“Five agents! Five!” Sergeant Mallory slammed his fist onto the desk, making the bones of his wrist tremble like an abacus. “Five! And now you want to try?”
Sharmayne met his gaze, her softly-glowing green eyes bright in the dim office. “I think I know where they may have gone wrong, sir.”
“You?” Mallory straightened up, the white of his skull reflecting the light. “How long have you been here? Three months?”
“Yes, sir, but I—“
“Three months! You know how long I’ve been doing this?”
Sharmayne held her ground. “Two hundred, forty seven years, eight months and four days.”
“Damn right! And I’ve got at least another century to go before I can retire. And if you think you know more than me, you’ve got another thing coming!”
“Can I at least tell you my idea?”
“Go ahead! It’s not like I have anything important to do.”
She took a long breath. Unlike most Awakened, she had kept her lips, nose, ears and breasts; except for the pallor of her skin and her glowing eyes, she could be mistaken for a human. “What I was going to say, sir, is that I think they approached this farmer Stanton the wrong way. I think that a quieter method might get better results.”
“Oh you do, do you?” Mallory leaned back, red eyes glittering. “And just why do you think that? These were some of my best men! And they were shot down dead by Stanton. You really think sweet-talking is going to help?”
“It can’t possibly hurt.” She folded her arms across her chest. “At school they said that there are better ways of dealing with humans being tried now in Europe. That’s all I want to try.”
“School.” Mallory shook his head, gray hair wagging. “Listen. When I started here, we didn’t have crap like schools. We just went out there and did our jobs. And we didn’t take any guff from farmers!”
“You have to go to school,” she began. “If you want to—“
“—to have any chance of succeeding in the world today. Yeah, I know. I hear it all the time.” Mallory sighed, blowing papers astray. “All right. I’ll let you go. But if you get killed, don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
“Thank you, sir.” She hesitated by the office door. “I won’t let you down.”
“See that you don’t.”
Retrieving the Stanton dossier from the out box, Sharmayne left.
Sitting there in his office, sensing that somehow he'd just lost yet another argument, Mallory couldn't help but feel aggrieved that she got to keep her tits but he hadn't been able to hang on to his balls.
Opening: Khazar-khum.....Continuation: Anon.