Calvin Moore was trying his best not to be late to his first day as an intern. It was only seven in the morning, and he was already failing miserably. He hadn't washed his favorite shirt so he was stuck wearing a different one, he hadn't been able to find two matching socks, and he'd been out of jelly for a PBJ sandwich for lunch. Now he just had peanut butter between two slices of stale white bread smashed into the front pocket of his messenger bag along with an energy drink he hoped would last him through the morning before he started to crash out in the afternoon. It was inevitable. He shouldn't have stayed up until one the night before trying to get through the latest quest, but for once there had been a good group of people to play with online, and for the first time in his life he hadn't felt like he'd been the only one carrying the whole group through the quests.
He was paying for it as he barely managed to stumble into the office building at three after eight. Naga Industries was some big corporate communications firm—he wasn't quite sure exactly what they did. It hadn't been his first choice of a place to intern. Or even his tenth. But he'd procrastinated and everywhere else had been booked up by people who were more on top of it than he was.
The man behind the front desk did not look impressed. He was impeccably dressed and even had on cufflinks. Calvin wasn't even sure he'd managed to button his shirt correctly and he probably should have been wearing a tie. "Welcome to Naga Industries. Can I help you find something?"
A way to turn back time would have been nice. "Um. I'm looking for Mr. Lindwurm. I'm his new—"
"Boyfriend?" the man supplied with a tilt of his chin and a wicked grin.
Calvin's face flamed. He didn’t have a boyfriend, hadn’t for a while, but he wasn’t aware Mr. Lindwurm was gay. Not that it mattered, but he hoped it would make working with him easier. "No. I'm his intern. Just started. Today actually."
"Of course you are." The man got up from his desk with a sigh. "Come on, Draeke likes punctual people. You might want to remember that, assuming you don't go screaming for the hills by this afternoon. I'm Arach. If you forget, and if you make it through today, you can call me Eric. Most people do. Come along now, I'll take you up to his office. I was going to take him some tea anyway."
Calvin struggled to catch up as Arach walked quickly toward the elevators.
"Now, remember, Draeke mostly likes peppermint tea, with a splash of cream and a tablespoon of honey. That's when he's in a good mood. If he's being a fire-breathing monster, then you're better off getting him some cinnamon tea and stepping out of the way."
The elevator dinged, the doors opened, and Arach ushered him inside.
"You'll want to wear a tie from now on. Draeke likes the people around him to look their best and, sweetie, you need a little help in the wardrobe department. If you decide he's not crazy and if you want some help getting better clothes, I'll take you shopping tonight. It's in the budget, and we all have the company card. Now, ask me questions quickly before we get to the tenth floor. That's where Draeke's office is, and he's the only one on his floor."
Calvin didn't even know where to begin. "Umm, so what does Naga Industries do?" He felt stupid asking but figured he should know a little bit about the company. The longer his day went, the more he wished he hadn’t been gaming all night and had applied some effort into a little research and prep for his new job.
Arach gave him a withering glare. "Well, at least you asked me instead of him. Gracious. You want to work for him and you don't even know what we do here? Honey, you are lost. You do need help. All right, the short version is that we all in this building organize and orchestrate the total command of the world."
Calvin just stared at him. "Huh?"
"You're adorable. We design ways for people to better communicate with each other, however they prefer to do so. Mostly online stuff. But Naga has their hands in a bit of everything. We also do a lot with water. Oceans, aquifers, keeping water clean, providing sustainable drinking water to people all over the world. It's more of a pet project though and doesn't cover the bills. But the men in charge like their water projects. Hence the name Naga."
Calvin's confusion must have shown on his face. He quickly ran through what he knew about Nagas, a lot of which came from gaming. "Naga? It's a type of sea serpent. A water dragon. A—"
The elevator dinged again and the doors opened. Arach was apparently done speaking as he led the way off the elevator and straight into a large glass office on an otherwise empty floor. The rest of the space was largely unused except for a long table with many chairs around it. It was the strangest office space Calvin had ever been in.
Arach put a hand on Calvin's shoulder and pushed him into the glass office, right across from a man who was looking between two computer screens and not bothering to pay any attention to either of them.
"You're late. Arach, did you tell him how much I hate tardiness?"
Calvin opened his mouth to explain himself, but Arach beat him to it. "I did. Are we in a peppermint mood?"