An extract from Trust A Few the first book of Haruspex, a Fortune's Fools Trilogy by E.M. Swift-Hook.
A few days after that, Jaz finally agreed to a meeting which he received an invite to attend soon after he started working for Sarnai. He was not sure it was wise or careful, but he was going to go anyway. He did not tell anyone about it and if it went wrong he did not expect anyone to take the consequences except himself. If it went well, he was hopeful it could clear the way for the happy family he was now bound to, to leave the ‘City one day. It was a risk. But he was the one in hazard. Before he left for the meeting he arranged a time-delayed secure link message to Avilon. At least they would not wait needlessly or wonder why he vanished if he did.
He hadn’t had the dubious pleasure of visiting the Coalition Security Force main offices in the ‘City very often before, but he remembered it was low-budget. The crystal-plex walls were half-panelled and the view through them was pure, hard-core, industrial. The room he was shown into might have been the front office for any small company – workspace and seating provided – and the air of infrequent use robbed it of any sense of individual purpose.
“I do apologise for keeping you waiting, Vor Baldrik.” The woman walked into the room and dismissed the two men who had been watching Jaz in case he stole the desk. “I am Var Tyran and I hope we can do business.”
Jaz was reminded of some kind of predatory animal, the way she moved and took a seat.
“I think it would be useful if we could,” he agreed.
She was already pulling up screens and Jaz noticed with interest she ran a link-slot on her wrist. “So – Jazatar Baldrik, ex-Coalition Marine Corps, ex-mercenary, ex-terrorist, ex-Special Legion. A lot of ex’s for one lifetime,” she said. Jaz had no idea what he was supposed to say to that so he just nodded. “Present employment, Security Consultant for Sarnai Altan. Which I assume is a cute way of saying you kill people for her?”
“I protect Var Altan’s interests,” he corrected, more certain than before this had been a mistake.
“Then I am talking to the right person.” She smiled just enough to allow her perfect teeth to show, resting on her lower lip.
“You asked to speak to me. I have no reason to refuse you,” Jaz said carefully. He was walking through a minefield.
The Tyran woman sat back in her chair and just looked at Jaz. He looked back, which was not at all too hard on the eyes. After a long silence she moved slightly, resting one arm on the desk between them and seemed to be reading some data, perhaps she had been waiting for someone to find it for her – or perhaps she was in another conversation.
“You are a man we have been hoping to talk to for some time. Hard to find, Vor Baldrik.”
“I’ve been busy,” Jaz said.
Her lips pursed as if in disapproval and her eyes, a shifting shade of blue, held his own.
“But here now.”
Jaz waited. They had approached him. He had come.
“You have something of a reputation,” Var Tyran observed, sounding as if she was reading from a script. Her neat teeth appeared again and she leant forward on the desk. Jaz got up and walked towards the door, only turning back when she called him: “Vor Baldrik?”
“I’m not here to be flirted with,” he said. “If that’s all you have on offer – then, sorry, but I have better things to do with my time.”
The door shimmered as if in soft focus. Jaz recognised the meaning of that and stepped away from it.
“Please sit down, Vor Baldrik, I regret I cannot allow you to leave just yet.”
So it really had been a mistake.
Jaz went back and sat down.