Sensing she may be staying a while, Lexicon signaled the bartender for another round. She had to admit, the poor drab beside her had taste. It was a nice bar: good atmosphere for a business making it on the surface, where even the Authorities are unlikely to show up these days. Sure, Lexicon had heard that businesses still existed above ground, but given the recent frequency of Darker attacks, most sane individuals went below. Lexicon herself hadn't ventured above ground since 2805... maybe '06? Nearly ten years ago. Glancing at the blubbering mess beside her, Lexicon crinkled her nose in disgust. This was taking far too long.
Montrose was moaning, holding his head in his hands. “I'm a Taper,” he said. “Ta-per. I have in-innate managerial skills. It's simple genetics.”
In-innate? Fabulous. Lexicon determined the man was well past the point of embarrassment, but forced a smile. “Now, your duties can't be so bad, no?”
Lexicon was speaking to Montrose, but her attention was diverted out the window. A small transport was whizzing past, navigating some fearless inhabitant to this bar, that restaurant or home. The side of the transport read popular Institution propaganda: Prosperity, Faith, the Methods.
“I'm in Nurture and Development,” Montrose hissed.
“Running one of the N&D Centers seems like a very important job to me. Properly shaping today's young minds are essential for the success of the Institution,” Lexicon was still focused out the window. She found herself admiring the moon. She had remembered gazing up from her bed at it for hours as a child. Now, it seemed larger than she remembered. Big, perfect and white.
Montrose jerked alert. “Now you juss- wait! I don't mean to sound ungrateful to the Institution.”
Lexicon inhaled and took a sip of her steaming drink. That didn't go well, and now he's defending accusations of blasphemy against the Institution. Lexicon checked the time: 23:00. It was getting very late.
Montrose continued, “You've got me wrong. I have faith in the Methods. They're proven. I make all my kids submit to the Methods, and they all lead saddis-satisfying lives.”
“Look, Monty,” Lexicon cut in. “It sounds like you've had a day. What do you say we hop a transport to your dwelling?” Lexicon leaned in to seductively caress the collar of Montrose's business shirt.
Montrose smiled. “You're pretty. What's your class?”
He had to be joking. Lexicon was beyond irritation now, still realizing she had to tread carefully. She was a Bedouin. All Bedouins were proven by the Methods to be genetically superior to Montrose, by his own admission, a Taper. He might feel taken advantage of, if she told him the truth, though even in her line of work, she generally preferred to speak truthfulness to the alternative. She hoped to On High he didn't ask her occupation.
“I'm a Common,” she lied.
The bartender had made his way back to Lexicon and Montrose. He laid two drinks in front of them before retreating back to the other end of the bar.
“A Common. That's wonderful. I bet someone as pretty as you never questions her class. I bet you're happy and satisfied, prossss-perous.”
Lexicon took a sip of her drink. He was right. The combination of genetic analysis and aptitude tests that make up the Methods had never let her down. Her physical ability had landed her in the military track. She had never given a whip about politics, so between legislative and military tracks, she was right on target. Further, she had been detected as a middle-of-the-road Bedouin. Achieving the Bedouin class was somewhat prestigious, true. Bedouins are genetically regarded as superior than both Tapers and Commons, but with less responsibility than the Alphas, Betas and Deltas studying at Philosophical Academy. For Lexicon though, it was the position itself that seemed to fit her to a tee. The simple fact was that most military Bedouins were like her: assassins. A position she usually found extraordinarily rewarding, excluding of course, present company.
Montrose stumbled off to the facilities, calling back to Lexicon, “You juss- wait right there, pretty thing. I'll be right back.”
Lexicon gulped down her drink and reflected back to the time: 23:10. If she was lucky, she could wrap things up here, accompany Montrose to his dwelling, end him, implant herself with his Identification chip and be in bed by 00:00. She really needed the sleep. The next day at Quadrant 1542 Nurturement and Development was a big deal, even for her.
She glanced around before taking a sip of Montrose's abandoned drink. “Marta Wallers,” she muttered under her breath. “Should be interesting. Never killed a kid before.”