by Nico D.

A plastic folder whizzed past Moira Deorain's perfectly designed nose and hit the desk.

“Why are you ordering more lab tests for my patient, especially when I said not to?”

“Good morning to you as well, Angela. Coffee?”

She held up a black company cup full of the stuff, the cute but obnoxious blonde simmering just beyond it.

Angela Ziegler, the team's resident medic and surgical researcher, was the single largest cause of the geneticist's frequent gray hairs.

Without answering Moira's question, she continued. “He's healing right now. He needs rest and rehabilitation, not you poking around with whatever you are curious about.”

Moira sighed inwardly, before giving one of her alarmingly cordial smiles.

“You have such an affection for broken things. It’s adorable.” Moira took another sip of her coffee. “Your little sparrow will be just fine. I was ordered by command to do those exploratory tests anyways.”

Angela’s lips straightened into an icy thin line. “Not the Soldier program.”


The way Moira continued to smile made the doctor feel worse instead of better.

“I really wish you had the same vision for the future as I do when it comes to the process.” The geneticist stood up, turning to look over at Angela. “You are so invested in the idea of rehabilitation, of remaking someone the same as they were before. I am merely looking towards the future, to what a person could be.”

“I’m a doctor, I do what my job requires me to do.”

Moira had moved close enough so that Angela could smell her usual scent: bergamot, amber, something indescribable. It made her head spin every time.

“How unimaginative. Doesn’t that strike you as limiting your capabilities here, of all places?”

Angela crossed her arms over her chest, clutching the folder behind them. “You don’t have to hew to the Hippocratic oath, Deorain, but you could at least consider the ethical implications of what we’re doing here. Making weapons is not in my purview.”

“You might not make the weapons, but you surely do empower them, don’t you?” The velvet in her voice had gone deeper, darker.

A hot stripe burned across the doctor’s face as Moira leaned down slightly, her face dangerously close.

“No matter how you feel about me, we’re not so dissimilar.” A long finger with an ornately painted nail gently grazed the side of the doctor’s cheek. Angela looked away, confused and excited. Deeply inappropriate for the lab, she would write later in her journal, leaving out several key details.

“You don’t know how I feel.”

“Don’t I?”

Angela trembled slightly, her real purpose in the lab exposed. The tall redhead was cunning, she had known this from the start and the doctor had leapt right into her trap, the knot snapping to her neck.

The folder was promptly forgotten, cleared away in a hurry and laying on the floor. Several scans had slid out, those could be tidied up later.

This is what Moira knew and Angela did not: that the machines of bureaucracy wrapped people up in so many messy strings that they were unable to make clear progress and she was all too happy to keep the good doctor tied down for the time being.

Her goals would be achieved, one organization at a time. ◒


Nico D. is a feminist media critic from the Midwest who loves trash TV and narrative exploration. She has a podcast called Make it Sound Fiction, as well as tweets over at @appleciderwitch.