Her boss called. "I haven't gotten a progress report from you. The trial's in two weeks!"
"I'm on administrate leave over a shooting." She glanced toward her comp. "I have looked into Icka's background, but I have no access to new input."
He growled. "I'll fix that."
He clicked off and she growled herself.
Inexperienced or lazy? He didn't know a member of his group is being investigated herself? And if he's just going by my rough compilation of my first investigation of Ice--the one with the cover letter: "Never mind it was the Drei Mächte Bündnis mentalist and her Puppet who were leaking secrets to Earth" that would explain why I'm being told to investigate him.
Poor fool. In position a hair more than a year and he still isn't hooked into the office gossip circuit.
"Plus, the last thing I need is to be dragged back to work right now!" She looked around the domed room. Bare concrete, echoing and empty of everything but a work table and two chairs. "Well. I can sit here tomorrow and finally analyze Ice . . . good grief, I forgot all about the search for priest genes on Comet Fall."
She fired up the comp and hunted down the Comet Fall personnel file and restarted the search. Paced over to a window and looked out. The fainest little tingle of Ice's shields. Keeps out insects and lets the air in at the temperature desired. Dear One! Makes me think I won't faint at the first power bill after all.
And . . . should I dig into the man's finances? How did he come up with half a million rials for the escrow account, on top of the purchase price? Dammit, I ought to have paid attention to the figures instead of my parents' reactions when he bared all, financially speaking, last summer.
She glanced back at the search . . . three results? Out of all the people who'd been there?
"One Usse! The Philosopher! Umm, no. One Ygti, nope . . . Holy Shit! Ahxe Servaone Sycamore Tall Trees? On Comet Fall from 1352 to 1354? He could easily have had a half Comet Fall son, grown and in the Sepoy army that we thought we were using to invade Earth." She started laughing. "Ohmyone, wait till Ice sees this!"
She sobered a little, smiled wryly. "At least I hope he'll like this . . . he may not like one of his beloved Trees being a rapist. Unfortunately we can rightly blame that on the Oner part."
She leaned back and looked up at the bare underside of the dome.
"That's going to be a bitch to plaster, after we get all the killer fire suppression gear around the rim. One! Sprays out four meters, not quite enough to reach the center. Thank the one we got a variance on that!"
Keiq walked out to the center and turned around. "Twice the area of Ice's apartment. We really ought to just move in here, no matter how difficult curves are to furnish. And fit floor tiles in. Floors, One! How much black marble are we going to need?"
"Lots?" Ice's voice echoed in from downstairs. "I can't believe we're so far along we can even start thinking about the flooring." The ladder rattled as he climbed it.
"I know. The plaster people rolled their eyes and took the formulas away to see how hard it would be to get the ingredients, and give me an estimate. Once the fire and electrical systems are in, they can go to it."
"Right. And I get all gothic on the ceilings. And do the stairs. I wonder what happened to my Mahogony Import Permit?" He dropped a kiss on her hair and dropped into the chair beside her. "Tomorrow I'll probably wind up going to Embassy to search their library for information on the Drei."
He snickered. "And I almost hope I have to haul my timid new co-workers over to Disco to ask for anything they haven't made public, or maybe tell us where to find the Free Cyborg Rebellion."
She kicked his ankle. "You thought it was funny when you told me you'd met Wolfson."
"You looked horrified. And him so relaxed and friendly until he goes all Wrath of God on the Bad Guys." He snickered. "But unless you need to work late, it's been suggested that I bring my girlfriend to the Wednesday Night Film Fest."
"The . . ."
"Every Wednesday the Black Horse Guards vote on what three vids to show. Tonight they've got three of Mikel's heroic feats, immortalized in electrons . . ."
"I've probably seen them all."
"Me too. It's fun to rewatch with that group, I mean, Isakson was at most of the battles, and Lucky Dave was in some. I'm willing to bet they've chosen the vids they can get eyewitness commentary on."
Keiq blinked at him. "Oh . . . that could be interesting . . ."
"Or howlingly funny. It's often both."
Hanging around Ice, she'd wound up meeting rather a lot of the Black Horse Guards. And they came and helped moved the house like it was fun! They're actually like a bunch of Cowboys. Just better trained, more heavily armed, and with wicked black and purple uniforms.
Ice was treated like one of them. Acted like one of them. "What's up tonight? Oh, Wakang Pass. That one was sillier than most. But us New Warriors are much more dignified."
Lucky Dave groaned. "Not that! One! I about froze my toes off. And it was early spring. And the streams were still frozen."
Isakson snorted. "It warmed up for the trip back."
"Yeah. The victorious retreat through half-thawed mud. That part was pleasant too." Dave reached and thumped his brother. "You missed so much fun, Punk! Camping at over four thousand meters elevation! In the snow!"
Davos snickered. "Suddenly I'm glad to be fourteen years younger than you."
Keiq swallowed. I am not overwhelmed by being surrounded by Warriors. I am not!
"Ooo! Ice's girlfriend!" A young woman with fluffy brown hair and big brown eyes. "Hi, I'm Beir Withione Alcairo. Bunny. Umm, Scar's girlfriend. And I'm a secretary here."
Keiq resisted patting Bunny on the head. "Keiq Withione Colorado."
A bouncy grin. "I know! Ice occasionally threatens to bring you out here to teach the Guards how to shoot. He's pretty funny."
"Er, yes." She was saved from the avalanche of words, by Scar's arrival, grining.
"And we would never even think Mr. Tall Tales would exaggerate. Although it's tempting to call his bluff."
Keiq raised her brows, and grinned. "Maybe I'd better come practice at your range, so you Ponies won't worry too much about that."
That turned a few heads, and Ice chuckled. "Don't say I didn't warn you!"