Read Or Die Fan Fiction ❯ Read or Dare! ❯ Chapter 8

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Shane checked his black tie nervously as he took a deep breath, his brown hair falling into his eyes and dressed in a simple business suit. ‘I wonder if I’ve done something wrong?’ he thought, waiting in the outer office of the island’s governor.

The government building was a ornate structure, a carry over from when the island was a property of the United States, and the outside was weighed down with roman-style architectural flourishes. The inside, however, was more practical with modern hallways and meeting rooms, along with tasteful paintings and other decorations.

“The governor will see you now,” Boris rumbled, the tall soldier looming over Shane. If Shane had to pick a stereotypical image of a Russian soldier, Boris would be it from his rough, square jawed face to his slight but still clear accent. Still, there was something in his eyes that made Shane very aware that he was not a man to underestimate.

“Thank you,” Shane answered respectfully as he got up, the borrowed overcoat flapping around him. It was a gift from Yomiko Readman, one of the few times she hadn’t just given books, and it had a few more unusual additions.

The office was surprisingly plain, with only a few items scattered about along with a good quality desk, a leather chair and a small table to the side with a bottle of undetermined alcohol. Balalaika looked up from her paperwork with a cool smile on her face, her beauty strangely accented by the burn scar on the right side of her face.

“Mr Llewellyn,” Balalaika smiled as he entered, “I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to see you sooner.” The blonde haired woman offered her hand and he took it, her grip firm but sure.

“Thank you, ma’am,” Shane smiled back, “but I’m sure you have better things to do than interview a humble librarian.”

“Actually, I make it a point to interview all new academy staff,” Balalaika informed him, “considering how important the school is to the island’s future.” She sat back, “Do you know why we have such a broad variety of students and teachers?”

“Location, I suspect,” Shane admitted, “we’re close enough to the United States to draw students from there, while also accessible to students from around the world.”

“Exactly,” Balalaika nodded firmly, “and our goal is to provide a education that rivals anywhere in the world.” She studied the man opposite from her a moment, “So, what would you suggest we do?”

Without really thinking about it Shane replied promptly, “Expand the library, probably.”

Balalaika looked amused, “Why am I not surprised?”

Shane smiled back, “I suppose you heard the same sort of request from the sciences and other specialties, too.” He looked a bit more serious as he continued, “But I really do believe we need to expand the library facilities. The kind of bottlenecks we get over high demand research items bog down other departments, too.”

“A point,” Balalaika conceded, “but how would you decide to handle it?”

“As you can probably guess I’d like a larger library,” Shane admitted, “but I’d also like to modernize as well.” He gestured excitedly, “We need improved online access to information sources for students, access terminals within the library itself and around campus and, if we can afford it, a free wireless network.”

Balalaika gave him a thoughtful look, her eyes narrowed just slightly. “That actually follows my own thinking on the matter,” she said finally, “but I’m glad to get your input.” She rose as she said, “Thank you for coming to see me.”

Shane rose, recognizing a cue to leave when he heard one. “It was my pleasure,” he nodded respectfully, “I hope I was some help.”

As he left Shane nearly bumped into a black haired man, dressed in what resembled business wear. “Sorry,” he smiled politely, as he slipped by Shane.

“No problem,” Shane nodded as he headed through the outer office and puffed out a soft sigh of relief,

Meanwhile, back in the office Balalaika looked up with a smile, “You’re as prompt as always, Rock.”

Rokuro Okajima, often known as Rock, smiled slightly as he said, “We at the Lagoon company aim to please.”

Balalaika chuckled softly as she purred, “Yes, you do.” Looking somewhat more serious she asked, “Did Benny finish the deep background check on our dear librarian?”

“Yes,” Rock nodded as he informed her, “he forwarded it to your email account. Do you want a summary?”

“Please do,” Balalaika nodded.

Rock sat down as he collected his thoughts. “On the surface Mr. Llewellyn’s back story checks out fine, but Benny’s a bit suspicious that he’s too clean,” he revealed. As Balalaika raised a eyebrow he elaborated, “Benny mentioned that something so pure white is more suspicious than a bad record.”

Balalaika could certainly agree with that, knowing her own cover identity was so squeaky clean it sparkled. “Well, I appreciate his efforts,” she said after a moment, “and we’ll just have to keep an eye on him.”

“Should we bring in campus security?” Rock asked respectfully.

“No,” Balalaika shook her head firmly as she explained, “Dutch and Revy already know I’m concerned about why I was pressured to bring him aboard. They’ll be keeping a close watch on him anyway.”

“Fair enough,” Rock nodded. He smiled wryly, “If you don’t mind, I need to get to work if I’m going to put a dent in the paperwork today....”

“Have I thanked you lately for becoming my administrator?” Balalaika chuckled as she walked him to the door, “I don’t know how I managed without you.”

“Every other day,” Rock chuckled, “but I appreciate it none the less.”

Balalaika watched him go, once again shaking her head in amusement at the changes in her life. If someone had told her ten years ago that she’d become the governor of a island chain and head of a massive university, she would have laughed aloud, yet here she was. She headed back to her desk and sat down, opening up one of several files on her desk.

Mr. Chang’s report on Roanapur and Thailand was as entertaining as ever, with much amusing commentary from her old friend. The usual ongoing multi-sided gang war was continuing, with the Triads, Russian mob, the Italians and others fighting it out. Surprisingly the Washimine group was gaining ground, with Yukio proving to be a capable tactician.

‘I wonder if I should have spared her life back then?’ Balalaika wondered with a wry smile. Of course, while she had known the former school girl had potential, she would never have expected her to become such a capable leader.

A soft knock on the door made Balalaika raise her head. “Come,” she called.

Boris opened the door, the tall man nodding respectfully. “Initial reports are in on the activities of the CIA in Roanapur,” he said, “it appears that Eda is still their man in the field.”

“As expected,” Balalaika nodded, “is she still using the Rip-off church as a cover?”

“Actually, no,” Boris said as he checked his notes, “she bought Bao out when he decided to sell the Yellow Flag and is currently running it.”

“The Yellow Flag?” Balalaika sat up in surprise. The Flag was a bar in Roanapur that served as the main neutral meeting place of the city, as well as a den to cutthroats, murderers and general villainy. On one hand running the place was costly with all the fights and mayhem that broke out, but on the other it would be a invaluable source of info.

“Yes, ma’am. Will we be continuing our arrangement with her?” Boris asked.

“I don’t see why not,” Balalaika said after a moment’s thought. “Once Eda is bought she stays bought. It’s a admirable trait.”

“Understood, Captain,” Boris agreed.

Balalaika sighed as she looked at the paperwork on her desk. “Well, I’d best get back to it,” she said, “but keep me informed if anything else pops up.”

“Good luck, Captain,” Boris smiled at her sympathetically as he turned to go.

To be continued....