“I thought that you needed to get approval from Giles in order to return home,” Miranda sighed, leaning back in the passenger seat and buckling his worn seatbelt. “You seem impatient to do something. What’s on your mind, dear?”

Anders twisted the key in the ignition, bringing the aging car to life and backing out of the hotel parking. “The hotel gives me the chills, and I could barely go to sleep last night. I’d rather risk a few malicious demons at home than lose sleep over absolutely nothing.”

“Ah…” Gravel and tar in need of spring maintenance bumped beneath the wheels as Anders turned off onto the highway. The car didn’t get the chance to complete a mile before the phone started ringing and Miranda answered. “Hello?”

“Hello there, Miranda.” Giles’ breath heaved furiously on the other side of the line, probably bent over in exhaustion in a corner somewhere. “Can you pass the phone to Anders, please? This is classified and urgent.”

“Who is it, Miranda?” Anders’ fists clenched on the wheel, and he shifted to the left lane. “if it’s a telemarketer, I’m going to scream.”

“It’s Giles.” Returning his focus to the phone, he inquired, “What do you need? We’re a bit  too far away from home to be of much use.”

“I’d really prefer speaking directly to Anders about this…” A few screams elicited in the background followed by profanity, and Miranda set the phone down and enabled speakerphone. “Please?”

“What do you want, Giles?” Anders pounded on the horn, resisting the urge to start screaming profanities of his own at the illegal lane changer ahead. “I’m trying to drive home. The pods were all busy and backed up to midnight, and I ran out of priority passes, so don’t chastise me for not being home sooner.”

“Yeah, that’s what I called you about. I need you to come here immediately from wherever the hell you decided to drop off the face of the planet to. A few of the subjects that you assigned to Project Nevermore decided that they were going to pull a jam monster and break into the kitchen and trash everything. I mean, they also proceeded to attempt to kill some of the other subjects during an exercise shift, but you’d care more about the jam, wouldn’t you?”

Anders flicked on his blinker and drifted into the nearest exit lane. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. I need details, Giles. How worried should I be about the police showing up at the front doors tomorrow with a search warrant?”

“Well, as long as you bother to show up here in the next three hours, we should be okay. No major injuries except for a broken leg and some blood loss. Not from the same person, of course… Lainey might want to talk to you later about some property damage. She was too distraught to give me any more details.”

Anders turned down the winding exit lane, contemplating how hard he had to strangle the steering wheel until something crunched. “Is my child okay?”

Giles hissed. “Well, if you define okay as still being alive and viable, then yes. The holding container got knocked out of balance for a few minutes, so we might have to harvest earlier than planned.”

“I’ll be there within an hour.” Anders ended the call and glanced at Miranda with a blank face before changing to the middle lane. “How much money do you want to bet that those demons who have a vendetta against me caused the subjects to go ballistc?”


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