Positrons and Paychecks (Conclusion)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

The last 48 hours had been hectic beyond belief. It took four hours just for the airlocks to be released. It wasn’t for another hour beyond that that we figured out if there were any casualties or missing items.

Two things were missing. An emergency low-atmo suit was missing, and Sam was nowhere to be found. None of us had seen her after the reception, and security believed that she was in the room that had been breached. Tracks lead both to and from the breach, and there was a dead body found just outside. Did Sam kill the person? Was he one of a group that wasn’t necessary? There were too many questions.

It didn’t help that all of the video evidence for that room was missing. Even the backups were somehow missing footage from that time period. Q suggested that it was a local tampering job, stopping the cameras from recording any input at all. I’m inclined to believe him, but how? Did Sam do it? Was there an accomplice to all of this inside the lunar base itself? I put my glasses on my desk and started rubbing my temples. There were too many questions, and not enough potential answers. It all seemed to boil down to the same thing – Was Sam involved? If she was, why?

My phone started to ring. “Varnum.”

“It’s Chris from payroll. Did you authorize a payment to the family of Miss Samantha Greene?”

“I did, it was backpay for her most recent project, I told her that she wouldn’t be receiving it until completion.”

“Mr. Clark didn’t feel that the payment was necessary. After all, Miss Greene is – “

“She’s missing, not dead. And a promise was a promise. Let the payment go through.”

“I can’t. Mr. Clark won’t allow it, he put a lock on the transfer.”

Really, Dick? “Use my employee ID to authorize the transfer, the access code is…”

Richard walked into my office a few hours later. “Care to explain why that payment went through?”

I took a sip of my coffee. “She did the work, she’s getting paid for it. We had a written contract, if you’d like to see it – “

“Not interested. It’s not like she’ll be able to spend the money, given that she’s MIA.”

“If she doesn’t, then her family will. All of her paychecks went straight home anyways to care for her grandparents. I’m just skipping the middlewoman, is all.”

“Sentimentality from you? I’m shocked. I could dock it from your pay.”

“Good luck explaining to Zeke where his allowance was this week. He’s getting to the age where he actually would care that it was gone.”

“Unless you pay him a thousand dollars a week in allowance, I’m pretty sure that you can cover it.”

“I know, I’m just rattling your chains.”

“Seriously though, James. Why are you being so stubborn about this? It’s just a paycheck.”

“Not everyone is like us, Richard, caring about the company for the company’s sake. To some people, it is all about the paycheck.”

“And I’m supposed to encourage it?”

“You don’t need to encourage it, just accept it for what it is. Dock my pay, if you want, but don’t take this away from Sam’s family.”

He stared at me for a moment, then walked out the door without another word. I sat there, thinking about what I just said. After a moment, I picked up my phone.

“Q? I need a favor from you, off the record.”

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