Shoot the messenger

24th September 2008 – 7.31 am

'Penny Ibramovic, good to see you.' It is not strictly a lie, as she certainly makes a desk job more interesting on occasion, although perhaps not always in a pleasant way. 'Please, come in, sit down. I have some work for you. I'd like you to go to Kusomonmon...'

'Yes, sir!'

'...and, uh, cadet Ibramovic? Would you like to come back in? Thank you, I hadn't finished. There is a package of encrypted reports that needs to be delivered quickly to the space station in orbit around Kusomonmon IV. Cadet, you are listening to the briefing, aren't you?'

'Hmm? Oh, yes, sir. You're hiring my services as a courier, and I'm to head to Kusomonmon immediately. Understood, sir.' As I reach down to the bottom drawer of my desk to put away my copy of the mission briefing I hear the rustle of Ibramovic's uniform as she snaps a salute as quick as she stands and turns to leave my office.

'That will be all, cadet', I say futilely to my office's closing doors. With cadet Ibramovic on the mission I had time to investigate a more personal matter. For some reason, I have developed what appears to be minor radiation burns to a rather delicate area.

About half an hour later, I get a request through my interplanetary relay to open a communication channel. It's Ibramovic, so I accept. 'Sir, I've arrived at Kusomonmon, as requested.'

'Good job, Penny Ibramovic. Have you delivered the package yet?' It's times like this I wish there were still static on interplanetary lines, so I could be sure the channel was still open to the other person. 'You picked up the package from my secretary before you left, didn't you? It was in the briefing that you were to deliver the reports from my office to Kusomonmon.'

'Did I read the briefing? He he, of course, sir! You have a wicked sense of humour. Um, oh, I know what has happened, the package must have slipped down a gap in the cargo hold. I'll move some containers around and get right back to you.' If I didn't know better, I would have said that background noise sounded more like a ship being moved out of a hangar.

Not that I'm terribly surprised, but it is taking Ibramovic quite a while to 'find' the package. In fact, it's been almost half an hour, when my secretary's intercom pings at me. 'Sir, I have ca—'


I have to reply. As much as I want to, I cannot ignore this. 'Susan, is everything okay?'

'Uh, yes sir, everything's okay here, we're okay, there's no problem. How are you?'

Of course I know that's Penny Ibramovic's voice. At least she's got the package now. 'Okay then.'

Another peaceful half an hour passes, and another request for communication arrives. 'Penny Ibramovic, did you find the package?'

'Yes, sir! Just as I thought, it had fallen between two containers. It's here now, as requested.

'Sir, I know it's taken me a little time to deliver the package, what with all the fuss, but is the mission bonus reward still available? I could really use it, what with fuel prices these days it seems like I'm paying twice as much to fly anywhere these days.'

'It's not a problem, cadet. The delivery has been made in time. It's been a pleasure working with you, Penny Ibramovic.'

'Another successful mission! Where did I leave my pants?'

'Cadet? You've left the channel open.'

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