Friday, July 1, 2016

The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See - Act II

Act II: Thailand And The Octogon


The First Dreams In Thailand


The flight had arrived in Bangkok at three in the morning and the delegates quickly made their way to the hotel from the airport. They'd paired up in each of the rooms with Valerie being the only one of them to have their own room. Monique and Valerie had actually tossed a coin for that privilege and it had determined that Monique would share a room with Heylyn.

Alicia and Norler had not spoken since their disagreement on the airbus and as much there was no affection exhibited between them. It was as if they'd gone from hot to cold in a moment's passing and they slipped into their bed on opposite sides though they did not meet anywhere in the middle. Instead they remained close to the edges of their respective side of the bed. Cold and alone.

Monique had already gone to bed while Heylyn spent five minutes removing her makeup and cleaning her face just as she had always done as part of her nightly ritual. By the time she settled in it was just after four in the morning. Another five minutes passed as she slipped into that nether realm where distinguishing between reality and dreamworld was as difficult as figuring our which direction one faced without a compass.

She dreamt of walking a long and lonely path that stretched into the distance and beyond the faded line of the horizon. As she progressed she become shorter and younger until finally she was little Ai Yuanlin Ying, skipping her way along the path making it into a game at every step. She giggled to herself pausing only to consider the symbolism of her dream. The thought occurred to her that she might not be dreaming but that her life had been a dream, and that she was still a little girl who'd just started her first grade studies and her first martial arts classes.

Butterfly, Butterfly.

In the night.

In the sky.

To spread your wings and see you fly.

Butterfly. Butterfly.

She said to herself as she hop scotched along the path. In the distance she could see what appeared to be a pagoda. A tall structure of Chinese design stretching up into the heavens. She marveled at it wondering again about the symbolism. Was this about returning to China? The last time that she'd been she was still only a little girl of two years old. A gem in her Mother's arms and Father's eyes.

She remembered something her Mother whispered to her from that time while she was nuzzled in her Mother's arms:

[Pinyin: Cáifù jingcháng yi lóng de xíngshì lái dào women shenbian, jiù xiàng ta tongguò ni lái dào women. Dang ni niánjì dàle, ni huì jìde wo duì ni shuo, suirán ni huì tingdào, ránhòu tongguò yigè nurén de erduo. You shíhou, xìngyùn láile, qù, yinwèi ta xiàng yongyuan xuánzhuan hé jiaozhi de yinyáng zài yigè zhouqí, women you shí méiyou huáiyí. Ni de lóngye, baohù ni de rén huì lái. Hen xiàng yuèliàng yigè yuè chongman yicì. Shèng xià de shíjian yàome cóng wú suo cúnzài jiùshì cúnzài. Zhèng shì zài zhèxie shíhou, ni bìxu xuéhuì dúlì, lóng jiù huì huí dào you xuyào de shíhou.

Traditional:
]

"Fortune often comes to us in the form of a dragon much as it came to us through you. When you get older you'll remember me saying this to you though you'll hear it then through a Woman's ears. Sometimes fortune comes and goes for it is like the ever spinning and intertwined Yin and Yang on a cycle there is no fathoming. Your dragon too, the one who protects you will come and go. Much like the moon bears herself fully once a month. The rest of the time either fading from or coming into existence from nothing. It is at these times that you must learn to be independent for the dragon will return to when there is need." she could smell her Mother's fragrant hair and the breath of her voice upon her ear.

Ai tried to reply to her Mother but only child like gibber-talk and bubbles came from her mouth. She took in all that there was to take from such a vivid memory before she found herself standing on her own two feet, very much a Woman.

That was when two familiar enormous green eyes appeared before her.

"I see that once again you fend yourself to afar across the sea to be where you need to be to see me? So did you come searching or is this trip as I expect one that brings you to your origins where upon you'll introduce friends new and old alike?" the dragon's voice spoke like soft thunder.

"To what occasion do I owe your return?" Heylyn asked Weltherwithsp.

"Did you not hear your Mother's words? Her sweet voice or was it lost to your childlike state?" Weltherwithsp asked her.

"When are any words lost to a child?" Heylyn asked the dragon returning some of it's own rhetoric.

"And how true it is that statement though I think you'd find many who'd disagree. I'd suffice it to say that no good words are lost to their ears and hearts. So you were listening with both I see and hear." the dragon slowly emerged from the shadows surrounding them to reveal its long serpentine body.

"To what do I owe this visit? After all it's been such a long time? You can't expect to just drop in and pick up where we left off." Heylyn told the dragon partly scolding it like a lost pet who'd wandered in from the cold.

"And so it turns as it does. Absence on one side and familiarity upon the other." Weltherwithsp slid along an invisible surface using it's flapping wings to lift it's sternum and level it's head to hers.

"So we're back at the beginning again are we? Who should start this then. You or I?" she asked the dragon.

"All of you, for this is about you and so much more than just yourself. We'll save the part about you for later in your trip. For now let's bring in some guests." Weltherwithsp's face got close to hers and then backed off revealing to her view Alicia, Monique and Valerie.

"Are we dreaming this?" Valerie asked the other Women.

"Dare you say, for I'm dreaming of you all and by my graces you are here." Weltherwithsp spoke sending shudders up Valerie's spine.

"Valerie, Weltherwithsp. Weltherwithsp, Valerie." Heylyn introduced the two blandly as if she'd already been forced through one too many introduction before.

"Is that a flying dinosaur?" Valerie asked herself aloud.

"That's Weltherwithsp. It's a special kind of dragon. I think." Monique answered unimpressed having seen Weltherwithsp a number of times already.

Weltherwithsp's face showed no expression for the moment and seemed indifferent to their indifference.

"Why have you brought us here?" Alicia asked it.

"Always the scientist. An inquisitive mind seeks to find those like in kind by form such mind. I've brought you here to let you know a bit more about what you face, for you could fall should you not find your stance and before this is done you you'll see what real balance truly means. You'll understand if only you'd see the clues for the universe rarely hides anything." Weltherwithsp spoke in riddle once again.

"Did you get what he..." Valerie started.

"It. It is an it." Heylyn said sounding almost insensitive.

"As I would have it no other way for now and your understanding is bound to concepts you can grasp. It is a label that will suffice. For now." Weltherwithsp agreed with Heylyn.

"So what were you trying to say Barney?" Valerie asked Weltherwithsp sarcastically drawing a giggle from Monique which seemed only to amuse it.

"Your friend Professor Mattu called quickly to let you know how balance had been thrown. One side to the next. You struggled to force it back the other way only to find that it would not stay. For it teeters and it totters while these four beautiful daughters struggle to find meaning and balance its much more than chance. Is it not?" Weltherwithsp asked knowing already they'd missed the mark.

"Fate? Are you speaking of a predetermined path? Choices?" Alicia asked the dragon immediately thinking of the quantum nature of reality.

"No. Fate would imply no freedom from the grip of time." Heylyn said impressing Alicia.

"The clues lay in the way you failed to stay with your heart's say. You of all should know that price of struggling against the teeter of the totter. You nearly broke it in the fall and it wouldn't have tipped precariously so close to the ledge had you not said what you said. This concept should be clear to you, nearly as much as the Butterfly." Weltherwithsp spoke with the familiar ease of one who had complete knowledge of the future and the past but was lost in the present.

"Your heart's say. It nearly broke in the fall. Your words... with Norler. He... It is talking about what happened between you and Norler." Monique said showing incredible insight.

"Precisely though there's more..." Weltherwithsp added spiraling through the air and around the four of them it's head popping up behind Alicia.

"We had our falling out just as we caught the threat to the delegation. Like the price of keeping the delegation from failing was paid by our argument." Alicia said in utter amazement.

"Once you'd discovered that the documents were switched and that Professor Mattu had caught it in time, that pressure fell into yours and Norler's lap..." Valerie continued.

"...and threw our relationship out of balance... Like the weight of the situation fell onto us directly and was paid by our break up." Alicia said in disbelief.

"Like a teeter totter. One side to the next..." Heylyn finished.

"A concept so simple to a child yet so complex to Women such as yourselves. You owe it to yourselves to spend more time pursuing your inner child's wonder. That which brought you to this very moment and capability. You might better handle the next teeter totter for you're someone's attractive and intelligent daughters." Weltherwithsp reminded them.

"You're saying that this clue can help us in the future too?" Heylyn asked the serpent.

"Help you? I'd say for it's interwoven into the fabric of things, if the universe were a puppet I'd show you it's strings. In the days ahead you'll see this interplay more so flow as an ancient civilization awakens to confront that which pulls you together and pushes you apart. Which side of the teeter totter will you be on when it all falls? With that I bid you farewell." Weltherwithsp asked the four Women as it flew upwards and off into the distance finally to disappear completely in the blackness.

"Well I have to admit was far deeper than Barney." Valerie said once again opting for levity.

"We missed something. Weltherwithsp gave us another clue. It was hidden in what was said." Heylyn told them as she pondered what it could be.

"Something it said or we said?" Monique asked her.

"Both. It had something to do with the balance. There's more to this than what happened in New Delhi." Alicia suggested.

"I say that we get some sleep and consider this further tomorrow. We've got a busy day ahead of us." Valerie advised her friends.

"Agreed. Let's talk about this tomorrow when we have a fresh perspective." Heylyn nodded in agreement.

"Yeah. I've only got fresh perspiration. Let's get some shut eye." Monique confirmed.

"Good night. By the way. To all of you. Thanks for being there when I needed you." Alicia said to her friends.

"That's what friends are for." Heylyn answered as the others nodded.

"That and semi androgynous gender neutral flying dinosaurs." Valerie added drawing a round of laughter from the other three.

...




...

Wat Sutat


The delegation arrived the next day at the rendezvous point in the city of Bangkok. They'd all slept for most of the night (from 4 AM) and arose from their restful slumber at ten in the morning giving them six hours of rest. The trip over had been quiet, riding in taxi van which took the whole delegation and dropped them outside of the Wat Sutat (Wat being the Thai word for temple).

Norler had said little to Alicia who in turn only dealt with Norler in small does. Instead she concentrated entirely on the delegation and solving the mystery at hand. While she stood talking with Valerie going over some details related to their dealings with the Bangkok delegation she was approached by Bryce.

"Sorry for the interruption ladies but if I may have a moment of your time Alicia?" Bryce addressed Alicia and Valerie.

"I think I've got it. I read up on the history of Siriraj. I'm prepared. Thanks. I'll leave you two to talk." Valerie nodded to Alicia leaving them to their conversation.

"We haven't spoken for bit. I thought I mention that I see there's been a little bit of a change?" Bryce asked Alicia without prodding.

"Is it that obvious?" Alicia asked Bryce knowing full well that it was.

"Don't worry. I'm not the shark type looking to move in when there's no one else around. Besides I love my Wife. I'm asking because I'm concerned seeing as what we've got riding on this little investment. This is important and even more its imperative now that we succeed." Bryce suggested to her.

"Well we're not talking as much as we did before but perhaps given the situation it's better this way. We can deal with the emotions when we get back and just focus on the professional. Norler and I." Alicia assured Bryce.

"Given the situation you're doing well I have to admit. I'm a little worried myself. If someone had tried to kill Professor Mattu over this thing, that means that we could be targets should they get more desperate. That's significant." Bryce reminded her.

"We've got security now. Werner hired them last night. They're keeping an eye on us right now from a distance and the security specialist is en route from just outside of Bangkok. He'll be meeting us here in about an hour. Until then you're going to have to rely on Heylyn." Alicia told Bryce whose eyebrows raised in surprise.

"I heard. She's a mixed martial artist black belt. A Master from what I understand?" Bryce asked sounding a bit skeptical.

"Why? Because she's a Woman or because she's the owner of a Fashion company?" Alicia asked Bryce not believing for a moment that he was sexist.

"Not at all. What I meant is that being a security specialist requires much more than just martial arts training." Bryce said to her.

"I was just kidding when I said to look to her for security though I wouldn't put it past her to be protective should the need arise. She can kick but. Believe me." Alicia said confident of her friend.

"You know, I don't like to speak of the private lives of my peers but she did strike me as the kind of Woman who'd have a commanding presence in her romantic relationships?" Bryce smiled as he spoke.

"The truth is that I like it both ways. Sometimes its just as fun to be in charge as it is to be in someone else's charge." Heylyn said having overheard their conversation.

"I'm sorry. I should have taken that question directly to you. I mean that in the most confidential and respectful manner. We're adults after all." Bryce blushed.

"You didn't strike me as the type who would look for extramarital affairs. I mean you are married?" Heylyn asked Bryce more professionally than personally.

"Yes I'm married. I'm in love too. Even so I'd never look elsewhere for sex. We're very happy in that way." Bryce replied to her keeping his composure.

"It wasn't an invite anyway. I'm happily single and have been for years." Heylyn told Bryce as sincerely as she could.

"Right now I'm concern for our delegation on two counts. The first being the immediate threat we've recently received by way of a direct assassination attempt against one of our own. The good Professor Mattu. Secondly based upon the personal lives of some of the members of our delegation, though I'd be willing to bet Alicia and Norler won't let that happen. Despite the cost to their relationship." Bryce replied.

"We've got a lot of support here. Believe me. Right now we've got the security Werner hired for us not to mention that we're probably in the sights of the intel apparatus of a few other countries in the area. We're being watched more intensely than we are at home. We're safe for the time being." Heylyn said nonchalantly.

"Sounds like you've got a pretty interesting conversation going on over here." Doctor Briggs said making as he approached.

"Was it that noticeable? Well it's finished." Bryce said curtly and professionally.

"You're damn right it is. Here's the delegation." Norler said slightly more impatient than usual.

Their car pulled up a Thailand flag proudly flying from it's roof. Their security man got out of the front seat checking the area before signalling the driver to get the doors.

"Professor Sangsorn I presume? Professor Bryce Maxwell." Bryce said extending his hand beating Norler to the punch.

"The beautiful Doctor Dara Sangsorn. It's been a long time." Doctor Briggs said gently caressing her hand.

"Indeed it has Stephen. Walton Norler. Doctor Alicia Westin. Pleased to meet you." Professor Sangsorn said stepping onto the sidewalk before the Wat Surat.

"This is Doctor Anuman Yongsaijut. Doctor Pravat Leekpai and Doctor Nanda Cho Zaw." Professor Sangsorn introduced her peers.

"Professor Sangsorn is works with the Siriraj medical internship program that has been training Doctors in Bangkok since the nineteen sixties." Doctor Briggs introduced her.

"My colleague Doctor Anuman Yongaijut is a Pediatrician with Ramathibodi Hospital here in Bangkok. Doctor Pravat Leekpai is a Psychologist and sociologist specializing in transitional issues between traditional and modern medicine in Vientiane, Laos. Doctor Nanda Cho Zaw is a working surgeon for Mandalay General Hospital in Myanmar. If you can remember all of that." Professor Sangsorn said as she introduced her peers.

"You've met Alicia, Bryce, Norler and Me, Doctor Briggs. This is Heylyn Yates an international Fashion Designer. This is Valerie Aspen, a corporate analyst working for this project and this is Monique Defleur, a model under Heylyn's employ." Doctor Briggs started the introductions for their delegation.

"Now that we've got that out of the way, maybe we can make our way inside and get down to business." Suggested Norler.

"We've got a fair bit on the itinerary today so lets get going. We have much to discuss." Alicia said smiling to the delegates as Norler tried to reach her with a quaint smile.

"I have to admit that this visit took us by surprise. We'd only been informed of it a little under a month ago. Professor Mattu called us last night as well. We're sorry to hear about the incident. Perhaps that is a sign that we should prepare ourselves if not to protect our values, then to protect the importance of this meeting?" Professor Sangsorn addressed them as they walked through the gate to the temple.

"So you agree that this meeting has significance for the region?" Norler confirmed with Professor Sangsorn.

"How could it not? Our history is a living example of the tug of war between tradition and progress. Especially in the field of medicine." Professor Sangsorn's voice trembled slightly.

"Of course you're talking of King Chulalongkorn's bold steps to bring modern medicine to Siam?" Doctor Briggs asked of Professor Sangsorn.

She looked to Doctor Briggs as they walked throwing him a warm smile.

"I'm sorry, but who was King Chulalongkorn?" Monique finally drew the courage to ask the question begging to be asked.

King Chulalongkorn courtesy of Wikipedia
"King Chulalongkorn was the fifth Royal ruler of Siam during the late eighteen hundreds and into the twentieth century. During his rule malaria was a huge threat to the populace." Professor Sangsorn explained.

"It was during this time that his son, Prince Siriraj Kukattaphan fell ill as a result of dysentery. He was only a year and a half old when he succumbed to the illness. An illness that could possibly have been diagnosed and treated at the time with proper medical education." Doctor Jongsaijut spoke continuing Professor Sangsorn's history lesson.

"Hence was founded Mahidol University, the oldest school of it's kind in Thailand as well as being the largest." Professor Sangsorn looked to Monique nodding to her for her interest.

"That point in time of course was a branching point and a sore spot in the eyes of many traditional healers. Calling into question the merits of traditional medicine versus it's modern counterpart. The fact that this division is often used for political purposes, especially polarizing the populace for one against the other merely as a marketing or business tool. One of the things that I often remind my clients of is that traditional medicine for the most part is built on the same principals of modern medicine, however the methods of verifying the validity of each took a far different path thanks mostly to the placebo effect." Doctor Leekpai addressed both delegations.

"I read Eastern Medicine: Distilled Through Modern Science by the way Doctor Leekpai. An excellent book by the way. I think that we could safely say that both delegations agree with your hypothesis about the fact that the placebo effect was really the departure point that separated the two forms of medicine. That is between those on both sides of that fence that took medicine seriously and weren't just quacks trying to make a fast buck." Doctor Briggs acknowledged Doctor Leekpai taking advantage of the opportunity.

"As sad as it is, it took such a tragedy as the loss of Prince Kakuttaphan to bring about the founding of modern medicine here. Hence that time is seen as a bit of a loss of faith for the merits of traditional healing here in Thailand though there are many who hold fast to it. Here is one place you find that the two have existed harmoniously but that harmony took some time to achieve." Doctor Leekpai continued.

"That's ironic in a way and certainly a key point in the operation of the placebo effect. I mean if a medical disaster happens at that time such as malaria, many people are depending upon the over stressed traditional medicine of the time already. It in turn is heavily reliant on the placebo effect, which in turn is reliant upon the faith of the public who rely upon traditional medicine in the first place. A destructive paradox at best." Professor Bryce interjected.

"Faith in medicine has always been a key point to it's effectiveness. It took a long time for me to understand that as a Doctor and researcher. It has only been recently that we've been able to quantify that effect more precisely rather than ambiguously. " Alicia reasoned.

"But that faith has to be earned with real results." Doctor Jongsaijut reminded them.

"That's the whole point. It's a case of the chicken or the egg. If the placebo effect relies upon belief and faith, whether it's for tradition or science, then do the results come first or after?" Alicia asked the both delegation.

"In the case of Prince Kakuttaphan they didn't come at all. King Chulalongkorn's decision to found a medical school at that time was founded upon not only the loss of his own son, but the loss of the people as a result of the ravages of malaria. There are times when the objective nature of science has to be the anchor point from which both the objectivity of results and the subjectivity of the placebo can grow. King Chulalongkorn's decision exemplifies that concept in practice. Now we have a long standing medical school and facility as a result." Professor Sangsorn used the opportunity to make her point.

Hippocrates care of Wikipedia
"That is where both sides are right. Allow me to explain. The school and medical facility were the anchor points for faith and the symbol of progress in Thailand. It just happens that at that point in history that it was built upon the merits of the modern approach to medicine as a result of a wise King listening not only to his own heart but the hearts and suffering of his people. Let's rewind the clock a few thousand years to another point in history and a similar situation of particular importance to the medical profession. Keep in mind that it is not scientific progress to which I am referring but the importance of symbol in reinforcing placebo. Hippocrates was one of the founding physicians of the modern practice of medicine as we all know. Keep in mind that he lived during a time of war and struggle, including an influenza pandemic at the time. Hippocrates had during that time in ancient Greece been compared to great sculptors being a great physician who'd been born of a family who'd earlier produced other great physicians. That concept held esteem in Greece at that time as it was a common approach to carry on one's family legacy. So he was quite well known and a bit of a celebrity in the medical field and as such a symbol. A symbol around which faith in medicine could be anchored thus enabling the power of the placebo in that era. Even to distant places such as Athens which at the time was under nearly constant siege until the Treaty of Nicias in roughly 421 BC. Word of mouth at that point would be an effective transmission of the placebo especially in relation to this wonder of a physician who at that point had already made many waves in the field of medicine including the first successful chest surgery. Every physician certainly knows him by his namesake, the Hippocratic Oath, which is still used to inaugurate physicians formally even today. Almost a messiah in the world of medicine whose existence would stir the citizens of ancient Greece to believe in the progress of medicine and thus enable the power of the placebo effect to have a measurable impact upon the future of their civilization and medicine in general. So the power of placebo is not linked directly to objective results but more to the power of faith in what those results imply." Doctor Leekpai explained his reasoning as he asserted his point.

"Well said. I can only speak for myself but I'm sure that Alicia, Katya and Victor would agree that your presence would have been most welcome at a table a few months ago in the Looking Glass lounge in Toronto and a conversation we had there at the time." Bryce said reminiscing.

"Speaking of, how are Toronto, Canada and the United States responding to the SY349 and the creation of this fund?" Doctor Cho Zaw asked Bryce though addressing Alicia and Norler.

"Most of the core research as you know is done in Toronto at the Tynan And Associates research facility there. There was a lot of skepticism at first from my colleagues. I'm sure the Bryce would remember that and a talk I gave at the University Of Waterloo on the subject of using quantum entanglement coupled with decoherence to store copies of the genome in a quasi-parallel universe. When we first proposed the idea I was essentially laughed at. Bryce had the courage to stand up and ask some honest questions about my motives, my process and the theory behind it. That helped to give us a little bit more credibility. Once we had a working protein with RNA and cellular mitosis, the rest fell quickly into place. It wasn't until the first tests came back from the HPFB of Health Canada and it's counterpart in the United States, the FDA that we had confirmation of the safety and effectiveness of our project. From there the clinical trials started mounting success after success and soon the support came in droves. I started getting requests from my peers for any papers I'd written on the subject. So it took a while but once the project had picked up positive momentum it became apparent that this was big. Very big indeed. When we set our aim at Cancer using the same process and increasing the efficiency of recall for the RNA messengers it had already been hailed as a breakthrough. Toronto loves us now. Especially the political and funding arena mostly as a result of the attention from the medical world. The universities certainly like it as well, and as a result there's been an increase in university research funding projects in Toronto and Montreal based educational institutions. Insofar as the United States is concerned, the American branch of Tynan And Associates has been receptive to the creation of the fund for the SY390. Some of the treatments actually qualified for coverage under their new Healthcare program which means that it will be available to American citizens regardless of income level or social class. Not to mention that most of Europe is already on board for the idea. Many treatments requiring th use of the SY349 are already covered by health coverage in most of Europe. The fund will cover for the individual countries whose healthcare system doesn't cover the cost of treatment. Our goal is for this to be available to everyone regardless of income level. A very important issue when you're dealing with the ethics of finances and medical treatment. I'm sure that any of you can attest to that concept?" Alicia explained the situation about her home in North America.

"That's the underlying motive for the creation of this fund. We're standing our ground that such medical treatment and miracle cures must be available to everyone regardless of social class or income on a per need basis." Norler said addressing the Thailand delegation.

"Much like the stance that King Chulalongkorn had taken in building the medical school and hospital." Professor Sangsorn added.

"What do you have to say on this Doctor Cho Zaw?" Professor Sangsorn asked her associate from Myanmar.

"I'm on the same page as the rest of our delegation. I'm impressed. I don't think that you'll find much opposition here to your proposal and there's no harm in telling you that I'm certainly going to vote in favor." Doctor Cho Zaw responded her eyes bearing a heart felt smile.

"Could you two join me for a picture here?" Heylyn gestured to Valerie and Monique.

"Sure. Excuse us for a moment." Valerie told the delegations as she joined her friends.

"What is it?" Valerie asked as soon as there was enough distance between them and the delegations.

"We're being closed in. I don't even think the hired security knows." Heylyn told Valerie and Monique.

"How do you know?" Valerie asked her.

"I just know. I can sense it." Heylyn tried to explain quickly.

"Oh great. Heylyn's having a senior moment." Monique said looking to Valerie as Heylyn rolled her eyes.

"Easy. I'm not that much older than you." Heylyn responded only slightly amused.

"How many?" Monique turned back to Heylyn.

"About four. Maybe more. Most dressed as tourists and touting concealed weapons. There's one dressed as one of the workers for the temple." Heylyn told them.

"What do you want us to do?" Monique asked Heylyn looking around nervously.

"Don't let on that you know, first of all. Secondly, just keep your eyes open. Let's try to keep ourselves on the outside of the delegation so we can protect them in case anything happens. Remember, that we can't reveal our other identities to them." Heylyn reminded her friends.

"What about Alicia? We've got to let her know." Valerie said.

"No. We need her to focus on the delegation. We don't want this to ruin her rapport with them. They believe in her and the creation of this fund. They're our allies and we have to get them through this safely." Heylyn assured the both of them.

"Maybe we could take them out one at a time? I mean the baddies? Silently? I'm fast enough." Monique asked.

"If we do that, we'll separate them. You take one half I'll take the other. Valerie will mop up the ones we miss." Heylyn suggested.

"Sounds like a plan." Valerie confirmed her willingness to go along with it.

"How do we lure them?" Monique asked looking consecutively to  Heylyn then Valerie.

"You're a super powered runway fashion model. You have a gazillion guys drooling over your picture on magazines all of the time. Be creative. I'm sure you'll think of something." Valerie reminded her.

"Right. Good idea. After all, I'm... hot." Monique replied honestly thinking about it.

"Let's lure them towards the little girl's room. You're the bait Monique." Heylyn said walking with Valerie towards the public bathroom area of the temple.

Monique took a look at her skirt, which of course was one of Heylyn's designs. She eyed the slit which ran up for eight inches part way up her thigh. She grabbed the skirt and carefully tore another six inces exposing a much more ample part of her curvaceous and sleek thigh. She leaned against a wall and tried to appear provocative. She had a little trouble at first, for it felt a little artificial and perhaps even tacky. She relaxed a little bit and didn't put any effort into it. Instead she became natural and her magnetism exploded from there.

Monique Defleur dreaming about strawberries
Her first target noticed her right away. She avoided returning any kind of glance to him or his friend but she kept them on her radar. She let them know that she was thinking of them but never gave evidence to support it. When she had them wrapped around her finger, she threw them a very brief glance and smile and proceeded towards the little girls room.

They followed her both because that was their orders and because she implored them to. Almost like she'd had them on her own little puppet strings and was waltzing them to her on a line.

When she'd gotten around the corner, she immediately transformed herself into a beam of light and circled around behind her followers to reappear. Her path would have taken her ten minutes by foot, but in the form of a light beam she traversed the distance in less than a second. There was a blinding flash as she materialized behind them. As soon as she was corporeal she smashed their heads together with her hands. They immediately collapsed. Monique directed their falling weight onto a nearby bench where in all appearances they were just sleeping. Behind her the other two assailants quietly snuck towards her getting their firearms ready. They weren't taking any chances after what they'd just seen her do. They leveled their silenced hand guns at her aiming for the back of the neck for the quickest kill.

Both their arms were violently thrust upwards from beneath and twisted to the breaking point. Both their firearms dropped to the floor as they muffled their screams. Heylyn released their arms striking them both simultaneously just just below their their skull. They fell at once unconscious, Heylyn catching them and sitting them beside the other two Monique had just dispatched.

Heylyn carefully negotiates a fashion distribution deal as The Butterfly Dragon (minus her outfit of course)
"You could have left me one." Valerie said sarcastically.

"Didn't anyone tell you that this was a double date? Bring your own next time." Heylyn replied as she went through their pockets looking for identification.

"They don't look like they're from around here." Monique said looking them over.

"That's because they're not. They're from North America. Canada actually. That's what their passports say." Heylyn said as she searched the other two handing the passports and wallets to Monique.

"These passports have a lot of flights on them. I mean look. These guys have been around the block a few times." Monique said as she thumbed through their passports.

"I wish you would have told me that before we dated them." Heylyn remarked sarcastically smiling at Monique.

"They're from another security company. Not the one Tynan hired and certainly not with the Thailand delegation." Valerie stated as she looked over one of their wallets.

"Then who are they? Are they Government agents?" Monique asked.

"Government agents don't kill unarmed Women. They were going to shoot you." Heylyn reminded Monique.

"I say we take their identification, empty their firearms and leave them here unconscious. Then we'll call the local authorities and tell them that armed vagrants are sleeping at the temple. The Police will then have it on record for their investigation and we'll have handled this as best we could. More importantly the delegation will be safe." Heylyn suggested to Valerie and Monique.

"Sounds good to me boss. I only work here." Monique agreed with Heylyn.

"I'll make the call." Valerie said pulling her cellular phone and kicking one of the assailants in the leg as she did.

Valerie Aspen on a gray day

"What was that for?" Monique asked Valerie.

"That's for them standing me up on our first date." Valerie smirked at the unconscious men as she dialed the Thailand authorities.


The Economy Of Fear And A Second Chance


Steadman closed the door as he entered the office. The room was eerily still as he walked towards the executive desk and stood before it. On the other side of the desk a large chair slowly turned revealing a unusually calm Warley.

"Sit down." Warley said pragmatically.

"They knew about us. I don't know how but..." Steadman started.

"I said sit down." Warley continued unperturbed by Steadman's explanation.

Steadman looked at the seat across from Warley's executive desk. It had somehow taken the visage of an electric chair, the switch of course being in Warley's hands. Steadman thought carefully about whether he should risk sitting in the chair or just continue out the door and start a new life elsewhere. Steadman considered his options as time moved at an imperceptible rate for him. He'd started with Future Tangent Industries only two years ago. Warley had taken him under his wing right from the start. He'd been intimidated by Warley at first but as he grew accustomed to the facade Warley presented him, he often took for granted the cunning at Warley's disposal. Warley preferred it that way and experience had taught him that it was far better to be underestimated and over prepared than vice versa. Young men like Steadman had come and gone over the years. Many with far greater potential than Steadman but the fact was that if you weren't the one sitting in Warley's chair, you were merely a commodity. Easily bought and sold and seldom was there a tear shed when such commodities disappeared. Steadman had often been led to believe that they'd gone of their own accord and had started new lives elsewhere. Still in the same business but not with Future Tangent Industries. Not with Warley. The truth was though that once you'd been with Warley, there was no being without Warley. You were either with him or you simply ceased to be.

Warley had seen other men in Steadman's position. He knew exactly what each one was thinking because he'd been there at one time himself. The only difference between himself and the young men who'd been his commodities was that instead of running from the man in the big chair, he took the big chair from the man. Warley had often pondered when the man of his ilk would come walking through that door. The man who'd look him in the eye and completely deceive him enough to snatch the big chair from under him. He'd been through many during his time at Future Tangent Industries and he'd seen into Steadman's soul enough to know that Steadman would never take the big chair. Nor would he run. Steadman was somebody that Warley would never truly respect but he was useful. Recently however that usefulness had run out. Steadman looked into the headlights of the oncoming car and found that he could not budge. So he sat down.

"The security firm. The specialists that we always use for this sort of operation seem to think that there is an internal leak. Their first operation in New Delhi was compromised somehow when the target returned to his office and found the security operative with his hands in the cookie jar. He made it out but just barely. We had to pull him from India altogether and that cost the security firm an asset. In Thailand I just received word that we lost four guys to the authorities. Nabbed with their unregistered and modified weapons, their identification stolen. The security firm had no choice but to deny that it had anything to do with them. They'll likely serve a few years in a Thailand prison. The security firm will no doubt have them silenced before they talk. They were made even before they had a chance to retire Professor Sangsorn. You did not tell me that the Treadwater Island anomalies were going to be there." Steadman said keeping his composure as best he could through a slightly wavering voice.

Warley smelled Steadman's fear and it energized him.

"They're professionals. They shouldn't need to know such details. Besides, we had no way of knowing that the anomalies would be there either. Our intel said the anomalies are supposed to be inert. That the effects of the SY349 were unstable and that their unique abilities would cease within four weeks of time of the Treadwater Island incident." Warley lied to Steadman.

"Well apparently the the SY349 doesn't have an expiry date." Steadman said to Warley still very much aware of the oncoming headlights.

"You don't seem to understand the big picture. What's at stake here. You do realize that the Asian market makes up more than half of the world's global economy? Do you know what would happen if Tynan became the trusted medical supplier for these countries of the East? You will know if that vote goes through because when it does you'll see the biggest transfer of medical tech and research stocks in history. Future Tangent Industries will cease to be and Tynan will become a behemoth. We can't let that happen and to do that we have to prevent the West from becoming friends with the East through the creation of this medical fund. If it goes through, we can kiss competitive markets for medical advances good bye and that's because the treatment prices will be regulated by the fund itself. That means that we can't come along with a better mouse trap and charge amply for it. What we should get. Worse, what if by chance Western medicine and Eastern medicine start working together more closely. What if the East starts moving in on Western medical markets?" Warley said talking as if he'd pledged his undying loyalty to Future Tangent Industries.

"Sir, we believe that this delegation will not leave China or Japan with any support for the fund or the SY389. The hinging point will be Thailand and Korea. From the word we got on the matter the delegation already had India and Malaysia's support. Sri Lanka and Indonesia are leaning in favor but that's still up in the air. The Thailand delegation is in complete support for the fund. Likewise with Laos and Vietnam. If South Korea supports the fund creation initiative that would mean that both China and Japan would need to vote against it unanimously to stop it unless China vetoes it entirely." Steadman explained hoping that distracting Warley by giving him the power to decide might by him some more time.

"We need a hidden patient to surface." Warley told Steadman.

"I beg your pardon sir, a what?" Steadman asked Warley nervously.

"A hidden patient. A failed treatment based upon the application of the SY349 to a patient. Preferably someone young. Incapacitated enough to be a sympathy case but not so much that people can't identify with them." Warley suggested.

"Sir, there is no such patient. There's two patients for whom the treatment did not work but without any adverse side effects." Steadman replied indicating that he'd already examined that avenue.

"Then hire one and a few Doctors who will go along with it. We'll pay them well. Very well. We'll mount a public campaign against the SY349, SY389 and SY390. Then when the delegation gets to China, we'll set up an assassination and pin it on one of the delegates. That's our solution. That's how we solve our problem." Warley told Steadman as he leaned back in his executive chair piercing Steadman's soul with his hollow and emotionless eyes.

"Sir, we've got a situation that we might be able to exploit in that regard. It's to do with Norler and Doctor Westin. We have intel that says they're having relationship problems. Some people on the flight to Thailand claimed to have overheard them arguing. Since that point they've made no public shows of affection of any kind. Not even holding hands." Steadman informed Warley hoping he'd bought himself another chance.

"That wasn't out of their respect for countries like India where public displays of affection are frowned upon?" Warley confirmed still hesitant to trust Steadman.

"No sir. As I said several people on the airline witnessed an argument. They haven't been seen together since." Steadman assured Warley.

"Excellent work. That's exactly what we'll do. The assassination of a Chinese official from the Chinese delegation. We'll pin it on Doctor Westin who of course will have shot her own estranged lover Walton Norler there before. Arrange for our failed SY349 media patient and some Doctors to support the case we'll build against Tynan and we'll start the pressure cooker. By the time they make it to China, we can exploit the situation easily and the public will buy it! Most of all they'll hate Tynan And Associates and love Future Tangent Industries. It looks like you've got your job back and another chance. Don't blow it." said Warley who loved having his subordinates in his debt.

Another fact about how Warley had managed to stay in that chair for so long was that he understood the economy of fear. The economy of keeping others afraid of him. He was a master of profiting when his subordinates failed him for they'd work just trying to make it up to him. Then when the smoke had cleared he'd come up looking like a hero. After all he'd given Steadman another chance after all of Steadman's failures. If Steadman failed him after that, then Steadman would likely experience a similar fate as those of Norler and Doctor Westin. In order to play Steadman, he only had to convince Steadman that it was the end for him if he'd failed again. In truth though it was. For now though as far as Steadman was concerned, the oncoming headlights had stopped and he'd been able to get off of the road. That day Steadman had left Warley's office with his life, a big change from his earlier fate.

Long enough to make it up to Warley for his "extended" life and second chance.

Delegation Dinner And Drinks In Bangkok


They sat atop the roof of an enormous building in the downtown core of Bangkok as the sun set to the East. They'd separated at four in the afternoon for a break where they'd returned to their hotel rooms. Most of the delegates themselves had taken that time to recharge with a small nap or a shower to prepare themselves for the evening and their only full night in Bangkok for they'd be leaving in the early evening the next day. They'd planned to enjoy the evening together. The Thailand delegation with the Western delegates.

Heylyn, Monique and Valerie had not yet had time to inform Alicia about the assailants at the Wat Sutat and decided they'd find her alone in the evening at which time they'd tell her what had happened. Alicia and Norler were still silent and curt, saying little to each other. It was as if the wounds yielded no pain for them but instead had turned directly to hardened scars. They were both professional enough to maintain their rapport with one another both in public and private and new what lines to keep and which ones to cross. There had been an awkward moment between them when they'd come close to one another in their hotel room. When they were in India only two days earlier they'd found themselves together in their hotel room with thirty minutes to spare before their next meeting. Though they hadn't planned it, they'd found themselves making improvised love, first on the chest of drawers working their way slowly to the wall. Afterwards they'd collapsed exhausted to the floor entangled with one another for a little under three minutes. In that time they'd found more peace in one another than they had in all of the nights they'd spent away from home combined.

They'd found themselves in the hotel room in Bangkok with the same opportunity but from a much different state in their relationship. There was no relationship but there was still the sexual tension. Alicia had considered sending the signals. Letting him know that she was ripe and for the picking and then decided against doing so. They met at one point almost running into one another in the middle of the room and there was a moment of awkward silence that could have led anywhere. Ultimately neither found the want to face the other regarding their most current disagreement and so the moment ended with a whimper rather than an explosion of lust.

Alicia had left early going to the lobby to sit and enjoy a bit of anonymity and more importantly her mental space. She sat in one of the lobby sofas for twenty minutes not even aware that Bryce sat only a few seats away from her in an overstuffed chair reading one of the Bangkok dailies. He'd seen her and having been married for twenty years himself, he'd seen that look before. The look of one who needed their space. Their solitude from just about everyone. A moment to gather one's life unto themselves and get it all in order. To collect one's bearings if not so they could continue in the right direction at least so they could continue. If she wanted to speak at all, she'd notice him when the time was right and he'd oblige her.  As it so happened she did just and when the time was right.

"I'm not interrupting am I?" she asked him.

"Alicia? What a pleasant surprise." he responded feigning unawareness.

"Mind if I join you?" she asked him already knowing the answer.

"Not at all. I see you've found this wonderful haven here. And to think that it was in the lobby of our hotel all along." he smiled catching the last bit of sunlight as it slowly dipped behind the neighboring buildings of the Bangkok horizon.

"I agree. I just came here for a little solitude myself." Alicia responded biting her tongue just after she'd spoken.

"If you need some space I could..." Bryce replied sincerely.

"No. I had a bit of space already. I think that I need to talk with someone I trust." Alicia looked at him.

"By that statement, I assume that you mean me." Bryce put the magazine down on a nearby table.

"Yes. I guess that would be you." Alicia said shifting just a little closer so as not to draw attention.

"If you don't mind me asking, are you having a bumpy spot in your relationship with Norler?" Bryce asked her.

"We tried to keep it hidden but I guess its starting to get pretty obvious. Yes. We did have a little falling out." she replied looking down to her lap for a moment.

"I'm sure the pressure of this situation doesn't make it any easier but you have to ask yourself if when you've succeeded, that both of you might look back upon this time and laugh? Perhaps curled up in bed in a lover's embrace? Haven't you ever had one of those times?" Bryce asked her folding his legs and leaning in himself.

"Of course. I mean there was this one time that he'd locked the keys of my car in the trunk of my car. It was an accident of course but at the time... At the time I was really angry with him. I didn't talk with him for a day or two. Then two nights later I come home and he's got the place decorated for a romantic candle light dinner. My favorite album in the music player. Everything was ready to go. Champagne. Everything. Of course hours later we were in bed laughing about the car keys. I scolded him so much that night jokingly of course. He took it all too." she told him laughing and giggling as she reminisced.

"What's different about this time besides the weight of the world upon your shoulders, Atlas? Might I remind you not to shrug as Ayn Rand so delicately put it or there'll be world all over the marble floor in here." Bryce asked her metaphorically.

She thought long and hard about her situation before she spoke. She wondered how she was going to broach the subject with Bryce seeing as Bryce did not know about her alter ego, Night Style. Norler had known and she'd agreed to give up her nightly gallivanting as a superhero and be the hero from the laboratory and research point of view. She'd agreed that she could offer the world much more as a Scientist rather than a superhero. Their argument had seen them disagree given the current situation and the risk to their goals in Asia with the attack upon Professor Mattu and more recently with the assailants in the Wat Sutat.

"This is different. We weren't able to agree about something very key to our relationship. About trust. It looks like neither of us is willing to give in." Alicia told him.

"A little bit like our current situation if you don't mind me saying. Do you feel that there's something you need that you may not be getting? What about him? Maybe he feels the same way? Is there something that he wants you to give up in order for the both of you to keep going? Together? What about a compromise? You can afford to direct a little bit of that marvelous negotiating power the two of you share to mend your relationship. Maybe if you look at it from that point of view, that might give you a bit of motivation to solve the issue between you?" Bryce asked her pressing the point home.

"You're right. We're negotiating perhaps one of the most important issues of our lifetime together against the most important issue keeping us apart. What's complicated about this is..." Alicia began before she paused for a long while.

Bryce waited before Alicia continued.

"Do you remember the conversation in the Looking Glass Lounge? I mean about causality? About Godel's trickster? About keeping the inner workings of the universe hidden while unfolding in a way that seems like art?" Alicia confirmed with Bryce.

"Like it was yesterday. I hope nothing happened that night that led to your current issues?" Bryce asked her.

"No. I meant like its somehow related. Like if Norler and I mend our relationship, that the universe might balance it for us by denying us approval for the Fund. Like it gives something and it takes something at the same time." Alicia asked him deep in thought about what Weltherwithsp had said to her during their shared dream.

"You mean like balancing the outcomes? As in duality?" Bryce confirmed with her.

"I guess you could say it that way." Alicia asked him cocking her head a little.

"We're in the Far East of Asia. I mean what conversation wouldn't find itself on the topic of duality. I'm not so certain that it's as imperative a concept here as we'll likely find the further east we progress from here. I have two things I'll tell you on that subject. The first being that regardless of the underlying mechanisms that we can only speculate about, you must proceed regardless. When the stakes are high that might not seem a good answer for if there is an underlying duality that balances cause and effect, that would make the universe a hundred percent predicable and very easy to deal with. However that's now what we have so we must proceed regardless with our own wisdom, intent and intuition as our guide. The second thing that I was going to point out that this morning before we departed for the Wat Sutat, I received an email from an old friend from Beijing. He told me that their delegation is going to include a Professor of Eastern Philosophy specializing in Chinese philosophy both ancient and modern. Perhaps and I'm only suggesting, such a question might prove to be useful in a relationship sense and a diplomatic sense? I mean whom better to speak to about this issue than a philosopher that has grown up eating, breathing and sleeping every part of that philosophy. If you don't listen to me, perhaps you should listen to her. In Japan we'll likely broach the same topic but from a much different point of view. I don't know it you can wait for that long but you should consider that thinking about this issue is giving you a lot of insight into Eastern philosophy. The key to solving the problems with your relationship with Norler might lead to the means to negotiate with the Chinese and Japanese delegations. By tomorrow night we'll be in Beijing and I'm hoping that we're able to capitalize on what we learned in New Delhi and Bangkok to help us with our negotiations there." Bryce posed leaning in as he did.

"I have to admit that you've already given me a lot to think about. A lot of hope too but there's still a bit of doubt." Alicia told him still not quite able to smile.

"Kind of like our goal here. We've made good progress but we're still only part way there. Maybe tonight's outing with the Bangkok delegation will be a good omen for the future of of this delegation and of course for your relationship with Norler." Bryce smiled hoping that it might be contagious.

"Thanks Bryce. Your wife is certainly a lucky lady." Alicia said to him as she contracted a smile.

"Luck had nothing to do with it. Once we had our eyes set on each other we knew it was for keeps but that's a story for another time. Speaking of which, my wife is going to kill me if I don't call her. She'll just be waking up for her morning yoga right about now." Bryce stood as Alicia did.

Alicia pecked him on the cheek as he fumbled around searching his pocket for his phone. He blushed slightly as he hit the speed dial.

Neither of them noticed a mustached man sitting in the corner who'd been keeping an eye on the both of them.

...

En Route


Heylyn grabbed her room card as she left locking the door behind her. In the hall she joined Monique who'd ventured out ahead of her moments ago.

"Ready to go boss? You look great!" Monique commented on Heylyn's appearance.

"As do you. I take it you're looking to turn a few heads tonight?" Heylyn asked her friend and employee.

"That I am. But not away of course." Monique replied in jest.

"I assumed that much." Heylyn replied as she walked for the hotel elevator.

"What about you? You're looking a little more spiffed up than I've seen you during other social outings?" Monique asked Heylyn who looked frantically for the button.

"It's touchscreen." Monique said getting the touchscreen button.

"Right. To answer your question I thought it a special occasion enough to make an appearance." Heylyn replied looking to Monique.

"An appearance? You don't mean... as the Butterfly?" Monique confirmed that she'd heard Heylyn correctly.

"That, and in Bangkok. I mean this delegation is important and I'm hoping that I can draw some media attention to it. You did bring your costume?" Heylyn replied confirming that Monique had also brought her undergarment alter ego along.

"Yes. I have it on. The new one. I didn't forget. Do you think that she'll be ready too?" Monique replied.

"Who? Valerie? Ohhh. Alicia. I think that she'll do what she believes is right. She's got a lot more on her plate than we do. Our role here is a little bit different that theirs. Not lesser. Just different." Heylyn answered Monique and they stepped onto the elevator together.

The elevator arrived at the lobby and they stepped out looking as two Goddesses might stepping from a carriage. Doctor Briggs turned as they arrived admiring them as they approached.

"Well I must admit that of all the experiences I've had as a consultant that this one has had the most pleasant benefits. Accompanying the two of you to the Octave in Bangkok, Thailand is certainly a dream." Doctor Briggs offered an arm for each Heylyn and Monique.

"Well, we are off to see the Wizard after all. The Wizard of Octave." Monique replied.

"We're Canadian errr... North American diplomats too. Don't forget that part." Heylyn reminded them.

"You've got that right. Born in Canada but I studied in both the United States and Canada. I got a degree in Sociology at Yale. I studied Psychology and History and the University Of Toronto. That's where I built a curriculum around specializing in East/West philosophy. So I'm a North American child for this adventure." Doctor Briggs replied.

"Ok. I'll be the Chinese history representative for our little adventure tonight." Heylyn responded.

"Well that's good. We've got a well rounded group tonight to represent us in Bangkok." Monique replied to both of them.

They found a limousine outside of the hotel piling in and began their short journey to the Octave bar. Alicia had already left with Valerie, Norler and Bryce more than a half hour ago which was fine for Heylyn. She'd always liked arriving fashionably late. After all her business was the business of being noticed. Of making entrances, being seen as much as heard then making an exit. A part of that was about being the audience for someone else from time to time. Supporting your circle and what you believed to be right and true. The illustrious life of fashion and the so called vanity arts was as much about being seen as it was about seeing. Being both the subject of your own dream and the audience to another's.

Heylyn after her first two big shows she'd burnt out for time. Not grasping that the show wasn't all about her but about those she'd one day be audience to. Much like the her Mother had told explained to her. One foot on each side. Her Father often used to remind her that she had two ears and one mouth and that they should be used in that ratio. Her Mother had scolded him for she believed that one should reciprocate. Two ears was as good as good to hear one mouth after all and they should spend time listening and talking in proportion to one another.

She'd spent her first season competing against a designer with a cult like following who'd undermined Heylyn's many presentations of the first showing of her designs. They'd often taken the press spotlight from her as well on some occasions taking the credit for her creations. In the first year she thought that she was going nuts until another design and fan of her designs had told her that was one of the caveats of the business. Of show business. There were some who took the team spirit a bit too far. Taking advantage of the media eye in attempt to prop up their icon on the grounds of love and graciousness while they sabotaged mood and manner of any competitors. A predatory bunch they were seeking to make sure their icon rose to the top by any means.

Heylyn had taken this under advisement and for her third show she'd put together a conglomerate, introducing two new designers on the scene as well as mixing her show with the offerings of three other designers. She'd also introduced fund raising as an element of the show itself. Some of her models had been breast cancer survivors whom she'd gone through great lengths to procure while keeping their personal secret. The show itself had rave reviews not to mention the party after the show had made headlines around the entertainment world. That's when Heylyn had realized that the show wasn't about her. It was about the show. About making a difference. Soon after the predatory icon builders disappeared or fed on each other or both.

That was when she'd had a change of heart. With wings of course though that was long before she'd been reintroduced to the magnificent dragon of her childhood. Not long after she'd run into Monique on her way out for Chai Latte during break. Monique had just left her abusive boyfriend and was on the brink of being marginalized. Heylyn had seen her only noticing her for a moment but then it clicked. This Woman she'd just seen was a hidden beauty. She ran back to Monique eyeing her over once again taking her measurements with her eyes.

"Excuse me, but are you trying to pick me up?" Monique had asked her bluntly perhaps a little defensively.

"Don't flatter yourself. You're not my type. But if you'd be willing to listen I might be able to offer you a gig?" Heylyn had responded.

From there Monique had been discovered just like in the media and movies. Like a dream come true. She'd been hired as a model but not just any model. As the flagship model for an upcoming show of West Meet East International. It turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime for Monique, a French Canadian girl with Ukrainian heritage who'd come to Toronto seeking her fortune. Her piece of Canada's illustrious dream. She'd been used and abused until Heylyn had discovered her, helping her to find her wings. Both figuratively and literally eventually.

Arrival In Style


Monique exited the limousine first, the concierge offering his hand. She accepted it gracefully as a few representatives of the Bangkok press snapped pictures of her tightly wrapped figure.

Heylyn stepped out in her knockout evening suit, both elegant and flexible for her physique. Her pants slit on either leg revealing her musculature up to her curvaceous thighs.

"It would seem that I've been upstaged again." Doctor Briggs stepped out of the cab announcing his presence drawing a little laughter from the press.

The three of them gathered and made their way into the Bangkok Marriott Hotel towards the elevators.

They were greeted on the rooftop bar by another concierge who led them to the bar and lounge area to find the rest of the delegation.

"Well it's about time. We were wondering if you'd ever show." Bryce stood welcoming the new arrivals.

"Fashionably late?" Heylyn offered them.

"Well better late than never." Norler said standing beside Bryce.

Heylyn noticed Alicia sitting at her own table just beside the main table. Alicia gestured for her and Monique to join her.

"Thanks for watching over me." Doctor Briggs offered Heylyn and Monique as they joined Alicia.

"Not as much as you watched over us." Monique replied somewhat sarcastically.

"I didn't think she caught that." Doctor Briggs replied quietly under his breath.

Professor Sangsorn, Doctor Yongsaijut, Doctor Leekpai and Doctor Cho Zaw each stood to greet the new arrivals.

"It's nice to meet and talk on a social level like this. We're glad you could make it." Professor Sangsorn offered her greeting.

From behind Heylyn, Monique and Doctor Briggs appeared Katya and Victor.

"Sorry we ran a bit late. We made it nonetheless." Katya announced.

"It looks like everyone is here." Doctor Leekpai said gesturing for one of the staff to arrange accommodate the extra guests.

Heylyn and Monique joined Alicia who sat in earshot of the main table where Katya, Victor and Doctor Briggs took their places. Soon thereafter their drinks arrived as did a large platter of finger food to accompany their drinks.

"So what is it like being a Doctor in these parts? In your own words of course."  Bryce asked the Bangkok delegation.

Professor Sangsorn looked to her peers two of whom were Doctors in the field. Doctor Leekpai and Doctor Yongsaijut spent a moment deciding who'd speak first.

"Working in the Vientiane, Laos as a consultant I'm often elbow deep in data and statistics related to the medical practice in Laos. That means the infrastructure, facilities and of course personnel. Most of my consulting work is done for world agencies such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and Unicef as well. In the Vientiane area of Laos the Doctor to patient ratio is between fifteen hundred to eighteen hundred and it's from there that the highest concentration of medical professionals operate. In other parts of the country you'll find that ratio about ten times greater. That is about ten thousand patients per two and a half Doctors. I'm privy to a lot of statistics and instrumental when it comes to bringing more medical care to the area. We have a lot of outside expertise as well from China, Japan and Korea. Doctors Without Borders also play a role in shoring up the demand. Doctor Yongsaijut?" Doctor Leekpai answered first.

"I work here in Bangkok as a Pediatrician but I've done some field work in the area, even working in Laos and Cambodia for a time. Bangkok's facilities are pretty much in line with most of the Western world thanks to King Chulalongkorn's early attention to the issue of health care. We've a lot of hospitals in the city varying from Government operated to privately owned. In rural areas of Thailand there are some areas where access to healthcare is limited. Doctors might sometimes make monthly visits to such places to deal with common health care issues and to do a variety of check ups for the local patients. While working in Laos and Cambodia the most common issues I'd come across as a Pediatrician were often malnutrition and weight related in terms of infant health. In many rural areas food is scarce by our standards and many have to hunt and forage for food from an already limited food supply. Disease is also an issue in some places with Dengue fever and Malaria being at the front lines of that fight. Logistically speaking most issues are related to access and availability to healthcare, healthy diet and of course education. Lack of education and literacy is linked to many health care problems in the area. There have been recent improvements and many Doctors have been and are being trained in Cambodia and Laos to meet the challenge." Doctor Yongsaijut gave his answer.

"Remarkable. Victor and I met during our internment as acting medical staff providing relief care for a village in Cambodia. It was during a breakout of Malaria in the area. It was part of our requirements to do some field work despite the fact that most of what we currently do is research related. It was a humbling experience to say the least. Such a gracious people too. They were so grateful to have us there." Katya spoke as she reminisced.

"That was a wonderful and eye opening experience." Victor gave his wife a peck on the forehead.

"We have a lot of young students in the medical program do field work here in this part of the world." Professor Sangsorn added taking a sip of her drink.

"What about you? What's it like in Canada and the United States?" Doctor Leekpai asked their guests.

There was a moment of silence between them as they decided who'd go first. Finally it was Norler who spoke.

"Alicia and I live a lot different than most Canadians and that's thanks largely in part to my net worth and our combined income. As much as I'd like to say I know what it's like for every Canadian to live in Canada, I can't really speak. I can only say that it's a wonderful country. Certainly on the forefront of being a world model for culture and cooperation. There are still some areas where there are bumps in the proverbial road related to race and sexual orientation and many common issues you'd find anywhere but I'm not exposed to that as much as some other Canadians might be. Our living standards are certainly high as is our access to medical care. We probably have one of the best health care systems in the world. There's social programs and business incentives for both large and small business. From my point of view as a high income earner whose net worth is in the millions, I'd say Canada is a great place though it still has its growing pains." Norler answered giving his best impression of his home country.

"As the daughter of a family that emigrated from China to Canada thirty years ago I can speak having started from humble beginnings. I've faced much throughout the course of my life. Perhaps some discrimination as there is an underlying current of that nature sometimes directed towards Asian Canadians though I think we in the Chinese community have been used to that sort of treatment in North America for a long time. History is proof of it be we endured. Where we've found adversity from some, there are so many more who welcome us with open arms. As far as opportunity goes, I'd say that there's plenty of it so long as you choose to surround yourself with the right people. Try to stay away from the toxic ones who will bring you down or even attempt to pull you into their ways. There are many who will try to bring you down if you don't have that circle of support. Some might deny it but it's there but that might be the case everywhere. Insofar as once I was surrounded by motivated people like Alicia who is a friend from my childhood, I blossomed. From there life became a little less complex every day and I was as a young Woman able to find success in Canada as a successful entrepreneur. Things have been great ever since and I've seen Canada from its greatest heights to its lowest lows. Canada is my home, China is my home of ancestry and it hurts me to see others hurt my home." Heylyn spoke giving her honest testimony alluding to her time as The Butterfly Dragon.

"I'd have to say that I agree with Heylyn at least in part. Most of what I am today I'd not be if it weren't for having Heylyn in my life. I grew up in Canada in a middle class family in a house in suburbia. I'd had plans for my education but strongly thought against them thanks to bullying in school. Yes in Canada we have that too. Heylyn helped me to turn my self esteem around and for other people to see me a little bit differently. Perhaps even admiringly and maybe even regarding me as attractive. Because of that, because a newcomer like Heylyn helped me to find my confidence in myself, I was able to attend university and attain my Doctorate in Biology, Chemistry and Quantum Physics. Something I'd never have done without Canada and without the mentorship of someone like Heylyn. Canada is a wonderful place and I'd recommend to anyone to visit it at least once. Toronto is a good city too but like most cities has its growing pains as Norler put it. Some of those growing pains are as hard on its own residents as they are hard on others. I'd say that's Canada's one current obstacle to a major breakthrough." Alicia responded as honestly as she could muster.

"I grew up in a poor family for the first part of my life. The daughter of a French Canadian Mother and a hard working Ukrainian Father. Both my parents were honest people doing their best in Montreal to survive and raise their daughter. Montreal is a great city with a much different vibe than Toronto though as Heylyn said, if you surround yourself with the right kind of people, Toronto is a wonderful place. I moved to Toronto when I was nineteen and struggled for a long time. I found myself in the midst of some people with whom I should not have surrounded myself. That worked out badly and was nearly mixed up in activities of which I'd not like to speak. I was walking down the street just after escaping these toxic people when Heylyn noticed me and hired me for a photo shoot and later a Fashion Show. Heylyn helped me to get on my feet in Toronto and further more showed me the value of earning it. Thanks to Toronto, Heylyn and Toronto's art and fashion community, I'm a successful model and sometimes a creative Set Designer for the shows. I'd say Canada is a good place but like Heylyn and Alicia said, there's some hidden issues holding her back just a little. I've heard much worse as well, but thankfully I got my happy ending. I much like Heylyn use that opportunity to rescue people from that hidden issue that's a domestic obstacle to Canada's growth." Monique added to her friends' testimony.

Thrust And Parry


"No offense intended to any of you, but I overheard your conversation. I'm a working class bloke and have been my whole life. I'm here on vacation with my wife sitting next to a group of stuck up over educated and wealthy people talking about life. What makes you think that any of you are better because of your education? Your money?" asked a man dressed in suit and tie sitting next to them at the neighboring table.

"Begging your pardon the pardon of your Wife and yourself, but you haven't any right to interject on our conversation. We wish you no ill so why would you bring your ill opinion of us to us?" asked Professor Sangsorn.

"Because I needed to say it. Somebody has to say it. I think most of you think that you're great because you spend too much time in that media spotlight and that swells your head and ego. Likewise many of you because of your superior education you think yourself better than the common folk. Like myself who'd worked his entire life and hands to the bone just to receive a his retirement package and a gold pen for a thank you." the man continued sounding a little irritated.

Norler was about to call for security when Bryce stopped him.

"It's alright Norler. I'll address this man's point of view. After all, he did come to it by a life of hard work. Sir I hope that in your life and years you've learned to listen and hear and more importantly to learn. You've obviously come here looking for enjoyment during your retirement and being the gentleman that you are you chose to bring your wife to this fine establishment. Let's deal with every statement you made one at a time. First of all about money and wealth. You look at us and assume that everything that comes with it is about belaying any sense of responsibility to the society that begat us and people like us. You assume that money is just the power to do whatever you want. I personally do not make that much and I'd be surprised if I made more than yourself. I do however make enough to be responsible with that money. To take care of my responsibilities and then to progress my life a bit further so as to maximize the positive effects I can have upon the world. So it's just a bit better than it was when I got here. As for my wealthier friends here I can attest for them that such riches aren't just a license to do what you want. They're a bundle of immense responsibility and pressure that most persons like yourself could not fathom. Making choices that could have ramifications for the jobs of a thousand people like yourself is no easy task and making the right choice is even that much more difficult. It's not just a license to do what you want because there is always a lot of responsibility not only to your own well being but to the lives of thousands of other people tied to it. My friend here runs a large finance and research company. His daily decisions often balance the well being of many. That includes their health. Their jobs. Their families and the economy. That's not a light weight nor is it an easy pressure to have in your lap. Try going to sleep at night when a pressing decision that you have to make the next day might result in the job losses of hundred of people if not thousands. With the rewards that money brings there is always responsibility. Some of the people here have even earned their fortunes from nothing but what they could do with their two hands and a bit of creativity. So they started from the same starting block as you my friend and one of them is a lady. So don't think that such fortune has come easy to those who have and that its without its weight because often it is nothing but pressure. People that endure that kind of pressure sometimes like to play. We're playing right now because for the most part, our work consumes most if not all of our time. Even when we sleep. Now as an educated man myself, I'm going to deal with your second accusation about educated people thinking their education is a license to regard others as being lesser. There are some that are educated that do regard themselves as privileged and in some ways they are but not the ways they think they are. Education like money once again is a responsibility. The more you have, the more responsible you are to use it for the betterment of the world. The same goes for knowledge. Education and knowledge are different from one another because one can be acquired without an education while education is a method learned to acquire and understand knowledge and its applications. To tell you the truth the one thing that most educated people sometimes forget is that the people who built the educational institution did not have a formal education. It started somewhere the result of curious and courageous people who tried to understand the world around them and more importantly to share what they'd learned with others so that humanity could benefit from their understanding and so that every generation wouldn't be starting from the same place every time. So I am very humble in my acknowledgement that my education came from some courageous Women and Men of ancient history who were curious enough to understand the world around them and were gracious enough to share that knowledge and even record it so that it could further be shared with others. Having that education for myself is a great responsibility just as it is for any of the Doctors sitting at my table here or elsewhere in the world, for they've sworn to use that knowledge to heal and to do no harm. My kind Sir, have you ever sworn such an oath in your life? Some of the most interesting people that I know don't have a formal education that is even close to mine, yet they have that wonderful ability to comprehend and learn and many of those friends I'm able to discuss a wide variety of topics related to my education including the numbers. I often wonder how such people would be had they had the means to get an education. Some of them just didn't fit into the curriculum but nonetheless they were people who were interested in learning. Pioneers themselves and likely the kind of people who created the educational institution itself before it existed. They too use their knowledge in an attempt to make the world a better place living up to their responsibility. I can think of nothing more noble myself than someone through thick and thin who lives up to that responsibility and always perseveres despite that responsibility. Please I do hope that your Wife and yourself enjoy your dinner and retirement. I would ask that you please do not address this table with such misinformed statements again." Bryce answered in defense of his colleagues and friends.

Bryce signaled to the Wait staff to give the couple their next round of drinks on their tab.

"I'd heard of your sometimes outspoken nature Professor Maxwell. I'm honored to have seen it for myself." Professor Sangsorn replied to Bryce.

"Well forgive me but I just could not stand to see those statements go unanswered." Bryce responded.

"No offense taken. You'll always have our support and friendship here." Professor Sangsorn assured him.

"Thanks Bryce. I'm glad that you're part of this delegation." Norler added.

"Glad to have been of service. Now that the music has started Professor Sangsorn, would you like to Dance?" Bryce offered her his hand and she accepted.

"I'd love to." she said standing and joining him on the dance floor.

"Darling?" Victor asked Katya.

"Of course my dear. I wouldn't miss the chance for a dance ever." Katya responded joining her husband on the dance floor.

"I have to admit that this world would be a much better place if we spent our time dancing rather than fighting. I guess there's a time and place for it though." Heylyn spoke addressing the remainders of the group.

"I couldn't agree with you more. Perhaps you'd like to join me for a dance?" Doctor Briggs asked Heylyn.

"I'd love to, but only because I'd prefer not to see you dance by yourself." Heylyn answered him as they walked to the dance floor.

In Security


Alicia sat at the table with Monique, casually checking up on Norler every so often. Monique watched the couples admiringly on the dance floor almost reminiscing.

"So what happened with you and Derek?" Alicia asked Monique not having spoken with her in close company since just after the Treadwater Island incident.

"You mean the Security Specialist? We were seeing each other steady for a few months after we returned to Toronto. I even flew to New York and Los Angeles to be with him during his off hours for two of his jobs." Monique started.

"You don't mean that you literally flew do you?" Alicia asked Monique knowing full well about Monique's capabilities.

Monique rolled her eyes unsure if Alicia was being serious or not.

"No. I mean the old fashioned way. So our schedules got to be pretty hectic and it had been a long time since we'd seen each other. He called me one day and said that he needed some space. He promised me that he'd keep my secret safe and that he'd call me again in the future. I haven't heard from him since." Monique said somewhat emotionless long having gotten over their departure.

"I'm sorry to hear. You two were... You know Monique, you really need a special kind of guy. Maybe he wasn't the one." Alicia answered trying to be supportive though Alicia did not know Monique nearly as well as she knew Heylyn.

"Maybe. So have you managed to patch things up with Norler?" Monique asked her turning the tables with no ill intent.

"It's been a little bit difficult. Especially living in such close quarters to one another. We haven't talked the important talk if that's what you mean. We're still on ice. A bit slippery at the moment too." Alicia said looking over to Norler covertly.

"I'm sure you'll figure it out. Whatever needs to happen will." Monique replied returning the support as best she could.

It had taken Monique a few months to get over Derek. She'd even slept in a few too many days showing up late for scheduled photo shoots which were imperative for her job as a model. She didn't snap out of her simultaneous self pity and loathing until Heylyn sat her down for a long talk. Heylyn needed to do it because if she didn't, the other employees would think that she was playing favorites with Monique. That would not be fair to the others in West Meet East International who worked so hard to keep the company successful. Heylyn tried to go easy on her and fortunately had managed to get through to her. Heylyn had started giving Monique a wake up call in the mornings like she had when Monique had first been hired. Monique lived in the neighboring unit to Heylyn's downtown condominium and after their talk they'd travel to the West Meet East building in the downtown core of the fashion district together. Much like they did in the beginning, until Monique had gotten back in stride. That was what friends did for each other after all. Heylyn was a friend to Monique as much as she was a good boss. In her time running West Meet East she'd never had to fire anyone and she strived to maintain a professional relationship with everyone including Monique. She'd gone out on a limb for others in her company and she intended to keep them together. Much like a family. But when it came to irresponsibility and tardiness she had to draw the line.

Monique at quietly for a moment lulled by the music as Katya returned from her dance with Victor and joined Alicia and Monique at the lady's table as Doctor Briggs had dubbed it. Victor checked with the ladies if they needed fresh drinks and when they told him they were fine, he left them to take his place beside Doctor Leekpai.

"You know, while I was on the dance floor with Victor, I couldn't help but notice someone keeping a close eye on Heylyn. Sitting on the left hand side there near the bar. Do you see him? With the moustache?" Katya tried to point out the suspicious looking man to Alicia and Monique.

"I've seen him somewhere. Maybe he has one of those faces." Monique responded looking closely at the man.

"Heylyn is a beautiful woman. There is the chance that he's just checking her out you know?" Alicia suggested.

"Perhaps. But maybe a little too closely." Katya suggested.

They watched as Heylyn had finished her dance and had proceeded towards the lady's room. She passed right by the man who'd been watching her fully aware of his eyes upon her. Her senses at full alert as she progressed into the hallway leading the lady's lounge and wash facility. As soon as she was ten paces beyond him he stood and followed her. Monique made an effort to stand only to be held coaxed not to by Alicia.

"She's aware of him. That and she's a multiple black belt. If he messes with her he'll be in for a surprise." Alicia reminded Monique.

"I'm just a little bit protective you know." Monique replied.

"I'm watching him. Don't worry." Valerie responded from beside them.

As Heylyn rounded the corner a few strides away from the washroom door the man ran at her suddenly. Heylyn spun to defend herself against her attacker only to see someone had beat her to the punch.

A handsome and well dressed man had caught the assailant and twisted his arm pinning him to the wall.

"Would you be so kind as to check his identification. It's in his back right pocket. I've been watching him for most of the night." her savior responded.

Heylyn looked them both over carefully before reaching into her assailant's pocket to find a wallet. She opened it and found his identification.

"Frank Pheasel. American Press Association. He's a reporter..." Heylyn said aloud.

"A Photo Journalist. I have rights you know!" Frank replied.

"Not when you're stalking a lady to the washroom you don't." the mysterious man responded.

"I like you already." Heylyn replied smiling a bit for him.

"So do you mind telling me what you were doing here? Following me this far? Hoping for a front page photo for a tabloid?" Heylyn interrogated him.

"No. I was going to ask you a few questions about the delegation away from the crowd." Frank replied struggling a little against the other man's hold.

"Well you certainly picked the most dangerous and alarming way to do it. Do you know that this lady could have broken you into small pieces and left you scattered about the floor had I not intervened." the mysterious man spoke addressing Frank.

"I'd heard she's studied some kind of Tai Chi or something like that." Frank responded nervously.

"Tai Chi and then some. You don't want to mess with her that way again. Trust me. If it's alright with Miss Yates, I'm going to let you go. You'd better be scarce or she'll be the least of your worries." the man waited for Heylyn's nod before loosening his hold upon the man.

"Have a good night Frank. Next time think twice about doing something like that." Heylyn told Frank as he walked away.

The man fixed his tie and jacket as Heylyn watched.

"Now I guess I'd better take care of you. Do you have a name?" Heylyn asked him with a hint of seduction in her voice.

"That's better answered with this. Please don't read it aloud." the man handed her his wallet.

She opened it and within was a badge and identification stating him to be Special Agent Trevor Larsen.

"You can call me Troy if you'd prefer. I would. Just makes things a little less complicated." Troy asserted his wishes.

"Fine. Troy it is. So what were you doing here Troy? Are you here on official business or is this a personal call?" she asked him still unsure of his motives.

"Here on business much like yourself. You could consider me to be much like the security detail that has been assigned to your delegation by Tynan And Associates except that I'm here on behalf of the Government. Just to make sure that the little incident in New Delhi doesn't recur and to ensure that your delegation doesn't get mixed up in espionage related charges which has happened by the way." Troy answered carefully leveraging the merit of his motives to gain her trust.

"That's odd. We haven't had any skepticism about our motives here from any authorities, including from India where the attack on Professor Mutta occurred." Heylyn replied eyeing him carefully looking for any signs he might be lying.

"If you were going to be apprehended for questioning they would likely not announce it. You'd be taken and that would be that." Troy advised her.

"Even a high profile group like ours? I somehow doubt that. For one it would create an international fiasco and even cause diplomatic problems between our two countries. How can I be so certain that you aren't already trying to cause problems of that kind. To get the upper hand on one of the countries here with whom we are negotiating for this deal?" Heylyn asked Troy holding her ground.

"You're not quite as misinformed as I'd been led to believe." Troy answered her.

"Why? Because I'm in the vanity business? Did you think that I'd not have an intellect behind this makeup and glamour?" Heylyn crossed her arms purposely showing him that she could be assertive.

"Not at all. I'm just trying to warn you and to keep you safe. There's no pulling the wool over your eyes thankfully." Troy responded purposely withdrawing seeing that the information he'd been given about her was not accurate.

"I'd prefer to maintain my trust here in New Delhi, Bangkok and for the rest of the trip. If you're going to be trailing us I'd suggest that you stick to your profession and not get involved in and of the diplomacy. I appreciate the fact that you're watching over us, but I'd prefer to see this whole thing end without an international fiasco." Heylyn responded as she turned and began heading for the washroom.

"Oh and by the way. Thanks for saving me." she said as she left him in the hall.

"I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't have let you handle it." Troy said as he left the hall returning to the bar.

Alicia and Monique watched as Frank walked out of the washroom hall and took his original place. He appeared slightly scuffled and his shirt untucked as he made efforts to fix his attire.

"Looks like he got his." Monique turned to Alicia, Valerie and Katya.

A moment later they watched as Troy stepped out of the hall. He stopped and said something to Frank before continuing to a stool near the end of the bar.

"This is getting interesting." Valerie said as they watched.

Another few moments and Heylyn walked out of the hall and returned to her seat beside Monique and Alicia.

Frank Pheasel


"So what happened?" Alicia asked Heylyn.

Heylyn turned in the direction of the two men.

"That one's Frank. That one's Troy. Troy stopped Frank. I stopped Troy." Heylyn said smiling to herself.

Monique and Alicia looked at each other wondering what had happened.

"'Fess up. Really what happened?" Monique asked her again with a mischievous smile.

"Frank's press. He tried to get at me in the private and Troy stopped him. Troy's a body guard of sorts. Troy seems to believe that we could be in trouble with the local authorities and warned us that we could be abducted. I corrected him stating that I trust in this part of the world. He seems to me the type that's looking to make a bit of trouble to benefit from the diplomatic advantage that might result so I stopped him. We'll be seeing more of him again. I'd say to keep an eye on him too." Heylyn said explaining what had happened.

"Alright. I'll let Norler know." Alicia assured Heylyn.

"Wait. I'd better let him know. That way it keeps that subject away from your dealings with him. Easier on your relationship with him right now. Your relationship with him is important. This delegation is important. Make sense?" Valerie confirmed with Alicia.

Alicia thought about if for a moment before responding.

"You're right." Alicia said as she paused to think for a moment.

"Thanks for thinking of us Valerie." she continued.

The remainder of the night was spent between social groups at their table or on the dance floor. At three o'clock in the morning both delegations made their way to their respective hotels and settled in for the night.

The next day it was Norler who was awakened early by a messaging service. He answered the call on the hotel phone still groggy from the previous night's escapades.

"Yeah? Norler here." he said his voice still groggy.

"You need to check the morning paper's headlines. Hurry and get back to me." Helmet Werner's voice addressed him sharply.

"Alright. Gimme a minute." Norler said impatiently getting out of bed.

He went to the door and found a copy of his favorite newsprint edition. He quickly picked it up noticing on the bottom of the front page a picture of what appeared to be Professor Maxwell delivering his dressing down the retired gentleman who'd broached them the prior night. The headline said Bang Bang Maxwell's Silver Hammer: Professor Bryce Maxwell Digs Into Retired Man's Night.

"Whaaat? How could they?" Norler said aloud as he stepped in reading the story.

Bangkok, Thailand
Newswire

Tynan And Associates delegation to Bangkok hit a snag when senior delegation member Professor Bryce Maxwell opened up on a retired elderly couple. The attack appeared unprovoked and witnesses say Maxwell's demeanor was appalling for a Professor. When asked for an explanation representatives of Tynan And Associates only claimed they were looking into the matter and denied any further questions. Perhaps this signals the end of the doomed delegation.

Frank Pheasel

"I just read it. Werner that is not what happened at all. You know how it is. Professor Maxwell was nothing short of being a gentleman when he addressed the couple. He even bought them a round afterwards." Norler said defending his friend and delegation member.

"To some that might be an admission of wrong doing." Werner pressed him.

"To Bryce that was his way of saying no hard feelings. The man had made a statement to the effect of targeting the wealthy and educated. Bryce responded by dashing his ignorance but he did it in such a way so as not to belittle the guy." Norler said as he sat on his bed.

Alicia groaned from the other side of the bed.

"I'll do the best I can here but the real damage control is up to you. Speak with the rest of the Bangkok delegation before you leave and make sure we have their support on this issue. Call me later." Werner hung up.

"Who was that?" Alicia asked Norler as she leaned up in bed.

Norler tossed her the newspaper.

She quickly read the headline and story and scoffed.

"That's not what happened at all!" she said aloud in disbelief.

"I know. Can you tell him?" Norler asked Alicia.

"Why? Because I'm his peer?" Alicia responded defensively thinking about the situation for a moment before responding again.

"Alright. I'll tell him. I'm sorry." Alicia said quietly getting up and heading for the washroom.

...

"That weasel! Troy had him in his hands. That's the reporter that tried to follow me into the washroom last night." Heylyn announced at the breakfast table an hour later.

"Well I must admit I've never had press of this kind. For the most part they've been good to me so far. This is the first attack on my character of this nature." Bryce responded sounding very disappointed.

"Welcome to the club." Heylyn replied.

"Ditto that." Norler responded in like.

"Honestly the press have been very good to me and my career. I've had problems with one or two obsessive and problematic reporters before. Usually they burn out before long." Heylyn assured Bryce who seemed to deep in thought.

"Well honestly I'm more worried for my wife than I am for myself. This is stress that she could do without." Bryce responded.

"Well as Heylyn said they're usually not this bad. It sounds like this is personal or the guy was hired to do this. Maybe a payola of some time to find the dirt on our delegation." Norler told Bryce.

"Maybe the same people that tried to hurt us. The ones behind the attack on Professor Mattu?" Alicia suggested.

"I wasn't going to do this, but clearly this guy deserves it. I'm going to have him served with a cease and desist. Last night he tried to follow me into the lady's room. He denied it but he was already at the doorway when Troy restrained him. I think he's a sleeze looking for an easy sell to the papers fabricating dirt on others. At least serving him and announcing it to the press might reduce his credibility and the credibility of this story. I'll let the lawyers handle the rest. I personally think its the right thing to do. If he could do this to us he'll likely do it to someone else." Heylyn told the delegates.

"Yeah but that could be misconstrued as an attack on the freedom of the press and make matters worse." Norler advised.

"Personally I agree with Heylyn. I mean this guy's a creep. We have this Troy guy as a witness. I've had some try similar things with me. I think its time to put a stop to this sort of thing." Monique said endorsing her friend's plan.

"I appreciate the effort that you're making in your attempt to reduce the damage of this Frank Pheasel person. Consider this though, if that story hadn't been published would you have considered doing the same thing? We wouldn't be having this conversation right now and therefore the topic of pursuing this legally would not have come up. In other words is what you're doing just to conduct revenge or is it really to protect yourselves and other Women?" Bryce asked them honestly.

"Maybe that was the final straw in all honesty. Perhaps I'd have forgiven last night's attempt to breach my privacy but had I encountered the same thing again I'd likely have done what I just proposed. I can't think of a better reason to do this now. I don't want this creep trying to get a peep shot on another lady in that way." Heylyn told the delegation.

"I agree with Heylyn on this." Katya added.

"Me too. If that was my daughter he'd tried that with..." Victor cringed.

"I have to say that in all honesty I agree with taking those steps. I just hope that you're not seeking revenge and seeking to stop this person from doing the same thing again to someone else." Norler gave his opinion.

"I say let's take it out on the creep. Sounds like he deserves it." Valerie advised the delegation.

"I agree." Monique said curt and sweet.

"Then it's settled. I'll call my lawyer right now while Bryce is calling his wife." Heylyn said pulling her phone from her purse seeing Bryce already getting the speed dial on his.

"Meanwhile I'll call and deal with the Bangkok delegates. Let them know we're alright and thank them. Our next flight's at six o'clock this evening so we'll meet back here in the lobby ready to go at four o'clock in the afternoon. Everyone get that?" Norler asked the delegation.

Everybody nodded in acknowledgement and it was settled. Troy sat in his rental car watching as they left the hotel for the day.


Continued in The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See - Act III

The Economy Of Fear And A Second Chance

Steadman closed the door as he entered the office. The room was eerily still as he walked towards the executive desk and stood before it. On the other side of the desk a large chair slowly turned revealing a unusually calm Warley.

"Sit down." Warley said pragmatically.

"They knew about us. I don't know how but..." Steadman started.

"I said sit down." Warley continued unperturbed by Steadman's explanation.

Steadman looked at the seat across from Warley's executive desk. It had somehow taken the visage of an electric chair, the switch of course being in Warley's hands. Steadman thought carefully about whether he should risk sitting in the chair or just continue out the door and start a new life elsewhere. Steadman considered his options as time moved at an imperceptible rate for him. He'd started with Future Tangent Industries only two years ago. Warley had taken him under his wing right from the start. He'd been intimidated by Warley at first but as he grew accustomed to the facade Warley presented him, he often took for granted the cunning at Warley's disposal. Warley preferred it that way and experience had taught him that it was far better to be underestimated and over prepared than vice versa. Young men like Steadman had come and gone over the years. Many with far greater potential than Steadman but the fact was that if you weren't the one sitting in Warley's chair, you were merely a commodity. Easily bought and sold and seldom was there a tear shed when such commodities disappeared. Steadman had often been led to believe that they'd gone of their own accord and had started new lives elsewhere. Still in the same business but not with Future Tangent Industries. Not with Warley. The truth was though that once you'd been with Warley, there was no being without Warley. You were either with him or you simply ceased to be.

Warley had seen other men in Steadman's position. He knew exactly what each one was thinking because he'd been there at one time himself. The only difference between himself and the young men who'd been his commodities was that instead of running from the man in the big chair, he took the big chair from the man. Warley had often pondered when the man of his ilk would come walking through that door. The man who'd look him in the eye and completely deceive him enough to snatch the big chair from under him. He'd been through many during his time at Future Tangent Industries and he'd seen into Steadman's soul enough to know that Steadman would never take the big chair. Nor would he run. Steadman was somebody that Warley would never truly respect but he was useful. Recently however that usefulness had run out. Steadman looked into the headlights of the oncoming car and found that he could not budge. So he sat down.

"The security firm. The specialists that we always use for this sort of operation seem to think that there is an internal leak. Their first operation in New Delhi was compromised somehow when the target returned to his office and found the security operative with his hands in the cookie jar. He made it out but just barely. We had to pull him from India altogether and that cost the security firm an asset. In Thailand I just received word that we lost four guys to the authorities. Nabbed with their unregistered and modified weapons, their identification stolen. The security firm had no choice but to deny that it had anything to do with them. They'll likely serve a few years in a Thailand prison. The security firm will no doubt have them silenced before they talk. They were made even before they had a chance to retire Professor Sangsorn. You did not tell me that the Treadwater Island anomalies were going to be there." Steadman said keeping his composure as best he could through a slightly wavering voice.

Warley smelled Steadman's fear and it energized him.

"They're professionals. They shouldn't need to know such details. Besides, we had no way of knowing that the anomalies would be there either. Our intel said the anomalies are supposed to be inert. That the effects of the SY349 were unstable and that their unique abilities would cease within four weeks of time of the Treadwater Island incident." Warley lied to Steadman.

"Well apparently the the SY349 doesn't have an expiry date." Steadman said to Warley still very much aware of the oncoming headlights.

"You don't seem to understand the big picture. What's at stake here. You do realize that the Asian market makes up more than half of the world's global economy? Do you know what would happen if Tynan became the trusted medical supplier for these countries of the East? You will know if that vote goes through because when it does you'll see the biggest transfer of medical tech and research stocks in history. Future Tangent Industries will cease to be and Tynan will become a behemoth. We can't let that happen and to do that we have to prevent the West from becoming friends with the East through the creation of this medical fund. If it goes through, we can kiss competitive markets for medical advances good bye and that's because the treatment prices will be regulated by the fund itself. That means that we can't come along with a better mouse trap and charge amply for it. What we should get. Worse, what if by chance Western medicine and Eastern medicine start working together more closely. What if the East starts moving in on Western medical markets?" Warley said talking as if he'd pledged his undying loyalty to Future Tangent Industries.

"Sir, we believe that this delegation will not leave China or Japan with any support for the fund or the SY389. The hinging point will be Thailand and Korea. From the word we got on the matter the delegation already had India and Malaysia's support. Sri Lanka and Indonesia are leaning in favor but that's still up in the air. The Thailand delegation is in complete support for the fund. Likewise with Laos and Vietnam. If South Korea supports the fund creation initiative that would mean that both China and Japan would need to vote against it unanimously to stop it unless China vetoes it entirely." Steadman explained hoping that distracting Warley by giving him the power to decide might by him some more time.

"We need a hidden patient to surface." Warley told Steadman.

"I beg your pardon sir, a what?" Steadman asked Warley nervously.

"A hidden patient. A failed treatment based upon the application of the SY349 to a patient. Preferably someone young. Incapacitated enough to be a sympathy case but not so much that people can't identify with them." Warley suggested.

"Sir, there is no such patient. There's two patients for whom the treatment did not work but without any adverse side effects." Steadman replied indicating that he'd already examined that avenue.

"Then hire one and a few Doctors who will go along with it. We'll pay them well. Very well. We'll mount a public campaign against the SY349, SY389 and SY390. Then when the delegation gets to China, we'll set up an assassination and pin it on one of the delegates. That's our solution. That's how we solve our problem." Warley told Steadman as he leaned back in his executive chair piercing Steadman's soul with his hollow and emotionless eyes.

"Sir, we've got a situation that we might be able to exploit in that regard. It's to do with Norler and Doctor Westin. We have intel that says they're having relationship problems. Some people on the flight to Thailand claimed to have overheard them arguing. Since that point they've made no public shows of affection of any kind. Not even holding hands." Steadman informed Warley hoping he'd bought himself another chance.

"That wasn't out of their respect for countries like India where public displays of affection are frowned upon?" Warley confirmed still hesitant to trust Steadman.

"No sir. As I said several people on the airline witnessed an argument. They haven't been seen together since." Steadman assured Warley.

"Excellent work. That's exactly what we'll do. The assassination of a Chinese official from the Chinese delegation. We'll pin it on Doctor Westin who of course will have shot her own estranged lover Walton Norler there before. Arrange for our failed SY349 media patient and some Doctors to support the case we'll build against Tynan and we'll start the pressure cooker. By the time they make it to China, we can exploit the situation easily and the public will buy it! Most of all they'll hate Tynan And Associates and love Future Tangent Industries. It looks like you've got your job back and another chance. Don't blow it." said Warley who loved having his subordinates in his debt.

Another fact about how Warley had managed to stay in that chair for so long was that he understood the economy of fear. The economy of keeping others afraid of him. He was a master of profiting when his subordinates failed him for they'd work just trying to make it up to him. Then when the smoke had cleared he'd come up looking like a hero. After all he'd given Steadman another chance after all of Steadman's failures. If Steadman failed him after that, then Steadman would likely experience a similar fate as those of Norler and Doctor Westin. In order to play Steadman, he only had to convince Steadman that it was the end for him if he'd failed again. In truth though it was. For now though as far as Steadman was concerned, the oncoming headlights had stopped and he'd been able to get off of the road. That day Steadman had left Warley's office with his life, a big change from his earlier fate.

Long enough to make it up to Warley for his "extended" life and second chance.

Delegation Dinner And Drinks In Bangkok

They sat atop the roof of an enormous building in the downtown core of Bangkok as the sun set to the East. They'd separated at four in the afternoon for a break where they'd returned to their hotel rooms. Most of the delegates themselves had taken that time to recharge with a small nap or a shower to prepare themselves for the evening and their only full night in Bangkok for they'd be leaving in the early evening the next day. They'd planned to enjoy the evening together. The Thailand delegation with the Western delegates.

Heylyn, Monique and Valerie had not yet had time to inform Alicia about the assailants at the Wat Sutat and decided they'd find her alone in the evening at which time they'd tell her what had happened. Alicia and Norler were still silent and curt, saying little to each other. It was as if the wounds yielded no pain for them but instead had turned directly to hardened scars. They were both professional enough to maintain their rapport with one another both in public and private and new what lines to keep and which ones to cross. There had been an awkward moment between them when they'd come close to one another in their hotel room. When they were in India only two days earlier they'd found themselves together in their hotel room with thirty minutes to spare before their next meeting. Though they hadn't planned it, they'd found themselves making improvised love, first on the chest of drawers working their way slowly to the wall. Afterwards they'd collapsed exhausted to the floor entangled with one another for a little under three minutes. In that time they'd found more peace in one another than they had in all of the nights they'd spent away from home combined.

They'd found themselves in the hotel room in Bangkok with the same opportunity but from a much different state in their relationship. There was no relationship but there was still the sexual tension. Alicia had considered sending the signals. Letting him know that she was ripe and for the picking and then decided against doing so. They met at one point almost running into one another in the middle of the room and there was a moment of awkward silence that could have led anywhere. Ultimately neither found the want to face the other regarding their most current disagreement and so the moment ended with a whimper rather than an explosion of lust.

Alicia had left early going to the lobby to sit and enjoy a bit of anonymity and more importantly her mental space. She sat in one of the lobby sofas for twenty minutes not even aware that Bryce sat only a few seats away from her in an overstuffed chair reading one of the Bangkok dailies. He'd seen her and having been married for twenty years himself, he'd seen that look before. The look of one who needed their space. Their solitude from just about everyone. A moment to gather one's life unto themselves and get it all in order. To collect one's bearings if not so they could continue in the right direction at least so they could continue. If she wanted to speak at all, she'd notice him when the time was right and he'd oblige her.  As it so happened she did just and when the time was right.

"I'm not interrupting am I?" she asked him.

"Alicia? What a pleasant surprise." he responded feigning unawareness.

"Mind if I join you?" she asked him already knowing the answer.

"Not at all. I see you've found this wonderful haven here. And to think that it was in the lobby of our hotel all along." he smiled catching the last bit of sunlight as it slowly dipped behind the neighboring buildings of the Bangkok horizon.

"I agree. I just came here for a little solitude myself." Alicia responded biting her tongue just after she'd spoken.

"If you need some space I could..." Bryce replied sincerely.

"No. I had a bit of space already. I think that I need to talk with someone I trust." Alicia looked at him.

"By that statement, I assume that you mean me." Bryce put the magazine down on a nearby table.

"Yes. I guess that would be you." Alicia said shifting just a little closer so as not to draw attention.

"If you don't mind me asking, are you having a bumpy spot in your relationship with Norler?" Bryce asked her.

"We tried to keep it hidden but I guess its starting to get pretty obvious. Yes. We did have a little falling out." she replied looking down to her lap for a moment.

"I'm sure the pressure of this situation doesn't make it any easier but you have to ask yourself if when you've succeeded, that both of you might look back upon this time and laugh? Perhaps curled up in bed in a lover's embrace? Haven't you ever had one of those times?" Bryce asked her folding his legs and leaning in himself.

"Of course. I mean there was this one time that he'd locked the keys of my car in the trunk of my car. It was an accident of course but at the time... At the time I was really angry with him. I didn't talk with him for a day or two. Then two nights later I come home and he's got the place decorated for a romantic candle light dinner. My favorite album in the music player. Everything was ready to go. Champagne. Everything. Of course hours later we were in bed laughing about the car keys. I scolded him so much that night jokingly of course. He took it all too." she told him laughing and giggling as she reminisced.

"What's different about this time besides the weight of the world upon your shoulders, Atlas? Might I remind you not to shrug as Ayn Rand so delicately put it or there'll be world all over the marble floor in here." Bryce asked her metaphorically.

She thought long and hard about her situation before she spoke. She wondered how she was going to broach the subject with Bryce seeing as Bryce did not know about her alter ego, Night Style. Norler had known and she'd agreed to give up her nightly gallivanting as a superhero and be the hero from the laboratory and research point of view. She'd agreed that she could offer the world much more as a Scientist rather than a superhero. Their argument had seen them disagree given the current situation and the risk to their goals in Asia with the attack upon Professor Mattu and more recently with the assailants in the Wat Sutat.

"This is different. We weren't able to agree about something very key to our relationship. About trust. It looks like neither of us is willing to give in." Alicia told him.

"A little bit like our current situation if you don't mind me saying. Do you feel that there's something you need that you may not be getting? What about him? Maybe he feels the same way? Is there something that he wants you to give up in order for the both of you to keep going? Together? What about a compromise? You can afford to direct a little bit of that marvelous negotiating power the two of you share to mend your relationship. Maybe if you look at it from that point of view, that might give you a bit of motivation to solve the issue between you?" Bryce asked her pressing the point home.

"You're right. We're negotiating perhaps one of the most important issues of our lifetime together against the most important issue keeping us apart. What's complicated about this is..." Alicia began before she paused for a long while.

Bryce waited before Alicia continued.

"Do you remember the conversation in the Looking Glass Lounge? I mean about causality? About Godel's trickster? About keeping the inner workings of the universe hidden while unfolding in a way that seems like art?" Alicia confirmed with Bryce.

"Like it was yesterday. I hope nothing happened that night that led to your current issues?" Bryce asked her.

"No. I meant like its somehow related. Like if Norler and I mend our relationship, that the universe might balance it for us by denying us approval for the Fund. Like it gives something and it takes something at the same time." Alicia asked him deep in thought about what Weltherwithsp had said to her during their shared dream.

"You mean like balancing the outcomes? As in duality?" Bryce confirmed with her.

"I guess you could say it that way." Alicia asked him cocking her head a little.

"We're in the Far East of Asia. I mean what conversation wouldn't find itself on the topic of duality. I'm not so certain that it's as imperative a concept here as we'll likely find the further east we progress from here. I have two things I'll tell you on that subject. The first being that regardless of the underlying mechanisms that we can only speculate about, you must proceed regardless. When the stakes are high that might not seem a good answer for if there is an underlying duality that balances cause and effect, that would make the universe a hundred percent predicable and very easy to deal with. However that's now what we have so we must proceed regardless with our own wisdom, intent and intuition as our guide. The second thing that I was going to point out that this morning before we departed for the Wat Sutat, I received an email from an old friend from Beijing. He told me that their delegation is going to include a Professor of Eastern Philosophy specializing in Chinese philosophy both ancient and modern. Perhaps and I'm only suggesting, such a question might prove to be useful in a relationship sense and a diplomatic sense? I mean whom better to speak to about this issue than a philosopher that has grown up eating, breathing and sleeping every part of that philosophy. If you don't listen to me, perhaps you should listen to her. In Japan we'll likely broach the same topic but from a much different point of view. I don't know it you can wait for that long but you should consider that thinking about this issue is giving you a lot of insight into Eastern philosophy. The key to solving the problems with your relationship with Norler might lead to the means to negotiate with the Chinese and Japanese delegations. By tomorrow night we'll be in Beijing and I'm hoping that we're able to capitalize on what we learned in New Delhi and Bangkok to help us with our negotiations there." Bryce posed leaning in as he did.

"I have to admit that you've already given me a lot to think about. A lot of hope too but there's still a bit of doubt." Alicia told him still not quite able to smile.

"Kind of like our goal here. We've made good progress but we're still only part way there. Maybe tonight's outing with the Bangkok delegation will be a good omen for the future of of this delegation and of course for your relationship with Norler." Bryce smiled hoping that it might be contagious.

"Thanks Bryce. Your wife is certainly a lucky lady." Alicia said to him as she contracted a smile.

"Luck had nothing to do with it. Once we had our eyes set on each other we knew it was for keeps but that's a story for another time. Speaking of which, my wife is going to kill me if I don't call her. She'll just be waking up for her morning yoga right about now." Bryce stood as Alicia did.

Alicia pecked him on the cheek as he fumbled around searching his pocket for his phone. He blushed slightly as he hit the speed dial.

Neither of them noticed a mustached man sitting in the corner who'd been keeping an eye on the both of them.

...

En Route

Heylyn grabbed her room card as she left locking the door behind her. In the hall she joined Monique who'd ventured out ahead of her moments ago.

"Ready to go boss? You look great!" Monique commented on Heylyn's appearance.

"As do you. I take it you're looking to turn a few heads tonight?" Heylyn asked her friend and employee.

"That I am. But not away of course." Monique replied in jest.

"I assumed that much." Heylyn replied as she walked for the hotel elevator.

"What about you? You're looking a little more spiffed up than I've seen you during other social outings?" Monique asked Heylyn who looked frantically for the button.

"It's touchscreen." Monique said getting the touchscreen button.

"Right. To answer your question I thought it a special occasion enough to make an appearance." Heylyn replied looking to Monique.

"An appearance? You don't mean... as the Butterfly?" Monique confirmed that she'd heard Heylyn correctly.

"That, and in Bangkok. I mean this delegation is important and I'm hoping that I can draw some media attention to it. You did bring your costume?" Heylyn replied confirming that Monique had also brought her undergarment alter ego along.

"Yes. I have it on. The new one. I didn't forget. Do you think that she'll be ready too?" Monique replied.

"Who? Valerie? Ohhh. Alicia. I think that she'll do what she believes is right. She's got a lot more on her plate than we do. Our role here is a little bit different that theirs. Not lesser. Just different." Heylyn answered Monique and they stepped onto the elevator together.

The elevator arrived at the lobby and they stepped out looking as two Goddesses might stepping from a carriage. Doctor Briggs turned as they arrived admiring them as they approached.

"Well I must admit that of all the experiences I've had as a consultant that this one has had the most pleasant benefits. Accompanying the two of you to the Octave in Bangkok, Thailand is certainly a dream." Doctor Briggs offered an arm for each Heylyn and Monique.

"Well, we are off to see the Wizard after all. The Wizard of Octave." Monique replied.

"We're Canadian errr... North American diplomats too. Don't forget that part." Heylyn reminded them.

"You've got that right. Born in Canada but I studied in both the United States and Canada. I got a degree in Sociology at Yale. I studied Psychology and History and the University Of Toronto. That's where I built a curriculum around specializing in East/West philosophy. So I'm a North American child for this adventure." Doctor Briggs replied.

"Ok. I'll be the Chinese history representative for our little adventure tonight." Heylyn responded.

"Well that's good. We've got a well rounded group tonight to represent us in Bangkok." Monique replied to both of them.

They found a limousine outside of the hotel piling in and began their short journey to the Octave bar. Alicia had already left with Valerie, Norler and Bryce more than a half hour ago which was fine for Heylyn. She'd always liked arriving fashionably late. After all her business was the business of being noticed. Of making entrances, being seen as much as heard then making an exit. A part of that was about being the audience for someone else from time to time. Supporting your circle and what you believed to be right and true. The illustrious life of fashion and the so called vanity arts was as much about being seen as it was about seeing. Being both the subject of your own dream and the audience to another's.

Heylyn after her first two big shows she'd burnt out for time. Not grasping that the show wasn't all about her but about those she'd one day be audience to. Much like the her Mother had told explained to her. One foot on each side. Her Father often used to remind her that she had two ears and one mouth and that they should be used in that ratio. Her Mother had scolded him for she believed that one should reciprocate. Two ears was as good as good to hear one mouth after all and they should spend time listening and talking in proportion to one another.

She'd spent her first season competing against a designer with a cult like following who'd undermined Heylyn's many presentations of the first showing of her designs. They'd often taken the press spotlight from her as well on some occasions taking the credit for her creations. In the first year she thought that she was going nuts until another design and fan of her designs had told her that was one of the caveats of the business. Of show business. There were some who took the team spirit a bit too far. Taking advantage of the media eye in attempt to prop up their icon on the grounds of love and graciousness while they sabotaged mood and manner of any competitors. A predatory bunch they were seeking to make sure their icon rose to the top by any means.

Heylyn had taken this under advisement and for her third show she'd put together a conglomerate, introducing two new designers on the scene as well as mixing her show with the offerings of three other designers. She'd also introduced fund raising as an element of the show itself. Some of her models had been breast cancer survivors whom she'd gone through great lengths to procure while keeping their personal secret. The show itself had rave reviews not to mention the party after the show had made headlines around the entertainment world. That's when Heylyn had realized that the show wasn't about her. It was about the show. About making a difference. Soon after the predatory icon builders disappeared or fed on each other or both.

That was when she'd had a change of heart. With wings of course though that was long before she'd been reintroduced to the magnificent dragon of her childhood. Not long after she'd run into Monique on her way out for Chai Latte during break. Monique had just left her abusive boyfriend and was on the brink of being marginalized. Heylyn had seen her only noticing her for a moment but then it clicked. This Woman she'd just seen was a hidden beauty. She ran back to Monique eyeing her over once again taking her measurements with her eyes.

"Excuse me, but are you trying to pick me up?" Monique had asked her bluntly perhaps a little defensively.

"Don't flatter yourself. You're not my type. But if you'd be willing to listen I might be able to offer you a gig?" Heylyn had responded.

From there Monique had been discovered just like in the media and movies. Like a dream come true. She'd been hired as a model but not just any model. As the flagship model for an upcoming show of West Meet East International. It turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime for Monique, a French Canadian girl with Ukrainian heritage who'd come to Toronto seeking her fortune. Her piece of Canada's illustrious dream. She'd been used and abused until Heylyn had discovered her, helping her to find her wings. Both figuratively and literally eventually.

Arrival In Style

Monique exited the limousine first, the concierge offering his hand. She accepted it gracefully as a few representatives of the Bangkok press snapped pictures of her tightly wrapped figure.

Heylyn stepped out in her knockout evening suit, both elegant and flexible for her physique. Her pants slit on either leg revealing her musculature up to her curvaceous thighs.

"It would seem that I've been upstaged again." Doctor Briggs stepped out of the cab announcing his presence drawing a little laughter from the press.

The three of them gathered and made their way into the Bangkok Marriott Hotel towards the elevators.

They were greeted on the rooftop bar by another concierge who led them to the bar and lounge area to find the rest of the delegation.

"Well it's about time. We were wondering if you'd ever show." Bryce stood welcoming the new arrivals.

"Fashionably late?" Heylyn offered them.

"Well better late than never." Norler said standing beside Bryce.

Heylyn noticed Alicia sitting at her own table just beside the main table. Alicia gestured for her and Monique to join her.

"Thanks for watching over me." Doctor Briggs offered Heylyn and Monique as they joined Alicia.

"Not as much as you watched over us." Monique replied somewhat sarcastically.

"I didn't think she caught that." Doctor Briggs replied quietly under his breath.

Professor Sangsorn, Doctor Yongsaijut, Doctor Leekpai and Doctor Cho Zaw each stood to greet the new arrivals.

"It's nice to meet and talk on a social level like this. We're glad you could make it." Professor Sangsorn offered her greeting.

From behind Heylyn, Monique and Doctor Briggs appeared Katya and Victor.

"Sorry we ran a bit late. We made it nonetheless." Katya announced.

"It looks like everyone is here." Doctor Leekpai said gesturing for one of the staff to arrange accommodate the extra guests.

Heylyn and Monique joined Alicia who sat in earshot of the main table where Katya, Victor and Doctor Briggs took their places. Soon thereafter their drinks arrived as did a large platter of finger food to accompany their drinks.

"So what is it like being a Doctor in these parts? In your own words of course."  Bryce asked the Bangkok delegation.

Professor Sangsorn looked to her peers two of whom were Doctors in the field. Doctor Leekpai and Doctor Yongsaijut spent a moment deciding who'd speak first.

"Working in the Vientiane, Laos as a consultant I'm often elbow deep in data and statistics related to the medical practice in Laos. That means the infrastructure, facilities and of course personnel. Most of my consulting work is done for world agencies such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and Unicef as well. In the Vientiane area of Laos the Doctor to patient ratio is between fifteen hundred to eighteen hundred and it's from there that the highest concentration of medical professionals operate. In other parts of the country you'll find that ratio about ten times greater. That is about ten thousand patients per two and a half Doctors. I'm privy to a lot of statistics and instrumental when it comes to bringing more medical care to the area. We have a lot of outside expertise as well from China, Japan and Korea. Doctors Without Borders also play a role in shoring up the demand. Doctor Yongsaijut?" Doctor Leekpai answered first.

"I work here in Bangkok as a Pediatrician but I've done some field work in the area, even working in Laos and Cambodia for a time. Bangkok's facilities are pretty much in line with most of the Western world thanks to King Chulalongkorn's early attention to the issue of health care. We've a lot of hospitals in the city varying from Government operated to privately owned. In rural areas of Thailand there are some areas where access to healthcare is limited. Doctors might sometimes make monthly visits to such places to deal with common health care issues and to do a variety of check ups for the local patients. While working in Laos and Cambodia the most common issues I'd come across as a Pediatrician were often malnutrition and weight related in terms of infant health. In many rural areas food is scarce by our standards and many have to hunt and forage for food from an already limited food supply. Disease is also an issue in some places with Dengue fever and Malaria being at the front lines of that fight. Logistically speaking most issues are related to access and availability to healthcare, healthy diet and of course education. Lack of education and literacy is linked to many health care problems in the area. There have been recent improvements and many Doctors have been and are being trained in Cambodia and Laos to meet the challenge." Doctor Yongsaijut gave his answer.

"Remarkable. Victor and I met during our internment as acting medical staff providing relief care for a village in Cambodia. It was during a breakout of Malaria in the area. It was part of our requirements to do some field work despite the fact that most of what we currently do is research related. It was a humbling experience to say the least. Such a gracious people too. They were so grateful to have us there." Katya spoke as she reminisced.

"That was a wonderful and eye opening experience." Victor gave his wife a peck on the forehead.

"We have a lot of young students in the medical program do field work here in this part of the world." Professor Sangsorn added taking a sip of her drink.

"What about you? What's it like in Canada and the United States?" Doctor Leekpai asked their guests.

There was a moment of silence between them as they decided who'd go first. Finally it was Norler who spoke.

"Alicia and I live a lot different than most Canadians and that's thanks largely in part to my net worth and our combined income. As much as I'd like to say I know what it's like for every Canadian to live in Canada, I can't really speak. I can only say that it's a wonderful country. Certainly on the forefront of being a world model for culture and cooperation. There are still some areas where there are bumps in the proverbial road related to race and sexual orientation and many common issues you'd find anywhere but I'm not exposed to that as much as some other Canadians might be. Our living standards are certainly high as is our access to medical care. We probably have one of the best health care systems in the world. There's social programs and business incentives for both large and small business. From my point of view as a high income earner whose net worth is in the millions, I'd say Canada is a great place though it still has its growing pains." Norler answered giving his best impression of his home country.

"As the daughter of a family that emigrated from China to Canada thirty years ago I can speak having started from humble beginnings. I've faced much throughout the course of my life. Perhaps some discrimination as there is an underlying current of that nature sometimes directed towards Asian Canadians though I think we in the Chinese community have been used to that sort of treatment in North America for a long time. History is proof of it be we endured. Where we've found adversity from some, there are so many more who welcome us with open arms. As far as opportunity goes, I'd say that there's plenty of it so long as you choose to surround yourself with the right people. Try to stay away from the toxic ones who will bring you down or even attempt to pull you into their ways. There are many who will try to bring you down if you don't have that circle of support. Some might deny it but it's there but that might be the case everywhere. Insofar as once I was surrounded by motivated people like Alicia who is a friend from my childhood, I blossomed. From there life became a little less complex every day and I was as a young Woman able to find success in Canada as a successful entrepreneur. Things have been great ever since and I've seen Canada from its greatest heights to its lowest lows. Canada is my home, China is my home of ancestry and it hurts me to see others hurt my home." Heylyn spoke giving her honest testimony alluding to her time as The Butterfly Dragon.

"I'd have to say that I agree with Heylyn at least in part. Most of what I am today I'd not be if it weren't for having Heylyn in my life. I grew up in Canada in a middle class family in a house in suburbia. I'd had plans for my education but strongly thought against them thanks to bullying in school. Yes in Canada we have that too. Heylyn helped me to turn my self esteem around and for other people to see me a little bit differently. Perhaps even admiringly and maybe even regarding me as attractive. Because of that, because a newcomer like Heylyn helped me to find my confidence in myself, I was able to attend university and attain my Doctorate in Biology, Chemistry and Quantum Physics. Something I'd never have done without Canada and without the mentorship of someone like Heylyn. Canada is a wonderful place and I'd recommend to anyone to visit it at least once. Toronto is a good city too but like most cities has its growing pains as Norler put it. Some of those growing pains are as hard on its own residents as they are hard on others. I'd say that's Canada's one current obstacle to a major breakthrough." Alicia responded as honestly as she could muster.

"I grew up in a poor family for the first part of my life. The daughter of a French Canadian Mother and a hard working Ukrainian Father. Both my parents were honest people doing their best in Montreal to survive and raise their daughter. Montreal is a great city with a much different vibe than Toronto though as Heylyn said, if you surround yourself with the right kind of people, Toronto is a wonderful place. I moved to Toronto when I was nineteen and struggled for a long time. I found myself in the midst of some people with whom I should not have surrounded myself. That worked out badly and was nearly mixed up in activities of which I'd not like to speak. I was walking down the street just after escaping these toxic people when Heylyn noticed me and hired me for a photo shoot and later a Fashion Show. Heylyn helped me to get on my feet in Toronto and further more showed me the value of earning it. Thanks to Toronto, Heylyn and Toronto's art and fashion community, I'm a successful model and sometimes a creative Set Designer for the shows. I'd say Canada is a good place but like Heylyn and Alicia said, there's some hidden issues holding her back just a little. I've heard much worse as well, but thankfully I got my happy ending. I much like Heylyn use that opportunity to rescue people from that hidden issue that's a domestic obstacle to Canada's growth." Monique added to her friends' testimony.

Thrust And Parry

"No offense intended to any of you, but I overheard your conversation. I'm a working class bloke and have been my whole life. I'm here on vacation with my wife sitting next to a group of stuck up over educated and wealthy people talking about life. What makes you think that any of you are better because of your education? Your money?" asked a man dressed in suit and tie sitting next to them at the neighboring table.

"Begging your pardon the pardon of your Wife and yourself, but you haven't any right to interject on our conversation. We wish you no ill so why would you bring your ill opinion of us to us?" asked Professor Sangsorn.

"Because I needed to say it. Somebody has to say it. I think most of you think that you're great because you spend too much time in that media spotlight and that swells your head and ego. Likewise many of you because of your superior education you think yourself better than the common folk. Like myself who'd worked his entire life and hands to the bone just to receive a his retirement package and a gold pen for a thank you." the man continued sounding a little irritated.

Norler was about to call for security when Bryce stopped him.

"It's alright Norler. I'll address this man's point of view. After all, he did come to it by a life of hard work. Sir I hope that in your life and years you've learned to listen and hear and more importantly to learn. You've obviously come here looking for enjoyment during your retirement and being the gentleman that you are you chose to bring your wife to this fine establishment. Let's deal with every statement you made one at a time. First of all about money and wealth. You look at us and assume that everything that comes with it is about belaying any sense of responsibility to the society that begat us and people like us. You assume that money is just the power to do whatever you want. I personally do not make that much and I'd be surprised if I made more than yourself. I do however make enough to be responsible with that money. To take care of my responsibilities and then to progress my life a bit further so as to maximize the positive effects I can have upon the world. So it's just a bit better than it was when I got here. As for my wealthier friends here I can attest for them that such riches aren't just a license to do what you want. They're a bundle of immense responsibility and pressure that most persons like yourself could not fathom. Making choices that could have ramifications for the jobs of a thousand people like yourself is no easy task and making the right choice is even that much more difficult. It's not just a license to do what you want because there is always a lot of responsibility not only to your own well being but to the lives of thousands of other people tied to it. My friend here runs a large finance and research company. His daily decisions often balance the well being of many. That includes their health. Their jobs. Their families and the economy. That's not a light weight nor is it an easy pressure to have in your lap. Try going to sleep at night when a pressing decision that you have to make the next day might result in the job losses of hundred of people if not thousands. With the rewards that money brings there is always responsibility. Some of the people here have even earned their fortunes from nothing but what they could do with their two hands and a bit of creativity. So they started from the same starting block as you my friend and one of them is a lady. So don't think that such fortune has come easy to those who have and that its without its weight because often it is nothing but pressure. People that endure that kind of pressure sometimes like to play. We're playing right now because for the most part, our work consumes most if not all of our time. Even when we sleep. Now as an educated man myself, I'm going to deal with your second accusation about educated people thinking their education is a license to regard others as being lesser. There are some that are educated that do regard themselves as privileged and in some ways they are but not the ways they think they are. Education like money once again is a responsibility. The more you have, the more responsible you are to use it for the betterment of the world. The same goes for knowledge. Education and knowledge are different from one another because one can be acquired without an education while education is a method learned to acquire and understand knowledge and its applications. To tell you the truth the one thing that most educated people sometimes forget is that the people who built the educational institution did not have a formal education. It started somewhere the result of curious and courageous people who tried to understand the world around them and more importantly to share what they'd learned with others so that humanity could benefit from their understanding and so that every generation wouldn't be starting from the same place every time. So I am very humble in my acknowledgement that my education came from some courageous Women and Men of ancient history who were curious enough to understand the world around them and were gracious enough to share that knowledge and even record it so that it could further be shared with others. Having that education for myself is a great responsibility just as it is for any of the Doctors sitting at my table here or elsewhere in the world, for they've sworn to use that knowledge to heal and to do no harm. My kind Sir, have you ever sworn such an oath in your life? Some of the most interesting people that I know don't have a formal education that is even close to mine, yet they have that wonderful ability to comprehend and learn and many of those friends I'm able to discuss a wide variety of topics related to my education including the numbers. I often wonder how such people would be had they had the means to get an education. Some of them just didn't fit into the curriculum but nonetheless they were people who were interested in learning. Pioneers themselves and likely the kind of people who created the educational institution itself before it existed. They too use their knowledge in an attempt to make the world a better place living up to their responsibility. I can think of nothing more noble myself than someone through thick and thin who lives up to that responsibility and always perseveres despite that responsibility. Please I do hope that your Wife and yourself enjoy your dinner and retirement. I would ask that you please do not address this table with such misinformed statements again." Bryce answered in defense of his colleagues and friends.

Bryce signaled to the Wait staff to give the couple their next round of drinks on their tab.

"I'd heard of your sometimes outspoken nature Professor Maxwell. I'm honored to have seen it for myself." Professor Sangsorn replied to Bryce.

"Well forgive me but I just could not stand to see those statements go unanswered." Bryce responded.

"No offense taken. You'll always have our support and friendship here." Professor Sangsorn assured him.

"Thanks Bryce. I'm glad that you're part of this delegation." Norler added.

"Glad to have been of service. Now that the music has started Professor Sangsorn, would you like to Dance?" Bryce offered her his hand and she accepted.

"I'd love to." she said standing and joining him on the dance floor.

"Darling?" Victor asked Katya.

"Of course my dear. I wouldn't miss the chance for a dance ever." Katya responded joining her husband on the dance floor.

"I have to admit that this world would be a much better place if we spent our time dancing rather than fighting. I guess there's a time and place for it though." Heylyn spoke addressing the remainders of the group.

"I couldn't agree with you more. Perhaps you'd like to join me for a dance?" Doctor Briggs asked Heylyn.

"I'd love to, but only because I'd prefer not to see you dance by yourself." Heylyn answered him as they walked to the dance floor.

In Security

Alicia sat at the table with Monique, casually checking up on Norler every so often. Monique watched the couples admiringly on the dance floor almost reminiscing.

"So what happened with you and Derek?" Alicia asked Monique not having spoken with her in close company since just after the Treadwater Island incident.

"You mean the Security Specialist? We were seeing each other steady for a few months after we returned to Toronto. I even flew to New York and Los Angeles to be with him during his off hours for two of his jobs." Monique started.

"You don't mean that you literally flew do you?" Alicia asked Monique knowing full well about Monique's capabilities.

Monique rolled her eyes unsure if Alicia was being serious or not.

"No. I mean the old fashioned way. So our schedules got to be pretty hectic and it had been a long time since we'd seen each other. He called me one day and said that he needed some space. He promised me that he'd keep my secret safe and that he'd call me again in the future. I haven't heard from him since." Monique said somewhat emotionless long having gotten over their departure.

"I'm sorry to hear. You two were... You know Monique, you really need a special kind of guy. Maybe he wasn't the one." Alicia answered trying to be supportive though Alicia did not know Monique nearly as well as she knew Heylyn.

"Maybe. So have you managed to patch things up with Norler?" Monique asked her turning the tables with no ill intent.

"It's been a little bit difficult. Especially living in such close quarters to one another. We haven't talked the important talk if that's what you mean. We're still on ice. A bit slippery at the moment too." Alicia said looking over to Norler covertly.

"I'm sure you'll figure it out. Whatever needs to happen will." Monique replied returning the support as best she could.

It had taken Monique a few months to get over Derek. She'd even slept in a few too many days showing up late for scheduled photo shoots which were imperative for her job as a model. She didn't snap out of her simultaneous self pity and loathing until Heylyn sat her down for a long talk. Heylyn needed to do it because if she didn't, the other employees would think that she was playing favorites with Monique. That would not be fair to the others in West Meet East International who worked so hard to keep the company successful. Heylyn tried to go easy on her and fortunately had managed to get through to her. Heylyn had started giving Monique a wake up call in the mornings like she had when Monique had first been hired. Monique lived in the neighboring unit to Heylyn's downtown condominium and after their talk they'd travel to the West Meet East building in the downtown core of the fashion district together. Much like they did in the beginning, until Monique had gotten back in stride. That was what friends did for each other after all. Heylyn was a friend to Monique as much as she was a good boss. In her time running West Meet East she'd never had to fire anyone and she strived to maintain a professional relationship with everyone including Monique. She'd gone out on a limb for others in her company and she intended to keep them together. Much like a family. But when it came to irresponsibility and tardiness she had to draw the line.

Monique at quietly for a moment lulled by the music as Katya returned from her dance with Victor and joined Alicia and Monique at the lady's table as Doctor Briggs had dubbed it. Victor checked with the ladies if they needed fresh drinks and when they told him they were fine, he left them to take his place beside Doctor Leekpai.

"You know, while I was on the dance floor with Victor, I couldn't help but notice someone keeping a close eye on Heylyn. Sitting on the left hand side there near the bar. Do you see him? With the moustache?" Katya tried to point out the suspicious looking man to Alicia and Monique.

"I've seen him somewhere. Maybe he has one of those faces." Monique responded looking closely at the man.

"Heylyn is a beautiful woman. There is the chance that he's just checking her out you know?" Alicia suggested.

"Perhaps. But maybe a little too closely." Katya suggested.

They watched as Heylyn had finished her dance and had proceeded towards the lady's room. She passed right by the man who'd been watching her fully aware of his eyes upon her. Her senses at full alert as she progressed into the hallway leading the lady's lounge and wash facility. As soon as she was ten paces beyond him he stood and followed her. Monique made an effort to stand only to be held coaxed not to by Alicia.

"She's aware of him. That and she's a multiple black belt. If he messes with her he'll be in for a surprise." Alicia reminded Monique.

"I'm just a little bit protective you know." Monique replied.

"I'm watching him. Don't worry." Valerie responded from beside them.

As Heylyn rounded the corner a few strides away from the washroom door the man ran at her suddenly. Heylyn spun to defend herself against her attacker only to see someone had beat her to the punch.

A handsome and well dressed man had caught the assailant and twisted his arm pinning him to the wall.

"Would you be so kind as to check his identification. It's in his back right pocket. I've been watching him for most of the night." her savior responded.

Heylyn looked them both over carefully before reaching into her assailant's pocket to find a wallet. She opened it and found his identification.

"Frank Pheasel. American Press Association. He's a reporter..." Heylyn said aloud.

"A Photo Journalist. I have rights you know!" Frank replied.

"Not when you're stalking a lady to the washroom you don't." the mysterious man responded.

"I like you already." Heylyn replied smiling a bit for him.

"So do you mind telling me what you were doing here? Following me this far? Hoping for a front page photo for a tabloid?" Heylyn interrogated him.

"No. I was going to ask you a few questions about the delegation away from the crowd." Frank replied struggling a little against the other man's hold.

"Well you certainly picked the most dangerous and alarming way to do it. Do you know that this lady could have broken you into small pieces and left you scattered about the floor had I not intervened." the mysterious man spoke addressing Frank.

"I'd heard she's studied some kind of Tai Chi or something like that." Frank responded nervously.

"Tai Chi and then some. You don't want to mess with her that way again. Trust me. If it's alright with Miss Yates, I'm going to let you go. You'd better be scarce or she'll be the least of your worries." the man waited for Heylyn's nod before loosening his hold upon the man.

"Have a good night Frank. Next time think twice about doing something like that." Heylyn told Frank as he walked away.

The man fixed his tie and jacket as Heylyn watched.

"Now I guess I'd better take care of you. Do you have a name?" Heylyn asked him with a hint of seduction in her voice.

"That's better answered with this. Please don't read it aloud." the man handed her his wallet.

She opened it and within was a badge and identification stating him to be Special Agent Trevor Larsen.

"You can call me Troy if you'd prefer. I would. Just makes things a little less complicated." Troy asserted his wishes.

"Fine. Troy it is. So what were you doing here Troy? Are you here on official business or is this a personal call?" she asked him still unsure of his motives.

"Here on business much like yourself. You could consider me to be much like the security detail that has been assigned to your delegation by Tynan And Associates except that I'm here on behalf of the Government. Just to make sure that the little incident in New Delhi doesn't recur and to ensure that your delegation doesn't get mixed up in espionage related charges which has happened by the way." Troy answered carefully leveraging the merit of his motives to gain her trust.

"That's odd. We haven't had any skepticism about our motives here from any authorities, including from India where the attack on Professor Mutta occurred." Heylyn replied eyeing him carefully looking for any signs he might be lying.

"If you were going to be apprehended for questioning they would likely not announce it. You'd be taken and that would be that." Troy advised her.

"Even a high profile group like ours? I somehow doubt that. For one it would create an international fiasco and even cause diplomatic problems between our two countries. How can I be so certain that you aren't already trying to cause problems of that kind. To get the upper hand on one of the countries here with whom we are negotiating for this deal?" Heylyn asked Troy holding her ground.

"You're not quite as misinformed as I'd been led to believe." Troy answered her.

"Why? Because I'm in the vanity business? Did you think that I'd not have an intellect behind this makeup and glamour?" Heylyn crossed her arms purposely showing him that she could be assertive.

"Not at all. I'm just trying to warn you and to keep you safe. There's no pulling the wool over your eyes thankfully." Troy responded purposely withdrawing seeing that the information he'd been given about her was not accurate.

"I'd prefer to maintain my trust here in New Delhi, Bangkok and for the rest of the trip. If you're going to be trailing us I'd suggest that you stick to your profession and not get involved in and of the diplomacy. I appreciate the fact that you're watching over us, but I'd prefer to see this whole thing end without an international fiasco." Heylyn responded as she turned and began heading for the washroom.

"Oh and by the way. Thanks for saving me." she said as she left him in the hall.

"I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't have let you handle it." Troy said as he left the hall returning to the bar.

Alicia and Monique watched as Frank walked out of the washroom hall and took his original place. He appeared slightly scuffled and his shirt untucked as he made efforts to fix his attire.

"Looks like he got his." Monique turned to Alicia, Valerie and Katya.

A moment later they watched as Troy stepped out of the hall. He stopped and said something to Frank before continuing to a stool near the end of the bar.

"This is getting interesting." Valerie said as they watched.

Another few moments and Heylyn walked out of the hall and returned to her seat beside Monique and Alicia.

Frank Pheasel

"So what happened?" Alicia asked Heylyn.

Heylyn turned in the direction of the two men.

"That one's Frank. That one's Troy. Troy stopped Frank. I stopped Troy." Heylyn said smiling to herself.

Monique and Alicia looked at each other wondering what had happened.

"'Fess up. Really what happened?" Monique asked her again with a mischievous smile.

"Frank's press. He tried to get at me in the private and Troy stopped him. Troy's a body guard of sorts. Troy seems to believe that we could be in trouble with the local authorities and warned us that we could be abducted. I corrected him stating that I trust in this part of the world. He seems to me the type that's looking to make a bit of trouble to benefit from the diplomatic advantage that might result so I stopped him. We'll be seeing more of him again. I'd say to keep an eye on him too." Heylyn said explaining what had happened.

"Alright. I'll let Norler know." Alicia assured Heylyn.

"Wait. I'd better let him know. That way it keeps that subject away from your dealings with him. Easier on your relationship with him right now. Your relationship with him is important. This delegation is important. Make sense?" Valerie confirmed with Alicia.

Alicia thought about if for a moment before responding.

"You're right." Alicia said as she paused to think for a moment.

"Thanks for thinking of us Valerie." she continued.

The remainder of the night was spent between social groups at their table or on the dance floor. At three o'clock in the morning both delegations made their way to their respective hotels and settled in for the night.

The next day it was Norler who was awakened early by a messaging service. He answered the call on the hotel phone still groggy from the previous night's escapades.

"Yeah? Norler here." he said his voice still groggy.

"You need to check the morning paper's headlines. Hurry and get back to me." Helmet Werner's voice addressed him sharply.

"Alright. Gimme a minute." Norler said impatiently getting out of bed.

He went to the door and found a copy of his favorite newsprint edition. He quickly picked it up noticing on the bottom of the front page a picture of what appeared to be Professor Maxwell delivering his dressing down the retired gentleman who'd broached them the prior night. The headline said Bang Bang Maxwell's Silver Hammer: Professor Bryce Maxwell Digs Into Retired Man's Night.

"Whaaat? How could they?" Norler said aloud as he stepped in reading the story.

Bangkok, Thailand
Newswire

Tynan And Associates delegation to Bangkok hit a snag when senior delegation member Professor Bryce Maxwell opened up on a retired elderly couple. The attack appeared unprovoked and witnesses say Maxwell's demeanor was appalling for a Professor. When asked for an explanation representatives of Tynan And Associates only claimed they were looking into the matter and denied any further questions. Perhaps this signals the end of the doomed delegation.

Frank Pheasel

"I just read it. Werner that is not what happened at all. You know how it is. Professor Maxwell was nothing short of being a gentleman when he addressed the couple. He even bought them a round afterwards." Norler said defending his friend and delegation member.

"To some that might be an admission of wrong doing." Werner pressed him.

"To Bryce that was his way of saying no hard feelings. The man had made a statement to the effect of targeting the wealthy and educated. Bryce responded by dashing his ignorance but he did it in such a way so as not to belittle the guy." Norler said as he sat on his bed.

Alicia groaned from the other side of the bed.

"I'll do the best I can here but the real damage control is up to you. Speak with the rest of the Bangkok delegation before you leave and make sure we have their support on this issue. Call me later." Werner hung up.

"Who was that?" Alicia asked Norler as she leaned up in bed.

Norler tossed her the newspaper.

She quickly read the headline and story and scoffed.

"That's not what happened at all!" she said aloud in disbelief.

"I know. Can you tell him?" Norler asked Alicia.

"Why? Because I'm his peer?" Alicia responded defensively thinking about the situation for a moment before responding again.

"Alright. I'll tell him. I'm sorry." Alicia said quietly getting up and heading for the washroom.

...

"That weasel! Troy had him in his hands. That's the reporter that tried to follow me into the washroom last night." Heylyn announced at the breakfast table an hour later.

"Well I must admit I've never had press of this kind. For the most part they've been good to me so far. This is the first attack on my character of this nature." Bryce responded sounding very disappointed.

"Welcome to the club." Heylyn replied.

"Ditto that." Norler responded in like.

"Honestly the press have been very good to me and my career. I've had problems with one or two obsessive and problematic reporters before. Usually they burn out before long." Heylyn assured Bryce who seemed to deep in thought.

"Well honestly I'm more worried for my wife than I am for myself. This is stress that she could do without." Bryce responded.

"Well as Heylyn said they're usually not this bad. It sounds like this is personal or the guy was hired to do this. Maybe a payola of some time to find the dirt on our delegation." Norler told Bryce.

"Maybe the same people that tried to hurt us. The ones behind the attack on Professor Mattu?" Alicia suggested.

"I wasn't going to do this, but clearly this guy deserves it. I'm going to have him served with a cease and desist. Last night he tried to follow me into the lady's room. He denied it but he was already at the doorway when Troy restrained him. I think he's a sleeze looking for an easy sell to the papers fabricating dirt on others. At least serving him and announcing it to the press might reduce his credibility and the credibility of this story. I'll let the lawyers handle the rest. I personally think its the right thing to do. If he could do this to us he'll likely do it to someone else." Heylyn told the delegates.

"Yeah but that could be misconstrued as an attack on the freedom of the press and make matters worse." Norler advised.

"Personally I agree with Heylyn. I mean this guy's a creep. We have this Troy guy as a witness. I've had some try similar things with me. I think its time to put a stop to this sort of thing." Monique said endorsing her friend's plan.

"I appreciate the effort that you're making in your attempt to reduce the damage of this Frank Pheasel person. Consider this though, if that story hadn't been published would you have considered doing the same thing? We wouldn't be having this conversation right now and therefore the topic of pursuing this legally would not have come up. In other words is what you're doing just to conduct revenge or is it really to protect yourselves and other Women?" Bryce asked them honestly.

"Maybe that was the final straw in all honesty. Perhaps I'd have forgiven last night's attempt to breach my privacy but had I encountered the same thing again I'd likely have done what I just proposed. I can't think of a better reason to do this now. I don't want this creep trying to get a peep shot on another lady in that way." Heylyn told the delegation.

"I agree with Heylyn on this." Katya added.

"Me too. If that was my daughter he'd tried that with..." Victor cringed.

"I have to say that in all honesty I agree with taking those steps. I just hope that you're not seeking revenge and seeking to stop this person from doing the same thing again to someone else." Norler gave his opinion.

"I say let's take it out on the creep. Sounds like he deserves it." Valerie advised the delegation.

"I agree." Monique said curt and sweet.

"Then it's settled. I'll call my lawyer right now while Bryce is calling his wife." Heylyn said pulling her phone from her purse seeing Bryce already getting the speed dial on his.

"Meanwhile I'll call and deal with the Bangkok delegates. Let them know we're alright and thank them. Our next flight's at six o'clock this evening so we'll meet back here in the lobby ready to go at four o'clock in the afternoon. Everyone get that?" Norler asked the delegation.

Everybody nodded in acknowledgement and it was settled. Troy sat in his rental car watching as they left the hotel for the day.

The Economy Of Fear And A Second Chance

Steadman closed the door as he entered the office. The room was eerily still as he walked towards the executive desk and stood before it. On the other side of the desk a large chair slowly turned revealing a unusually calm Warley.

"Sit down." Warley said pragmatically.

"They knew about us. I don't know how but..." Steadman started.

"I said sit down." Warley continued unperturbed by Steadman's explanation.

Steadman looked at the seat across from Warley's executive desk. It had somehow taken the visage of an electric chair, the switch of course being in Warley's hands. Steadman thought carefully about whether he should risk sitting in the chair or just continue out the door and start a new life elsewhere. Steadman considered his options as time moved at an imperceptible rate for him. He'd started with Future Tangent Industries only two years ago. Warley had taken him under his wing right from the start. He'd been intimidated by Warley at first but as he grew accustomed to the facade Warley presented him, he often took for granted the cunning at Warley's disposal. Warley preferred it that way and experience had taught him that it was far better to be underestimated and over prepared than vice versa. Young men like Steadman had come and gone over the years. Many with far greater potential than Steadman but the fact was that if you weren't the one sitting in Warley's chair, you were merely a commodity. Easily bought and sold and seldom was there a tear shed when such commodities disappeared. Steadman had often been led to believe that they'd gone of their own accord and had started new lives elsewhere. Still in the same business but not with Future Tangent Industries. Not with Warley. The truth was though that once you'd been with Warley, there was no being without Warley. You were either with him or you simply ceased to be.

Warley had seen other men in Steadman's position. He knew exactly what each one was thinking because he'd been there at one time himself. The only difference between himself and the young men who'd been his commodities was that instead of running from the man in the big chair, he took the big chair from the man. Warley had often pondered when the man of his ilk would come walking through that door. The man who'd look him in the eye and completely deceive him enough to snatch the big chair from under him. He'd been through many during his time at Future Tangent Industries and he'd seen into Steadman's soul enough to know that Steadman would never take the big chair. Nor would he run. Steadman was somebody that Warley would never truly respect but he was useful. Recently however that usefulness had run out. Steadman looked into the headlights of the oncoming car and found that he could not budge. So he sat down.

"The security firm. The specialists that we always use for this sort of operation seem to think that there is an internal leak. Their first operation in New Delhi was compromised somehow when the target returned to his office and found the security operative with his hands in the cookie jar. He made it out but just barely. We had to pull him from India altogether and that cost the security firm an asset. In Thailand I just received word that we lost four guys to the authorities. Nabbed with their unregistered and modified weapons, their identification stolen. The security firm had no choice but to deny that it had anything to do with them. They'll likely serve a few years in a Thailand prison. The security firm will no doubt have them silenced before they talk. They were made even before they had a chance to retire Professor Sangsorn. You did not tell me that the Treadwater Island anomalies were going to be there." Steadman said keeping his composure as best he could through a slightly wavering voice.

Warley smelled Steadman's fear and it energized him.

"They're professionals. They shouldn't need to know such details. Besides, we had no way of knowing that the anomalies would be there either. Our intel said the anomalies are supposed to be inert. That the effects of the SY349 were unstable and that their unique abilities would cease within four weeks of time of the Treadwater Island incident." Warley lied to Steadman.

"Well apparently the the SY349 doesn't have an expiry date." Steadman said to Warley still very much aware of the oncoming headlights.

"You don't seem to understand the big picture. What's at stake here. You do realize that the Asian market makes up more than half of the world's global economy? Do you know what would happen if Tynan became the trusted medical supplier for these countries of the East? You will know if that vote goes through because when it does you'll see the biggest transfer of medical tech and research stocks in history. Future Tangent Industries will cease to be and Tynan will become a behemoth. We can't let that happen and to do that we have to prevent the West from becoming friends with the East through the creation of this medical fund. If it goes through, we can kiss competitive markets for medical advances good bye and that's because the treatment prices will be regulated by the fund itself. That means that we can't come along with a better mouse trap and charge amply for it. What we should get. Worse, what if by chance Western medicine and Eastern medicine start working together more closely. What if the East starts moving in on Western medical markets?" Warley said talking as if he'd pledged his undying loyalty to Future Tangent Industries.

"Sir, we believe that this delegation will not leave China or Japan with any support for the fund or the SY389. The hinging point will be Thailand and Korea. From the word we got on the matter the delegation already had India and Malaysia's support. Sri Lanka and Indonesia are leaning in favor but that's still up in the air. The Thailand delegation is in complete support for the fund. Likewise with Laos and Vietnam. If South Korea supports the fund creation initiative that would mean that both China and Japan would need to vote against it unanimously to stop it unless China vetoes it entirely." Steadman explained hoping that distracting Warley by giving him the power to decide might by him some more time.

"We need a hidden patient to surface." Warley told Steadman.

"I beg your pardon sir, a what?" Steadman asked Warley nervously.

"A hidden patient. A failed treatment based upon the application of the SY349 to a patient. Preferably someone young. Incapacitated enough to be a sympathy case but not so much that people can't identify with them." Warley suggested.

"Sir, there is no such patient. There's two patients for whom the treatment did not work but without any adverse side effects." Steadman replied indicating that he'd already examined that avenue.

"Then hire one and a few Doctors who will go along with it. We'll pay them well. Very well. We'll mount a public campaign against the SY349, SY389 and SY390. Then when the delegation gets to China, we'll set up an assassination and pin it on one of the delegates. That's our solution. That's how we solve our problem." Warley told Steadman as he leaned back in his executive chair piercing Steadman's soul with his hollow and emotionless eyes.

"Sir, we've got a situation that we might be able to exploit in that regard. It's to do with Norler and Doctor Westin. We have intel that says they're having relationship problems. Some people on the flight to Thailand claimed to have overheard them arguing. Since that point they've made no public shows of affection of any kind. Not even holding hands." Steadman informed Warley hoping he'd bought himself another chance.

"That wasn't out of their respect for countries like India where public displays of affection are frowned upon?" Warley confirmed still hesitant to trust Steadman.

"No sir. As I said several people on the airline witnessed an argument. They haven't been seen together since." Steadman assured Warley.

"Excellent work. That's exactly what we'll do. The assassination of a Chinese official from the Chinese delegation. We'll pin it on Doctor Westin who of course will have shot her own estranged lover Walton Norler there before. Arrange for our failed SY349 media patient and some Doctors to support the case we'll build against Tynan and we'll start the pressure cooker. By the time they make it to China, we can exploit the situation easily and the public will buy it! Most of all they'll hate Tynan And Associates and love Future Tangent Industries. It looks like you've got your job back and another chance. Don't blow it." said Warley who loved having his subordinates in his debt.

Another fact about how Warley had managed to stay in that chair for so long was that he understood the economy of fear. The economy of keeping others afraid of him. He was a master of profiting when his subordinates failed him for they'd work just trying to make it up to him. Then when the smoke had cleared he'd come up looking like a hero. After all he'd given Steadman another chance after all of Steadman's failures. If Steadman failed him after that, then Steadman would likely experience a similar fate as those of Norler and Doctor Westin. In order to play Steadman, he only had to convince Steadman that it was the end for him if he'd failed again. In truth though it was. For now though as far as Steadman was concerned, the oncoming headlights had stopped and he'd been able to get off of the road. That day Steadman had left Warley's office with his life, a big change from his earlier fate.

Long enough to make it up to Warley for his "extended" life and second chance.

Delegation Dinner And Drinks In Bangkok

They sat atop the roof of an enormous building in the downtown core of Bangkok as the sun set to the East. They'd separated at four in the afternoon for a break where they'd returned to their hotel rooms. Most of the delegates themselves had taken that time to recharge with a small nap or a shower to prepare themselves for the evening and their only full night in Bangkok for they'd be leaving in the early evening the next day. They'd planned to enjoy the evening together. The Thailand delegation with the Western delegates.

Heylyn, Monique and Valerie had not yet had time to inform Alicia about the assailants at the Wat Sutat and decided they'd find her alone in the evening at which time they'd tell her what had happened. Alicia and Norler were still silent and curt, saying little to each other. It was as if the wounds yielded no pain for them but instead had turned directly to hardened scars. They were both professional enough to maintain their rapport with one another both in public and private and new what lines to keep and which ones to cross. There had been an awkward moment between them when they'd come close to one another in their hotel room. When they were in India only two days earlier they'd found themselves together in their hotel room with thirty minutes to spare before their next meeting. Though they hadn't planned it, they'd found themselves making improvised love, first on the chest of drawers working their way slowly to the wall. Afterwards they'd collapsed exhausted to the floor entangled with one another for a little under three minutes. In that time they'd found more peace in one another than they had in all of the nights they'd spent away from home combined.

They'd found themselves in the hotel room in Bangkok with the same opportunity but from a much different state in their relationship. There was no relationship but there was still the sexual tension. Alicia had considered sending the signals. Letting him know that she was ripe and for the picking and then decided against doing so. They met at one point almost running into one another in the middle of the room and there was a moment of awkward silence that could have led anywhere. Ultimately neither found the want to face the other regarding their most current disagreement and so the moment ended with a whimper rather than an explosion of lust.

Alicia had left early going to the lobby to sit and enjoy a bit of anonymity and more importantly her mental space. She sat in one of the lobby sofas for twenty minutes not even aware that Bryce sat only a few seats away from her in an overstuffed chair reading one of the Bangkok dailies. He'd seen her and having been married for twenty years himself, he'd seen that look before. The look of one who needed their space. Their solitude from just about everyone. A moment to gather one's life unto themselves and get it all in order. To collect one's bearings if not so they could continue in the right direction at least so they could continue. If she wanted to speak at all, she'd notice him when the time was right and he'd oblige her.  As it so happened she did just and when the time was right.

"I'm not interrupting am I?" she asked him.

"Alicia? What a pleasant surprise." he responded feigning unawareness.

"Mind if I join you?" she asked him already knowing the answer.

"Not at all. I see you've found this wonderful haven here. And to think that it was in the lobby of our hotel all along." he smiled catching the last bit of sunlight as it slowly dipped behind the neighboring buildings of the Bangkok horizon.

"I agree. I just came here for a little solitude myself." Alicia responded biting her tongue just after she'd spoken.

"If you need some space I could..." Bryce replied sincerely.

"No. I had a bit of space already. I think that I need to talk with someone I trust." Alicia looked at him.

"By that statement, I assume that you mean me." Bryce put the magazine down on a nearby table.

"Yes. I guess that would be you." Alicia said shifting just a little closer so as not to draw attention.

"If you don't mind me asking, are you having a bumpy spot in your relationship with Norler?" Bryce asked her.

"We tried to keep it hidden but I guess its starting to get pretty obvious. Yes. We did have a little falling out." she replied looking down to her lap for a moment.

"I'm sure the pressure of this situation doesn't make it any easier but you have to ask yourself if when you've succeeded, that both of you might look back upon this time and laugh? Perhaps curled up in bed in a lover's embrace? Haven't you ever had one of those times?" Bryce asked her folding his legs and leaning in himself.

"Of course. I mean there was this one time that he'd locked the keys of my car in the trunk of my car. It was an accident of course but at the time... At the time I was really angry with him. I didn't talk with him for a day or two. Then two nights later I come home and he's got the place decorated for a romantic candle light dinner. My favorite album in the music player. Everything was ready to go. Champagne. Everything. Of course hours later we were in bed laughing about the car keys. I scolded him so much that night jokingly of course. He took it all too." she told him laughing and giggling as she reminisced.

"What's different about this time besides the weight of the world upon your shoulders, Atlas? Might I remind you not to shrug as Ayn Rand so delicately put it or there'll be world all over the marble floor in here." Bryce asked her metaphorically.

She thought long and hard about her situation before she spoke. She wondered how she was going to broach the subject with Bryce seeing as Bryce did not know about her alter ego, Night Style. Norler had known and she'd agreed to give up her nightly gallivanting as a superhero and be the hero from the laboratory and research point of view. She'd agreed that she could offer the world much more as a Scientist rather than a superhero. Their argument had seen them disagree given the current situation and the risk to their goals in Asia with the attack upon Professor Mattu and more recently with the assailants in the Wat Sutat.

"This is different. We weren't able to agree about something very key to our relationship. About trust. It looks like neither of us is willing to give in." Alicia told him.

"A little bit like our current situation if you don't mind me saying. Do you feel that there's something you need that you may not be getting? What about him? Maybe he feels the same way? Is there something that he wants you to give up in order for the both of you to keep going? Together? What about a compromise? You can afford to direct a little bit of that marvelous negotiating power the two of you share to mend your relationship. Maybe if you look at it from that point of view, that might give you a bit of motivation to solve the issue between you?" Bryce asked her pressing the point home.

"You're right. We're negotiating perhaps one of the most important issues of our lifetime together against the most important issue keeping us apart. What's complicated about this is..." Alicia began before she paused for a long while.

Bryce waited before Alicia continued.

"Do you remember the conversation in the Looking Glass Lounge? I mean about causality? About Godel's trickster? About keeping the inner workings of the universe hidden while unfolding in a way that seems like art?" Alicia confirmed with Bryce.

"Like it was yesterday. I hope nothing happened that night that led to your current issues?" Bryce asked her.

"No. I meant like its somehow related. Like if Norler and I mend our relationship, that the universe might balance it for us by denying us approval for the Fund. Like it gives something and it takes something at the same time." Alicia asked him deep in thought about what Weltherwithsp had said to her during their shared dream.

"You mean like balancing the outcomes? As in duality?" Bryce confirmed with her.

"I guess you could say it that way." Alicia asked him cocking her head a little.

"We're in the Far East of Asia. I mean what conversation wouldn't find itself on the topic of duality. I'm not so certain that it's as imperative a concept here as we'll likely find the further east we progress from here. I have two things I'll tell you on that subject. The first being that regardless of the underlying mechanisms that we can only speculate about, you must proceed regardless. When the stakes are high that might not seem a good answer for if there is an underlying duality that balances cause and effect, that would make the universe a hundred percent predicable and very easy to deal with. However that's now what we have so we must proceed regardless with our own wisdom, intent and intuition as our guide. The second thing that I was going to point out that this morning before we departed for the Wat Sutat, I received an email from an old friend from Beijing. He told me that their delegation is going to include a Professor of Eastern Philosophy specializing in Chinese philosophy both ancient and modern. Perhaps and I'm only suggesting, such a question might prove to be useful in a relationship sense and a diplomatic sense? I mean whom better to speak to about this issue than a philosopher that has grown up eating, breathing and sleeping every part of that philosophy. If you don't listen to me, perhaps you should listen to her. In Japan we'll likely broach the same topic but from a much different point of view. I don't know it you can wait for that long but you should consider that thinking about this issue is giving you a lot of insight into Eastern philosophy. The key to solving the problems with your relationship with Norler might lead to the means to negotiate with the Chinese and Japanese delegations. By tomorrow night we'll be in Beijing and I'm hoping that we're able to capitalize on what we learned in New Delhi and Bangkok to help us with our negotiations there." Bryce posed leaning in as he did.

"I have to admit that you've already given me a lot to think about. A lot of hope too but there's still a bit of doubt." Alicia told him still not quite able to smile.

"Kind of like our goal here. We've made good progress but we're still only part way there. Maybe tonight's outing with the Bangkok delegation will be a good omen for the future of of this delegation and of course for your relationship with Norler." Bryce smiled hoping that it might be contagious.

"Thanks Bryce. Your wife is certainly a lucky lady." Alicia said to him as she contracted a smile.

"Luck had nothing to do with it. Once we had our eyes set on each other we knew it was for keeps but that's a story for another time. Speaking of which, my wife is going to kill me if I don't call her. She'll just be waking up for her morning yoga right about now." Bryce stood as Alicia did.

Alicia pecked him on the cheek as he fumbled around searching his pocket for his phone. He blushed slightly as he hit the speed dial.

Neither of them noticed a mustached man sitting in the corner who'd been keeping an eye on the both of them.

...

En Route

Heylyn grabbed her room card as she left locking the door behind her. In the hall she joined Monique who'd ventured out ahead of her moments ago.

"Ready to go boss? You look great!" Monique commented on Heylyn's appearance.

"As do you. I take it you're looking to turn a few heads tonight?" Heylyn asked her friend and employee.

"That I am. But not away of course." Monique replied in jest.

"I assumed that much." Heylyn replied as she walked for the hotel elevator.

"What about you? You're looking a little more spiffed up than I've seen you during other social outings?" Monique asked Heylyn who looked frantically for the button.

"It's touchscreen." Monique said getting the touchscreen button.

"Right. To answer your question I thought it a special occasion enough to make an appearance." Heylyn replied looking to Monique.

"An appearance? You don't mean... as the Butterfly?" Monique confirmed that she'd heard Heylyn correctly.

"That, and in Bangkok. I mean this delegation is important and I'm hoping that I can draw some media attention to it. You did bring your costume?" Heylyn replied confirming that Monique had also brought her undergarment alter ego along.

"Yes. I have it on. The new one. I didn't forget. Do you think that she'll be ready too?" Monique replied.

"Who? Valerie? Ohhh. Alicia. I think that she'll do what she believes is right. She's got a lot more on her plate than we do. Our role here is a little bit different that theirs. Not lesser. Just different." Heylyn answered Monique and they stepped onto the elevator together.

The elevator arrived at the lobby and they stepped out looking as two Goddesses might stepping from a carriage. Doctor Briggs turned as they arrived admiring them as they approached.

"Well I must admit that of all the experiences I've had as a consultant that this one has had the most pleasant benefits. Accompanying the two of you to the Octave in Bangkok, Thailand is certainly a dream." Doctor Briggs offered an arm for each Heylyn and Monique.

"Well, we are off to see the Wizard after all. The Wizard of Octave." Monique replied.

"We're Canadian errr... North American diplomats too. Don't forget that part." Heylyn reminded them.

"You've got that right. Born in Canada but I studied in both the United States and Canada. I got a degree in Sociology at Yale. I studied Psychology and History and the University Of Toronto. That's where I built a curriculum around specializing in East/West philosophy. So I'm a North American child for this adventure." Doctor Briggs replied.

"Ok. I'll be the Chinese history representative for our little adventure tonight." Heylyn responded.

"Well that's good. We've got a well rounded group tonight to represent us in Bangkok." Monique replied to both of them.

They found a limousine outside of the hotel piling in and began their short journey to the Octave bar. Alicia had already left with Valerie, Norler and Bryce more than a half hour ago which was fine for Heylyn. She'd always liked arriving fashionably late. After all her business was the business of being noticed. Of making entrances, being seen as much as heard then making an exit. A part of that was about being the audience for someone else from time to time. Supporting your circle and what you believed to be right and true. The illustrious life of fashion and the so called vanity arts was as much about being seen as it was about seeing. Being both the subject of your own dream and the audience to another's.

Heylyn after her first two big shows she'd burnt out for time. Not grasping that the show wasn't all about her but about those she'd one day be audience to. Much like the her Mother had told explained to her. One foot on each side. Her Father often used to remind her that she had two ears and one mouth and that they should be used in that ratio. Her Mother had scolded him for she believed that one should reciprocate. Two ears was as good as good to hear one mouth after all and they should spend time listening and talking in proportion to one another.

She'd spent her first season competing against a designer with a cult like following who'd undermined Heylyn's many presentations of the first showing of her designs. They'd often taken the press spotlight from her as well on some occasions taking the credit for her creations. In the first year she thought that she was going nuts until another design and fan of her designs had told her that was one of the caveats of the business. Of show business. There were some who took the team spirit a bit too far. Taking advantage of the media eye in attempt to prop up their icon on the grounds of love and graciousness while they sabotaged mood and manner of any competitors. A predatory bunch they were seeking to make sure their icon rose to the top by any means.

Heylyn had taken this under advisement and for her third show she'd put together a conglomerate, introducing two new designers on the scene as well as mixing her show with the offerings of three other designers. She'd also introduced fund raising as an element of the show itself. Some of her models had been breast cancer survivors whom she'd gone through great lengths to procure while keeping their personal secret. The show itself had rave reviews not to mention the party after the show had made headlines around the entertainment world. That's when Heylyn had realized that the show wasn't about her. It was about the show. About making a difference. Soon after the predatory icon builders disappeared or fed on each other or both.

That was when she'd had a change of heart. With wings of course though that was long before she'd been reintroduced to the magnificent dragon of her childhood. Not long after she'd run into Monique on her way out for Chai Latte during break. Monique had just left her abusive boyfriend and was on the brink of being marginalized. Heylyn had seen her only noticing her for a moment but then it clicked. This Woman she'd just seen was a hidden beauty. She ran back to Monique eyeing her over once again taking her measurements with her eyes.

"Excuse me, but are you trying to pick me up?" Monique had asked her bluntly perhaps a little defensively.

"Don't flatter yourself. You're not my type. But if you'd be willing to listen I might be able to offer you a gig?" Heylyn had responded.

From there Monique had been discovered just like in the media and movies. Like a dream come true. She'd been hired as a model but not just any model. As the flagship model for an upcoming show of West Meet East International. It turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime for Monique, a French Canadian girl with Ukrainian heritage who'd come to Toronto seeking her fortune. Her piece of Canada's illustrious dream. She'd been used and abused until Heylyn had discovered her, helping her to find her wings. Both figuratively and literally eventually.

Arrival In Style

Monique exited the limousine first, the concierge offering his hand. She accepted it gracefully as a few representatives of the Bangkok press snapped pictures of her tightly wrapped figure.

Heylyn stepped out in her knockout evening suit, both elegant and flexible for her physique. Her pants slit on either leg revealing her musculature up to her curvaceous thighs.

"It would seem that I've been upstaged again." Doctor Briggs stepped out of the cab announcing his presence drawing a little laughter from the press.

The three of them gathered and made their way into the Bangkok Marriott Hotel towards the elevators.

They were greeted on the rooftop bar by another concierge who led them to the bar and lounge area to find the rest of the delegation.

"Well it's about time. We were wondering if you'd ever show." Bryce stood welcoming the new arrivals.

"Fashionably late?" Heylyn offered them.

"Well better late than never." Norler said standing beside Bryce.

Heylyn noticed Alicia sitting at her own table just beside the main table. Alicia gestured for her and Monique to join her.

"Thanks for watching over me." Doctor Briggs offered Heylyn and Monique as they joined Alicia.

"Not as much as you watched over us." Monique replied somewhat sarcastically.

"I didn't think she caught that." Doctor Briggs replied quietly under his breath.

Professor Sangsorn, Doctor Yongsaijut, Doctor Leekpai and Doctor Cho Zaw each stood to greet the new arrivals.

"It's nice to meet and talk on a social level like this. We're glad you could make it." Professor Sangsorn offered her greeting.

From behind Heylyn, Monique and Doctor Briggs appeared Katya and Victor.

"Sorry we ran a bit late. We made it nonetheless." Katya announced.

"It looks like everyone is here." Doctor Leekpai said gesturing for one of the staff to arrange accommodate the extra guests.

Heylyn and Monique joined Alicia who sat in earshot of the main table where Katya, Victor and Doctor Briggs took their places. Soon thereafter their drinks arrived as did a large platter of finger food to accompany their drinks.

"So what is it like being a Doctor in these parts? In your own words of course."  Bryce asked the Bangkok delegation.

Professor Sangsorn looked to her peers two of whom were Doctors in the field. Doctor Leekpai and Doctor Yongsaijut spent a moment deciding who'd speak first.

"Working in the Vientiane, Laos as a consultant I'm often elbow deep in data and statistics related to the medical practice in Laos. That means the infrastructure, facilities and of course personnel. Most of my consulting work is done for world agencies such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and Unicef as well. In the Vientiane area of Laos the Doctor to patient ratio is between fifteen hundred to eighteen hundred and it's from there that the highest concentration of medical professionals operate. In other parts of the country you'll find that ratio about ten times greater. That is about ten thousand patients per two and a half Doctors. I'm privy to a lot of statistics and instrumental when it comes to bringing more medical care to the area. We have a lot of outside expertise as well from China, Japan and Korea. Doctors Without Borders also play a role in shoring up the demand. Doctor Yongsaijut?" Doctor Leekpai answered first.

"I work here in Bangkok as a Pediatrician but I've done some field work in the area, even working in Laos and Cambodia for a time. Bangkok's facilities are pretty much in line with most of the Western world thanks to King Chulalongkorn's early attention to the issue of health care. We've a lot of hospitals in the city varying from Government operated to privately owned. In rural areas of Thailand there are some areas where access to healthcare is limited. Doctors might sometimes make monthly visits to such places to deal with common health care issues and to do a variety of check ups for the local patients. While working in Laos and Cambodia the most common issues I'd come across as a Pediatrician were often malnutrition and weight related in terms of infant health. In many rural areas food is scarce by our standards and many have to hunt and forage for food from an already limited food supply. Disease is also an issue in some places with Dengue fever and Malaria being at the front lines of that fight. Logistically speaking most issues are related to access and availability to healthcare, healthy diet and of course education. Lack of education and literacy is linked to many health care problems in the area. There have been recent improvements and many Doctors have been and are being trained in Cambodia and Laos to meet the challenge." Doctor Yongsaijut gave his answer.

"Remarkable. Victor and I met during our internment as acting medical staff providing relief care for a village in Cambodia. It was during a breakout of Malaria in the area. It was part of our requirements to do some field work despite the fact that most of what we currently do is research related. It was a humbling experience to say the least. Such a gracious people too. They were so grateful to have us there." Katya spoke as she reminisced.

"That was a wonderful and eye opening experience." Victor gave his wife a peck on the forehead.

"We have a lot of young students in the medical program do field work here in this part of the world." Professor Sangsorn added taking a sip of her drink.

"What about you? What's it like in Canada and the United States?" Doctor Leekpai asked their guests.

There was a moment of silence between them as they decided who'd go first. Finally it was Norler who spoke.

"Alicia and I live a lot different than most Canadians and that's thanks largely in part to my net worth and our combined income. As much as I'd like to say I know what it's like for every Canadian to live in Canada, I can't really speak. I can only say that it's a wonderful country. Certainly on the forefront of being a world model for culture and cooperation. There are still some areas where there are bumps in the proverbial road related to race and sexual orientation and many common issues you'd find anywhere but I'm not exposed to that as much as some other Canadians might be. Our living standards are certainly high as is our access to medical care. We probably have one of the best health care systems in the world. There's social programs and business incentives for both large and small business. From my point of view as a high income earner whose net worth is in the millions, I'd say Canada is a great place though it still has its growing pains." Norler answered giving his best impression of his home country.

"As the daughter of a family that emigrated from China to Canada thirty years ago I can speak having started from humble beginnings. I've faced much throughout the course of my life. Perhaps some discrimination as there is an underlying current of that nature sometimes directed towards Asian Canadians though I think we in the Chinese community have been used to that sort of treatment in North America for a long time. History is proof of it be we endured. Where we've found adversity from some, there are so many more who welcome us with open arms. As far as opportunity goes, I'd say that there's plenty of it so long as you choose to surround yourself with the right people. Try to stay away from the toxic ones who will bring you down or even attempt to pull you into their ways. There are many who will try to bring you down if you don't have that circle of support. Some might deny it but it's there but that might be the case everywhere. Insofar as once I was surrounded by motivated people like Alicia who is a friend from my childhood, I blossomed. From there life became a little less complex every day and I was as a young Woman able to find success in Canada as a successful entrepreneur. Things have been great ever since and I've seen Canada from its greatest heights to its lowest lows. Canada is my home, China is my home of ancestry and it hurts me to see others hurt my home." Heylyn spoke giving her honest testimony alluding to her time as The Butterfly Dragon.

"I'd have to say that I agree with Heylyn at least in part. Most of what I am today I'd not be if it weren't for having Heylyn in my life. I grew up in Canada in a middle class family in a house in suburbia. I'd had plans for my education but strongly thought against them thanks to bullying in school. Yes in Canada we have that too. Heylyn helped me to turn my self esteem around and for other people to see me a little bit differently. Perhaps even admiringly and maybe even regarding me as attractive. Because of that, because a newcomer like Heylyn helped me to find my confidence in myself, I was able to attend university and attain my Doctorate in Biology, Chemistry and Quantum Physics. Something I'd never have done without Canada and without the mentorship of someone like Heylyn. Canada is a wonderful place and I'd recommend to anyone to visit it at least once. Toronto is a good city too but like most cities has its growing pains as Norler put it. Some of those growing pains are as hard on its own residents as they are hard on others. I'd say that's Canada's one current obstacle to a major breakthrough." Alicia responded as honestly as she could muster.

"I grew up in a poor family for the first part of my life. The daughter of a French Canadian Mother and a hard working Ukrainian Father. Both my parents were honest people doing their best in Montreal to survive and raise their daughter. Montreal is a great city with a much different vibe than Toronto though as Heylyn said, if you surround yourself with the right kind of people, Toronto is a wonderful place. I moved to Toronto when I was nineteen and struggled for a long time. I found myself in the midst of some people with whom I should not have surrounded myself. That worked out badly and was nearly mixed up in activities of which I'd not like to speak. I was walking down the street just after escaping these toxic people when Heylyn noticed me and hired me for a photo shoot and later a Fashion Show. Heylyn helped me to get on my feet in Toronto and further more showed me the value of earning it. Thanks to Toronto, Heylyn and Toronto's art and fashion community, I'm a successful model and sometimes a creative Set Designer for the shows. I'd say Canada is a good place but like Heylyn and Alicia said, there's some hidden issues holding her back just a little. I've heard much worse as well, but thankfully I got my happy ending. I much like Heylyn use that opportunity to rescue people from that hidden issue that's a domestic obstacle to Canada's growth." Monique added to her friends' testimony.

Thrust And Parry

"No offense intended to any of you, but I overheard your conversation. I'm a working class bloke and have been my whole life. I'm here on vacation with my wife sitting next to a group of stuck up over educated and wealthy people talking about life. What makes you think that any of you are better because of your education? Your money?" asked a man dressed in suit and tie sitting next to them at the neighboring table.

"Begging your pardon the pardon of your Wife and yourself, but you haven't any right to interject on our conversation. We wish you no ill so why would you bring your ill opinion of us to us?" asked Professor Sangsorn.

"Because I needed to say it. Somebody has to say it. I think most of you think that you're great because you spend too much time in that media spotlight and that swells your head and ego. Likewise many of you because of your superior education you think yourself better than the common folk. Like myself who'd worked his entire life and hands to the bone just to receive a his retirement package and a gold pen for a thank you." the man continued sounding a little irritated.

Norler was about to call for security when Bryce stopped him.

"It's alright Norler. I'll address this man's point of view. After all, he did come to it by a life of hard work. Sir I hope that in your life and years you've learned to listen and hear and more importantly to learn. You've obviously come here looking for enjoyment during your retirement and being the gentleman that you are you chose to bring your wife to this fine establishment. Let's deal with every statement you made one at a time. First of all about money and wealth. You look at us and assume that everything that comes with it is about belaying any sense of responsibility to the society that begat us and people like us. You assume that money is just the power to do whatever you want. I personally do not make that much and I'd be surprised if I made more than yourself. I do however make enough to be responsible with that money. To take care of my responsibilities and then to progress my life a bit further so as to maximize the positive effects I can have upon the world. So it's just a bit better than it was when I got here. As for my wealthier friends here I can attest for them that such riches aren't just a license to do what you want. They're a bundle of immense responsibility and pressure that most persons like yourself could not fathom. Making choices that could have ramifications for the jobs of a thousand people like yourself is no easy task and making the right choice is even that much more difficult. It's not just a license to do what you want because there is always a lot of responsibility not only to your own well being but to the lives of thousands of other people tied to it. My friend here runs a large finance and research company. His daily decisions often balance the well being of many. That includes their health. Their jobs. Their families and the economy. That's not a light weight nor is it an easy pressure to have in your lap. Try going to sleep at night when a pressing decision that you have to make the next day might result in the job losses of hundred of people if not thousands. With the rewards that money brings there is always responsibility. Some of the people here have even earned their fortunes from nothing but what they could do with their two hands and a bit of creativity. So they started from the same starting block as you my friend and one of them is a lady. So don't think that such fortune has come easy to those who have and that its without its weight because often it is nothing but pressure. People that endure that kind of pressure sometimes like to play. We're playing right now because for the most part, our work consumes most if not all of our time. Even when we sleep. Now as an educated man myself, I'm going to deal with your second accusation about educated people thinking their education is a license to regard others as being lesser. There are some that are educated that do regard themselves as privileged and in some ways they are but not the ways they think they are. Education like money once again is a responsibility. The more you have, the more responsible you are to use it for the betterment of the world. The same goes for knowledge. Education and knowledge are different from one another because one can be acquired without an education while education is a method learned to acquire and understand knowledge and its applications. To tell you the truth the one thing that most educated people sometimes forget is that the people who built the educational institution did not have a formal education. It started somewhere the result of curious and courageous people who tried to understand the world around them and more importantly to share what they'd learned with others so that humanity could benefit from their understanding and so that every generation wouldn't be starting from the same place every time. So I am very humble in my acknowledgement that my education came from some courageous Women and Men of ancient history who were curious enough to understand the world around them and were gracious enough to share that knowledge and even record it so that it could further be shared with others. Having that education for myself is a great responsibility just as it is for any of the Doctors sitting at my table here or elsewhere in the world, for they've sworn to use that knowledge to heal and to do no harm. My kind Sir, have you ever sworn such an oath in your life? Some of the most interesting people that I know don't have a formal education that is even close to mine, yet they have that wonderful ability to comprehend and learn and many of those friends I'm able to discuss a wide variety of topics related to my education including the numbers. I often wonder how such people would be had they had the means to get an education. Some of them just didn't fit into the curriculum but nonetheless they were people who were interested in learning. Pioneers themselves and likely the kind of people who created the educational institution itself before it existed. They too use their knowledge in an attempt to make the world a better place living up to their responsibility. I can think of nothing more noble myself than someone through thick and thin who lives up to that responsibility and always perseveres despite that responsibility. Please I do hope that your Wife and yourself enjoy your dinner and retirement. I would ask that you please do not address this table with such misinformed statements again." Bryce answered in defense of his colleagues and friends.

Bryce signaled to the Wait staff to give the couple their next round of drinks on their tab.

"I'd heard of your sometimes outspoken nature Professor Maxwell. I'm honored to have seen it for myself." Professor Sangsorn replied to Bryce.

"Well forgive me but I just could not stand to see those statements go unanswered." Bryce responded.

"No offense taken. You'll always have our support and friendship here." Professor Sangsorn assured him.

"Thanks Bryce. I'm glad that you're part of this delegation." Norler added.

"Glad to have been of service. Now that the music has started Professor Sangsorn, would you like to Dance?" Bryce offered her his hand and she accepted.

"I'd love to." she said standing and joining him on the dance floor.

"Darling?" Victor asked Katya.

"Of course my dear. I wouldn't miss the chance for a dance ever." Katya responded joining her husband on the dance floor.

"I have to admit that this world would be a much better place if we spent our time dancing rather than fighting. I guess there's a time and place for it though." Heylyn spoke addressing the remainders of the group.

"I couldn't agree with you more. Perhaps you'd like to join me for a dance?" Doctor Briggs asked Heylyn.

"I'd love to, but only because I'd prefer not to see you dance by yourself." Heylyn answered him as they walked to the dance floor.

In Security

Alicia sat at the table with Monique, casually checking up on Norler every so often. Monique watched the couples admiringly on the dance floor almost reminiscing.

"So what happened with you and Derek?" Alicia asked Monique not having spoken with her in close company since just after the Treadwater Island incident.

"You mean the Security Specialist? We were seeing each other steady for a few months after we returned to Toronto. I even flew to New York and Los Angeles to be with him during his off hours for two of his jobs." Monique started.

"You don't mean that you literally flew do you?" Alicia asked Monique knowing full well about Monique's capabilities.

Monique rolled her eyes unsure if Alicia was being serious or not.

"No. I mean the old fashioned way. So our schedules got to be pretty hectic and it had been a long time since we'd seen each other. He called me one day and said that he needed some space. He promised me that he'd keep my secret safe and that he'd call me again in the future. I haven't heard from him since." Monique said somewhat emotionless long having gotten over their departure.

"I'm sorry to hear. You two were... You know Monique, you really need a special kind of guy. Maybe he wasn't the one." Alicia answered trying to be supportive though Alicia did not know Monique nearly as well as she knew Heylyn.

"Maybe. So have you managed to patch things up with Norler?" Monique asked her turning the tables with no ill intent.

"It's been a little bit difficult. Especially living in such close quarters to one another. We haven't talked the important talk if that's what you mean. We're still on ice. A bit slippery at the moment too." Alicia said looking over to Norler covertly.

"I'm sure you'll figure it out. Whatever needs to happen will." Monique replied returning the support as best she could.

It had taken Monique a few months to get over Derek. She'd even slept in a few too many days showing up late for scheduled photo shoots which were imperative for her job as a model. She didn't snap out of her simultaneous self pity and loathing until Heylyn sat her down for a long talk. Heylyn needed to do it because if she didn't, the other employees would think that she was playing favorites with Monique. That would not be fair to the others in West Meet East International who worked so hard to keep the company successful. Heylyn tried to go easy on her and fortunately had managed to get through to her. Heylyn had started giving Monique a wake up call in the mornings like she had when Monique had first been hired. Monique lived in the neighboring unit to Heylyn's downtown condominium and after their talk they'd travel to the West Meet East building in the downtown core of the fashion district together. Much like they did in the beginning, until Monique had gotten back in stride. That was what friends did for each other after all. Heylyn was a friend to Monique as much as she was a good boss. In her time running West Meet East she'd never had to fire anyone and she strived to maintain a professional relationship with everyone including Monique. She'd gone out on a limb for others in her company and she intended to keep them together. Much like a family. But when it came to irresponsibility and tardiness she had to draw the line.

Monique at quietly for a moment lulled by the music as Katya returned from her dance with Victor and joined Alicia and Monique at the lady's table as Doctor Briggs had dubbed it. Victor checked with the ladies if they needed fresh drinks and when they told him they were fine, he left them to take his place beside Doctor Leekpai.

"You know, while I was on the dance floor with Victor, I couldn't help but notice someone keeping a close eye on Heylyn. Sitting on the left hand side there near the bar. Do you see him? With the moustache?" Katya tried to point out the suspicious looking man to Alicia and Monique.

"I've seen him somewhere. Maybe he has one of those faces." Monique responded looking closely at the man.

"Heylyn is a beautiful woman. There is the chance that he's just checking her out you know?" Alicia suggested.

"Perhaps. But maybe a little too closely." Katya suggested.

They watched as Heylyn had finished her dance and had proceeded towards the lady's room. She passed right by the man who'd been watching her fully aware of his eyes upon her. Her senses at full alert as she progressed into the hallway leading the lady's lounge and wash facility. As soon as she was ten paces beyond him he stood and followed her. Monique made an effort to stand only to be held coaxed not to by Alicia.

"She's aware of him. That and she's a multiple black belt. If he messes with her he'll be in for a surprise." Alicia reminded Monique.

"I'm just a little bit protective you know." Monique replied.

"I'm watching him. Don't worry." Valerie responded from beside them.

As Heylyn rounded the corner a few strides away from the washroom door the man ran at her suddenly. Heylyn spun to defend herself against her attacker only to see someone had beat her to the punch.

A handsome and well dressed man had caught the assailant and twisted his arm pinning him to the wall.

"Would you be so kind as to check his identification. It's in his back right pocket. I've been watching him for most of the night." her savior responded.

Heylyn looked them both over carefully before reaching into her assailant's pocket to find a wallet. She opened it and found his identification.

"Frank Pheasel. American Press Association. He's a reporter..." Heylyn said aloud.

"A Photo Journalist. I have rights you know!" Frank replied.

"Not when you're stalking a lady to the washroom you don't." the mysterious man responded.

"I like you already." Heylyn replied smiling a bit for him.

"So do you mind telling me what you were doing here? Following me this far? Hoping for a front page photo for a tabloid?" Heylyn interrogated him.

"No. I was going to ask you a few questions about the delegation away from the crowd." Frank replied struggling a little against the other man's hold.

"Well you certainly picked the most dangerous and alarming way to do it. Do you know that this lady could have broken you into small pieces and left you scattered about the floor had I not intervened." the mysterious man spoke addressing Frank.

"I'd heard she's studied some kind of Tai Chi or something like that." Frank responded nervously.

"Tai Chi and then some. You don't want to mess with her that way again. Trust me. If it's alright with Miss Yates, I'm going to let you go. You'd better be scarce or she'll be the least of your worries." the man waited for Heylyn's nod before loosening his hold upon the man.

"Have a good night Frank. Next time think twice about doing something like that." Heylyn told Frank as he walked away.

The man fixed his tie and jacket as Heylyn watched.

"Now I guess I'd better take care of you. Do you have a name?" Heylyn asked him with a hint of seduction in her voice.

"That's better answered with this. Please don't read it aloud." the man handed her his wallet.

She opened it and within was a badge and identification stating him to be Special Agent Trevor Larsen.

"You can call me Troy if you'd prefer. I would. Just makes things a little less complicated." Troy asserted his wishes.

"Fine. Troy it is. So what were you doing here Troy? Are you here on official business or is this a personal call?" she asked him still unsure of his motives.

"Here on business much like yourself. You could consider me to be much like the security detail that has been assigned to your delegation by Tynan And Associates except that I'm here on behalf of the Government. Just to make sure that the little incident in New Delhi doesn't recur and to ensure that your delegation doesn't get mixed up in espionage related charges which has happened by the way." Troy answered carefully leveraging the merit of his motives to gain her trust.

"That's odd. We haven't had any skepticism about our motives here from any authorities, including from India where the attack on Professor Mutta occurred." Heylyn replied eyeing him carefully looking for any signs he might be lying.

"If you were going to be apprehended for questioning they would likely not announce it. You'd be taken and that would be that." Troy advised her.

"Even a high profile group like ours? I somehow doubt that. For one it would create an international fiasco and even cause diplomatic problems between our two countries. How can I be so certain that you aren't already trying to cause problems of that kind. To get the upper hand on one of the countries here with whom we are negotiating for this deal?" Heylyn asked Troy holding her ground.

"You're not quite as misinformed as I'd been led to believe." Troy answered her.

"Why? Because I'm in the vanity business? Did you think that I'd not have an intellect behind this makeup and glamour?" Heylyn crossed her arms purposely showing him that she could be assertive.

"Not at all. I'm just trying to warn you and to keep you safe. There's no pulling the wool over your eyes thankfully." Troy responded purposely withdrawing seeing that the information he'd been given about her was not accurate.

"I'd prefer to maintain my trust here in New Delhi, Bangkok and for the rest of the trip. If you're going to be trailing us I'd suggest that you stick to your profession and not get involved in and of the diplomacy. I appreciate the fact that you're watching over us, but I'd prefer to see this whole thing end without an international fiasco." Heylyn responded as she turned and began heading for the washroom.

"Oh and by the way. Thanks for saving me." she said as she left him in the hall.

"I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't have let you handle it." Troy said as he left the hall returning to the bar.

Alicia and Monique watched as Frank walked out of the washroom hall and took his original place. He appeared slightly scuffled and his shirt untucked as he made efforts to fix his attire.

"Looks like he got his." Monique turned to Alicia, Valerie and Katya.

A moment later they watched as Troy stepped out of the hall. He stopped and said something to Frank before continuing to a stool near the end of the bar.

"This is getting interesting." Valerie said as they watched.

Another few moments and Heylyn walked out of the hall and returned to her seat beside Monique and Alicia.

Frank Pheasel

"So what happened?" Alicia asked Heylyn.

Heylyn turned in the direction of the two men.

"That one's Frank. That one's Troy. Troy stopped Frank. I stopped Troy." Heylyn said smiling to herself.

Monique and Alicia looked at each other wondering what had happened.

"'Fess up. Really what happened?" Monique asked her again with a mischievous smile.

"Frank's press. He tried to get at me in the private and Troy stopped him. Troy's a body guard of sorts. Troy seems to believe that we could be in trouble with the local authorities and warned us that we could be abducted. I corrected him stating that I trust in this part of the world. He seems to me the type that's looking to make a bit of trouble to benefit from the diplomatic advantage that might result so I stopped him. We'll be seeing more of him again. I'd say to keep an eye on him too." Heylyn said explaining what had happened.

"Alright. I'll let Norler know." Alicia assured Heylyn.

"Wait. I'd better let him know. That way it keeps that subject away from your dealings with him. Easier on your relationship with him right now. Your relationship with him is important. This delegation is important. Make sense?" Valerie confirmed with Alicia.

Alicia thought about if for a moment before responding.

"You're right." Alicia said as she paused to think for a moment.

"Thanks for thinking of us Valerie." she continued.

The remainder of the night was spent between social groups at their table or on the dance floor. At three o'clock in the morning both delegations made their way to their respective hotels and settled in for the night.

The next day it was Norler who was awakened early by a messaging service. He answered the call on the hotel phone still groggy from the previous night's escapades.

"Yeah? Norler here." he said his voice still groggy.

"You need to check the morning paper's headlines. Hurry and get back to me." Helmet Werner's voice addressed him sharply.

"Alright. Gimme a minute." Norler said impatiently getting out of bed.

He went to the door and found a copy of his favorite newsprint edition. He quickly picked it up noticing on the bottom of the front page a picture of what appeared to be Professor Maxwell delivering his dressing down the retired gentleman who'd broached them the prior night. The headline said Bang Bang Maxwell's Silver Hammer: Professor Bryce Maxwell Digs Into Retired Man's Night.

"Whaaat? How could they?" Norler said aloud as he stepped in reading the story.

Bangkok, Thailand
Newswire

Tynan And Associates delegation to Bangkok hit a snag when senior delegation member Professor Bryce Maxwell opened up on a retired elderly couple. The attack appeared unprovoked and witnesses say Maxwell's demeanor was appalling for a Professor. When asked for an explanation representatives of Tynan And Associates only claimed they were looking into the matter and denied any further questions. Perhaps this signals the end of the doomed delegation.

Frank Pheasel

"I just read it. Werner that is not what happened at all. You know how it is. Professor Maxwell was nothing short of being a gentleman when he addressed the couple. He even bought them a round afterwards." Norler said defending his friend and delegation member.

"To some that might be an admission of wrong doing." Werner pressed him.

"To Bryce that was his way of saying no hard feelings. The man had made a statement to the effect of targeting the wealthy and educated. Bryce responded by dashing his ignorance but he did it in such a way so as not to belittle the guy." Norler said as he sat on his bed.

Alicia groaned from the other side of the bed.

"I'll do the best I can here but the real damage control is up to you. Speak with the rest of the Bangkok delegation before you leave and make sure we have their support on this issue. Call me later." Werner hung up.

"Who was that?" Alicia asked Norler as she leaned up in bed.

Norler tossed her the newspaper.

She quickly read the headline and story and scoffed.

"That's not what happened at all!" she said aloud in disbelief.

"I know. Can you tell him?" Norler asked Alicia.

"Why? Because I'm his peer?" Alicia responded defensively thinking about the situation for a moment before responding again.

"Alright. I'll tell him. I'm sorry." Alicia said quietly getting up and heading for the washroom.

...

"That weasel! Troy had him in his hands. That's the reporter that tried to follow me into the washroom last night." Heylyn announced at the breakfast table an hour later.

"Well I must admit I've never had press of this kind. For the most part they've been good to me so far. This is the first attack on my character of this nature." Bryce responded sounding very disappointed.

"Welcome to the club." Heylyn replied.

"Ditto that." Norler responded in like.

"Honestly the press have been very good to me and my career. I've had problems with one or two obsessive and problematic reporters before. Usually they burn out before long." Heylyn assured Bryce who seemed to deep in thought.

"Well honestly I'm more worried for my wife than I am for myself. This is stress that she could do without." Bryce responded.

"Well as Heylyn said they're usually not this bad. It sounds like this is personal or the guy was hired to do this. Maybe a payola of some time to find the dirt on our delegation." Norler told Bryce.

"Maybe the same people that tried to hurt us. The ones behind the attack on Professor Mattu?" Alicia suggested.

"I wasn't going to do this, but clearly this guy deserves it. I'm going to have him served with a cease and desist. Last night he tried to follow me into the lady's room. He denied it but he was already at the doorway when Troy restrained him. I think he's a sleeze looking for an easy sell to the papers fabricating dirt on others. At least serving him and announcing it to the press might reduce his credibility and the credibility of this story. I'll let the lawyers handle the rest. I personally think its the right thing to do. If he could do this to us he'll likely do it to someone else." Heylyn told the delegates.

"Yeah but that could be misconstrued as an attack on the freedom of the press and make matters worse." Norler advised.

"Personally I agree with Heylyn. I mean this guy's a creep. We have this Troy guy as a witness. I've had some try similar things with me. I think its time to put a stop to this sort of thing." Monique said endorsing her friend's plan.

"I appreciate the effort that you're making in your attempt to reduce the damage of this Frank Pheasel person. Consider this though, if that story hadn't been published would you have considered doing the same thing? We wouldn't be having this conversation right now and therefore the topic of pursuing this legally would not have come up. In other words is what you're doing just to conduct revenge or is it really to protect yourselves and other Women?" Bryce asked them honestly.

"Maybe that was the final straw in all honesty. Perhaps I'd have forgiven last night's attempt to breach my privacy but had I encountered the same thing again I'd likely have done what I just proposed. I can't think of a better reason to do this now. I don't want this creep trying to get a peep shot on another lady in that way." Heylyn told the delegation.

"I agree with Heylyn on this." Katya added.

"Me too. If that was my daughter he'd tried that with..." Victor cringed.

"I have to say that in all honesty I agree with taking those steps. I just hope that you're not seeking revenge and seeking to stop this person from doing the same thing again to someone else." Norler gave his opinion.

"I say let's take it out on the creep. Sounds like he deserves it." Valerie advised the delegation.

"I agree." Monique said curt and sweet.

"Then it's settled. I'll call my lawyer right now while Bryce is calling his wife." Heylyn said pulling her phone from her purse seeing Bryce already getting the speed dial on his.

"Meanwhile I'll call and deal with the Bangkok delegates. Let them know we're alright and thank them. Our next flight's at six o'clock this evening so we'll meet back here in the lobby ready to go at four o'clock in the afternoon. Everyone get that?" Norler asked the delegation.

Everybody nodded in acknowledgement and it was settled. Troy sat in his rental car watching as they left the hotel for the day.

Continued in The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See - Act III

Copyright © 2018 Brian Joseph Johns

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