Domesticating Dragons – Snippet 05

“Yeah, well, the jury’s still out on that.”

That was news to me. From everything I’d read, Reptilian Corporation was killing it in a time when most nascent biotechs had failed. “Still, I like the systems approach to genetics. And I think my simulator could help with things.”

He frowned. “You’re really here for all the genetic engineering stuff?”

“Of course.” I paused. “Does that surprise you?”

“A little bit. Whenever I ask what brought people here, they always talk about the dragons.”

Oh, crap. I’d forgotten how much people went nuts for them. “Yeah, sure. Dragons are awesome. I assumed I didn’t even have to say it.”

“But everyone does say that, Parker. They go on and on about dragons until I’m ready to throw up.”

I tried a smile on him that I didn’t feel. “Then I guess I’m a pleasant surprise.”

“I don’t like being surprised.”

No, you like to do the surprising. My palms started sweating. It took a conscious effort not to wipe them on my new dress slacks. I couldn’t do that, because if I lost this job I’d have to return them. “Good to know.”

“There are plenty of biotechs employing genetic engineers,” Fulton said.

“Not as many as there used to be.”

“Still, someone like you probably got interest from both coasts.”

I said nothing, even though he was spot-on. When my thesis came out, my phone did start to ring. A few of the big pharmas were sniffing around, and some of the rising biotech startups. Several universities sent out feelers, too, though they tended to start with Dr. Sato. That was often how people took the next step in academia, via personal connections. I suppose the same could be said of me, but the step I wanted to take was right in Reptilian’s door.

Fulton raised his eyebrows at me.

“I’m sorry, was that a question?” I asked.

“Did you have interest from other companies?”

“A little,” I said. “I never called them back.”

“Then let’s return to my original question. Why do you want to work at Reptilian?”

“I already said why. Your genetic engineers–” I stammered in my own defense, but he cut me off.

“Bullshit. Geeks like you can work anywhere, so when you go someplace, it’s personal.”

More personal than you know. Damn, this guy was good. I had to give him something, because it was kind of obvious that I needed a second reason to come to this company for this job. Clearly, I couldn’t tell him the truth–that I intended to use the company’s resources for my own designs, and probably sabotage a dragon. A flash of inspiration came. “You’re right. There was something else that brought me here.”

He smirked knowingly. “Spill it.”

“Simon Redwood.”

Fulton rolled his eyes. “Oh, hell. You’re one of those.”

A Redwood fanatic, he meant. “Come on, man,” I said. “You have to admit he’s a genius.”

“He’s off his rocker.”

“Well, I think he’s brilliant,” I said. “Been following his moves since I was a kid. And I dreamed about working for one of his companies, so here we are.”

“Fine.” Fulton set down his tablet with an air of resignation. He almost seemed a little disappointed, too. “Now you get to hear about the house security policy.”

I covered my heart-thumping relief with sarcasm. “Oh, I can’t wait.”

“You will wear your security badge at all times. You won’t attempt to access any restricted areas.”

“Where am I allowed to go?”

“The seventh floor and the parking garage. That’s about it, unless you’re invited by a superior. Everything else is a restricted area. You’ll have no expectation of privacy while in this building, but everything about your work here is considered a protected trade secret. Do you understand what that means?”

“No talking about work outside of work,” I said.


Somehow, even though I’d made it past the tough questions with this guy, I started feeling more intimidated by him. Maybe his sheer size had something to do with it. He occupied at least seventy percent of the room. It occurred to me that with the risks I’d probably be taking, I might want this guy on my good side. So what’s he into? Well, I didn’t know much about him, but I had a guess. “Can I ask a question?”

“Knock yourself out.”

“What’s he like?”

“Who? Redwood?”

“No.” I waved that off like we’d covered it already. Then I leaned over the table and lowered my voice a little, as if afraid to say it out loud. Truth be told, I almost was. “Robert Greaves.”

“Oh.” He offered a half-smile, and I could tell I’d won a point. “He’s the smartest man I know. And he operates on a level that most people don’t appreciate.”

“Is it true that he only wears black?”

He barked a laugh. “Don’t believe everything you read, kid. He doesn’t waste brainpower on unimportant things, that’s all.”

“Will I get to meet him?”

Fulton snorted. “Keyboard monkey like you? Probably not.” He smiled to soften it, though.

“Ah well, worth a shot.” I sensed the security interview coming to an end, and I wanted to leave on a high note. “Anything else we need to cover?”

“Officially, no.”

“All right, what about unofficially?”

“Just a friendly word of advice. Don’t hit on the help.”

I started to stammer a response, because I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

“The redhead in reception,” Fulton said.

“Oh.” Damn, he really was watching everything. I held up my hands. “Message received.”

“Good. You can head on up, now.”

“Thanks,” I said.

So much for leaving on a high note.