Capt. Sturdivant rose a Brigid trudged into his office. “Please, Ms. O’Connell, sit down, I fully understand the difficulties you must be laboring under.”
She took a look a look at a hulking but fit character who looked as if he’d just stepped out of a recruiting poster , and wondered sourly if he’d ever found just walking around hard. But the chair seemed to be form fitting, adjusting itself to give just the back support she needed, and for this much she was grateful.
“Ms. O’Connell, I’ll come right to the point, so you can get to your quarters and get settled in. You were recruited for accounts analysis, and there are some things in particular we’d like you to keep track of. This” and here he handed her a data chip “will go over them in detail, all but one. I take it you probably notice our extra security around”
“Especially when they were going through my underclothes. Yes, I noticed. I take it that’s somehow related to what you haven’t included on this chip?”
“You guessed right. We were ‘attacked’, if that’s the right word, by some kind of techno bug. It did a lot of overt damage before it was captured, so to speak, and sent to Sigma Theta. But what we are afraid of is that before that it may have ‘infected’ other systems or record in more subtle ways.”
“So what you want is patterns, trends, activity and so on that weren’t there before? That courier back on Gehenna told me one thing, that a number of miners connected to the embezzlement all can from Sana Glen, planetside. That what you’re talking about?”
The captain smiled in appreciation. “The briefs I had on you didn’t lie, did they? For more regular duties you’ll report to the section supervisor in the normal way. But when you find what you believe to be TALON related activity, you’ll contact me. The chip I handed over has the contact code included.”
"So I’m a spy. Well, it beats standing on my feet, or getting shot at. When do I start?
“As soon as you feel up to it, but I hope it’s soon. When I hear any news from Sigma Theta about the bug, I’ll let you know that too. Hopefully it will be soon, the package left Victory Station here about the time you left Gehenna, I should imagine. And Ensign Kaval, the one I sent it with, is sharp. You two will probably be comparing notes when Kaval returns.”
Capt. Sturdivant noticed the tightening in Brigid’s jaw, and the wince she made, as she began to rise from her chair. He came quickly around from behind his desk area. “Please, let me help you to your cart, Ms. O’Connell.”
She waved him off in annoyance, her discomfort making her even more curt than ususal. “Thanks, but I can manage. Just be glad you don’t have to worry about mobility the way I do.”
A strange light seemed to flicker in Sturdivant’s eyes. “Ms. O’Connell, if I could prevail upon you for just a very few more minutes. We’re going to have to work together at times, and I don’t want things to go badly.”
Brigid realized she’d been bitchy again so she stayed seated. Capt. Sturdivant stayed in front of the desk. “Now, there’s a few people who know this, but I try not to talk about it too much.” He bent over and pulled up his left pant leg.
What she saw made Brigid look around for a crack in the floor to trickle gently and unobstrusively into, her face flaming in embarrassement at her earlier sarcasm. The captain’s leg, from just about midcalf down, was a high quality prosthesis. He rapped just below the knee, on his right leg, and Brigid could tell it must be the same kind of artificial limb.
“I won’t go into details, but this happened during my first policing action, not long after I graduated from Academy. Guess I surprised 'em when I turned down a medical discharge.” He looked Brigid straight in the eyes. “Are we even now Ms. O’Connell?”
She swallowed once more and looked back at him. “Yes, we are”
“Allright then” said Sturdivant “Now may I help you to your cart?” He offered his arm, and she took it. Just as they reached his door a small comm signal started beeping from his unit. Brigid glanced inquiringly at the captain but he just said. “It’ll keep for a couple of minutes” and they walked out of his office past the corporal on duty. “Sir, I just passed a comm into your office…”
“Langston, it will keep.”
“But sir, it’s from Adm. Innison!”