by Invisible Ranger, 2013
Disclaimer: Elysium and its characters belong to their respective owners.
Dedicated: To MauMauKa who encouraged this idea and gave me some great material.
"Will there be anything else, Madame Secretary?"
She was either too tired, or perhaps too distracted, to notice that someone was speaking to her until he repeated himself a third time. Dear God, these meetings are getting too long. Or could I be getting old?
Jessica Delacourt blinked and acknowledged her underling. What was his name again? "Pardon, Nguyen?"
"Tuyet, ma'am." So she was right with the Vietnamese name, at least. "I just wanted to know if the meeting were adjourned after all."
It was late. Most of Elysium was already in sleep mode. This was the fifth, or perhaps sixth, meeting of her day; compared to some of the Armadyne contract mess, these CCB bull sessions were almost leisurely. With any luck she'd be able to get to bed by midnight EST.
"Yes. Have the minutes archived and a CC sent to President Patel." Not as if he would bother to read them, but it was standard protocol, and she lived and breathed protocol.
Tuyet, along with the few other young undersecretaries in the room, looked nervous, like they all knew something she didn't. They looked like a bunch of children who'd been caught robbing the food production unit.
"What is it?" Delacourt snapped.
"There is…one other item for the agenda, ma'am," said Tuyet, unable to look his superior in the eye. "I meant to bring it up earlier, but seeing as it's a sensitive matter for you…"
"Out with it!" She wasn't sure what she wanted more: a quick end to this meeting, a cup of espresso, or sleep.
Tuyet gulped. "It's Agent Kruger, ma'am. According to our databank he is overdue for his mandatory leave by about three years."
Delacourt laughed at this news. It wasn't a laugh filled with any sort of humor. It was the kind of laugh a condemned criminal heard before he died. It was the only kind of laugh she ever seemed capable of.
Kruger. On a holiday, of all things. How is that supposed to work? Do we invite vicious dogs on holiday, or man-eating sharks?
"He wouldn't have the first idea what to do on holiday, Undersecretary. His job is a never-ending holiday. I can't think of anything he enjoys more than what he does," she said, laughing that mirthless laugh again.
"He is technically an employee of the Civil Cooperation Bureau, ma'am, and thus is entitled to two weeks' leave for each year of his employment," Tuyet pointed out. He wasn't willing to let this matter go, but then again, he'd never had the unique experience of actually meeting Kruger before.
"Let him slowly de-activate, then, for two weeks or however long he needs. I'm sure his teammates can pick up any slack," Delacourt suggested, aware that this might not be possible. Drake and Crowe were followers. They needed a strong leader, and they'd be simply goons without Kruger.
"I'm afraid Mr. Drake and Mr. Crowe are due the same leave periods," Tuyet said, consulting his digipad.
Delacourt wished she had never hired such an insolent young man to work for her. "What do you suggest? I hear Bora Bora was lovely before the sea swallowed it whole. Perhaps we could send him to what's left of Greenland?"
"Ma'am, Elysium seems the only logical choice. I'm sure a week spent here might take the rough edges right off Mr. Kruger and his friends."
She made a mental note to fire Tuyet when she had a chance. Then again, who knew if he were actually working for Patel? She'd have to check his files to be sure. "When does this leave begin?" she asked, afraid she already knew the answer.
"Immediately, ma'am. We can't continue to violate our own labor laws."
"Very well. De-activate Kruger…but I hold you personally responsible for any of his actions, Undersecretary."
The smoky smell of the braai made his mouth water. The fact that the spitted meat was, in fact, the late poodle of some poor smuggler's wife? It didn't really matter to him. Meat was meat.
Kruger stood on the rooftop of a shanty, long sword in one hand and a barbecue fork in the other. A ragged apron that incongruously read "Kiss the Cook" was tied about his waist along with half a dozen deadly weapons of various sizes. The sun was low on the horizon, just a dimly glowing orange ball through the thick smog.
His day had been almost boring. A couple of illegally modified ships, each carrying only a few passengers, blown out of the sky. Too easy. One very unlucky chop-shop guy whom he'd flayed to pieces with his knives. And the dead poodle's owner, who'd screamed for mercy before he finally finished her.
She'd deserved to die just for having such a stupid-looking dog. Kruger knew he'd enjoy eating the little rat.
Crowe and Drake were somewhere. He'd sent them out for some more dop. They'd already drunk their way through a few bottles, but they somehow always knew where to find more.
He almost didn't hear his comlink beeping over the sizzling of the meat. When he saw where the message was coming from, he frowned. What would they want at this hour?
"Howzit, my china?" he slurred into the device.
"Agent Kruger? Can you hear me?" The voice was a young man, some domkop he didn't know.
"Ja. What'ya want, anyway?"
"Secretary Delacourt's orders are for you and your men to report immediately to Elysium for your mandatory personal leave."
Kruger thought about this for a moment. He'd only ever been up there a few times for rearmament and biorepairs, and never more than a few hours. "Izit, bra?"
"We'll await your ship at docking station D-9. You are cleared for two weeks of leave. Tuyet out."
The comlink clicked off. Kruger grinned. He didn't know much about life up on the Grootwiel, but he did know they had all the braai a man could eat. And all the poes. Not like the ugly, diseased ones down here. He was going to enjoy himself.
He must have looked really demented, because when Crowe and Drake arrived back a couple minutes later, they exchanged a nervous glance.
"What is it, baas?" asked Drake.
"We're headed up there, okes. Two whole fokkin' weeks, eh?"
The three of them whooped, the thoughts of gorging themselves on roast poodle and witblitz all but forgotten. They were going to the Grootwiel. Up there it was one big party, and they were invited.
"Get the Raven ready. We're going to have ourselves a real jol, eh?"
To Be Concluded!