As Deus had said, he got a call that morning. She requested his presence again, though she didn’t say what for. He’d deflected when she offered to have a care come pick him up, claiming he was already out and about, so instead they were going to meet up at a small restaurant. He was dressed in the freshly cleaned suit, with the new shirt, though he wasn’t sure why that had been the suggestion.


  He stepping off the elevator, he was a bit confused. There was no tablet to mark you having arrived, or reserve a table, or anything of the sort. There was no hostess either, which probably would have surprised him more. He simply stood in the small landing, scanning the wood paneling that decorated the walls for any kind of sign. He jumped, as carpet emerged beneath his feet, and continued to emerge forming a path down what he’d thought was hardwood floor. Unsure of what else to do he stepped down this new path.


  It led him down a series of unmarked corridors. The tight turns left him unable to keep track of where he’d headed, the halls and doors had no markings of any kind so he felt lost, having thought he must have walked in circles at some point. The path eventually stopped at a door. He stood there for a while, watching the carpet behind him recede, before he gently reached out, to press the lit open key on the door.


  It slid silently in its frame, revealing a small seating space. Just slightly larger than the chairs and table that occupied the space. Ella was already seated, Tibalt the only other occupant. He seemed to look Niko over with a strange eye. Might have just been Niko’s confusion however.


  ‘I see you’ve arrived just in time.’


  ‘The uh, path was a bit weird.’


  ‘Yes it is a bit disorienting the first time I think. You’re quite the fellow Mr. Whirley.’ She gestured the the chair opposite her ‘Take a seat’ her tone more demanding than their previous outing. She continued after he was seated ‘It is a strange thing indeed to find a person with no record.’ She gave the smallest of smiles.


  ‘I can’t say I’d have expected that’ He was a little surprised, but he didn’t interact with much that couldn’t be done anonymously.


  ‘We had to follow you to get anything actually.’ She said, as she thumbed through a number of selections on a tablet, that had been on the center of the table. ‘I was quite surprised to find the truth of your circumstances.’ She hadn’t come off as threatening at any point, but his nervousness was in full bloom. There was no telling how she’d react. And if what she’d said were true, its not as though anyone would come looking.


  She slid the tablet across the table to him. ‘Is this going to be my last meal then?’ Tibalt snorted into a low belly laugh


  ‘Is that what you’d expect? The perspective from someone in your state is rather humerus.’ She shook her head. ‘No, you’re a much to useful creature to be doing something so frivolous as that. Though it does color things, if you thought that was a possibility, but you came anyway.’


  ‘Well. I uh.’ Niko took flipped through the menu idly ‘I try to be optimistic.’


  ‘Well. I have good news maybe.’


  ‘I mean, I’m already here.’


  ‘I’d like to hire you. But keeping it informal as we have. You’d be bait though, so there’d be some element to danger.’ She looked to Tibalt. ‘I’ll see what precautions are taken, that I can. But your anonymity will allow me to smoke out some subversive elements that have likely started to bloom since my husbands demise.’


  ‘So, you’ll need me to pretend to be some outsider and? What?’


  ‘It will all be very clandestine. So long as you can deny, you’ll be fine. You did a decent enough job so far. You’re fairly unassuming.’


  ‘Not sure how I should feel about that.’ Niko said. The doubt and discomfort waned somewhat. She wasn’t wrong, he’d managed to skate by.


  ‘You can order whatever you want, by the way.’ She said, though it sounded more like it was to the air than to him as such. She was lost in whatever realms of planning and espionage she’d been thinking over.


  ‘Ah, uh, thanks.’


  ‘I’ll be counting on your discretion while I make some arrangements. You’ll be swinging by one of our offices in the near future. I’ll see that some rumors make it to the lower ranks. I’ll have some of the people I trust forge you a decent identity, you’ll be faking an acquisition, or a merger at least.’


  He punched in something that he thought he knew what it was. A lot of the names on the menu where funny, and the pictures well, they didn’t clear anything up. Niko kind of found himself starting to zone out, so he thought he’d push back a bit. ‘So, in short you want me to pretend to be some other corp exec, and float around a bit, and get an offer from some one in your company looking to stab your ass, then come running to you?’


  ‘Speaking plainly, yes.’ She smiled ‘I’ll see that my people treat you with deference in the interim, if you want to push to see what they’ll let you get away with that might help me sort out a couple of other bad apples.’


  ‘I think I can do that. If I have you and Tibalt here to go off of.’ He cocked his head at the silent third wheel. ‘Come on man, I can’t just pretend you’re not here.’ he mumbled in response to a shaking head.


  ‘I think we’ll have to select some of the new money from the Americas.’ she noted to Tibalt.


  The rest of the meeting played out with small talk, and a promise of later contact. The food was insanely good though, and was probably unwise. Might have been better he thought to himself, to get something he knew he wouldn’t like. His mysterious advisor, finally prodded him.


  Good. All the pieces are in place. You will need to access the Veyber intelligence center. She will move the plan forward to the overmorrow.


  And what will I do when I get there? The voice on the other end waited. Deus was silent for a while. I mean, it was her idea. It wasn’t like he’d suggested any of this.


  I will tell you then, there are still events in flux. That wasn’t much of an answer. But he supposed he didn’t have any way to dredge anything more. I mean, what was the most harm that could come of any of this? Niko slept restlessly, the fields of possibility vexing him.


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