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Rated: E · Sample · Sci-fi · #2265268
scene in current wip looking for reviews
Jess Foreman ran her fingers through her fluorescent pink hair. She couldn't wait until it grew out. That was what she got for playing a game of truth or dare with a sentient AI that had access to her full bio. Her frustration of the moment wasn't with her hated hair color, it was with the mechanisms of an antiquated bureaucracy. Jess was revolutionizing the establishment of remote monitoring networks in vulnerable inhabited planetary systems. Still, she had to dot "i"s and cross "t"s to get the resources she needed to implement her changes. She had signed on to be a factor in part out of gratitude at their rescuing her from the end of the old omniverse. But even she had to admit that a large part of her desire was the sheer adventuring involved in acting as a field factor. Between struggling to get resources for her projects, and leading a team of probationary factors, Jess spent more time riding a desk than the high of exploration and adventure.

Adja, Jess's healing hound partner nudged her elbow with her nose. Jess, they just began discussing our new parameters. Jess shook herself to attention and recentered her focus on the staff meeting around her.

"... These new monitor systems have the potential to expand the planets we protect beyond our field factor numbers. What is even more important, Mira Black is unaware of this new set of procedures. Let me pass this discussion to the system developer, Jess Foreman," Mae Amante, chief of domestic operations for the Preserve said by way of introduction.

Jess stood and began tapping on her tablet to bring up her current specification recommendations on the screens in front of people, "We have increased the request for higher-level AI programs. I have in place a team of programs interviewing and sorting applicant AI's into appropriate teams, but I need faster production of the probe clouds and the central core computers. There are billions of worlds out there. I have teams trained in placements and nothing for them to place. Frankly, each system we put in has the coverage of a network of factors being placed on a single world. We need to work smarter not harder."

Mae smiled at her, "People I know you all feel your resource requests are important, but with the possible exception of the production of more molecular reprinters, I am afraid I have to place a priority on Jess's requests."

An entire orchestral outbreak of protests broke out throughout the room. Mae let it go and Jess sat back down to check her messages for the daily stats on AI applicants.

A loud squelching sound erupted from the display screen speakers and everyone fell silent throwing their hands over their ears. Those who had leaped to their feet to protest sat down. All eyes in the room turned to the entrance, Brenda Bench, chief of field operations for the factors based in Refuge stood with her finger poised above her tablet, "Sorry, I am late, I had to get checked through medical. I am so glad everyone is playing nicely this morning. Whatever you were arguing over, Mae is right, we're doing it her way. Anyone want to protest further?" Brenda moved to tap her screen again. No one raised protests.

"Good, now I have an assignment for teams including healing hounds, most especially for the hound portions. I want the hounds to use their invisibility to investigate Mira's sanruphrup operatives. I need to know how loyal they are and whether or not they would make good double agents. As you all know any factors we have sent in have been discovered rapidly. I think part of that is Mira used to be one of us and she knows all of our tricks."

Jess heard the request and turned to Adja, "You could volunteer, I can handle the kids and the systems you go ahead."

The 'kids' would just love to hear you call them that. Adja tapped on her tablet with her nose. I volunteered, happy?

Jess smiled and nodded.

"A few things about the sanruphrup, mostly rumors, they could be psychokinetic, telepathic, shapeshifters. They have one finger more than the original species, the ruphrup. Their training regimen is brutal, the strong readily kill the weaker ones."

Adja raised a paw, Do they eat the weaker ones, because that sounds an awful lot like how hellhounds are trained...

"Adja, you would have to tell me. I have seen one training session in a field. They left the dead body," Brenda answered.

"So they don't just train in the dark compounds?" Jess asked.

"Apparently not," Brenda nodded.

Jess considered joining Adja if they would be able to do some of the recons outside of the dark compounds.
I'll head out in the morning, I should have a report within a few days. Adja commented telepathically.

"Thank you, I'd like you to run point on this, I'll have the other volunteers check in with you," Brenda stated tapping at her tablet.

Jess felt a sudden reluctance from Adja, which faded. Adja wanted to be an administrator as much as Jess did.

"Excuse me, but can we get back to resource allocation?" One of the production technicians grumbled.

Jess toggled on her earbuds and pressed play on her playlist, returning to the business of sorting programs into appropriate teams.
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