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Author Topic: Squaxx Telling Stories  (Read 2900 times)

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Squaxx Telling Stories
« Reply #15 on: 31 August, 2019, 07:13:20 pm »
\cont...


The Night Shift moves into its sixth hour and the City is running smoothly. All utilities, feeds, and flows are operating efficiently and emissions are stable. Government Productivity Targets are projected to be met and possibly exceeded. Incidents of insomnia amongst Day and Swing Shift workers have fallen, initial reports attribute this to the Government's Healthy Sleep Promise. Night Shift workers everywhere thank the Government and wish their fellow shift workers well - for they too know the dark misery of insomnia.

Births are up to twenty five, natural deaths up to twenty nine. 377 accidents have been reported, slightly below average for the time of year. There have been no crimes. Shift worker job satisfaction metrics have exceeded Government expectations. Detailed Government Statistics and Projections are freely available on any screen.

Loc-Lock puts Inspector Nine in the back of a police car set to main-route autodrive. She's in the back seat, thinking. The car is thinking too, but it's thinking about how to navigate a random route through The City, using only arterial routes and without dropping under 150mph. The car is doing a good job. The Inspector, not so much.

The pad in her hand lights up the back of the car, its screen showing a blank page. Inspector Nine blinks. She taps at the screen and the message 'Report Transferred' flashes up. Belm's death is a Ministry problem now. She curses. Belm served as the Deputy Treasurer's personal secretary. Both killed by Brigand Doom. Both reports transferred to Ministry Authority. Inspector Nine types in searches amongst biographical indexes, Government records, private packets. She learns precious little before the data is transferred to the Ministry. Hints at high level Government connections. The stink of proudly displayed opulence.

She remembers what Doom said. She doesn't want to use it but there's nothing else left. She returns to the pad's search function and types in, 'St Jerome Emiliani's Orphanage.'

There are no orphanages in The City since The Government outlawed orphanhood, rendering such soulless facilities obsolete. Parentally disadvantaged Citizens are these days immediately adopted by The Government and grafted holistically into Loving Homes.

Inspector Nine sighs and opens the City-Net's back door. The Government Page disappears and she re-enters the search. It translates to Building 109, Loc-Sect Twenty, Sub-Sect Seventy One, Sector Fifteen. She relays the address to the car and it starts thinking about getting there in the shortest time. It makes up its mind and accelerates towards a suitable exit, flashing and bellowing importantly. Inspector Nine's comm chirps. Superintendent Seven is calling her. She diverts him to voicemail. He doesn't leave a message.

The police car is a good driver and the traffic is dead-hours thin. The Government's Flow Matrix clears the police car's way. Inspector Nine holds on to the hand grip above the door but it isn't necessary. The ride is impossibly fast and impossibly smooth. In a little over twenty seven minutes, the car slows to a gentle halt outside Building 109. It is an old building, constructed a long time ago in The History, before the cities were The City, before the Government saved the world from itself. Inspector Nine gets out of the car and hovers by the door for a moment, studying the building, before slamming it shut and quickly surveying the deserted old street. Most of the buildings are empty and cursorily maintained by The City as Designated Old Sites, kept around for historical value. When the last of the families leave, the site's status will obviously have to be re-evaluated.

The front door is unlocked so she pushes it open, gun in hand. It swings inward without a sound. Inside, the building is musty and dead. Filled with unused and unloved relics. Old furniture, old carpets, old books. She sweeps the house. She's quick and efficient, very well trained. The building, once a home with ten bedrooms, is empty. It has been empty for years. She holsters her gun and, torch in hand, begins searching the building. Efficient, and very well trained, her instincts lead her to a desk in a small sitting room on the ground floor. She pries the drawers open with her penknife. They squeal with age and are full of dead pens and live spiders. She yanks the last drawer open and reaches into it, pulling out three leather-bound books. Two are ledgers, one is a diary.

Car headlights flash through the dead windows then fall dark. An engine sighs into silence. Car doors slam. She slips the books into her bag and zips it up, pulling the strap across her body.

"We know you're in here, Inspector," a voice calls. Inspector Nine curses under her breath and pads away, hoping to find a back door. "It's Ministry business now, Inspector. If you've found anything, you're ordered to hand it over."

The kitchen is full of dusty cold pans on dusty cold stoves. She creeps between them and finds a door leading out into a back garden. The door is locked. Efficient, and very well trained, she soon locates a key hidden under a dusty doormat. She slides it into the lock and breathes a sigh of relief when it turns. Too late.

"Hold it, Lady." Two men stand at the other end of the kitchen. Both of them are pointing guns at her. "Drop the piece."

"I am a City Police Department Inspector. I don't take orders from the Ministry."

The shortest of the Ministry men, the one with the best suit and the cleanest shirt, smirks. "Everybody takes orders from the Ministry," he says. "I'm not going to ask you again."

She slumps her shoulders. Drops her head. Holds up her hands. "Okay," she says. "Okay."

"I said..." Shorty says. They're his last words on This Side. The tall one just kind of blabbers. It sounds like he's talking about a pancake but it can't be that. It's something else she'll never know. She empties the spent shells from her pistol, wincing at the barrel's heat, and quickly reloads. She slips into the back garden and climbs over fences and hedges until she finds a road. She hitches up the collar of her trench-coat and starts walking.


***


The penultimate hour of the Night Shift and the City is operating at optimum efficiency. Several complex water supply repairs and augmentations have been completed without complications or significant delays. Hundreds of thousands of Citizens will feel the benefit of increased water pressure when they awake this morning. The Government's Infrastructure First Obligation in action! Well Done the Night Shift! Sector Eleven Sanitation has been suffering technical problems for most of the shift and has fallen behind schedule. If any workers have fulfilled their quotas and fancy pitching in, they'd appreciate a hand down there. There'll also be overtime available, depending on your Soc-Stats.

Births are up to thirty five, natural deaths up to forty. 412 accidents have been reported, significantly below average for the time of year. There have been no crimes. All Night Shift Workers will receive a 0.25% uplift for this shift, pending Soc-Stats and Econ-Rating.

The books have made her sick. Sick enough to return Superintendent Seven's calls. She tries to tell him, to explain, but he's too angry to listen and orders her back to the station. She turns her Loc-Lock back on and summons the police car, which finds her with flamboyant efficiency. She's soon on the Superintendent's carpet, listening to him roar.

He draws breath and Inspector Nine seizes her chance. "St Jerome Emiliani's Orphanage. You were a part of it."

"That's old news, Inspector, very old news."

"Belm and the Deputy Treasurer, too."

"This is all irrelevant, Inspector!" The Superintendent's mood is deteriorating. "I want Doom, do you hear me?"

"If I read these books right," she says, "and if I read him right, he'll be coming to you."

The Superintendent snorts, confident in his power. The lights flicker, along with Superintendent Seven's confidence, and then go out. Distant, isolated shouts of panic echo from somewhere in the station, sporadic and shifting. Getting closer. The door sweeps open and the Superintendent goes for his gun and fumbles it, but it's just his personal guard checking on him. Satisfied, the guard returns to his post, closing the door behind him. The sounds of panic cease and a weird quiet oozes through the station.

>plink<

"What was that?" The Superintendent raises his gun, scanning the darkness.

"Some kind of stimulant, I think. He inhales it out of small glass phials." Inspector Nine folds her arms.

"You mean..."

"I'm here."

The Superintendent whirls, bringing his gun up, but Doom is too fast. Too strong. Doom grips the Superintendent's gun hand until his bones begin to splinter and locks his other hand around his throat.

"Please don't kill him." Inspector Nine says the words but, even to her, they sound empty. "Damn you, that you reduce me to this."

Brigand Doom keeps his shining eyes locked on the Superintendent's as he chokes the life out of him. "You know what he did. What they did. It's in the books. I know you know."

"That doesn't, it can't, justify murder. Please don't. Not again."

Brigand Doom looks up from the fading Superintendent and fixes his bright gaze on Inspector Nine. "Then do what they do. Use their magic against them."

Inspector Nine sighs. She could shoot him again but that had never worked yet. She could raise the alarm and watch everyone entering the room get shot to bits. Or she could stand here and watch Brigand Doom, the most dangerous terrorist in the world, strangle a rancid piece of scum to death. "Magic, now," she says. "You are utterly insane."

Doom returns his blazing gaze to the Superintendent but the moment has passed. Doom's fingers contract and his wrist jerks, triggering a cold, efficient crack. "Their words." He drops the corpse to the floor. He does not watch it fall. "Don't call it murder. Call it execution. Call it retribution. Call it revenge. Call it Justice."

She wipes her eyes. "Semantics," she says, her voice weary.

"Yes," he says.

"You're going to blast your way out of here, aren't you? Kill more cops."

"Most likely."

"So long as you do that, I'm not going to help you." She checks her pistol.

Doom chuckles and the sound is like old sewage flowing through a cracked drain. "You will help me, because what was happening in those old books is still happening today. You see the evil in that as clearly as I do. See the evil burning out the infection of discovery every way it can. It will eat at you, this horror. It will defeat you. Then you'll help me."

Doom strides towards the door. Inspector Nine, efficient and very well trained, raises her gun and empties it into Brigand Doom's face, aiming for his eyes. Doom howls and throws up his arm. The gunshots call the guards, who burst in and open fire. Doom's shotgun blasts them out of the world before the Inspector can shout a warning. One of Doom's eyes is flickering and his manic smile seems smaller than usual. Inspector Nine drops her emptied pistol and snatches a letter knife off the Superintendent's desk. She lunges for his flickering eye but he moves too fast and she misses, stabbing the knife into his neck. She grits her teeth and pushes as hard as she can. The knife begins to bend, as if she were trying to force it into a tree. Doom pushes her to the floor, ignoring the knife still sticking out of his neck, and raises his shotgun. More officers are coming. He steps out to meet them.

"Aim for his eyes," she shouts, again and again, but her voice is lost in the gunfire and screams.


***


Last hour of the Night Shift and The City's been in safe hands. 99.5% of Government Targets have been met, marginally above expectations. The Energy Balance remains neutral and the economy continues to be robust. Reserve stock levels dictate that all Night Shift Workers will receive two additional ration coupons per week from this shift onwards, subject to Soc-Stats and Econ-Rating. The City continues to grow from strength to strength, thanks to the loyalty and hard work of the Citizens, and the wisdom and leadership of The Government. All society in harmony for the Common Good.

Births are up to forty three, natural deaths down to thirty eight due to exemplary Night Shift surgeons. 467 accidents have been reported, marginally below average for the time of year. There have been no crimes. Detailed Government Statistics and Projections are freely available on any screen.

Don't forget to clock out - incorrect data can lead to false conclusions.


~~~^~~~
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Hawkmumbler

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Re: Squaxx Telling Stories
« Reply #16 on: 04 September, 2019, 04:49:46 pm »
Liking this a lot Sharks! Keep at it old boy!

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Squaxx Telling Stories
« Reply #17 on: 04 September, 2019, 07:39:53 pm »

Thanks, Hawkie! (It was a bit self-indulgent, that one...)


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