“Hey, it’s me,” he said calmly, surveying the wreckage of the room about him. “Listen, I’m afraid things didn’t really go according to plan.”
He paused, listening intently to the voice on the other end of the phone and nodding his agreement.
“Yeah,” he murmured after a moment. “The clone didn’t make it, sorry about that. I think that kid our friends sent out bit the dust too, quite literally. It’s a shame but, you know, it’s a battlefield out there.”
There was another momentary pause and then, at last, Randall Kalish smiled warmly.
“Don’t panic so much. Taryse is fine, Amelia’s fine too. They’re just a little shaken up, all they need is for you to ride out there in the desert and…” he paused, the smile fading slightly. “Yeah, I understand that. Well, if you can’t go out there, I guess I’ll…”
He stopped again, suddenly agitated.
“You’re going to send Mitsukai?” he snapped impatiently.
At his side, Joe Hammel anxiously bit his nails, his round face drenched with sweat and his expression one of apprehension.
Kalish opened his mouth to decry the situation and then, apparently listening further to the voice on the other end of the phone, he nodded again, sighing sharply.
“I guess I see your point. Maybe I was a little heavy handed. Still, that kid really ticked me off, you know. Don’t worry, I won’t misbehave in future.”
The scowl turned into a smile.
“Besides, we’re bros, right? Everything’s cool.”
The voice on the other end of the phone seemed to acquiesce and Kalish’s smile brightened.
“Listen, if you don’t need us out here anymore, then I’m going to lock this place down and head back to base. That cool?”
There came another pause and then Kalish nodded.
“Right. Take it easy, bro. See you when we get back.”
Without further comment, he snapped the phone shut and dropped it back into his pocket, turning once more to look in Hammel’s direction.
“Get your stuff together, Joe. We’re burning this place down.”