Harpoon enters the 3rd Precinct Interstellar Arrivals Department of Blisten Hub with a plastic cup of coffee in one cybernetic hand and a faux pas leather brief case in the other. He waves, as best he can, to his cube mates as he walks down the cluttered aisle towards his cubicle making early morning small talk about last night’s reality show or an excited grunt about a local sports team when mentioned. He settles his khaki pants wearing behind into the flimsy office chair and powers up the generic office computer. He admires once again his stolen metallic arms as they dully glint in the florescent light of his work cubicle. They are almost as shiny as the plastic trophy on the side of his gray fake wood desk that displays ‘ Employee Of The Week – 145 – 152’
As he begins to sort out reams of plastic sheets from his briefcase to organized piles on his cluttered desk, Harpoon mulls over the last week. When the team arrived back at Glisten on 145 he was already late for his new job here that he had applied for before they left. Luckily, his work ethic, motivation and ability to carry Granade Launchers to the office have really made him stand out in the week he’s worked here. He again admires the trophy hastily given to him by his nervous superiors. Ted pops his head over the partition, takes a sip of his steaming hot coffee flavored beverage and says “Billingsly was looking for you this morning, Harr. You may want to make the Standard Versa File- 208.5 your top priority. Just saying.”
“Zee Ess-Vee-Eff- 208.5? Ett ess a hunk o’ dog sheet. I am working on zee E- Form 56.57.2 and Billingsly can sukk my deeek!” Harpoon say in a nonchalant way. As he begins typing on the keyboard signaling that his chat time with Ted is at an end.
“Just saying.” Ted says sullenly as he slides down into his own cubicle. When he thinks he is unwatched Harpoon hacks into the Incoming Flights Database. Well, it’s not really hacking if you have access to the Glisten Coordinating Authority who owns the Database. Training in administration these last few weeks ensured that he would pass his civil service exams and the fact that he was technically a cripple ensured he could get any job in this stodgy, red-taped choked government he wanted. He wanted this one. Mainly because he could use a search program that would sift through all highly classified incoming flight details and would alert him when certain parameters were met. Parameters like Trexalon, cybernetics retrieval, repossession, Harpoon etc. etc.
Billingsly used the continuous drone of hundreds of typing office workers to mask his footsteps as he prowled up and down the aisles to monitor his staff. He watched Harpoon riffle through sheets of data, work with the stamp and the holepunch then cleared his throat to speak.
“Hmmm, Mr. Poon, somebody has been trying to get ahold of you since early this A.M. They keep calling the main phone and it’s using up the time for other calls on the main phone. Hmmm, Next time they call you will have to talk to them and the time away from your desk might have to be deducted from your daily earning quota, Mr. Poon. Hmmm”
“Eye don’t geeev two sheets about yer ‘Earning Quota’ ! And eye don’t geeev two sheets about anyone calling me! Fuk-Off old man before eye shove thees pen organizer up your azzz.” Harpoon says with a dismissive wave.
“Hmmm, That’s all fine and well, Mr. Poon.” Billingsly replies like a man who understood nothing the thick accented Avastani born cripple was saying. “Just remember that if it rings you have to answer it. Hmmm”
“It’s ringing now, Sir!!” Ted says excitedly over the partition as he takes another sip of hot drink.
“Hmmm, Thanks Kevin.” Billinsly looks at Harpoon.
Harpoon looks to his computer. His program was only 15% from being done for this day. After it was finished he could bully some thin necked geek into doing the rest of his work then fake some post-traumatic stress to leave early. In an hour he’d be at The Dirty Hoor snorting crushed pain pills and drooling on a hooker. He reluctantly gets up to answer the phone in the central station as Billingsly stealthily continues to walk around and increase productivity.
“Uh… the name is Ted, Sir” Ted says to Billingsly’s uncaring back.
Harpoon gets to the main office phone, flicks the toggle switch to on and the communication screen lights up. He has already organized his thoughts as to which gutter insult would best fit this occasion when he looks at who is calling him. He stands transfixed and the only thing he can say is “Cecilia…”
A flood of memories come rushing back to him all at once. It’s as if his head was dunked in the cold waters of his home world. As a young man, a boy really, he had met Cecilia at a family reunion. When gun fire erupted and his father’s body guard goons went off to kill the foolish would-be assassin, she had grabbed his hand and they both ran to the bunker. There they talked for hours in the diming light as the squeals of terror could be heard from the interrogation room. She told him all about her plans to leave Avastan and become a famous reporter and fashion model and he told her how he would spend his life hunting whales in the shallow ice filled sea. As the days went on that summer they found excuses to leave the grown-ups and be together more and more often. Because they were very closely related, they figured it would be a good thing to keep their burgeoning love a secret. They were very careful and no one, especially her two older brothers Jorge and Hernan, ever suspected. In time they found themselves inside his boat tied to the docks. Tommorow their families would part ways and it would be a long time till he would see her again, but tonight…tonight was theirs.
That night Cecilia made him a man…twice. As they lay in each other’s sweat soaked arms he came up with a plan. They would escape this place together! They would travel the star ways on adventure after adventure! He knew that a rich off worlder merchant named Swenson was docked at his father’s estate and was wanting to take aboard a young steward to train. Neither of their families would allow them to go, but if we sneak aboard maybe he’ll take us both!! Cecilia just caressed his luxurious black hair while her newest lover rambled. She seemed to be waiting for something.
Just then the port hold doors flew open and silhouetted against the cold sky was Jorge and Hernan. Somehow they had found them. They reached in and grappled the naked man then pulled him out of the boat as Cecilia stayed off to the side and gathered her clothes. Against his protestations they beat him senseless, his only defense was to proclaim his undying love for their sister. As he lay there broken on the icy shore, he looked through swollen eyes at the two men and Cecilia walking away towards the Estate. He begged her to return to him at the dawns light. She kind of did a half-wave, shrugged and continued walking.
The next day his Father was furious when he heard the news of the broken taboo. That was when he sent his youngest misbegotten son into the military and to be put into a Death Squad far away from home. Cecilia’s family could not bear the shame of her actions and paid the visiting foreign space merchant to take her aboard as a Steward. She could not have been happier to start making her dreams come true.
“…then I got a message from them saying Jorge was killed in the fire fight and they’ll kill Hernan and the other survivors if I don’t come up with the ransome money…” The woman on the screen again bursts into tears as her expensive eye liner streams down her face. She is just as beautiful and young to Harpoon as the day they met. Her black wavy hair and curves of her neck are remembered playgrounds that he now touches with his eyes.
“The Madusa ,their Far Trader, was slightly damaged by the Jonkeereen guarding the Water/Fuel on that hellish little desert world. It remains secure for now, but my husband will only let me have enough credits to hire a few mercenaries and even that pay won’t be much. That planet is so far away from here. Then I thought of you and your group of men. Could you? Could you go to Callia and save my my precious brother, Hernan Delgado, his men, his ship and the escaped prisoner Elliot Powell?”
Harpoon looks deep into her eyes. They are so blue. As blue as the cold sea of his dreams.
“Piss-Off.” Then he flicks the toggle switch and the screen goes dark.
He returns to his cubicle. Thoughts and emotions swarm around his head like flies circling a dog turd. They all fall to the way side however, as he absently looks to his computer screen and sees a photo of himself being broadcasted to local authorities. The analyzer program connected the dots and pin pointed a Trexalon frigate that will dock in two days and release a small company of cybernetic repo men who are looking for the very familiar man on the screen and his stolen robotic arms (and spine and hips and leg bones meshed with Trexalon steel and various other copy righted internal doo-dads). They just received a Mercenary License and permission to use extreme force in apprehending the above displayed thief and any of his known cohorts.
“Uh?” Ted says as he spies the screen and its details from over the partition.
Harpoon quickly turns and jabs a syringe full of Rohypnol into Ted’s jugular. As Ted spasms out into the aisle, Harpoon runs a deletion program on his computer and puts the plastic desk award into his pocket. Then he takes a small thermite grenade out of his plaid thermos and sets it in the middle of his workspace. He hastily walks though the gathering people standing around the now very comatose neighbor as his cubicle erupts in a controlled flame burst, ensuring a quick, localized burn. He walks to the central phone and violently shoves Billingsly into the wall and out of the way, stopping him as he tried to call for help. Harpoon presses the return call button and just as the fire sprinkler system kicks in dowsing everyone with water. Cecilia’s tear stained face appears on the wet screen.
“Weee’ll take the job.”