Seattle, Northwest American Sector, Earth. Twelve years ago.... The antiquated looking clock was a poor fit for the room. Niamh didn’t understand why it needed hands when a digital one would have sufficed. Nor did she get the reason for its incessant ticking. The metronome like sound was making her hair stand on end. Another few minutes of it and she was going to scream. She did her best not to fidget. The waiting room was her own personal purgatory. Niamh was quietly enraged that she was forced to sit here on the pleasure of some Continental slut as if she was some slum dweller living on Basic. She picked at the skin at the side of her nail, lifting her little finger to her mouth to tear at it when she was sure that the secretary wasn’t looking. She didn’t want to admit it but she was scared. Scared that she was going to get caught. It brought back memories over twenty years ago to a child lying to their parents about what had happened to their new kitten. The company might as well have been Pontius Pilate, they’d effectively washed their hands of her. She’d been told that the junior always took the bullet but she’d never thought that it would go this far. She was a scapegoat, the sacrificial lamb. A token offering while they swept everything else under the carpet. It was so unfair. She was meant to have it all. Born to money, genius intellect, and not that hard on the eye either. She was in her mid twenties, at the beginning of what would no doubt be a glittering career. Only to have it all dashed because of the incompetence of a superior. That his corpse hadn't been recovered was the one silver lining to the whole sordid affair. She opened her makeup mirror to inspect her face, grimacing as she looked at her eyes. No amount of makeup could hide the lack of sleep and ravages of travel. A forced march for half a day after torching the camp, the teeth jarring lorry ride to the shuttleport, a VTOL to Paris for a debrief and now here in Seattle after another gut wrenching journey. She did not travel well. She smoothed out invisible wrinkles in her trousers, tapping her foot while she looked around the room again. Perhaps thrown to the wolves was being overdramatic. She did have one lifeline that she had been reluctantly offered. The corporation had tendrils everywhere. There was no guarantee that she’d emerge from this unscathed though. The path she’d envisaged since she was fourteen was rapidly being replaced with mental images of her in prison. She’d been told to swallow her pride, bite the bullet, and grovel for all it was worth. Then maybe, just maybe, there was a chance she’d still have a future. The secretary stopped in her typing as her earpiece sounded. Holding her hand to it, she looked to Niamh who half rose expectantly. "Mrs Dionisi will see you now" she told the Irishwoman in curt tones. Niamh hadn't helped herself on that front. She'd been in the waiting room two minutes when she'd asked for a window to be opened due to the pungent aroma of the pig manure she'd decided to wear as perfume. Niamh rose with a haughty expression on her face. She forced her back straight as she walked, entering @Lucrezia Dionisi 's office.