Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Continuity Core," CTC, pt. 2, 398 words

“Grand,” Mudry muttered, straightening up. “Might as well just get it on our way out.”

Rijn nodded, drawing her sidearm. She gave it one last check, disabling the genelocked safeties. Mudry followed suit, with the pistol on his right hip and the cutting torch on his left. The torch was no bigger than his forearm in whole, including the fusion cell, and hung heavy on his belt. Mike was unarmed; no biod could legally bear firearms.

“Ladies first,” Mudry suggested with a wry grin.

Rijn dropped her pistol back into her holster. “Go right ahead.”

“Yeah, ha-hah, thanks,” Mudry said, but made for the arch of the personnel scanner anyway. The security station chirped its alarm as he went through, and repeated itself as Rijn followed after. Mike brought up the rear, and the three passed the checkpoint and into the inner complex.

All lights were disabled in the hall and the door snapped shut behind them, leaving the team in the dark. The faint luminescent patterns on Mike’s skin glowed in the darkness until Rijn and Mudry snapped on their lights. The lights were little flattened squares that would fit snugly in a person’s palm, the disc-shaped bulb taking up nearly a whole side. Rijn popped hers onto a pair of clips on her uniform breast, its light shining steady before her, while Mudry kept his in hand.

Mudry flashed his light up and down the length of the hall, skimming the ceiling and both walls. Nothing showed save sealed doors and a bevy of “motivational” posters. Like they had a chance in hell of motivating anyone to do more than the bare minimum. Ever since the DI had been brought in, most of Corridor Traffic Control’s staff consisted of janitorial and maintenance personnel. Even those were on their way out, with the increasing drone automation of menial labor.

The building was a good hundred times bigger than it needed to be anymore, a grossly outsized monument to the shrinking demand for human labor. Why pay human staff to run the system and keep the building up when a digital intelligence could manage everything necessary on its own for less? The staff who still worked there did more of importance by disappearing, and so warning Rijn and Mudry’s bosses of a rogue DI, than they probably had ever done or would ever do in their whole careers.

No comments: