Vanessa Irons: Agent for Hire

Vanessa Irons looked out over the morning face of the city of Vancouver from her skyscraper apartment, her long black hair tied back in a ponytail. On first sight she was often considered attractive but cold, a certain reserve holding back her obvious physical beauty. She was athletic and quite shapely, though she was often heard to say she'd prefer a less pointed chin.

"Vanessa, come back to bed," the blonde haired woman complained, looking out from the queen sized mattress. Her lips were pursed in a artful pout, her heart-shaped face looking positively adorable in the dim light.

Vanessa looked back at her, the moonlight lighting up her slim body and pert breasts. It was barely three AM, and they had only gone to sleep about ten last night. "Sorry Dana," she said as she walked back to sit on the side of the bed, "I didn't mean to wake you."

Dana Mercer sighed as she looked up at Vanessa fondly. "You could try sleeping more than four hours at a time," she suggested teasingly.

"That'd feel like wasting the whole day," Vanessa answered, cupping the young woman's chin. "And don't pout," she added, "you're a good actress, but I'm not buying it."

"Meanie," Dana laughed, pulling away gently to snuggle back under the covers. "Well, I need a few more hours of beauty sleep," she sighed.

"Sleep tight," Vanessa leaned over to kiss her gently on the forehead. Quietly she picked up her scattered clothes and left, closing the door silently on one of several bedrooms built into her Aerie.

The 'Aerie,' as Vanessa liked to call it, had started out as the headquarters of a video game company, one that went bust when the online boom imploded. Vanessa got it at a steal in the sell-off of assets and had it rezoned for her own uses. The upper three floors were her home and base of operations, the rest of the building housing her commercial interests and her charity.

Dressing with smooth efficiency Vanessa headed for the kitchen, already smelling coffee perking. Heather Long was cracking a egg to scramble, her light brown hair flowing down to her shoulders, her full bosom concealed by her old fashioned maid's uniform. She had even added a white lace cap, along with matching apron tied with a cute bow at the back.

"Good morning," Heather Carter smiled cheerfully, her cheeks just a bit red.

Vanessa finished buttoning up her shirt, tucking it into her black suit pants and sitting down with a wry smile. "You don't have to make me breakfast, you know," she said to her chief cook.

"It's no trouble," Heather told her firmly as she began to cook. In just a few minutes the eggs were ready, and a glass of orange juice was set out beside it.

"Hmm," Vanessa dug in happily, eating her breakfast with much enjoyment.

"I have your schedule for today ready," Heather added as she took out a small, personal organizer with a oversized screen. "You have several appointments regarding your new patents, and several help requests have come in, twenty or so."

The patents were something Vanessa found to be a blessing and a curse. Since she had been a teen she had found herself looking at things and devising new, simpler ways to carry them out. Having a good mind for business she patented her ideas were applicable and sold them to companies she thought would use them best, in the process making substantial amounts of money. It was because of that she could afford this 'aerie' not to mention the charity work that was the focus of her days.

In addition to her charity work, Vanessa liked to hone her sharp intellect by helping people at need. While originally regarded rather warily Vanessa had soon proved she was very, very good at solving mysteries and resolving situations to the benefit of her clients. She charged only modest fees for her work and was in high demand, but she only took certain jobs.

Finishing off her food Vanessa took the organizer, studying the files thoughtfully. "Do you have the full case files data attached?" she asked, despite knowing the answer.

"Jessica and Alex assembled the files personally," Heather reassured her.

"Good," Vanessa folded down the screen and slid the organizer in her pocket. Her eyes had that thoughtful look she got when she was working on a problem, "Leave it with me for a few hours. I need to think a bit."

"Office or gym?" Heather asked as Vanessa got up.

"Gym, I think," Vanessa answered, striding off.

Heather sat down at the table, looking after Vanessa with a expression that could almost be called awed. The other woman was a legend, a athletic prodigy as a child, a genius in high school and university, then declaring her intent to save the world at her graduation from her second doctorate degree in physics.

Founding a company called 'IronWorks' she had made it into the ultimate think tank, providing solutions to corporate problems for outrageous sums. Sums that she then poured into charity efforts both in North America, Europe and in the Third World. In addition to her charity work she offered her personal assistance to anyone who needed her, her only requirement that the job interest her.

Heather was payed a extraordinary amount for her work, but honestly she would have worked for Vanessa for free if she asked. The woman was a magnet for the best and the brightest, surrounding herself in experts in many fields as she drove them all to change the world. Already her programs were making a dent in poverty stricken parts of the world, not to mention saving parts of North America hurt by depression. People didn't work for her for the money, they worked to see what new idea she'd come up with next.

Closer to five AM Hayate Fujino got up, the slim Asian woman dressing in simple running shorts and T-shirt, to start with. Barely topping out at five feet tall she looked delicate, but a tour on the boxing circuit and a career as a body guard had made her tough as nails. She left her room at the west side of the aerie and walked into the gym, pausing to watch her employer at work.

Dressed in gym clothes Vanessa looked like some kind of deadly amazon, her muscles iron like along her arms and legs. She moved with supple yet deadly grace as she struck the human shaped punching bag, thrusting punches and snap kicks sending it jerking wildly, despite it's weight. She worked like this to keep her combat skills up, of course, but also to free her mind to think on whatever she needed it to.

Hayate jogged around the outer edge of the gym as she watched Vanessa practice, seeing the woman using several deadly variations of karate and savate. The woman could cripple, paralize or kill with a blow, not to mention handling any number of customized weapons she'd had built for her.

Waiting till she took a break, panting softly, Hayate approached as she noted, "Watching you work out, I really wonder why you need a leg-breaker like me."

Vanessa looked at her with a smile, her long ponytail soaked with sweat, as was the sports bra and shorts she wore. "I tend to have difficulty taking captives alive," she smiled wryly, "unlike you."

"You could always retrain," Hayate offered, implying she would be willing to help with that.

Vanessa clearly got the implication as she purred, "You can train me anytime." A bit more seriously she added, "I don't want to lose my edge, though."

"I understand," Hayate nodded.

"Excuse me a moment," Vanessa walked over to where she had left a personal organizer on a bench and picked it up. "Record notes," she ordered.

"Working," the soft, female voice replied.

"Saint Petersburg kidnapping," Vanessa closed her eyes a moment, "cross reference with victims of the local serial killer case, the Slasher. She fits the profile too well, damn it."

Hayate winced, knowing how much Vanessa hated cases ending like that. Still, it did happen and often there was nothing you could do about it.

"Chicago murders," Vanessa rattled off briskly, "the two cases in the help file are clearly connected. Access to both sites was accomplished through electrical tunnels. I recommend the police review recent dismissals from the electric company over the past year, both men killed had connections there too. This smells like revenge."

"Re-check the New York data," her voice went flat with annoyance as Vanessa continued, "the help request doesn't match up with police or emergency reports. I think a reporter is looking for a story on us again. If I'm right, give them a slap on the wrist."

That made Hayate hide a smile. Reporters were fascinated by Vanessa, but she refused to give interviews or assist in writing stories on her. They seemed intent on getting underneath Vanessa's shell, not realizing that what you saw was what you got, with her. Cooking up fake 'emergencies' to draw Vanessa out was a favorite stunt, the other to try to plant a fake employee in the Aerie. So far only one try at a plant had worked, and she ended up deciding to work for Vanessa for real.

Vanessa rattled off two more solutions, smiling slightly as she dealt with both. Finally she said, "I want to look into the situation in Texas. More to follow."

"We moving out?" Hayate asked as Vanessa shut off the unit, sitting it down on the bench again.

"Right after we shower," Vanessa agreed.

Just after six in the morning the team assembled in the underground garage, right beside a modified Hummer that resembled a extended Armored Personnel Carrier. The driver was Harriet Lane, tho she preferred being called 'Hari,' and the slim redhead was fond of boasting that if it had a steering wheel, she could drive it. She's proven that boast more than once, driving everything from forklifts to a stolen tank, once.

Dana Mercer looked bright eyed and bushy tailed as the former actress hauled her trunk behind her with a grunt of effort. With the prostetics, makeup and wigs in that case, along with the right clothes, she could go from looking like a crazy homeless person to a model. Her skills had come in handy many times, not least of which when she had infiltrated the Aerie as a new employee.

Hayate was dressed in her combat gear, a specially made bodysuit of bullet resistant material. Unlike the rest of the team she was likely to be a front line fighter, and it paid to be prepared. Vanessa usually wore one too, but underneath her nicely starched suit.

Erica Summers pushed her black hair out of her eyes as the former police detective and head of security tidied her own blue suit. She was a former detective because she had shot her mouth off one too many times in front of superiors, but as she had been usually right Vanessa had snapped her up. In addition to her not inconsiderable skills as a investigator she was also a crack shot with most guns, too.

"All right," Vanessa strode over to the loading dock beside their oversized vehicle, "everyone's gear loaded? Let's move."

"A-hem," Heather Long smiled, her brown hair up in a bun to match the sleek woman's business suit she wore.

Vanessa frowned slightly, "This isn't the sort of job we need...."

Heather cute her off, "I've phoned ahead to clear our passage to the United States. You may have forgotten, but they're still a bit annoyed over you shooting that plane down."

Hayate hid a grin as Vanessa blushed. "We didn't have much choice," she muttered.

"I also booked the penthouse and floor below at the Hilton, as I feel certain we'll need a base of operations in Dallas," Heather added with a smile.

Vanessa opened her mouth, then closed it, accepting that yes she did need a minder along. "Get in," she smiled wryly as they all jumped aboard.

The Hummer bombed along through Vancouver's rainy streets, south along Granville and ultimately arriving at Vancouver International Airport. Previous calls had taxied the modified Army jet out, back hatch down, and the Hummer bounced it's way up into the plane where crews tied it down. Almost as soon as they stopped the team filed out, Vanessa leading the way up into the cockpit itself.

"Hari, you're copilot," Vanessa ordered as she pulled the headset on and started running through the pre-flight checklist.

"Got it, boss," Hari agreed as she started going through her own list. "Passports?" she asked as they worked smoothly together.

"Heather handled those on the way in to the airport," Vanessa answered as she competently checked their fuel levels.

The first time Hari got in a car with Vanessa driving, she had seriously wondered why she needed her, but eventually Hari figured it out. While Vanessa was a jill-of-all-trades who could pick up and master skills in days, she wasn't a expert. She didn't know each skill as in depth as a expert did, and she seemed to prefer letting the experts do their stuff. Where Vanessa shone was in combining skills and talents acquired off dozens of fields to create a unexpected answer.

"Traffic control, this is Nessie-one, requesting permission to take off," Vanessa said, making a face. She hated the name Nessie, but the team had registered the plane under that name years ago as a joke, and the name stuck.

"Nessie, you're cleared on runway one," the air traffic control officer answered smoothly. "Good hunting," he added.

"Thanks," Vanessa agreed as they taxied to the runway. The people of the city had learned that when Vanessa and her team left, they soon heard about bad guys going down. The engines revved up and roared as they raced down the runway, the nose lifting, then with a slight bump they were up ion the air.

"So what, exactly, are we going to Dallas, Texas for?" Hari asked curiously, knowing Vanessa wouldn't even talk about the case until they were on their way. It was for security, of course, but also strongly set in force of habit.

"Oh, it's nothing too serious," Vanessa said casually as she kept an eye on the instruments and the window, "someone wants to kill a important figure visiting Texas and blame the natives. We're going to stop it."

"Oh, is that all we're doing?" Hari smiled wryly as she added, "I thought it was going to be something hard!"

To be continued....

Notes: Yes, Vanessa Irons is pretty much a modern, lesbian version of Doc Savage. My original idea was to do a fanfic on Pat Savage, but she remains a sadly underdeveloped character.