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I stood in silence as the Queen Anne's Lace finally finished the tale. The Flowers of the Board exchanged what I would have called looks if they possessed eyes. Finally, the Sunflower Official broke the silence.

So, Agent: you have what you came for.

"Um, yes." I shook my head slowly. "I wasn't expecting…"

What, the Marquis de Sod asked, that we would tell you? I don't know where you people get this impression of us…

Probably from you, someone muttered. The Marquis' petals folded in anger.

You may be a Firstborn, Big Thorn, but I remember when you came begging to me for Secretaries to start your department. You-

Enough, the Sub Rosa cut in. I think our guest wants to speak.

"Um, thank you." I shook my head again. "Uh. Actually I wasn't expecting to hear it all at once. It's…" I glanced at my watch and cringed. "Wow. Even by HQ standards, I'm late going back."

An agent, not be punctual? Witness my lack of surprise. The Marquis folded his leaves. Well, don't let us keep you.

"Um, actually I had a question…"

Ship's sake, more questions? the Tiger Lily exclaimed. Haven't we answered enough?

I shrugged. "It's just… what about the other Flowers? I mean, there's a whole bunch of Department Heads you didn't even mention, and… well, to be blunt, you imply hundreds died in the Civil War and the Fall – but you didn't name any of them."

Why would we? the Floating Hyacinth inquired. It's not like you can go and ask them for more information.

"But that's the point! If you won't tell us about them, who will?"

Child, the Sub Rosa said, many of those Flowers were our friends. Many others were our bitter foes – and some were both. Would you want to dredge up all the memories of them? No – I think it best to let mulch be mulch.

And then there's the security considerations, Captain Dandy murmured, but a 'glare' from the SO silenced him – and neatly stopped me from asking any further questions.

The Sunflower Official turned back to me, his petals spread wide. I think that's all we have time for, he said, and I heard the door out of Room One click open behind me. We will, of course, expect to see your write-up of this conversation on the Network shortly. In light of that, we can ensure you have a short break before your next mission – say, one hour?

"An hour?" I stared at him. "I can't type that fast! Besides, I don't think I can remember it all."

You should have been taking notes, the Sunflower said blandly. That will be all, Agent. Please close the door behind you.

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