“Be that as it may,” Caill interjected, “We would certainly need someone with direct experience in such areas to even attempt the task…”
Nathan allowed her to ramble, to warm to her subject. Little did she know that he was learning about her personality, approach, nervous habits, feelings, and fears. The sensation he felt was almost like mind-reading. Like a telepathic sponge, he read nearly every bit of her person.
What would his dear father have said now? Nathan frowned slightly, knowing the answer would still have been an ignorant reprimand of a useless talent and wasted years learning more about it. “The Military, Kid,” the old man would have said, “That’s all you’re good for now. They always need targets.”
Caill was winding down. He brought his attention back to the present to hear, “Carapace simply can’t consider promises alone, no matter the reassurances given.” Her angular face pointed to aim directly at his. Her deeply-colored eyes coolly met his own rigid blue ones.
“Indeed,” he replied, equally cool. “How beneficial, then, that I have exactly the experience you mention.” Withdrawing his comm and setting it atop the touchsurface before them, he enunciated a single word: “Carapace.” Obediently, the small device projected a two-dimensional graph into the air. The white outline and red plot points reflected from three pairs of executive eyes.
Nathan gestured at his glowing creation. “Perhaps you’ve heard of a little company named Photap.”
“Of course-” Caill began, eager to interject, but he ignored her interruption and continued.
“I led a team of Advancement students for three months.” Nathan pointed at the dates listed under his image. “These three months,” he added. A pretty blue line climbed an extremely steep slope from the first plot point to the second during his indicated time period. “Photap had been working for over a year to gain front page report status, and ‘allowed’ our team to work on it because they found it impossible. As you can see from the rest of the data, their market was all uphill from there.”
At his statement, the blue line continued rising between points. It topped out beyond the last; forming into a dainty little arrow that intentionally pointed beyond the reaches of his y-axis number counts.
Pul, again, made a noise of surprise. “Your team brought about Photap’s sudden climb?” He asked, disbelieving.
Stone cleared his throat. Perhaps Nathan had convinced him, but the man did not wish to let Caill and Pul know of his opinion. “So, this was documented?” Stone asked.
Unlike Caill, Stone seemed stoic merely from tired habit. Nathan felt much safer fencing questions from him, though the others were obviously still present to hear what responses he might give. “I have some documentation, yes,” Nathan told him. Caill twitched involuntarily; she’d clearly not expected an affirmative.
“So, where is it?” Pul asked excitedly. “Next image?”
Caill snorted somewhat, as Nathan hesitated. “You don’t have the documentation?” She asked. If only she would make as much effort to mask her tone as her expressions, Nathan thought, Caill might actually make it to whatever higher-level position she sought.
“I have documentation, but it’s classified,” He adjusted the watch at his wrist, then desisted. Who was exhibiting nervous habits now? He chastened himself. Aloud, he expounded, “I never break an agreement with an employer.”
The three sat in silence for a few moments. Caill’s face showed some disbelief, Pul’s was of a happier animation, and Stone appeared to be thinking.
Finally, Caill spoke, “Are we to believe your claims when you have no backup documentation?”
“No,” Nathan told her, levelly. “You are to know my claims are true because I said they were. Rest assured, I have all the knowledge needed to undertake this task.” He sat back slightly, aiding an impression of power and authority. “Now, onto my ‘direct experience’ with epidermal conditions,” he stated, intentionally quoting Caill’s phrase.
Looking down at his comm again, he voiced another single word: “Skinwalkers.”
Continued from Skinwalkers, VIII.