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Points Of View

Posted on Tue Mar 2nd, 2021 @ 1:11pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Commander Arianna Frost

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: Administrator's Office | Overwatch Station

Days came and went since his surprise conversation with Arianna. It had been a lifelong burden of Akiva's that relationships were difficult to forge. Even casual working relationships tended to be strained and awkward, or plain nonexistent. He didn't know what Arianna -- no, Ari he mentally corrected... she preferred Ari -- meant to him, but he found himself realizing that she meant something.

With that in mind, he went back over the song she casually but repeatedly suggested he take to heart. "Rains of Castamere"... Some song from one Old Earth production or another. Fantasy. Not historical fiction. Completely unrelated to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, though Akiva had determined that to have been merely a tactic to get him to figure out her device's hidden subspace address. Whatever he was supposed to figure out from the song was completely eluding him. Maybe he needed to listen again.

As he played the audio track one more time, he opened Ari's profile and gave it a gander. Her service record was surprisingly detailed for a commander in Starfleet Intelligence. Kazyah Linn, by contrast, had more than half his service jacket blacked out. There was only one redacted detail in Ari's assignments, though. From 2385 to 2386, she was part of a classified operation, which was around the time as Akiva's project that created Biynah.

Akiva blinked. The classified project's name was Castermer. Rains of Castamere? Project Castermer? The spelling was off by a few letters, but that would actually make sense if Ari was trying to give him a hint without tripping SFI's algorithms which monitored all communications for key words.

Memory Theta's clearance was about as high as Starfleet issued, but Akiva still had to use discretion as to when to utilize it. Records and reports were made when he did so. Perhaps if he did no actual digging, just entered the project name into the SFI database and gleaned what he could from the metadata without accessing the project files, then he wouldn't draw any undue attention.

Accessing his terminal, Akiva entered the words PROJECT CASTERMER into his administrative search prompt. The search results returned with an authorization challenge, which Akiva entered: SIGMA-9-THETA BEN-AVRAM BETH-YOD-NUN.

Project Castermer's root directory appeared on his desktop display with the list of project files numbering in the dozens. Many of them were likely subdirectories with hundreds of more files. Far too much data for him to peruse on idle curiosity. Besides, many of them were likely encrypted for admiralty level clearance and may even be redacted beyond that.

As Akiva suspected, though, the metadata told him he needed to know. Project Castermer: Countermeasures against Black Nagus intrusion within Starfleet Intelligence.

Sudden realization sent a chill down Akiva's spine. The reason Ari had ducked out so quickly and without telling anyone was that Project Castermer had been reinitiated. And it only made sense. In the past year, Memory Theta alone had seen multiple incursions and attacks from the Black Nagus. If the Black Nagus could strike at Memory Theta, then nowhere and no one was safe.

Happy with himself, he prepared to send out a ping through the hidden quantum entanglement communicator Ari had installed covertly into the station before her departure. Akiva still didn't know where it was located, but his office encryption was routed through it to Arianna's paired device, wherever she was right now. Like all QEC systems, their communicators were paired together and were therefore unhackable. Quantum entanglement was a migraine in the making when trying to understand, but all he knew was that short of localized prying eyes and ears, they were safe to speak more freely.

Even so, discretion was necessary no matter the safeguards. There was also the matter of the brain teaser Ari had wanted from him. Akiva rubbed his chin in thought. What... what could he possibly do? Her ruse had been so clever. Patterns and analysis were one thing, but... creativity was not Akiva's forte. He was just the handy son of a rabbi with a knack for maintenance and...

Akiva perked up with an idea. A man always had to play to his strengths, so he used the one thing he'd had to memorize as a child that he could still recite in his sleep. He prepared a lengthy message to Arianna and hoped she would figure it out.

"How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.

Your word continues forever, HaShem,
firmly fixed in heaven;

How happy are those whose way of life is blameless,
who live by the Torah of HaShem!

I am dying to know your salvation;
my hope is in your word.

Your word is a lamp for my foot
and light on my path.

How happy are those who observe his instruction,
who seek him wholeheartedly!

Deal generously with your servant;
then I will live and observe your word.

I hate doubleminded people,
but I love your Torah."

Not the most clever code that was ever constructed, but Akiva nonetheless felt a certain satisfaction for coming up with it so quickly. He sent the transmission and sat back to await confirmation of receipt.

Frost was still heavily reeling from Operation Donnager and the implications of it. The aspect of danger to life and civilization notwithstanding, it was the fact that the Nagus had beaten them to the punch. Castermer was leaking. How badly? It remained to be seen.

Trust between colleagues had suddenly become a premium.

Arianna had been debriefed by Taskmaster following her exfiltration and had both agreed to keep the revelation of betrayal to themselves, to see if they can root out any more moles that had tunneled their way into the Project. They needed to shore up before continuing their fight against the Black Nagus.

So Arianna was reviewing an old field log that she had submitted to the analysts cleared to work on the Project when she noticed that her QEC communication was pinging for activation.

Inputting her code, she opened the text message up and read it. Not a very religious person herself, she ran the text through the computer.

Tehillim 119:9-16: BEIT, prefaced the text in her database. A psalm from the Torah.


Who else would send her something so far out of the left field?

It made her smile though, playing to a strength of his as he was. It was soothing almost, to her wounded soul. Something so unexpected, exactly what she asked for.

It took her a moment to realize that the message had been sitting there for a good few minutes.

She typed a message back, "tell me more of the Torah. I am more familiar with the Orthodox bible."

Akiva smiled. He didn't know whether he would get a response. Without a visual reply, he figured she might not be free to speak, so he kept his reply in code. "Technically that is from the Ketuvim, sacred writings that don't qualify as Torah. Same difference to outsiders, but you'd better not let the Sanhedrin on Hebron Colony hear of it." He paused for a moment to think. The hidden message he'd put into his selection of verses was meant to spell out a question in regards to her assignment in regards to Operation Castermer and the Black Nagus. Naturally he didn't expect her to just come out and say so, but he still wondered whether she would know how to figure it out. "That is a sample of a song. A very long song. I quoted it out of order, but I feel like my selection has a special meaning for today."

As he clicked send, he hoped that would at least help her take a second look at the ordering.

The field went further left as she put more paragraphs through the computer.

Tehilllim 119:89-96: LAMED,

Tehillim 119:1-8: ALEPH,

Tehillim 119:57-64: CHET,

Tehillim 119:81-88: KAF,

The computer kept spitting out, but all she saw was that name.

Tehillim 119:105-112: NUN,

Tehillim 119:1-8: ALEPH,

She didn't look any further nor ask the computer to reference more. Her message had been received, this confirmed it. Was it the smartest way to send the reply though? Probably not. This was basic code breaker stuff.

Instead of replying in text, she turned on the visual display and there it was again, that invisible tangent. A sense of ease and a striking familiarity.

"Clever, but you give it away by spelling the source out for me." She said with a dry chuckle.

God, smiling felt weird lately, an chuckle even more so.

The sight of her smile and sound of her laugh, even if both were subdued and weary, made Akiva reciprocate. "Ah, so you did figure it out." He grinned with the pleasure of a riddle solved -- she with his and with hers. "And, I suppose, that means that so did I... though if I must ever hear Rains of Castermere again, it will be too soon." Concern filled his deep brown eyes as he regarded her obvious fatigue. "Are you well, Ari?"

Ari caught his eyes for a moment, forcing a smile out, though it didn't really reach her green eyes. "It's been a tough few days." She opened her mouth to say more, then closed it, training kicking in. He may have understood what she was doing, but he didn't have clearance yet.

She made the decision then and there though, while the QEC was active and reached off-screen tapping a few commands, before looking back at him.

The eyes, their colour, the shape of the brow. How did she not see it before? Even the slight, barely there accent.

"I'm sorry, I...uh..." She caught herself, this time a more genuine smile coming out, "I'm glad to see you."

Even after his time with Laena, who had been the love of his life, Akiva still struggled talking with beautiful women. The flash of Ari's smile -- her real, broad and beaming smile -- caught his breath for a moment. Years of practiced repression came to bear to keep his cheeks from blushing from sheer nervous energy. Normal people don't blush at casual greetings.

"It's good to see you too," Akiva replied. "There's a shortage of friendly faces around here. Plenty of new ones, too. I... I miss how we used to talk."

"You mean me grill you with questions and you going off on tangents?" Arianna leaned back in her chair, "that's hardly talking, mate. That's me pushing the right buttons because I had to."

The truth was this was a truer conversation than she had in a long time. This and the last one, even though she was still trying to accomplish something in the background.

"But, I will concede, all of them have been more stimulating than most." She said, meaning every word.

No, he was much more self-conscious, while Taskmaster was far more self-assured, though half of that was false bravado, Arianna realized. But what was the connection?

The teasing was a welcomed cover for his growing awkwardness. Akiva just smiled at Ari as she spoke, brow turned down in an incredulous furrow. "I don't believe you," he said at length. "If you were only plying me before, how do I know you're being truthful now?" His mouth twisted in a shy and playful smirk. "I should know better than to consort with Intelligence operatives...especially ones that install secret communicators onto my station."

Arianna leaned on her elbows, intertwining her fingers, "we both know the power of the right question." Then her brow furrowed a little.

Same smirk, same furrow. "Fascinating." Arianna mused to herself.

Then she recovered, "yes, you need to be careful. Never know what you might get from said consortment." She said then with a chuckle. "I'm not really hearing complaints anywhere in there though."

Akiva shrugged. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." But what did that even mean? He didn't know. It just sounded good in his head. "Besides," he said, moving on, trying not to sound like the oddball he knew himself to be. "You said I could trust you. So far, I'd say you've made good on that."

The words felt both good and hollow at the same time, though by no fault of Akiva's. He didn't know about Donnager and the mess that ended up being. The fact that she blamed herself for the deaths of Gol and Aeneas, for not catching onto Tarani's betrayal quick enough.

"Thank you." Came a more solemn answer than she'd intended. He seemed to be leading into something, she got a feeling, so she left the rest hanging in the air.

"So..." Akiva felt the shift in the tone of the conversation, but he couldn't read it much less know how to respond. "If you ever find yourself in trouble out there, you'll always have a safe harbor so long as I'm here." His shy smile slid back across his face. "After what happened in the Sol system, Tau won't be letting me out any time soon."

That statement hit her a lot stronger than she would have expected, right to her very core. While deep down, rationally, she knew noone could ever make that promise and 100% keep it, the fact that he said it meant more than she could express.

She actually had to fight back the intensity of how it affected her. She could feel her lip quiver a little, and her eyes sting up a bit. "Keep buttering me up like that and I'll agree to anything." Frost chuckled as a distraction tactic.

There it went. Anything was a huge universe of possibilities, one that Akiva shamed himself for even thinking. "Uh..." He felt his eyes bulge, so he made a point of dry wiping them. "I, uh..." The grunt to clear his throat turned into a full cough. But then he didn't know what to say. "Excuse me. I might be coming down with something."

Don't you do this, Kiv, he internally chided himself. Don't be a twice-damned fool.

"Well, perfect time for you to visit your new medic then." Arianna replied with a smirk, going along with quite an obvious fib. After all, she'd done the same just moments earlier. "Speaking of which, how's your new team shaping up?"

Her eyes darted sideways, 79% the readout said.

Then she looked over at Akiva again, taking in his appearance and posture. "They have got to be related. She concluded quietly to herself, making a mental note to get to the bottom of this new mystery. Why did ben-Avram and the Taskmaster look like they were related?

"If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck..."

Akiva shrugged. "No complaints yet. Turnover is to be expected, thanks to the hazards of the posting, so the onboarding process has been rather streamlined." He paused for a moment to bite his lip before adding, "We have a new Intelligence liaison. I didn't know that when she arrived. That made for an awkward first meeting."

"You mean it was more awkward than when we first met?" Ari asked through a soft laugh. "Chu's a good operative though. You might be surprised who she'd worked with before. Zsan, on Delphi, they served under an old mate of mine, Leonora Wollf."

That made Akiva's brow furrow. "Zsan. As in Karna Zsan who nearly brought the Federation to the brink of war in rooting out the Obsidian remnant earlier this year? Commander Chu worked with him and the one they called in to replace him..." He let out a wry chuckle. "Small universe, I guess..."

"Trust me, Akiva." Arianna's face and posture turned serious. "You know yourself that just because someone works with someone who's a persona non grata, doesn't make them the same. You said I've earned your trust. Chu is solid."

"Oh, I'm not one to judge," Akiva said, hands up in mock surrender. His eyes sparkled with teasing, though. "Especially since I recall it was you who cleared these bunch of heathens on my station for duty after Karna wound up on the Phantom."

"Don't remind me," Arianna chuckled, "definitely one of the harder IA investigations I've had to do. A very rewarding one in the end, I think."

Even though there was absolutely nothing forward or suggestive about that, Akiva felt his cheeks slightly flush anyway. "It was a pleasure to serve with you as well," he somehow said with an even voice.

Arianna considered a tease, or a deflective comment. However, she could see that he was being sincere, so she decided to follow in the same vein. "The pleasure is mine. I won't say was, because I don't plan on never visiting again, at the very least."

"I'm sure Mrazak will give you another reason," Akiva said. Or maybe I will, he thought. "That is, if you still believe he can be nailed to the wall after all his accolades."

Arianna gave a non commital shrug, "he'll outlive his usefulness. Whether by ego, act or another means."

"Are you certain about that?" Akiva asked, turning his mind to old business and old grudges. "That Vulcan has been here since nearly the beginning, and not only has he stuck around, he's climbed the ranks to near the top. It's no secret he wants my position. What could he possibly do to make himself expendable that he hasn't done already?" He grinned ever so slightly. "Seriously. Tell me what he can do so I can get him to step into his own grave."

Arianna shook her head, "no. Besides, near the top, isn't the top. The one who needs to be at the top is at the top." Frost held his eyes, "they could be brothers."

It had been a long year, and yet Akiva still struggled at times reconciling the fact he was administrating one of Starfleet's most classified secret installation. "I suppose I can't argue with you and admiralty." His smile shrunk into a shy one. "It's true what they say, though. About being lonely at the top." What are you doing? You sound pathetic! And for good reason! STOP TALKING!!! He let out a nervous chuckle as he averted her gaze. "The price we pay so others can live free couldn't be higher."

Those words struck a chord, again. "Someone's got to do it, and I don't think I could do a different job, were I given a choice, I have to say. Even if my eyes put me out of the field, permanently, I think I would still be a consultant of sorts at least."

He wasn't wrong though, their line of work was lonely. "Sometimes, I feel alone too," she conceded, "then life throws very interesting people my way, that might just be worth keeping regardless of the job." A soft smile formed in her features, thinking of the tentative friendship that had begun forming with Jaya and well...him, Akiva.

He was definitely someone she felt comfortable talking to, someone who could very well understand.

"I'll be sure to let Qurban know you think so highly of him." Though he kept his face neutral, Akiva's eyes shone in delight at the absurd statement.

"What makes you think he doesn't already know." Arianna chuckled, "granted, he may have his realities mixed up." Then her eyes settled on Akiva again, "I meant you and Jaya..."

The candor struck Akiva between the eyes. "I know," he admitted, softly at first due to the frog in his throat. He swallowed so he could repeat it more firmly. "I know. Well, not about Jaya, but I could've guessed. She connects with everyone. Just..." He had been holding back a big, stupid grin that just wouldn't allow itself to be hidden any longer. "I'm glad you want to keep me around." The number of people on that list is almost a decimal, Akiva thought to himself, which turned his face somber again.

"You're a good bloke, ben-Avram." Ari said, "no reason not to want to. Good souls are hard to find these days."

Deep down, however, she was starting to see that maybe that wasn't the entire truth of it.

It was interesting though. She felt very different around the Taskmaster, yet she was willing to bet her career now that they were somehow related, and very closely so.

"They are, indeed," Akiva agreed. He ran his hand through his hair and, almost too late to fit in the moment, he added, "Your soul is good too." The sound of his words in his own ears made Akive cringe. "Anyway," he said, suppressing another nervous dry cough, "I'm glad you installed a QEC in my station without permission. Reminds me that not all life's surprises have to be bad ones."

While she understood the sentiment behind his words, a laugh crept into her face and she had to fight hard not to outright laugh. Ari didn't want to offend Akiva by laughing at his moment of sincerity. "Mhmm..." she squeezed out, then coughed to shoo the laugh away, "sorry, I mean...I'm glad I did too. Moscow Rule Two: Never Go Against Your Gut."

Akiva knew that look. It was one he'd seen his whole life. She was trying not to laugh at his awkward turn of phrase. "What else does your gut say?" he pressed. The smile had faded some, but his eyes were still warm. Part of him was defensive, but mostly curious. She'd had the good grace not to laugh like most people would have. Akiva couldn't help but wonder... What if?

"Oh a lot of things," Ari said, her eyes glancing to the side.

100%, the readout said.

It was done, the first batch was away.

She returned to the situation at hand quickly. Maybe too quickly.

"Depends on what you're really asking." Frost added, although she had an inkling. Arianna was a grown woman, who was well trained and experienced in reading people. She had picked up on the subtle cues, and had mostly been writing them all away under various reasons, from the mission being too important, to the fact that she had been re-called to Castermer, to the still very early and possible rebound stage, to it being just harmless fun.

Suddenly she wasn't so sure it was harmless anymore.

Akiva shrugged. "You tell me," he countered. A safe enough reply. He really didn't know what he wanted or expected. All he knew was that he enjoyed having a real conversation with someone who saw him for him. And that he was putting off its inevitable end.

Frost sighed, "it's telling me I should get back to my job." She didn't want to go back to the sad reality that Castermer had been compromised and that she had lost her team, but she had to. "And that I should think of a new teaser."

"I'll look forward to it," Akiva said. "Maybe I'll brush up on my study of antiquities in the meantime."

Arianna flashed him one last smile before the transmission was cut. Back on her end, she buried her head in her hands, and gave a long exhale.

Step one, complete, and what a step it was.

Once Arianna's smiling face disappeared from the screen, it was replaced by another one in Akiva's mind. His inner eye latched onto the few vibrant and happy memories with Laena that he'd tried to shut out. Now that he was alone, he felt all the pain and sadness and grief that came from letting go what had been the love of his life. Was he really letting himself feel that again? Was it love or guilt that tormented him after such a refreshing and revitalizing connection with someone who reminded him he was alive? She was a friend. Only a friend. But so was Laena in the beginning... until she became more.

Akiva also covered his face in his hands and pressed against his eyes to hold back the tears that threatened to come.

He wasn't alone with his thoughts for long, however. Mere moments after the connection was ended, his screen lit up with a logo of Starfleet Intelligence splayed over the screen.

"Who in the world..." Akiva trailed off as he accepted the new transmission.

"Good morning, Captain ben-Avram. Commodore Xanthe Rahal, Starfleet Intelligence." A woman in her late fiftes, with a full head of thick dark hair peppered with a few gray streaks appeared on the screen. Her hazel eyes were intense and sharp, while the rest of her expression seemed polite. "You've been very curious lately, Captain. Very curious. Care to tell me why?"

Akiva did not recognize the woman. Though he knew better than to aggravate a commodore, he also had privileges of his duty station that allowed him certain insulation. Care to tell me why I should? he wanted to retort to the nosy superior officer. Instead, he chose diplomacy. "I'm afraid you will have to be more specific, Commodore Rahal."

"I'll indulge you, Captain, simply because I like you and I like how you do business." The sharp-ish looking woman replied, "stop poking around Project Castermer. It's a highly classified matter, highly sensitive."

"Since you seem to know something about my business, you would know that my wheelhouse is highly classified and highly sensitive." That was beyond stating the obvious. The number of people who had a direct line to Akiva's office was very, very small. He fought the urge to dry-swallow the lump in his throat and instead steel his jaw "Nevertheless, I had no reason to access any project files, so I did not. Is there something else I can help you with, Commodore?"

Xanthe chuckled, "no, Captain. I believe I've made my point clear. Is there anything you wish to ask while you have me here?" The Commodore offered in a conciliatory manner.

Thinking for a moment, Akiva deliberated on whether or not he should roll over. Admiral Nyel had seemed to like him, but his relationship with Admiral Tau seemed rocky. If he had an angry commodore up his backside, he might not have a sympathetic admiral to protect him. But then the old Akiva who always got stepped on was gone. The new Akiva, forged by pain and grief and loss, did not lie down so easily. "Yes, actually. Will this be the last CoC-breaching surveillance of my office, or shall I expect SFI to eliminate the Intel Liaison in favor of this new protocol?"

"Is your office under surveillance, Captain?" There was a minute shift in Rahal's posture, if one read through it, they would see a genuine enquiry.

"I've never seen you before, Commodore, so I would say so." Akiva kept his eyes open and unblinking. Now was not the time for signaling weakness through facial tics.

"Ah, the perks of clearance. Just to refresh your memory, Captain. Highly classified information is flagged within Starfleet systems, whether regular or Intelligence. When such classified information is queried, especially on a Security Council level, we will know about it. Then we will talk to you about it." Rahal replied. "So I will ask again, are you under surveillance?"

"Obviously," Akiva said gruffly. "I believe we are done here?"

Xanthe sighed, "for now, Captain. If you keep digging, we'll be talking again. Rahal out." With that, the communication was cut.

"Huh." There were two things of which he now felt certain: he was probably going to regret that indulgence of insubordination, and talking with Arianna had made him feel bold enough not to care. He shrugged at the blank display screen and shoved it back into the top of his desk.

Frost's fingers steepled together as she lifted her head and then leaned her nose against them, letting out another deep breath. She felt a little better, having at least for a time secured raw, unaltered data. How long she could go on without having to say something to Akiva was questionable, but she would deal with it when it came.

She knew she would also have to deal with this connection that was building with Akiva. Not yet though, right now, she needed a friendly face, someone who understood, even though she couldn't really share.

"Really now, Persephone?" spoke a familiar voice from somewhere behind Arianna. "Last I checked, tradecraft dictates that we do not shit where we sleep."

Arianna lifted her head from her hands, "tradecraft also dictates to assume nothing." She replied as she straightened out in her chair and swiveled it around. Was he in her quarters somewhere or monitoring from outside.

The flickering of a holoemitter signaled the apparition of the Taskmaster before her. "Indeed," he said. The hologram displayed his form in high definition. "Am I to presume, then, that my oversight was expected? That your little extracurricular outreach was somehow for my benefit?"

Arianna shook her head, "not yours. Castermer's. Donnager, she was a bust that's proven we are leaking. You told me back there to find a safety net for the data. I've found it."

"Touche." The Taskmaster smiled at Ari's excuse. It was not every day that he was refuted by his own order. "Memory Theta has had surface level incursions of late. The Black Nagus has tried to get their fingers into that deep, dark vault ever since Starfleet commissioned the place. Lurk already has a bounty on Mrazak. Don't give the old toad any reason to give your boyfriend there a second look."

Eyebrow raised as Arianna turned to look at the highly detailed hologram. The Taskmaster was almost a polar oposite of Akiva, she realized, though she didn't know if it was by virtue of job or position, or personality, what with his file being as heavily redacted as it was.

"My...'boyfriend'...doesn't know. Neither does anyone else, aside from you now." Arianna replied evenly, "where do you hide things? In plain sight. They will look for this at HQ, here, anywhere where they can dig deep into one of us. Whether you like it or not, ben-Avram is an incorruptible asset. Mrazak is a bloody distraction, that's why he's still there."

It felt weird, speaking of Akiva in such a skewed way, both true and not and potentially so. What was more curious though was the way the Taskmaster was speaking about him. More familiarity than detachment.

"I don't care about Memory Theta or any of its personnel," Taskmaster snapped. "The data may remain there. Just do not overestimate the integrity of their infrastructure." Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, "And stay away from the administrator. You can't afford attachments at this juncture." Another pause, a glitch even as if the image were altered in transit to remove some motion or gesture. Taskmaster's avatar remain fixed. "None of us can."

The hologram winked out, leaving Arianna alone with her thoughts.

Arianna shook her head, if anyone seemed to have some attachment there, it seemed the Taskmaster did more than her. With how agitated he got, it confirmed to her that there was some sort of connection between the two, genetic or otherwise.

He wasn't necessarily wrong, although he could not order her to do so, she knew. His 'authority' extended to Castermer only. If her estimates were correct, outside the Project, she actually outranked him.

Oh, the tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive...

As she finished the communication with Captain ben-Avram, Xanthe turned to the Taskmaster, "your brother is digging into things he shouldn't."

"I have no brother," the Taskmaster said. "If Memory Theta gets in the way, then it will be dealt with like all the rest."

Xanthe levelled him with a look. "Behave."

"I'll behave once this operation is finished," the Taskmaster said. "Until then, why don't you save the profiling for the unsubs [unknown subjects]? The old days are done and gone. We're not aboard your ship anymore."

"And yet I still outrank you and am one of the people in charge of Castermer." The older woman replied smoothly. "Castermer may be running for years to come, before it's truly over. If ever. We both know this, Omri."

"If you you have a point, please make it," the other said. "Otherwise we have work to do."

Xanthe merely smirked and turned back to her consile. The point had been made, and well.


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