Anna stepped out of the podcab at the foot of the San Diego DETI steps, and took a moment to straighten herself out before heading up and into the building. Her London office had offered her the relocation a month ago, when they had first submitted a bid to DETI to get an agent out there to help with their PR. San Diego were apparently taking a beating from a local political hopeful, so they wanted someone to improve public perception of Teissian immigrants in the area, and Cumberland-Wakely had already done good work with the DETI office in Yorkshire.
CW had expected her to transfer in the new year, but Anna had gone early, wanting to get settled, get over the jetlag, and get ahead on the case. Once she’d been offered the position, it had been surprisingly quick and painless to pack up her flat and fly out to California. It had been a welcome escape after her boyfriend Naith had ended their relationship a fortnight before.
She had arrived in San Diego three days ago and was staying in a hotel until she had a better feel for how long she would need to be out here. She expected to rent a place eventually, but for now it was more convenient to have her meals provided for her while she got acclimatised. The concierge could give her directions and advice, and Cumberland-Wakely were settling the bill for now.
It was the 18th of December, a Friday. Most people would have said there was no point in her coming in, but Anna was not most people. She had a job to do and she wanted to do it. She’d done her research and prep, so she didn’t want to wait until Monday like everyone told her to. Even if the San Diego people she was going to need would all be on holiday by the middle of next week, the way she saw it, she could still get two or three days of good work in. And then she was expected at her brother’s house in New Hampshire for Christmas. It was the other side of the country from California, but it felt a lot closer than it did from back home, and it seemed like a waste not to see him while she was in the US.
Anna climbed the wide concrete steps up to the front doors. It was a nice building, with a fountain and a plaza. Very wide, but she’d noticed that about the States. They had more space so everything was wider. In London they had no space and built everything upwards. She pulled open one of the polished glass doors, walking into the climate-controlled lobby. She noted the marble floor, the giant news screens, and the coffee shop all at a glance as she headed for the curved desk marked Information.
She greeted the woman on duty and introduced herself, adding “I’m meeting Marcus Silva from the Press Office.”
The woman found the appointment and smiled, nodding as she called his extension, but Marcus arrived before the call was picked up. “Anna, hi,” he said, shaking her hand. “You’re early. I was hoping to be here to meet you.” He was a handsome man in his forties with a reddish tan, smile lines, and a nice suit. His dark hair was clipped short, and the white at his temples brought out his blue eyes. Anna put him at about 5’10”, her height, but her heels made her taller than him.
Anna shrugged and returned his polite smile. “Don’t worry, I have a reputation for being early. It’s entirely my fault.”
Marcus laughed. “They told me you were good. Shall we get started then?” He swept his arm behind him as if ushering her to the security checkpoint.
“Please,” she said, following him.
There was a human man working the station and a Volin male, both in black Security uniforms and stab vests. Anna was used to Teissians from the work she had done in Yorkshire, but the stab vests were a surprise, not to mention the holstered guns they both wore.
“Lee, Tol,” Marcus greeted them as they scanned his staff card and he signed Anna in while she presented her bag to be searched and passed through their metal and chemical detectors. “Is Khy here yet? Can you ask him to come find us when he is?”
“No, he’s here,” said Tol, looking over his shoulder to answer Marcus even as he waved a baton over Anna.
“I’ll call him,” Lee said, tapping his earpiece. “Khy, can you come to the lobby station please? Thank you.”
Anna collected up her things, putting everything back in her bag. Marcus walked through the scanner to stand next her, getting a less rigorous inspection as a member of staff.
A Staff Only door on their side of the desk opened, and Anna turned to look. The male who came through had Anna raising her eyebrows for a moment, before she remembered to be professional. He had to be 6’4” at least, making her glad she had worn heels after all. His scales were a muted forest green, not remarkable in themselves, only he didn’t seem to be wearing a shirt under his stab vest, and one long arm was marked by a sweeping pattern of diamond-shaped dots in a beautiful pearlescent mint colour going almost to his shoulder. His eyes were the same colour, and his feathered crest was almost white. Anna glanced down at his feet and confirmed her suspicions; his heels touched the floor, he was Volon.
“Khy, this is Anna,” Marcus introduced them. “I was hoping you could give her a tour while I get upstairs ready.”
He held out his hand for her to shake. “Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” she replied with a polite smile.