Yulia “Minnie Mouse” Kreidich slammed her fist on the desk before her in frustration. Lukewarm soykaf splattered her right hand and forearm as a half empty plastic cup off to one side jumped a few centimeters off the surface and came down on its side. It wasn’t the first time she'd forgotten her own considerable strength.
At least the desk didn’t break, she thought to herself ruefully as the piece of drek AR data processor she was wearing droned the 20th century torture “It’s a small world after all” on repeat through her earphones.
It should be easy. She was simply editing a contract between Athos and another member of the Family from a separate operation. The two needed to work together but didn’t trust each other as far as they could throw the Renraku Arcology, hence the need for something in writing. All she wanted to do was cut a block of text from one place to another, but the result was the loss of the clipped data replaced with several verses of the Karma Sutra.
Her efforts to undo the mysterious error failed miserably despite her certainty she’d done it right. Instead of returning to where she’d started, the entire file converted to Japanese.
At least she thought it was Japanese. Chinese? No, she knew enough Japanese from Athos to know the character の wasn’t found in Chinese, Korean, or any other language.
Resigning herself to starting all over from the original document, she began cleaning up her spilled beverage with some tissue when Athos’ voice broke into the infernal racket still assaulting her ears.
"Hey, you up and decent yet? Remember we got that breakfast at Gino's at eight. And we got an invite for lunch at Gates. Valentina's buying."
She managed to bring up a clock widget via the AR glasses she wore, blessedly without incident. Half past six o’clock. She then held her breath as she tried closing the document processing application. The resulting silence was golden and she would have cheered if Athos’ words didn’t trouble her so.
“Yeah, I’m up oniichan,” she responded to her employer and protector, trying not to let on her worry. “Give me a minute and I’ll be out there so we can talk.”
The charming troll was one of only two true friends in Yulia’s life. Her affectionate term for him in private, oniichan, was Japanese for beloved big brother he had told her. And in all but blood, that was exactly what he was to her. It was he who had stood up to the head of the Finnegan prostitution business and helped her argue for a ‘leave of absence’ from new clients and most existing ones. She still had some long time ‘Diamond Class’ patrons she was expected to service regardless of her new freedom, but at least none of them were violent. If a few nights a week working between the sheets was the price to pay for freedom the rest of the time, she’d pay it. If all went well, she and Athos would develop her adept powers such that she’d be more valuable to the Family outside rather than inside the bedroom.
That was the plan, at least. It had seemed like a good plan…until maybe now. She bit her lower lip as she processed what lunch with the powerful Valentina Finnigan might mean. Her stomach did flip flops at the thought that Jerome, the head pimp of the Finnigan Family, had appealed to the top and this meeting might be to put Athos…and Minnie…in their place.
Minnie rose from her chair and made her way to the door to the main living space of the flat Athos had invited her to share.
I owe the man so much already. Is it my destiny to bring him down?
No, she answered herself even as her tail wrapped itself around her diminutive form, an unconscious sign of apprehension which she was too absorbed in her fears to recognize at the moment.
If push comes to shove, I’ll go back to the sheets. This is my cross to bear, dammit. I won’t make anyone else pay the price for my curse.
Opening the door, the girl still wearing her glasses made a sorry sight. Fuzzy gray ears drooped. Pinkish gray rodent’s tail and pale, thin human arms hugged herself close. “Oniichan, do you think we’re in trouble?” she asked in a small voice.