Katri Haalen was seething. It had been two weeks since she'd learned of her brother's disappearance and they were getting nothing out of Imperial Intelligence on the matter. She'd stayed with her parents as long as she could manage, but then she went to Imperial Center to see what she could find out on her own. The bad news was that her criminal informants had nothing. What made it worse was that Imperial Intel somehow learned that she was snooping into their private business... and they didn't like that much. And so, Katri found herself handcuffed to a chair, glaring across a desk at an overfed bureaucrat in an Imperial uniform.
"Just exactly what is your interest in our agent's status?" the man stupidly asked.
"Are you brain-dead?" Katri spat. "He's my brother. Look, I already know you don't know exactly where he is. Your people were caring enough to tell us that. But you do know where and when he last reported in. That is the information I want."
"You intend to do your own investigation, I take it?"
Katri rolled her eyes. "With black market resources and whatnot. I happen to know this adorable little twelve-year-old who could pry this information out of your cold, hard, data storage units. If you don't tell me, I'll go to her."
"A slicer at twelve?" the pompous fool snorted. "More threats like that and you'll end up in a mental institution." He shook his head. "I'm not giving you the information you want. It's directly tied to some highly classified documentation and personnel movement." A pause. "Unless..."
"Unless I come to work for you," Katri supplied, having long since figured out how an Imperial's mind worked. "I told you people three years ago that I'm worth more to you as a merc."
"Some mercs take classified jobs too." With this statement, his IQ improved a little from Katri's perspective. She couldn't suppress a slight grin.
"Are you talkin' about giving me a security clearance of some sort?" she inquired.
"It would be project driven," he replied. "You'd get information based on whatever assignment we give you."
"And what sort of assignments are we talkin' here?"
He didn't answer immediately. "Can't really tell you unless you agree."
"I'll get information on my brother's last known location." It was not a question; Katri Haalen had just given him a direct order. He knew it, but he didn't care.
"Count on it."
Arching an eyebrow, Katri tugged gently at her restraints. "Care to let me out of these?"