Brood asked me to come by at ten this morning. I expected a wait because he always makes me wait, but not this time.
His room/office has just metamorphosed into the nicest place in the house. At the very least, all his furniture, what I could see of it, matches. The same can't be said of the rest of the house, filled as it is with thrift store castoffs. They drywalled everything and painted and partitioned his office off from the rest of his room, probably to give him a bit of privacy if he feels like being a slob once in a while.
It's like walking into a room in another house altogether.
He offered me a comfy chair and closed the door behind me. It was like being interviewed for a job in some anonymous office (not that I've had a job interview in forever). I expected some kind of file... he's always opening files and showing people disagreeable things, it seemed. But there was no file for me... though now that he had a desk, with actual drawers, I assumed he could be hiding it somewhere.
That assumption flew out the window when he said, "I want to apologize."
Say what? "Okay?"
"This is my job, you see. Shocking a suspect with things that might upset them is an interrogation tactic... either they become cool or they say something without thinking." He spread his hands. "Either way, we have them."
"That's really not any kind of excuse," I said. "You know what these people have been through." I would have gone on, but he cut me off.
"I know. I'm sorry. I don't like it any better than you, but... even you must admit that it would be very easy for a proxy to get in here and pretend to be reformed or not a proxy at all."
I don't have to admit anything, I thought to myself. But he had a point.
"When MASC first sent us to watch you, everyone assumed your group was a joke. I mean, come on? Defenders Against Slenders?" He smiled.
"It was a joke," I growled, feeling a little picked on. "We wanted people to laugh. Laughing makes a person feel better. And it makes people underestimate us too, if you want to know the truth."
"Well that worked out better than you expected. You were right about us watching you before Thuggee's attack, but we weren't really paying much attention that day. We only had one guy on active duty and he was... distracted."
"Zarambo," I said, and Brood did a double take.
"How did you know?"
"Lucky guess. Some people tell me I'm psychic, but it's always a lucky guess. So what happened then? He had to get permission to fire when he finally noticed Thuggee doing his best Wizard of Oz impression?"
Brood shook his head with a slight smile. "Eh, no... his backup had gone to get them dinner. He saw the trees flying around and phoned it in. By the time we got close enough, there wasn't much left we could do."
"I don't want Zarambo back here. I don't like him. The others are tolerable, but he was an ass. If you bring him back, he's sleeping outside... in the woods." I wasn't feeling generous. If the bastard had been paying attention, maybe Trina would still have her eye. Maybe Shady's orderly wouldn't have died. Maybe the rest of us wouldn't have been beat up so badly.
"Don't worry. He's transferred out," Brood didn't look too upset about it.
"So this meeting... you just wanted to clear the air? That's fine. Just talk to me before you talk to anyone else about their 'secrets,' and no more nasty pictures. We'll get along fine." I think I put my hands on the desk to get up at this point.
"Er, no... not entirely. Couple things, actually. You said you wanted to privy to reports?" he asked.
"Yeah, something like that."
"OK, I can do that, within reason, as it pertains to you and your people... or if my boss wants your input." And then he proceeded to ask some very specific questions about the "Ark" and what I meant by the "Flood" in my posts, which I won't repeat here for obvious reasons. I did confirm a few possible sites for his people to examine, and hopefully if they do make the effort to visit them, I get to see the report. But most of them are out of the country and apparently they're an organization that believes in getting permission? Or that was just a line. I wouldn't really know if such a report was kept from me, so it's all moot.
We talked about DeMii's baby for a bit (almost called her Lulls... it's a habit I'll try to break). They don't know why the baby is growing so fast, which is why they over reacted. Considering the kinds of creatures we've had to deal with- Victor, Prosper, Executor, Thuggee, random proxies- they just decided it couldn't be good and overreacted. They didn't even bother to tell him what they were planning, just authorized a line of credit for me to use... which will apparently be replenished monthly. Nice, that. He promised that they wouldn't try anything like that again, which remains to be seen.
And then... he told me that my niece is missing.