Author’s Note: I really was going to put this up a while ago. I have just been under a lot of stress and not much up to writing or posting anything, even if this was done.
She stepped inside the second door and looked around the office. Plenty of people were at work at their desks, some typing away, others on calls, and a large map dominated the far wall, changing colors as she watched it, with parts of the country going red instead of yellow. She looked at him, but he didn’t seem to be about to explain anything, just walking away again.
She swore as she rushed after him.
He stepped inside another room, and the man behind the desk looked up at him. His face was just as void of emotions as Vershon’s was, but he was older by at least twenty years. He looked fit for his age despite sitting at the desk, and looking at him, she knew instinctively that he wasn’t a man anyone messed with—he looked like the type who could kill in an instant without a Talent.
“This is Iris Marcey,” Vershon said. “Now that she is awake, I intend to return to the crime scene.”
The other man nodded. “I see.”
“Really? Because I don’t.” She couldn’t help saying. “I’m a doctor. I trained to be one and made a living as one until they arrested me for something that wasn’t my fault. I don’t have any skills in investigation, and while I did consider being a coroner, the government still won’t let you do that if you’ve been marked as a Talent.”
“Your training could still be of use to us.”
“To us? So you are the boss, then, the one Vershon said didn’t exist?”
“No. My authority is conditional and limited to those members of the Special Investigation, Logistics, and Tactics Division assigned to me. You are now one of them.”
She looked at Vershon. “You brought me here for an introduction. You didn’t bother to introduce him, just me. Did something get wired wrong in your head when they put that implant in you or what?”
“You won’t stay any longer than the last one did, so why bother with introductions?” Vershon asked, shaking his head. “However, the regulations state I have to bring all new recruits to the office before taking them out of the compound. He has to officially approve your release before we go even if we have orders to go. That is how this system works.”
She glanced back at the man at the desk. “They made you their fall guy if someone leaves and gets out of control.”
He nodded. “I am the one that will be held responsible if someone with a Talent acts against orders and causes damage or injury, yes.”
“But you agree to this?”
He studied her, long and hard and almost made her regret asking. This one wasn’t someone you wanted to mess with, but she was still finding her boundaries and challenging them. She wasn’t done by any means.
“You know only the rumors. You have yet to learn what this life is like.”
“And what, someday I’m going to stop hating them for everything they’ve taken from me?”
“No. That will never happen,” he said, and his conviction suggested personal experience. “You will still hate them.”
“Don’t encourage her. We lose enough idiots who think they can beat this system by brute forcing it, and I don’t want to waste more time training another,” Vershon said. She looked at him, and he shrugged. “The last five all figured they could wait until their training was complete and they were unsupervised, then they tried to escape and died. Their efforts were foolish and futile.”
“Tea,” the other man said, rising to get the pot from behind him and pour a cup. He held it out to Vershon, who frowned at it. “It is better than the alternative.”
“Yes, I know,” Vershon said as he accepted it, closing his eyes and sipping from the cup.
She frowned again as she watched them, trying to figure out exactly what was going on here. Did Vershon actually care what happened to people like her? That was a bit hard to believe.
“We should go. It has already taken long enough to make this detour.”
“Her training was supposed to begin as soon as possible.”
“I know.” Vershon set down the cup and turned to her. “I will not wait for you. Let’s go.”