Sunday, October 31, 2010

Eye of the Storm

Calmly, Maia Kessler bid goodnight to Colonel Lenaris, Milani Dubeau-Slovenski, and her erstwhile colleagues. Calmly, she gathered up her notes. Calmly, she called for the elevator and took it to the floor of her temporary office.

She walked past mostly empty offices and a few occupied ones -- Paxsec officers working late on some important assignment or another. Calmly, she keyed her security code and closed the door behind her. With barely a glance out at the hallway, she closed the blinds. Calmly, she sat down at her desk, pulled out her white noise and static generator and thumbed it on. Calmly, she checked her bug detector to ensure that no new devices had been added in the last day or so, and calmly put it away when she was certain there weren't any.

Then she put her head in her hands and started to cry.

She let it all wash over her: the thrill of trying to navigate the Prospects without getting killed; the fear she'd felt in the Electric Nipple, a bar so rough she would have crossed the street to avoid it even in her most rebellious teenage days; the frustration with Delacroix intentionally keeping her out of the loop; the anxiety of being scrutinized by Paxton's most senior officers; the shock and panic from watching Dubeau-Slovenski walk right up to the man she'd granted asylum and casually kill him.

Her shoulders shook and her breath came in short gasps. She was running on too much adrenaline and not enough sleep. Too much cawfee and not enough food. Celina, no doubt, would know how to cope with it all, but she didn't dare tell Celina what she'd been doing this last week. Even ignoring the fact that her wife didn't have anywhere near the security clearance to know what was going on, Maia didn't want to face the sandstorm of questions that would engulf her if she opened that door even a little.

And it wasn't like there was anyone else she could talk to, either. The ombudsmen were no doubt terrified of the Black Queen, and if they weren't, they should be. At the very least, telling them stories about Paxton's executive officer killing a BRF cell leader in cold blood would be enough to get any complaint filed at the bottom of a very deep trash compactor. Lenaris had given at least tacit approval to the murder. And going to Chambers and Delacroix was so far from a possibility as to be laughable.

No, she was alone this time, and she would handle it -- as she'd handled so many obstacles in her life -- alone. She took a shuddering breath, and then another. She counted slowly to ten, and then to one hundred. She waited for the tears to stop and her breathing to return to normal. Waited for her eyes to lose the redness of crying.

From the drawer in her desk, she removed a compact and reapplied her mascara. She surveyed herself critically in the mirror. Then, confident that the last fifteen minutes were invisible behind the new layer of makeup, she reached forward and tuned off the static generator. Calmly, she opened the blinds, swept up her notes, and left her office, thumbing the security code behind her. Calmly, she left the building beneath the lightening sky, ready to exchange pleasantries with her wife and daughter before returning to work to face yet another day at Paxsec.


Certain Betrayal said...

[Standing] Clap,clap, clap. Bravo.

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