More “New Bits.” part 3

Well, part 3 of this particular writing exercise. I actually kind of like the characters in my head, so we’ll see what happens.

Enjoy. Read the earlier parts if you’d like.


Thump-thump-thump!

“Argh,” was all I managed to get out before trying to sit up and cracking my forehead into the top shell of the rehab table.

“Son of a—!”

“Hey, watch it,” came Jules’ voice, and the cover she’d been banging on swung upward and away. “Boss is on his way down. You’ve got about thirty seconds to get your shit together.”

The door slid sideways with an audible whoosh before I could even swing my feet off the edge of the table.

“Not even that long, Simmons,” Howitz said to me, striding through the open doorway. He stopped a couple feet away from me and nodded at Jules. “Paperwork done for yesterday’s shit-storm?”

“Almost,” she replied. “Still needs somebody’s signature.” She shot me a sidelong glance.

“Well, get up and get to it,” he said, handing her a tablet, its display all too familiar.

“ATHENA kick out another disturbance, boss?” I asked, trying to re-ingratiate myself with a show of enthusiasm. I put my bare feet on the cold floor, colder than I remembered from my last visit to rehab.

How many times have I ended a mission in rehab…?

He turned and looked at me through those horn-rims and said, “You could say that. Read the projections. All hands on deck.” He spun on his heel and made for the door. “You have five minutes.”

Jules’ eyes had been on the display since he’d handed it to her, her lips were moving like they always did when she was reading something over, as if she’d read it wrong the first time.

“What’s up?”

Her eyes didn’t look up from the display, but her lips stopped.

“Fuuuuuuck…”

I followed Jules out into the hallway and back toward the bullpen. She was still re-reading the display, and I could barely keep up with her hurried strides.

“What? Jules, what?”

We rounded the corner and entered a hive of activity. It looked like every agent we had was there, and since that almost never happened, space had suddenly become a premium.

I’d never seen the bullpen that busy. Not since—

“Fuck,” I said, to no one in particular.

“Yep,” Jules said.

“That bad?”

She casually handed me the tablet and said, “Just scroll to the bottom. That sums it up rather nicely.”

I grabbed the device and jumped to the bottom.

Affected date: 26 August 2022

Calculated deviations: 10.2 Billion

Delta percent from base: 99%

“Ninety-nine percent?” I said. “That can’t be right. ATHENA’s blown a fuse or something.”

“It’s correct, Simmons,” Howitz’s voice boomed across the din of the bullpen, bring immediate silence. He stood in the doorway of his office, the lights reflecting off those hornrims as he moved his gaze around the room.

“Effective immediately, this Division has one task.” He looked around the room again, making sure he had every single agent’s attention. “And the clock, as it were, is ticking. He turned back to his office and yelled over his shoulder, “Squad heads, in my office, two minutes!”

Jules grabbed another tablet from a closest desk and pulled up the same information I was looking at. “Digest that and be ready to go when I’m out of the boss’s office.” She stepped away from me toward Howitz’s office.

“Ready to go where?” I called after her.

“Page two, unless you really want to go back to Salt Lake City…”

I jumped to the second page of data. Nothing I was seeing looked good at all, but the destination was abundantly clear: Las Vegas.


 

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