There was a tap on her door, and she toggled control over to her local
betting book screen, the only display that was duplicated, with one
inside and one outside her trailer.
She eased herself over to the door, and slid it open, admitted a face she didn't know. "What's your poison?"
"What's the book for the Prime Minister election on Three?"
He paused, ignorant of the fact that there were four of them currently
running, and another half-dozen in the coming months. "Uhh... the one
with Joh Aldams."
"Oh. Sure, just a moment." Tern turned her head to face the display,
though it was currently upside-down in relation to her body's
orientation, and scrolled through the list. "Two to three for Joh, one
to six for Sil, and one to six for Mal. No minimums. What's your bid?"
"Can I get two hundred on Mal?"
"Two hundred down on Mal pays out twelve hundred if he wins. You sure?"
He swallowed heavily, his adams apple sticking out like a sore thumb, and hesitated a moment before nodding.
"Put your thumbprint on the sensor." She gestured to the fingerprint
detector hanging beside the door jam. A quick keystroke as he did
verified his funds and transferred the appropriate amount to her holding
account. "Payout next week. Good luck."
She shut the door and went back to work.
"Do you have an appointment?" The stern personal assistant gave her a harsh glare.
"I... uh, no. I don't." Tern tried not to shrink back into the floor. Her last and final class had been about standing up to those things that intimidated you, and was one of the few curricula she actually completed.
"Mr. Sylvanus is very busy. If you don't have an appointment, you don't get to see him."
She gritted her teeth and clenched her arms behind her back, willing them not to shake. "Tell him Tern Mevit is here to see him. And has a business proposition for him. Something he very much needs in his organization."
"And what, you're the only person who can give him what he needs?"
The p.a. didn't even bother to stifle her laugh, but waved Tern over to some very uncomfortable-looking chairs and picked up the phone on her desk.
"Sir? Yes, I have a Tern Mevit here to see you. No, no appointment. Business proposition. No, she wouldn't say. But... yes sir." The woman scowled and set the phone down. "You have five minutes. Starting now."
Tern bolted up from her edge-of-the-seat perch and bolted for the doors, only just catching herself and her breath before striding through them.
The big man turned his chair slowly around as she entered his office, lined with dark wood and darker leather, a stark contrast to the cold efficiency of the anteroom.
"Mr. Sylvanus, I don't know if you remember me, but we met once, about fourteen years ago. You helped a little girl who got lost in a mall on Nanna find her mother."
"I'm here because you have a problem. You have a bookie who is guilty of cooking his books. He may pay a tithe to you, but I believe that, one, he is cheating you out of money, and two, he is scaring away business in the manner he conducts it. I believe I can do a better job, net your more profit, and bring more business in to your organization, all without paying a tithe."
Tern took a deep breath, trying not to let herself be rushed. 'I believe I can do a better job, if you allow me the opportunity to do the work in your territory without being harassed by your agents for a trial period."
"Times up. Get out."
Tern glanced at her watch. "I'm sorry sir, but your timepiece appears to be incorrect. It's only been two minutes." She stood her ground and waited.
John broke into a grin. "Very good, Ms Mevit. Very good. Of course I remember you. And I don't doubt you've done your homework on me since that day. What do you think of me now that you know who and what I am?" Ge stood and walked around his desk, sitting casually against it.
"As long as you are still the sort of man who saves little girls who get seperated from their mothers in malls, I think no less of you for the rest of it."
"But would you take the word of a man who says he does without sufficient evidence to know that word is good?"
"I don't have to. You did the same thing just last month, on your regularly scheduled trip to Nanna."
John stared at her, and Tern got the impression he was trying not to look surprised.
"Yes, I arranged that." She stepped forward to a few feet shy of him, despite his foreboding presence. "You are still the same man who helped me fourteen years ago. But now, I'm not the one who needs help. You're losing money, and I'm in a position to help rectify one of the problem areas." She glanced at her watch. "That's five minutes."
On cue, his phone rang, and John leaned back and picked it up. "Yes, thank you. Have them wait outside." He set the phone back down. "What do you want?"
"Three." She stuck out her hand.
John smiled. "Three months. No harassment from my agents. No tithe. If you bring in more money to my organization, you stay, get all his business, and he's gone. If you lose..." he tilted his head thoughtfully to the side, "If you lose, you work for him until such a time as he can use your business model, and then leave Vidar."
She smiled to herself. The memory one of the more pleasant ones. Obviously she had succeeded, and quickly than anyone had anticipated too, because she knew she could have done it in far less time than she asked for, knowing Sylvanus would bargain it down and, despite the agreement, have his bookie run her hard.
She turned over to her monitors, and went back to digging through Sisyphus' business dealing, hoping for some insight on their recent stock spike.