Paradise Hotel 51

Where Gaming Dies

Epoch: Chapter 9

Emir stared out over the Smiths. His Smiths. His charges. The charges that he’d utterly obliterated, decimated and mowed down. They looked at him collectively in question, as if he was the only street lamp in a desolate alley, at least in essence. Form. They should have been looking at him as if he was a mass-murdering juggernaut, retired…and one to be reckoned with. So far…and Emir could feel it…the only one who looked at him with any recognition…was Dan.

Art by Starstabbed Moon

The thirty-three year old folded his arms at him, refusing to yield a combat stance…and he just bore holes into his face. These were vicious, point blank stares that had vitals in site. Dan knew. And Emir had guessed he would know. The rest would simply rely on diplomacy and skill. Ironically, Dan remained silent, and Coyote stepped forward. Stood a breath away from the Administrator of the Fields Facility.

“If you’re the one that wrote those notes, then I’m just telling you now…,” Coyote smirked at him, getting right up into Emir’s face without fear or reservation. “I don’t feel welcome, at all. I feel trapped.” Coyote maintained his abrasive, threatening stance, nearly brushing against his ‘foe’. He went on, obviously irritated, or at least feigning such as a distraction tactic.

“Tell me my feelings are ill expressed, here…,” Coyote nearly breathed down Emir’s neck. “And I’ll stand down. But only then.”

Con seemed troubled by something he couldn’t place, and looked up at Coyote, as if gauging how serious he was. Probably very serious. Coyote had that way of smiling away bloodshed and murder. Like a good friend or drinking buddy would. But he was never to be played with, action-wise. He would do whatever it took, whenever it took. It was never a callous set of actions, either. They were always quantified. Qualified.

Dan watched the back of Coyote’s skull like he expected it to burst suddenly into flames. It was a debatable subject currently.

“Your feelings are ill expressed, Coyote,” Emir said flatly. The tone of truth was so deep, even Coyote took pause. He looked critically, in a glance, to Con. The teen nodded that the statement was on the level, at least in intent. Coyote looked to the man he only knew as a stranger with a calm, professional demeanor. Emir straightened his tie again, absently. Like it was something he did all day long during work activity, like Solitaire.

“Listen, all of you,” Emir said, with no degree of threat, bullshit. “There are many things for me to tell you… and there are equally as many of these things that are going to be difficult for you-“

Thanks, mate,” Kevin volunteered, randomly, oddly perturbed for a ‘game’ situation. “Plenty of things have already been ‘difficult’. You adding ‘bizarre and stupid’ ain’t making things no easier.”

More ‘British’,” Dan said to Kevin, shortly.

“Fuck you,” Kevin said without anger whatsoever.

Look out,” Dan smirked.

Fuck you.” Kevin meant it, this time. Dan still smirked. Emir shook his head.

“Which things are actually ‘bizarre and stupid’, Kevin?,” Emir asked bluntly. The Brit shrugged. Shrugged again. Squeezed his right hand, glass still held, and gasped painfully. “Mmm, I dunno. Everythin’? I get shot in the bleedin’ face, and suddenly things are simply ‘difficult’. No. I don’t think they are. I think they’re beyond that.”

The Syndicate en masse seemed to agree, though Dan merely rolled his eyes.

“Who the hell are you, man,” Kevin finished his rant, ignoring Dan. “Because I want to know. And I want to know now. Screw ‘difficult’.”

Emir exhaled.

“There are only so many ways I can explain the situation at hand to you. It can be the long, drawn out, methodical way, which is the advised method…or…it can be the blunt way.”

There was silence for a moment. More silence.

“ ‘Okay then’, hard man,” Dan spoke without aggression of any kind. He spoke for everyone, though Emir doubted his sentiment agreed with the whole of the group. “Let’s have the blunt way.”

“That’s what she said,” Con remarked. “ I’m all for the ‘methodical’ synopsis, Dan. Please. I’m not the one with the ‘Cure for pain’, here. That’s Morphine. Sandman’s god, you’re a prick.”

“I think it’s better if we’re told quickly, Con,” Kevin offered. “Truly. Why romance the issue?”

“I’ve seen so little romance in my life,” Con retorted, grinning. “I think I’d like to give it a try. Let the fucker explain. I’ve got time. He’s obviously got time, if he has his beard trimmed like that. Seriously.”

The fourteen-year-old then folded his arms…and Dan noticed, unfolding his own.

“I don’t think that’s the valid issue, here, muchacho,” Mask offered. “But I see your point.”

“I’m glad somebody does. I’m not preaching to the goddamn choir. Fucking somebody should volunteer some information…or else I’m just gonna keep running my mouth like the spigot du jour.” Con still had his arms folded; it was a strong position for him, and made him look much bigger, much more intimidating. To most people, that is.

“You’d run that mouth if the world was on fire,” Dan groaned. Then he redirected his attention to Emir. “I said, the ‘blunt’ way. Blunt means fast. Fucking make it fast, or don’t make it at all, mister, ‘cause we’re all out of lamps, and I don’t think ‘Indiana’ is really going to beat you down with that thing.” Coyote flexed his fist over his makeshift bo, made of a standing lamp’s post. He directed his attention to Dan immediately, even over their ‘host’.

Art by Dcat

“That’s funny, Dan. Really. I don’t see you with a weapon, I just see you jacking your mouth at this ‘Well-Manicured-Man’, and doing a whole bunch of nothing. Really. Get a motive, please.”

“You’re my motive, ‘punta’,” Dan said, not amused. Most seemed to be disregarding their suited host; but Kaede didn’t take her eyes off of the man. There was no recognition that Emir could see, but there was a great deal of trepidation; that was to be expected. Trepidation was afoot. Expected. Inherited.

Coyote didn’t even flinch, at Dan’s remark; he grinned. Actually looked back to Emir;

“I’ll have more trouble with him than I know I’ll have with you,” he said. Then Emir smiled. Coyote was an astonishing creature; brazen, ferocious…but charming, and…disarming. It was a gift, on his part. One Emir didn’t overlook, in any sense. Coyote went on.

“But, if you’re going to speak, now’s the fucking time. I have the shit to beat out of somebody.” Coyote grinned wildly at Dan, who smiled like a smart ass at him. “It may as well be one of you.”

Emir exhaled again. This wasn’t going to work the diplomatic way; he opted for the ‘blunt’ way. It would be easier, after all. It just wouldn’t be prettier.

“Alright, then,” Emir volunteered. “And then, we’ll get to the real business.” He was wearing his tinted glasses; the ones tinted to hide the glow, the truth. But Emir’s voice could no longer conceal the truth. It was a trait he had to cull upon certain occasions. This wasn’t one of them.

“You were all killed in a coup, it was a training mission gone blackout. It’s the year 2036, and…you’ve all been dead for forty years.”

There was a bloody, dead silence. No one else spoke. Reacted. Breathed. Well…

“No shit,” Dan said, smiling, shaking his head. “No shit.”

More silence. More breathing. Then…

“You mean…,” Con started. He sounded alright. Spoke normally. Kept his arms folded. “We…missed 1999.”

Emir frowned a bit.

“Yes. And then some,” he said.

“Oh,” Con replied. “Okay. .. …Okay. Sure. Fine. Sure.” Then Con was putting his hands on his knees; he breathed like he’d just run a marathon ten times over. Coyote eyed Emir, still taken aback himself, and walked to Con’s side. He rubbed his back as Con nearly hyperventilated.

“It’s alright, Speed,” he said, the others remaining silent, having their own varied reactions, mostly of stun and awe. “It’s alright. Deep breaths.”

“That…was blunt,” Kevin agreed. Shook his head. “I think I’m going t’be sick.”

“That would be understandable,” Emir said, trying not to show any degree of hesitation or distress at the Smiths’ layered reactions of discomfort and disbelief. He couldn’t blame them; no person would take such lightly. No average person, anyway.

“So, are there flying cars yet?,” Dan asked, goading Emir. Kevin just shook his head at the man, and swore under his breath.

“We’re still working on that,” Emir attempted joking. The attempt failed, and as Con collected himself, it was understandable.

“That’s not the only thing you’ve been working on, I hope,” Mask finally managed. “Because there are a great many things I’d find further interest in. Especially concerning….our employer of sorts.”

All stiffened, or stood straight…or ignored the sentiment.

“There’s much to speak of, regarding him,” Emir answered truthfully. Mask nodded.

“Good, amigo. Because I may have patience for the atypical and the dire…but the wickedness of procrastination…I have yet to accept.”

“Well put,” Emir volunteered. “So, that being offered…let me explain, in full.”

Coyote looked up from Con as he helped the teen stand up straight.

“I think you’d better,” he started hotly. ” Because unless you have the explanation of a lifetime going for you…”

Coyote beamed, undisturbed by the dramatic pause.

“You’re fucked.”

Emir stared at Coyote non-menacingly, even in his tall stature, as the Puerto Rican continued with such a confidence, there could be little doubt to the statement.

“And I’m gonna be

the one to fuck you up.

Lamps up? Or lights out.”