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Lefty: Who the fuck am I? Who am I? I'm a, a spoke on a wheel. And so was he, and so are you.



from: sgodard@secop.network.cc
to: lchamkanni@maintenance.network.cc

Mr. Chamkanni -

30 - 40 cameras in CH-2 require immediate maintenance to return full service coverage. Technical repairs unnecessary; an acetone solution and a diplomat will be. Please find attached full instructions. Your team has my deployment authorization.

Awaiting your prompt action; reply unnecessary.

S. Godard



When they file through the clan offices, they nod to Julia on their way. "Allo mum," one grins and winks. "Howsa choccies? Donspose yer free Fridee, eh?"

"Come off it, Nico."

"Yeah, leave her alone. She's not into thugs."

"Ohoh, n'wh'she into, then, Doncia, ladinas?"

"Te voy a mostrar Latina, cabron - -"

"Christ, not you too. It's like you think you're going to be closecast, acting up like this! Both of you, come on. We're working."

Julia just shakes her head, smiling, and goes back to her paperwork. The woman at the front of the pack sorts through a keyring on her belt and picks one out that's stamped 'DICE' on the handle. They stop before DICE's green door, clustering around it. There are twenty of them, all dressed in the olive drab uniform of Network technicians. They're weighted with work belts and backpacks full of supplies. Three of them are carrying a long, extensible ladder. And all of them, including the leader, sober to cold professionalism as the lock clicks open. They file inside. "Right," the leader says, turning round to face them. She walks backward on the landing, indicating the stairs. "Half of you on this floor. Other half goes down. By the book if anyone asks. Let's be smart about this."

Darcy gets to her feet, hearing the soft tramp of footsteps that get louder with each moment. Tucking the paint-pot in her pocket, she hurries to the entryway of the greenhouse. Spying the unmistakable olive of Network personnel, she reels backward.

Down one of the corridors on the lower floor, a door bangs open and for a second before it closes the sound of draining water can be heard. The wet slap of sopping feet on limestone carries into the Dome.



Dex can only hijack Z's Improbability for a teleport when her own adrenaline's pedal to the floor with panicked protectiveness. She needs to learn careful steering - - no more driving them into walls, braking by wrist, or skidding around corners. No more raising suspicions by taking Z to places not in her regular territory. They've not had a practice run yet, but they've never really been good about practicing, anyway - - so when Z hears intruders in the hall, they're greenlighted on an unexpected dry run.

Zolotisty comes to attention with a sub-throat whine and a scrabble of claws as she stumbles from her skateboard. It clatters away, rolls halfway up an incline, and rattles back down. "Spandex."

"Z?" Immediately she's up and guard-close to her girl.

"Clan hall. M'onna g- -"

That's enough, and Dex, still on her learner's license, with too much rev and jerk-start, takes the wheel and gets them here with her still invisible.



They piledrive into the sofa. Oofing, Zolotisty won't remember to give Dex a lecture later about how she doesn't bellyflop into rooms. She collects her feet beneath herself, scrobbles off of the arm of the sofa and lopes into the Dome. She falters all who the fuck as she turns to stare upward. Network? The Network doesn't come into clan hall - - not techs, not anyone.

The female technician in charge of the operation is still on the landing. And here we go, she thinks, moving to lean over the railing. Other crewmembers file past Z, who's backing up for a better view. "Camera maintenance," she calls down. "We would appreciate your clan's full cooperation in the repairs, Moderator."

Darcy stuffs the paint-pot in hand, a sinking feeling in her gut, stomach curling on itself. Her stained finger is curled, hidden in her fist as she flattens herself against the wall.

The technicians all freeze, and look to the leader for first move. Their weapons - - stun batons, with the odd sun guns on higher ranking members of the crew - - are all clearly visible at their belts.

Haccadine appears at the mouth of the corridor, shirtless and fresh out of the shower. The faint tune on his lips fades and dies as he catches sight of the uniforms and he stops dead, towel dropping to rest around his shoulders. His eyes flick from Z to the uniforms and then back again. "Evenin'," he says to Z, a definite edge to the calm in his voice. Stun weapons, large numbers - - here to take somebody away, the paranoid voice hisses in his ear. His gut tightens.

Darcy swallows the urge to whimper down, and tucks the paint-pot into her pouch, latching it shut. Unsteady feet take her away from the greenhouse, her shaky hand clutching her skirt.

"Our full cooperation," she echoes. "S'at like we're to give you a hand with all of this. What kind of maintenance."

The three person team with the ladder has split to two. They prop it up against an interior wall of the Dome for safekeeping. It clatters and Zolotisty rounds toward them with a snarl, full mod-mode. "Everybody fucking stop."


She says, "Evening, Haccadine," before glaring back to the lead technician.

"Tampering with or disabling a Network camera is against regulations, as you are well aware. We're here to clean and inspect the cameras which were vandalized yesterday and today by one of your clanmates. Were it routine maintenance, we'd have done whatever was within our power to give you sufficient advance notice. However, circumstances being what they are," she trails off, shrugging. Moreover, given your own recent antics - - and, curiously, the antics of those present - - we'll be seeking remuneration for damages incurred to Network property and profits, fungible in Requisition. I've the notice here."

Zolotisty stares up at the head technician, imagining Dex playing handpuppets over the woman's shoulders - - this one's a filthy bureaucrat that won't shut the fuck up, Dex would say, and this one's a thick as shit sheep. The woman draws a crisp envelope from an exterior leg pocket on her trousers. Improbability flexes twitchily around Z, like a cat kneading its claws.

Darcy leans against a nearby wall, and her chest feels suddenly very small and very clenched. She's beginning to wheeze. Forgetting to hide her stained hand, she fumbles in her pockets as she stumbles toward the lounge.

"We request that you repay the debt in full. Failure to comply, or further destructive outbursts, will lead to escalating consequences for you and others involved - - loss of your clan buffs, mandatory abdication of your role as leader, disbandment." A shrug as she extends the envelope down toward Z, as though she's able to pluck it from her hands from where she stands. "But then, that altogether depends on your role in maintaining our equipment in good faith."

Haccadine pulls his shirt and jacket on, moving slowly and keeping his eyes on the technicians. There's a definite, tangible relief as he feels the lopsided weight of the jacket on his shoulders, but the knot in his stomach remains. Tugging at his cuffs, he turns a fixed stare on the lead technician.

As Darcy bumbles by, Z's hand shoots out to grab a fistful of her shirt-collar. She hangs on as she stares up at the lead technician, working her jaw. There's another shudder of Improbability through the Dome. She glances sideways, toward Haccadine, to judge him.The envelope doesn't quaver. Darcy can feel her eyes beginning to well and closes her eyes tight for a moment, pushing it back. "I- - uh- - I need- -" she whispers, breathless.

Zolotisty would look toward her girl if she could. She punctures holes through Darcy's collar as she clenches her fist tighter. "They've got an hour," she says, and finally looks back to the tech.

"Jump to, people!" The lead technician still hasn't moved the envelope. She studies Zolotisty as her crew members come back to life. A few jostle each other, murmuring half-jokes to try to break the tension. The techs spread throughout the hall, each with their own shortlist of vandalized cameras. They're efficient, each pulling rags from their belt pouches to dip in little cannisters of an acetone-based solution. The lenses, specially coated, wipe clean without much work. The cameras in the hall are much smaller than those in the Jungle, designed for resilience, range of motion, endurance, and unobtrusiveness. Most, tucked flush with the ceiling, are indistinguishable from lights if you don't look close. Some are disguised as fire alarms. One or two aren't the Network's at all, but patch into the defense network KK set up. Only a handful have recording lights, and those are in hard-to-reach and rarely visible places - - like the gears of the clockwork ceiling in the library. It's for the reminder more than anything. Smile and wave, you're on television.

Zolotisty lets go of Darcy's shirt, and Darcy bolts forward, dashing to her pack - which lies half-buried under some cushions. She fumbles in it, keeping bent over as there's a faint clickpuff, as well as her own uneven breath. She turns away from the pack, hand still pressed to her torso.

One of the tech lackeys moves in Haccadine's direction and his gaze switches instantly to him. The tech steps to pass him, pointedly not returning the stare, heading instead for a camera mounted over the mouth of the corridor. His lip curls in contempt. "Shoulda said you were havin' the decorators in."

Zolotisty glances at him, flicking an ear at the metallic sound whining around his jacket pocket. "Yeh," she says faintly. "Shoulda." She checks Darcy with another look, then turns to make her way up one of the flight of stairs to the landing. She takes the envelope with a brittle kind of care, as though she's plucking it from a corpse's grasp, and returns to the bottom floor of the Dome.

Anyone close enough can hear Darcy's whispering, "Sorrysorrysorry- -" over and over.

One of the technicians snorts and elbows another, nodding toward a vent. "Lookit." The other glances up from her clipboard, rolls her eyes, and returns to marking down the serial of the cam she's just cleaned. They all have them. They all take meticulous notes - - serial, camera number, time cleaned.

Haccadine cuts in front of another team of techs before they can pass, crossing the room at a casual pace. He glances down at Darcy, huddled over next to her pack, and comes to a halt. "You alright?"

Darcy's guilt is imprinted on her face, in her eyes, in the dark circles. "'s my fault." A slight head-jerk to the uniformed personnel. She lifts her hand to show Haccadine.

"Nah," he says softly. "Reckon they were born uptight arseholes."

Zolotisty has one ear for her clanmembers and one for the technicians. Mindful of Haccadine and Darcy, she slits the envelope with her thumbclaw and draws out three neat sheafs of paper, folder precisely. She spreads them. It's the first time she's seen a bill.

"What is it?" Haccadine's eyes dart across to the papers in her hand. He moves to get a look, stepping out into the middle of the room.

Zolotisty is staring at the finest print. Columns of camera names, locations, serial numbers, outage times, damages incurred, cost of replacement, cost of repair. Silent, she merely angles the papers so that he can see.

Observing Z's expression as she takes in the total in the 'estimated value of total losses' column, the lead technician leans over the railing. "The high points are man hours billable, equipment damage, and estimated revenue loss. Our accountants assessed everything quite level-handedly. If you need anything explained, you might ask Moderator Ebenezer." Faint smirks ripple across the faces of nearby technicians.

"He'd be the one to ask, yeah," one mutters to themselves, chuckling.

Haccadine is silent, hands hidden away in his pockets. There's a bill there for the cameras he broke, too; seems they didn't just turn a blind eye to his testing, after all. He knows he doesn't have anything like the cash needed to pay it off, but the prospect of dumping the burden on anybody else rankles.

Darcy stuffs the paint-pot back in the pouch, and steps forward, plaintive, "I've got some money, I'll help.."

Zolotisty shifts restlessly in place, squints up at the technician, then looks back to Darcy. "It's alright." She isn't refusing help or playing the hero so much as she is shrugging off the weight of the numbers. Not her world. She cromples the bill roughly as she stuffs it into her jacket. "It's alright. Not a thing to worry over." Zolotisty grins then, broad and genuine and full of fang. Haccadine thins his lips, fidgety. "S'a big fuck-off joke, Darcy. Don't fuss."

Shit punchline. Haccadine turns slowly, observing the techs working around the room, willing them to either give him a reason to lay into them or pack up and fuck off. His fingers itch.

Darcy seems to finally relax just a touch, glancing in the general direction of the landing.

Zolotisty draws her scrappy-looking pocketwatch from her waistcoat. She snaps the case open to eye the time. It's hardly been a quarter of an hour. "Whups," she announces pleasantly as she dials the minute hand around with her claw. "Time's up."

"You said we had an - -"

The clock in the library begins to toll the hour. Zolotisty beams up at the lead technician. "You did."

She thins her lips, unimpressed. Fucking Jokers. "We good?" she barks to her crew. The answers come back quick. "I want us out in sixty seconds, move." The techs have a military hustle about them, even if they're not marching. One blurts, "What about the boards?" as he waves his, worried by protocol breach. "I'll OK them outside, go."

"We appreciate your compliance," the lead tech calls down to Z, turning to follow her crew out.

"'Preciate you standing so still. Got a unique sound about you, won't forget it." Z snuffs, drawing her wrist across her nose.

The door clicks shut as gently as it first opened.

Haccadine's fists unclench, lips pressed into a thin white line. "Well."

Zolotisty turns to peer toward Darcy. "You painted cameras." It's a question, mild and fangless.

Darcy is halfway to her feet once again when she hears the question. She doesn't answer at first, drifting back down the stairs toward the others, pack left behind her. Then, "Yeah. I did.Was going to get Harris to help me get the ones in the ceiling."

Zolotisty rubs at her jaw. Then she sneezes. "Okay." Her eyes narrow suddenly. "Harris has been climbin' on my clock again?" Gots to speak to that KittyMorph, Z's expression says.

"I won't do it again." There's a hint of reluctance in Darcy's voice. "Uh.. the ceiling, not the clock."

Right." Z glances at Haccadine, judges the uneven cant to his jacket pockets, tips him a nod of acknowledgment, then takes in both of them. "Sorry about the fuss. Network mostly keeps to themselves."

Haccadine nods at Z, a curt upwards jerk of the head. "Must've really pissed them off, then."

"Aye." She fidgets. She's very bad at small talk and can't think of anything else to say that's not writ broad with fury. "We'll get everyone sorted with rooms soon. Be better than sleeping in lounges and whatnot."

"Be much obliged." He runs a hand through his hair, dry by now, and sniffs. "Speakin' of sleepin', if the evenin's entertainment's over, I'm slatted. Gonna get some rest, if tha's alright with you?"

"Yeh, of course."

Darcy gives a small wave. "Have a good night." She takes the paint-pot out of her pocket, rolls it over, and decides to throw it out.

Haccadine‘s chin dips and he turns, catching up his pack and making his way into the lounge. He dumps his stuff by the biggest sofa there and half-rolls onto it, kicking off his boots. His footsteps signal to Dex that her waiting shift if over, so she gets up from crouching between bookshelves. Sick of limbo, she wants to go. She trots soundlessly down the stairs to the lower floor, head dipped in apology for being invisible. Z's tail, she notices directly, is tucked too close. It's just the inspiration she needs to lunge for her, taking them both out of there.



to: acooper@s3.cop.network.cc
cc: msimpert@s3.cop.network.cc
from: clacey@l1.cop.network.cc
subj: RE: Haccadine - request for current highlights / storyboard

Mr. Cooper:

As it stands, the planned angle for contestant “Haccadine” is to present him as unsympathetic and violent, with a possible view to a redemption storyline in future should ratings prove favourable. I've been advised to establish him as a destabilising influence in interactions, as well as place heavy emphasis on criminal background, in particular assaults on civilian personnel.

H has proven so far to be mostly asocial, with the vast majority of his time spent away from main Outposts and other contestants. Nearly all social interactions are with other clan members, and are rarely initiated by H himself. Engages jungle fauna regularly, footage of which is suitable for combat-oriented broadcasts.

Highlight footage attached.

C. Lacey



It's an old joke amongst operators that you can tell how long someone's been on their shift by counting the number of coffee rings on their desk. Lacey's more than halfway through hers, and it shows. She prises her mug from its crusted base and lifts it to her lips, nose wrinkling in distaste. Stone bloody cold.

In front of her, the screens show two different Haccadines - - one, sprawled asleep on a couch in the DICE halls; the other, upright and alert, intent on the olive-drab technicians busying themselves around him. She ignores his little quips, focusing rather on body language, reactions. Interesting, she reflects, that he goes to check on the short one first, given that he'd hardly spoken to her before then. Might be- -

There's a light three-tap knock at the door.

She glances over her shoulder. "Yes? Come in."

"Catherine Lacey?"

"I am. And you are?"

"Matthew Simpert, mind if I drop in? Bit quiet now after all that ruckus. I op for Zolotisty." He offers her his hand, straightening from his slouch against the doorframe.

She pushes back from her workstation, rising to shake Simpert's hand. "If you can find room, by all means. I'm Haccadine's operator." She gestures over her shoulder to the screens and settles back down again, giving him room to enter the booth. "What can I do for you, Mr. Simpert?"

His eyes creased at her joke, and the lines deepen now at her professionalism. Maybe some bad experiences with the chain of command. He steps inside, leaning his back against the doorframe now, rather than his shoulder. "Got your e-mail, thanks for that. Haven't had a chance to review the footage yet. What do you make of what just happened?"

Lacey lets out a slow breath, sensing another loaded question. "Looked to me like they got served a cease-and-desist. I can't say whether it'll stop Haccadine or not, but he didn't look happy about it." She pauses. "Not as unhappy as Zolotisty, though."

"Laugh riot for Earsy, sure. I don't know Haccadine so well yet, but I doubt he'll have much to say about it one way or another. How much worse can things get for me, I'd figure, f'I were him. Ears, though." He shrugs. "It's a coin-toss. You settling in alright? Ms. Axelsson ought've been around by now to say hello to you."

She shakes her head. "A Mr. Cooper dropped by a little while back, but nobody beyond that."

Chain of command or Frills, that'll do it. Simpert snorts, folding his arms loose across his belly. "Figures. Who's your sec-op?"


A nod. "He gets shit done. Go to him if you need authorization, otherwise use best judgment. You'll have been doing that anyway though, eh? I can help a bit with editing if you're under a deadline or need advice."

"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind." She gives him a thin smile, not wishing to seem rude.

He shrugs. "Hey, no skin off my ass if you don't ask. Gives me more time to do crosswords."

The smile's gone again before he can finish his sentence. "Of course. Was there anything else?"

"Tough audience," he says, straightening. "We're upstairs if you need anything. You got the room number?"

Her head dips, curt. "4301."

"That's the one." Simpert smiles, touching two fingers to his temple with a self-aware flourish. "Leave you to your work, then, Ms. Lacey. Good luck with the rest of the shift." He steps out of the booth, taking a deep breath as he considers the said and unsaid - - like, get the fuck out of my camera booth. Or, I am pretty sure my contestant is going to be dead in a few weeks; funny, eh?

Just down the hallway, faint: "..aven't seen you out of your booth in wee.."

Lacey watches him go, chewing at the inside of her mouth. "Crosswords," she snorts, equal parts bitterness and derision, and turns back to her console. "Fuck me."

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