The video was a snowy mess of noise. Axalis suddenly felt himself with a splitting headache. Text began to appear unbidden in the view of his mechanical eye:
Cymanager override complete.
Firmware compatibility confirmed.
Beginning data merge.
Axalis blacked out.
* * *
Jordan Burk checked the time on his watch. 20:15. He realized he should call his wife and let her know he would be missing dinner again. He desperately did not want to do so, but he forced himself to withdraw his handheld PC and press the buttons to dial his wife's handheld. After a couple rings, her face appeared on the screen. Jordan's wife was attractive, a light blonde with big eyes and soft features. But right now those features were glaring at him.
"I suppose this isn't to let me know you're on your way?"
Jordan hesitated, then finally bit the bullet and said it. "No. We're under pressure to get the case wrapped up before the election, especially with the jumper yesterday, but there's not enough evidence to close it. I need another few hours to look into some more of these loose ends. You should eat dinner without me."
"You know, Jordan, some of us manage to finish our work within the normal eight hours and come home for dinner. Maybe you would make more progress if you took some time to relax?"
"I'm sorry, it's... just this one case. I promise when it's done I'll take a long vacation and we can spend the whole two weeks together."
"I'm not asking for that much, Jordan. I just want you to have dinner together sometimes."
"I'm sorry," he repeated.
"Look, I'll tell Mags to put your portion in the fridge. You can flashheat it when you get back. At this rate, I'll already be asleep by then."
"Thanks," he said downtroddenly, and sat there as his wife ended the call. Finally he returned to his work rig and began reviewing the facts of the Morse Biotronics case again.
To be continued...