Dorothy is new. She was called in from the Chicago Office to replace a personal assistant who had been killed in yet another senseless attack. She’s only been at the Manhattan Office for two days. She’s already made friends with some coworkers and found a new place in the city through the placement program. The damage from the sabotage has been cleaned up and necessary repairs have been made. You wouldn’t even know there was an attack, that someone died at the very desk that she’s sitting at now.
Dorothy, would you come see me for a moment? Her boss’s voice sounds a little strained. From what she’s been able to tell, he’s not the emotional sort. No one in his position can really afford to be. She’s not supposed to know about Mr. Winter’s reputation, but even in a world of constant surveilance, information seeps through the cracks.
She gets up immediately and heads across the hall to his office. The door is ajar and she knocks slightly as she comes in. There’s a smell of something burning in the air that the circulation system hasn’t taken care of yet. Its clung to him like cologne since they were introduced. He’s working on the touchscreen and looks up, the reflected light making his eyes look white.
“Ah, Dorothy, good. Thank you for being prompt.” He minimizes whatever he is working on so he can turn his attention to her. Her mouth goes dry. There is a pause. “Do you have an update on Agent River’s progress?”
An odd question. He can access the information easily from his terminal. “Yes. I visited her this morning and her recovery seems to be going well. I was told by the nurse-technician that some reconstructive work had to be done to her nervous system, but that it has gone smoothly. Right now they’re reconstituting neural pathways from her last upload before the incident. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her. She isn’t seeing visitors yet.”
Mr. Winter nods absently. “Good to hear. I’m glad things are continuing to improve. Dorothy. The reason I called you is that we are going to be receiving some guests in the very near future. They will be landing shortly and will be shuttled to this building, where they will be briefed and then shown around. I would like you to make sure that they receive every hospitality that we can provide. I will not be able to join them, unfortunately. It seems that other matters have arisen that will require some…personal attention.”
Again, odd. Of course they would be treate well. Mr. Winter’s superiors would see to that. Why the personal interest? He steeples his fingers.
“Dorothy. Would you close the door for a moment?” She does but can’t say why. “Very good. There is also another matter I need to talk with you about.”
Agent Winter sees her eyes glaze over and knows the connection is finally established. He makes the necessary upload, packed with personalized encryption. At close range it is over in less than a second. All of the instructions are there. She nods her head slowly, higher brain function still disabled. Winter is happy to see that her specifications are exactly as he requested.
That done, he dismisses her. He brings up the feed he was watching, rendered in three dimensions. The mansion has been modified since he last bothered to look. Some of its defenses are back in place, though it is nothing like what it was when Claudia was there. He woud hardly say he misses the old head of the Hermetic Chantry – but she was certainly a more interesting opponent.
Clearly, some sort of gathering is taking place. It seems to have drawn whatever players still remain in the city. Crawling out of holes to aruge about the best way to die – to wait, or scuttle off to join the so-called Rogue Council, or maybe even fight again. In the grand scheme of things, of course, it is all simply so much white noise. On a personal level, however, it affords Winter opportunities to advance himself. Particularly after the recent unfortunate incident at the church.
Despite his protests, Agent Door of course cannot be sent. And the new arrivals will still be being briefed as this is all taking place. No, this will require a subtler, more patient hand – Winter’s own.