ACT II, Scene 2


            Code: 8A34F15E813D45B64C387

            To: staff.masterlist.eml

            From: Command Board

            Message Type: text


            Cryption key: verified

            Decryption key: verified


            Congratulations to all Maverick Hunters who participated in the Maverick battle earlier today.  Shore leave has been approved for most hunters (see attached list).  Enjoy it while you can.  Keep in mind you may be called back into immediate service at any time.  Enjoy yourselves and good luck in the future.



            "Come in," Cain declared as he swallowed.

            The door pulled into the wall with a swoosh.  Zero stood in front of it, looking fierce but calm. "Dr. Cain?" he said as he entered. 

            "In here," Cain called out.

            Zero stepped around the living room and entered the dining room.  "I'm sorry I couldn't get here earlier. There were some last minute approvals I had to grant for shore leave.  I sent them into your inbox for approval, but I think they'll be all right."

            Cain nodded from his place at the table, not looking up from his meal. "Yes, probably.  We don't expect to see much activity for the next few days.  We hit them pretty hard."  He rolled the pasta around on his fork.  "Should be uneventful around here."

            "Yeah, I wish every Maverick attack was like that."  Zero stepped up to him and cocked his head to the side. "Refueling?"

            Cain chuckled, "Yes, it would appear so.  Three squares a day."

            "It seems so inefficient to have to take so much time out of your day to eat."

            "Yes, sleep too.  Our designers certainly didn't do as well with us as yours did with you.  Not nearly as many fallacies."  Cain wiped his mouth free of tomato sauce. "Forgive me, I'm being rude." He turned away from his plate. "I wanted to talk to you today about Lina.  I'm wondering if she should stay in her position."

            "Why shouldn't she?"

            "Well, I was a little worried about her performance in the MCP today. I'm always worried about human error in the post."

            "But you're in the post," Zero pointed out.

            "Yes, but I'm the... well, I see your point."

            "I'd prefer a balance of humans and reploids in the force.  It reminds me of what we're fighting for.  X would agree with me."

            "Yes, I suppose.  But maybe we should consider replacing her."

            "With a reploid or human?"

            "I don't want to choose sides, but Janus came up with an interesting point in the cockpit today, that human error can be costly in the long run."

            "Janus mentioned that?" Zero put his hands on his hips. "That doesn't surprise me, Janus has always opposed humans working in MHHQ. Not that I blame him for his reasons, reploids are more sophisticated machines that humans, e.g.," he pointed to the spaghetti on Cain's plate for an example.  "But there's no way we have enough manpower to complete all the jobs we have in such a vast complex if we made it exclusively reploid.  Plus, how would it look if humans chose to neglect the very force intended to protect them?  What would that say about our treatment as intelligent beings?  It would be like using mice to make mousetraps."

            "Mmm, I see.  There're a few others who share his opinion."

            "Yes, but they're in minority.  Vocal, but minority.  Most everyone in the HQ thinks its ridiculous.  I trust Janus implicitly, but he's wrong in this case."

            "I see.  Janus works under X, right?  How's his track record?"

            "Good.  But that's only because he's never done anything, more of a pencil-pusher really. Too low-ranked to get out of the shadows.  Never did anything to make him stand out.  I really don't think he'll amount to much overall."

            "Well, I've been looking through the personnel files and there's a crack team of reploids coming up.  One's a communications officer, two are mechanics, and one's looking to become a commander.  He may even replace me when I retire," Cain laughed.  "I predict, with enough grooming, they'll end up playing some key positions in HQ."

            "Maybe.  If you can send me the files, I'll look at them, tell you what I think."

            "Surely.  We'll probably be doing some transfers in the next few weeks.  Continental divisions and such.  I've gotten word from the government that the space colonization program is go."

            "Is it?" Zero said excitedly.  "I thought for sure it would get cut from the budget."

            "Well, apparently it's going ahead.  They've already constructed the space station and they're going to be sending humans into it in a few months.  Of course, they'll need Maverick Hunters."

            "I don't think I'd like an assignment like that.  Too far away from everything I know.  Too isolated.  I don't think X would like it either."

            "You two are quite inseparable, aren't you?" Cain mused.

            "I owe him my life... on several occasions.  And he owes me his.  It's hard to break a bond like that."

            "I suppose so.  Back in the day, my scientist colleagues and I were the best of friends.  It's a shame we all moved on.  Sometimes I wonder what they're doing now.  Ah, another human fallacy, getting old."  Dr. Cain put his silverware back on the table. "Well, should be getting back to work now."

            "We still have to take care of the upgrade components for the Talon 87 model reploids."

            "Oh, bloody hell, you're right.  Probably going to be another late night again, eh?"

            "Afraid so."

            "Ah, this is hard on me," he said as he grabbed his cane and stood up. "I'll have to take some time off after this, it's getting to me."

            "I could take over the upgrades myself if you want to rest," Zero volunteered.

            "No, no, it's my duty to do this.  I can't shirk it, no matter how human I am," he smiled.  He and Zero walked out of the room.

            "There is at least one advantage you have over reploids," Zero said before they made it to the door.  "You don't have to worry about getting the Maverick virus."

            "Ah, that is true, isn't it?  But you and X don't have that problem either."

            "Yes, but that doesn't mean I can rest easy.  It's nice being free from Maverick status, but that just means I have to earn it that much more.  I have a responsibility to wipe out Mavericks so that the others can rest at peace."

            "You, me, and X.  The last triad of defense for humans."