Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Here and There (part 1)

He checked the mixture valve then the pressure regulator, rebreather unit and finally the flow release in the mouth piece. His hands moved along the smooth surface of the tanks and gently danced around the tubes and apparatus with practised ease. It was hard to believe he had only been diving for two weeks.

The young woman walked right past him as she entered the office and began speaking in her excited enumeration of progress reports, daily meetings and requisition proposals; she had not lifted her eyes from the agenda until she had finished her grocery list standing in front of his empty desk. He waited for her to finish, raise her eye at last and realise she was speaking at a comfortable leather chair before drawing her attention over her left shoulder to his position in his dark office with the words “Thank you, Mary-Lou”

In the crepuscule of the dimly lit room it took a moment to find the figure clad in black neoprene, one could imagine him ‘lurking’ furtively if it weren’t his own office. Startled and evidently un-amused with the scene the secretary stomped her foot on the duracrete floor covered with a Badland traditional knotted rug and clasped her chest expressively:
“Why are you lurking so Doctor, you gave me such a fright! Why don’t you turn more lights on?”

“I'm letting my eyes adjust before my dive dear girl, as I have every morning since I hired you last week; I begin to fear I may miss your morning scenes should you ever slow down long enough to notice whether or not I am at my desk”

The Doctor toyed with the thought of a secretary to help when he had returned to New Baja, in the week it took for Marshal Delacroix to get his last things in order and fulfill his last sense of duty to the community, the idea was no longer to be played with, it had become a painful necessity. The development was so quick, the expansion so fulgurous with the last migration of citizens from above, that he simply couldn’t cope with paperwork. He hired Mary-Lou the day Delacroix left, the day the trial began against the New Baja Gang, funny he thought, that New Baja should make its first official act the trial of the gang that bore its name, a quirk of fate.

Taking on the mantle of defence council for the accused was difficult and painful. He had not crammed that much information since his finals in university. Still a little legal knowledge was helpful, especially with the business. He had some mixed feelings about the results, 10 hanged and 1 sentenced to life.

What kept him sane in the last weeks were the daily scuba dives with Riley. The potential for expansion was remarkable; within a few weeks hopefully they could lay their hands on a couple of water gears and who knew what could happen from there.

Doctor Chambers was shaken from his revery by his assistant’s insistent tone: “…so we have to move that to next week to make room for the meeting with the AST and the Mekong business delegates arriving tomorrow, did you want me to make any special arrangement for your uncle in particular? Who is organising the agenda because I was told it wasn’t your meeting, that you were just sitting in as a facilitator or mediator? Who do I see about your title? I can’t do the agenda because you have me working on that news affiliate license so I am going to call mayor Dunn’s…”

“Mister Dunn” the Doctor interjected strongly into her endless stream of detailed conscience. Dunn wasn’t mayor yet, not until the election and the vote, The Vote. That point of contention for the marshals, a good deal of regulators and even towns folk left over this decision.

The Doctor knew that it was the only way to survive for New Baja, but in the long run he worried that it wasn’t enough. He could play the angles as best as he could and where he couldn’t think of all of them he had help. Trying to keep a balance of sometimes conflicting other times committing interests to ensure New Baja stayed as independent as realistically possible.

Just a few days before he had thought Delacroix and Tarmalin naïve to storm off the way they did, they couldn’t appreciate the bigger picture. Now he had doubts. Maybe he had been the one to be naïve? He realised that New Baja had managed to outflank the SRID, but he knew they wouldn’t lay down, wouldn’t concede defeat. They were going to come back and when they did it would be with more guile, cunning and underhanded malignant malice then ever dreamt of before.

Late nights had been spent trying to convince Dunn of this danger and other nights still discussing the futility with Miss Julie and what few friends he had here. The Doctor reckoned that the only defence was to play on the same level, to make it a game of subterfuge and black operations. What was more, New Baja would have to broaden its power base, create more ties, widen the web and tighten the weave. He had some ideas about that, the news network business that Mary-Lou was now prattling on about was part of that. Information was a defence against the SRID, so were allies, what he needed now was a weapon. Eventually that would come to him too.

“Ok, that sounds good” he said hoping it sounded good, she had been cataloguing more details and he had quickly detached again from reality, the reality he had worked himself into. “I’ll be back in an hour or two, keep busy” She threw him a plaintive grimace, partly hurt partly incredulous, what else would she be when she had to manage his affiliations and enterprises?

“Anything else? “ she retorted sarcastically, mostly to her self as he picked up his tank and walk out of his office.

“Yes, actually, can you see if Miss Julie is free for dinner?”

His young assistant did not lack logistical talent but short on experience and tact her expression belied all the unsaid implications in her words: “you want me do ‘appointment’ for you? ”

The Doctor paused in the doorway, the artificially lit hall contrasted with his dimly lit office and his figure stood out cut with a scalpel, black against the shadowed incandescence. His head moved slightly to the side, you could make out his handsome features in profile but the shadows obscured details. After a moment, acutely felt by the young professional woman enveloped in the gloom of the figure cast into the office, her figure shrinking inversely to her mounting sense of discomfort, Doctor Chambers replied nonchalantly and with a perceivable smile.

“No my dear, request the pleasure of her company on my behalf” As he shifted his scuba apparatus to the other arm and went down the hall he heard her call out after him :

“Like…a date?”

He did not reply, he didn’t know the answer.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.