Wrecking Belles: Concilium Capers 001: Recruitment Apple Pie’s office looked more like a palace’s garden than an office. A central pond with a fountain simulating a creek dominated the entrance. Beautiful Japanese Koi fish were the local residents. Potted ornamental plants adorned the sides and a stone bridge allowed to cross to the office’s main area. The level of ostentation was beyond the USAriadnan wildest dreams, but the office, as well as her Penthouse apartment were furnished to her ex-husband’s preferences, and Haqqislamite Sheiks loved to live in luxury. The office proper had an antechamber with a huge round marble coffee table and lots of incredibly comfortable cushions for guests to sit. Apple Pie favored the antechamber over her desk area, because it allowed her to work side by side with the rest of the Wrecking Belles. For the last week the four women had been going over Stargem Shipping’s Security Personnel. The plan was to assemble a Corporate Security Task Force comprised of a small group of reliable units, without compromising the company’s safety. When Apple Pie’s Geist, Laiqa, had told them that Stargem Shipping was nowhere near as big as the top ten shipping companies, they had thought it was a really small company. As it turned out, the company had a small fleet of freighters, escort ships and a very large Security Detail that could rival Mercenary Companies or the army of a small country. So, even though Laiqa had reduced the number of candidates to a few hundred, it still took them a week to finally find what they were looking for. “This says Dumar all over the place.” said Apple Pie referring to her ex-husband. “Ex-Military, Paramilitaries, former gang members, even former Ikari Company thugs!” “Well, they all work for you now.” replied Obliterette equally horrified of the firepower at their disposal. “No wonder Saladin was so interested in recruiting you.” said Battle Charmer happily. Doc Starlight gasped so loudly, the other three Odalisques jumped on their seats. “We have Maghies!” The Maghariba Guards were Haqqislam’s Tactical Armored Gear, big, but aesthetically pleasing, and powerful. With the release of the XPR-5 Scorpion model, lots of the XPR-1 Beetle found their way into Mercenary and Civilian markets. “What the hell do we need Maghariba Guards for?” asked Apple Pie in astonishment. “Is this a Shipping Company or a Supervillain’s private army?” “Even in the best of times, Qapu Khalqi can’t be everywhere.” Replied Battle Charmer in her dulcet tone. “Space Pirates, Crime Syndicates, Hostile Competitors, the Human Sphere is in Code Infinity for a reason.” “I’m ready.” said Obliterette uploading three pictures in a holoprojection hovering over the coffee table. “This is Ri Yun-Ji” she said maximizing the picture of a young Asian woman with half her hair dyed purple and the other half dyed green. “Codename Countess Calamity- “ “Countess Calamity?” “Yes, Apple Pie” replied Obliterette emphasizing her friend’s equally ridiculous codename. “Korean Hacker, very good in Cyber-Security. She works with a trio of former Terra-Cotta Soldiers who served with her in Paradiso. Cui Cihui, Mao Wanran and Hao Huimin. They are very disciplined and highly recommended. Their biggest advantage is that they are posted in Concilium, so we won’t have to relocate them.” “Any recommendations to sweeten the deal for them?” “Definitely get them Zúyông armors. With their training it would be a crime not to make the effort.” “Will do.” replied Apple Pie taking notes the old-fashioned way. “Anything else?” “If you could get them a Rui Shi…” Obliterette didn’t need to say anything else. The Wrecking Belles have had their share of deadly encounters with those mechanical monstrosities and Apple Pie was well aware of their capabilities. “I suppose I’m next?” chirped Battle Charmer while loading her set of pictures on the holoprojector. “Captain Zanetta Angelo, from Neoterra.” she said expanding the picture of another young-looking woman, this one, a redhead that could pass for an Odalisque in her sleep. “She’s a former Swimsuit Model and commands a fireteam of Brawlers.” “Why is her Modeling background important?” asked Apple Pie honestly curious and without a hint of malice. “She’s very popular and has an extremely active Social Life.” replied Battle Charmer opening Zanetta’s Instafeed Page full of provocative Selfies and Sensory Feeds. “This could be a liability, especially in assignments where discretion is advice.” “For crying out loud Aurora! That’s every single mission we’re going to recruit her for!” retorted Doc Starlight dumbfounded. “Why such a hot mess? No pun intended.” “Because, A: We’re not exactly the most discreet bunch anyway.” replied Battle Charmer melodiously. “Or have you forgotten that people call us the Wrecking Belles?” “Touché.” sand Doc Starlight mock-pouting. “And B?” “She’s an extremely efficient Operative and an excellent team player. Her record is so good, we can take the risk.” “I trust your judgement.” said Apple Pie. “I’ll request her transfer first thing tomorrow.” Battle Charmer smiled and nodded at her boss. “The two other candidates are not on our payroll, but they have worked with the company before and their track records are amazing.” she said bringing the pictures of a severe looking middle-aged man and a much younger, and rather handsome one. “Who’s the hunk?” inquired Apple Pie perking up in her cushion. Obliterette and Doc Starlight both looked equally interested and the three exchanged an ‘I saw him first’ look. “Professor Conan O’Cannon,” said Battle Charmer enhancing the middle-aged man’s picture. “Is an Archeologyst who found his true calling as an Authorized Bounty Hunter.” “You did that on purpose.” Interrupted Doc Starlight pointing an accusatory finger. “His knowledge of Submundo is vast, especially in the smuggling business.” continued Battle Charmer clearly ignoring her friend. “This is an asset we can’t pass on.” “What’s the catch?” inquired Apple Pie noticing the slight change in Battle Charmer’s tone. “We need to get him out of jail in Novvi Bangkok. Some trouble about a diamond and some ashes.” finished Battle Charmer with a shrug. “I’ll call ‘The Weasel’ tomorrow.” sighed Apple Pie. Carlos De Anderxia, also known as The Weasel, was a very resourceful Nomad Lawyer who could work miracles if you had the money to pay his exorbitant fees. “Armand Arsenaud,” began Battle Charmer once again, this time enlarging the picture of the tall, muscular, Auburn-haired man in his early twenties. “He was an amazing Troubleshooter. His record working for the company was impeccable. Unfortunately, he was laid off because he withheld vital information in his work application.” “What sort of vital information?” inquired Obliterette with a raised eyebrow. “He’s Merovingian.” replied Battle Charmer. “He was laid off for being an Atek?” asked Obliterette astounded. “He’s a Dogface.” replied Apple Pie referring to the term Ariadnans give to their werewolves. “He kept it hidden for quite some time. Until a truck had a brake fluid leak and was about to run over lots of pedestrians. Armand turned into a werewolf and stopped the truck.” “Allah be merciful. He was laid off for being heroic?” said Obliterette in disbelief. “An injustice I’d love to amend.” Apple Pie sat with her arms and legs crossed. It was no secret to any of her friends that she was terrified of Dog Warriors. But she knew how motherly Battle Charmer could get; specially with lost cases, like a young Atek woman alone and overwhelmed by the Haqqislamite Culture. “I know I’m going to regret this…” sighed Apple Pie. “Thank you.” “Well, now that my loins are dry again,” said Doc Starlight to a collective groan form her friends. “Yeah, yeah. Like it didn’t happen to you too.” she said uploading the picture of a mountain of a man. “This is Behnam Mostofi, an Al Fasid who got kicked out for showing his face in uniform. One thousand Dinars that he stepped on somebody’s toes.” “Typical.” said Apple Pie well aware of the reputation of the Al Fasid. “Hire him, and promise him as much equipment as he sees fit.” Doc Starlight then posted one picture everyone recognized immediately. The grey-haired man had been one of the first Operatives to work with them under Sireen Barakat’s leadership. His name was Jaasir Hasan, but the Wrecking Belles knew him as… “Rock Viper!” cried Apple Pie, Battle Charmer and Obliterette in unison. The Hunzakut was an amazing infiltrator who was forced to retire due to a spine injury. “He’s fully recovered and looking for some action.” “Perfectly understandable.” Said Apple Pie nodding sagely. “You have my blessing.” “Awesome!” Apple Pie then uploaded the picture of a teenage-looking Japanese woman with jet black hair and pink bangs. “Wait, why are you presenting someone?” inquired Doc Starlight. “If you want to hire her, do so. You’re the boss!” “And you are my family.” replied Apple Pie candidly, eliciting a collective ‘Aww…’ from her friends. “So, your opinions matter a lot to me.” “Who’s the child?” asked Obliterette curiously. “Her name is Kyoko Konno, and she’s a Ninja.” replied Apple Pie silently smiling at the dumbfounded expression of her friends. “How did you find a Ninja?” asked Obliterette once she picked her jaw from the floor. “During the Japanese uprising, Stargem Shipping helped in the relocation of refugees from Yu Jing controlled areas.” replied Apple Pie happy that her Geist had been as compassionate as she would have been if she had been in charge at the time. “She’s the last of her Clan, but she wants to repay our kindness to her people.” “And she didn’t take your ‘Think nothing of it’ as an acceptable answer.” “Pretty much. Is it ok if I…?” “Of course!” “What kind of question is that?” “We have a Ninja!” “Anything else before we go to lunch?” asked Apple Pie happy with their response. “Nah, we can discuss your battle armor when we come back.” said Obliterette standing up and stretching. “My what now?” replied Apple Pie sensing she wasn’t going to like the answer. “Your Power Armor, dear.” replied Battle Charmer as if that explained everything. “For crying out loud, she doesn’t know!” interjected Doc Starlight figuring Apple Pie’s confused expression. “Look, even though your Geist has been running the show, you are the ‘face’ of the company. If you die, Laiqa has no legal power to do anything.” “Yeah, but- “ “So, if you’re going to jump off rooftops like we always do, the Board of Directors had made a clause that you should wear armor.” “Since when?” “Since you got ‘Officially Resurrected’ during the Wotan incident.” “Oh.” Apple Pie had died and been resurrected several times, illegally most of the times, but during the Wotan crisis, she was resurrected by order of Haqqislam High Command, which made that death and resurrection ‘Official’ and recorded as such. That particular event had had dire personal repercussions for her, including the straining of her now ended marital relationship. “They couldn’t uphold the clause while you worked for Haqqislam.” said Battle Charmer predicting Apple Pie’s next question. “But since you made planetfall in Concilium, they have been pestering all of us with it.” “Why wasn’t I told?” “We were waiting for the right time.” “Do I have a choice on the matter?” “You could sit it out like Sireen does and let us do the work…” replied Obliterette with a roguish smile. “What type of armor?” “A Combat Heels model of course; lightweight and highly mobile. We can go do the fitting after lunch.” “But what about our costumes?” Apple Pie asked remembering they had just ordered specially-tailored tactical costumes a few days ago. “We’re getting uniforms in your company colors instead.” replied Battle Charmer uploading Odalisques uniform in white with orange trims. “Aww, those look amazing! How come I don’t get to wear one?” “Because you’re the boss, Boss.” finished Doc Starlight leading the friends out of the office.