The agent laughed indignantly. "Let me get this straight. You sit in a lab all day, writing papers or mixing test tubes or sitting on your ass pretending to do work, while I'm out there, fighting the same abominations you write your ever-so-precious reports on, and your job is harder than mine. How many of your coworkers have been shot, ripped to shreds, rearranged, broiled, or mutilated in the past year? Would it be zero? I'm pretty sure it's zero." He punctuated this last section with a harsh pound on the break room table.
The doctor smiled, watching a bit of her coffee go over the rim of her mug. "Well, those of us that bothered to go to college," with a pause here for a patronizing chuckle, "know that research can be a lot more taxing than shooting or stabbing or brutalizing or trying to convince yourself that you're macho or whatever you guys spend your time doing. We actually have to make decisions and conclusions, and that involves thinking. You remember what that is, right? The stuff that you did with your brain before it all turned into action movies? Well, those of us in research have to do that all day long. And not the kind of stuff you can copy out of the back of a textbook either. I mean, we-"
A D-Class, who had up to this point been minding his own business, cleared his throat. The two noticed him there for the first time, both having long since reached the point where they no longer even consciously processed Class D's.
"Really, you assholes? I can't believe this crap. You," he pointed to the MTF agent, "get body armor and weapons and backup. And don't even get me started on you, princess," and he now turned to the researcher, "behind your steel doors and one-way mirrors and armed escorts. Both of you can't complain about anything. You guys just throw folks like me in with these skips or whatever you want to call them, and then see if we get torn up any differently than the last guy that got torn up. And then you talk about it with all your friends. Makes me fu-"
A scream, somewhere in the residential quarters outside of the common room. The three, along with assorted other idlers and busy-bodies, rushed over to the scene.
They'd already got the body covered in a blanket. It'd been thirty seconds since the body had been found, but the rumor mill was already in full swing:
"Slit his wrists with a knife he stole from the kitchens." And then, pantomimed the action: "Just. Like. This."
"Guy was an attorney or accountant, or something. Name was Something Neston, I think. Quiet, kept to himself."
The first Security Officer to arrive shuffled through the deceased's meager possessions. A few books, photographs, cell phone, assorted files of no clear importance, and, finally, an ID.
"Randall Weston, Clearance Level 1. Accounting Department, Site 45," he quietly repeated from the card. Photograph on the card matched the corpse.
The officer looked, reluctantly, at the area around the body. There, at the foot of the bed, a piece of notebook paper, just slightly stained with blood.
He picked it up, and read it.
"I'm sorry. I can't do this anymore. There is no way I can fit another tank into this budget, and not a chance in hell I'll be able to replace two fighter jets in addition to that! And that's not even counting the fact that my superiors decided not to account for food or the fact that gas costs-"
It went on like that for quite a while. He skipped a paragraph, picked it up again somewhere in the middle of the next.
"-do you expect me to find 300 sniper rifles? Nobody has a few hundred M24s collecting dust in their att-"
He flipped to the next page.
"-pay the maintenance workers with the $4.23 we'd have left after that fiasco. It's a good thing we all shit pure gold, or we'd really have to worry-"
Looked at the next paragraph.
"-one bit of good news at least. The $300 that was allotted for heating leads me to believe that we have perfected time travel, and are now in 1925, when it would be possible to heat the facility for that price. I'd advise you have our lawyers work on patenting that, but they're going to have to work pro bono because we can't afford to keep them on retainer-"
The officer gave up, went to the last couple of sentences.
"I will the remainder of my earthly possessions to my sister. I'd ask for a proper Christian burial, but I just took a look at the amount of money assigned to corpse disposal.
- Randall Weston"
Eventually, the Site Director came down. This didn't really concern him, but he needed to keep up appearances. The Security Officer handed Weston's ID to the Director before he could even ask.
The Director eyed it, and scowled. "Fifth fucking accountant this month."