Case 0783: Spheres of Influence
Hajime’s office was two doors down from the interrogation room that Wit had used for most enforcer-related processing. At this hour, few enforcers worked in the building – only the one’s that had pressing cases or wanted to make their way up in the business. It was Hajime’s turn to bring the coffee from the end of the hall into the projection center.
With each step, he tried to bring himself to a point where he could tolerate staying another hour or more. Working with Shawn, training Shawn, had taken a toll on him. He passed by the interrogation room, it’s door ajar just slightly enough for any person to see that it was empty. He tensed as he walked by, almost clenching his left and right hands and spilling the coffee.
“Careful,” said Shawn. His accuracy for knowing where Hajime was at all times sent prickles up Hajime’s neck. Shawn continued manipulating the data files with his hands, moving as if conducting an unseen orchestra while digital lights swarmed in front of him. Hajime admired his gracefulness, as he felt too old to move so quickly. However, he knew that Shawn could also miss finer details, and this gave him the comfort of not being totally obsolete.
“Which case are you reviewing?” Hajime asked. He had caught the case number in his periphery: 0783. Still, he thought to ask Shawn. It was important to let new enforcers take the lead on some cases.
“Six men were charged with assaulting an enforcer just outside of Region One,” said Shawn. “The offenders were subdued and searched by Wit personnel. One was shot.”
“What did they want?”
“Personnel found propaganda from a resistance group,” said Shawn, rotating the projection so that Hajime could read it.
“Nonsense,” said Hajime. He sipped his coffee.
“Are you saying that the information was fabricated?”
“Are you implying that our employers lied?”
There was a long silence between them, as if all the ideas and words they could exchange had been put on hold. Shawn’s last word had punctuated the air suddenly, sounding more like a statement than a question, and Hajime knew better than to walk into a trap.
“Of course not,” he said. “Are you?”
Shawn’s eyes widened for a moment. The silence filled the room for a short time. The lights of the projections spun slowly around the room. As Shawn seemed unable to say anything else, Hajime decided to take initiative. He put his hand up and swiped the air vertically against three projections. Pages of information faded into darkness.
“What are you doing?”
Hajime zoomed in on one particular document – the testimonial of the five remaining men, and then he delicately pulled up another document which contained the official summary of the incident.
“What did they want?” he asked Shawn again.
“They found propaganda –
“No. Look at the testimony.”
“They wanted to distribute propaganda.”
“Take a look at their testimony,” said Hajime. “You’re not reading into it.”
“They pleaded innocent,” said Shawn. “And everything happens out of order. They said the enforcers shot first, but anyone from the resistance would say that to weaken the integrity…”
Hajime’s eyes half-opened as if listening to a child tell a story that had little matter, weight, or significance. Shawn waited for Hajime to say something, but again, the room was quiet, only the soft hum of the projectors. “Wouldn’t you plead innocent?” Shawn asked, “Wouldn’t you lie?”
Hajime scoffed. “Not if I was resisting. If I was resisting, I would simply state my message.” He paused again. “What do they want?”
“I don’t know,” said Shawn.
“They are not resistance,” said Hajime. “At best they are drifters, maybe barflies that insulted enforcers who had too much to drink. You know the type. One provokes an enforcer, and the enforcer gets angry, and…” Hajime motioned with his index finger, a mock shot in the air.
“That would never happen,” said Shawn.
“Don’t be a fool,” said Hajime.”We are just people at the end of the day, and people are just as unpredictable as the next, regardless of what side they think they belong to. The enforcer is lying. The drunks were just avenging an idiot friend.”
Shawn looked away for a moment as he mulled over what to say. “How can you tell? The file is airtight.”
“That’s how I can tell,” said Hajime. “How often do cases come in neat packages? Sooner or later, you will learn not to trust anything so pristine.”