Phyton: Episode 1

** This is the first episode in a series. Also take a look at my other stories. **

“Okay, run this by me again, I don’t quite get it.” Dr. Al Ingram stood with his arms crossed studying the shorter man intently. He certainly didn’t need to have it repeated, except to hopefully lay his incredulity to rest. The man wore his dark grey suit, somewhat reminiscent of styles from earlier in the century, with a bit of unease and the unease transmitted itself through his movements.

“Alright,” Jeff ran a thick-fingered hand through his black hair and took a step back, as though he could retrace his words with steps. It also helped him to not look up at such an angle. “You are a recognized skeptic, outside of your own work…”

“And I am never complacent with that either.” Al cut in.

“Right, well we need you to work with the Fislers. We would like you to look into their advances. We believe that you are the best suited for this as it fits your field and you have the clearance.” Jeff finished and stared at Al.

Al closed his eyes and reached up to rub the bridge of his nose, and only realized once again that he no longer had the heavy glasses which plagued him up until six months ago. He stopped midway through and tried to naturally lower his hand without too much extra frustration from the long ingrained habit. He opened his eyes and Jeff stopped fidgeting and shifting from foot to foot.

“First, I am not a microflora expert, I test G.E. plants to see how they interact with their environment. Second, they are a husband and wife team that has only a few student helpers, not something a full-fledged researcher can walk into without raising a whole bunch of red flags. And lastly, even though I am trying to mitigate genetically modified crop adverse impacts before they ever get out there, and I know that there are sleazy genetic engineers, I don’t like your implication that the Fislers might be going beyond a basic symbiotic relation between the microflora and humans.”

Jeff quirked a smile, a bit nervously and defused the argument, “Right the last reason is why we need you there: a negative skeptic, though don’t negative skeptic the Defense Department projects, they don’t like people mucking about. I’m sure you can pick up an understanding of their work very quickly, right?” It was a near perfect parry, feint, and point. Jeff seemed over anxious almost all the time, but maybe that is why opponents had underestimated him while fencing.

Al shook his head, he decided to ignore the logic, “Look, we’ve known each other for a long time, but I need to continue my work. Things still aren’t getting enough review before going out there, even after the staple-scare of 2035. Thanks, but no.” He ushered Jeff out of the lab, some friend to ask him to spy on other friends.

***

“Sir, he won’t cooperate, and he has some good points.” Jeff stood fidgeting, of course, in front of his boss’s boss.

“Well we can make some good points too, funding cuts,” Jeff tried not to grimace at that, Special Agent-In-Charge Flind smiled and continued, “or extra funding and help. If his lab is in good hands while he works in California, maybe he’d be more willing to go. But I think this will really convince him it’s a good idea.” Flind tapped a manilla envelope nearly obscured by other carefully arranged paperwork, carefully arranged to those who knew him, or at least that is what Jeff had heard about the desk, to him it seemed an indecipherable mess. “Come pick it up when you are ready to see him next, and tell your boss to calm down, she isn’t losing you, I just need your connections.”

“Thank you sir,” Jeff tried not to make it sound too sarcastic. It was tough to work for two bosses, even when his boss’s boss obviously took priority. It was as though he couldn’t convince his boss that he would be back once he finished the assignment. If she really didn’t want to lose him why did she seem exasperated with his fidgeting?

** Next episode **

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