At brunch this morning I was afraid we were going to have a repeat of Patrick's first brunch with us. Case and I had finally gotten Bri settled into her seat when Patrick and several other agents descended on our table.
I watched expectantly as Case's face lit up. They had the information they needed and all the warrants had been signed. For once I didn't mind Case rushing out to deal with something work related.
He had to move in on them while they were still here. He was kissing me good-bye when the Matre'd arrived. His expression was clear– he did not want Case's miscreant friends ruining other people's dining.
Before he could say anything, Case was gone and it was just Bri and me. The Matre'd simply took it in stride and acted as if this sort of thing happened all the time. I looked around the restaurant and realized that it does seem to happen all too often.
On the bright side, I didn't get a call... Somehow I don't think he'd appreciate us stiffing Bri with the tab.
Sometimes I think my life would make more sense on the trid. I mean there are times when I feel like I'm in a documentary, or an over dramatic adventure movie. There are also days when I feel like I'm the straight-man in a badly written sitcom. This was one of those days.
To really understand this, let me tell you more about my office. Unlike my first office, which had a solid door and a brass plaque with my name on it (to cover the sign that said ‘storage') I now have a door with a frosted glass window and the department stenciled in.
We've come a long way.
My office isn't your normal rectangular shape either– its... interesting. There's a small alcove along the left wall when you come in. It has a roundish table in it with a few chairs. For the most part its used to do my planning an plotting. There's a map of the city encased in plexiglass to make up the table top, and enough markers for me to write things out on it.
My desk faces the door, and behind me is a credenza and a coffeepot that is never used. To my right there's a portion of the wall that jets back out with a door that leads to the boiler room.
Okay, maybe I haven't come all that far, but it's a start.
Anyway– my appointment, Mr Maroshi was late so I started working on some of the paperwork that's been piling up when he announced himself.
I started to stand and tell him that I'd be right with him when he stormed past me muttering something about not wanting to deal with posturing waiting games and opened the door... to the boiler room.
He froze.. I bit back the chuckle that was fighting to be free. He paused and turned to me, a slightly bemused expression on his face. "This is not the office?"
It was a half question, half statement that had me fighting another fit of laughter. I nodded. After a moment I held out my hand.
"Hello, I'm Jess Miller– Director of Rapid Medical Response services."
He took my hand, and shook it. Before he was brusque– now he was stiff. "I am Mr. David Maroshi, executive assistant to Dr. Sherman Huang of Renraku Computer Systems."
I shook his hand and nodded towards the table. At this point I figured it was best to pretend that it didn't happen– or that things like that happened all the time.
"And you're here because the Metroplex Corporation Council..."
"Wishes us to have the publicly accessed areas of our arcology properly prepared for medical emergencies."
I nodded. "I understand most of the arcology has been in use for some time..."
He nodded and told me about the facility and the equipment involved. It was indeed most impressive: and Island city in the middle of the city.
"We are equipped to deal with our own people," he assured me. "We have medical facilities available on almost every floor... but..."
"But the city requires you to have all public areas accessible by city medical services..."
"Wouldn't be easier to have your own emergency teams available?"
He nodded again– it seems it was an old battle. "We have every technological advantage available, but the City commission seems unbending in its rules and ways of dealing with things."
I shook my head– its an old story: rules and regulations don't keep up with the advancements as they happen and are in a perpetual state of needing to catch up. I've hit it a few times in my career.
The only thing worse than outdated regulations were the outdated bureaucrats enforcing them.
"So you need an inspection and recommendations– and I've been suggested."
So it looks like Wednesday morning will be spent at the arcology climbing through the walls and inspecting their emergency equipment on the first few levels of the building.
As he was about to leave Mr. Maroshi studied me for a moment and then looked at the door in the back of my office. He looked as if he was going to ask about it, then just shook his head and bid me farewell.
There are some times where the less that is said the better it is.
Case finally got home this morning. He was exhausted– but I could tell he was also very satisfied. Looks like I won't be having any more problems with my union buddies– but they may be having some with theirs.
It seems that the union itself was valid– they just didn't know about their representatives extra curricular activities– or about creating a separate union for the motor medics. In view of this information of course, all charges have been dropped and an apology letter has been drafted.
They have been more than helpful in answering all of Case's questions.
Case for his part gets three days off and has been trying to convince me to take some time off. It wouldn't be all that bad, but to be honest– I'm curious to see the inside of the Arcology.
When I left for my shift, Case was busy helping Bri make a mess in the kitchen. Sometimes I don't know which of them is worse.
Fortunately last night's shift was light– for a Tuesday. We have about seven calls all night– most of them traffic related. Good thing I was able to take a few naps between calls– otherwise I never would have been able to deal with the inspection/review of the arcology and believe me, I wanted to be awake for that.
I mean– I've heard things about the place and I know they have their own medical staff-- No less than 4 fully staffed hospitals, but very few people that don't work for Renraku have been inside. Then again, that's all about to change and that's why they need me.
Mr. Maroshi was waiting outside the arcology for me. He looked like he'd been checking his chrono every five minutes for the last half an hour-- half expecting, half fearing that I would arrive in some large rescue vehicle.
I'm not sure if I disappointed him or not when I arrived on my bike.
He hustled me into one of the few remaining trailers outside the arcology to brief me. He showed me blue prints for the first few floors of the building– the floors that were to be made public and therefore were my concern. The rest he was very nebulous about. I looked at him questioningly and he just shrugged. "It is no matter," was all he'd say.
Company secret I guess.
If I had to describe the whole thing in one word, I think it would be ‘impressive'. It was a high-tech fortress in the middle of the city. A fortress that could lock out the rest of the world and be quite self sufficient if need be. 320 stories of technological wonder, housing for employees, parks, shopping centers, water and air reclamation along with labs and workshops so that if an employee wanted to they could have everything the wanted or needed without ever leaving the compound. All that was amazing in itself, then you add in the six floors dedicated to outside shoppers and revelers.
As I said, impressive. The six floors I was concerned with had more than just shopping, no that would be boring, there was an amusement park, a zoo, shops of every size shape and variety-- the only thing it was missing was a hotel to let people sleep over and continue shopping in the morning.
Once we'd gone over the blue prints, Mr. Maroshi led me inside. All I can say is that the maps didn't do the place justice. I spent most of the day going through public areas, lock down areas... the back access hallways that shoppers never see– it was amazing. As we finished off our tour, Mr. Maroshi led me into one of the offices on the sixth floor so I could finish my notes and discuss them with him.
Comparing what I'd seen to the standard requirements established by Citywide I began mapping out where the best equipment placements would be. When I finished I started to ask Mr. Maroshi if I could plug into his matrix connection and upload the information for him– when I saw that all too familiar blue glow behind him.
I stared at it as it once again took the form of the man, the one who had led me to the children– and had tried to warn me. He stood between me and the plug shaking his head sadly, warning me once again. Of what I couldn't say.
I must have stared at it too long because Mr. Maroshi turned and then looked back at me. It was obvious he hadn't seen anything.
"Miss Miller," he called worriedly.
I looked up at him, slightly startled. "I was just thinking about a few more things I'm going to need to cross check," I answered lamely. "I'll get you the report tomorrow morning."
He nodded and was friendly enough, but there was something in his expression that said he didn't exactly trust me. Still, he had to comply with my wishes and let me keep a copy of the floor plans so that I could document my findings.
I got home around 2 PM and tried to grab some shut-eye, but every time I dozed off– I'd see that blue glow in the corner of my eyes.
I have no idea what it means– but somehow, I don't think my ghost calls are over yet.
I didn't get to tell Case about the image until after shift. I came home to a stubble faced husband. He always seem to take a vacation from shaving when he has time off.
He didn't take the news about my blue friend very well, but he did assure me that he'd check with the mages involved and try to get more details on the ritual we'd interrupted.
Thinking back there were differences in the image's appearance. The sadness and pain in the image's eyes seemed somehow both less intense and far older than it had the last time. It also didn't seem quite as bright– as if it had less power behind it.
I tried not to think about it as I reviewed the floor plans and measured out the spacing for equipment, call boxes and the like– but it was always there, warning me.
Of what I still don't know, but I'm starting to worry that I will find out.
I turned in my report without any cataclysmic results, and before I could worry about it anymore– work kicked into high gear.
We had a late night call– near the Arcology, two men shot coming over the fence. By the time we got there the Star was arguing with Arcology Security as to who's custody the men were in. Dwight and I explained that they would have to sort it out later, but for now they were to be remanded into the custody of Harbor View Hospital.
Both sides were seething at that– but we were right. The men needed to be in the hospital and since the Arcology hospitals were supposed to be for residents only, except under dire circumstances– they belonged at Harbor View.
We were cleaning up after the call and on our way back to the bikes when Star and Arcology men descended on us.
"Where are they!?" An Arcology Security man demanded.
"Treatment 12," I answered. I tried to warn them about the hospital security– but they were already gone heading down the hallway like a pack of wild dogs.
Obviously– they'd never met Mac, the eight and a half foot Troll who handled the more violent patients. Part of me wishes I could have stuck around, but Dwight got a call to the Underground, and I got a call down near the water front.
I ended up back at Harbor View with a rather amiable drunk who'd tried to commune with the dolphins at the Seattle Aquarium. He'd inhaled quite a bit of the aquarium water before we'd managed to get him out. Finally he coughed it up and was quite disappointed that the dolphins hadn't saved him.
As I was drying off, I noticed one of the patients in the treatment room. It looks like the lead security man from Renraku did indeed try to overstep his bounds, and get to know Mac up close and personal.
Sometimes I really wish people would listen, or think. It would make my job a lot easier.
Well, it looks like I've survived another week.
After last night, I'm not completely sure how. I don't think my bike ever got a chance to cool down, I know I didn't.
First call came in while day shift was briefing me on their calls and before I knew it I was rolling for the rest of the night: five accidents, seven fights, three shootings, several cases of ‘over recreating'.
By the time I rolled back into the station I was dead on my feet. Fortunately today's Saturday and I have nothing more strenuous planned than watching Saturday morning trids.
Good thing too– I don't think I'm up to much more than that.
Copyright 2000 M.T. Decker