ARKFALL

Is there a doctor in the house?

Clandestine Conversations

When his message terminal alert lit up, Atticus was not surprised. He’d been expecting it, to be honest, ever since the soldiers had left the area. The visit from Ayden and the Arkers she brought with her had been unexpected, but not unwelcome. The timing, however, had been somewhat unfortunate, as the soldiers were scheduled to pick up their shipment that day as well. He had hoped that perhaps the two groups had not encountered each other, but the late arrival of the normally punctual soldiers coupled with their more surly demeanor than was usual led him to believe he was not to be so lucky.
Atticus put down his instruments and made his way to the terminal. He sat down and clicked the vid onscreen. He was met with the familiar face he knew would be staring back at him.
“James.”

“Doctor, always a pleasure.”

“Likewise, James. I’m a bit busy at the moment. How can I help you?”

“If you want to skip the pleasantries, Doctor, so be it. You know why I called.”

“I have an idea.”

“Who are they and what did they want?”

“Neither point is a concern of yours, James. I receive many visitors, and my dealings with each of them are as sacrosanct as the others. You know that.”

“They were from the Ark, Doctor.”

“Yes, so they said.”

“They could have recognized you.”

“Yes, in fact, they did. I made no effort to hide my identity. Why should I?”

“Doctor, if you are compromised, our—“

“I have been on this planet for over 10 years, James. Most of it spent in this lab. There are no small shortage of people who know exactly who I am and where I am—including you, and, now, them. I have never been compromised nor do I foresee any reason I would be compromised now or in the future, and for the very same reason you don’t send your henchmen to drag me away to your facility and neither do the rest of them.”

“Doctor—“

“Don’t ‘Doctor’ me, James. I understand your position. I understand why you feel you need to call and keep tabs. But I don’t answer to you. We have a mutually beneficial relationship, but you aren’t my only relationship, and should our relationship stop being mutually beneficial—“

“Are you threatening me, Doctor? Because if you are—”

“I don’t need to threaten you, James. You of all people know what I’m capable of. That is why you need me—and believe me, you need me a hell of a lot more than I need you. So keep all the tabs you want, but don’t expect me to cower to every paranoid inquisition you desire. Now, if you don’t have anything further—“

“No, Doctor. I think we’ve said all we have to say for the time being. If you require anything from us, don’t hesitate to contact us. Otherwise, we’ll see you at the next pick-up.”

“Good day, James.”

“Good day, Doctor.”


Atticus clicked off his terminal, sat back, and took a deep breath. He didn’t turn at hearing the footsteps behind him.

“Was that wise, Fisa? Angering the—“

“Angering him doesn’t matter. He may terrify his lackeys, but we have nothing to fear from him. Harming me would harm them more and he knows it. I haven’t survived this long by being stupid, my boy.”

“As you say.”

“I am curious about our new visitors. Ayden surprised me. I would not have thought her to aid—what is it your people call us now? Star Men?”
Skaikru. Sky People.”

“Yes, that’s it! Sky People. I would not have thought to see her with a group of Sky People, but then, she has been known to buck tradition before.”

“Yes, Fisa.”

“If her health is anything to go by, our experimentation on her appears to be producing the desired effects.”

“Perhaps that is why she brought them here. Maybe she knows?”

“Ayden? No. Her focus has been remarkably narrow for several years now. Physically, I doubt she’d notice if she grew a tail, so long as she was able to continue her hunt.”

“And psychologically?”

“Even less so. Your people are not known for their introspection, my boy. As I said, I haven’t survived down here by being stupid. No, everything is just as it should be, don’t worry.”

“And the Skaikru?”

“They are an unknown, my boy. An unknown, indeed. And you know what I always say about that?”

“’Never fear the unknown, on the other side is freedom.’”

“Indeed. My former cohabitants may prove to be quite useful to us. Granted, they could also prove a threat, but no bigger a threat than any of the others, so why dwell on it.”

“As you say, Fisa.”

“Yes, they may prove useful indeed…”

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Annerdan

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