Jones stood in the doorway of the workroom, watching Tamarai working through the evidence in this sim. Merlin sat on a large cushion, methodically working his way through a lollipop half the size of his head.
Merlin knew he was there – he’d felt the boy’s mind touch his as soon as he’d come up to the floor. From what emotion leaked from his son, Merlin felt disturbed, but from looking at him, he was putting up a front, perhaps acting happy for Tamarai’s sake.
It took Merlin fifteen minutes to stop tensing in his arms.
As he had always done and would always do, Jones held the child until the fear subsided to what they unfortunately had to accept as “normal” levels. A background radiation of fear.
Something they couldn’t avoid; something that was only natural, with Merlin’s life.
Stef looked at Jones as the Tech paced back and forth, arms folded behind her back, looking for all the world as though she were considering the deepest, most philosophical question this side of Trek vs. Wars.
After a moment, Andrea stopped pacing. ‘Are you sure he’s the one?’
Stef nodded. ‘Yeah,’ she said with a nod. ‘I mean, there’s no one else.’
Tiny hands touched his right shoulder, and a small head rested on them.
Jones looked up, unsurprised to see Merlin, goggles pushed up onto the top of his head, his expression one of exhaustion. ‘Going to get some sleep, sweetheart?’
Merlin nodded his head, then lifted his head and hands away from Jones’ shoulder. ‘I’m tired, Mumma. More than I should be.’
Jones spun on his chair to look at his son. ‘Do you want to sleep in your bed, or in your box?’
With Merlin securely tucked in, Jones drifted in his HUD.
Most agents had some true – if shallow – sleep during some part of the night. Even agents only had so much processing power, so sleep served as a convenient time to fulfil functions that would otherwise slow their reaction times.
Deep scans, integrity checks of every single nanite, cache clearing. Sleep gave an agent time to look after themselves, to make them fresh and new for the next day.
Jones refused to waste the time – it was inefficient to have so many dead hours during the night, when he could get so much work done without recruits underfoot.
Combat and Field functions were largely diurnal – so no one would miss Taylor if he bunked down – naked, apparently – for six hours.
The hour before and the hour after midnight were always the quietest in the tech department.
Jones walked his usual late-night circuit around the floor, more of a habit than an actual need. An excuse to stretch his legs – to spend some time away from his lab and his desk, if not away from his work.
All his current work sat in minimised windows along his HUD task tray – unless it was something that the Agency didn’t need to know about, it was automatically synched. Backups upon backups upon backups; changes made in-HUD or by keyboard were executed, recorded, and logged.
He stopped by one of the window seats, and he brought up his email as he sat. The transparency was such that the city outside the window was still perfectly visible. Everything seemed peaceful, but it was impossible to be sure.
Three Months Before Dorian Knocks.
Three recruits on the phone bank. Two in the lab, working. Three in the smaller lab, investigating their understanding of human biology. Four recruits in the main computer lab, submitting alternative drone paths.
All in all, very quiet for two in the morning.
Jones placed another bet and wondered if Blue Earth ever even considered horse races when they threatened to expose magic to the world.
The first Q&A off the rank!
If you want your own answered, simply send a question to a character at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Stef felt her nose twitch, a moment later, the smell of coffee happily invaded and she sat up, grasping for the nearby cup.
‘I’ll have to remember,’ she heard Jones say, ‘that if we ever have to wake you up, fairy-tale-style, that all we need is hot caffeine, rather than a handsome prince, princess or primus. You’re very uncomplicated.’
She opened her eyes and took the offered cup. ‘Yeah, that’s me, uncomplicated, that’s why I’ve got so many bugs.’
There were three sharp knocks on Ryan’s door.
He quickly scanned the outside, saw it was Grigori, then required it open.
Ryan looked up from the recruit discipline report and saw the agent. He stood and shook the man’s hand before sitting back down and clearing his desk of paperwork.
Grigori took the couch, a strange expression on his face. ‘It’s because of you, Ryan, that I don’t trust handshakes as much as I used to.’