Andersson Dexter had been working for Barrett and Brar for going on ten years now, but he’d been working for The Cubicle Men most of his life. He’d taken a series of fairly dull jobs over the course of his adult life, usually as a Customer Service Rep, just like most of the other Cubicle Men did. Being a Cubicle Man wasn’t a job; it was a vocation.
He had been working for a low end laser keyboard manufacturer, back before the touch screens everyone used now had become common, when he first learned of the organization. He’d been walking home one night after an extra long long shift, when he heard a sound from around a corner. In the previous few months, the local boards had been reporting that there had been a rash of street violence and Dex figured he’d stumbled upon some local hoods trying to stake their claim to this patch of concrete. Dex’s eyes flicked to the corner, where the sounds of scuffling and a few loud bangs and whimpers drew his attention. He tried to ignore the sounds and kept walking toward his apartment.
He got closer and the sounds got worse. Dex thought he heard something breaking and crossed the street. He could see down the alley and saw a couple of young guys beating on a pair of streeters. The victims weren’t even fighting back; they almost looked like inert piles of rags, as the young toughs kicked, punched and spat at them. Dex slunk back against the wall of the building behind him, trying to disappear into the shadows, when he saw a couple of other people arrive on the scene and break up the fight. At first he assumed it was younger or stronger streeters coming to the aid of their compatriots, but then he saw they were all dressed in what looked like Security uniforms. But they weren’t Security from any firm Dex could identify and he was familiar with all the local outfits.
Dex kept to the shadows, half hidden behind a light standard and watched. The men pulled the attackers away and restrained them. Then one of their number methodically socked each one of the attackers in the gut. He must have had some kind of weapon, a stunner or knuckledusters, because each one of the attackers he hit fell like a stone. By the time the muscle man got to the last guy, he didn’t even really need to hit him, the guy was so scared. But hit him he did and the young would-be tough joined his pals face down in the gutter, clutching his gut. Dex waited until these new guys split and when he was sure he wouldn’t be seen, Dex hurried back to his room. Once he was safe inside and munching on a nutrient bar, he pulled up the recording he’d made of the incident.
Since before he’d even gotten his first real job, Dex had spent most of his disposable income on disk upgrades, both locally stored and online backups. Most people recorded their lives to some extent, at least a couple of minutes on delay so they could always save an important or special moment. But Dex wanted it all. He would never be able to afford enough disk to keep it all, but as a rule he deleted only the most mundane of daily moments, so he was easily able to call up the video of these strange men.
He spent most of the night working with the video. He processed it and uploaded it to the public cross referencing engines on the ’nets, looking for any information about the men who beat up the local hoods. He didn’t get very far — the resolution was pretty bad since they were a good distance away and Dex’s default resolution was fairly low to begin with — anything to get more on the disk. He eventually gave up and after a few weeks even stopped looking. He hadn’t forgotten, he just stopped caring. It was too much work for something that was just a passing curiosity to begin with. Then he got the message.