Lissa Avi found herself to be more than a little nervous. It wasn't average work to be invited to Officer Morres' private cell. Even if it was for interior decorating. Izeian buildings may not be as elaborately decorated on the outside, or in the main rooms, but the cells were always lavishly adorned. Morres' was the one exception; since his arrival, he had claimed his schedule too busy to bother having his cell evaluated and then bejeweled as was the usual procedure. Even now he wasn't devoting the time entirely to Lissa. He had asked her previously if it was acceptable that he have a visitor while she was there. She had agreed, of course. Morres wasn't one to mince words, but he didn't believe in treating anyone with more or less respect than he gave to anyone else. How could she refuse him when he had been so polite to her, when most men just spent their time undressing her with their eyes?
She gathered her materials together, a small notebook she could jot down ideas and a disk that showcased some of her better work, and quickly departed from her office. She had spent the better part of a zhent preparing for it. If she made a good impression on Morres, he might ask to have her to be his personal designer. What a treat that would be, to have a permanent job, catering to such a high-ranking military official. She knew she didn't want to be promoted simply because of her appearance, but she hadn't been able to help it. She had chosen her best uniform, the one with the gold trim and metal flame, and had brushed her black hair until it became a curtain of ebony silk. A quick check in a mirror to fix her makeup, and she was ready.
She knocked hesitantly.
"What?" Morres' voice sounded tired. "Who is it?"
"The decorator." She answered promptly, trying not to appear too excited.
"Of course, of course." He muttered. "Come in."
The doors slid open to reveal a dejected-looking Morres, though his pale blue eyes were smoldering. "Thank-you for coming. I'm sorry I couldn't fit you in at any other time and Merit's been on my back about the appearance of my humble abode." He managed to crack a small, unconvincing smile before stepping back and allowing her through.
She smiled in response and turned her gaze to his 'humble abode'. Her eyes swept over the bare walls and floor, littered with a few pieces of furniture and found her sapphire orbs riveted to a certain armchair. For in it was seated such a creature that Lissa could only assume was Variant. He was so beautiful, so flawlessly lovely compared to any other human Lissa had seen, that for a moment it was all she could do to stare at him.
"Miss Avi?" Morres' confused voice broke into her thoughts of the man with a crash.
"Yes? Oh, I'm sorry. I'll get started right now." She promised automatically, turning away from the man and trying desperately to return her thoughts to where they ought to be.
"Right." Morres muttered slowly. "Anyhow, look General. The original plan failed for a reason. You're looking to get killed if you follow through with it."
He was a general? Lissa mentally slapped herself back to reality.
"My father made one fatal mistake. If we right it, there's no reason why it can't be successful." Oh, gods. His voice was just as perfect as the rest of him. A deep bass, musical and commanding with power that backed his words with a thundering, but soft authority.
"Where do you suggest we find Alanaen bombs?" Morres demanded. "And an Alanaen ship? Their technology surpasses ours, General. They'll be sure to spot a mistake if we send you in there with an Izeian ship covered by computer viruses."
"I was actually thinking more along the lines of hiring a few psychics to help us out." The man said quietly. Lissa scribbled down a few illegible things as she listened. "A Cloaking. It doesn't have to last that long. Just long enough to get me past the Field and close enough. Once I'm there, I'll send out a few Shielded bombs with a specific course already charted out. The fact of the matter is the Alanaens won't expect a ship to appear with a Cloaking; what enemy would be foolish enough not to try to hide his whole ship? But by making our presence known while hiding our true intentions… That is what will make our plan succeed. Their curiosity will be their downfall," He finished.
Brilliant. Alanaens were known for their thirst for knowledge; a Cloaked ship would be just enough of a threat and a mystery to get past the barriers. So he was intelligent too. He had everything.
"And the bombs?" Morres reminded the man impatiently. "How will we keep the Alaneans from searching out and destroying them?"
The man shrugged his broad shoulders. "A jamming of their systems. Shouldn't be too hard. They may have the upper hand in technology, but our psychics are far more advanced than their own. With a glitch in their computers and a Shielding, I doubt they'll notice anything amiss. As long as we time it right."
Lissa blinked as she stared at him. His glittering blue eyes were currently trained on Morres, but after a few yends of her looking at him, they turned to her. Startled, she tried to act as though she was still working and only succeeded in bumping into Morres' bed. In the blink of an eye, Lissa found herself in the arms of that immaculate being. How he had managed to catch her so quickly was beyond her to comprehend.
"Are you alright?" He asked her, his handsome face concerned.
For the life of her, she could not manage to squeak out an answer. Thankfully, she was saved by Morres.
"Get out, General. I'll think it over. Review it with Merit. We'll find the kinks and force you to straighten them out for us."
The man smiled at that, revealing perfectly white teeth. Morres eyes snapped down to Lissa. "And kindly release my decorator. Miss Avi needs to finish. Unless you're done?" The last question was directed at her. Knowing she wouldn't be able to work then, she nodded.
"Good. I have a lot of work to do. Starlem, I'll keep in touch. As far you, Miss Avi, do send me a message on what you've got in mind."
Lissa and the man both nodded as they exited the room together.
"Good bye." Morres rumbled at their backs.
Oh, no, Lissa thought as the doors shut. She was outside, alone with this… this man that seemed to steal her voice away when she looked at him.
When he turned to her, his eyes gleaming brighter than the very suns themselves, she felt a shiver run through her spine. Her confidence returned, if only momentarily.
"If you'll excuse me, General." She tried to brush past him without risking more physical contact.
"Wait." He grabbed her wrist gently and stopped her. His hand, oh his hand. It felt so perfect against her skin. The smooth black glove caressed the inch of bare skin between her glove and the sleeve of her uniform. "I was hoping you might be able to help me." He asked.
"With what?" Please don't ask for anything I'll regret, General. I know I won't be able to refuse you.
"My quarters are in need of a designer. If you do a good job… I might be able to employ you as our head decorator for our more permanent locations." When she gave no response to his comments, he paused briefly. "Unless such a proposition holds no appeal to you."
She opened her mouth and tried to say something once. Twice. Third time's a charm. "I'd be honored, General." He hadn't even seen her work… did he perhaps wish her to follow them for an ulterior purpose?
"I'd be delighted." He smiled at her. "Please, follow me." Taking her gloved hand in his own, he led her down the hall.
A/N: Uh, I totallly re-worked this chapter. Because it was really terrible. Yeah. Cool.