Division 47:Hellekern's Hunt
By Joanne Sears
Tony sat up in the bed he'd been confined to for most of Christmas Eve, he couldn't believe it. The Senior FBI Doctor, Alice and Jon's nurse were all in agreement. The Psychic experience he'd undergone had debilitated him to such a degree that he was not fit enough to host his own official Christmas Party. He would still be permitted to attend but only on the condition that he sat to one side and allowed another to act as host. Tony scowled at his older brother. Oliver was going to take his place and greet all his guests.
He would also assume the premier seat at dinner and lead the toasts. In fact it got worst Tony was no where near as big as his brother none of his clothes would fit him and Oliver didn't have any thing of his own that was in the slightest bit suitable. Tony gave a heavy sigh. Image was everything and although the thought amused him he couldn't let his brother be embarrassed in front of the wealthy moguls of the New England Elite. He summoned his personal valet and instructed him to escort Oliver along the passage to the rooms his Grandfather had once occupied. His grandfather had been a great bear of a man Tony was sure some of his clothes would fit his brother. Oliver ran his eye along the rails of suits there were dozens all covered in preserving polythene sheaths. He inhaled unsure which to choose. He stretched out a hand and removed a likely looking candidate from the rail on his left. Tony's Valet took it from him.
"I don't think so Sir," he said politely. "I rather feel this one would more aptly match Sir's coloring," He pulled out a dark
double breasted affair. "With this shirt, this tie, these shoes and," he opened a small bureau behind Oliver. "These cufflinks." He also selected a very expensive looking tie pin and two huge signet rings."
"My brother said a suit not all of this."
"His lordship would expect me to ensure you were correctly prepared Sir!" the Valet smoothly replied, indicating a very luxurious bathroom just outside the walk in wardrobe. Oliver
didn't quite know what to say so didn't say anything he simply accepted the washing and shaving accoutrements the servant laid in his arms. "I shall return in thirty minutes to help Sir dress." the man added before giving a deep bow and leaving the suite. Oliver blinked - he'd never had any dealings with servants before he was a little out of his depth but was inwardly glad that Tony had briefed the man to ensure he at least looked right. But acting as for the evening's host?
Oliver knew he was going to have to rely heavily on the directions of Ms. Kerak and the Security Chief Paulson.
Clifford Ames aka Stevens had been arraigned early that morning but contrary to his wife's wishes he did not have to
depend on a Public Defender. He'd been very careful and astute over the years and had been cleverly siphoning money from the Ames Estate for a long while. He was in fact very wealthy. He had a dozen bulging accounts of which his wife's family knew nothing nor did they learn of them. Lilian Ames and her daughter didn't bother to attend the pre-trial hearing. To recover from their ordeal they had both flown to Europe on a month long skiing holiday. Clifford's bail was set at two million dollars. It was paid within an hour and he was set free. He didn't waste any time. Fleeing to his New York Pent house
he gathered as much as he could pack. Three hours after his arraignment he was on a plane to South America and freedom.
Tony was taken down to his own Ballroom and settled into
a comfortable armchair in a quiet corner before the party got underway. His feet rested on a golden footstool and he was covered in a warm blanket. He wasn't even dressed in a decent suit - much to amusement of Jon and Rhys he was forced to wear the WORST Christmas jumper ever. It was the sort of knitwear his brother usually sent and always ended up at a charity outlet a week after Christmas. But this year it was his own Estate Manager that gifted him with the ghastly sweater. Not wishing to offend the woman Tony had defied his own sense of good taste and donned the article for the party. Jon had been lifted from his normal wheel chair and with much padding to help support his shattered spine, been settled into a chair alongside Tony. Rhys wearing a smart suit sat with them. He was going to act as their gopher for the evening despite the fact that several of the Castle's footmen were vying to serve the small group. In fact before the party really got going most of the other FBI personnel had also ensconced themselves in the same corner. Tony suddenly relaxed as he realized his brother was actually doing him an enormous favor. Chuckling he spoke to his companions.
"You know normally I hate this sort of shindig - standing around with a bunch of stuck up baboons making polite small talk about how many holidays they've been on or who has the latest car." he shuddered "Frankly I think I'm going to enjoy it a lot more sitting over here with you guys." Rhys grinned and nodded in the direction of the entrance.
"Looks like your brother is up for it though." Tony followed the direction of his eyes and saw what he meant. Oliver was clearly lapping up the attention. Most of the high class guests assumed that as he was Tony's older brother he had a title too. Oliver didn't disabuse them of the notion. In fact several thought that as he was the elder he was in fact the Baron. Tony was about to sit back and imbibe a pleasant if strictly non-alcohol drink, when a figure caught his eye and he growled.
"What's wrong?" Jon asked suddenly concerned. "You feeling okay? Tony laid his drink down on the small coffee table and subtly pointed across the room to a young woman who was blatantly draping herself all over his brother.
"She is what is wrong."
"Who is she?" Martin queried.
"Janice Anderson Levine!" Several of his group gasped
"What is she doing here?" Tanglewind asked
"Gate crashing as usual," Tony snarled then Jon laughed
"I'd let her stay, she's making a right fool of herself. For a start she's throwing herself at the wrong man." Tony saw his point and laughed too. The low bred tart could simper and pout to her heart's content. She was chasing the wrong man and he was certain his brother could hold his own for one evening. At that moment the Estate's Senior Butler entered the Ballroom and ceremoniously declared.
"Dinner is served my Lord!" as per instructions he bowed in Oliver's direction not Tony's. He wasn't much bothered he'd told his servants to treat Oliver as the senior for the evening. In fact Tony wasn't even seated at the top table he'd opted to sit between Rhys and Jon at a corner table that also accommodated the rest of the FBI Personnel. Rhys nudged Tony as his Brother mounted the raised Dais and took his place in the exulted seat. Still clinging to his arm was Janice Levine but not for long. Ms Kerak calmly interceded herself between them just as Paulson seated himself in the chair on Oliver's other side. The Gold-digger was forced to take a seat at one of the lower tables. She did look in Tony's direction but he was already surrounded by the squad and so protected.
In the end Janice was forced to sit down to dinner amidst a group of older married women. Tanglewind noted that virtually all of them made a point of ignoring her - not that Janice was bothered. She spent the whole meal trying to catch Oliver's eye and every time she succeeded she'd blow him a kiss or give a coquettish little wave. He did not respond to these overtures and she had no way of knowing that he was planning to have her affairs closely looked at after Christmas. Jon's investigations had implicated the woman in a possible Murder.
The meal was a very lavish affair and completely in keeping with the season. Tony grinned at his companions as his brother with much show and no small amount of pomp, imperiously carved the first Turkey. Normally that was his role but this Christmas Eve he was quite content to sit back and let his brother have the limelight. Although he did whisper to Jon and Rhys.
"He's not getting that honor tomorrow."
The dinner was a stupendous success and Oliver made a point of thanking Tony's staff for their efforts as everyone fell to sampling the magnificent fare. The main course took nearly an hour to be consumed but as the servants cleared it away the lights were dimmed and then the head butler led in a procession of waiters and waitresses each bearing a flaming pudding. The temporary host had to hand it to Tony, he sure knew how to throw a party and Oliver noted that every portion doled out contained a small gift, even his. Although at that moment he made the mistake of letting his gaze wander in the direction of Janice Anderson Levine. She stood up and loudly cooed. "Oh my dear Baron how lovely!" she flickered back her hair to let everyone see the ornate gold pendant she'd discovered in her pudding. "And who knows maybe one day soon I'll be wearing a diamond ring to match?" Oliver gave her a very sweet smile but inwardly shuddered. Tony covered his mouth with his hand to stop from laughing out loud at the presumptuous tart just as Rhys at his side murmured
"I rather think the only other jewelry she's going to be getting will be a pair of steel handcuffs." At this all the members of the FBI laughed out loud causing several people to look at them in a puzzled manner - only Oliver understood the reason for their merriment. Finally, the meal moved towards its close. Oliver signaled the staff and they began moving around the tables laying down glasses of Champagne. Tony and Jon were both served with fizzing Mineral Water. Jon because alcohol was detrimental to his long term condition and Tony because his recent malaise forbade him drinking anything potent. The pair of them had been sipping orange juice all evening. Oliver waited until everyone had a glass then he stood up. Silence fell as he raised his glass and loudly spoke the words his brother had made him learn.
"Ladies and Gentlemen I wish you all a very Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year! God Bless Us All!" his words were
echoed by the whole company. The toast and meal concluded everyone moved back to the Ballroom for some music and dancing. Tony and Jon resumed their earlier seats and again the rest of the FBI clustered around them. Janice eyed the group with no small amount of derision and having again collared Oliver loudly remarked
"I must say Baron you really ought to have words with that
brother of yours, just what is he wearing? He's not even got a decent suit!" Oliver calmly disentangled himself from her arm and ignoring the slur she'd cast upon the real host said.
"You must excuse me, Ms Kerak and I need to mingle with our other guests." The Gold-digger was not to be denied.
"That woman is only a servant she is not fit to be your consort at such an important event. I shall fulfill that position tonight. "Miss Levine you overstep you place and I take exception to you insulting my brother as for that sweater.
My wife knitted it for him and he honors her by wearing here this evening!"
"Wife?" Janice went bright crimson as the whole room fell silent. "You're married?" Tony looked at his Estate Manager and gave her a small nod. She understood and stepped to Oliver's side. "Yes he is married and I would thank you take your gold digging talons off my husband." Janice stared at her for a second then turned to Oliver
"Her? You're married to that old slag? How did such a low class old trollop manage to ensnare you?" a gasp of shock circled the room as the gatecrasher insulted the Lord's wife. Oliver drew himself up to his full height puffed out his chest and snapped at the nearest footman
"James! Please escort Miss Levine off the premises!" Janice suddenly realized the extent of her Faux-Pas as three burly men surrounded her and hustled her out but as she left she almost died of shame for she heard the high Baron ask.
"Good grief! Who was that dreadful little upstart?" A small smattering of laughter traveled the room then the normal buzz of low conversation resumed. Tony leaned back in his chair and chuckled.
"Well my brother may be a right hard-ass sometimes but he sure knows how to get rid of the undesirables!" his companions all sniggered then Jon said.
"But you're going to have to give Ms Kerak one hell of a Christmas bonus, for stepping up to the plate like that."
"Indeed but maybe I should employ my Brother to permanently take over the role as Baron. I've always loathed these awful events but he seems to be lapping it up. Look at him! He's got the whole room hanging on his every word." Rhys mused that Tony had made a good point rather than being out of his depth Oliver had totally risen to the occasion and was likely to be the talk of New England for months to come and with the removal of Janice Levine the atmosphere had lightened considerabley. A lot of wealthy businessmen now moved forward to talk to Oliver. Ms Kerak found herself surrounded by most of the high society matrons luckily she was used to moving within such circles and had frequently fronted meetings for Tony so she was dressed appropriately and easily able to act the part of regal Baroness. Tony sitting at the back of the assemblage actually enjoyed his Christmas Party for once. Although by the time it started to wind up just after eleven he was really feeling the effects of the previous week and was eternally grateful that he did not have to stand and wish every guest Goodnight and a Merry Christmas as they left. He was in bed asleep long before his brother shook the final man's hand.
Clifford Ames stood on the Verandah of his Argentinian Hacienda and breathed in the soft warm air. An hour after he'd arrived he'd used his still active Computer Password to gain access to four of his wife's main bank accounts and all their joint accounts. He'd drained the cash out of eleven in the space of thirty minutes. He smiled to himself as he envisioned her shock when she learned she was broke.
"And for Prudence, that prissy little brat is going to enjoy State School," He gave a very sneering nod of his head and puffed happily on a very expensive Cuban Cigar. He was about to turn and go inside when a strange noise arose. He glanced around unsure of its source - it almost sounded like a flock of Canada Geese. But that was impossible it was too far south for any of their kind. The sound came again only this time the honking was more metallic and louder. Ames felt a nervous stirring in the pit of his stomach. The noise was growing, coming closer and now he was sure it wasn't geese.
It was a hunting horn and mingled in with it he could hear the baying of hounds. His heart began to pound with fear. The trumpeting was directly above him now. He turned his eyes skyward and almost fainted A horned figure astride a black horse gently floated down to the Earth followed by at least a thousand others their horses snorted fire from their nostrils. The leader spurred his stallion forward
"Clifford Ames you have called upon the name of Hellekern and slaughtered in my stead. You have earned your place among my company," he raised his hand and a black horse was led forward. But it wasn't the horse that frightened Ames it was the person who held it's bridle. His face was tortured and flames enveloped the body of Jenson Simold! Ames staggered back
"No! No! Mercy!"
"What mercy did you show to those you tried to dispossess or the innocents you murdered? No Mercy Clifford Ames! Take your place! You ride with us into Eternity!"