“Hello,” she said in a pleasant tone, tinged with just the slightest hint of sheepishness.
“Hi! You’re the independent?” Sorcha asked. “Having some trouble down here?”
“You might say that,” the girl replied. “I assume you’re from the Hall?”
“You assume correctly. So what’s the story here?”
The girl sighed. “Oh, forgive me—my name is Lena.”
“I’m Sorcha, and I’m guiding Brendan here.”
“Nice to meet you Sorcha, Brendan. Well, the problem is there are too many rats. I’ll … ill-prepared for this. I know exactly how to kill them, but lack the means.”
Brendan looked her over again, puzzled. She looked well prepared to him. She had a knife at her belt and a stout stick that looked plenty deadly to any rat he’d ever seen. “You seem well-armed enough to me,” he said.
The girl smiled. “It’s not so much a matter of arms as of speed. Fighting isn’t really my specialty. I thought rats would be easy enough, but they’re such a small target and they move so quickly, I haven’t managed to kill a single one of them, and …”
“… and you tired yourself out trying, didn’t you?”
Lena hesitated, then gave a wry smile. “Yes. You caught me resting up for another go, though at this point I’m just as glad to see someone else. Maybe the job will actually be done before I have to go upstairs again, even if I’m not the one who did it.”
“You said fighting’s not your specialty? What is?” Brandon asked.
“My Call came because of my blogging, actually,” she said, rather matter of factly. Brandon blinked.
“You can get Called for that?”
Sorcha nodded. “You can be Called for many reasons. Journalists and writers aren’t exactly common,” she admitted, “but they’re not unknown. Do you mind telling your story, Lena?”
“Well, basically I write a lifestyle blog, and sometimes I get into relevant political commentary type stuff, too. Plus I’ve got a fair following on the bigger social media sites, mostly Twitter.
“I’d been following a few military/political stories on the Middle East because they impacted on the lives of some friends of mine on a trip over there, and after posting several of them, I put up a blog post that was my own take on the situation, a sort of synthesis of points that I’d seen discussed before, but only in isolation.
“I put the post up live on my site, and spread it through my social networks. It got reasonably decent traffic, nothing really special, and I didn’t think any more of it. I just went on following newer developments.
“That changed a few days later. I got my Call. Turns out my friends had been following my blog, and my synthesized insight into the bombing patterns actually saved a few lives. It was nothing the military analysts over there couldn’t come up with too, and they did,” she added quickly, “but my post got around first. Luck of the draw.”
Sorcha grinned. “Some would say luck had nothing to do with it. I’m betting someone did, if you got the Call.”
Lena nodded her agreement seriously. “Almost word for word, yes.”
A distinct lack of sound attracted Brendan’s attention. The sounds of the common room above were ongoing, but he couldn’t hear the rats. He’d expect them to avoid coming too close to them, but not to be so silent about it.