“So, Mister Florace. According to your message, you are a Tinker and thus incur significant material costs. Why are you interviewing to join a mercenary crew, which by definition generates unsteady income?”
Melanie was proud of herself for not only saying the man’s fake name with a straight face, but also managing to not laugh him out of the room before the end of her first question. Reputation was everything, especially for a group like hers, and maintaining her Crew’s professional image required the occasional DOA interview.
The bearded man across the table from her gave Melanie an obviously practiced smile. “Your Crew is one of the premier infiltration and sabotage teams in the country, with a record of efficiency and success unmatched by even the Protectorate. It is my understanding that you have infiltrated both ENE headquarters four times in the last three months, escaping nearly undetected each time.”
It astounded Melanie that people thought flattery would work on her or her crew. Well, most of her crew -- Taylor might be a ferociously talented cape, but she was naive enough to have joined the first team that was nice to her. Still, a cape who understood the uniqueness of their own power was too rare to pass up.
Melanie was also pretty sure the PRT had only publicly admitted to two of her Crew’s successful jobs.
“That doesn’t answer the question about funding a propositional Tinker workshop,” she said smoothly. “Depending on your specialty, of course.”
The man gave her a proud smile. “I am a miniaturization Tinker, which is broad enough for me to solve nearly any problem with my Tinkertech. And the funding is not an issue. I have a side job that more than covers the cost of my work.”
None of that was news to Melanie, of course. When the PRT’s response to Labyrinth taking over their buildings was to complain that they couldn’t find the bathroom, getting a full dossier on the entire Protectorate was child’s play. She had long since set up a standard catalogue for clients buying PRT secrets.
“I see. Unfortunately, my Crew is not seeking a Tinker at this time. However, I will keep you in mind if a job were to necessitate your talents.”
If the Tinker was surprised by this turn of events, he didn’t show it. “I understand. Thank you for your time.” Melanie watched him navigate around the bar tables on his way to the exit, and when the outside door clanged shut she slumped down in her chair.
“I don’t know how you do it, boss,” Emily said from the bar. “Are they really that stupid?”
“You know as well as I that most capes wouldn’t know discretion if it came and sat on their head,” Melanie sighed.
A swarm of bugs swirled up from underneath the table and formed a two foot tall person. “Based on the past three times I’ve ‘joined’ the Wards for a job, the Protectorate doesn’t even do entrance interviews.”