“We’re going to face extreme peril … Private probably won’t survive.”
-- Skipper, Madagascar
The corporate office was as small as I remembered it from the last time. Small, but admittedly cozy. Usually we didn't spend much time here, being pilots, but boss woman had called for a pow-wow - hopefully to tell us that we could move out of the exercise phase into the execution phase. She wasn't there yet, though, and I took advantage of the situation by digging into a selection of pastries from a seller I had discovered just a few days earlier. They were light, flaky, not too sweet, and went really well with coffee as second breakfast. Or midnight snack. I did tend to lose track of time.
The shuffle of boots on synthetic carpet fiber drew my attention, and I looked up to see Myra emerge out of a doorway. Unlike spoiled me, she didn't mind staying in the spartan corp-owned quarters. Getting herself a cup of coffee as well, she sat down next to me, looking askance at my baked goodies. I pushed the paper bag towards her a bit, and happily she took one.
"Listen, I've been thinking," she said without preamble between bites, "Did you mean what you said yesterday evening?"
I grabbed another pastry, stalling for time while trying to remember what I had said... Oh. That.
"In that case," she gestured with her pastry at me, "you won't mind to stop calling me 'Kiddo' at every opportunity."
"Careful where you point that!" I pushed her pastry-armed hand aside. "And if I remember correctly, you started it."
She chewed on her lip. "Guess I did." Another bite of pastry found its delicious end. "If you stop, I stop. Deal?"
"Deal, Ki-", I saw her tense up, "-tten."
Here eyes narrowed, then she chuckled, formed a claw with her free hand and took a mock swipe at me, while hissing ferociously.
A discrete cough drew both our attentions to the other side of the table, where now our employer was sitting. Damn, that woman was sneaky!
"If you two are quite finished with your bonding," Miss Phage began with a hint of amusement, "then maybe we could get some real work done?It won’t take long.“
My ears perked up, pastries and kittens forgotten. "Real work? We are finally a 'go'?"
"Yes we are.” She prodded at her data pad. "I have selected our targets, financing is arranged, paperwork is ready for filing, and your simulation reports look good. Ships?”
“Staged and fitted.” I confirmed. “We should have enough, but if not…”
“…then we can buy more.” completed Miss Phage the sentence. “You know the initial deployment plan - I expect you to be in position once CONCORD acknowledges the paperwork.” A cruel smile played around her lips. “And from there on out I’ll leave it in your capable hands to achieve the objectives.” A thought occurred to her: “Oh, and Myra - I’d like you to prepare a couple of cyno frigates. Nothing to do with this operation, but we might have to give a hand in ferrying a capital around.”
“With that, ” Miss Phage leaned back, “there is just one thing I need to cover.” She mustered us both. "Last chance to change your minds."
I held her gaze for a few seconds, then muttered, “People keep saying that to me..."
"Usually I tell them to shut it." I grinned. "Usually it also means that it’s going to end badly, so why break the streak now?"
"Minuscule chance of success," clarified Myra happily, "almost certainty of public welp." She finished her pastry. "What are we waiting for?"