“Meredith do you hate me?”
“No sir, I don’t hate you.”
“Then why are you putting more paperwork on my desk?”
“Because you asked for it.”
“These are the background checks aren’t they?”
“Its fine, leave me.”
Dreading the contents of the three files in front of him David couldn’t even bring himself to appreciate Meredith’s form as she walked out. It might not have been dread that stopped him from appreciating Meredith’s body as she walked out, it might have been because he knew exactly what was in the four unassuming folders on his desk. He almost didn’t want his fears confirmed, but, but, well if they were. Both he and Lisbeth would come out significantly ahead. He opened the first of the four folders and found his fears immediately confirmed. The other three varied in the details but all painted the same picture.
“I need you to set up a meeting for me, the topic is concerning imminent threats to the church.”
“Who should the meeting be with?”
David sat at the head of a table in the conference room. He was only at the head because he had requested the meeting, and the nature of his current assignment. Everyone at the table outranked him rather significantly, half the people in the room bore the tattoos of a high priest. All of them looked at him expectantly, David stood up and too a deep breath.
“As you all know I was assigned the task of finding dream walkers appropriate for giving clearance for a long term association with our esteemed church.”
David stopped and took a breath, there were no surprised looks. They had all known.
“I found a problem” he put up an image of Lisbeth. “She is fourteen years old, and made it to my desk. She made it there by virtue of four letters of recommendation from four very trusted and esteemed priests. So I had them investigated.”
David changed slides, bringing up the photo of the first of the four.
“We found child pornography on his computer.” Next photo, “and his.” Next photo, “we didn’t find any pictures of abuse on his computer, but his banking history indicates he has paid off the parents of young children.” Next photo. “There is less linking him to abuse, but he has fostered at least two children, at any time, for the last fifteen years. Always two very damaged children, that never seemed to get better under his care.”
No one in the room spoke for a moment, there was some uncomfortable shifting in chairs. David put the photo of Lisbeth back up. Not only was she young, but she looked like she hadn’t quite hit puberty yet. The implications of David’s little talk was clear, but he had more to say.
“If the dream walker community find out that she has been abused either in the physical plane, or cohered in a dream… Well there will be some extreme fallout. Something that will be very bad for us publicly. At her age and with the potential implications, it is highly unlikely that it will be considered a breach in confidence if she talks to anyone. Lisbeth Sahte is a metaphorical ticking time bomb for us.”
More unconscious and uncomfortable shifting, as the room stayed quiet. The silence dragged on for a moment, before one of the high priests spoke.
“Do you have a proposed solution?”
“Yes, I do. First we can’t silence her in any way, if that gets out it will be even worse, and with dream walkers involved; it will get out. Second, Lisbeth may or may not be blackmailing us with this information. She could be an innocent young girl who had four of our priests take advantage of her, or she could have found them and forced them to write the letters or recommendation. Thus prompting this meeting. Either way I recommend a two part plan to deal with the situation. Part one, we deal with the dream walker community as a whole. Best case scenario they never find out, but if they do they will want blood. So I propose we give it to them, before they ever find out. We crucify these four priests in the media, full disclosure. Call the whole thing a cleaning of the corruption in the system, we might even be able to come out looking better for it all. Part two, we pacify Lisbeth. If she is blackmailing us, she wants the job and it is in her interests to keep us happy from here on out. If she isn’t, this job will do wonders for her situation and can be seen as us trying to make amends. Either way she won’t screw us.”
“Dream again right?”
Lisbeth didn’t answer, just watched him from her metal chair. David took the opportunity to sit down in his own, and drink from the same looking cup as last time.
“Is this situation satisfactory to you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You have been cleared for long term association with our church.”
“Good, I will need a steady paycheck.”
“The four priests you directed me too will be crucified in the media, and probably spend a lot of time in jail.”
“I didn’t direct you towards anyone, they wrote those letters under their own volition.”
“Just keep saying that, so what did you mean by alliance the last time we talked?”
“As a young priest who just gained a reputation for dealing with corruption within your own church. Well you might get very popular with the public, especially if you keep up the good work.”
Lisbeth put a list of names in front of him. David recognized most of them, powerful men, but not too powerful. Most of all, not too popular, not many in the church would miss them.
“This might be a very beneficial relationship Lisbeth, very beneficial indeed. Oddly enough, this kind of dealing reminds me of the corporation I belong to in a game.”
Lisbeth got surprisingly less composed.
“Which corp, mine got wardecked by some merks.”