Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dreams of Avarice

At a touch, he opened the sliding door and stepped into the huge office beyond. As he expected, the room was lit with the eerie electric glow of the Ambiance Chamber high above his head. His employer was awake, even at this ungodly hour.

"Sir, one of your surveillance probes is back. Shall I..."

The micro-speakers embedded in the sensor nodes of the Chamber all echoed Teravolt's voice at the same time. The reverberations and volume made the man sound like some kind of wrathful god. Of course, Randall had been here when his boss requested that they be installed for exactly that reason but knowing Teravolt was an arrogant ass didn't make the man any less impressive.

"Upload it."

Impressive or not, his employer's habit of finishing his sentences was as annoying as ever. Randall moved quickly though; he was well acquainted with the fact that when Teravolt become agitated, "uncontrollable" arcs of static sometimes jolted people in his office. Randall had some personal issues with just how uncontrollable these arcs were...

...but nothing he'd say aloud. No one had ever died from them. Well, there had been that one maid, but she was old and she'd had a heart condition. His boss had even directed him to send cheap flowers to her funeral. Touching, really.

Reaching the main console of the room's computer array, Randall extended a spooled lead from from the probe's spherical casing and attached it quickly. The rest was automated. All Randall had to do was wait for the audio/visual to upload and stand near a large metal object in the hopes that it would ground out his boss's displeasure. Just in case.

As the minutes crawled past in total silence from above, Randall creeped inches closer to the steel computer console. When the calm lasted far longer than the length of data on the probe, Randall seriously began considering getting behind the console instead. Even the Ambiance Chamber was motionless; its inner rings stationary.

It was never a good thing for Teravolt to be this quiet this long.



He looked up from his near-hiding place. "Yes, sir?"

"Has anyone else seen this footage?"

Oh, hell. He'd been with Arachnos long enough to know that question and what tended to happen to people moments after answering it. Not good. Not good. He started surveying the room, plotting out exits and how much cover he could get on his run out.

There wasn't a lot. He was pretty much screwed. No sense keeping the boss waiting.

"No one, sir."


As the word thundered through the room, one of the Chamber's emitters began to glow, building up what Randall well knew was a lethal charge. It could hit him no matter where he stood in the room, even blasting through the computer console if it powered up long enough. He was going to have to make a break for it. In his years on the Rogue Isles, he'd only seen one person answer that question and live. Everyone else had ended up as Snake food...

Wait. One person had lived! What was their answer again?

Randall cleared his throat. "Not even me, sir. I brought it to you unaccessed. I thought you'd want to be the first to see what it contained." He held his breath, not sure if that would stave off his boss' obvious intentions.

It wasn't a lie. Randall treated everything at TeraCorp on a need to know basis and as often as possible he made sure he had no need to know.

The emitter discharged, sending a massive arc of lightning straight down into the office's mirror-bright platinum collector array. From there, the captured current would be channeled into the building's underground capacitors and stored for use. The Ambiance Chamber released its charge that way four of five times a day, but had that been his employer's intention this time?

Randall honestly didn't want to know. He was alive and intact. That was enough for him. One doesn't work for TeraCorp without a certain amount of "flexibility".

"Will that be all, sir?"

"Not quite. When you get back to your desk, I need the following things handled immediately. Consider them EOD priorities."

Randall sighed. It was already 6:21 AM. His night shift ended twenty minutes ago, technically. Since EOD stood for End of Day, it looked like he'd be here a while. Oh well, as they said at6 Fort Darwin, "Sleep is for the weak."

"Find out if out contract cancellations with Fortress 500 have reached Legal. If they haven't, make sure they don't. Immediately reassign any F-500 personnel we have to the facility in Terra del Fuego."

"Very good, sir. Anything else."

"I want every available share of Fortress 500 purchased and in my control by Market Close. There's a dossier on your desktop now. That person has a 5% margin of stock. I need those shares. You know what to do."

Randall sighed. This was going to take all day. "Very good, sir. Shall I make sure we send flowers after the body is discovered?" He was already walking out, making notes on the PDA mounting in his artificial arm.

"Of course. Cheap ones."

No comments: