Residual

The lives of the infamous Wrecking Crew

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Capistrano
Proven Adventurer
Proven Adventurer
Posts: 251
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:31 pm
Location: Clovely, a secluded town about 45 minutes north of the City

Residual

Post by Capistrano » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:35 pm

December 9, 2018
Rhovnik Forward Operating Base Juliett
Tushaila, Realm of Svijetjia

To call FOB Juliett a military base was to stretch the meaning of the word as far as it could go. FOB Juliett consisted of little more than a ring of barbed wire encircling a marine shipping container that the Rhovnik Foundation had cleaned out and outfitted with rudimentary military technology. A satellite uplink, tapped into Svijetjia’s ley lines, enabled Rhovnik soldiers and other workers to communicate with each other, both within the realm and back to their headquarters in Clovely. A bank of laptop computers handled intelligence gathering for the operation: Radar, drone surveillance, communications monitoring, even magic detection on the off-chance that the Tushailans or North Tushailans had magical capabilities they had not shared. At that moment, there were no missions being conducted, so the main mission command chair sat empty and a single intelligence operative watched the multiple screens, his elbow on the table and his cheek resting against his hand. A magical talisman shaped like a snowflake hung near the doors, keeping the unit cool even though the temperature outside pushed triple digits in Fahrenheit, with humidity nearly as high. Opposite the sensitive equipment was what passed for a break room in a FOB. A brown recliner with several rips leaking yellow cushioning, a small flat screen TV mounted against the metal walls with a DVD player and a video game console, a particle board book shelf with yellowing mass market paperbacks and a few academic-looking tomes on the history and politics of Tushaila and Svijetjia, a blue folding card table with four folding chairs, and a wired telephone.

Jay folded and unfolded a small slip of paper with a string of numbers written on it. On his ride over to the portal, right before he shipped off for a month away from RhyDin, he had called the Wrecking Crew and asked for the extension number for their Merchandising and Licensing department. He had business to attend to with them, but not enough time at the moment to handle it. And with his cell phone locked away at the Foundation’s headquarters while he was deployed, a handwritten memo to himself would have to do.

He didn’t need a scrap of paper, an entry in an address book, or any other cue to remember Sami’s cell phone number. He could tap it on a keypad without even looking. He could even recite her voicemail message, still unchanged after all those years. “Hey! This is Sami. You know what to do!” But resources were tight on Tushaila, and personal calls were limited to once a week, five minutes at a time. Anything more risked burning through the precious mana needed to maintain comm access to the field and Clovely. And he didn’t think he could say everything he needed to say to her in five minutes.

He held the slip up with one hand and punched in the numbers with the other. When he got to the phone menu, he dialed the extension he’d jotted down and heard a pleasant computerized voice.

“One moment, please…” Jay grimaced when the hold music kicked in, a sax-heavy rendition of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” that only further reminded him of where he was -- and who wasn’t there with him.

The thirty seconds or so that passed on hold felt like an eternity, before the line finally clicked over. “Wrecking Crew Enterprises, Merchandising and Licensing, this is Olivia, how can I help you?” she asked in a bright and chipper voice. She’s gotta be barely out of her teens, if she’s even out of her teens, he thought with a shake of his head. Another thing to make him feel old

“Hey, this is Jay Capistrano. I had a question about the payments for, like, my merchandise and likeness rights? I think that’s the word you guys use?”

“We can answer that, but we first need the pass phrase so we know it’s actually you, Jay.”

Jay covered his face with his hand, as he spoke the words in as deadpan a tone as he could muster. “Matt Simon is older than shit.” He paused, as he remembered the new addition to it. “And a terrible Overlord.”

“Pass phrase accepted! What was your question?”

“So, like, in the past, I’ve been able to take out, like, a loan on what you owe me for endorsements and merchandising and likeness rights and all that sh- stuff. I know I just did that in September but I also just came back and did the Warlord tournament and filled in as a caller for a couple of nights so I was hoping maybe the numbers changed? Maybe I could get more? Or-or borrow out farther in advance.” He cringed as he heard his desperation creeping up.

“Can you hold while I check with my supervisor and Finance?”

“Sure.” The line clicked again. The insistent shake of sleigh bells and a plinking synthesizer greeted him this time. Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait as long this time.

“Thanks for holding, Jay. I’m sorry, but Finance tells me you can only get an advance once a quarter, and, as you said, you got yours already in September.”

“They can’t make an exception?”

“I’m sorry, I asked, but my supervisor and Finance both said no.” Jay could heard keyboards clacking and murmured conversation in the background on the other end.

“I see. Well, thanks.”

“You’re welcome, and sorry we couldn’t help you more. Have a Merry Christmas, Jay.”

“Yeah,” he said, so quiet he almost couldn’t hear himself. “You too.”

When she hung up, Jay stared at the receiver for a long, long moment. Then, he slammed it back into the cradle. The crack of plastic on plastic sent the intelligence officer on the other side of the container jumping out of his seat.

“Gods above, Jay! Try not to break the phone, will ya? That’s 50,000 silvers worth of technology right there, ya know?”

“Yeah, yeah, sorry, Roberto.” Jay kept his gaze on the book shelf as he apologized. He only half-heard whatever it was the man said in response as he sunk into the recliner. After all, he still had ten minutes left on his break.
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