They'd thought of planting a transmitter on Jefferies, but decided that was too risky. Instead, Missy had gotten an upgrade to improve her already enhanced hearing. If the room had been soundproofed, it wouldn't have worked, so it was a gamble, but it had paid off. Missy heard every word, and her neural net held a recording she could play for Jyarl later.
Another 'later'. ugh. It felt wrong that she had so much data that she couldn't safely share with Jyarl. His cybernetics didn't have a data receiver built in, so she couldn't just zap the info to him. Besides, Jyarl didn't have the fine muscle control enhancements that allowed Missy to listen without betraying any sign that she knew what was going on. Prophet knew he didn't have the natural self-control. So everything had to wait until they got back to base, which meant Jyarl would be going into his own interview without it.
After reading through Tauno Nurmi's entry on the Remnant database, Missy was both relieved and disappointed. He didn't seem to have any criminal record or any history of violence, which meant that Jefferies probably wasn't in any immediate danger. But it also meant there wasn't anything they could use against him. It wasn't a crime to frequent a humans-only restaurant, or to be on speaking terms with Brian Starling.
At least Jefferies sounded like she was handling the situation well. If they'd told her there was a possibility that she'd be taken from her Daddy... but no. There was no possibility of that. The only possibility was that they might all have to leave the city and Remnant. That would hurt, but Jefferies would still have--
Missy's train of thought abruptly derailed.
Jefferies wants me to be her mommy.
Jefferies wants me to be her mommy.
Jyarl, fully alert and wound tight with tension, noticed Missy giving the barest squeeze of his hand. "What is it?"
Missy pulled his hand up to quickly kiss it. "It's fine. I'm sure she's doing well." He'd know that meant 'I can tell she's doing well'.
He put his arm around her. "I've been thinking. You should go ahead and take her home while I'm being interviewed. It might be a while, and she'll need a nap after this."
"Mhm. That's probably a good idea." Also bull****. After a socially trying event like this interview, their girl would need physical exertion to burn off her pent up energy, as Jyarl well knew. So this was code for 'I want her to not be here', even though the adoption decision wasn't due for another week.
Missy had to put her eavesdropping on record only mode so she could listen to Jyarl, but the sound of Jefferies calling for her Daddy was loud enough to be heard by unenhanced ears. Jyarl and Missy were instantly on their feet. Before they reached the door, Kardo had opened it.
"Go ahead, mushroom," he said in a kindly tone, and Jefferies marched out defiantly, with only the tiniest chin wobble to tell Missy that she was close to crying.
"Our interview hasn't been completed," Nurmi said. "We can give her a short break but then we need to go back in."
Jyarl scooped Jefferies up in his arms, and glared at Nurmi. Missy put a hand on his arm, which stopped him before he swore at the man.
"I don't believe that's necessary. We've heard enough from Jefferies, wouldn't you agree, Kardo?" Aliswyn said.
"Certainly," Kardo said. "A break before we speak to Mr Olear- Mr Hellstomper would be nice though. Perhaps an early lunch? Shall we reconvene in an hour?"
Everyone agreed, though Missy thought Nurmi's agreement was rather perfunctory. It was clear he was set against Jyarl's adoption, and interviewing him while Jyarl was unsettled and angry about Jefferies' distress would have helped that cause.
"Can we go home?" Jefferies asked.
"Sure thing, slugger." Jyarl said.
As they left the building, Jefferies and Master Chief told Daddy that Mister Kardo was nice and gave her some juice, but it wasn't orange juice. She thoughted maybe it was apple juice...
Missy kept her focus on the social workers behind them for as long as her enhanced hearing let her, but she didn't learn anything useful. Kardo was flirting with the receptionist and offering to bring her some lunch. Nurmi was pacing a few rooms away, and occasionally speaking to Aliswyn, who generally didn't respond or made non-committal replies.
They boarded the Riftline, and Jefferies pressed close to the window as the city sped by. "Anything I should know?" Jyarl said quietly to Missy.
"It could go either way. The elf is the swing vote, and I don't know how she'll swing," Missy said. "Kardo seems to be on our side."
"And the human?"
Missy shook her head. "Focus on the other two. He's a lost cause."
Jefferies squealed as the train went past a flock of flying sheep, and Jyarl smiled at her excitement.
"Just talk about Jefferies. As long as you do that, no one can doubt you're her dad."