” he said almost hopefully.

“Of course,” Emir replied. “Whenever you’re ready.”

“Do we get a band break?,” Con laughed. “If so, then I’m ready. I need some fucking water to wash this down. Or, you know…hard liquor. Something reasonable.” Coyote kicked Con’s heel.

What?,” Con whispered.

“If you feel comfortable enough in a group,” Emir volunteered. “There’s a kitchen area that’s been prepared for all of you in the room just beyond the intersecting hallway. There are a multitude of beverages available to you, alcoholic and non. Feel free to take a moment to yourselves. I’ll wait.”

The Smiths eyed each other. Or, ‘eyed’. Again, Con gave his consent.

“Please don’t make me look like a lush,” he said. “I just need to explore my options, at this point.”

Cautiously, Coyote nodded. And he lead the group slowly past Emir, into the core of the hallway area. All followed, except one. Dan lagged behind; all watched Emir carefully as they each passed him. Then, it was Emir and Dan, by themselves, and Dan kept his arms folded. He looked with fiery intensity at Emir; Emir felt no direct rage, not even anger. However, he did feel that at least a portion of the world was about to come tumbling down. He wasn’t disappointed;

“I know who you are,” Dan said flatly. Emir was silent, in turn. Kept silence, as response. Waited.

“We need to talk,” he said in the purest, most matter-of-fact tone Emir had had the pleasure of absorbing.

“Of course,” Emir answered, without hesitation. “Is my office going to be reasonable enough?”

“Yes,” Dan agreed. “As long as you have a bottle of whiskey available…and a really good vantage point for me. It’s reasonable.”

“I don’t drink,” Emir stated honestly, yet without penalization. “But I’ve got you covered.”

“Good,” Dan returned. “You’d better. And especially after all of the bullshit you have to explain.”

Emir relented. And he headed down one of the hallways.

Dan followed him.

And he didn’t so much as look back like he was concerned.