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2034-02-26 0600LT In Which Enthusiastic Adherence to Contracts Is Discussed

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Event: 2034-02-26 0600LT In Which Enthusiastic Adherence to Contracts Is Discussed

The Time Before

Characters Locations
Ms. Smith, Dexter Lee Luna Alpha
Aspects
Caused By Cause Of
Simultaneous Events
On This Day

A wailing siren and ringing alarms shocked Dex from his bed. He leapt up with far too much force, smashing himself into the ceiling hard enough to leave him slightly stunned even if he'd been fully awake. He fell slowly in the low G. By the time he hit the edge of his bed he was awake enough to break his fall a bit. °What was that?°° he asked his lace. There was no answer. He reached out to connect to the internet. Silence.

His lace was a part of his brain, a part of his sense of self. He didn't think it could break down or be switched off. He started to panic.

From behind him, a high, soft woman's voice said, "Let's talk about your reports."

Dex had grown up poor, on rough and violent city streets. Long practice gave him enough self control to clamp down on his fear before it could show on his face. He took a deep breath as he stood and turned. "Hello, Ms. Smith."

The small woman was sitting cross legged on the corner of his bed. Her strawberry blond hair, pale skin, and curvy body were recognizable even in the darkness. Automatically, he tried to bring up the lights using his lace. When nothing happened he thought Idiot to himself and said, "House, turn on the lights please." When the lights snapped on he was surprised to see Ms. Smith's face looking completely natural. Her android body was amazing, but up close her skin normally had a flatter, lifeless appearance. She's not here, he realized. That's her avatar.

"Your reporting on events at Umbra live up to neither the spirit or the letter of our agreement, Mr. Lee."

Dexter looked contrite. "I'm doing the best I can, boss. Syd has very good--" He stopped talking when his vision blanked out.

Ms. Smith's voice was still quiet, but any softness in her tone had fled in terror. "You will provide complete reports each day, Mr. Lee."

Dexter was intimidated, and let it show. He'd manipulated powerful people before. "They are compl--" His ears turned off. In the utter darkness and silence, he was very aware of his heart thumping rapidly and his short, shallow breaths. He resisted the urge to scream or flail around for a while. He wasn't sure how long.

A row of text appeared in front of him. It said, "Complete reports, Mr. Lee." Benethe the words, small avatars of Syd, Rebecca, and Kevin faded into view. They stood in a circle, facing each other. Faint arrows with little question marks connected them to each other. More avatars and arrows began to fade in. The Squid, Duchess Luna, Brian William, Phil Bertrand, Shauna Singh... more and more people appeared.

Dex became aware that he could see himself when his nose became visible again. He looked down and saw he was all there. Naked, but visible in the formless void. He swallowed, and was surprised at how loud it was. He cleared his throat. His mouth was dry enough to make it hard to speak. "Um. I'll do better?" he said, uncertainly.

The augmented space folded in half, a vertical crease forming before him. It shrank, edges appearing from beyond his peripheral vision. In a second it appeared to be a flat black file folder, resting on the bed in front of Ms. Smith. "You will use this workspace," she said. The friendly softness was back.

His mind raced, desperately looking for a way to gain an advantage.

Ms. Smith sighed. Her lips tightened slightly when she frowned. "I see you need more motivation," she said.

The world exploded into chaos. Mind numbing blasts of awful sounds were accompanied by a kaleidoscopic nightmare of lights and images. There was no turning away, no blocking it out. There was no pain - only terror and horror. He had no idea how long it lasted, but it felt like eternity.

The world snapped back into existence at precisely 0900LT, but it took several minutes for Dex to regain any sense of himself. At some point he had fallen to the floor. His body ached, but his headache was awful. Eventually he stumbled to his feet. The folder was still there, sitting on his bed. Hands shaking, he reached out and picked it up. His lace didn't have much tactile feedback, but it still felt heavy. He pulled it open. Darkness enveloped him again, but this time he had full access to his lace and his senses. He pointed to Kevin and said, "Something about his behaviour changed when he came upstairs. I'm not sure it's even Kevin." The information appeared under his avatar. "Rebecca reacted badly when I tried to warn her." A new line appeared between the two, with notes appended. He worked for an hour before he was too loopy from exhaustion. °Send it to Ms. Smith,° he thought, after closing down the report. His lace made an AR pneumatic tube descend from the ceiling. The report rolled itself into a cylinder. A clear glass capsule formed around it as it was sucked into the tube.

Dex was already asleep when the metaphor retracted into the ceiling again.


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