“Station Analysis, this is Communications Operator Jansen McNamara, signing on.”
Jansen sipped his coffee and tip-tapped his password into the console with practised ease as the isolation door closed behind him. He tapped the microphone to check it was working as the screens came up and then he began scrolling through the information he needed.
His Aug sprite came up, Sheila, the little cartoon devil-girl that helped organise his information. Wiggling her little red bottom and flapping her wings she flitted to-and-fro between the various screens, prioritising his reports and lining up the calls.
He coughed, once and began to tap at the screens.
“NIM, proceed to the spaceport, the female stormer prototype has been reported to have been spotted by a space-port Shiver patrol in the company of a taxi-driver, unidentified but suspected to be a rehabilitated war veteran. Your pay has been authorised to double and the BPN has been upgraded to a red. Acknowledge?”
He nodded and clicked to the next channel.
“Razorblades and Icecream, do you have an updated ETA? Good, good, I have an update for you. The cause of the incident has been determined to be DarkNight corruption of the office water supply. Security in the Axis Tower has barricaded themselves in and is stockpiling arms and fortifying. This is now a sweep and clear operation.”
“Oddbodies, come in Oddbodies?” There was no answer. “Control, no contact with Team Oddbodies, last assigned to investigate the disappearance of newly inducted Necanthrope, codenamed ‘Bell’. Shiver units and teams in the area have been reporting temporal anomolies and a few could be sightings of Team Oddbodies. I suggest bumping this one up to a more experienced and higher SCL team.”
He stopped a moment and put in his eye drops, needing to concentrate and focus, it was a busy day and he had too many teams to coordinate.
“Mad Dog, your team is stationed outside the building with Shiver support. Can you give me an update on your situation…? Five men? Four men… well done. They’re not Thresher? Your earlier report said… I see. A soft company… you don’t know which one. So why…? Ah, the data tap. I see. I’ll see if I can get you some more help.”
A quick chat on the emergency line to his boss and that one was bumped up the line to Head Office. Something important then, no use worrying about it. No point worrying about it. Dangerous to worry about it.
“Operative Draig, you’re off-mission. You are not cleared for undercover work, you are not cleared for Soft Company contact, you are supposed to be on forced leave. No… no sir… I don’t think I should put the microphone there… why don’t you just come in before you’re declared renegade? You must be nearly out of drugs by now… If you want revenge, go through channels… fine, I’m alerting central and fuck you too sir. Twice. Sideways.”
“Sissin, are you secure..? Good. Head office wants an update, are you in? Good… no suspicion? Do you think you can win? I’ve been instructed to tell you to humiliate them, it’s not enough to expose the Trang, they must be shown up completely. This martial arts mystique must be stamped out. Check in tomorrow, same time.”
“Team Golden, psychologists predict a fifty-percent chance that the inhabitants of the secure media-room will join forces and try to escape rather than complete the reality show format. Please update your status to orange and get non-lethal weapons on hand. LiveDead Media would prefer the twelve contestants to be subdued and keep the show going. You will..? Thanks.”
A sip of water, his throat was dry, he span his chair left and right, shifting his bottom on the mock-leather seat to stop it going numb.
“NIM, is the situation resolved? Excellent… got another BPN if you think you’re up to it, your luck to be in the right area. Yeah? Good stuff, I’m authorised to pay a twenty-credit bonus for picking this up. Alright, there should be a ship coming in from New Paris in the next hour. There’s a wanted paedophile serial killer on board, codename ‘Lion’, he may have a young female accomplice with him. Take her alive if you can, TWEP him. Alright, I’ll log that for you.”
“Solstice, this is Jansen with Station Analysis, we’ve got confirmation that the Thresher drop ship has been disabled on its way out of orbit. We’ll be sending you in to board it. Yes… I appreciate you’ve been sat there for two and a half hours doing nothing… no, that doesn’t qualify as hazard pay. I’ll mind you not to swear at me if you want help in the future… apology accepted. Good luck.”
His stomach rumbled and he laid his hand on his belly, glancing at the time on his Finance Chip, not quite time yet Sheila reproached him, waggling her finger and tutting. He sighed and tapped up the next call.
“Operative Espada no, for the fiftieth time we have no reports of a six fingered mutant infiltrating downtown and rising in the ranks of the criminal gangs. I am also tasked, according to your file, to remind you that you are a Stormer and, thus, have no father. I am also required to remind you that you have missed two psychological evaluation appointments and that if you miss your next one… tomorrow at eleven-hundred standard time… a BPN will be issued for your forcible keeping of the next appointment after that… I don’t know what you just said, but it sounded obscene… good day.
Who’d be a call officer? Really? Oh… yes… people who didn’t want to be unemployed.
“Cereal Killaz, got some preliminary information from Solstice about that Thresher drop pod in your zone. Apparently it contained a sleeper agent who may not even know, herself, that she’s a Thresher agent. You’ve probably only got a window of twenty minutes to track down a ‘stranger’ in that area before she moves on. Don’t envy you… yeah, heh, yeah… good luck. Ask Stacy if we’re still on for tonight? Thanks, over and out.”
He was really hungry now and the screens were hurting his eyes, he took a deep breath and decided to risk it.
“Jansen McNamara signing out, unscheduled toilet break. Shift stream to Operator 124”
If he took his time, it’d be lunch.