Topaz has been enjoying the small freedoms that each assignment for retrieval has given her. When confronted by deadly insects that have already killed her targets, she has to choose running for her life or finishing her job. She is assisted by another dragon who offers her an option for her time off. He will take her to visit her sister if she will spend some time getting to know him, and part of her is only too delighted to happily to take Kirai up on his offer. Dragons, kidnapping, giant bugs, poisons and meeting a sister she thought dead make for quite the short layover for an active D.A.R.E. agent.
"Fine. I have three days left here, so court if you can." She took strides toward the bone pile and kept her guard up for any of the returning ants. Topaz knelt next to the pile and flipped out a tarp from her pack. Each human bone was accounted for as she placed them carefully on the fabric.
"They were a scouting party?"
"I think so. Their actual assignment was not divulged to me." She shrugged and kept working.
He joined her in carefully separating the human from animal bones, including the locator tags. A glance at her scanner showed that all five of the people she was looking for were in this pile. It was a sad end to her fourth assignment.
"Do you enjoy your work?" He was trying to engage her in conversation, that much was obvious.
"It has its moments, but it is more of an obligation than work. We aren't given much of a choice and you know it."
"I apologize for my method of getting to know you. It was an act of impulse."
She looked at him in surprise. "Thank you for your apology. I don't think I have ever been the recipient of one before."
He cocked his head while he continued to sort bones. "The humans lack manners. They always have."
She closed her eyes for a moment and sorted through his memories of humans. Dozens of worlds flicked through his mind, including earth. He had known humans when they dressed in long robes with wide sashes and swung swords.
Kirai was much, much older than he appeared.
Topaz fished for the last few pieces of human--a handful of toe bones--and gathered the corners of the tarp together. "Well, since this world is not safe for bipedals, I think I had better be going."
"May I accompany you?"
She laughed, imagining the look on the techs faces if she brought him back with her. "I don't think that would be a good idea."