Yep, it’s another Terrible Minds challenge! This one is “1000 words of space opera.”
Which got me thinking about operas, and then music, and then this popped out.
“Thank you for calling Villacom, this is Rix speaking, how may I serve you today?”
“Get me your godsdamned supervisor NOW!”
“Sir, I would be happy to do that, can I just ask what the issue is so I can debrief them?” Rix said smoothly. Remember the training! his brain gibbered. Calm them down, get their details, make sure they’re not going to bomb the company…
“You know, I don’t have all fucking day to spend on the phone with you people. Where is the supervisor? If you don’t get me a supervisor in the next 10 seconds I’m going to come down there and-”
With the customer on hold, Rix brought up the comm window to page his supervisor. A yellow-vested drone came over and took the headset from him. Rix leaned against the wobbly particle board desk and listened in.
It never fails, Rix thought. The word “supervisor” seemed to have magical calming powers on the caller, and before he knew it the customer was spilling his tale of woe.
“I see,” said the drone, a frumpy ginger fellow named Stahl. “And you say you’ve used this exact product model before without any issues?”
“Dozens of times. I buy them in bulk, you know. Got a lot of rebel scum to deal with in these parts.”
“I see, sir. Is there any way you could tell me what the date stamp on that last batch was?” Stahl tapped his overlong fingernails on Rix’s desk. Rat-tat-tat-tat. It set Rix’s teeth on edge, but then, so did most everything at Villacom. Still, it was only his third day. Maybe he’d get used to it. “Mm-hmm. Ok. Well, it looks like that was in fact a fresh batch, but it’s possible that one of the internal components was past its use-by date, which is a rare manufacturing error that we express our deepest regret for.”
“It’s just, man! I’m out 50K credits and a dozen guards, you know?”
“Well, we can definitely replace those guards for you at a very meaningful discount,” Stahl said.
“No, man, you can’t!” the customer grunted. “I inherited ’em from my daddy. D-51s.”
Stahl muted the phone for a moment and sighed.”Goddamnit. D-51s again.”
The D-51s were something of a legend around the calling floor. Based on anachronistic droids that fell through a hole in a neighboring ‘verse, the D-51s were built like the byproduct of a drunken mating session between a fire hydrant and a Pop-O-Matic Bubble. Short, squat, and extremely well armored, the D-51’s most notable features was its tiny but devastating gamma blaster. It was also extremely slow on its undersized wheelbase, which gave you plenty of time to pray to your chosen deity before it reached and killed you.
Unfortunately, the D-51s were also somewhat sentient and, as it turned out, packed to the brim with self-loathing existential angst. Only an extremely skilled hacker could override the hard-coded self-destruct pulse that every D-51 was manufactured with. As a result, they were in production for a mere five years. After all, a bestseller was still a bestseller, even if it occasionally blew up its own buyers, or pet shelters, or hospitals full of orphans- and Villacom had investors to please.
“Okay, and if you just press your thumb to the auth-pad on your end, we can transmit the order details straightaway and get you those new guard droids. I think you’ll be extremely satisfied with the P-9000 series. I have one myself…Ha-ha, yes. Let’s just say my neighbors and I have an understanding now, shall we?” His voice dripped with unspoken criminal intentions.
Rix shook his head.
“Yes, yes, we appreciate you too, sir. Have an excellent day and thank you for calling Villacom.”
Stahl released the call and clapped his hands together gleefully. “See how easy that was?” he asked. Rix shook his head again.
“It’s not that hard,” Stahl said. “They have needs. We have the means to address those needs. That customer was a minor warlord on the fringes of the Kungoshaad Nebula, but with our support, he could become a legitimate illegitimate Emperor! And when he needs weapons, who’s he gonna buy from? Not those bastards over at Wal-Mort, that’s for sure! The tanks that crush his insurgents will have Villacom treads, godsdamnit! You know why?”
Rix knew what was coming next. He swallowed hard and recited:
“Because evil is a business, and business is good.”
Stahl smiled. “You’re gonna go far here, kid. Now let’s see how you do on an outbound collections call…”