After what felt like hours, the cap came unscrewed, and I rushed out of the flask and more into a form that wasn’t quite so tiny and swore my vengeance upon-
“Sit down,” a voice said. Slight grecian accent.
I turned around, halfway about to lash out and show her the cosmic powers that had made me a freelancing star and found…
A harpy. She sat behind a desk, prim and proper, a pair of spectacles perched on her nose. A business suit was practically etched across her inhuman form, and if it weren’t for the wings across her back or the long, skin destroying talons that were stretched across the desk, she might’ve even passed for human. Her skin was an almost inhuman sheen of bronze.
But she didn’t.
She leaned forward and looked down, shuffling a few papers between her yellowed fingernails. “Murray, is it?” I didn’t respond. She glared at me, lightly adjusting the glasses on her nose. “Take on a more personable form, Murray.”
She cleared her throat. “As Hr representative for Milford LLC, and thus a ranking officer, I demand you take on a more personable form. Murray.”
My form shifted until I slid, smoothly, into a more humanoid shape. I’d at least kept the bright red hair. I pouted at her.
“Don’t look at me like that, Murray,” the harpy sighed. “I imagine being acquired like this is quite the… how do you say, ‘bummer’? But it’s really for the best.”
“The best?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Put on a shirt, Murray,” the harpy drolled. With a sigh, I did so, creating one for myself. “And it’s for the best. Rogue Djinns are one of the most dangerous mythics to have flying around, short of the dragons starting up their endwar again.”
“I wasn’t ‘rogue’,” I said, huffing. “I was freelance. I carved my contract out of the basalt myself.”
“And proceeded to rain fire on France in response to an ill phrased wish, crash the economy of a small city in japan for failing to show you proper respect, and turning a prince into a stag because he was being, as you put it ‘a bit of a ponce’.”
“He was,” I said. “He was a total ponce.”
She sighed. “Be that as it may, it is for the best that someone of your immense powers is kept… occupied. And most certainly not ruining lives for the hell of it.”
I sighed. Getting caught, getting enslaved… that was something for the older guys. I’d been caught once, at birth, naturally. But it was in the interests of Egypt to free me as soon as they could, and I’d aided them in their little conflict until they’d outlawed the Djinn in the 70s from interfering in armed conflicts. A bunch of stupid, that was. “What’re the terms of the contract.”
“You’re banned from using your gifts for monetary gain. Anything you make may no longer be sold under any circumstances. Any wishes you grant will be put through committee, deliberated on for no less than six months, and then delivered to you on a lithograph.”
My jaw dropped. “Isn’t that a tad much? What was even my bounty.”
“Five million pieces of eight,” she said. “Which we’ll be collecting shortly.”
“Fine,” I said. “So I’m not going to be allowed to grant wishes anymore. What am I even allowed to do?”
“That-” she said, and she adjusted her glasses, pressing them back up the bridge of her nose. “Is up to be decided. Our acquisitions officer wasn’t entirely sure you would take the offer, our on staff oracles rated it rather poorly, in fact. You’re to be processed over the next few days, and then moved to a proper department.”
“You’re kidding,” I said. “You’ve enslaved me-”
“Contractually obligated you,” she correctly, automatically.
“And you don’t even have a place for me?! I am almost a god!”
“You’ll find,” The harpy said, playfully. “That there are quite a few gods who have taken up the business life style as well.”
I scoffed. She kept her gaze level. Entirely too level for a joke. I tugged at my skin, and she shook her head. “Gone are the days where immortals could play uninhibited, Murray.”
“You say that because the harpies never had power to begin with,” I said, cutting in.
“Yes,” she said, flatly. “Yes I do. I don’t suppose you recall when dragon raids burned down the entire island chain where my family lived for hundreds of years?”
I blinked. “No?”
“Or how we filtered through Europe, which was going through a bizarrely strong spat of antimythical sentiment on account of the bloody dragon war?” she said, her voice going lower and darker.
“I didn’t,” I said.
“Of course you didn’t. You were too busy raining plagues and brimstone over Egypt, at the behest of your insane master.”
“Friend,” I corrected. “I was freelancing.”
She twitched, and her talons dug into the metal of the desk scraping down with a noise so hostile and angry that it made my form slip briefly. Her glare stilled it back into almost human.
“Freelancing. You should be glad that OMA is still under the impression that you were forced into it. There are many people who would have your head for what you did.”
“They can take it if they want to,” I said. “You’re making me powerless.”
“Strange how that feels,” she said. “My name’s Bohr. HR management, employee liaison. If anyone gives you trouble here, come talk to me, and we’ll work it out together.”
I stared at her.
“I am very professional,” Bohr insisted. “I won’t let a petty blood feud get in the way of following the rules.”
Nervously, I steepled my fingers together. “So what… do you all do here?”
“Paramilitary activities, suppression, future scrying, aetheric filtering, and a bit of nuclear fusion here and there,” Bohr said. “You’ll probably be involved with office work.”
“Not any of the others?” I asked.
“Of course not,” Bohr said. “We put people we trust in there. Now, are you ready to attend training, or do I have to shove you back in this disgusting whiskey flask?”
“Bourbon,” I correct.
“I prefer scotch,” She muttered, shaking her head. “Get in your flask so we can move you to the next building.”