This story is connected to the Glass Eyes. It takes place about fifteen years or so after The Eye of the Dragon. I like creating the world the Glass Eyes live in, and seeing how the other groups work.
The home offices belied their desert location. Within the stone walls was a lush garden filled with fruit trees and nut trees and several species of roses. Vines alone in the corner of one wall yielded sweet fragrances at twilight, but during the day, remained closed. For Binh Kiem, it was his favorite location at any time of day to watch people.
He had the Eye of the Rok - a mythological bird said to carry off elephants and other large animals for its evening meal. One would think there was an Eye of the T-Rex someplace considering mythological creatures like roks existed. Of course there were real animals as well, lion, shark, raven, serpent and cow, but the truly powerful Eyes all had mythological creatures.
In Pantheras, only the best warriors were given the eyes of myth. Others, like Binh Kiem's younger sister, were given eyes of reality and were expected to work within the organization without questioning their existence. Yet, as Binh Kiem insisted to his partner, Hysen, and their immediate boss, Petrovic - weakness had its strengths.
"What are you doing out here?" Tien, Binh Kiem's younger sister demanded, her hands on her slim hips and her dark eyes flashing. She moved a step closer and bent at her hips to look her brother in the eyes. Normally a head taller than she, seated, Binh Kiem remained a head shorter than his sister.
Anyone intelligent enough to recognize danger knew never to sit around an angry Tien for somehow the diminutive sprite could turn even the largest man into a slobbering mess.
And she had only the Eye of the Ewe - nothing more benign than an ewe.
"You can stare at the wall all you want," Tien insisted, "but you still need to answer my question. Hysen has been looking for you, and Petrovic is hollering for you to come."
Binh Kiem reached for his crutches and rose. Despite popular belief, the eye never prevented injuries, only made them heal quicker, but a broken leg was still a broken leg, though he only needed the cast on for half the time, one week into his injury was more than annoying. "Did he say why I was wanted?"
"Nothing beyond the normal. I think you're heading West, though."
"Nothing out there but sand and rock."
"Not into the desert, but over the ocean." She leaned in closer. "I heard they need someone to go to America."
"Any particular reason?"
"Only that they need someone at Astrophil's headquarters."
Binh Kiem scrunched his eyebrows as he began navigating the wide stairs leading up to the second story. No one had considered putting in elevators around here, but thankfully the property had long belonged in wealthy hands so the staircase was easier to navigate. At the top, he stopped and rested for a moment before continuing down the hallway towards his boss' office. "Why are we trying to send people to Astrophil?"
"I'm not certain," Tien answered. "Most likely has something to do with the new guy the Boss brought it."
The new guy, Kallikrates being about twenty-seven and cockier than a young lion. No one knew the history of the man, nor did anyone know why he had suddenly become best friends with Acayib ibn Bakr, the head of Pantheras. Some speculated the younger man was an illegitimate son to their playboy leader, but others speculated maybe Acayib preferred men now than women. Still, no one had the courage to ask their boss who the new guy was, only speculate.
Petrovic, a large Ukrainian in his mid-forties, sat behind an equally large Cherrywood desk, aged into a rich red during its over hundred years of existence. Many men had sat behind a desk in this room, and their portraits lined the room almost as if keeping an eye on the younger ones. In here the wars of Pantheras were plotted, though the organization had remained over its lifetime more of an academic institute.
All that had changed in the past eighteen months since the Kallikrates arrived. What he wanted was bloodshed and war, though he made it out to be much nicer than it sounded.
"I heard you need someone to go to America."
Petrovic looked up from his desk, his bright green eye locking with Binh Kiem. His other eye was also green, though more yellow-green than green. Oddly, Petrovic was one of the few light-colored Eyes who didn't use a contact on their natural eye since his glass eye and natural eye were nearly the same color. "Who told you that?"
"A little sheep."
Shaking his head, Petrovic closed the laptop on his desk. "One of these days people are going to realize that diminutive as she is, Tien has more ways of learning information than a leopard has spots."
"And even if all her spots should disappear another one will emerge," Tien promised. "I'm still here despite what you two think."
Petrovic leaned to the right to see around Binh Kiem. "So you are. Well, this concerns both of you, so take a seat." He motioned to the chairs in front of him.
"I'd prefer to stand, if you don't mind," Binh Kiem said.
"Suit yourself." Petrovic rose. "We need two people to go to Astrophil and infiltrate their organization."
"I thought we didn't spy on each other like that," Tien interrupted.
"Normally we don't," Petrovic admitted, "but Kallikrates has convinced Acayib that we need more information concerning the other Eyes, and to that extent I agree. Astrophil is the ungodly offspring of Pantheras, and it behooves us to maintain knowledge of their doings."
Tien leaned back in her chair. "Astrophil was formed over four hundred years ago, Boss. How can you even consider it the ungodly child?"
"Because the ones who founded Astrophil were originally part of Pantheras, but felt we were too far removed from reality, stuck away in our books. They wanted to pursue the physical abilities of the Eyes, and see how they could be used in a military form. Leave it to the Europeans to come up with that."
"Aren't you a European?"
Petrovic smiled. "As I said, it's one of the few things I agree with Kallikrates on. Astrophil has made a name for itself as one of the best fighting groups, second only to us, I might add."
"What about the Trio and the Blacks out of Raijin?"
"They too are building up their strength as are the other firms." Petrovic rose and went to stand in front of his window. "Can you not sense the power rising - it's gathering its strength like a storm. Everyone will be swept up in it, and we need to be positioned to be the best."
"You're not talking about revealing the identity of the Eyes, are you?" Binh Kiem said, leaning forward on his crutches.
"No; we will never reveal our true strengths, but if we are to be the leaders in this world, we need to position ourselves over the six other firms." He turned, hands clasped behind his back. "I'm not certain what this storm is, but it will wash away many things. For now, we need to find firm grounding."
"And to do so, we need information on the other firms," Tien said. "Why us to Astrophil?"
Tien cocked an eyebrow.
"Two of the members of SY's Aces are either half or full Indonesian, the third is half-Vietnamese and the fourth half-Japanese. Besides you speak English as well as the natives do." He handed each a folder. "We're sending you by ship which leaves Alexandria tomorrow and you'll be taken over to New York City. From there, you will have to drive down to D.C. and meet up with our liaison at the Ukrainian embassy."
"No; not Egyptian. The liaison is Halyna."
With that, he dismissed them.
"Nothing like sending us to the ex, is there?" Tien muttered once outside in the hallway.
"Who?" Hysen joined them. He was part Irish and part Arab with dark brown eyes and auburn hair. Tall and lanky like a futbol player, he had the Eye of the Verbti, or the blind fox, which enhanced his hearing.
"We're going to the States to meet up with Halyna."
"Oh, that ex." Hysen whistled, looking past the siblings to the door behind them. "Better you than me; makes you wonder why they remain in such good relationships despite being divorced for five years."
"No idea," Tien answered. "Want to help pack?"
Hysen smirked. "Not really, but I know you can't pack yourself and your brother. Besides, I already have my instructions."
"High-tail it back to London to find something." He stretched his arms over his head. "All this traveling to and from the UK is racking up my frequent-flyer points, but I'm not finding what I need. Looks like I'll be spending the remainder of my time there until I discover this treasure trove Acayib wants, though between us, I think it’s Kallikrates who wants them."
"What is it?"
"Apparently information on the Eyes. He's a peculiar fellow this Kallikrates."
"He makes me nervous," Tien admitted.
Few made her nervous, which made Binh Kiem nervous.