" Mr. Madoka should be arriving in a few days time- ah, watch your head," she counseled Nova as the group entered her office.

The whole town- for it could not qualify as a city- was like that; dusty, rustic, buildings built quite clearly under outdated architecture codes. It was the smallest settlement William had been to in a while.

" Right. Stheno Madoka. Mrs. Morey, what's your opinion of him?" William asked, taking his seat across from her.

" Hm..." She thought about it for a moment. " I'm suspicious of SthenoCorp suddenly investing in agriculture. Under his father, it was an arms and munition manufacturer... I understand that the war is over, but after inheriting, he turned the company focus over far too fast, and rebranding it with his own name is also suspect. They even sold the intellectual rights on the DASS Standards to a rival company..."

Sharp woman.

William found himself relieved that he wouldn't have to justify his distrust of Stheno to her.

" So you see why my higher-ups deigned it necessary for there to be an increased military presence here?" William questioned.

" ... Of course," she said. " It's just that I didn't expect you to have such important company."

Her eyes settled over Nova.

" I have no involvement with military affairs," Nova replied. He sighed, and settled in his chair a bit. " ... My younger brother is interested in integrating into DASS, as well, and so seems content to stand by and watch."

" I see," she said. " Really, it's such a strange lot I've been sent... Or maybe the times are changing, and I have yet to catch up."