“Then there is the art of inflated description,” Tarris said. “As long as something looks impressive enough to fit on the bill, people won’t check up on it.”

“I…see,” Trish replied.

“Example: what would you call this?” Tarris held up a stapler.


“Wrong, wrong, wrong!” Tarris cried. “It’s a prototype spatial mass driver. Mass driver because the staples, as physical objects, have mass and are driven. Spatial because the spatial properties of the paper sheets are altered in that they become attached. Prototype in that it possesses features no other stapler can boast–in this case, and American flag sticker and glitter.”

Trish picked up an old itemized invoice from the desk. “So what’s a Multi-Function Interoperable Heavy Secret Defender?”

“Soundproof office door,” Tarris said. “Helps with impromptu jam sessions.”

“Laboratory Configurable Stellar Atmospheric Light Secret Dropship?”

“Model airplane. Really flew!”

“Short-range Sub-space Civilian Transport?”

“Volkswagen Jetta. It actually has a pretty decent range.”