2950-01-18 – Tales from the Service: Cut Loose from the Bureau

“This is ridiculous.” Duana tossed the doc-pad back onto the desk. “He pulled thirty segments of military secrets, and nearly sold them to Nate. Now you’re going to just let him go free?” 

The Director shook his head. “Mr. Cole is no longer a threat to Confederated security. We can take to a magistrate, especially after your, err... preferred methods to bring him in scared away several potential witnesses.” 

Duana scowled. “What we did at that nest of degenerates was send a message.” 

“Indeed. And that message came at the cost of convicting Cole, since he’s not willing to incriminate himself or roll over on his Incarnation contact. We may only hope that it was worth it.” 

Duana, recognized the rebuke, blanked her face and nodded sharply, though inside she bristled. He wasn’t the one risking his life walking into scum-warrens looking for the worst elements of society’s dark underbelly, the kind so corrupted of body and mind that they would side with the Incarnation’s grim, technologically-enforced conformity. The Director sat in his office high in the Bureau’s local headquarters, seeing to his teams’ logistics and administration needs that, while important, promised far less peril. If he had ever been a field operative, it had been decades ago, long before the Incarnation’s cybernetically-enhanced super-spies and their legion of Ladeonist lackeys had come onto the scene. 

“At least give me another few days with him. I can make him talk.” 

“You have had him prisoner for eight local days. That’s one longer than we are allowed to hold anyone by law already. Cut him loose. Send someone to follow him and make sure he stays out of trouble for a few days if you absolutely must.” 

Duana opened her mouth to protest that the first of those “days” was the thirty-seven minutes between time of capture and local midnight, but shut it again without saying anything. Local law, and thus the Director, did not care about these details. That Cole had refused to cooperate under a whole week’s interrogation was embarrassing enough, especially since Duana had a reputation for breaking or doubling most of her prisoners in forty-eight hours or less, and Cole’s resilience was already beginning to eat away at her undisputed top-operative spot in the Bureau’s local pecking order. 

At last, Duana gritted her teeth and nodded again, picking back up the doc-pad. “Understood. I’ll put him back on the street.” 

With a wave, the Director dismissed Duana. As she left his office, she glared at the primly-suited men in the anteroom who would probably be the boss’s next appointment. They had the look of political messengers, not anti-espionage operatives, and she could only conclude that they were from the planetary administration, bearing yet another spurious complaint about the Bureau. Perhaps, she grimly mused, they’d have more complaints if the Bureau were to simply pack up and leave the world to the saboteurs, insurgents, Ladeonist terror cells, and psychotic opportunists that her “message” at the nightclub had reached. 

At the cell block, Duana’s glare stifled the good-humored grin of the duty officer. The duration and lack of success of her interrogation of K.B. Cole had long since become a whispered joke among the guards, and normally she would not have minded the banter. Now, though, having to admit defeat, she was in no mood for humor. 

“Get me some restraints and call me an aircar.” Duana handed the Director’s doc-pad to the duty officer. “We’re cutting Cole loose.” 

“Loose? Isn’t he dangerous?” The man picked up the device and flicked through its text briefly. 

“Extremely. But he’s becoming a waste of Bureau resources.” This was easier to say than that she’d failed to break him for so long that he was becoming a legal and political liability. “He’s a true believer, but at least he’s smart enough to lie low for a while before trying anything again.” 

The officer tossed Duana a case containing hand and foot restraints, then put a hand to his earpiece to summon an aircar from the annex’s motor pool. Duana didn’t bother to wait; she flagged down two of the other guards and marched into the cell block to Cole’s cell. After making sure the guards had weapons drawn, she killed the gravitic shear-barrier and walked inside. 

“Is that you again, Miss?” Cole’s voice was calm, though a bit muffled from the sack covering his head. He was allowed to remove it only three times per day, and never when Duana or the other field agents were present, but that never seemed to disorient or distress him. “You’re wearing different shoes.” 

Duana scowled; she hadn’t bothered to change into the interrogation heels that clicked so resoundingly against the metal plating floor in the cell block. “Wouldn’t want to get those dirty, would I?” 

“There’s no dirt in here unless you brought it, love.” Cole rolled his shoulders. “Where are we going?” 

The burly man’s perceptiveness had long since ceased to surprise Duana. “For a ride. If you’re a good boy, you might not even get out until the end.” She opened the case and approached Cole’s sturdy metal chair, verifying that all his existing restraints were still intact before getting within arm’s reach. 

“Haven’t I always been a model guest?” The note of triumph in the man’s voice told Duana he suspected he was going to be released. Undoubtedly, he’d detected in her tone some of the defeat she felt. 

Duana flicked the restraint cuffs onto Cole’s wrists and ankles, where they automatically tightened. Though not physically linked by a chain or cable, the restraints would prevent him from moving his hands or feet more than thirty centimeters apart or moving any of his limbs quickly enough to land a blow. Still, she stepped back and drew her stun-wand before disengaging his chair restraints; Cole outweighed her by almost three to one, and she didn’t want to give him any openings. 

As the cuffs bolted to the chair clicked open, Cole stood slowly, flexing his limbs and rolling his still-bagged head from side to side. “You know, I’m going to miss this place a little bit.” He took one hesitant step, hobbled by the restraints. “But really, I’m going to miss our little talks.” 

Duana stepped backwards into the doorway, where the two guards she’d left there flanked her. “Is that so.” 

Cole, following Duana’s voice, walked slowly forward. Though she couldn’t see his face, she was certain he was smiling. “Maybe you don’t know it now, but so will you.” 


Nojus here. As the dust here at Berkant continues to settle, this week we continue to provide passages from the account sent to us by Naval Intelligence about the activities of its subsidiary agency. Despite us warning our contacts that the audience reaction to these entries has been mixed at best (in terms of positive reactions to the described activities of the Bureau), they have urged us to keep publishing selections from the extensive documents they’ve given us. 

Duncan and I have discussed why Naval Intelligence would push us to keep publishing stories that paint Bureau operatives as gung-ho and barely constrained by legal niceties, if at all. We don’t have any good theories, except perhaps that this is, just like Duana’s raid, a way to send a message to a certain crowd. If that’s the case, then whatever that message is, it’s probably not a friendly one.