It’s that time again!
We’re back for another chapter!
Plans are afoot! Cass and Ken are ready to receive their unexpected visitors. So, let’s welcome them into the home! And as always, enjoy the Audible chapter after the post (all the way at the bottom).
“Director Hartman,” said Cass, greeting her at the door shortly before eighteen. “Welcome to our home.”
Hartman and her entourage were escorted by a dozen of Sanzari’s operatives, and looked uncomfortable.
“I hope you had a smooth journey?” continued Cass, stepping back.
“Yes, thank you,” answered Hartman, shifting into polite diplomat-speak. “You live in a lovely area.”
Cass smiled graciously as the last of the visitors entered and the door closed.
“SARAH, activate Case Theta,” said Sanzari. “Authorization Sanzari, 1-B, 2-B, 3.”
“Case Theta activated. Be advised that unauthorized exit will be met with lethal force.” Durasteel shutters slid down over all the exterior doors and windows, and a subtle hum added itself to the home’s normal background noise.
“We don’t have time for diplomatic games,” said Kendra, moving to stand next to Cass. “You’ll find that you’re out of communication with Geneva, or anyone else you may have set up as a contingency.”
“At least a platoon, given her position in the UE,” added Stone, stepping forward. “It’s SOP. I’d guess an orbiting Falcon, possibly two, ready to drop. They’re probably shitting a brick right about now. We might want to let her reassure them.”
Hartman’s eyes flashed but she didn’t say anything. Instead, O’Quinn took up the baton. “And why should she do so? We come to your home peacefully, making no demands, and this is how you greet us? With cages and threats?”
“I don’t know who you are, but I’ll tell you anyways. We wanted you to know that we’re taking this meeting seriously,” reassured Cass. “She’s one of the most powerful people on the planet. How reassured would you be if we didn’t take precautions?”
Her words penetrated the anger. “We are not prisoners, then?”
“You are our guests,” soothed Cass. “Here.”
She handed Hartman a comm.
“Feel free to contact anyone you want.”
“Telling your lads to stand down might be a good start,” suggested Stone. “Before they do anything we’ll all regret.”
“Yes,” agreed Kendra. “Let them know that you’re secure, so we can get down to business.”
Through the exchange, the rest of entourage had been silent. Now Lynch, face reddening, stormed forward, yelling. “This is outrageous!” He wound up to swing at Cass but suddenly found himself flat on his back as Kendra swept his legs out from under him. Before he could recover, she rolled him over and sat primly on his back.
“You might want to control your animals. There’s a leash law in Los Alamos. Strictly enforced,” she said, grinning.
“Mr. Lynch, please behave yourself,” said Hartman, trying to hide a matching grin. “We are guests, after all.”
“They’ve cut us off!” protested Lynch, his voice somewhat muffled.
“And we invited ourselves to their home, with barely a day’s notice, when they had absolutely no obligation to receive us. We show up with ten people for a meeting that I qualified as –”
“Discussion of potentials,” supplied Cass.
“Yes. Exactly. I think a little caution is warranted, though perhaps it could have been applied a bit more diplomatically,” added Hartman.
Kendra shrugged, still sitting on Lynch. “I never had much use for diplomacy in my career. Either I dodged trouble, or I was there to cause trouble.”
Cass redirected the conversation. “In any case, Madame Director, if you’d like to contact your troops?”
“Oh, yes. Quite.” Hartman punched a code, waited, and spoke a few hushed words before handing it back to Cass. “Taken care of. They were getting a bit worried.”
“Can I get up?” said Lynch.
“Are you going to behave?” Kendra returned. “Or does Cass need to get the restraints? And I tell you now, you won’t like them. They’re not your size, for one thing.”
Cass blushed but said nothing.
“I’ll behave,” muttered Lynch, still fuming.
“See?” said Kendra, standing. “Was that so tough?” Sanzari unobtrusively motioned to one of her guards to position themselves near Lynch.
“We have a meal ready,” said Cass. “This way.”