BRNNGG... BRNNGG... BRNNGG... BRNNGG... BRNNGG five... BGNNGG six... BRNNGG seven, OK, pick up the &*%$@# phone!... BGNNGG I know you're there, you son of a... click "Yes?"
"Taking a nap?"
"Why are you calling me?"
"Why do you think? Nothing is happening here! This assignment is a waste of time. How long do you expect me to hang out in this armpit?"
"As long as it takes."
"Even if it takes forever?!"
"Well, you can forget that, buddy! I can't spend the entire war here — the more time I spend here, the more commissions I'm losing! Dianne has picked up two jobs from one little ad, and I'm still stuck out here in..."
He interrupted her tirade, "You will stay there until I tell you to leave."
The coldness in the voice reached through the phone wires, and caused the mercenary's throat to tighten with fear. Get a grip, Maureen! He can't do anything to you over the phone. "The secrecy of this assignment may have been compromised, anyway. I've been out of touch so long that the Guild is starting to worry about me. If they send someone out to look for me, they may find me."
"I thought you took care to cover your tracks. Did you not promise me that no one would be able to follow you?" He asked, his anger snapping through his cold control. "If you have lied to me..."
"Oh, I'm good, but so are my fellow Mercenaries. I couldn't be found by any other faction, but the Mercenaries have certain... advantages."
There was a pause from the other end of the line. Then he said "Send a message to your Guild telling them to stop worrying. Then you will not have to worry about anyone looking for you."
"No." she said. "I've decided to end this assignment." And besides, I think having my Guild worrying about me might be a good insurance policy.
"You have not completed your mission. If this is an attempt to garner more money for this assignment, it will not work — we do have a contract."
"You don't own me, you know. You've paid me for one assignment, and if I decide that assignment is impossible to carry out, I'll just give you back the money. Considering the money I could be making in Toronto, I'd probably be better off doing that!"
"You should consider your options a little more... carefully. You don't really want to risk retaliation from my followers, do you?" His iron control was restored, and his voice was definitely amused, but with promise of anger underneath the amusement.
"Don't threaten me, you cold-hearted bloodsucker!" She heard the snarl carry over the phone lines, but she was on a roll, and could care less. She snarled back, and added, "I'm leaving as soon as the sun is up. Expect a FedEx package tomorrow with a certified check. Take that check, fold it until it's all corners, and shove it where the su— moon don't shine! Maybe you can hire another Mercenary to finish this assignment, but I doubt that anyone else would want to take it! Get one of your brainwashed minions to do it, if it's so important!"
He snarled again, and she visualized red glowing eyes. He whispered "You don't really want to risk retaliation from... me, do you?!"
"Climb down off it, will you? You kill a Mercenary for legally ending a contract, and you'll get retaliation from the Guild. And, trust me, buddy — you don't want the trouble the Guild can give you!"
The whisper was low, but clear, "That is as nothing to the trouble I can give you."
"Oh, bite me!" she said, and slammed the phone down into its cradle. She sat for a minute, and took a couple of deep breaths. As the adrenalin started to dissipate, a little niggling unease started to grow in her. She looked down at Ophelia, and realized that the cat had heard the snarls, because her ears were laid back against her head, and all her fur was standing on end. She carefully reached toward the cat, making soothing sounds (after all, you don't just pick up an angry cat who still has all of her claws). Calming her enough to pick her up, Maureen started to stroke the cat's fur down.
"I guess that probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, was it, Ophelia?" she asked rhetorically. A sudden thought struck her, deepening her unease. What if the Guild doesn't believe that I ended the contract legally? I could lose my membership! After all, he probably would have no compunctions about lying, if it would get me in trouble! Maureen frowned, thinking through the problem. The Guild is also not going to be just exactly completely thrilled to have an angry vampire fighting against them, either. She sighed deeply, and looked at the now purring cat. "I guess they don't call me Maureen the Mad for nothing, do they? Every time I lose my temper, I get in trouble. I should learn to control myself better!"
Thinking over her angry exchange with the master vampire, Maureen started to chuckle. "It was worth it, though! How many times in this life do you get the chance to tell a vampire to "Bite me!", and get away with it? At least for a while, anyway!" The cat purred louder, responding to the infectious delight in her mistress's voice, and for a while nothing was heard but the happy sounds from cat and human.
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