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Well here we are...
Sun Sep 9, 2018 9:50pm

Rasputin Gibbs would have felt a lot better about life if he had known where he was, but the featureless corridors of the PPC headquarters seemed intent on getting him lost. On the plus side, Colonel Bradbury had a seemingly endless supply of anecdotes, so what could have been total boredom had turned into a fairly educational delve into his partner’s psyche.

“So I had about half a minute to create an explanation for the non-existence of the Bureau of Military Acupuncture, and all I could get out of my mouth was ‘503.’ The Policía Militar thug paused in confusion, and this gave me enough time to turn my random utterance into something I could use. So I said I wanted a signed 503 and an initialed 22b or I would court martial the poor schmuck. Now, that was in no way within my power, but I figured that anyone who got sent to deal with stuff this dumb wouldn’t know that.”

At this point Gibbs interrupted him: “Wait, so you just made up a branch of Sanitary and Health Command?”

Bradbury didn’t answer, instead holding up a closed fist in the universal gesture for “stop.” He then turned and whispered to Gibbs: “There’s someone up ahead. I think we have a problem.”

“I see someone,” said Gibbs, “but not the problem.”

Gibbs looked again at the agent approaching them, just to check, but from his limited experience she seemed to be a standard PPC agent: a frazzled-looking human female with glasses.

Bradbury’s voice took on a more urgent tone, his mind buzzing with the application of inapplicable life experience. “We’re about to have authority abused at us.”

Gibbs was about to reply when the human coming towards them noticed the crate Bradbury held, and asked with mild interest: “Running errands?”

Bradbury knew how this would go. In his hind-brain this was 2022, he was a Subteniente being hassled by someone more seasoned, and it wouldn’t end well. The important thing was to confuse the issue.

This line of non-thought led to his next utterance: “Drain cleaner.”

The agent looked at him for a moment, one eyebrow raised: “Then why do they have hand-written labels saying: ‘Colonel Bradbury’s Old White Lightning’?”

Bradbury didn’t even blink. “I’m smuggling it. For the good of society. I’m thwarting the tyrannical excise-man and bringing cheap goods to those who need them.”

The agent’s mild curiosity had turned into severe confusion. “You do realize no government has jurisdiction in HQ, right? There’s no one who can tax goods.”

Bradbury took this curve-ball and, to mix a metaphor, ran with it. “Exactly. I can buy and sell anything here totally duty-free. Why do impede me in my quest? Do you hate the poor? Are you some kind of Communist? Are you some kind of Capitalist?! DO YOU WANT THE POOR TO HAVE MOLDY PLUMBING?!”

Gibbs wondered what it was like to be an awkward twenty-something confronted by an old guy shouting for no reason. It was all he could do not to explode into a pile of laughter, or whatever it was humans said.

Bradbury turned and whispered to Gibbs, total calm in his voice: “On my count, run. One. Two. Three. Now.”

Bradbury dropped the box and ran headlong down the corridor. Gibbs went with the flow, but managed to get out an incongruously cheerful “Bast Chauble!” before he left the bewildered young agent’s hearing range.

After they had gotten themselves even more thoroughly lost, Gibbs turned to Bradbury: “So, in the end, how did that whole Military Acupuncture thing play out?”

Bradbury thought about this.

“Upon reflection, it doesn't seem that important.”

(Words in Spanish were originally italicized.)

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