As I begin a rewrite of my latest book it would be really useful to get some feedback.
All comments, feedback, criticisms or improvements gratefully received.
The Bureau of Internal Affairs was a huge enterprise operating throughout the entire interplanetary system. It employed tens of thousands of people. Most were operatives embedded in the field; others were overseeing operations at a local level. The whole institute was an arm of central government, the United Nations, and effectively managed by a command team of just three people – all highly experienced ex-agents. Their office was buried in the basement of the UN central building based in the municipal complex that used to be York in Europe. The only way in was through a fast drop lift. Inside it was Spartan but equipped with every possible piece of technology known to man. From that office those three controlled the activities of their army of agents spread the length and breadth of the system.
Keith Marley sat with his feet up on his desk drinking what passed for coffee. At least they still called it coffee, though the food and drink that came out of the dispensor bore little resemblance to anything that had once been living. It was, like all other types of nutrition emanating from the dispensor, synthesised from the same flow of chemicals that was piped to all dispensors throughout the federation. They were supposed to taste the same as the real thing, though only the extreme elite got to verify that from personal experience. The nearest that coffee had ever been to a real coffee bean was when its constituents were piped close to one of the elite’s offices. But the dispensors were pretty amazing. Everyone took them for granted. One could supposedly order up anything one wanted and the machine would combine the chemicals to create the texture, flavour and visual qualities of the real thing. Few believed that though, and certainly the coffee was not considered one of its greatest achievements. Still, the coffee did the job. It tasted acrid enough and certainly perked up the nervous system and Keith had taken a liking to it.
Glenda May and Jeff Lennon were sprawled in their pexicushes with their own personalised drinks, all looking equally bored and perplexed.
This was fairly typical. This is what passed for a high-level meeting by their standards.
They were the covert arm of the United Nations – the centralised government that operated throughout the entire system. This government was elected democratically and operated without opposition to serve the whole of humanity – all three hundred billion of them spread over Terra, Lunar, Mars, Venus, Europa, Ganymede, Titan plus a batch of the larger asteroids, in what was a complex federation.
To say it was without opposition was a bit of an ask. Not everyone liked the idea of a centralised government. In fact many deeply resented the whole concept and did not believe that it either operated fairly or in the best interests of humanity. Disparate factions wanted to break away from the federation and set up their own separate systems. These separationists formed political, religious or nationalistic groups who were intent at destabilising, opposing and gaining separation from the federation. Most of these factions were small, disorganised and peaceful and so were simply tolerated and ignored. Some were not quite so small, disorganised and peaceful. They had to be monitored and carefully managed.
This is where the BIA came in. Officially the BIA did not exist, at least not as an underground covert operation with tendrils extending into every pie in the system, but in practice their job was to ensure that none of these disruptive organisations grew too large or became too much of a problem. To that end the disaffected were ‘managed’. The BIA, on the surface a level of bureaucratic government, was in reality a coordinated system of surveillance, assassination and espionage. The ‘office’ was the nerve centre. Their job was to make problems disappear by whatever means. There were no limits.
‘So who is this Jesus De Monde?’ Glenda May asked, frowning across at Keith. ‘I’ve never heard of him.’
Glenda was in her fifties now and had been a long-serving operative, as had the other two. She, like both of the others, kept up a strict healthy lifestyle and fitness regime and it showed. Her slender frame belied the strength and dexterity of her body. She required very little genetic augmentation or biochem work. The superlative level of her fitness and training was only revealed through the fluid movements of her body as she sat back in her pexicush and sipped the blue fluid which was her drink of choice, chosen to supply all the electrolytes necessary to optimise her system.
Keith pursed his lips and shrugged. Looking across at Glenda and fixing her blue eyes. He allowed a smile to crinkle the corners of his eyes. They got on well, despite the fact that they did not always see eye to eye, and were not averse to seeking each other out for some extracurricular socialisation and sexual relief. Working for the BIA did not make for a normal type of home life, particularly when working in the field. Many operatives fell into perfunctory relationships with fellow operatives. It was the norm. Keith knew that he was not alone in finding Glenda’s blonde hair and multi-layered personality attractive. She and Jeff were often an item too. Glenda definitely went for the rugged types and seemingly both he and Jeff fitted the bill when the need arose.
‘I received a briefing from on high,’ Keith informed both of them. ‘They want us to add him to our list, that’s all. I don’t think there are any major concerns as of the moment. But he’s certainly one to watch for the future.’
‘I have heard of him,’ Jeff Lennon remarked. He was the taller of the two men, dark skinned with a mass of curly hair. He made quite a contrast to Keith’s shorter, stockier build, short red hair and freckles. Jeff had the carriage of a man who had been brought up in the asteroids with a casual turn to his body as if he had been raised light as a feather, without the encumbrance of too much gravity. He’d, with the aid of augmentation and biochem modification, adapted to higher gravity but still retained the fluidity of his youth. ‘He’s one of those charismatic religious nutcases. He was developing a bit of a following on Titan, I seem to remember.’
‘They don’t want us to disappear him then?’ Glenda asked, looking across at Jeff and weighing up the situation.
Keith knocked back the remains of his coffee. ‘Not yet,’ he affirmed. ‘I’ve just put out a general surveillance,’ He threw the drinking vessel into the disposal chute with unerring precision, slung his legs down off the desk and rose to his feet. ‘I guess he’s been getting a bit too big for his boots. We’re to keep an eye on him.’