Chapter 4: Repercussions – part 1
Daniel concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other as he approached Archaeology. Should have done this sooner, he chided himself. Fortunately he was practiced at hiding discomfort and fatigue. The higher one rose in Triptych, the more crucial the skill became.
He’d been up for 26 hours when Chairman Butler had summoned him. The virtual meeting lasted four minutes; long enough for the erudite senior to express his displeasure and assign a task. No deadline was set, so Daniel had occupied himself with other matters. His task would be better accomplished after his penance was over.
“–stay with you?”
Mommy shook her head impatiently. “We’ve discussed this. Fa–“
Twenty-four hours had passed, and the memory continued to replay on the back of Daniel’s eyelids. The task could wait no longer.
The double glass doors to the Archaeology department stood open as usual. That and the large, brightly lit room on the other side created an illusion of openness. Daniel knew it was posturing, like much of the department head’s demeanor. He should know. He’d trained Addison himself.
Inside the workroom four of Addison’s employees stood at four different tables, each brushing or scratching at a dusty artifact. Daniel wondered if any of the objects were from Earth.
“–here, son,” the grandfatherly man smiled. “Sit–“
The scientists looked up when Daniel entered, giving him a hello or a respectful nod. The youngest and presumably least senior of the group, a reedy Indian, set down the dental tool in his hand and approached. “What can I do for you, Dr. Gibson?”
Daniel rifled through his mental files on the young man. Naveen Patel, recruited from New Delhi two years ago. Seems loyal. Many acquaintances. Carnal relations with Arnez, Farmer, and Ri. Ri, who works for Myers. Daniel made a mental note to keep an eye on Patel. The connection with Myers could be incidental, but he’d rather have more data than not enough.
“I’m here to see Dr. Harris,” Daniel stated.
Patel nodded, glancing at the closed door to her office on the far side of the room. “I’ll see if she’s–”
Daniel brushed past him. “She’s available.”
Smoke twined from Father Preston’s pipe. Port wine soured his breath.
The door opened before Daniel reached it. He strode through, unsurprised that Addison had sensed him coming.
The curvaceous dark-skinned woman remained seated behind her hand-carved maple desk. Addison donned a polite smile. “Yes, Dr. Gibson?” Her eyes darted briefly to her computer monitor. She was annoyed by the interruption, which served Daniel’s purpose.
“About the other night–”
Addison’s facade faltered, and the door shut, seemingly of its own accord. Daniel grinned. She didn’t want her employees eavesdropping.
“–warm in here. Why don’t you take off–“
He opened his eyes to find Addison studying him. “Are you feeling well, Daniel?”
Daniel bit back annoyance and resentment. “I’m fine, thank you.” He perched on the corner of Addison’s desk and peered down at her cleavage and rounded belly. “After your and Myers’ fling in the hallway, I assume he knows the child is his.”
Addison’s expression hardened momentarily. “I assume so.”
She was holding something back. Daniel wondered what. “Do you know for sure?”
Daniel pursed his lips. He’d ordered the bitch to stay away from Myers! “The Chairmen won’t be pleased.”
Addison’s eyes flashed anger, but her facade otherwise held. “What’s done is done.”
The fetus in Addison’s womb was the only thing holding back Daniel’s fist. Instead he poured his malice into his voice. “You’ll regret your cavalier attitude someday.”
Addison rubbed her bump. “Perhaps.” The fool woman thought herself irreplaceable. No one at Triptych was. “What difference does it make?” she added. “Myers doesn’t have domestic notions.”
Daniel sniffed. “I don’t presume to know the Chairmen’s plans.”
Rough hands slid down his back, then under–
“Are you sure you’re all right, Daniel?”
“Fine,” Daniel snapped. He stood, then leaned across the desk. “There won’t be a repeat of the scene with Myers, or any other scene with him. You have your pick of lovers. Your duty is bringing the child — Triptych’s child — to term.”
Addison’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, sir.”
Daniel left the Archaeology department for his office. He’d keep himself busy until he could safely close his eyes again.