by Kaye Jeffreys -
Jereth scraped corrosion off the terminals on Lessie's scope with a wire brush. Wind blasted the windows of the circuit office with a constant shower of ash and grit particles. The glass rattled but held against the onslaught.
Lessie sat down at the table across from him in the service room. "Why are you here?"
Jereth glanced up then focused again on cleaning the innards of her scope. Lessie wore that serious look of hers. He was in for it. She doesn't let go of an issue until her questions are answered.
"Stop ignoring me, Jereth Davis. Why are you here?"
"To help the less fortunate." He blew dust from the prongs and examined them closely.
"Don't lie to me. Your heart is not in this."
"Why are you here?" Jereth scrubbed at the last few deposits of corrosion and blew again.
"Don't change the subject."
He put a new power pack in Lessie's scope and replaced the cover. "Why do you think I'm here?"
Lessie leaned back in her chair. "The Tyrant?"
"Avenir is not big enough for both him and me." Jereth set Lessie's scope down and slid it across the table to her.
She picked it up and looked at it without seeing it. "So why landside? Why not undersea?"
"He has too many connections undersea." Jereth tapped his leg with the wire brush.
"You'd risk Ash Lung and a whole lot of other things rather than deal with your father and his connections?"
Jereth set the wire brush on the table and clasped his hands on his lap to keep from fidgeting. "There is no dealing with my father. Not directly. Not through any of his connections. He's not like your parents."
Jereth shook his head. "No, Lessie, you don't know. Because if you knew, if you really understood, you wouldn't ask how dealing with him could be worse than Ash Lung."