Stone Cold Obsidian - Lisa Oliver

Chapter One

“I hate fucking paperwork,” Obsidian River, known around the office as Dian, muttered as he slapped a sheaf of papers into his out-tray, and reached for another pile sitting in his overcrowded in-tray. “Hasn’t anyone here heard of email, message services, online forms? No, only the boffins who guard their computer gear like a dragon and their hoard get to use anything near like modern equipment.” He shook his head as he drew out the last word. “Use a pen, fill in forms, make sure you press hard enough because the damn things are in triplicate, and then…”

“It’s considered a sign of madness, talking to yourself.” Dian curled his upper lip as he caught sight of his partner Eagle leaning on the door frame. “I see the brass have you doing paperwork again.”

“Damn fool shit.” Dian lifted his hand ready to condemn his in-tray, and all it had in it, into the trash. But he remembered what happened last time… and resisted… barely. “I get that the ‘powers that be’ need freaking reports on the criminals we apprehend, processes, witnesses, etcetera. But this crap? These new forms are a torture device on their own.”

He slapped the forms in front of him before reading from the top of one. “Itemized Expenditure Form 1043C. List every expenditure over one dollar in value incurred during your apprehension of criminal 2413. Provide receipts for anything purchased worth more than two dollars and fifty cents. Note: if any expenditure listed contains items purchased for personal use, include a percentage component indicating how much you intend for reimbursement. What the fuck man?” Dian looked over at Eagle who had his hand in front of his mouth. He should’ve covered his whole face because his damn eyes showed his mirth.

“How am I meant to fill these things in? Everything bought on a job is for personal use. I’m not buying food and fucking accommodation for someone else, but I damn well expect to be reimbursed for the necessary shit when we’re away. Gods. They trust us enough to send us out all over the freaking country, all over the world at times, and yet I have to tell them that ten percent’s worth of a packet of freaking mints is yours because I gave you one when we were driving back from Denver?”

“I’ll deny it.” Eagle held up his hands, his mirth gone. “I am not filling out a freaking form just because you gave me a mint. And most of this is your fault. If you’d picked up and used the company card, that they gave you, then…”

“It was an emergency, and I wasn’t home when you called and said you were picking me up.” Dian glowered. “It’s just as well we carry a go-bag or I wouldn’t have had a clean shirt either. Imagine the number of forms I’d have to fill out for one of those. Honestly, I totally understand why so many of our lot go into private work. This bullshit about accounting for every cent spent on a job…”

“Yeah, well, speaking of branching out into the private sector…” Eagle ducked his head around the frame and glanced down the hallway before stepping fully into the office and closing the door. He stalked across the small room, folding his lanky frame into the only other chair in Dian’s shoebox of an office. “I think Austin might have done a runner into the arms of the private sector, and some of the big brass are getting nervous they can’t make contact with him. That man holds a lot of secrets about the agency in that thick head of his.”

“Austin? Supervisor Austin? The rhino?” Dian frowned. “He wouldn’t go out on assignment, let alone work for a private company. That fat ass of his barely leaves his office chair unless he’s on his knees kissing society butt. He’s got political ambitions, that one. I doubt he’s touched a gun or had to fight anyone in over fifty years, and I can’t see him starting now.”

“Hey, you know that as well as I do. But the brass have got their panties in a knot over this one. There’re reports Austin went dark for a while, must have been eight, nine months ago now, but then he turned up in his office a month later like nothing had happened. Never said why he’d gone or where.”

“Eight or nine months ago?” Dian frowned, thinking back. “Didn’t Austin’s dad die around that time or something?”

Eagle nodded. “Might have been