"What did you just say?"

"I called you an egocentric homicidal maniac, didn't you just hear me?

The man in dark clothes felt his jaw sag open in shock. Never in his life had anyone ever spoken to him in that tone, had dared to so much as imply those words. Yet this woman, his supposed slave, met his gaze with no fear and had said those very words. No smile curled the woman's slender lips, no sparkle danced in her brown eye warning him that he was being the brunt of her strange humor, there was absolutely no joking in her manor. She was dead serious, and considering the power he wielded she could have very well been dead at that point. He could strike her down, many more before her had known this, had allowed it to rule their lives. She was ignoring this little fact, a very stupid move on her part. He continued to walk alongside her in the hall, while they walked he toyed with his sword a bit, and she made a sound of scorn at his back.

Fine if she wanted to ignore subtlety then he'd be direct. He stopped, turned to face her.

"I think you forget that is it I who dictate whether or not you continue to live."

She glared at him, or rather at the one eye that she could see under the wild mess of dark red hair that obscured his face,

"How can I?" Her scowl marred the simple beauty of her heart shaped face. "You wont let a day pass without reminding me."

" I only make a point of saying it when you step over the line Ms. Anna."

"Well then you have too many lines then don't you?"

He gritted his teeth, her bravery was sorely misplaced, in any other situation she would have died. Any other head of a Ranch, any other person in this Ranch would have killed her just for her tongue. He had to admit the thought was tempting right now, his ethics though would now allow for it.

"I do not have "too many lines" as you put it, you merely lack any capability for self restraint."

"What did you just say?"

"Amazing our roles are reversed."

"Sh..shut up!"

"Yes, please do."

He turned with a melodramatic sweep of his cloak he turned from her, and almost choked as his cloak was firmly stepped on.

"We aren't done just yet!"

He coughed, caught his breath, and whirled on the girl, glaring bloody daggers at the woman.

"As a matter of fact," He snatched the edge of his purple cloak and gave a sharp tug. She staggered back, caught herself with a hand on the steel wall and returned his dagger glare with one of her own. "We are done. Do your job slave, then retire to my quarters when it is complete. I hardly need an escort through the ranch, I assume you can find your way back on your own?"

"I hardly need you to show me back!" She flared, her eyes shrunken down to slits.

"Good, then get out."

She hurmphed, turned on her heel and strode down the hall with a confident step that seemed ill suited a slave. As she walked off he wondered, where ever she had picked up that annoying habit of hurmphing? It grated on his nerves, she knew that, she must know that. That must be why she was doing it all the time now.

It didn't even occur to him until after he was back in his own office leafing through various documents left by Forcystus where she really had picked up that habit. He must have made the sound at least six times while going through the various excuses and petty whining all captured on paper. It was on the sixth time that he realized he was making the sound, and thinking of that sound made him think of her...

Safe that no one would see him in this modest office he had made for himself, he smiled a little bit. It was just the ever so slight curling of the lips as he considered the ironies of fate, then he set the ironies of fate out of his thoughts and picked up another page detailing the policies of the kill quota. Damned paper work, next time Yggdrasil wanted someone to play Cardnel for him Kratos vowed that he would find some excuse to worm out of it, even if he had to go so far as to break Noishe's wi- no leg... Noishe was no longer a Hawk, but a very strange dog in his current incarnation. That was why he had to endure the slaves attitude, her tongue, he needed her to take care of the puppy shaped protozoan until he was free of this tedious duty that Yggdrasil had thrust upon him. When that was over he would be free to do as he pleased, free to wander around as he willed. It would be nice, he decided, to take something on the lines of a vacation before the Regeneration journey. He had not so much as taken a day off for a century, certainly he was a little over due for one now.

With that somewhat pleasing thought Kratos attacked the next few pages, but the contents of the documents soon drained his good humor out of him. As they always did.

"If this is so right then why does it feel so wrong?"

Kratos wondered on that for a while then he firmly dismissed the thought. He tried to go back to the reading but it slithered around in his brain and would not be put to rest.