"Wake up, you moron!" came a voice, interrupting my dreams.
"Not you again," I muttered, thinking my brain was talking.
I slowly opened my eyes, and realized I was sitting on the floor of a holosuite. "You failed, Fleckner," Scar informed me.
I opened my eyes to see his lovely face. "I guess I did," I replied.
"You know what we do with people who fail?" he asked me.
"You gouge out their eyes and cut of their fingers and toes and then make them eat it all in one bite?"
"No," replied Scar thoughtfully, "but that is a good idea." He continued. "We make them take the worst job in the Agency."
"And that would be..." I prompted.
"Research." He grinned a toothy grin. "You will be Head Librarian, Fleckner. I think it suits you, with that wimpy body of yours. You are to report to the library immediately." With that, he exited.
I sat up and pondered the recent developments. Librarian, eh? Well, I guess I can be the greatest librarian there ever was, if I have to be.
I made my way through the building, following the signs with arrows that said "Library." A few minutes later, I realized I was travelling in circles as I was back to the holosuites. So I did the next best thing.
"Excuse me," I asked a lady passing by, "but where is the library?"
She pointed down the hall. "Two doors down past the holos," she replied.
"Thanks." I made my way there.
It was a spacious room, filled with books and old ladies who liked to say "Shhhh." My desk happened to be right by the doorway, and I noticed a readadisk sitting on top. I picked it up and read:
We are doing some research in the area of System War II.
I was wondering if you would be so kind as to bring up some
of the more important files for me.
Who was this idiot? I wondered. It was like he thought he could get a Corvette for 400 pesomarks. Four million, maybe.
Nevertheless, I wandred about the shelves, and eventually found the documentation I needed. I sat down at the table and began to work. File after file I opened, file after file went back. The last file happened to be misfiled (N comes after M you know), but curiosity got the best of me. Inside was the documentation for a colonial transport on Neptune.
Now I see the screwup.
I picked it up to put it back, but a couple of readadisks and a flexidisk floated out. "Aaargh," I muttered. I bent down to pick them up, when I set of blueprints caught my eye.
I put the flexidisk into the reader. The screen lit up. The inintials SJF were the owner's, and a GGG authorized the building of it. I recoginized the plans as those of the transport ship.
I was just about to shut it down and put it away when the inner structure caught my eye. It was not quite the same as a colonial transport, so I ordered the computer to compare the plans with any ship that had ever been made. "One moment, please," informed the computer, It whirred away.
A feeling of dread started to overcome me as the minutes started to tick by. When an hour passed I was really getting nervous. At two hours I figured I had better check myself into a mental ward.
Just when I figured I was going to bite off my fingers from my nail chewing, the computer told me the magic word: "Done."
The original plans scrolled down on one-half of the screen. A new set scrolled down the other. "Analysis confirms similarity," stated the computer. "There is a 98.745 percent chance that ship is a Big Bang Dreadnought."
"Crap," I muttered. About 15 years ago, the democratic inhabitants of our solar system fought in Galactic War II against the Communist ideals of our solar system. The war was not going well for the Commies and they were becoming desperate. That's when the idea of the Big Banger came up.
The Big Bang Dreadnought was a huge ship, about 20 miles long, and had the mass of roughly a seven planet system composed of gas giants. It was incorporated with weapons that could tear the trans-dimensional barrier and let another universe leak in, which would, in time, create a small explosion.
Scientists figured out a way to keep the area of the explosion generalized, and built three of these machines. The war suddenly started going very well for us. Each planet under Commie control quickly surrendered. That doesn't include moons - Titan refused to surrender.
We sent two ships to Saturn, but the Titanites had somehow planted a mole and expected us. A whole armada of ships were waiting at the Saturn Dealership Interchange, so when the Big Bangers dropped out of hyperdrive, were instantly vaporized by thousands of weapons.
Meanwhile, the Titanites sent a fleet of what they called "Orcas" to infiltrate the last Big Banger. Unfortunately, they were successful, and demanded complete surrender.
Since our forces were almost completely depleted by this time, we practicing democrats surrendered. The Titanites then occupied our system for quite a long time, like 5 years or so, instituting their Communist regime starting at Mars [there's a reason why we've called it the Red Planet] and working toward Mercury while attempting to persuade the Neptunians.
A band of rebels slowly built, and over time were large and wealthy enough to fight off the Titanites, and after another 5 years or so, we were completely free again. That freedom has last for about 5 years now, and we're all happy.
Except the Commies. They're stewing in their red sauce.
Anyway, I printed out the results on a wafer, took the flexidisk, and then headed to Banning's office. I slammed the wafer down in front of him. "What do you think of that?" I practically screamed in his face.
He glanced at it. "It's a colonial transport," he replied. "So?"
"Yeah, but take away these four cargo holds--" I grabbed a lazeraser and erased the lines on the wafer, "take out these six bathrooms--" erase, erase, "and put a garbage, I mean waste reprocessor drop here--" I penciled in the chute, "and vóila! What do you see?"
Banning took a close look at the prints. He got the strangest fish-face look I had ever seen, like the ones little kids get when they think you can't see them but you really can. "I would say that it looks like a Big Banger. But one thing..."
"Yes," I said, prodding.
"Why would the Neptunians try to disguise it and then build it on their own planet?"
You know, I hadn't thought of that. But... Inspiration hit me. "Perhaps, just perhaps, the Neptunians aren't building this ship. Maybe it's some criminal agency or something."
"You may be right," said Banning. He paused, then continued. "Well, since you discovered this, I guess I might as well assign you to this mission."
"But sir," I said, "I'm not an agent! I failed the course!"
Banning got a sly grin on his face. "Call it field training," he said. "And, since it is training, you will have to take the things you need from other places, because we don't finance training runs."
"What are you talking about?"
"You need money, right? Where do you get money?"
Since he expected an answer, I answered, "From trees?"
"No, you dimwit! From a bank! You will have to rob a bank! We don't have money! What gave you that idea? Insurance companies have money!"
"Then why rob a bank?"
"Because, you moron, insurance companies pay the banks for their losses. Plain and simple!" he shouted.
Now, I will interrupt the story at this moment for all the crumb crunchers that are reading right now. I do not encourage stealing, cheating, lying, and anything else you may come up with. I will repeat the warning: Do not try this in your own time period! Results will be disastrous! Get the picture?
"All right! There's no need to shout. I'll rob a bank. Are you happy now?"
"Yes, I am. Now get your butt out there and start!"