Fifteen years, three months, eight weeks, two days, fifteen hours, and two minutes before Sententia.
Sir Reginald Hargreeves stepped out of the helicopter onto a roof facing the ocean. He quickly signaled the pilot, and the blades slowly stopped rotating. With a measured pace he walked over to a table that had been elegantly laid out. He slid into the vacant chair.
Opposite him a woman folded her black gloved-hands together. She was dressed in a black evening gown, more suitable for a ball then for a breakfast meeting. Her dark hair had been swept up carefully in a complicated hairstyle. Diamond and pearl earrings as well as a matching necklace adorned her. She gave a thin lipped smile.
"Terribly sorry about coming late. Damned planes go about like they own the place. How long have you been waiting Lenore?" he asked as he lit a cigarette.
"Only five minutes," Lenore said, "and it's actually Lady Lenore. I was recently knighted."
"Didn't read about that."
"Generally when a person like I am knighted…they don't enjoy publishing it. No one likes speaking of the services rendered by someone like me."
For a few minutes neither of them spoke.
"So," she said.
"So," he agreed.
"Fifteen years we've been doing this, and we'll be doing it for at least another fifteen," said Lady Lenore, "I don't suppose I could persuade you to change your mind?"
"Not in the slightest. Would you want me to?"
"Of course not," replied Lady Lenore, "Tell me, how's your 'ace' coming?"
"Ah, that's against the rules Lenore," he chided, "I would no more tell you then you would tell me about your pet project."
"True enough," shrugged Lady Lenore, "Can't blame a girl for being curious. This whole experience has been edifying. But I will say that there have been some interesting highs and lows."
"Lows?" asked Sir Reginald as he raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, we both have had our letdowns," she replied to his unasked question, "Tell me, has Seer-?"
"No," he said as he took another puff, "He has not quite reached his full potential no matter how hard I try. Quite a disappointment. It would've been interesting. But I am curious about your letdown."
"Since you told me that you lost your Traveler," she said, "I think I can tell you that a week ago I had to kill one. What could I do? He tried to escape. Such a shame really. But I have no need for those who won't follow my orders."
"Good riddance," agreed Sir Reginald an odd gleam in his eyes.
Lady Lenore laughed.
"I haven't forgotten," she smiled, "His body is in the lobby, all ready for dissection. His heart is missing but that couldn't be helped. I'll have some porters bring it up soon."
"That was terribly thoughtful of you."
"Don't mention it."
After some time Lady Lenore said;
"Well old friend, there should be quite the turn out. Not just from our people, but if this little planet catches wind of it…well…you've made your 'children' into quite the celebrities. You always did like the spotlight."
"It's more interesting here," he smiled.
"I find the shadows more so. Some of your inventions are particularly genius. The televator for example. But tell me, your Crispy Crunchy Cereal-," Lady Lenore picked up her spoon from a bowl and took a bite. Once she finished she said, "it tastes like sawdust and sugar."
"That's because it is sawdust and sugar," said Sir Reginald.
"Yet it is the leading cereal."
"Yes," he said, "It was an experiment. It appears that it is the sugar that counts while things that humans can actually digest are shunned."
"Hmmm," said Lady Lenore, "You and your little experiments. That's what started this whole thing you know."
"Can you say that I'm wrong?" he asked.
"Humans are…interesting," admitted Lenore, "Personally I'm tempted to just kill all of mine right now and forfeit. They're such a pain during this time in their little lives. Teenagers. Disgusting."
"I will agree with you on that," shrugged Sir Reginald, ".02 and .07 especially. Not to mention .06 is getting irritating."
Lady Lenore pushed the bowl away from her.
"Sometimes it makes me wonder why you bother at all," Lady Lenore sighed, "Not that I'm ungrateful though. I've always wanted to do this. And I've worked so very hard. I want to see the fruit of my labors."
"Speaking of which," said Sir Reginald as he put out his cigar, "We both know why I'm here."
Smiling Lady Lenore pushed him a folder. He flipped through it for a minute before nodding.
"This is probably a first in Setentia history," she said, "it's got everything except my project. Still though, in this and everything we've been more then fair to each other."
"Indeed," said Sir Reginald has he snapped the folder shut, "Been up to anything recently?"
"I had to order the destruction of a death cult. It had some interesting ideas. If they weren't all completely insane then I would've let them develop a bit more. Perhaps I would've even given them my patronage," Lady Lenore sighed, "But as it stood I simply had to put an end to The Orchestra Verdammten."
"Originality is getting scarcer these days," said Lady Lenore.
A communicator on Sir Reginald's coat lapel started to beep. Irritably he switched it on. After a few minutes he sighed angrily.
"There's been an emergency in Tokyo," he said, "We're going to have to reschedule this. I'll come back for the body later."
As Sir Reginald started to get up, he raised his eyebrow.
"Is your necklace supposed to be changing colors?" he asked.
Frowning Lady Lenore placed a black-gloved finger to her necklace.
"Is it glowing purple?" she asked.
"Is that bad?"
"Incredibly," sighed Lady Lenore as she sat back, "For it means that we will have to reschedule our next chat in Hell."
"Why is that?" asked Sir Reginald.
"I believe that someone has slipped a deatomizing bomb that's been locked onto my biological signature into my necklace," she shrugged, "Even if I threw it into the sea and ran to France it would still kill me. Unfortunately my biological signature is terribly similar to yours so it would appear we're both going to die quite soon."
"Remarkable," said Sir Reginald as he took another puff.
"If you go into the helicopter and leave now then you can probably get away. Your attachment is weak enough," she sighed, "I do suspect my little Reaper did this."
"They grow up so fast."
"I'm surprised that none of yours have tried to kill you yet."
"It's not for lack of trying," he said as he walked leisurely to the helicopter.
"Well then," said Lady Lenore as she smiled, "We can agree on one thing."
"And that is?" he asked.
"As the humans say; the kids are alright," smirked Lenore.
Both of them laughed. Sir Reginald got into the helicopter.
"See you on the other side," he said as it took off.
"Eventually," she called back.
The helicopter departed. For a minute she watched it go. Then slowly she got up and fingered her necklace. Out of the corner of her eye she could make out shadowy figures watching her.
"When the students have surpassed the teacher there is nothing left to teach," she murmured.
Then she put on her brightest smile and turned to face them.
Two seconds later the bomb went off. It was subtle, harming no inorganic or organic material other then Lady Lenore. There was no inquest into her death. There wasn't anything to examine anyway. The bomb destroying every single atom in Lady Lenore's body, not even leaving a pile of ashes. It was as though she had never existed. The figures cheered.