Chapter 13

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Urko wasn't a patient man under the best of circumstances, but he had learned to at least keep that fire blazing inside, and to let it only leap to the surface when it served his purpose. Today, though, he felt the iron grip of his will slip again and again, so much so that he even pushed away from his desk and began to pace the office. Once or twice he stopped at the door, fighting the urge to throw it open and peer down the corridor.

She had to turn up sooner or later.

He managed to be seated at his desk when she finally strode through the door, fur bristling with rage. Urko pretended to be engrossed in a report, even signing it and laying it aside before he deigned to acknowledge Vanda's presence.

„What have you done to my prisoner?" she snarled.

Urko leaned back in his chair and flared his nostrils as he fought down a grin. „Your prisoner?"

„He's completely unresponsive!" Vanda slapped her palm on his desk. „I had to call a medic to treat his injuries, and Mothers, I wouldn't have pegged you as a zoophile!" The look of disgust seemed to mask other expressions lurking in her eyes - disdain, and recognition, as if she had expected something like this from him. From a Gorilla.

We all know what you're doing to your cows when nobody's looking...

Urko felt his good mood evaporate in a hot flame of fury and embarrassment. „Use that word again and I'll make sure they won't ever find your body." His voice was a low growl, strangled in the grip of his self-control. „I did what was necessary to break its resistance - something you didn't manage with all your fancy experiments."

Vanda wasn't fazed by his threat. „The only reason that my process didn't work as predicted is that you were constantly interfering with it! I'll make sure to include your sabotage in my report to the council! I've already put in a request to transfer custody of the subject exclusively to me! Maybe I'll be able to reset the subject and start from the beginning... after I mopped up the mess you left!"

That little macaque felt too protected, too secure from her position in Zaius' lap. Probably rode it every day, too - everyone knew of Zaius' predilection for Chimp girls. Urko idly wondered if he should visit Zana's father one of these days, and have a little chat with the old fool about his daughter and her mentor.

But right now, there were more interesting matters to discuss.

His good news were so much more satisfying now, even more than they had been this morning when he had sauntered into his office. „Good luck with your request - but after I've presented my results, they'll kick your scrawny ass down the stairs, and throw your little book after you, too." He sniffed with amusement when she narrowed her eyes.

„What are you talking about?"

Satisfaction was a warm glow in his belly now, an amber sun radiating into his chest and throat. He allowed that sunny smile to spread over his face. „After Burke had stopped squealing like a pig, he threw out a list of names faster than poor Orlen was able to write them down. Stumbled over his own tongue in his haste to please me. You know..." He grinned. „Give a little, get a little. Give a lot..." He reached for the list that he had copied from Orlen's scribble - copied it twice, to be sure it didn't get lost somewhere - and handed it to her nonchalantly. He kept his gaze trained on her face as she scanned the list.

Vanda's expression changed from shocked, to dismayed, to absolutely expressionless. She read it a second time, more slowly, before she carefully put it on his desk. „Congratulations, General. I'm impressed."

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