fix you 3
Back at base, doors scanned and measured Inspector Allan’s approach and let him through. Office walls ebbed and flowed and doubled as free-floating data units that sparkled and changed colour with a reddish pink predominating as information came in from the different crime zones. The two carbon units, Inspector Allan and Commander Collins sat facing each other with a screen the size of a handprint hovering and flickering between them. Debriefing was a painless process, Inspector Allan was old-fashioned enough to sit at his orb reading hardcopy, flipping the pages of Ken Kesey, long after a copy of his affective responses to stimuli whilst on duty were backed up to hyperspace where it was encrypted, but accessible for those with right key such as his superior officers. Inspector Allan was an overweight anachronism in the state protectorate service, his senior officer plugged in to receive the latest bio-updates on offer was more conventionally handsome, his face slightly skewed so that the Fibonacci numbers didn’t exactly overwrite biology, and produce uniformity in the upper echelons, but the effects were still noticeable. Collins had blonde hair which was fleeced short so that his face seemed set in a permanent youthful glow and the golden ratio of pale blue eyes, to aquiline nose to thick lips to firm chin, what lower ranks called the biscuit-cutter effect, made him seem ready to go out and bench-press the day. The data Inspector Allan had collated had already been assessed by Collins and his superiors, as had the response the drones had made after the K6176-mobile waste-disposal unit had come under attack.
‘We are quite pleased with the data you have gathered,’ said Commander Collins, pressing his hands together and smiling affably, his eyes flickering back to the screen to his right. ‘We can never be too careful after a terrorist attack.’
‘Terrorist attack?’ Inspector Allan pinched the corner of the page on his hard copy and shut the book. But the static quality of a book seemed out of place in an ever changing office world and he slipped it into his coat pocket. ‘I thought it was just a few kids flinging snowballs.’
‘It might seem like that to your type.’ There was a slight hesitancy that made Collins seem more human. ‘But with incomplete date, you have a proven record of jumping to the wrong conclusion.’
‘That’s true.’ Allan pursed his lips together and shifted forward, his chair tilted to help him stand. His superior had already swivelled and was giving data flow his full attention, but Allan sat on, and wondered if his subversive thoughts were being recorded. ‘So what happened then?’ In the quiet flow and ordered chaos of the colour co-ordinated room, he could hear his raggedy breathing.
‘What do you mean, what happened?’ Collins’s voice dropped like a closing curtain. He gave Allan his full attention now. ‘You know what happened.’ He waited until the older man’s eyes head dropped and he seemed to be examining some loose thread in his lap, before he continued in the monotone voice used for media reports marking an ever decreasing crime rate and increased vigilance by the state protectorate services. ‘Two days ago at 12.22 pm in zone 7, a Linda Stoker, aged 12 alerted us to a possible criminal violation in Risk Street. Before any of our units could arrive at the scene, mobile unit K6176 came under a prolonged attack. Drone units became airborne. One of the terrorists was killed at the scene and the other arrested shortly afterwards.’ He smiled as he would have in media news. ‘That’s quite clear, isn’t it?’
‘Yeh,’ said Inspector Allan. ‘But what happened to,’ he hesitated, choosing his wording carefully, ‘the terrorists?’
‘May I remind you,’ said Commander Collins, ‘your contract is up for renewal and terminates in six weeks, six day and thirty-two minutes. And while you have some unusual skills that are useful to our department…’ his voice drifted and his eyes shifted sideways to the floating index of crime.
‘Point taken,’ said Allan. ‘I was just wondering what happened to the wee boy?’
Collins sat back and his chair pushed against his back so he seemed taller. He tapped the philtrum between nose and lip as he considered his response. ‘The terrorist that committed the attack was taken into custody. His family, who sheltered and aided the terrorist were also taken in custody, as were the father of the dead terrorist.’
Allan cleared his throat, as if to speak, but Collins held his hand up flat to stop him. His commanding officer continued, ‘the hero Linda Stoker that gallantly tried to prevent and reported the terrorist attack, of course, had her account credited and her family were upstreamed to better quality housing and bio-9-updates as per state protectorate services policy 221.3’. The two men looked at each other. Allan again taking the lead. ‘Is that clear!’
Collins nodded, swallowing what he was going to say. ‘Yes sir.’ When he stood up his legs felt a bit funny and he found himself falling and sprawling sideways on the floor. He must have blanked out. Lying, legs twitching, he was looking up as a light approached, he could hear an insectoid buzzing. He wet his dry lips to whisper, ‘drones aren’t programmed to hurt you; drones aren’t programmed to hurt you’.