The Treasure Hunters

25Nov14

treasure hunterMercy Cosby blew the ghost of a length of long since shorn brown-black hair from her nose and then ran her fingers through the tousled remnants that sat unkempt on her head. The heat of the region was such that she did not have time for vanities, or anything much else she realised. Time was definitely running out.

She barked an order to the team and then promptly forgot it, as did they probably. She was just letting off steam anyway, a sign of her growing impatience. If they didn’t find the artefact soon then she would lose the contract. Archaeology was such ruthless business these days, she thought bitterly; the irony of the self-told lie not lost on her.

Very little was lost on Mercy, at just 34 she was the best venture archaeologist in the business. But in her heart she knew that she had long ago sold out and that these days she was little more than a treasure hunter. It hurt to admit it, or would have done if she had had the luxury of time for introspection that was, but a girl had to make a living, didn’t she?

“Alright stop digging,” she sighed, “It’s not here; if it was we would have found it by now.”

“But Ma’am, this looks like the beginning of…” Julie was keen, but then she was still an archaeologist. Naïve fool.

“I don’t give a shit,” Mercy groaned, “Jackson is paying for results. Get that trench filled in and start a new one along that wall. This side I mean, it looks to be the right period anyway.”

At five feet four Mercy was a head short of the next tallest of her team, but no one dared argue. Not even Coulson or the other men. But the girls positively quaked when she spoke. Too much like I was back in the day, she snorted back the derisive thought. She had no time for even that.

“Dig people dig,” she urged enthusiastically in what she hoped was a winning voice.

The desert sun was getting high and she knew better than to expect much close-work in the afternoon. But they could at least make a start on the next trench ready for the later cool. Worst of all was the sand. It tended to race back into any hole dug sooner than it could be emptied. Damn this place. Mercy mopped her brow. Time to report to Jackson, she decided, she groaned inwardly at the thought.

Jackson’s trailer was set away from the dig; a polished aluminium affair rather like an American diner, which he had parked in the shade of some palms by an old wall. Not that he needed any respite from the sun. The damn thing was air-cooled with chilled and hot water on tap.

Mercy strode across the sand dusted ruined courtyard to the silver torpedo with a pout of disgust. The man and his travelling show were odious in the extreme. She tried hard not to be impressed so at the door she didn’t even knock and entered without ceremony.

Karen Seymour was pretty much where Mercy had last seen her, although the fiery red of her catwalk bottom had dulled somewhat to a tender tush raw. She had no sympathy. If the girl would put up with such treatment from Jackson just for money, then it was her call.

The 28-year-old was supposed to be a doctor in fine art, but so far her main duties had been mainly clerical. Although what she did at night was also her business.

“You still in the naughty corner?” Mercy sneered as she eyed the blonde’s expansive tight curves.

“You know Jackson,” Karen said tartly and rolled her eyes. A touch of colour rose in her cheeks.

The naughty PhD risked a look around to make sure Mercy was alone. It would have been too embarrassing for anyone else to see how Jackson handled her, not that it wasn’t common knowledge among the team, she would bet.

“I take it he is in,” Mercy snorted and nodded at the door to the other room.

“You found it yet?” Karen asked innocently as she turned her nose back to face the wall.

“Not yet,” Mercy sighed. Bitch, she thought.

“Then I guess I am not the only one facing a trip to Lapland and a sojourn in the naughty corner,” Karen said quietly, reserving most of the rue for herself.

Mercy bristled, “Oh, as if,” but it wasn’t just anger that reddened her face.

“You keep telling yourself that,” Karen snapped back in a brittle voice, “You sound almost like me six months ago.”

“You’re just a talentless tart who couldn’t hack it,” Mercy said angrily.

“It is you that can’t hack it. I am just dealing with reality anyway I can,” Karen said patiently. She breathed heavily into the wall and rolled her head to relive a stiff neck.

“Reality being a 150,000 Euro salary and a slice of the prize,” Mercy sneered again. But she didn’t wait to hear more and pushed on through the other door.

It was that or the boot, Karen shrugged to herself. Some decisions are hard, but that one hadn’t been; at least she knew where she stood with Jackson. The man was a bastard with little quirks but he paid well and always got what he wanted. Mercy might learn that one day.

*

Jackson was a big man with an indolent smile that never quite reached his eyes. Instead his dark brown peepers fixed upon Mercy and tracked her like sniper beams. Not that he wasn’t handsome exactly, but he was just too full of himself, too certain that what he didn’t know didn’t matter.

“So Ms Cosby,” he asked easily, unclasping his hands from under his chin and giving her an expansive gesture, “What have you found?”

“Trench three was a dud,” Mercy shrugged. “But I guessed as much. Now that we have eliminated the outer quad we can focus on…”

“You guessed as much and yet you wasted three days searching there?” Jackson leaned forward.

“We had to be sure and now…” but Mercy knew that it was her old archaeological instincts that she had yielded too and that he was right.

Jackson held up a hand to silence her.

“How do I even know that it is here? Dr Seymour is sure that it is over at Hydra Wadi,” Jackson said sharply. “Her thinking seems to be sound enough.”

Mercy snorted derisively. “That bimbo? She couldn’t…” Mercy gaped in disbelief.

“I gave you both six months to find it. She failed me. But she is still an advisor on this project and I wouldn’t waste my time if she didn’t still have some insights. Now it looks like you too have failed me.” Jackson was staring at her now, his eyes hard.

“I have…”

“You have less than three days. You won’t start looking until tomorrow now and it will take all day to reach the right level. Then you have until noon…” he didn’t finish.

Mercy swallowed hard. It was all slipping away from her.

“I just need another week,” Mercy’s eyes didn’t waver. She was still his best shot.

“A week?” Jackson sounded interested.

“As you say we won’t get down to trench four until noon the day after tomorrow. We will know by then if it will bear fruit. That leaves us two possible plots on this site…” Mercy sounded calm and above all certain.

“And what if you don’t find it?” Jackson asked. “What do you offer for this favour?”

Mercy frowned.

“Surely…?”

“Surely is rather the point isn’t it? How sure are you?” Jackson’s eyes narrowed.

He had employed dozens of experts over the years. He almost never failed. Mercy Cosby and Karen Seymour were the best he had ever worked with. Perhaps because they were still at heart sensitive to the subject. Men in this game were often far too mercenary. But that tended to dull their edge. Not that it mattered. He didn’t care who led the team on the ground as long as the whole team was motivated.

“I am absolutely certain,” Mercy lied with conviction.

Jackson smiled.

“I can get you your old job back. I might even use you as a consultant when we find it, but…” Jackson shrugged.

Mercy felt sick. She was close to pleading now; she had never wanted anything so badly.

“But if you want another chance…” Jackson continued.

“Yes I do,” Mercy said almost too quickly.

“Then I can offer you the same deal I offered Dr Seymour,” he said slowly.

Mercy sucked in her cheeks and blanched.

“And what is that exactly?” she said sharply.

“You already know some of my little ways…” Jackson shrugged. “On top of that… you’ll get another 30k, the same slice of the action and above all, another six months in the driving seat. But if you fail again… well let’s just say I want an exclusive three year contract for your services and you stay on the team. But I reserve the right to replace you as number one at any time. There see, not so bad is it.”

Mercy glared at the man for an age and weighed up concessions against realities and how much of his posture was just a gesture to put her in her place.

“When you say… I mean… Karen and you are not exactly… I mean she’s your…?” Mercy cocked her head as for once she was lost for words. Help me man, what am I signing on for? She urged him silently.

“Dr Seymour and my personal arrangements don’t concern you. But she knows that if she gets out of line I handle her as you well know. She is in on a lot more of my affairs than you are and somewhat more money at the moment. The only cost is a little pride and occasionally some dignity,” Jackson told her straight.

“Not to mention some discomfort,” Mercy said dryly.

“Pain, Ms Cosby, on occasions sharp clarifying pain, right where it does the most good,” Jackson smiled. “But we both know that to a tough cookie like you that is mostly secondary isn’t it?”

Mercy averted her eyes.

“And if I agree…?” Mercy asked carefully. “Then Julie and the others… they won’t know about our little arrangement?”

Jackson shrugged. “No promises. After all what they surmise working so close as they do… well…” he shrugged again. “But I offer you reasonable guarantees that I won’t rub theirs or your nose in it; as far as they are concerned anyway.”

“That is no guarantee at all,” Mercy accused.

“No it is really not,” Jackson agreed. “You have until noon the day after tomorrow to decide if you need that week. It gives you time to think it over doesn’t it?”

*

Mercy’s belly did tumbles and she could feel a pulse in her eye. Jackson hadn’t even looked up from his desk. He hadn’t looked up from the report sitting there. Not her report, she noticed, not the one detailing her failure even after an extra week. The one offering professional excuses and alternatives lines of enquiry. No this one bore the hallmarks of Karen Seymour and her ideas about Hydra.

Without looking up Jackson gave a heavy sigh and closed the folder.

“You haven’t actually signed the new contract have you?” he growled, his eyes lifting sharply. “So you can still get out I suppose.”

“We both know I won’t,” Mercy said wearily.

“Right then,” he said officiously, “Before we get this show on the road and on to Hydra you and I have a small matter to attend to don’t we?”

“Do we?” Mercy asked, her voice thick. She had hoped…

“Next time I am going to give your backside a basting until you can’t sit down for a day or two,” Jackson said sternly. His eyes flicked to a short heavy leather strap and a half-length birch rod that Mercy had previously assumed were ornamental.

“But just to make a point, this time I am going to put you over my knee and give you a long hard spanking to clarify our new arrangement,” Jackson said. “So if you will just slip down your khakis and whatever you call underwear…”

Mercy gaped, her eyes now saucers. “Mr Jackson, if you think…”

“Ms Cosby, you know perfectly well you have a spanking coming, so unless you want a serious lesson right out of the box you will do as you are told.” Jackson was standing up now, his broad chest level with her eyes. Every inch of him shouted authority and Mercy gulped.

“But…” Mercy couldn’t find any words. This was insane.

“We had an arrangement, no?” he said sharply.

Mercy closed her mouth and glared at him. But all the same she nodded. But there was no way, no way on Earth…

Jackson’s eyes bore into her for a moment longer and then he took her firmly by the arm. One minute she was on her feet and the next she was looking at the polished floor of his trailer. His grip was as a vice and thighs were as lengths of iron beneath her. Not that she had time to ponder. In quick efficient moves she felt a tug at her shorts and a moment later they were past her knees.

She was still lamenting the brevity of her knickers when they too went south.

“Jackson, you bastard,” she gasped.

“In or out?” he barked.

“Can’t we…?” she asked pleadingly.

“No. In or out?” he repeated.

“I am in but…” she wailed.

His hand was like a steel spade and blasted down with a tanging crack across her bare bottom. The impact stole her breath. She was still gaping like a landed fish when he spanked her again.

“Jesus Christ,” she hissed. Her bottom really burned.

More spanks followed, swat after swat of them falling like rain, or thinking of the spade, as if a demented field hand was tunnelling to Australia.

“Okay, okay Jackson, you made your point,” she said miserably.

“No, I don’t think I have,” Jackson said firmly, his spanking hand picking up the pace.

Mercy panted hard and bucked in a parody of swimming. No water in the desert, she thought incongruously as she strained her mind past the growing sting. No, no… “Ah,” she gasped and bucked again, “Please Jackson, please I get it…”

But he didn’t, she realised, not at all. Where was her horror, where was her outrage? She was glad he had forced her hand otherwise… damn I won’t submit to this, she wailed inwardly knowing she was and not just physically.

“Bastard,” she sobbed, but in truth she was cursing herself and her greed and her… what?

Jackson spanked her for an age after that; piling sting upon sting as she squirmed and wailed. It took a while for true tears, but come they did.

“Bastard, you bastard,” she sobbed finally letting go.

Finally he stopped and drew her upright.

“You’ll live,” he soothed.

“Bastard,” she sniffed unconvincingly.

She moved to pull up her shorts.

“Um… Ms Cosby,” Jackson said sharply. He looked at the corner significantly.

“You’re kidding,” Mercy wailed.

But after a moment she groaned and there being no free corner, she turned to face the wall.

“Ms Cosby,” Jackson interrupted her misery. “Outside where Karen works, you know where.”

The tears still pooling at Mercy’s eyes rolled down her cheeks and she sniffed a genuine sob.

“Please Jackson…” she begged.

“Julie and the others don’t come to my trailer,” Jackson reminded her.

“But Karen…” she wailed.

“Fair’s fair,” Jackson said pointedly.

“Bastard,” she muttered.

This was going to be… but words failed her.

Ends



One Response to “The Treasure Hunters”

  1. Loved it, really hope there’s a sequel/continuation someday.


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