Adele Stuben flowed through the last movements of the kata and stood poised for a long moment of stillness. She relaxed, allowing the world to catch up to her, or so she had always thought of it. She breathed deeply, clearing the few anaerobic waste products from her system as she checked her appearance in the mirror, tall, not slender really, more like voluptuous over very fit muscles. Short curly hair making a black frame around a whitened face, black lips, silvered eye inserts. All as it should be.
She stripped and showered, high enough in the station hierarchy to ignore water conservation measures. Her black skinsuit contrasted with the white intradermal UV protection. She extended the theme with boots and short jacket of black leather with silver conchos and diamond studs. She eyed her appearance in the mirror with satisfaction. Today was going to be a challenge. She left her apartment on the lowest, high G, level and took the lift up to the secured office level. The identification routines in the security system automatically cleared her through 3 airseal doors as she approached them.
The CEO of Oleg Ori Orbitals was seated at his desk, dictating a letter to a rather irate sub-contractor, while watching the full wall monitor beyond his desk. He nodded to her as she entered, but returned his eyes to the monitor.
"Computer, record message for delayed posting to Mr. Spider Johnny, the usual email delivery point." Oleg watched as the two people on the monitor moved casually down one of the back corridors of the Administration section of the huge space station of Oleg Ori Orbitals Space Construction Division.
"Message begins. 'Mr. Spider, We here at Oleg Ori Orbitals take great pride in the way we deal with all of our sub-contractors, and our customers. We feel that if we deal fairly with them they will do their best to meet or beat any deadline that we have set. I am sorry to say that the Department Head of our Finance Department as well as the Head of our Legal Department have proven that they don't wish to follow the company credo. After an in depth and thorough investigation of your allegations I am sorry to report that you are not the only one to have been ‘shortchanged’ by this company."
Still watching the wall monitor Oleg pressed a button on the arm of his chair and watched the two people react as the emergency bulkheads slammed across the corridor. "'I have authorized the transfer of the amount still owed to you by this company into your account along with a sizable interest payment. I hope this will satisfy you as to the sincerity of my earlier message to you.' End of message append my signature to it and put it in the queue for delivery late tomorrow."
The two people in the corridor started to beat on the emergency doors. Pressing a second button, Oleg drawled. "I really hate it when people steal from me." On the monitor the two people jerked back, looking at the camera near the overhead. "I especially hate it when it affects the reputation of my company. Did you two morons really think that I would be so dumb as to ignore the complaints of sub-contractors? My whole company is built on my dealings with sub-contractors. They are what keeps this company in business. If not for them we wouldn't be able to build teapots let alone spacecraft." Oleg watched as the woman noticed the airlock in the wall with the highly visible warning signs. "You both are rather stupid if you think I will let you go to a nice comfortable prison cell after the damage you have done to my company and to me personally. Don't bother to talk this is a one way voice channel. Oh, and by the way your nice healthy bank accounts have been seized by the United Earth Government after they got a tip from an anonymous source. Taxes should have been paid on that money, I didn't want you to worry about how your relatives would explain it to the government tax office when they inherit." Touching another button Oleg watched the inner door of the airlock open. A high pitched whistle in the background indicated a leak in the outer seals. "I've noticed that you both prefer to ignore company safety standards and don't wear skin-suits under your work clothes. A pity really, you both could have survived the accident you are going to have in a moment."
Touching the last button, Oleg watched as Mark Feldman, Head of Legal Affairs and Mary Leachinbakle, Head of the Finance Department finally realized the full extent of the danger their greed had put them in. "I would say you have less than a minute before the defective seals on the outer door give way. Try not to repeat your errors in Hell."
Now, thought Adele. She sauntered over to the desk, placing a folded bundle of sunburst yellow coveralls in front of the small desk screen. She leaned on the desk and placed a booted foot on Ori's seat, but said nothing. Her left hand slipped a data card into the read slot behind her.
On the large wall screen, the executive's abandoned briefcases started sliding toward the airlock. One sprung open, creating a brief snowstorm of paper that whipped out of sight, into the airlock. Oblivious to their bleeding noses, the doomed pair of conspirators fought to force open the emergency door. The woman lost her grip and slid screaming across the deck. She grabbed a handle at the edge of the airlock hatch with torn and bleeding fingers. The man lost his grip and staggered toward the airlock, a terrified ricus frozen on his face. As the woman’s fingers started slipping, Oleg pressed a button. The whistling shriek of escaping air cut off. The man hit the floor with an audible thud as the relentless wind released him. The woman stood up, edging nervously away from the airlock, without releasing her grip.
"You have five minutes to catch the 0900 shuttle." Oleg watched in satisfaction as they tried and failed to overcome their shock. "I highly recommend you not miss it." The pair scrambled wildly for the door opening at the far end of the corridor. "Incidentally, you are both fired."
Turning back to his desk as the decompression alarms started going off in the distance, Oleg picked up the hard copy of a contract from its surface and said. "Computer, erase the record of the last two days for L2-U5-S3 and place the cameras for that section on the repair schedule, on the same form as the door seals for the airlock. Send the accounting department the order to pay the delinquent moneys into the accounts of the sub-contractors I indicated in memo # 5698. Then get me a direct link with the security duty officer in one minute." Oleg sat back for a moment.
"Trying to have fun without me, Oleg?" Adele made her voice a throaty purr.
"I hated having to pay the Spider. Pity those fools didn't limit themselves to his account. "
"And I'm just certain you're brokenhearted about his company going into receivership, as well."
Ori smirked at that, running his fingers up the slick black surface of the skin suit covering her leg above the boot. "I just heard his main creditor has sold his construction station for pence on the credit."
"What a shame," She smiled, gleaming white teeth between black lips, "He'll never get it back, now."
"Security Duty Officer is online. Do you want video or voice only?" A softly seductive female voice came from his desk.
"Put her on the small monitor." Oleg said to the computer. Adele pushed her coveralls to the side, only a fold of cloth covering the lower left corner of the screen, as the face of the Security Duty Officer appeared in it.
"Yes Mr. Ori, how may I help you today?" The woman asked politely.
"I have just fired the Department Head of Legal Affairs, along with the Head of the Finance Department. They have been misdirecting company funds for their own use, I have dealt with the matter. Make sure they are aboard the 0900 shuttle, and that all their security and signatory authority is withdrawn."
The woman looked startled for a moment then she replied. "That might explain the warrant that arrived a few moments ago from the UEG Tax Collectors office."
"No doubt.Please inform the Tax office of their flight schedule." Oleg replied with a frown. He pressed the disconnect button on the chair arm.
"My, you are generous today. Are you looking forward to the tour?" She noticed the sudden sheen of sweat on his forehead.
He stretched with an unconvincing ease, tension in his shoulders, leaking into his eyes. "I’ll want you there, Adele, to charm any of the representatives that get nosy about the money. And keep an eye on that 'Reverend' Vorp, he's a government agent, no matter how well he plays the part of slimy evangelical preacher."
"He's typecast, Oleg, no one can act that slimy. He must be worth a mint to the United Earth Government, his so called church has shut down or slowed down more private space initiatives than Parliament." She casually shifted the coveralls and glanced at the lower left corner of the screen. Three small dots, half done.
Ori was looking at the door, anxious to go, if he had to. "I suppose I should be in proper uniform." Adele murmured, unsnapping the diamond and silver studs of her leather jacket.
"Oh, no." He smirked standing up against her, "Your version of 'proper' makes everyone else look so dowdy." He ran his hands around her waist beneath the jacket. Only Ori, she thought, could find a skin suit more sexy than naked. He, himself, took his off only once a day. He took the fastest showers in space. She peeled the jacket off, glancing behind as she dropped it of the desk. One dot. She ran her strong fingers up Ori's arms. The stark white of her hands contrasted with the black fingernails, blunted, not pointed. Nothing that might threaten the integrity of his skin suit.
"Help me?" She purred, shaking out the folds of the sunburst yellow overalls. She raised her leg, rubbing it against his. Clear. Done. While he leaned down to assist, she ejected the card. When he stood again, her hand brushed his pocket. He took his time, snapping the front closure of her coveralls. Partway. If not for the skinsuit, she would have been showing a considerable amount of cleavage.
When the comp chimed and announced Ori's shuttle ready to leave, she tucked her hand under his arm and strolled with him, through no fewer than eight emergency doors in his very private exit route up to the non-rotating hub and out the extension to the nearest dock. She released him momentarily to float though the scan. It beeped for Ori, but the security man just nodded politely. When you own the station and the shuttle, you can carry on anything you desire. And Ori always did. She sat next to the window, but leaned over toward the aisle, blocking Ori's view. She could feel him, tense against her shoulder, fighting not to show the terror that beaded his face with sweat. "This will be nothing, compared to pandering to the President on his tour in two weeks. What a pain that will be." She pinched his ear, distracting him from his private phobia. "His Security objected to even the skeleton crew that has to be on board."
"Considering the size of his entourage, it's ridiculous. " Ori snapped. "My crew is hand picked. I can vouch for them all. "
Adele silently considered the recent problem with personnel, but didn't mention it. She was watching the ship they were approaching. The last five years had been so fun. What a shame it was almost at an end.