With my training regimen I haven’t had a lot of time to meet my neighbors or make friends with anyone else in the dormitory. As far as I can tell everyone on the same floor as me is more or less the same level as me when it comes to things like security clearance and actual responsibilities versus menial duties, though.
The classes are in a central hub that seems to be between the different dorms. I can’t verify this because there’s no complete map of the facility. The ones in the hub only show the hub and the location of the elevators and trams that lead elsewhere. You can’t get on a transport that doesn’t take you to your living quarters, your job site, or the hub. My phonepad shows a map that only includes the areas I have access to, and I assume that everyone else’s does the same.
I have sort of gotten to know some of the people in my classes. At least, I recognize them and they recognize me. There’s also one guy who’s usually at the firing range when I’m there, though I kind of think that may be because he’s usually at the firing range. I don’t know what his name is. We all wear ID badges all the time, but I’d have to get around in front of him to see what his says and that would be dangerous. He’s pretty single-minded about his firearm practice.
In my mind, I call him “Headshot Harry”. He’s pretty obsessive about aiming for the head. The firing instructor suggested I aim for center mass since that’s the biggest target and that seemed like good advice. Sometimes just for variety when I’ve scored several direct hits in a row and I’m feeling particularly badass, I’ve tried aiming for the head or the hand (like to shoot a gun or knife out of my imaginary attacker’s hand). It’s amazing how often the little hole punches through the paper somewhere outside the outline when I do that.
But Harry’s so insistent about his headshots. I can hear him berating himself when he misses, and he counts it as a miss if he doesn’t get the head. Even clean through the chest isn’t good enough. “No head, doesn’t count,” he says to himself. “Only the head counts. Make it count. Hit the head. Make it count.” He repeats that like a mantra between shots: “Hit the head. Make it count.”
I asked Dr. Cranor about this. I figured since she puts so much stock in firearm skill, she might know who I was talking about, and anyway she’d probably have an opinion about it, as she did about most things.
She didn’t know who I meant, but she did have an opinion.
“I’d stick with center mass most of the time,” she said. “For most values of a human being, it will be sufficient. If not, you can adjust.”
“But why’s that guy so concerned about head shots?” I asked.
“That’s a corner case,” she said. “Not likely to come up, and less likely to spread to here. That man works in the Biomedical Science Operation Division. There are multiple redundant failsafes protecting their department, and protecting the rest of the facility from them.”
“I thought you didn’t know who he was,” I said.
“I don’t,” she said. “But trust me. He works in Biomedical.”
That seemed pretty much like the last word on the subject, so I let it drop. I was surprised she’d let me chitchat that much when we were working. Well, I was working. She’d found an unused set of offices adjacent to her lab and she wanted to open them up, but the keys were lost ages ago. I actually had to climb up through a vent with a failing flashlight, come down through the ceiling, and unlock the doors from the inside.
Did I mention that I have a PhD? And that this is a cutting-edge research facility with a budget in the billions? But they apparently just have mothballed offices closed off and forgotten, and when you’re the new one in the department it’s your job to find a way through.
If I’d wanted to crawl around in dark tunnels and explore architectural dead spaces, I could have gone to MIT.
The weirdest thing: I saw some more of those funky retro battery things, just sitting on a support beam over the acoustic tiling in the closed office. Not hooked up to anything, just sitting there like someone had stashed them for a rainy day.
At least there weren’t any rats. I’ve seen plenty of cockroaches, but no other bugs and no rodents. I don’t know what they’re doing for pest control in here, but whatever it is, it’s super effective.