Alda walked down the halls of Argentum, her hair up in a slightly messy bun, wearing an off-the-rack grey pantsuit. She carried a stack of papers in one arm, pushed a cart loaded with files and other office materials with the other, pausing every so often to push up her ill-fitting glasses. By all appearances, Alda was just another bedraggled intern, carrying on with one of her endless and tedious tasks. People barely glanced at the badge hanging from a black lanyard around her neck, but if anyone had stopped her, the credentials would have checked out.
Alda wound her way through the halls, keeping her eyes averted, as only a beat-down intern will do, until the load in her arms was too much for her and cascaded from her arms . . . right in front the door of one . Mr. Belinger was Head of Development for the Quantum Computing division of Argentum. A very important man, and all development data and plans came through this office for Prescott’s approval.
As she stooped to pick up her papers, Alda reached subtly in to the lower shelf of her cart and slid out a slim, black device. Rising casually and glancing down the hall, she placed the code-breaker over the key-fob panel and punched in a few numbers on the code-breaker’s keypad. She continued to fuss and organize her papers then, as the red light turned green on her little device, placed the stack down and backed into the room, pulling the cart and code-breaker in with her.
Once inside she worked quickly. The mousy demeanor fell away and she pulled one of the cardboard paper boxes off the cart, brought it over to the desk and flipped it open, revealing several smaller tools and a somewhat bulky, 10×16 cm silver box. Alda flipped a few switches on the side of the box, slid out two of the round discs and placed them strategically on the smooth black glass surface of Prescott’s desk. Blue light washed over her face as the holographic monitor came up and a keyboard appeared on the desk’s surface. Alda’s agile fingers began working at lightening speed as she began searching for data.
A moment later, a grin flashed across the SOD agent’s face, signifying her task was complete. She picked up the two disks and the display went dead . . . just as the office door opened.
“Mr. Bengwe, I thought we were done. Was there something else you required?” Mr. Belinger responded with an air of annoyance mingled with his subtle old-Terranish accent, reminiscent of Dutch.
“Ah yes, yes, Mr. Bayleengwer." The deep voice continued. “I failed to describe fully the complex reproductivity of the eusocialistic colonial isopods. It is most fascinating, and essential in the understanding the potential for organo-symbiotic computing networks used by my people.”
“I am sorry, Mr. Bengwe. I felt that your previous description was sufficient for my overall assessment needed for my analysis. You have already provided sufficient information for my team to review. I have been most impressed. Can this wait?”
“Most certainly not! Do you realize that the rate machines and technology are developing independent of human involvement, pretty soon they will be taking over! You will be the servant, and THEY your master!”
“Excuse me?” Mr. Belinger’s voice asked, a bit confused where the conversation was going.
“I mean to say, Mr. Bayleengwer, that creating a symbio-organic computing network will be revolutionary! It will be the first of its kind on Illiyun. Imagine the patents that this company will hold by being the first to perfect this technology. And the best part of all? The network will grow because it is alive! This will be most extraordinary, you see? Furthermore, you can not fully appreciate its profitability until you understand its ecology.”
A loud sigh came from the door. ‘’Fine, fine. I understand your point, Mr. Bengwe. Step into my office, and you can finish describing the complex reproductivity of the socialistic colonial isopods … ’’
“NO, NO, NO!” the basso voice shouted as the door began to open again.
“MR. BENGWE! I THOUGHT YOU WISHED TO DESCRIBE THESE CREATURES??!! NOW YOU DON’T?” Mr. Belinger burst out in frustration.
“Yes, this is true, Mr. Bayleengwer …”
“ITS BELINGER!” Sounding even more frustrated.
“That is what I said, Mr. Bayleengwer. It seems you are a bit frustrated. Are you okay?” There was a long pause, while Mr. Belinger regained his composure.
“Yes, I am okay, now. I apologize Mr. Bengwe. Forgive my outburst. Now, where were we?”
“The complex reproducti…” answered Mr. Bengwe.
“Yes, yes, yes, reproductivity of the socialistic colonial isopods.” interrupted Mr. Belinger.
“EU-socialistic colonial isopods, Mr. Bayleengwer. Socialistic would just simply be absurd.”
“Yes, yes, shall we?” He began to open the door once more.
“No?!” parroted Mr. Belinger in confusion with a higher uncontrolled pitch. “BUT I THOUGHT…” He stopped himself this time, taking a deeper breath. “Do you want to continue, or don’t you?” He asked trying to remain polite.
“I do, Mr. Bayleengwer.” The deeper voice came back with the same formal tone. “I simply would like to discuss it out here. To be confined in such a cave is to deprive oneself of the vast opportunity to be stimulated by the mutual effects we exhibit upon others that are around us. We fail to observe an epoch to teach and learn. I feel others in this office would benefit from the description I wish to give.”
“Very well, proceed then Mr. Bengwe.” Mr. Belinger gave in fully exhausted now. He closed the door to his office completely.
“As I was saying, the complex reproductivity of the eusocialistic colonial isopods is a fascinating subject…” he paused. “…a subject I regret to inform you, Mr. Bayleengwer, I will have to share at another time. I failed to remember I have a previous appointment with the Shen Ambassador. I cannot keep her waiting you know. Forgive me, we shall bring this up at a later time?”
Prescott Belinger did not even respond. He simply turned to his door, burst open to find it just the way he left it. He slammed the door a little harder than he wanted in frustration at the long-winded Shen, who had just wasted his afternoon.
Already deep in the air duct systems, Alda was pulling the dismantled cart and equipment on a small retro-grav sled while just about to reach the extraction point.
“Well, Hune, that skill definitely isn’t something you should bring out at the annual company cocktail party.” Her thoughts transmitted through a placed at her left temple. It was received by a second scarab on the temple of a Shen traveling down the central elevator of the Argentum building.
“FINALLY! Where have you been?! I thought I lost contact with you! Was there something wrong with your scarab?” Nawahune thought back to Alda.
“Well, not exactly, Hune.” Alda thought. “I was just thinking it is…creepy. It’s a beetle! How do you stand having things like this all over you?”
“We have already discussed this Alda. A regular comm would have been detected, hence the reason would could not just plant a transmitting device to extract those files. Did you get the files, by the way?” The whale-like Shen transmitted his thoughts to Alda.
“Hune, don’t worry I got ya covered. Of course I got ‘em! They don’t call me Victorious Vitrionne for nothing! Double V one, Argentum ZERO!” Alda thought boastfully.
“Sure cut it close this time, V.” Nawahune responded through thought.
“Close? You haven’t seen nothing yet, Hune!” Alda took the scarab from her temple and tossed it in her side bag as she crawled out of the shaft to the roof exit.