“I killed the Devil,
I took his soul,
I took his kingdom,
I took his throne,
I raised his army of the dead,
Looked around me before I said:
More zombies, more zombies,
All we need are more zombies,
More zombies, more zombies,
Just keep it up with those zombies,”
The chirpy female voice intoned over a techno-industrial beat blared out of the earphones plugged snuggly into Jenna’s ears.
She nodded her head with the beat, swinging her body rhythmically to her workout routine.
Exercise felt good to her bored mind; the music, the physical exhaustion, the activity. She slept better, she felt healthier, and most of all it was something to do with her time.
Time she had plenty of recently.
She always wanted more of it, time off from work, but since the last PI extraction cycle had finished three weeks ago the entire complex had gone into offline mode.
Offline mode at the Planet V installation meant almost everyone had a lot of time on their hands, but the enjoyment of that time had diminished when there was too much of it.
Jenna had never considered that downtime could become so monotonous.
The consular had reassure the crew of Extractor III that his Immortal Eternal Administrator would be back soon to command the next cycle events. They were not allowed to commence the next cycle without his authorization as well as his specific directions.
He had never been absent for so long in all the six years of the operation of the installation.
Twenty three days to be precise, and the rumours whispered amongst all of the extraction crews were becoming louder and more fanciful.
One rumour was that he had left this area of space to join some squad of “goons”, another speculated that he was lost in a j-space somewhere unable to return to normal space, whatever the reason was there were plenty of most likely false speculation.
Activity at the installation had ground to a halt, and no one really seemed to believe the Consular’s propaganda either, so rumours and speculation was all they were left with.
She flipped the music off after the last song; some Indie Grunge medley her sister had sent her from Zoohen.
She reached for the towel hanging on the warmer, as sweat tricked down her face when the ‘com’ chime binged.
“Jenna Byron Alexandra,” the voice seemed to command rather than question, “You are required to meet Consular Bran’ Adagan in twenty minutes in the Extractor Consular Office on Level two. Please comply.”
“Yeah, ok… I will be there,” she replied half-heartedly.
She slipped off her shirt and tights and stepped into the fresher.
“Hot water 49° Celsius, dense spray pattern,” she said to the fresher program.
The water raining from the ceiling down onto her tired body. She had really pressed her exercise routine to nearly two hours, the longest she had ever done so.
As the hot water washed over her, she thought of why the Consular wanted to speak with her, a low level second grade extractor engineer. She was fifth in the chain of command to the Consular of Extractors and could not think of a single reason why he would be calling for her presence at this hour.
Stepping out of the fresher, after the dry cycle finished, she pulled on her uniform, straightened her badge, grabbed her ID credentials and then commanded the door to open.
A lift, two anti-chambers, and a reception desk later she stood outside a metal door with the placard over it reading, ‘Office of the Consular Extraction Officer, Extractor III’
“You may go in now,” the receptionist lightly toned in a high pitch sing-song voice.
The door whooshed opened revealing a sparse but lavish office with a central command desk adorned with terminals and control panels to its left and right sides.
The thin elder man sat in the chair behind the desk and stood when she entered.
“Jenna, come in.” his baritone voice bellowed belying his thin stature.
“Reporting as ordered sir,” she responding snapping to attention and saluting her senior officer.
“At easy engineer. I have summoned you here as I have been asked to relay information to you that should relay accordingly to your subordinates. You have, I assume, heard the many rumours surrounding the sudden absence of his Immortal Eternal Administrator Ky’ler Raph’Face.”
He shifted his weight and stepped out from behind the desk.
“Word has come down from CCP’s central database on the G-net that all five clones of his Immortal Eternal Administrator have been bio-massed as of twenty one days ago.”
Jenna was stunned, a dozen questions raced through her mind in an instant.
“Ok, uhm permission to speak freely sir,” she blurted out interrupting the Consular. Her cheeks suddenly flushed when she realized she had broken protocol.
The Consular seemed to let it pass as he said, “Go ahead engineer.”
“Why am I the one you are speaking to? The First and Chief grade Engineers are higher ranked than I. Even the Sub Head Officer of Extraction Operations would surely be a more appropriate….” her words trailed off as she realized something must have happened to the upper chain of command if the Consular was relaying this information directly to her.
“Jenna,” more informally now the Consular continued, “The chain of command has been disrupted. Your superiors are no longer available to carry out their,” he paused, “they are indisposed and have been relieved of duty. You are now granted the position and title of Sub Head Officer of Extraction Operations and all privileges and responsibilities that accompany the position. Do you comply and accept this promotion?”
Jenna thought for a moment then replied, “Uhm, sir… I am not qualified. I guess I do as long as you understand it might take me a bit to get up to speed on protocol and procedures.”
“Yes, yes,” he said dismissively. “As long as you do so quickly I will manage to cover your inadequacies until you get sorted.”
“Sir, one more thing, what exactly is going on?” her voice trembled with excitement and a little weariness.
“Well, that is the thing. There are no procedures or policy in the operational manuals regarding the operation of a PI installation in the event of the,” he pause again, “uhm… the absence of the Command Administrator. Frankly we do not know what we are supposed to do in the unlikely event of the bio-massing of all clones of our former illustrious Master.”
“We have been in contact with the Installations on the other five planets, and they are in different states of, uhm … functionality,” he looked at his desk and then sunk his head into his hands, “you are dismissed, please attend to your station.”
Jenna snapped to attention, saluted and then turn and strode out of the office.
On the way back to her cabin the weight of the situation started to rest upon her mind. She never thought this would happen. How does an Immortal being just go and get himself bio-massed? Why had he made no plans or procedures for the possibility of his absence? Could they just up and leave the facilities? What would be the consequences of that?
And that was the point where she realized what had happened to the First Grade Engineer, The Chief Engineer, and the previous Sub Head Officer of Extraction Operations.
“Well,” she thought, “I am going to have to learn quickly and not go down that road.”
She entered her cabin, slipped off her uniform and slipped into the cool soft sheets of her bunk.
She would sort it all out in eight hours when her first shift as Sub Head Officer of Extraction Operations started.
As she closed her eyes and slipped into sleep one last though drifted through her mind.
Did she need more zombies? Did she really need more zombies?
*Song by AmeliaSweet – Check out more of her music at: