”And you came here why exactly?” Michael sat across from her, behind his test and tapped his fingers on the dark wood. He was visibly agitated and didn’t like having her here. As expected.
”After I got cleared from the psychologist, I thought it’d be necessary to formally apologize for my behavior”, Nora-Ceph lied with a smile. ”I wasn’t at my best behavior when we saw each other last time. So I wanted to make it up to you.”
”By coming here? You know I don’t appreciate unannounced visitors. If people find out …”
”Find out what? That a government official has come to hire your construction company for an important job?”
Michael was grinding his teeth and conflicting emotions moved his face. He stood up and turned around, facing the window that had been behind him.
”After all this time, all our discussions, you finally want to use your connections to benefit me? Why the change of mind? You always refused to do me this kind of favor.”
”As I said, I wanted to properly apologize.” Nora-Ceph stood up too and made a few steps towards Michael. She forced herself to wrap her arms around him and hug him from behind. She pushed herself up to stand on her toes, so that her mouth was next to his ear. ”I don’t want you to be mad at me”, she whispered. @suesa
His tension changed from cautious to sexual, as he grabbed her hand that was positioned on his stomach and pressed it softly.
”I’d say apology accepted”, he whispered back, let go of her hand and turned around. The look in his eyes made Nora-Ceph nauseous but she forced a smile. ”While you’re here”, Michael added, ”I should show you my latest publicity campaign. You will love it, we talked about it before.”
”Oh?” Nora-Ceph tried to reactivate the memories, but they were loaded with sex on which she didn’t want to focus. She frowned. ”Yes, show me please.” For now, she didn’t deem the exact memory that important.
It had been a week now since she had overtaken this body, and not everything had been as smooth as promised. Some memories needed a greater trigger than others, some weren’t as precise as she wished. Specific information wasn’t always easy to acquire. But she had been able to adapt as far as necessary to continue with her mission.
And this involved making up with Michael - and using his position as a businessman. He had power, of that she was sure. Even if they didn’t make him a host, he could be useful - if Nora-Ceph was able to manipulate him. But she didn’t expect that to be an issue. Not with the history he had with Nora, her host.
”Look at that”, Michael said and tapped a screen that had been integrated into the wall. A picture appeared. A picture of …
”Is that a Cephi baby?” Nora-Ceph’s heart rate increased as she stared at the picture of a tiny, miserable looking Ceph child. It seemed … abused. Beaten. And its colors were dull and scared.
”Yes it is! We had to choose a very small one so people would recognize that it’s not an adult. It’s so hard to tell with these creatures …”
Nora-Ceph was able to pull her eyes away from the abused child and read the text that accompanied the picture.
”Create a safe home for them?” She asked, slightly confused. Compassion for Cephs had been the last thing she had expected to find in Michael’s office.
”What do you think? Is it a good slogan? Or not emotional enough? Too emotional? We don’t want them to start thinking Cephis should actually have rights. It’s just to get their votes to open up the outer part of the colony for land development. No Cephi will ever live there, of course, but they won’t let us build there for humans.”
”W … What?”
”You know, the environment freaks. They protested against expanding the colony to keep the original nature intact. Can you imagine? Nature! On a dead moon! Ridiculous. But if we say we want to build homes for Cephis? They will surely be on board with that, these freaks love the little, slimy bastards.”
Michael shook his head in disgust and Nora-Ceph clenched her fists. She had been right, there was no compassion in Michael for her kind. For a brief moment, she wondered how he would react if he knew what she was, what she had done to the real Nora. The woman he desired so much. She couldn’t suppress a tiny, evil smirk.
”You like my idea?” He beamed with pride.
”Sure. Sounds … effective”, Nora-Ceph said.
”It will be, it will be! But enough of business, it’s almost lunchtime. My personal cook should arrive any moment, I took the freedom to order two meals when I heard that you were outside my office. I hope you’ll stay to eat with me?”
Nora-Ceph nodded and followed Michael back to his desk. Just as they sat down, the door opened and a young man wheeled in a cart. The food. It smelled … weird.
The man placed plates in front of Michael and Nora-Ceph, then proceeded to serve the food. It looked like some kind of weird, light meat. He didn’t take long, took a quick bow and left without a word.
”What is this?” Nora-Ceph asked and poked the squishy substance. It was drenched in a sauce that smelled like … lemons.
”Oh, a delicacy! Come on, try it!”
”I’d like to know what it is first …”
”Don’t you trust me?” He winked. Nora-Ceph wanted to answer with a no but suppressed the urge. Instead, she put a tiny bite in her mouth. The meat felt weird in her mouth. Wrong.
”It wasn’t easy to get this”, Michael said. ”I had to call in some favors. But I just love the taste!” Nora-Ceph swallowed. She didn’t like the taste.
”So? Are you going to tell me what this great delicacy is?”
”It’s cooked Cephi!”
Nora-Ceph stared at Michael, frozen in shock.
He couldn’t be serious.
He apparently was.
She gagged, leaned over to the side and threw up.
”HEY! Careful! That carpet was expensive! What the fuck, Nora?” He jumped up and walked around the desk, towards her. He didn’t seem too sure if he wanted to help her or throw her out. But Nora-Ceph didn’t give him time to think it through. Instead, she reached into her pocket, pulled out a tiny syringe and plunged it into his leg the moment he was close enough.
”What the …” Michael blacked out. Nora-Ceph reached for the phone on his desk and dialed a number she had spent a lot of time remembering.
”Yes, hello, it’s Nora-Ceph, formerly a part of Quelz. I need a clean-up and extraction team at the following address …”
She had planned to use Michael without replacing his brain with a Ceph, but that option had evaporated into nothingness.
At least now, she wouldn’t be forced to sleep with him.