Dr. Martial Sater wants Avery to feel at ease.
They are sitting in Sater’s office in his cozy office chairs – leather and plush – the kind you could fall asleep in if you weren’t careful. Bookcases line the walls, ornate spines obscuring the titles. Sater is comfortable here. Sater is condescending.
“You passed the test quite nicely,” he says, his hands held out in placation. “I don’t know why you insist on holding onto this. You weren’t harmed. Standard operating procedure demands rigorous vetting.” He pointed a finger. “You didn’t flinch until the end there. You kept your cool .”
“Until I didn’t,” Avery chided. She can’t get comfortable. She doesn’t want to be comfortable. “It was unnecessary. You have record of everything I’ve done, everyone I’ve ever spoken to. Why-”
“Stress testing is S. O. P.,” Sater explains again, closing the case by sitting back and lifting a sheet of smartform.
“One may suggest holding your tongue for a moment so that I can tell you why you are here instead of holding on so tightly to that grudge.”
Avery opens her mouth to speak, but her tongue holds. It suddenly occurrs to her that she may be directing her anger in the wrong direction.
“Good,” Sater commends. He doesn’t bother trying to mask his smirk. He reads from the file. “You have an impressive profile. You are an excellent Historian. You are undoubtedly dedicated to the preservation of the timeline.”
Avery nods, uncertain.
Sater rolls his eyes. “Ms. Avery, you’re being offered a job!”
She laughs. He can’t be serious.
“This,” he adds after a moment of silence, “is where one would suggest an expression of gratitude or questions about the Terms of Service.”
She lets it sink in.
She realizes that he is actually serious.
She turns and takes a step. She stops. She spins back.
“I want to make absolutely certain that I am hearing you correctly,” she tells her new boss. “This was all some sort of interview?”
She takes a step, and now two in the opposite direction.
She stops, turns to eye the man, and shakes her head in disbelief.
He watches her warily. He shifts in his chair, preparing for the worst.
She takes a deep breath.
“What would you have me do?”