RCM Fanfic - Agents of ARACHNOS, Ep. 12
Episode 12: Bad Moon Rising

“I see a bad moon rising,
I see trouble on the way…â€

-Creedence Clearwater Revival

*****
Three hours after their talk in the pub, Hax was just sitting down in his suite when the silence was shattered by a blood-curdling scream from down the hall. He checked his watch and smiled. “Punctual as ever,†he mumbled to himself. Before leaving the room to “investigate,†he checked his reflection in the hall mirror to ensure he was sporting the proper amount of surprise and concern. Satisfied, he flung open the door to participate in the scene already in progress.

When Hax had presented “his†idea to Bennett a few hours before, the spy had been dubious. “I thought it was Baron von Gosu who was terrified of spiders? Baroness always seemed to mock him for those fears.â€

“Oh, of course she did,†Hax explained. “She’s a very good actress.â€

Now, those acting skills were coming into play. Hax entered the hallway outside of his suite just as Bennett came out of his. A worried Biomed was already out and pounding on Baroness’s door, his face pale with concern. From the other end of the long hallway, a housekeeper was scurrying towards them.

“She’s not answering,†Bio said gravely as Hax approached, with Bennett following a few steps behind. “I’ve never heard her scream like that, but I’m fairly certain it came from Baroness’s room. And I don’t hear any movement inside.â€

“You’re certain she is inside?†Bennett asked, knowing full well she was but needing to keep up appearances.

“We just left her a few minutes ago,†Bio responded as pounded on the door again. “Wait, who are you, again?â€

“Bennett. Parker Bennett. Huge fan of your show, Mr. Alchemist. Sorry, I met the Baroness a while ago in the convention hall.â€

“Right,†Bio said absentmindedly as he considered what kind of force he’d need to break the door down. He had half a mind to call Killer to shoot the lock, but without knowing where Baroness was exactly, the shot might do more harm than good. “She said she just wanted to take a nap before dinner…â€

“Madam,†Hax addressed the housekeeper as she caught up to the group, “is there any way you can let us into Mrs. von Gosu’s room? We heard a scream, and as she’s not prone to doing that we have some understandable concerns.â€

“Oh yes, yes,†the housekeeper panted as she pulled out her keycards. “I heard the scream from down the hallway. Like the wail of the dead.†Bio looked over at her sharply. But before the woman could tap the pass to the lock, the door flew open and a terrified-looking Baroness shot out, nearly knocking Bio over as he caught her.

Hax had to hand it to her â€" the performance was pitch-perfect. Baroness’s personality always made her seem bigger, but as she sobbed onto Bio’s shoulder, it struck him as to how tiny she really was. Dressed in a lavender bathrobe, hair down and flying about, her body shuddering with short, deep breaths, Baroness looked the epitome of a damsel in distress. It wasn’t something they were accustomed to seeing, and had he not known better Hax may have been legitimately perturbed. After a moment, she lifted her head and looked over at him. Big crocodile tears welled up in blue eyes wide with fright. If he’d believed in such things, Hax would swear that girl had a bit of the devil in her.

She turned to look back over her shoulder into the suite, her voice cracking as it squeaked out, “Bathroom…I beat the shit out of it with my slipper, so I think it’s dead... Oh, Hax, it looked like one of those awful things you showed me earlier in the paper!â€

The last part wasn’t entirely a lie; by sheer coincidence, or perhaps just a slow news day, the local newspaper had in fact picked up the most recent UK spider-attack story and run it in the morning edition along with photos of the ten most dangerous spiders in the world, including the arachnid in question. Still, Hax didn’t miss the dirty look Bennett shot him as he stated, “Well, it’s a good thing I happen to be an arachnologist. Mr. Haxor, would you be so kind as to accompany me?â€

The bathroom was in just the right amount of disarray. A heavy steam from the still-running shower shrouded the room with mist, lending a dreamy quality to the scene. As Bennett shut the faucets off, Hax took in the details: brushes slightly askew on the counter, towels hung precisely even next to the shower door, clothes from earlier kicked just out of the way so she wouldn’t trip on her flight. The pièce de résistance was the pair of small satin-covered slippers: one slipper still in its assigned place on the floor, while the other rested in the middle of the vanity with barely perceptible remnants of spider legs peeking out from underneath. As Bennett slipped on a glove and gingerly lifted the slipper, Hax thought to himself that a CIA stager couldn’t have done a better job.

There was only one problem.

“That’s not the spider I gave you,†Bennett said, his eyebrow raising as he gave a hard look over at a now-pale Hax.

Hax felt his mouth go dry. “That’s not the spider I left.â€

Bennett smacked the slipper down in frustration and cast a wary look around the room. “Bugger.â€

By the time the spy and the not-a-spy emerged from the suite several minutes later, the manager of the hotel had been summoned and was offering his profound apologies to the still-shaking Baroness. Bio had eased her over to a sofa partway down the hall and was holding her hand reassuringly while they waited for the two Brits to return. As soon as they came back, Baroness caught the haunted look in Hax’s eye felt her stomach plummet. She immediately knew something was horribly wrong.

“Are you the person in charge of this hotel?†Bennett asked the manager very sternly.

“I am.â€

“Then I’m afraid I need to inform you that your establishment has a very serious pest-control issue.†He glowered at the man as he held up the small specimen bag. “The arachnid in question, which the good Mrs. von Gosu thankfully flattened before it could harm anyone, was… a black widow spider!â€

Bio felt Baroness’s nails pressing into his flesh. He followed the path of her eyes to those of Hax, who was staring back at her with urgency and just barely shaking his head back and forth. Bio also noticed Hax slyly showing two fingers, while carefully blocking his hand from most of the group. He felt Baroness draw a sharp breath as her whole body tensed, before both returned their attention to Bennett’s diatribe.

Bio sensed there was some significant meaning in that exchange. What, he didn’t know. But he fully intended to find out.

*****
The clock in her new room read a quarter of eight as Baroness picked through the items spread out on her bed, trying to decide which would pair best with her outfit. This annoyed her, because the things she’d already decided on for that night were of course in the one suitcase that didn’t make it to the correct airport. The good news was the airline had found the missing baggage and had promised to send it over. The bad news: it wasn’t expected to arrive until after she was supposed to meet the others for dinner. And she hated to be late.

Still, she thought as she poured herself a gin and tonic from the minibar, late was better than not at all. After getting over the initial shock of finding that what she thought was an already dead black widow that Hax had planted was in actuality a real live black widow that she’d nonchalantly snuffed with her slipper, Baroness wasn’t sure whether to congratulate herself for being a bona fide badass or chide herself for getting so caught up in their ruse that she ignored a very real danger that could have gotten her killed. In the end, they’d achieved their objective: in an effort to keep things quiet and not cause panic at the convention, every maid, concierge, and porter was keeping a very close eye out for any spider-related activity. Baroness was installed in a new room with an even better view, and, in an effort to calm both her nerves and any thought of bad press, the manager had made sure she had a well-stocked minibar made available to her gratis. Overall, not bad for fifteen minutes’ work.

She looked at the collection of things on her bed again and took another sip of her drink. “Killer!†she hollered toward an open door that connected her suite with that of her friend, “I need help. I don’t girl well.â€

Baroness heard a sigh and the click of dry fire from the other room. She didn’t have to see him to know Killer was rolling his eyes before he responded, “I really don’t know what you expect me to do about it.â€

“Some moral support would be nice.â€

“Call Vampy.â€

“Killer, seriously. All I need is a quick opinion. It’s not like I’m asking you to paint my toenails.â€

Another sigh, and Baroness smirked as she heard his boots hit the floor with a very deliberate thump, thump. She caught the reflection of his glasses out of the corner of her eye as Killer’s head popped through the shared doorway. “Pick the shiny one.â€

“They’re all shiny.â€

“Then call Vampy!â€

Just then, there was a knock on the door.

Baroness nodded toward it. “Could you answer that? It’s probably Bio coming to see if we’re ready yet. Which I’m not. Because somebody is not being particularly helpful.â€

She heard Killer mutter something as he went to the door. A second later, he called back, “Not Bio, it’s the porter with your suitcase.â€

“Oh, excellent! Let him in,†Baroness started shoveling the things on the bed back into their case. “I wasn’t expecting it to show up so soon. Accessory dilemma solved!â€

Baroness heard the rumblings of a quiet discussion, the door closing, and then a dragging sound in the suite’s hallway. Odd, she thought. The suitcase wasn’t that heavy.

Killer reappeared in the doorway. “I thought you said you were only missing one suitcase?â€

She looked back at him. “I was. Why?â€

“Because the porter just dropped off three, and all have your name on them.â€

“That can’t be right.â€

Baroness peeked past him. Sure enough, there was her missing suitcase, along with two other larger cases from her and Baron’s set. She set one of them on the coffee table and opened it to find her husband’s lucky rocket ship underpants packed on top.

“Good God,†Killer drawled as he peered into the case, “he even wears Captain America pajamas?â€

But Baroness wasn’t paying attention; she was already speed dialing Baron’s phone to find out why his suitcases had arrived the night before he’d told her he was. It didn’t make sense, and something about it didn’t sit right with her. Neither did the fact that her call went straight to voicemail.

She left a message for him to call her back, then sat on the edge of the bed and thought a moment. Grabbing her laptop off the nightstand, Baroness booted it up and then scrolled through the contacts in her phone. She kicked her feet impatiently as she waited for the call to connect.

“Who are you calling now?†Killer asked.

“A friend who owes me a favor…†Baroness typed something quickly into her computer as the call connected. “Frank? It’s Butterfly. Are you working tonight? Yeah? Oh, good. I need you to check on something for me. If I forward you a picture, could you check the security cameras from this afternoon around…†she scrolled down her screen, “three twenty-seven onward. I have a credit charge from that time for the Chick-fil-a in the main terminal, so that might be a good starting point…yeah. Sending the photo now. Just text me what you find, I have to go to an event shortly but I’ll have my phone on me. Thanks, Frank.â€

As Baroness ended the call, Killer cocked his head to the side and looked at her questioningly. “Just a thought,†she replied to the unspoken inquiry. “If we use his time and location from his credit charge as a starting point, the airport has cameras everywhere, and we can figure out where he went.â€

“It scares me a little how simply you were able to not only think about that, but just immediately make one phone call and connect with someone to get you that information.â€

She blushed. “I just…meet people. Anyway,†Baroness clicked the laptop shut and looked again at the mess spread out over her bed, “I think you’re right. Would you please go down and tell V I’m going to be a bit late? I’m going to call Vampy after all…â€

*****
Crap, what happened last time?
On to the next episode
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