Written in 365 Parts: 31: Inside Operative

They hated Central Administration, hated it almost as much as they had come to hate working at the Judiciary. Forty years of loyal, well mostly loyal, duty and for what. A pension linked at three percent of their pay plus their own contributions and no doubt a small trophy on retirement. Thank you for your time now go and grow old in some virtual-enhanced retirement facility.

Born in a tube, educated in a box, a lifetime of service in a cubicle and then thirty years of narcolepsy in a barely cushioned coffin before you’re recycled for organic components. While the rich get to dine on real flesh and extend their sumptuous lives with regenerative medication.

It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t the retirement plan they had lined up. No thank you. Sure to everyone watching they were edging out their time and getting ready for that poorly attended retirement party, but they had other plans.

It had started out as a small matter. Working in Central Administration had some small perks. The occasional large drugs bust meant you could shave a small percentage of the takings before they were officially weighed, calculated and recycled. Then there was lost property, unclaimed items from heists, burglaries of criminal seizures. After a ten year period they were auctioned away. No one wanted those jobs, mess of paperwork. But it was a great way to find a bargain and make a side profit with happy buyers.

They were smart about their side business. Far too many people had been caught due to spending their extra money or being foolish enough to trust in others. They had never done that. They always used computer proxies and disposable identities to contact anyone. They also never spent any of the money. It was all hidden away in untraceable stocks and investments. They would wait until after retirement, a quick move to a new system and arrive with a little more than what they left.

Two events had helped to change their fortunes in the last ten years and built what would have been a comfortable extra nest egg into a small fortune. Enough money to buy a new identity and some extra years to enjoy it with. Firstly they had been moved up two pay grades. It was just fortune that the three useless slobs above them all left the Judiciary at the same time and they were upped two grades to control a section.

The second was just as lucrative but was also a source of issue. They had been caught. Thankfully not by any internal judicial teams or any of the tax collecting authorities. Someone corporate, someone high up, had noticed something and set up a sting. They had allowed items that were tagged to be marked as lost property and waited, patiently as those who could buy extra years would. When the item came up for auction at a drastically deflated value, a little side deal between a collector and themselves, the corporate had made themselves known.

They were the collector. They were the original owner. It was all a ruse to discover that there was a person who was purchasable in the Judiciary.

At first they had only needed small things. Information on certain arrests, or insight into how much property, usually illicit pharma, had been seized and from where. This was all easy enough to obtain. The various organics that dealt with the busts were happy to boast about their exploits to the bean counter who tallied up the records.

Then there were the occasional tasks. These were always stressful. Somehow the hidden collector knew their identity as packages would be left for them to find. Sometimes an item to swap out from evidence, usually replacing like for like before it could be used in legal cases primarily to skew with forensics. But occasionally data slugs to upload into the Judiciary systems.

These came with an extra level of danger. Everyone who did anything on the Judiciary Systems was logged and built into standard reports. Part of the transparency of process and audit capabilities. It was watertight. If you were logged on, or if you needed to get access, you were monitored.

They were always careful about how they managed to get the data slugs uploaded. It was possible, but one had to be sly. The usual way was to use one of his friends, if they could be called that, scroungers were what they really were. Over the years they had built up a large number of these ‘friends’ in various parts of the department. They would meet up on irregular occasions and buy a drink, or a breakfast and ‘catch up for old times sake’ or some other such excuse. They had even taken to running all of the office virtual leagues and sweepstakes over the years. Helpful, friendly, always walking around, always knowing people. Always working out who was dumb enough to leave an open terminal.

Those were the friends. the clumsy, the lazy, the ones easily swayed by avarice. A quick, “hey how you doing, can I get you breakfast this morning?” was the start. Then an occasional complaint, mention how your feet hurt, ask more than once for them to “run down and grab the food, you’ll pay of course,” and never ask for change. Watch their hungry, greedy eyes at the prospect of free food and free credits. Double bonus you dumb saps.

Oh if the hammer ever came down on the activities, as it one day must, then they were damn sure they would have a small layer of insulation. Enough to throw suspicion enough to give them a head start. They already knew a place to get an ident change and had a fake set of papers. They also had a high level contact who owed them, likely to be a one time favour, but they had it.

Another few years would be best though. Keep this going for a few more years and they would be very comfortable in retirement. At this point they could disappear and live well enough. Five more years, maybe ten to maximum retirement age, and they would be rolling in easy times. As long as they didn’t get burned.

A constant issue was the threat of exposure. One that was worrying them today as they received notification again. They had already done one task today by setting up a trace. But now they had another message from their contact, delivered in the usual untraceable manner. But this was for a voice comm and that was just plain worrying.

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