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Authors: Kieran Shea

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AUDIO: MORE HYPER-PACED MUSIC. HEAVY DRUMS CLIMBING TO CRESCENDO.

[CUT TO] VISUAL FEED 3: HIGHLIGHTS OF SOME OF BELSKAIA AND MARTA’S MORE VIOLENT FINISHES. (Note: TFFI Authorized Visuals only.)

VOICEOVER (CONT.): Watch as former warriors from across the world take their grudge matches to a whole new level. Twenty sponsored tiger fights on the Sea Rage card in all! With weaponized zip rounds! All live! All action!

[CUT TO] VISUAL FEED 4: SIDEBAR OF FEED CHANNELS SCROLL RIGHT AS ADDITIONAL MONTAGE OF FIGHT ACTION AND KILLS ROLLS. INCLUDE AERIAL SHOT OF PREVIOUS SEA RAGE EVENTS ON THE EUROPEAN ALLIANCE CARRIER
FORSETI
.

VOICEOVER (CONT.) One hundred percent certified combat and murderous mêlées! Goon your heart out as up-and-coming fighters fresh from the syndicate enlistment obligations clash and claw their way to glory on the open seas! Friday, June 6th!
Be there!

[DISSOLVE] VISUAL FEED 5: THIRD GARGANTUAN FIREBALL FILLS THE ENTIRE SCREEN.

AUDIO: MASSIVE, ROLLING EXPLOSION.

[Note:
Translation budget covers all remaining languages and surviving Chinese dialects (Mandarin, Wu, Min Nan, etcetera
.)]

FLYNN, THE EXIT INTERVIEW

ALAUNGPAYA
SECURITY EMPLOYEE—FLYNN, JEDIDIAH—C-CLASS. BADGE NUMBER: 2294; SFZ Citizen Identification 821612403; Mandatory Exit Assessment: Case #363-737-E/Recorded for Archive Retrieval/Date: 7.1.2521 Current Cycle

PERSONNEL ASSESSMENT AGENT:
What is your primary reason for leaving
Alaungpaya
Security Services, Deputy Flynn?

JEDIDIAH FLYNN:
[Inaudible]

PAA:
Deputy Flynn?

JF:
You’re not really asking me that, are you?

PAA:
Just answer the stated questions, please.

JF:
I mean, wouldn’t something like that be in my file already? God, you know damn well why I put in my notice. My lieutenant practically held my hand when I encoded my resignation.

PAA:
This may be true. However, the archive needs linear cohesion, deputy. Please, just state the reason for your resignation for the audio record.

JF:
Fine. I have Depressus. Linear cohesion happy now?

PAA:
Yes. And for what it’s worth, let me offer you my condolences. I know how this must be difficult for you. Now, then, first things first. Are you lucid this afternoon, Deputy Flynn?

JF:
What do you mean?

PAA:
Are you clear-headed? Are you on any heavier-than-normal medication or substances unknown that might affect your answers today?

JF:
I’m still on duty.

PAA:
Yes-yes.

JF:
I’m still a security officer for the next twenty-four hours.

PAA:
Yes, but your file indicates you have been reprimanded twice for overindulging your medication levels in recent weeks. It’s not that I don’t believe you, but I also know it’s not uncommon for personnel to throw caution to the wind so close to termination.

JF:
Look, I’m fine. Basic even dosage and barge-medical-approved. I know the rules. All that stuff? I was going through a rough couple of days and made a mistake. What, you want to give me a blood test right now, is that it? Wipe my tongue and take a saliva sample?

PAA:
We just want perfect linear cohesion for the archive.

JF:
Yeah, right.

PAA:
Please calm down.

JF:
I’m calmed down.

PAA:
Deputy Flynn, let me be frank. While I sympathize with your distress, yours is not the first Depressus security case I’ve interviewed. I fully understand how normal discourse can cause aggravation and induce radical temperament fluxes in those with Depressus. I repeat, I mean to cause you no grief this afternoon. So if you simply answer the questions succinctly and with proper composure, we’ll be done with this in no time.

JF:
[Inaudible]

PAA:
What?

JF:
Just how many questions are you going to ask me anyway?

PAA:
Mmm. Fifty, give or take.

JF:
[Inaudible]

PAA:
How’s that?

JF:
Nothing. Just forget it.

PAA:
Good. Now, then, let’s move on with some basics. In your own words, what was most satisfying about your position as a deputy for
Alaungpaya
Security Services?

JF:
Nothing.

PAA:
Nothing? Come, come. All those years of service, there must be something you found satisfying.

JF:
Well, maybe some of the respect, I suppose.

PAA:
Excellent answer. Good, good.

JF:
Some of the camaraderie. Helping people out of bad situations, you know, stuff like that.

PAA:
I see. And what during your tenure did you find the least gratifying?

JF:
Besides the fact that you guys should seriously consider changing the name of
Alaungpaya
’s security force? I’d say the least satisfying would be the compensation.

PAA:
Of course you do realize
Alaungpaya
Security Service personnel are some of the highest-compensated law-enforcement officers in the Second Free Zone.

JF:
Oh, come off it. Some of the highest paid? We both know for a fact the compensation assessment for
Alaungpaya
security bites the big one. It’s laughable even with last year’s benefit upgrades. And I should know—I’m in the union.

PAA:
Again, I must caution you about your tone of voice.

JF:
My tone of voice? My tone of voice? You know what? Get bent.

PAA:
See, the direction you seem so insistent on taking this—

JF:
What? Can’t I even express myself openly anymore outside of a doctor’s office? Or is speaking my mind forbidden now too? I just don’t like the fact that you jerks have to do some kind of post mortem on me and I haven’t even killed myself yet. Damn it… [Inaudible] See? This is what I’m talking about. Shit, I knew I should have just opted for uploading this crap instead of doing an exit interview in person.

PAA:
That was your choice.

JF:
My choice. None of us have a choice.

PAA:
Is something wrong, deputy?

JF:
[Inaudible]

PAA:
Deputy? Are you all right?

JF:
No, wait. I’m okay. I’m sorry. I just need to breathe for a second or two. Hold on.

PAA:
Do you want a glass of water?

JF:
[Inaudible] Just get on with whatever you’re going to ask.

PAA:
Maybe we should arrange for another time.

JF:
Do I look like I have time to spare? I’ve signed up for the next Embrace ceremony, you officious putz. Just finish the interview. Please, just ask whatever it is you’re supposed to ask.

PAA:
Okay, then. Let’s see. Above average arrest records, substantial and noted commendations, etcetera, etcetera… Well, if it weren’t for several of your recent outbursts and the aforementioned medication indulgences, I’d say your career record is quite admirable and worthy of full termination benefits.

JF:
[Inaudible] Nope—not fine. Not fine at all. Here it comes…

PAA:
Excuse me?

JF:
I said, do you have any tissues?

WHY SO BLUE?

In the diagnostic silos of Fogarty’s Medical Conditions and Diseases Index, the following brief synopsis is provided for Second Free Zone cases of the affliction known as Depressus:

Depressus
(VAST D.),
n
.—a severe, stage-classified psychosis. VAST D. is a mental disorder affiliated with the liberalized citizens of the Second Free Zone confederacies (suborbital tracking orbits) characterized by abject downward mood swings, sudden bouts of misplaced rage, anhedonia, sleep disturbances, and feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. The diagnostic criteria for VAST D. include the following: a depressed form, a marked reduction of interest or pleasure in virtually all normal behaviors, as well as occasional flare-ups of intense anger [
see
substratum Endogenous D., Exogenous D., bipolar disorder, also 2-79A Syn. Clinical depressive disorders.] According to the FG & SFZHO Depressus affects 5.5% of the liberalized citizens of the Second Free Zone, and the negative bearing on commercial interests is estimated at 16 trillion credits annually. The disorder is theorized to result from a genetic electrochemical malfunction of the limbic system aggravated by continued variance in high-altitude exposure in the Second Free Zone. Recent research has shown the number of glial cells in the subgenual prefrontal cortexes of people with familial VAST D. to be significantly dwarfed by those of otherwise mentally healthy citizens. Treatment with psychopharmaceutical agents (including tenth-generation tricyclic antidepressants, nano-selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [NSSRIs], ancient monoamine oxidase [A-MAO] inhibitors) is ineffective for sustained control in most cases. To date, long-term stabilization of the disease is impossible, with affected persons opting for now-sanctioned mass-suicide events.

Ah, Depressus.

Quite the bitch, but it sure does thin the herd.

GOING DOWN

Koko rockets down the plummet chute.

It is greasy in the chute’s core. The inner funneling dimensions wind her around and around as though she’s being flushed through an industrialized carnival ride, and the tangy pong of runny garbage and dried urine is so intense it makes her eyes water. Knowing she needs distance, she tucks in her limbs for speed. How many decks has she passed? Thirty? Maybe fifty? How big is
Alaungpaya
anyway?

Soon a graffiti-streaked sign whips by overhead, indicating Koko is nearing the plummet chute’s bottom and approaching
Alaungpaya
’s main entertainment decks. Easing her rate of speed with friction points on her boot heels and chafed elbows, she readies herself and three seconds later is ejected out a set of rubberized doors with all the fanfare of a mechanical fart.

Koko lands on her back and loses her wind. She sucks and sucks and finally finds her air. Whipping her head around, she discovers she’s in another access tunnel and quickly gets to her feet. She straightens her soiled tank top, dislodges her shorts from the crack of her butt, and prepares herself for the bounty agent. After a full minute of her being cocked in a ready stance and waiting for the redhead’s imminent arrival, it dawns on Koko she must have lost the bounty agent, at least for now.

Relaxing some and adopting the stride of just another SFZ citizen, Koko struts out of the access tunnel. In some buffed chrome near the tunnel’s exit, she catches her reflection and notices a splotch of blood still on her chin from when she started to mark the woman. Koko licks her thumb and wipes the blood clear.

Emerging from the tunnel, Koko enters a colossal skylighted atrium that stretches upward through the rigid circularized core of
Alaungpaya
. A set of elevated and dual-directional causeways encircles the hive-like core and apparently serves as the main thoroughfare around a huge centralized casino. The perimeter of the concourse is lined with narrow storefronts, seedy discotheques, and the standard hot-holes of the vice trades. Not overly crowded, but not exactly starved for business either; it’s pretty easy for Koko to blend into the multi-pigmented ebb humping its way around. She trucks left on the inner loop, the cacophony of a thousand whistles and thrums amplifying into an oceanic roar in her ears.

She needs a place to hole up and get her head together, and there are a lot of tall time-break bins and hospitality grottos to choose from. Even if she’s still being tracked by that redhead, it would take the agent more than a little while to search all the endless crannies towering around her. Koko’s blood buzzes. Gunfights on the fly with a cluster of cocky CPB security stiffs are one thing. Getting all personal with someone trained to kill you in hundreds of brutal ways is another matter entirely. Regretfully Koko knows she should have just finished that bounty agent off and taken her eye, but that dopey kid with the weird yellow hair was watching her.

No matter, Koko. Keep moving.

Keep moving.

In her past, when booking a place to stay, Koko has always opted for ponying up the extra credits to be around a better stratum of people. But seeing that things have gone all tiger-fight with Delacompte siccing a freelance asset after her, Koko realizes she needs to ratchet down her usual modus operandi. She looks for a cheesier tower unit, and after three thousand meters slaloming through the crowds, she settles on one called, of all things, Wonderwall. Wall, yes, but calling the low-rent tower facility a wonder is more than a bit of a stretch. Twenty stories, set back on a furcated spur, with daily and extended occupancy rates, it’ll have to do. Koko pushes through the frosted lobby doors.

Inside it takes Koko more than a little while to manage one of Wonderwall’s unstaffed hospitality displays. The interface is a convoluted mess, the Byzantine navigation resets no doubt programmed by fumble-headed curve draggers. Finally, she manages to steer through the registration silos, and selects an available smoking room on quick exits with a decent view of the concourses and
Alaungpaya
’s central casino. Koko could have opted for an exterior unit but her hunch is, if Delacompte sent that bounty agent after her, she’ll stand a better chance of catching the woman by making a fuss down on the concourse than by taking in a pressurized view of the weather-strewn sky. When she confirms her reservation, a bright blue balloon squeaks—a message from Wonderwall management congratulating her on her reservation. A second balloon fades in on the display, boasting that her room includes a state-of-the-art flash shower and complimentary mini bar. La-dee-fucking-dah.

BOOK: Koko Takes a Holiday
11.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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