Lost and Found

His number was up: the pale doors to the Galactic Liason cubicle slid shut behind him.

“How can I help you, sir?”

“Well, I need help with two things, but they’re kind of one thing: I’ve lost my girlfriend, and my spaceship..”

“How long has your girlfriend been missing, sir?”

“She isn’t missing – I LOST her!”

The GaLE (Galactic Liason Expediter) voice was silent for a moment, then asked (in the same bright tone):

“Sir, we’re failing to make a differentiation between ‘lost’ and ‘missing’ in this case. Do you want to report her as ‘missing’?”

He ground his teeth in frustration:

“Look, the two things are tied together. A couple of things happened that got me thinking she might be involved in a specialised space-vehicle theft ring, so I was following her to see. On the way here she stopped at the Kereberos way-station and I docked in a few spots behind her. She went into a passenger lounge opposite McTrumps and met with some guy. While they’re talking I ordered food at the McTrumps window – by the time I turned around, they were gone. And so was my ship! I ran back to McTrumps and used a security credit to view their HoloGraphix cube and it shows her leaving the passenger lounge, entering the docking bay, punching my code, getting into my vehicle while the guy gets into hers, and then Fzzzztttt – gone!”

“So, you’d like to report the theft of your space vehicle?”

“No! If I report it as theft, then insurance will just give me a new one – I don’t want a NEW one, I want THAT one! And the person flying it.”

Another silence – he could hear the soft high-register buzz of the room (one big machine) as it computed what he’d said, running through countless options and variations in its database. There was a barely perceptible hum as it said:

“Here are the courses of action available to you:
The vehicle is registered as missing and we give a description of the person flying it, emphasizing that the person has a medical condition and has taken the vehicle in error. The second option is that the vehicle is legally in possession of the flyer, but that she has a medical condition that requires urgent treatment. With either scenario, any regional security units will be on alert for this specific vehicle, but will treat the flyer benignly. Shall we proceed with the alert?”

He looked up and smiled into all the tiny eyelet cameras:

“You think of everything, GaLE – you think of everything.”

It was perfect! This way, when he finally got her back, anything she said about him threatening her life, well, he could write if off to her ‘’condition’’. All he had to do was stay calm, let the system do his work for him. And when he got her home, he’d reward himself for all that patience – yes, sir, he would take his own sweet time.

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