Sasha checked the wall of screens again, their soft glow falling across her desk as she shuffled papers in the gloom. No sign of any incoming attacks, and most of the western borders were quiet. Something of a skirmish had broken out just north of Paris but her boys were taking care of that; it was nothing to spend time watching.
Leaning back in her chair she double checked, eyes glancing from screen to screen before settling on the keyboard in front of her.
Dear Mr President she typed, fingers hesitating as she debated what to put next. She hovered, glancing back up to see if her boys had finished with the outlying force yet and then re-focused her attention.
‘Dear Mr President…’ she read the words back to herself and wriggled her fingers. Discussions must be opened… her fingers stopped again. There was no use in it, no matter what she wrote there would be no answer, GODS! There was no evidence to suggest anyone still living top-side still gave a dam about international relations. The war had split them all and no one knew who had promised alliances to whom. Each day there was a new list of world leaders and most of the time there wasn’t a whole lot of explanation about how they had taken power or what had happened to their predecessor.
Sasha hit the backspace.
Outside of Paris her boys had finished mopping up. There were a couple of fatalities and both Jennings and Boots were going to need medical attention. It would take three-quarters of an hour for the shuttle to have them back at headquarters, longer if they found any survivors to bring in for interrogation.
Headquarters was not what it had once been. When her grandfather had founded the organisation they had spread out under most of the world’s major cities, its long concrete corridors connecting every significant government there was. A last ditch effort for peace, an attempt to connect everyone and remind them that the focus should be on taking forward the world as a collective unit.
Halfway through his opening speech as Director, her grandfather had lost the back of his skull; two bullets sinking into the staging behind him. Sasha had watched him drop.
Without him her father had taken control and useless didn’t begin to describe that man. Headquarters had been bankrupt in a year and a half; most of the infrastructure crumbling as the world above decided that they would rather squabble than try and go through with the ideals Sasha’s grandfather had put forward. Great swaths of Europe burned and the U.S went dark, communications flickering out overnight, Headquarters’ remaining offices across the Atlantic seemingly disappearing without a trace. Sasha watched as her grandfather’s legacy shrank down to nothing more than three-thousand feet of dark, dilapidated hallways and a few hundred soldiers.
She took over three days after her sixteenth birthday; practically stepping over her father’s body to take her place as Commander of Headquarters. Her mother never looked at her in the same way but there had been no rebuke when they found the string of mistresses her father had hidden from them both. The money was gone however. The accountants that were left scoured the books, searching for something but there was nothing there. There should have been enough to fund Headquarters for the best part of three centuries, investments from almost every country in an attempt for World Peace. Instead her father has squandered it and Sasha found she would have to resort to less tasteful practices in order to stay afloat.
‘Grin Squad E.T.A twenty minutes,’ crackled the radio next to her left elbow. ‘Three for questioning.’
‘Copy that,’ answered Sasha, searching the screens in front of her again. It wasn’t her job to monitor top-side events but after the fiasco with the last agent assigned to the Screen Room, she wasn’t about to take any chance. The agent had been gone by the end of shift and within two hours her office had been moved from Level Sixteen to the Screen Room. She had to admit that it made running operations a hell of a lot easier; but then again, she wasn’t supposed to be the one monitoring assignments either. This one was at least a simple snatch and grab.
‘Are you planning on sleeping at any point?’ her mother asked the last she’d visited. Sasha had watched her scan the room, lips twisted up into a sneer as she took in the camp bed and fold out chairs.
‘I catch an hour or so here and there,’ Sasha replied, reports in one hand and a mug of coffee which resembled the size of her head in the other. ‘It’s enough.’
Her mother shook her head and left. They didn’t talk much anymore and there had been a retrieval mission in Alaska that needed heading up. That was three months ago and there wasn’t much in the way of reception these days.
A flicker of red flashed across screen 64, dissipating only to return a moment later. Sasha sighed and reached for the green hand set plugged into the wall behind her.
‘Maintenance in 64,’ she ordered. ‘Get Craigs down to the cameras and see what the problem is. What do you mean Craigs died? When did that happen? Then send someone else and get the body moved!’ She slammed the phone back into the cradle. It was a shame; Craigs had been good at his job.
She picked up the yellow handset next to the green.
‘Recruitment,’ she barked, meeting only silence. ‘Recruitment?’
The phone hit the cradle only to bounce off and crash against the wall, the cord swinging back and forth as it hung an inch or two above the floor.
‘Just brilliant.’ Sasha muttered, sifting through the papers on her desk to find the line to her receptionist.
‘Grant?’ she snapped, finally finding the intercom under a report she was supposed to read four months ago. ‘You’re getting a promotion, congratulations! You are Headquarters’ new Chief of Recruitment.’
Sasha could feel Grant staring at the intercom from his desk, thinking up new ways to curse her.
‘Great,’ he replied, his voice crackling and reminded Sasha that she needed maintenance to go over the wiring about the place. ‘Shall I deal with that before or after your meeting with French President?’
‘I spoke to Roderick last week,’ said Sasha, flicking through the over-due report. It landed in the bin with a clunk.
‘You’re meeting with Tullbort,’ Grant explained. ‘Roderick was deposed day before yesterday.’
‘Deal with Recruitment first,’ she said. ‘We’ll worry about Tullbort in a week or two; assuming he’s still President by then of course.’
A new power probably explained the incident outside of Paris, but that didn’t make much of a difference. Headquarters was responsible for civilians not governments, an international cleanup crew. Despite the various new avenues they had taken over the past four years Shasha still tried to stick to their original principles as much as she could.
‘Hey Grant,’ she said, catching him just before he hung up. ‘Anything in from Alaska?’
‘Something came in a twenty-one hours but the techs are still trying to unscramble it.’
‘Any idea what it could be?’ asked Sasha.
‘Not yet, I’ll let you know when we do.’
‘You do that, and send up some more coffee,’ Sasha nodded, already pulling papers back over the intercom.
‘Shush,’ she commanded and glared at each screen in turn. ‘Right,’ she hissed plucking the four month old report out of the bin. ‘Let’s see what it was I missed.’
Next Post: The Man on Level Twenty-Four
redrafted – 04/10/14
I decided that I was going to give Free Write Friday a go, and above is what I came up with. I’m fairly proud, though I did go back at the end and sort out spelling mistakes and such.
The prompt was the year 2063 in an underground bunker.
I’ve decided that I’m going to try and write a fortnightly piece of flash, set in the universe created by this piece. So if you want to find out more about Sasha and Headquarters, all you need to do is click follow and keep reading every other week. ‘Headquarters’ even has it’s own category and I’m sure Miss Brennan will create some fantastic drawings to accompany the pieces.
(You can also read my other work to pass the time between posts and I do love reading your comments.)