Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Locks (John, Part 2)

At the end of his shift, John rappelled down the elevator shaft toward the nearest lock. Relieved he had it all to himself, he took his time cycling the pressure and thereafter the doors, losing himself in the routine. The Ekairs had a deck to themselves with a lock of their own, so unless his shift bordered on another crew's, he was well removed from other humans.

On the other side of the lock stood a man, waiting for him. "Mr Beach, we need to talk."

John kept his head. He nodded, barely recognizing the man as a higher up for one of the suppliers for Burning Bridges, but that was all. He was fairly certain if anything was wrong, it wasn't his fault. "How can I help you, sir?"

"By all means, get changed first. But meet me in Conference 12."

John puzzled his way through his end of shift checklists, reviewing his recent past for any choices he'd made that were unusual or exceptional, but came up empty handed. He jogged to Conference 12, the smallest of the meeting rooms that also had a window.

"Thank you for meeting with me, Mr Beach."

"How can I help you, sir?" He used the same tone as before, his voice both respectful and neutral.

"Oh, no need to be so formal. John, if I may? Call me HR."

John's heart started, just bobbing up in his throat just long enough for him to have to swallow it, and he clasped his hands on the table in front of him just in case they were shaking. This was either very bad or very good, but John wasn't sure which worried him more. "I'm not sure I can do that, sir. Mr Lauff, sir."

HR reached over and patted John's hands, which confused him all the more. "Relax, son.  You have nothing to be anxious about. I wanted to thank you."

"I'm sorry?"

HR stood up from the table and looked out the window. "You do good work, hard work, honest work. You're good with the Ekair--which is phenomenal on its own--and makes you a rare man indeed."

"I'm not sure I understand, sir, Mr Lauff."

He laughed. "Oh, I'm quite certain you don't." HR turned back around. "I want to hire you to keep doing exactly what you're doing, but with me. Better pay, better benefits, better housing--"

"I like the housing sir." John covered his mouth apologetically when he realized he'd interrupted.

"So I see. Nonetheless, I want you working on a team of people like you, instead of wasting your time fixing the mistakes of slovenly construction workers."

John recoiled, looking ashamed. He'd used that exact phrase where he'd thought he was alone and private, barely a week ago.

"Are with me?"

"I have a con--"

HR waved his hand. "I can buy out your contract. I'm more concerned with people, John, than I am with money. A small team of good people is worth more than all the second rate subcontractors in all the moon of Seven. Will you be on my team?"

Character: HR Lauff | John Beach
Location:  Pentacles system | Piff planet

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