subtly_artistic: (o ~ reddopsi)
Isabella Mariel Swan Ψ "Aether" ([personal profile] subtly_artistic) wrote2013-05-23 05:45 pm

in which bella's warranty is at risk

Bella is gazing on the school weavesite when she notices the inconsistent references to Vice Chancellor Embries's secretary. A second look shows that they're all from different years. A look at the public record of the school staff directory confirms: yes. Every secretary of the Vice Chancellor is from a different year. She'd expect he was just dreadful to work for, if it weren't for the way they do virtually always last out the full year -

and for the way none of them have any continued ethernet footprint after the termination of their employment.

Bella compiles this data. She a-mails it to the current secretary with a "probably nothing, just worried" note attached to it.

---

It is the following week when she is summoned to Embries's office.

This does not bode well. But she can't exactly refuse.

She finds one of the Walking Buddies looking for credit from "escort missions" to take her. The walking buddy thinks she's humoring her until Bella disabuses her of the notion that she's generously distributing an easy five-point assignment.

They arrive without incident. The walking buddy leaves; Bella is going to be on her own for the trip back.

But first she has to deal with Embries.

She goes inside, shaking in her boots.

Embries is a silver-haired, urbane man, with a long desk at which he sits in perfect stillness, and Bella feels an odd, intense pressure in her mind when she approaches - there is something out of the ordinary, with his mind or his person or just with him.

"Hello, Ms. Swan," he says. "Do sit down."

Bella sits.

"Do you know," he says, "no one has ever had the temerity to contact one of my secretaries on her own behalf, in a professional capacity, before. They sort my correspondence for me, but by and large, their own communiques are personal in nature. Until they are not in a position to receive anything at all, that is."

This doesn't seem to demand an answer. Bella sits silently, watching his eyes, shifting occasionally under psychic pressure.

"I do wonder why something has changed about this... setup."

Bella swallows.

"Something about the particular secretary, warier or more skittish? Unlikely; she had no traits of any relevance. Something about this age in which we find ourselves, breeding caution and far-off sudden opportunities to prompt career changes? No; the eras differ only superficially. Something about the communique's origin, though..."

Bella makes a small, involuntary noise.

"I think that could easily prompt an irregularity in a comfortable pattern. Don't you agree, Ms. Swan?"

Bella doesn't think she could answer him now if she wanted to.

"Ms. Swan. I find myself very disappointed. Given that you are very nearly a volunteer, venturing towards my attention as you did - surely there is something you have to say for yourself."

She opens her mouth. No sound comes out.

She's long figured out what she's talking to, at this point.
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 01:26 am (UTC)(link)
And then somebody knocks on the office door. Not a polite little tap, either - it shifts visibly with each impact, one two three.
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 01:29 am (UTC)(link)
Embries frowns.

"You see the troubles associated with prematurely losing a secretary," he says almost conversationally to Bella, and he raises his voice a bit to say, "Come in."
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 01:34 am (UTC)(link)
The door opens, and in walks a girl in leather armor with a spiky red mohawk.

"Oh, good," she says with a glance at Bella. "It would've been so embarrassing if I'd walked in on a meeting with someone else." She addresses the vice-chancellor. "Claws off, Mr. Embries. You'll void her warranty."
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 01:35 am (UTC)(link)
"I beg your pardon?" says Mr. Embries, blinking in a way that might feasibly be called polite.
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 01:38 am (UTC)(link)
The newcomer points at Bella without looking at her.

"Mine," she says. "I need her for something. And if somebody tears off her nice shiny foil wrapping before I get the chance, I might just cry."
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 01:39 am (UTC)(link)
"I don't suppose you'd favor me with the details," says Embries with intense dryness. "There is nothing remarkable about her; I did check."
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 01:52 am (UTC)(link)
"Well, you obviously didn't look hard enough," says the woman whom Celo has called Coach Sadist. "She should be getting interesting any day now, according to the instructions on the box."

Then she smiles, displaying noticeably enlarged canines... at least compared to a human. Which she might not be.

"I have some other information you might be a little more interested in. But first I'd have to know you were done talking to Swan. Or interfering with her in any way."
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 01:54 am (UTC)(link)
"...What pray tell are your terms," inquires Embries, "as regards interference? She has seen and heard several pieces of information... and is here because of her propensity to gossip."
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 01:56 am (UTC)(link)
"Yeah?" The coach looks mildly intrigued. "What's she got her nose into?"
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 01:59 am (UTC)(link)
"Never mind that. A minor oversight about the availability of trivial information," says Embries. "One which I intend to correct. If you want me to... relax my standards... for part of the correction, I will need to know that the consequences will not outweigh the benefits of your proposal, don't you agree?"
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 02:04 am (UTC)(link)
"Sure."

She looks at Bella, raises her eyebrows, and moves a hand across her lips as though buttoning them together.

"You make his life difficult, I'll make your life hell," she says. "Clear? Just nod."
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 02:07 am (UTC)(link)
She returns her attention to Embries.

"So that's that taken care of."
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 02:08 am (UTC)(link)
"That's hardly my typical standard for guaranteeing silence," hems Embries, peering at Bella out of the corner of his eye.
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 02:10 am (UTC)(link)
"Your typical standard won't be necessary," says Callahan. "Of course, I could always take my goodies and go home..." She flashes teeth again.
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 02:12 am (UTC)(link)
"Must you?" says Embries in a tone that might be plaintive were it not for absolutely everything about this situation. "What in the world do you want with her that will be interfered with by the exertion of will?"
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 02:15 am (UTC)(link)
"That," says Callahan, "is for me to know, and you to guess ineffectually at until my little caterpillar spins a cuddly little cocoon and liquefies herself to emerge as a pretty little butterfly."
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 02:16 am (UTC)(link)
Embries considers Callahan, and side-eyes Bella, for a series of moments, and then he says, "What are you offering, then?"
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 02:23 am (UTC)(link)
"The usual," she says. "I still have six left, after all, and what else am I gonna use them for? In exchange for your word that you won't interfere with Princess here, or with another student whose name I'll give you in the unlikely event that it comes up."
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 02:24 am (UTC)(link)
"You want two of these noninterference guarantees? But I meant a name, I want a name."
pythbox: A book. (Default)

[personal profile] pythbox 2013-05-24 02:26 am (UTC)(link)
"Of course," she says. "Right after you swear to the same thing you swore before I told you Zanita's."
alicornucopia: (Default)

[personal profile] alicornucopia 2013-05-24 02:28 am (UTC)(link)
"I recognize," Embries grinds out, "your claim to this unspecified hoard, and will not act to take it until you sign it over."

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