Item 001-001: Introductions
Captain Wharton Deepthinker and the darkeyed woman and the kid stood facing the seated listenermen. A luminaire in the center of the table cast its cool azure light to the East, each beam a futile lance against the just-nascent orangeglowing orb tangled in an inchoate war, until a listenerman cast the room into shade.
Thank you, said the Captain but his voice contained no thanks just a sheer face of granite with outcroppings of brittle schist which broke in the hands like an unwelcome lariat of questionable provenance. As the Captain spoke, a patrol of thin white characters traversed the dappled blue-lit drape, forlorn conscripts in a fruitless quest.
Item 001-002: Financial Observations and Recommendations
The one who minds the treasure cannot remain, said the Captain. For the treasure sits in piles unaccounted or is secreted unused in earthen jars with horsehair and clay lids or is spent unwisely on usury when fair terms are to be had. He must be cast into the streets to wander a path of broken gravel and macadam and basalt.
Or perhaps we could transfer him to HR, said the listenermen.
This body is decaying and bloated. Like a pig that rots in the sun, said the Captain. There are things we have seen and things we have learned which we might pass on. And though we proceed, it may but forestall the inevitable. A jumbled skeleton, a company of bones strewn haphazardly on a plane of sere lava, each dusted with the ash and lime of cremation.
Please proceed, said the listenermen.
Item 001-003: Business Development Observations and Recommendations
The unblinking eye that sees and records the thoughts and hopes of the ones you seek, asked the darkeyed woman, what do you call it?
Our marketing database, said the listenermen.
It is corrupt and full of the upright bodies of mummified savages, said the darkeyed woman, their torsos smeared with the blood of mere-cats fixed eternally in mock grinning assent to the questions they are asked.
We thought we had fixed that, said the listenermen. We will definitely put in a ticket with IT.
Item 001-004: Operational Observations and Recommendations
There is more needs fixed about this place than aint, said the kid. And nights of drink and women instead.
Noted, said the listenermen. Just out of curiosity, whose expense reports have you got there?
Item 001-005: Summary of Findings
It is within the reckoning we will provide, said the Captain, along with a tally of what is owed. In all our campaigns, we have ne’er seen a squadron more wanting or more in need of reinforcements. The ramparts around this enterprise will tumble and hoards of desperate threadbare foot soldiers and herds of starving bonyflanked livestock will stream into its sanctums and devour the hearts and lungs and wrists of those within.
Thank you for your time and effort, said the listenermen. Please be sure to indicate the purchase order number in the header of your invoice.
Item 001-006: Next Steps