Scene Thirty Nine
In which a new opportunity arises
Devlin felt that he was really beginning to lose his mind. He was also really beginning to understand what his doctor kept saying about stress. He could feel his heart tight in his chest, and his throat was dry, and he hadn’t managed to sleep while he was off duty, so the front of his brain felt like some meat fisted twat had grabbed it and was squeezing.
When Johnson had walked in Devlin had thought, this is it, I’ve lost my sense of time as well. But then he had seen the clock on the jets display, and that had just left him confused. “What are you doing up?” he asked, “Your shift isn’t for another two hours.”
“We have new orders”, said Johnson, sitting down
Devlin’s brow corrugated, “Nothing came through on the radio” he said
“These orders aren’t from her ladyship” said Johnson lightly, while playing with the display
Many words flashed quickly through Devlin’s head; words like ‘mutiny’ were very prominent. “Where did they come from?” asked Devlin, fighting to keep his voice calm.
“One of my other bosses” said Johnson, like a man commenting on the weather.
Devlin felt fairly sure that this was against the spirit of their contracts at least, “Why do you have more bosses?” he asked, horrified now
“In case someone else requires my services” said Johnson, “I have just been advanced an impressive sum for a single job, which should take all of five minutes. We have to find a large airborne target, probably a blimp, which is upsetting one of the people I work for, I have a radar signature, and it’s nearby. Then, after we’ve found it, we have to bombard it with breacher missiles until it stops being a large airborne target. If you want to help me with this, I will happy split my retainer with you”.
Devlin took all of this in, in a kind of numb horror. Abandoning a task like this, and no matter how he put it that’s how it was looking to Devlin, went against everything he had tried to be over the years. Some old pilots instinct warned him that they were flying into a patch of cloud, but he was barely even aware of it. “And if I don’t want to help you?” he asked, like a man trying to talk down a gunman.
“Then you really should have said something before I started to change our course five minutes ago.” said Johnson, coolly. He pressed a button on the display, and Devlin watched the first breacher arc away from the jet.