The clouds gathered over Angelus seemed intent upon emptying their contents. Like great rivers falling from the sky; water seemed to fill every nook and cranny. Sewers overflowed and unkempt seals leaked from all the pressure.
Jaden enjoyed it, the heavy patter of rain upon the window like a gentle melody that he could hum along with as he worked.
With a twist of his hand, a soft ping echoed into the air, soon followed by a sharp crack and a stifled series of curses.
"You… YOU… You are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence! That's the third shell this evening!" He tossed the split cartridge into a nearby receptacle before taking another shell out from a box. "Couldn't afford to install a proper munitions room they said, standard equipment is best they said. No one here wants to try to advance anything do they?"
He slammed the components down upon his desk, tools and shotgun shells rattling along with spark plugs, and a small set of glowing liquids.
With a shove, he forced himself away from his desk, standing to face the window and observe the downpour that was going on outside.
From down the hall behind him, Jaden's sharp hearing could pick up the soft click of the front door of the squad house. Somewhere from within the office, the sound of soft footsteps, barely audible to lesser hearing, padded in his direction. A brief pause and then they traveled to other parts of the small building. On the desk behind him, amongst the remains of his toils, someone had placed a small pastry, a blueberry muffin to be precise. Jaden was no longer alone.
"Hmm?" Jaden sniffed at the air, turning away from the window, a small smile appearing on his face. "Just knows when to come around, doesn't she."
He collected the delectable treat and sniffed at it, inhaling the lovely scent of sweet fruit before taking a nip out of it.
"Delicious as always," he grinned, allowing himself to take a few breaths of air before taking his seat again, looking at the pieces upon the desk. "She is the resident gun bunny… panda… damn these quotes."
He rubbed his ears furiously before taking up the minuscule tools upon the desk. From a small satchel he carefully extracted a spark plug shaped device, setting it down carefully.
"Perhaps I should try to not force it.” His tongue hung out in forced concentration as he removed the shell's cap, emptying it of its contents. "The mind begs to ask whether our resident sharp shooter knows her way around ballistics engineering."
More soft footfalls and the aroma of coffee and… maple syrup? She was right behind him, wasn't she? Sure enough, there stood Claire 404 with a mug of fresh coffee.
"What'cha workin' on?"
Jaden knew she was there. She always was, even within just the few days of working with her, and yet still he nearly bit his tongue from the refocused concentration he had going for himself.
Taking a deep breath and laying his tools aside, he turned to look up at the taller Clade, addressing her with a warm smile he reserved for his squad mates.
"Evening Claire. Just working on a re-modification so that my weapon is field acceptable.” His ear twitched slightly as he tapped the network. "Hmm… you're here a bit later than usual; I take it you're hoping for the rain to let up?"
He gestured towards the window where it seemed the entire ocean itself was trying to make a presence within the city.
"I forgot my spatula." She held up the kitchen utensil with her free hand, and swirled her coffee mug with the other. She looked at the miasma of parts strewn across his desk. "Everything working okay?"
Jaden stared at the spatula, noting its stainless steel, a red covering along its shaft to protect the user. It begged the question of why.
"Why… do you have a spatula here? The kitchen provides…” he paused, hands carefully laying his tools down and then running along his face. "Inquiring minds must know… why not use the utensils provided to us?"
He felt it a bit rude to not answer her question, but he had to know the logic behind Claire's necessity to bring her own tools of the trade.
"Wait… the precinct's kitchen doesn't even have a stove or oven for you to work with… you don't have one in your desk do you?"
"Where else was I gonna keep it?" Claire's ears and tail drooped slightly.
"Ahh…” Jaden paused for a moment, leaning slightly in his chair to peer over at Claire's desk and the supposed fire hazard held within. Logic insisted upon a better course of action in this conversation as he regards Claire's now rather depressing posture. "Oh… it makes sense, nothing like a baking emergency. Wouldn't want us to be without your wonderful delicacies, right?"
"Of course!" She perked right back up and slid the spatula into the pocket of her still-damp coat. Sidling up to Jaden's desk, she took a closer look at what he was working on. "Your elevator assembly is catching, and you've bound up the mainspring."
"Pardon?" Jaden turned to find Claire hoisting the shotgun in her hands, examining its barrel and adjusting its stock. Her sudden changes in demeanor always catching him off guard. "Elevator assembly?"
"I didn't realize… I've must have knocked it askew while trying to modify the firing pin from a simple puncture system to an electric based firing mechanism.” He gestured to a small package. "I wanted to be sure of what I was doing, wouldn't do to be in the field with a broken piece of equipment."
She cocked an eyebrow at him, before thoroughly examining what he'd done to the receiver. She then set the gun down and took a close look at the spare shells sitting nearby. "Hmmm. You're looking at about 20.8 foot pounds of force from the recoil alone. You might want to reinforce the housing here, here, and here," she said pointing to some of his modifications. "You might not want to use smokeless powder with that, either. Whole thing might go boom."
"That would be true, but I'm using liquid primer to ignite a chemical mixer that would expel a gout of plasma," he motioned towards the glowing cells. "A blast of high energy with quite a spread, effective on a larger target. Of course you are right; reinforcement is needed against the heat."
He leaned forward, muzzle on his hand as he thought for a moment, examining the components.
"Do you think a different type of propellant would be better suited, something like a miniature missile, or high explosive shell?” He looked up at Claire. "I'll be honest, what I know about the plasma burst was… err… gleamed from a few sources."
He turned his monitor, a series of documents now present upon the desktop.
"Ooooooh! Custom ammo! It's a lot of work, but oh boy is it fun!" She indicated the bullet press on her own desk with her thumb.
Claire leaned over to examine the screen before her. Piles of data reflected in her minty-green eyes. Numbers flowed through her mind like water. She pointed to a text document with an outstretched finger. "This one might work, but you'd have to extend the shells to get the right explosive force, and the recoil is gonna exceed 45 foot pounds. This other one here could work, but if you don't get the mix just right it'll go ka-boom." She turned to look at the modded gun. "Yeah. Ka-boom."
With a low whistle, Jaden complimented her. "Impressive bit of calculation there. I take it that's how you utilize your firearms?"
Upon the monitor display, another document opened up, a series of notes appearing on it, detailing Claire's clear instructions upon the matter.
"Yup. Once you have the geometry down, all you do is pull the trigger. It's a bit like that pool table at that bar we went to. Only without the stick." Claire put the coffee mug to her lips and downed the contents. She began wandering back to the coffee maker. "More-coffee time!"
Jaden could only watch with a modicum of surprise upon his face as Claire seemed to skip along to the break room with its java maker held within. Then his eyes turned back to the parts strewn about his desk.
"I guess I could use a break.” He muttered, laying his tools down. A few minutes of organizing would later leave him satisfied at the tiny rows and columns of parts.
The telltale sound of water percolating signaled that Claire had begun brewing a fresh pot, and sure enough, a little bottle of maple syrup would be resting next to the coffee maker, casting a soft golden brown light around it.
"Claire, you have a rifle, and you see a gunman currently guarding a post. You know the post measures about 4 feet, or about 1.33 yards. On your scope it reads 2.5 mils, what is the range of the gunman, from your position?” He leaned back, waiting for the expected answer with a small smile.
“532 yards. You want some coffee?"
"Yes… black, nothing in it please.” He replied. "Claire… if I were to project a target’s position, via both distance and angle, do you think you could hit them?" Jaden believed it was an interesting idea, one that, if applied properly, could yield some amazing results out on the field.
"I don't see why not. It's just simple calculation," she said, not taking her eyes off of the rapidly filling pot.
"Just… an idea, something to play around with in the shooting range across the street." Jaden continued to mull over an idea, the thought blossoming slowly into quite a pretty flower of intuitive thought. "Perhaps there is a way we can benefit each other on the field. If I can feed you information on a target’s location… Claire, how well do you do against targets utilizing cover?”
She leaned back to think about it, flicking her ears in alternating patterns. "You mean with something blocking my line of fire? I could just shoot around it. Increased rotational velocity or a well-placed ricochet or three should do it. Magnus effect. That sort of thing." She turned her attention back to the nearly full pot. "You sure you don't want some syrup in your coffee?"
"But that requires an object to be going at extremely low velocity. Bullets, no matter what shape, will want to take a straighter trajectory!" he raised a brow. "Coffee black, I like it pure."
"It worked before." Claire poured two cups of caffeine-filled goodness, and handed one to her vulpine companion. Slowly she poured syrup into the other, stirred, and took a sip. "Do you get cold at night or does your fur keep you warm?"
"Fur does pretty well," he stroked his hand slowly through his tail fur before reaching out to accept the mug. "The office has adequate heating as well, so it’s pretty comfortable, better than before when I was living on the streets."
Fuzzy ears drooped on her head. "The streets? Aww. That doesn't sound like fun." She took another draught from her cup, savoring the sweetness. She tilted her head to the side and her ears flicked back into the upright position. "Have you been staying here the whole time?"
"Yeah… it doesn't hurt as much.” He lapped at his mug, hissing slightly. "Ahh… bit hot."
Nursing the mug a little, he glanced up at Claire. "The beds they have here aren't anything comparable to the academy dorms, but they're still better than some of the places I've squatted at years before…” he sighed. “Better than a cell too."
"Cells are not-fun." Claire had a hard time recalling the details of her training before the APD, but she remembered the feeling. It wasn't nice. She walked over to her desk and took a seat, tail curling around her legs. Scanning her desk, she selected a trinket from amongst the clutter. Between the bullet press and various bottles of powder, and atop a pile of paperwork, she retrieved a small, gray pegasus plushie. Its yellow button eyes goggled as she hugged it.
"What do you do for fun around here, Mr. Fox?"
"No, they aren't, especially when they t… treat…” he blinked at the plush, swearing it wasn't there before amongst the myriad materials of bullet casings and powder.
Those yellow eyes seemed to wobble around within the small equine plushie’s head, almost in a friendly invitation to peek one's curiosity. It's gray wings stretched out from a similar colored body, all disproportionate in an extremely purposeful ploy to increases its adorability, and coupled with Claire's happy attitude and need to hug it close with extreme enthusiasm; Jaden found himself suffering his first case of a heart wrenching moment where his constitution would be tested to its limits.
"Nghh…” Jaden turned, taking a moments breath, holding it, and then slowly letting it go. "Singing…. I uh…. I enjoy singing, it was something m-my sister enjoyed."
"That's very sweet," she said with a smile, squeezing the plushie even tighter, causing it to emit a loud squeak. "I didn't know you sang. What kinds of music?"
"It's hard to say," he took a swig of the bitter brew in his hands to offset the extremely sweet taste in his mouth. "I like anything really… except rap, it has no lyrical narrative, or any really good rhyme. Backed by a nonsensical cacophony of sound better suited to an interrogation room than it is upon the digitals."
"I don't really have anything else to entertain myself with honestly, everything else generally ties in to work.” He sighed. "And work isn't exactly fun."
"It could be."
"Perhaps when the others are around, yes, it could be considered fun I guess.” He chuckled, "Least it’s not us dealing with the undead, Entities, or even ghosts… that would certainly get annoying."
Claire blanched at the 'G' word. A louder squeak filled the room this time. "Y-yeah. Wouldn't wanna d-deal with ghosties."
"Yeah, from the files I've read… it certainly is a hazard that comes with the job.” Jaden shrugged, taking another sip from his mug. "You seem a bit pale Claire; shall I turn up the heat?"
"N-no, I'm fine. Quite toasty." Her tail unwrapped itself from her denim-clad legs to prove the point. She glanced around the room, just in case.
"Claire… just cause I mentioned Entities, doesn't mean they're inhabiting this place," he had to chuckle at her innocent fear. "You did blow a hole through the last one we fought; I don't understand why you'd seemingly have the shivers now over such a trivial matter."
Setting his mug down, Jaden concentrated for a moment, the soft tones of musical jazz emitting from the speakers. "Much better, give us something to relax to."
The moment the music started Claire launched out of her seat like a shot, nearly landing on the shorter Clade. She took a breath and calmed down a bit before taking her seat again. "Sorry. I got startled. I wasn't expecting that. Thought it might be a… well… never mind."
The thought of being flattened by the larger Clade seemed unentertaining to Jaden. Nearly hopping back, he held his hands up in defense.
"Claire! That was me." the music faded slightly, registered by a slight twitch of his ear. "That was just me; nothing here is messing with the systems other than me!"
"Of all the things to be afraid of," he held back a laugh. "My apologies, I hardly think it's something I have a right to make jests about."
"I-it's fine. I just get a little j-jumpy if I… if I think there might be gho-" She paused, suddenly realizing what had happened. Her ear canted to the side. "Wait? How'd you do that?"
"Do what?" Jaden had the sudden sense of Déjà vu.
"You said that was you. How'd you get the music to turn on and off like that?" She looked him in the eyes with an intense curiosity.
"It's just the way I was born.” He replied looking into her childlike gaze. "That little bit about being in a cell… that was a little true."
He peered about the office, noting the rain was slowly coming to a soft drizzle as nature gave itself a small respite.
"Tell you what, I was told I should indulge more, and talk in the office would only feel a bit, overly contained.” He finished his mug without spilling a drop, a rather impressive feat what with his canine face. "Ahh… better. So, I heard about a small corner pub called O'doyle Rule. Care to try it out? Talk a little more over some food."
"Sure." She placed the toy horse on her chair, gently patted it on the head, and polished off her own mug of coffee. She fetched her tattered umbrella and gave a very gentle tug on Jaden's ear. Claire then glanced about the room as if expecting the music to pop back on. "Ready when you are, Mr. Fox."
"Mr. Fox?” He groaned, tugging his coat on. "Yes… I suppose I'm ready, it’s a mere few blocks over from our offices here."
He opened the door, standing back and gesturing Claire through.
"If we're lucky, the worse of the rain will pass us by."
* * * * *
Through the dark and drizzle, two Clades walked side by side huddled under Claire's tattered umbrella. She did her best to keep them both dry, but it was a small umbrella. They could see the emerald light emanating from the sign reflected off the puddles below. The smell of alcohol and hot food filled the night air, complimenting the cacophony of live music and enthusiastic patrons.
"… and you've been living on the streets, up until you joined XSWAT? Wow! That's like going on a camping trip, like every night! Not that I'd know what's that's like either, but it sounds really cool!" Claire seemed to be taking Jaden's story very well. At least as far as Jaden could tell. Claire was an odd one.
"A box and lit barrel, a campsite it doth not make." replied Jaden, stepping around another puddle. "Ah, we're here!"
"Hmm, yes, certainly has more of the air of a corner pub… how bout we don't tell Jack.” He chuckled, opening the door for Claire. "Let’s find ourselves a seat, a warm drink and food, and perhaps something to talk about other than myself. Wouldn't want to steal all the thunder."
O'doyle Rules was located not far from the XSWAT Precinct building. Its close proximity to the nearby office districts making it rather convenient for after hour’s affairs.
Like the rest of Angelus, the exterior of O'doyle's was rather sparse with neutral colors upon its facade along with a few graffiti marks marring its overall presentation, or lack thereof.
The atmosphere within was warm, what with the pub's red shaded lamps hanging in the air, spreading a warmth across its patrons already seated within. Tables of mahogany and teak accented with brass edgings gave it an almost rustic atmosphere. Video screens mounted upon the walls echoed out daily sports statistics, movies, and or news of the day.
The patrons themselves ranged from APD officers, to businessman looking to take a break from the monotony of life, choosing to nurse their drinks and dine. A few waiters and waitresses skirted around tables and people alike, taking orders or bringing out food and drink.
"Homey… isn't it?" asked Jaden. "Let us find ourselves a seat, shall we?"
"n'Yup. It's very… pub… ish?"
They were led to a booth in the back corner. Claire got the occasional glance as people saw her XSWAT issue coat, still damp from the calming rain outside. At the table, she removed her coat and placed it on the bench beside her. She straightened out her faded t-shirt before having a seat.
Most of the other patrons within the restaurant didn't seem to mind Jaden. Of course being of smaller stature, he was easily missed compared to the taller Clade with her large fluffy tail.
Shrugging away his own coat, Jaden opted to hang it upon the booths hanger, quickly removing his badge and pocketing it before doing so.
"So, how did you end up joining XSWAT?” he asked, taking a seat and lazily perusing the menu.
"Well… of course you did… didn't you?" Jaden dropped the menu, focusing upon Claire. "I mean, no one just walks in out of the blue and asks you to join a very prestigious group of officers, let alone XSWAT of all things!"
Claire's head tilted to the side as she studied his reaction. After a brief pause she smiled. "Of course! Why'd you ask?"
"To know how you joined XSWAT," he replied softly, ears drooping slightly with annoyance. "Did someone ask you to join?"
"No?" Claire's expression grew more confused by the second. "Chrysine, err… Captain Winterfox was there when I got my acceptance letter, but I had applied numerous times. All by myself."
"That's what I just asked, did you… wait" Jaden sat up, rubbing a finger along his muzzle. "Captain Winterfox? Why would she feel the need to personally come and accept you? Wouldn't a return… letter… wait, Claire, how were you treated by your own fellow officers, back when you were part of the APD?"
"She's a bit of a lee… leeas… liaison, that's the word, with the Clade community. She sometimes handles things personally. I think she still likes to get out of the office every once in a while." She blanched slightly at his other question, ears going flat in the process. "Uh. The other officers? Some of 'em were nice. Some of 'em were not-nice."
"I've only met Officer Woo, and she left a rather friendly impression with me, but I've heard from the others, that the APD seems to have a grudge against us. A few particularly against us Clades.” He frowned. "They're not giving you any trouble are they, with us being so close. I would hate for… their work shift to have an extension."
"Jenny has been my bestest friend for a long time. She's good peoples." Claire seemed content to leave it at that. She felt it best not to dwell on the not-nice things in life.
"Claire, to think that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It's more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted." Jaden gently laid a hand upon Claire's. "No one is careful of their feelings or tries to keep their spirits high. We seem self-sufficient; we become a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit."
"You're always happy, and it seems no matter what others may think, or say about you, you continue to be happy… I admire that. It’s something I've yet to understand.” He offered her a smile. "But I think… I think you've a lot to teach others, like myself, about offering a smile, or laughing off the bad things, or just enjoying something like a muffin."
"I've read that in many units, police, fire departments, even the military, people like us tend to have their rivalries, but we also tend to form a kind of family.” He chuckled, pulling his hand back and taking up the menu again. "It would seem that this is an issue upon which you'd wish to remain silent, but as long as they are across from us, I know they will continue to sit upon your mind. I'm just letting you know, that it doesn't have to be something you yourself have to brave, you have the squad behind your back."
"Now give me a real smile and order something. Tell me, when did you get so interested in weapons? I could certainly learn a thing or two from you!"
"Aww. Jaden, that's very sweet of you to say," she beamed. Claire began browsing the deserts in the back of the menu. It felt like an ice cream moment. Without looking up she continued. "When I joined the APD, firearms training was a requirement, but after I passed the basics I didn't get much reason to continue training. Jenny taught me how to shoot better. Thought it would be fun to spend time at the range together. Once I got a handle on the math behind ballistics, it all just clicked. Kinda like swimming. I think. I've only done that once. It was all wet."
"Well, you can't exactly be dry if you go swimming, now can you?” He shook his head. "I guess for me, I'm not what you'd call a proficient user of long ranged combat, or short for that matter. It's why the shotgun appeals to me: less aim, more direction. Of course after that last… operation, I certainly would feel better having something more effective in my hands."
"Even'n to ya!" a waitress came round the corner, all smiles and notepad in hand. "I'm Angie Jacquelyn, friends call me AJ, and I'm here ta take down yer order. So what'll be sugar?"
Jaden gestured to Claire. "Go ahead; I'll have made a decision by then."
Claire put a finger to her chin in contemplation. "Solid slugs might not be the best choice of ammo, but buck and ball may work a tad better. Of course flechette rounds tear through zombies really well." She smiled at the waitress. "Hi AJ! I'll have the hot fudge brownie sundae and a cup of hot tea. Earl Grey if you have it. Thankies!"
"I'll try out your blue cheese special, side order of fries, chili dip, and Pepsi-cola.” He laid the menu flat. "Didn't expect service to be so fast, thank you."
"Whew, quite an order! Just where d'ya think yer gonna pack it all?" she chuckled, "Just knucklin' ya, I'll have those menu's and yer order will be right up!"
As the waitress turned and left, Jaden decided to pick back up on the conversation. "Physical kinetic rounds wouldn't work; it’s why I put in for a few orders of specially cased gel, and liquid ammunition."
He leaned back in his seat. "The idea is to create a burst of extreme temperature, backed by a high outburst of energy; any Entity that decides to confront me will find themselves masticating upon a blast of liquid plasma."
"That's some volatile stuff. You be careful with that." Claire momentarily sounded concerned. "Wouldn't want you to burn your fur off. You'd look like a naked mole rat. They're kinda cute. Like sausages with teeth."
"I… what?" Jaden blinked, trying to register the non-stop non-sequiturs, "How does my sudden loss of fur… I… So Claire… how."
He paused, giving his mind a moment to recompose itself due to the sudden logic changes and conversational shifts having completely derailed his train of thought. During his moment of silence, food had been brought to the table, along with drinks, which he gladly partook in.
"Ahh… much better" he licked the roof of his mouth. "Ok… fur loss aside. I made sure to double and triple check my readings with the design… but having an expert eye would be much appreciated, at least till I can better advance my knowledge in ballistic development. So… tell me about Officer Woo and your relationship?"
Across the table, Claire merely stared back in wonder, spoon in mouth and a glob of whipped cream on her nose. She took out the spoon and placed it beside the warm brownie, and took a sip of her tea to wash down the chocolate goodness. "We've been bestest friends for a long time. We spent time on the range. Saw movies together. She even gave me my ol' timey pistols."
"Those heavy hitters? I thought those were given to you by XSWAT… well that certainly explains a lot, but I think it puts us in the same boat when it comes to the more troublesome creatures we will have to deal with.” He leaned forward and began tearing a chunk out of his hamburger.
"Masers work fine. They're a little less balanced than I'm used to, but they don't have nearly as much kick."
"Heh… I honestly wouldn't know. The academy made use of simulators in order to save space, what with so many students vying for a position.” He shrugged. "As for my maser, well that door more or less ate it… along with Bonaparte."
Claire paused two seconds away from eating a cherry. "Yeah. Shame about Bonaparte. You could rebuild it, right? I liked watching it trundle along. Why didn't you get another maser from the armory?"
"Having the maser unattached to him made things a bit more complex… his next of kin should have something built in, and perhaps something more for da Vinci.” He rubbed his muzzle. "I did get another maser… and I'm kind of surprised how slowly Angelus XSWAT has been allowed to advance it, especially when you consider what is offered to the professional military on the main land. Almost like the world wants to keep Angelus down and out of the major playing field."
Claire cocked an ear to the side in confusion. World politics were a bit beyond her.
"I mean, take the maser we currently have, the Mark II. It's got a descent power output, but it's still about ten years behind the latest generations, and it's nothing compared to the rifles that are issued to other various corps, military's, and PM's.” He paused to take a quick lap at his drink before going on.
"And when you observe their power output, as well as their power consumption, it makes no sense as to why Angelus would have such low rate weaponry, especially when we should have high priority against the things we deal with."
"It’s all very intriguing really, why others would see it fit to keep this entire city on its knees when proper co-operation would help benefit not only ourselves, but those around us! I mean who exactly are our allies in all this? The mainland? Europe? Asia? So many other governments out there and they all seem to be at each other’s throats, in… instead…” he looked at Claire for a brief moment. "You haven't the slightest idea what I'm saying… do you?"
Jaden's dining companion seemed more interested in taking stock of the vanilla ice cream on her plate. "This brownie sundae is awesome!"
The fox sighed softly before taking up his burger and tearing another chunk out of it. Sadly, a canine muzzle meant little when it came to proper manners, his canines gnashing and gnawing upon the beef before quickly entering his gullet.
"So… what about yourself? Where did you come from?” He asked.
"ARD Corp Specimen 404." Claire's ears drooped once more. "They, uh, shipped me off to the Angelus Police Department and, well, here I am."
"That's all?” He asked. A moment’s silence told him he would not get much else. "Hmm, it seems every Clade is merely kicked out of the chambers once made. Pity."
"Well, we're here now, and that's what matters most right? So then, with all the APD work, when did you find time to bake, and why?"
Her ears were still trying to burrow into her hair as she pushed a small bit of brownie around her plate. "Blueberry muffins were one of the few things I remember about ARD Corp. They were happy. When I got settled into my apartment, there wasn't much to do without work. So I asked Jenny how muffins were made, and she showed me how."
"From weapons master, to muffin baker. Claire, you are certainly a unique individual.” He smiled. "I like that. Don't ever let it go; else you'll just be another number in the system."
"You certainly have a way of finding the best in everything you do, don't you? I would almost think as a Clade, you were meant to be there for someone, perhaps as a caretaker. Who knows? You definitely show lots of care with everything you do, that's for sure.” He tore another chunk out of his burger, leaning back in his seat.
"Everything needs a little care now and then. Flowers. Guns. Cookies. Computers. Even people."
"True, but it takes good people to offer such care."
"Good people like the squad." She took a sip of tea. "Good people like XSWAT."
"Well… don't expect everyone to be good people, else you'll find yourself disappointed at times.” He replied. "I've learned that judging character is rather difficult, you expect the best from people but then… sometimes you learn it takes honest people to keep others honest."
Another bite and the brownie was gone. Claire wiped the whipped cream from her nose and picked up her mug of tea. She leaned back, quite satisfied, before speaking. "Of course not everyone is gonna be good. Doesn't mean they don't need the chance."
"Hmm, but what is acceptable chance, that is the question, especially when it comes to the work that we do.” He pushed his empty plate forward. "I think that's the hardest part of any job like this, is the moral choice that we make, and the consequences afterwards."
Jaden laid a few credits down upon the table, signaling the end of the day’s little meet and greet, escorting Claire politely out of the pub, the two parting ways later on in the rain.