Categories > Original > Sci-Fi1 Reviews
Being the new guy always puts you into the position of rumors and mischief. Corporate intrigue in a sci-fi setting. This story was originally written for a shared RPG universe called "Particle ...
It has come to my attention that a certain individual in our department has started to receive acclaim and individual credit for the work that was performed by our team. This is a grossly unfair assessment. While we have always encouraged and rewarded individual initiatives, it cannot be denied that end results are the products of team efforts.
Not that I desire to take away the distinctions awarded to him, but in the interest of fairness, we should also consider that the other members of the group were instrumental to bringing the costs of our production towards targeted levels and should be thus rewarded appropriately.
James Cadget, R&D Accounting
"So what do you think of the new guy?"
James gulped down his drink before answering, "Pretty boy Innomedia star wannabe. He's all looks and no brains, if you asked me. I don't think he's going to last long in R&D Accounting."
His companion, Sherman Freemen from Sector 2 Budgeting, guffawed. "Yeah, I don't think he'll last a week."
The third person having lunch was slower to agree. Kelly Milo bit down on her sandwich and chewed slowly, a thoughtful expression on her face. She swallowed before she put in her input. "I don't think there's a need to be too hard on the new guy," she pointed out. "Lance has only been in here a couple of weeks. Everyone starts out new. Give him a little more time and he'll fit right in."
Frowning, James scrunched up the empty sandwich packaging and swallowed the last of his lunch. "Hey, it's not like you're the one working with him. He makes the rest of us feel bad."
Kelly raised an eyebrow. "How does he do it?"
James puffed up his chest, assuming the stance of a sage in office affairs. "Well, you know... it's the little things he does around the office..."
"Like?" Kelly pressed on.
James ticked things off on his fingers as he talked. "He is very polite... more polite than ordinary. He goes off calling everyone 'sir' or 'ma'am'."
"Er, like you do?" Kelly interjected.
James bristled. "Er, no, he doesn't do it that way. He does it with everybody. I mean, I only do that to our bosses. I never go around greeting, say Sherman here, with 'sir'. It just isn't right..."
"To be polite?"
"No! It's irritating, is what it is," James tried to explain. "How would it look if I went around saying 'Yes, ma'am.' or 'How do you do, sir?' or 'Can I help you with that, ma'am?' all the time? I'd sound like a bloody robot is what I'd sound like. And I'd make people uncomfortable, too."
"Makes us feel inferior if we did it with everybody, right, James?" Sherman noted.
"Right, Sherman," James commented, relieved for the support. "Now, that Lance, he also never joins us on breaks. He always says that he has to finish up some work. And I've never seen him take more time than necessary for breaks..."
"Isn't that something all of should be doing?" Kelly put in. "I mean, we're all entitled to an hour for meals and..."
"Sure, we should take our time," Sherman interrupted. "It's hard to work when you just ate, after all. I read somewhere that it causes cramps to work directly after eating."
"But, all we do is punch in numbers," Kelly argued. "That doesn't give you cramps!"
"You've never heard of finger cramps?" Sherman asked, genuinely shocked. "I never had it, but almost half of our department had taken sick days off because of it! James here took a sick day off because of it, just last week!"
Kelly just stared at Sherman.
"Er, thanks for the support, Sherm," James agreed, though he wished Sherman had never brought up the matter. Nevertheless, he continued, "And Lance, he never works overtime. I mean, he always leaves on the dot."
"And he leaves backlogs in his work, then?" Kelly interrupted.
James paused. "Er, no, he always finishes up his work before he leaves."
"Sounds like he's a pretty good worker, if you ask me," Kelly protested.
"Sounds suspicious, if you asked me," Sherman remarked, completely agreeing with James. "He ought to stay and suffer with the rest of us who have to work overtime. Besides, a guy that goody-goody is bound to be up to something."
"Right. Exactly like I figured," James said with a grin. He was glad to have Sherman on his side on this. Some distant part of his subconscious tried to warn him that a lot of their complaints against Lance applied to Kelly as well. Kelly had been as much a model employee as Lance for as long as she had worked in their department... which was three years now. This subconscious portion of his mind tried to remind him that if it weren't for the fact that she was female and pretty, they wouldn't have asked her to join them on their regular table at all.
Unfortunately, this subconscious portion was silenced by the loud ranting of James' present conscious mind as it focused on the Lance problem. He continued, "Remember that project to balance the costs of the Planetside project against the projected revenues that I've been working on for weeks now?" He grimaced in the memory. "That thing was hell to project and calculate, what with all the factors and variables inherent in attempting a project on the planet surface. Do you get me? Then Lance came in, the boss reassigned the project to him and he finished it up in three days." He waved his arms in exasperation while talking. "Three days! He came up to the boss and me and mentioned that I just made a miscalculation in one of the computer simulations. Which he fixed, of course, and completed the project." He mimed spitting on the ground.
"We used to have someone like that in our department, too," Sherman nodded. "Finished up the work in less time than any of us could have. Made the rest of us look like lazy sods. Overachievers. Who needs 'em?"
Kelly stayed silent. Sometimes, it wasn't worth saying anything, she told herself.
Subject: RE: Suggestion
While we have considered your recommendation, I regret to inform you that the bonus given to your co-worker, Lance, has been decided upon by committee and thus final.
However, I would like to commend you for your willingness to offer a suggestion, although I am sure there are more suitable avenues for your time. You could do well to follow Lance's example. Take this as a friendly advice.
Foster Nielsen, Cost Control Manager
P.S. Also, be reminded that your report on the new project is still not finished. I want to look at it first thing tomorrow morning.
James scowled. "Yeah?"
"Do you have a few minutes? I want to run some things by you, sir," Lance said, a little sheepish.
Putting on a grin for show, James swung his chair around and addressed his junior co-worker. "What is it, Lance? Anything I can help with, don't hesitate to ask," he replied with forced enthusiasm.
"Well, I've been going over your reports like Mr. Nielsen asked me to... and I've noticed that there were a lot more expenses than expected in the initial budget," Lance explained, showing James the figures on his handheld tablet display.
After reading the figures, James counted slowly to ten before answering. "Let me explain it to you, Lance, since you're new here. I don't make up the figures. I just record them. Here"--he leaned over his console, punched up a few documents, and swiveled the monitor screen for Lance to see--"check out the figures from the documents sent to me by Section 4A R&D downstairs. As you can clearly see, the figures I submitted are accurate, based on these expenses."
Lance frowned. "But, aren't they limited to a certain budget? I've been studying the figures and they're more than the expected quota for Section 4A. In fact, this is more than the expected expenses for R&D for half of the Sections as well."
James shrugged. "They've been exceeding their expense quota during the past few weeks, sure. But, these"--he punched up a few more documents--"are authorizations from the higher-ups that those expenses are valid. And they don't get higher up than this. See that?" He pointed to a seal in one of the authorization letters. "That's the big guy's own personal digital seal. Magnuson himself is giving his okay."
Lance glanced from his handheld to the screen again. "But what are those expenses for? All it says in these documents is 'Research and development supplies'. Shouldn't costs of this magnitude be more specific and detailed?"
"I was surprised myself, but it's not my place to ask," James explained with another shrug. Neither is it yours, you brown-nosed newb, so stop wasting my time, he inwardly seethed.
"Oh," Lance remarked, a hint of disappointment in his voice.
"So, did I satisfy your curiosity enough?" James said, hoping that the acid hidden in his words would be noticed and Lance would take the hint.
Lance's face grew pensive. "Is it alright if I look into this more for you? See... I just finished the budget for next week and I have some free time..."
Why don't you just freaking die, if you have nothing better to do, James didn't say. Instead, he uploaded the documents from his terminal to Lance's handheld and waved him off. "Go knock yourself out. Just don't bother me. I'm busy."
Lance nodded and went away.
Subject: Need to talk
I need to talk to you. I have a project that I can't work out.
We'll meet at the usual later. Eugene sends his regards.
"You're right," Kelly remarked. "Funds are being diverted. There are obviously too much expenses being charged to Section 4A."
"That's not all," Lance added. "I've been monitoring large expenses... well, larger than regular anyway, for all sections. And Section 4A is right alongside Section 2B, the R&D project for Planetside Operations. That shouldn't be the case if all they're developing in 4A are new horticultural technology."
Kelly rubbed her chin. "I think Eugene and Dana need to see this. You've heard their suspicions, right?"
Lance nodded. "But is it really--"
"If it is," Kelly interrupted, "it goes all the way to the top. Magnuson gave his approval for these expense charges, meaning he personally knows what they're really for."
A tense silence floated in the air, broken after a few moments by Kelly.
"Where'd you get this anyway?" Kelly asked.
"From James," Lance answered. "I was working on some reports he didn't finish."
Kelly chuckled. "He doesn't like you, you know? He thinks you upstage him too much. Probably worried you'll be his boss someday." She gave Lance a playful punch on the arm.
Lance made a show of wincing and rubbing his arm. He grinned. "I know. I can hear him talking to Sherman sometimes. It doesn't bother me, really." He rubbed the back of his head. "Besides, if this thing is what we think it is, we won't be working together for long."
"True. Quite true."
Kelly gave the handheld monitor back to Lance, who looked at it thoughtfully. "I still can't believe Orion is doing this. We're her children! It's like she's abandoning us!"
"I've been around and served Orion for years longer than you, kid. How do you think I feel?" Kelly countered.
Lance's face grew pensive. "There's no turning back, it seems."
Kelly nodded, face equally pensive. "I'll inform the rest. Let's get this information to Dana."
Subject: Terminated employees
We regret to inform everyone that from this morning, the following employees will no longer be considered employees of the Accounting and Budgeting Central Departments of Orion Defense Industries, Inc.:
1. Kelly Milo
2. Jennifer North
3. Frederic Delano
4. Leonard Cinco
5. Lance Cloud
The preceding have been discovered to have been involved in actions against the interest of Orion Defense Industries, Inc. Appropriate charges will be filed. However, the five have escaped apprehension and been deemed fugitives from civil court.
Any information leading to their capture will be rewarded. If you have any information, please notify Central Security immediately.
Join us in celebrating Security Awareness Week! Games, Fun, and Prizes Galore!
To register as part of the committee, click this link or contact Central Security.
"Hah! I knew something was up with Lance," James announced triumphantly over some drinks. "Serves the little corporate spy right. Hope they catch him and flay him alive."
"Shame about Kelly, though," Sherman pointed out. "I mean, we've been having lunch with her for what? Three years? I never thought she was doing things against Orion. If I recall correctly, she was always ragging on me for padding my expense reports. Said I wasn't doing the company any favors."
James considered it for a moment. "Seems to me she just wants to keep you from stealing so that she could get more for herself."
"Might be. Might be," Sherman reluctantly agreed. "I mean, she always did her job well and everything."
"It's always the quiet ones, Sherman," James said.
"She was also quite the looker. I'm going to miss looking forward to lunch."
James could only nod. He took another drink. "It's probably for the best, Sherman. It's always better to just be with the people you trust."
"Yeah, but you're certainly no looker, James."