To: Inga, Lisa, and Susan, thanks for your help.
The Anne Azel's World web site is now found at
Note To The Reader: All the information used in this story about trends and concerns on our planet is current and accurate data. In the next fifty years, our world will change completely.
Iron Rose Bleeding: Chapter Twelve
These are the events as we know them.
We recorded them factually and objectively.
And now we report them to you.
When Courtney woke the next morning, she found herself alone. A sharp stab of sadness pierced her soul before she rationalized it away. Tap was a busy person and had probably been up for hours. It was kind of Tap not to disturb her. Embarrassed that someone might find her there, she showered and dressed quickly and headed out. She grabbed a coffee and a bran muffin for breakfast in the green section lunch room and headed into the library to prepare for her meeting. At 8:30 Haichen walked in.
"Tap has sent me to escort you to the meeting room," she said. "You are ready, Court?"
Courtney smiled and slipped her notes into a file folder. "Sure I'm ready." She gave no indication to Haichen that she was a nervous wreck and embarrassed that Haichen might know where she slept last night. This whole situation was getting way too complicated.
"This is a great honour, that you have been asked by Tap to sit in on the meeting," Haichen explained.
"Is it? I thought I was part of the team now, even if I am only in the learning stages," Court smiled.
Haichen stopped and looked at Courtney with eyes that revealed nothing of her emotions. "There will be some who do not approve. It would be wise to be careful." Courtney nodded but said nothing, not sure if Haichen was giving her a friendly warning or was threatening her.
They sat around a large, highly polished wood table in the red zone library. No one reacted to Haichen escorting Courtney in. Either they had known ahead of time that she would be joining them or they were being very cautious. No one made eye contact with her. They sat quietly waiting, each apparently lost in their own thoughts. It made Courtney feel uncomfortable. Then Tap walked in and they all stood. Only after she had taken her seat at the head of the table did everyone sit down and appear to relax a bit.
Tap looked around, her eyes finally settling on Courtney sitting near the end of the table. "A change of procedure today. Courtney Hunter will present the data and field questions." No one's expression changed and yet Courtney could sense their shock and intense interest in her. She felt like an exotic fish in a bowl. Squaring her shoulders she looked around the table confidently and started.
An hour later she was just winding down. "It was my impression that the general consensus was that economic stress could have any number of possible flashpoints. Several areas in South America, the Middle east, and the Pacific Rim Nations would certainly be areas of immediate concern. The growing fundamentalist views in many religions are also a factor which helps to narrow the probability rate. To pick, however, a specific country or countries from an extensive list of potential areas of concern would be risky. Such decisions are easy to see in hindsight. The reality is there are many areas of the world capable of spearheading a major international crisis. We are a small global village and any group making waves affects us all greatly. Does that..."
The door slammed open and a man strode in confidently. He was tall and underweight and yet appeared to have a wiry strength. His eyes were dark and his hair more unruly but in all other ways his features were very similar to Tap's, just heavier set. Everyone stood immediately including Tap.
He stopped and looked around the table, his eyes finally settling on Courtney. His lip curled for a fraction of a second. Then he looked at Tap. "Tay, the Council has just informed me of what you have been up to." He spoke with a soft voice that had wonderful resonance to it despite the fact it was edged with steel. " I could hard believe that you would dare to disgrace your family by..."
"I will dare anything to achieve our goal," interrupted Tap, and slowly sat down. She sat relaxed, looking at the stranger with a calm and defiant manner. This time Court could see fear and indecision on the faces of the others at the table.
She wasn't sure what the hell was going on but she did know what side she was on. She sat. She looked across at Haichen and met her eye in a steady, confident challenge. Haichen hesitated and then sank weak-kneed into her seat. Slowly one after the other, they all followed suit.
The man gritted his teeth and controlled his temper with difficulty. Spinning on his heel he left. There was a moment of silence then Tap's eyes focussed on Courtney. "That was my brother. Thank you, Courtney for a detailed yet concise summary of the lectures we heard in Rome. I must ask you to leave now as I have matters to discuss with my senior personnel."
Courtney blinked, trying to make sense of the sudden change in events. She gathered up her file and stood. "Thank you for this opportunity," she said formally, and left. Calmly, she walked back to her small office in the green zone and threw her papers on the desk. "Arrogant assholes," she muttered, and sat down to think things through.
Courtney seethed. She had thought she had worked hard to meet Tap's expectations, she'd even shared a bed with the woman, kissed her, trusted her, and she had been the first to show her support of Tap at the meeting, then she had been basically thrown out on her ear. Well to hell with this! She was not going to be used and treated like pond scum by anyone.
Tap looked around the table at the stunned faces. More had happened in the last twenty-four hours than in all the time that they had been working on this project. "First, you may speak freely at this meeting. Second, I am going to say what you already suspect and have discussed behind my back. I have feelings, of a emotional and sexual nature, towards Courtney Hunter. That has been a - shock to me and I am still learning to deal with the issue. One of the rules we established in undertaking this project was that we would maintain complete objectivity. I have just admitted that I have broken that rule by becoming emotionally attracted to someone who is most definitely not one of us.
"I must admit then I have a bias and the justification I give you now is based after the fact. I think we might be a lot closer to our objective than we realized. That is the good news. The bad is the consequences that we might be facing by changing our focus. My brother, I think, made his position pretty clear. I have now trusted you with a secret that could ruin me. I am going to ask you each in turn to tell me if you feel you have compromised your objectivity by feelings or actions that involve you directly or indirectly with those outside of this project."
Some hours later, Tap sat alone in her private offices. She was deep in thought. Her meeting with her personnel had been both interesting and shocking in nature. It would take her time to digest all the information that had been reluctantly and awkwardly presented to her. Time was something she suspected that she had little of. She would need to act quickly and boldly. The time for objective observation was at an end.
Tap with respect.
We must speak.
There is great danger.
"I am aware of that. I have been in danger since the day I was born."
But you are the figurehead.
You must consider carefully
Is this the right course?
"I feel it is. To be truthful, I can think of no other and time has run out."
Then it must be
No matter what the consequences
It is our path.
The door slipped open and Haichen quietly entered the room. Tap looked at her with interest, wondering if she was one of the informants in her midst. "We are going ahead with project EB1," Tap stated.
Haichen's only reaction was to sink slowly into the chair by Tap's console. "Will it be Courtney Hunter?"
Haichen said nothing. Today had been one nasty shock after another. She felt as if the world had tilted as she stood on it. Worse, she found that she had divided loyalties. She had lied to Tap this morning and she was not very comfortable with having done so. A lie is eventually always exposed. Her meeting with Tap was brief and to the point; then she was dismissed.
Courtney stood when Tap walked in, her eyes flaring with annoyance. She had become increasingly aware that Tap was very powerful and far more than an "objective" observer she insisted that she was. Courtney knew she was walking a narrow line here but she felt she had a point to make about the way she was prepared to be treated while she was here. "We need to talk," she stated firmly.
Tap raised an eyebrow as if she had only just become aware of Courtney's ability to articulate. "Very well. You will come with me, please."
Courtney followed, a little taken back at Tap's willingness to comply so readily. She was led to an area of the house that she was not aware existed. It was what appeared to be a medical centre.
Courtney had only a quick glance around when she felt suddenly faint and the world spiralled in. Her last sensation was the warmth of Tap's arms around her.
A short time later, Tap stood looking down at the naked body of Courtney Hunter with some pride of ownership. Courtney Hunter had a beautiful, well-toned body. "This procedure, it will not cause her discomfort or any bodily harm?"
"She should be unaware the procedure has taken place once she regains consciousness," Jean Lamount murmured, as he checked that the necessary materials had been laid out.
Tap nodded. "Proceed," she stated.
Courtney woke and blinked in surprise. She was back lying in Tap's room. She turned her head and looked around. In the corner was all her cargo, including her small tent now rolled up neatly. What had happened? Fear washed over reason as she threw back the sheet and checked for any physical marks. She had all her fingers and toes, they hadn't taken blood, she was completely dressed, so what had happened and why was she here?"
Tap walked in quietly and knelt beside her bed pallet. "You are well? You became unconscious when we entered the lab. I have been concerned. The doctor feels that you are alright but I am glad to see you awake." Tap leaned forward and kissed Courtney tenderly, then with a soft groan of need she lay down beside the smaller woman.
"I passed out?" Tap didn't answer but Courtney was not expecting her to. "That's unusual. I've never done anything like that before. Why is my tent here?"
"I ordered it removed. Just in case you are not well, you should not be sleeping so roughly. Also I admit that I want you to stay here. You will won't you?" Tap asked, hoping Courtney would comply and not make things difficult for her.
Courtney snuggled close, happy to be near Tap but still annoyed at being kicked out of the meeting. "We never talked. Can we now?
"Yes," Tap responded, trying not to show her uneasiness.
"I was embarrassed that I got thrown out of the meeting. I was the first to show support for you and I have followed your leadership without question because of our agreement. But I am not a fool. It is clear that there is a lot more going on here than I know about and I am angry at being left in the dark and increasingly concerned that there are things going on that I might not want to be part of."
Tap considered here words carefully. She was walking a very narrow line now and she could not afford even the smallest mistake. "I did not mean to make you uncomfortable, Court. But you must understand that there have been projects under way here for a long time and that because of the nature of our work we are privy to a lot of top secret information. We must be careful. My gut tells me I can trust you but my head has to remember to follow security procedures to the letter. There will be a time in the future when more will be revealed to you. For now, you need to trust that when I tell you I mean you no harm and I am not involved in the violation of any international laws that I am telling you the truth." Courtney nodded slowly but her eyes remained sad and worried.
Needing the reassurance of contact, Courtney reached her hand out and touched Tap's breast and saw Tap's eyes darken with need. Yes, this was good. Slowly she pulled the zipper on Tap's jump suit and moved closer to nuzzle Tap's throat as her hand slipped in to tease a hardened nipple. She could feel the effect she was having on the taller woman and that made her need to pool low and hot in her being. She had fantasised about Tap for a long time and to be able to have this effect on her boss and know she was the first woman to do so was a real rush.
Gently, she pushed Tap back and moved over her, enjoying the feel of Tap's warm, strong body under hers. It was Court's mouth that now teased Tap's nipples. Tap groaned and bucked with excitement. Court was not surprised when the woman came with a sudden gasp. Tap was experiencing the power of love between two women for the first time. That gave Courtney satisfaction too. She held Tap in her arms and whispered words of love, letting her slowly come down from her climax.
Together, they drifted off. The dream was of motion and pastel currents intertwined with each other. She was on Tap, in her, part of her. The sensation was like nothing Courtney had ever had before and she was very reluctant to wake.
It was nearly a week later that Courtney realized she was in very big trouble. Tap had told her that they would be leaving for Geneva to observe a conference of the World Health Organization the next day and Courtney want to leave everything in order before they left. She thought she would also see what the local library had on the World Health Organization and was surprised when her card number was not accepted by the computer. She then tried to access her bank accounts - nothing. She tried her apartment phone number. A voice told her that the number was no longer in service. She phoned the landlord and asked about herself, pretending to be a long lost friend. "She moved out the end of the month. Her friends that came to clean her apartment out said she got a job overseas in one of them developing nations." Fear clutched Courtney's heart as she lowered the receiver to the cradle. She was a prisoner.