"Well?" "The bloody thing chafes like hell." "Military uniforms are rarely known for their comfort." "No wonder your agents are so cranky all the time." "Are you handy with scissors, a needle, and thread?" "Are you offering to provide me some?" "Would you consider that wise?" "Convenient, perhaps. Hey, I've been a good girl, haven't I?" "You disobeyed orders." "Ah. There it is." "Would you care to explain?" "The disobedience, or the anticipation that the topic would be brought up?" "The latter hardly takes a hypergenius. Report." "It was all bullshit. You knew as well as I did that Leo wasn't out to free his father. He hates his guts, and he's scared by him, too." "Why didn't he kill him, then?" "You know the answer to that one, too. He's a Good Guy. He doesn't go around gacking people unless there's no other choice. And he's enough of an optimist to think there's almost always another choice, that eventually he'll win." "You make him sound more sunny in disposition than I've observed." "It's one of the things he's done with those robots of is. They're Jiminy Cricket on his shoulder, reminding him of who he is." "The better angels of his nature?" "Abraham Lincoln? Really?" "If you, of all people, can reference a Walt Disney production --" "Touché." "So. You deemed the stop order 'bullshit.' But you didn't protest it. You not only disobeyed, you were deceptive." "I couldn't be one hundred percent certain when you gave me the assignment. I thought it highly unlikely, but given the time pressure, I saluted first, got moving, and investigated along the way." "And failed to make contact once you had learned what you thought was the truth." "By the time I had signal back, I was making my way through city traffic at 250kph. Not a good time to start tapping on the tablet." [Silence] "And, yes, all right, I didn't want to get into an argument about it. Besides which --" "Yes?" "You were tracking me. You were tracking Leo and Company." "Yes." "Rossum -- either of them -- wasn't going to get away." "Indeed?" "That was the actual mission. The robots, the Link stuff, that was incidental. It was making sure that Rossum didn't get away." "And you were prepared to handle that?" "That was the mission." "To what extent?" "That was the mission." "Are you so dutiful as all that?" "As -- it seems needful." "Ms Chin, we did not bring you on to be an assassin." "No?" "That is not our line of business." "Agent Parker, pull the other one." "It is not --" "If Rossum was flying off on a plane and you had a destruct switch, you're saying you wouldn't throw it? Or someone else wouldn't? Or your superiors wouldn't order it?" [Silence] "I'm not suggesting you lot are all smiert spionam or something, but I don't believe for a moment that you don't engage in wet work when the job requires it. The stakes you are dealing with are far too high for that." "Ms Chin, I will repeat, and you may believe it or not, as you will: we did not bring you 'in from the cold' to use you as an assassin." "Huh. Well, for what it's worth, I believe that you believe that. And, for what it's worth -- that's not my intended career path, either. "I am very glad to hear it. If I thought it was, you would not be exiting this facility." "Well, we can't have that." "We can, as we see fit." "... Yes, ma'am." "Anything else to report, beyond what you've written up?" "Nothing you probably couldn't observe yourself. Link's the linchpin of the team, heart and mind. He's smart, compassionate, direct, determined. A natural leader." "Interesting. You're not going to go all teen-age girl on me, I hope." "Oh, please. He seems to be a solid leader, and possibly even a trustworthy comrade-at-arms. He instills loyalty, and leads from the forefront. I can consider him all those things without accompaniment of sighs, impassioned diary entries, and tingly feelings in my girly bits. Besides --" "Yes?" "He seems to prefer to build his romantic interests." "You disapprove?" "Since I'm not looking to compete, it's not my concern." "Your tone indicates otherwise." [Silence] "What about the others?" "I'm not romantically interested in them, either." "Droll." "Mercury's impulsive, rushes in while counting on his speed to get him through -- but so far he's gotten away with it. He's effective and imaginative." "Yes." "Concord is mindboggling. You probably got better imagery from satellite, but just from the aftermath of that whole fracas, he's scary-powerful." "Indeed." "I didn't get a chance to observe Ghost Girl, but she kept Rossum -- the real one -- in check, which is no small thing." "Conclusion?" "Well, they're Good Guys -- heroes -- through and through. Lots of drama, but they're -- we're all teenagers, right? Some of us control our hormones better than others, but within those bounds, you don't have anything to worry about." "Those are no small bounds. And, if you're wrong, could they be a significant threat?" "Certainly. Just ask the Dread Queen. Or, for that matter, Rossum. But -- what can you do about it?" "I suppose, Ms Chin, we shall just hope that your sense of the mission is up to the task -- as it seems needful."