Meanwhile, she considered, she had to pick up her pace. She had an appointment to keep, in a place where everything ran late, but being late for an appointment was a mortal sin. Fortunately, while the Senate offices were a maze, meaning no one could easily tell whom she was meeting, she knew the maze’s twists and turns.
A few minutes brought her to an anonymous door labelled only by its room number: 4023D. There seemed to be no intercom or door buzzer, so she leaned on the door handle. Some one had put real taste into the office. Walls were a very pale rose, fading from bottom to top to a white ceiling. The office furniture looked to have been rescued from a pre-Interregnum C-suite and carefully maintained, properly oiled walnut being held in place by unmarred stainless steel bits. Front and center was an obviously busy secretary, with a pair of interns standing in attendance. The three of them wore tartan-patterned clothing, matching the tartan she’d seen de Witt wear.
Tara held up her wristcomp. It chirped politely, confirming the office’s desk had recognized her. The Secretary looked up and smiled. “You would be Tara Broadhurst?” she asked. “And the two gentlement with you are Seldon Legion?” Tara’s bodyguards made the traditional hand gesture to confirm. “I’m Gertrude Kim. You’ll be in Conference Room C. Your bodyguards are welcome to wait in the alcove near the coffee machine. Yes, please help yourself to my cookies. You can protect my poor defenseless waistline. Tony, take her to C, please.”
One of the interns saluted and took Tara in tow. “Humble apologies,” he said, “Raymond Raymond is running a bit late. But he’s the Senator’s, actually the committee’s, expert on Imperial relations. That was what Mistress Kim said you wanted. And he hasn’t been told who you are, only that you didn’t expect it would take long.”
“Precisely,” Tara said, “and it would be better if everyone else forgot who I am or that I was here.” And it is interesting, she thought, to note that you said ‘Imperial’.
“I will remember nothing,” he said, “not that I have anything to remember.” He pressed hi s wristcomp against the door, which slid open. “Room was swept and then sealed. Walls may still have ears.”
Tara glanced around the room. Chairs and a table were strictly functional angular planes of stainless steel. The walls were flat white. Each of three computer ports was closed with a screw top, as were the power and phone outlets. The ceiling appeared to be photoluminescent plates glued to the concrete above. The room was meant to leave the impression of security, though it likely was not all that secure. She took one of the chairs and sat down to wait.
Not much later, a young man came through the door. His hair was disheveled. His tartan unitard was a good size too large. “Ah,” he announced. “For the purposes of this conversation you are Miss Smith, though perhaps I should remember who you actually are, if I weren’t so absent-minded. I am Raymond Raymond. Yes, I am accustomed to interesting visitors, and serve as a cutout. So what may I do for you?”