"Do come in, Miss Vard." The man-- Trevor Macintosh, if the nameplate on his desk was to be believed-- gestured to the chair before him with a smile. Mr. Macintosh was tall, handsome and bespectacled, with a lean face and sharp features. He had dark skin; his facial features indicated that he probably had direct african-american heritage from before the Snowfall. That was a little rare these days; most New Washingtonian humans born after the 2250s were a mix of the Old Races. Ethnic purity tended to be an exception to the rule.

In contrast, the girl who entered the room was short and curvy, with mostly caucasian features and golden skin. She wore an elegant skirtsuit, deliberately accenting the contours of her generous frame. Her hair was carefully curved about her head, and a lock fell in front of her eye as she stopped at the door and gave a courteous bow of her head. She proceeded to the chair and stopped in front of Mr. Macintosh's desk, where he leaned across with ease and shook her hand casually. She settled into the chair. It was comfortable.

"Well, Miss Vard," The tall man said as he folded himself into his own chair and gestured to a small sheaf of paper in front of him, "Your credentials are ... impressive. Moreover your references were all quite positive."

"I try," The woman replied, her lips curving into a pretty smile. "And Ellen is fine."

"Forgive me, Ellen, but I must ask," Trevor said, leaning forward a bit, "How was Oxford?"

"Fascinating," she said, her eyes taking on a slightly wistful look. "But I was too busy. I left without the opportunity to take the architecture tour. The construction of the New Kingdom has always been of interest to me."

"Well," Trevor said, reaching for the papers and picking them up. "To business, then. You feel comfortable running a Layered Service Protocol system?"

"I understand your concern, Mr. Macintosh." She rested a hand lightly on her knee. "NWU seems content to give LSP Certification to anyone who can pronounce the words 'Customer Service'."

Macintosh laughed, perhaps in relief.

"Rest assured," Vard said warmly. "The LSP I managed with Sylvan Ink Publications was a 25-layer full-feature system, with a load of approximately 3400 CPW. I'll authorize the release of my record there if you'd like."

Trevor Macintosh waved that idea off with a gesture. "Not necessary, I'm certain. Your resumé does speak for itself. Now, I don't anticipate that you'll need them much for this position, but I couldn't help but notice your combat qualifications."

Vard smiled very proudly, her hazel eyes sparkling. "I've taken a few lessons."

Macintosh read from one of the papers. "Journeyman Certification in Civilian Class Defense Magic, renewed this past June, C-Rank small arms marksmanship and Dancer-level proficiency in... dual-headed greataxe? You're a Labrys Dancer?"

Ellen Vard replied only with a sweet smile.

"Do you intend to bring a labrys to work every day, Miss Vard?" Trevor probed, his eyes focused on the woman across the desk from him.

Ellen's smile didn't even waver. "I do, Mr. Macintosh," she said.

Macintosh's gaze remained, piercing, on Vard for a few seconds, during which she didn't even break a sweat. He then grinned and leaned back. "You won't take no for an answer," He said with certainty. "You have what this job takes, Ellen, and you have it." He stood and extended his hand. "I look forward to having you as a manager."

Ellen stood quickly, her curls bouncing about her. Her smile was floodlamp-bright, now, and she reached forward and took Macintosh's hand firmly and shook it. "It's an honor, Trevor," she said firmly. "You won't regret this."

"I certainly won't," Trevor Macintosh replied with a nod, and it was done.

Return to the story index.

This vignette by Dog.