Saturday, December 4, 2010

Playing for Keeps

28 Spring, TN1935

The Badlands Caravan Guild office did not shut down overnight. Trevin Vemeer had slept there after a very late night, knowing that he'd be working on multiple projects throughout the following day. When he woke that morning he was in a particularly bad mood. At least, he considered, the Doctor and his merry band would be out in Goodland for most of the day playing with Paxton's latest toys. Trevin smiled. He counted each day where he did not have to deal directly with the "Operations" branch of the Guild as a small blessing. A double blessing if Kain Delacroix wasn't involved.

The office had a small room with a cot that doubled as a saferoom. Trevin shuffled around, cleaned himself up and brushed his teeth. After donning a spare set of fresh clothes, cawfee was most important. He sighed, and made a large pot, anticipating the Doctor's return. He looked out over the Badlands Quarter Bazaar. It was early yet, and most of the merchants had just opened their stalls. The dawn was just breaking, and despite the hard day's night he had just had, Trevin was looking forward to carrying out his duty with such excellence that Delacroix and the rest of the ruffians that made up the Guild staff would just have to put up with him despite it all.

An hour later, Vemeer had finished the logistics work that took up most of his slack time. During "operations", as the Doctor had a fondness for calling his misadventures, Trevin left the day-to-day Guild issues to automated systems. He concerned himself mainly with the specific operational tasks that needed handling.

First and foremost, running the POC and limited Paxsec databases against what was already amassed in Guild files. That was just good sense. He had been working on it since he had been granted access to the databases, but it was slow-going, no matter how often he had optimized the cross-referencing.

There was a new email from Janus, via Helen Luka. Trevin smirked at the "mysterious" text. He would tell all the Guild "operatives" that no one's impressed by their attempts at melodrama, if he thought they'd listen.

Trevin sipped at the cawfee. It was good. He swallowed self-assuredly. He had procured it directly from one of the caravans coming in from the Pacifica mountains, after all.

Two hours later...

There was no new reports coming in from the surveillance teams. The POC classified the fire at Edson Minburn's apartment as arson, but the investigation was no longer concerned with the anonymous tip that brought the police to the Guild office last night. Trevin frowned. The Saracens hadn't made any noise on the POC net either. That was probably a sign that he'd be putting in even more hours. Why Delacroix insisted on dealing with street trash was a mystery to him, considering the contacts the Guild actually did have. Then again, the Forzi cartel had proved most unreliable. He still couldn't seem to find a solid fix on Nicolai Forzi's whereabouts. The fabled Forzi compound, a villa in the foothills of the Pacifica mountains near Peace River, was well-hidden, or, at least, completely ordinary.

He glanced up at the news. There had been three bombings last night, all in the 2nd Terrace. The BRF had claimed responsibility for them, and threatened more violence so long as the Worker caste was denied its rightful place. Vemeer had moved to Peace River as a refugee during the War, and was sympathetic to the plight of the Workers. As a refugee seeking to stay in the city, he had the right to take the Management caste tests before Simosa's reforms allowed Workers to take the tests. He understood just how misguided the BRF's actions were, despite the righteousness of their cause. He looked out onto the Bazaar again, and in a rare moment of humility and optimism hoped that his work would contribute to their downfall in some minor way.

A computer beeped. Trevin hurried over to the display, and smiled. The encryption on the data disk recovered at Minburn's apartment had been broken. He'd thank Prabal for the technique later. He began looking at the files. His eyes widened. Trevin sat down and reached for his phone.

"Yeah, Edna, it's Trevin. I need a major favour."

"Yes, I promise. No more favours. Ok, look, I need a list of people who would have had access to PRDF files, from number 99168544 through to 9916879."

"Yes Edna, I know that those are classified. I'm not entirely unfamiliar with Paxton cataloguing protocols. Just send me the list, and we'll consider the slate clean. Yes, clean. Thank you."

Trevin put the phone down and smirked. Edna would be back, of course. Having access to a variety of semi-legal goods had paid off in droves over the cycles. He shook his head ruefully, and waited patiently. Outside, he heard a thump, and looked out the window. A column of smoke began to rise from one of the restaurants near the Street of Willows. Trevin winced. The POC and the firefighters would be busy today.

The email from Edna arrived a moment later. Trevin glanced at the list and froze. His eyes widened. This was bad. This was very, very bad. He fumbled for the phone and dialed the Doctor.

"Doctor, it's Vemeer. The data disk, it's filled with top secret PRDF documents. Thirty people had access to it, and one of them is Captain Charlotte Rosso, the PRDF liason at your demonstrat--"

Trevin was hit by the concussive force of a massive explosion on the ground floor. The bomb tore through the building and gutted the Peace River office of the Badlands Caravan Guild.


"This is Mark Choi for Peace River News. The Badlands Revolutionary Front has claimed responsibility for the six bomb attacks that have targeted the Third Terrace and the Badlands Quarter specifically. The latest death toll has climbed to 49, and rescue workers are still searching for more bodies. More as this story develops..."


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