*** Jason wandered down one of the many identically bland, white corridors that made up Veoh. It suddenly occurred to him that he had absolutely no idea where he was supposed to be going and for what purpose. He’d been so busy lately it was hard to keep track of his schedule. Being the head Technician for a site like Veoh demanded his utmost attention constantly. He checked his electronic notebook for his jobs list. Amazingly it was blank, he actually had nothing to do. He looked around and found that he was on the ground level, quite close to the exit. If only. In reality, he was nowhere near to leaving Veoh, not by a long shot. He simply couldn’t afford it and if he was honest, it was the only job he could stretch to. All of the major sites had their own technicians and most of them were happy. Those that weren’t simply grinned and bared it, just like everybody else was doing. Still at the prices that Jason charged for his expertise, he was lucky to have found a placement at all. He was, afterall, the very best. He twirled the screwdriver in his tool belt and slowed his pace. For once it seemed he wasn’t needed anywhere. ‘WHAT?’ came a shriek of adjitation from one of the terminals behind him, followed by the noise of somebody giving the computer bank a stern kick. Jason sighed and turned on his heels towards the user in the brown jacket who seemed quite annoyed. ‘OW!’ the user scowled, nursing his foot. ‘Good,’ thought Jason. ‘That’ll teach you.’ ‘GOD-DAMMIT!’ The brown-coated man declared, staring at the terminal with malice. ‘Is there a problem sir?’ Jason asked as he approached. He didn’t know why he maintained such a level of courtesy to the people who were smashing up the equipment he strived to maintain. ‘Yes, there’s a problem,’ the man frowned. ‘I just waited seven hours for a download and it didn’t load the film. The stupid thing just started the download all over again.’ ‘Hmmm,’ Jason said, pretending to sound interested as he straightened the glasses he wore purely to make himself look more technician-esque. He inhaled through his teeth and gave the user an emotionless look. What did this guy expect? Stuff like this happened, it was a fault with the Video he was trying to reach. There was no need to take it out on the equipment. Some people just liked having something tangible to put the blame on. ‘I’m sorry Sir,’ Jason said, remaining calm. Though this was beginning to be an all-too common occurrence. ‘This has been happening a lot recently,’ he admitted after a short pause. ‘Videos keep going dead; torrents are failing all over, on every site. There’s somebody going around deleting them all and causing problems.’ Jason knelt down in front of the terminal and removed the front panel. He had to be seen to be actually checking for a fault. That normally gave the reply he knew he was going to have to give, a little more weight. It looked better if he looked like he was checking for a fault and being thorough, rather than being thought to be operating on pure guess-work alone. The user was saying something, but Jason wasn’t really listening. He shone his torch into the mechanisms and looked to make sure everything connected up to where it should connect up. All of the systems were operating. There was no fault he could detect, and Jason was a mechanical genius, if there was a fault, he would see it. He groaned and looked up at the user blankly. ‘Allow me to apologize for this incident on behalf of Veoh Services,’ he said with a groan. ‘The only thing I can suggest is that you try another terminal.’

‘What, and wait another seven hours?’ the user replied incredulously, folding his arms. ‘I don’t think so …’ ‘ … Download-Two-Percent-Complete …’ the computer buzzed. ‘Oh you can shut up too,’ the user frowned at the terminal as he roughly grabbed his shoulder bag and stalked off down the corridor muttering to himself angrily. ‘Oh well,’ Jason sighed as he headed back towards the lifts. Hopefully that would be the last of his problems for the time being. He might even be able to sit down in his office for five minutes if he was lucky. He hadn’t seen that office in absolutely ages. Now that he thought about it, the last time he’d actually managed to get as far as his office without being accosted for advice or help, he was certain that he’d left a sandwich on his desk, intending to eat it after his shift. That had been weeks ago. ‘Cripes,’ Jason said to himself and hurried off towards the lifts. *** ‘WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE CROSSING?’ Fink asked as he materialized with a bright golden glow inside the sanctum. The crystal walls shimmered as his aura returned to normal. ‘SAME AS YESTERDAY,’ Krizzo replied bitterly. ‘SAME AS THE DAY BEFORE THAT, WE’RE JUST NOT GETTING ANY CLOSER TO MAKING THE BRIDGE STABLE.’ ‘WE SHALL HAVE TO RELY ON AUDIO COMMUNICATION FOR A WHILE LONGER I’M AFRAID,’ Vatex sighed, clapping his hands together. ‘THERE IS A BRIDGE SEBASTIAN, BUT NOT ONE THAT ANY OF US COULD CROSS. IT IS SIMPLY NOT TANGIBLE ENOUGH.’ ‘I DON’T SEE WHY YOU GUYS ARE IN SUCH A HURRY NOW,’ Krizzo puffed. ‘WE’RE NOT IN DANGER OF BEING PROSECUTED ANY MORE, THEY’RE ALL DEAD. ALLUC IS GETTING STRONGER BY THE SECOND, OUR LINK HUNTERS ARE SEEING TO THAT. PRETTY SOON WE’LL HAVE ENOUGH LINKS TO OPEN THE SITE UP TO THE INTERNET.’ ‘IT IS NOT JUST THAT,’ Fink sighed. ‘I FEEL A GREAT GUILT ASKING WHAT I HAVE OF THESE PEOPLE ON NOTHING MORE THAN GOOD FAITH AND MY WORD. THEY ARE HELPING ME AND I HAVE YET TO SHOW MY FACE TO THEM.’ ‘AND WHAT IF A PROBLEM SHOULD ARISE, KRIZZO?’ Vatex chimed in. ‘WE WERE ABLE TO CREATE THE MERCURY ROOMS THROUGH THE SMALL LINK WE HAVE BUT SURVEYING AND RECTIFYING PROBLEMS WILL REQUIRE US TO BE THERE IN THE FLESH.’ ‘WELL THEN, WE’LL JUST HAVE TO HOPE THAT NOTHING GOES WRONG ‘TIL WE GET THROUGH THEN,’ Krizzo shrugged. ‘WE CAN DO MORE THAN THAT,’ Fink said, striding over to the bank of crystal controls. ‘A THOUGHT HAS JUST OCCURRED TO ME THAT I REALLY SHOULD HAVE ENTERTAINED AT AN EARLIER POINT. WE CAN ENSURE THAT AID WILL BE THERE IF IT IS REQUIRED. WE SHALL HAVE TO ENLIST THE SUPPORT OF SOMEBODY KNOWLEDGEABLE IN THE GREATER WORKINGS OF THE INTERNET.’ ‘YEAH, BUT WE WASTED ENOUGH POWER SELECTING THE LINK HUNTERS,’ Krizzo frowned. ‘VIEWING AND COMMUNICATING WITH PLACES OTHER THAN THE MERCURY ROOMS PUTS A HUGE DRAIN ON OUR SYSTEMS AND WOULD TAKE POWER FROM THE BRIDE, MEANING THAT IT’S GOING TO TAKE EVEN LONGER FOR US TO GET THROUGH.’ ‘I’M WELL AWARE OF THAT POINT, MARCEL,’ Fink clucked as he began to activate several of the controls simultaneously. ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’ Krizzo asked pointedly. ‘AH,’ Vatex nodded, recognizing what commands Fink was imputing into the terminal. ‘WE SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THIS SOONER.’ ‘THOUGHT OF WHAT SOONER?’ Krizzo exclaimed. ‘FINK, WHO ARE YOU COMMUNICATING WITH? VATEX SAID THAT THE BRIDGE ISN’T BIG ENOUGH FOR US. THERE’S NOBODY IN OUR WORLD WHO CAN FIT THROUGH.’

‘I CAN THINK OF ONE,’ Vatex smirked. ‘AFTERALL … WE REALLY DO NEED AN OFFICIAL LIASON. HAVING A MESSENGER WITHIN THE UNIVERSE OF THE MERCURY ROOMS THAT CAN TRAVEL ELSEWHERE WHILST RETAINING WHAT WE KNOW OF OUR INTENT WILL BE MOST BENEFICIAL.’ ‘AND I CAN THINK OF NOBODY BETTER,’ Fink smiled as he sent the summoning message. ‘THIS SHOULD MAKE THINGS INTERESTING.’ *** ‘We have sixteen new complaints of technical failures!’ Arnold declared. ‘Videos are disappearing everywhere with no known cause! We’ve had a fire because one of the users tried to fix a faulty terminal herself. Its out now, thanks to the sprinklers, but the terminal needs replacing … and oh yes … it appears the toilet is backed up again.’ ‘Faults, Video meddling, replacing a terminal, technical problems, yes,’ Jason nodded as he retrieved the larger of his tool boxes from his utility room. ‘You’ll have to find somebody else to deal with that toilet issue.’ ‘Not while James and Jeremy are on vacation,’ Arnold replied gruffly, thrusting a plunger into Jason’s hands. ‘It’s not like we don’t pay you enough to deal with problems.’ ‘Right …’ Jason said through gritted teeth, accepting the plunger and making a mental note to put something toxic in Arnold’s tea. He made his way up to the top floor to survey the fire damage. What were these people thinking? There was nothing wrong with the equipment. He didn’t know how to make such a simple thing clearer to them. Whatever the problem, it was with the Videos. Something was going on and it sent a chill down Jason’s spine when he thought about it. Someone, or something was travelling around the internet deleting Videos and whatever it was, it was clearly intelligent. This was no random virus; it was getting rid of Videos made by the Networks and Studios. People’s home movies were fine, compilations and tribute videos were safe. It was just items that came from the Video Makers. TVshows, movies, cartoons, these were the targets. Jason had long suspected that the Video Makers themselves might have something to do with it, that was a distinct possibility, but he would never dare to voice his opinions. He had no proof and his word against the Video Makers wasn’t a position he would like to put himself in. Still it was unsettling to think about it. The problem had been escalating for days now. It seemed the highlight of his week had been battling the malevolent monster that had evolved from a sandwich he had left on his desk. The elevator doors opened out onto the top level and Jason sighed as he began to make his way down to the fire-damaged section. The entire level, it seemed, was deserted. Understandably so, not many people tended to stick around when there was a fire raging around them. His footsteps echoed on the polished white floor, something he rarely ever heard because normally, every section of Veoh was teeming with people. The silence was nice; it seemed a shame that he was interrupting it with his footsteps. He rounded a corner where smoke still hung low in the air and found himself dropping his toolbox with a loud crash at the sight he saw. There, amidst the charred remains of a terminal, above the pools of water left by the sprinklers, over the overturned chairs made in the stampede to evacuate, in amongst the smoke that clung to the air, was an angel. There it floated, in defiance of everything scientific Jason believed in, resplendent in its shimmering light as it spread its wings wide at him and inclined its head in his direction. ‘Blimey,’ Jason remarked to himself when nothing better came to mind. ‘BE NOT AFRAID MORTAL!’ The angel declared, shaking its bald, green head. ‘FOR I MEAN THEE NO HARM! BEHOLD MY SPLENDOUR! BEHOLD MY MAGNIFICENCE! BEHOLD MY SHORTS!’ He pointed to the brown shorts he was wearing. ‘Who are you?’ Jason asked fearfully, backing up against a wall as the angel flapped its wings and unsteadily drifted across the room towards him. ‘I AM HERE FOR YOU, JASON,’ the angel replied.

‘You’re what?’ Jason gulped. ‘I AM HERE TO TAKE YOU AWAY,’ it said coolly. ‘Oh, shit!’ Jason cried. ‘I’m dead? Bollocks! How did that happen? I never noticed! I mean, I’m glad you’re here taking me and not a devil or something, but c’mon, bloody hell, this is a little sudden! I don’t even know what happened to me!’ ‘SILENCE MORTAL!’ The angel said, snickering. ‘YOU ART NOT DEAD … NOT YET ANYWAY.’ ‘I’m not?’ Jason shuddered. ‘NAY,’ the angel replied. ‘QUITE THE OPPOSITE! FOR I, MOONEY, CELESTIAL MESSENGER OF THE HIGHER BEINGS AM HERE TO OFFER YOU, JASON … A JOB …’ ‘A what?’ Jason exclaimed. ‘A job,’ the angel replied, suddenly replying in a normal, everyday voice, as opposed to the thundering ethereal magnificence that had filled his speech moments before. ‘Didn’t you hear me?’ ‘I heard,’ Jason replied. ‘What happened to your voice?’ ‘Meh,’ the green, winged being replied, sheathing his massive broadsword – well, it was massive in contrast to him, Mooney was only about two or three feet tall –. ‘It’s hard to keep that voice up,’ Mooney admitted. ‘Oh,’ Jason said with a nod, not knowing what he thought about that. ‘So, you’re not an angel then?’ ‘Pfft,’ Mooney shook his head. ‘Not really. I’m a Planetar.’ ‘Never heard of it,’ Jason shrugged. ‘You won’t have,’ Mooney said, staring off into middle distance, flapping his tiny wings. ‘Now, to business, Jason, because I’m told that you’re the best engineer on the Internet, is that correct?’ ‘Well,’ Jason blushed. ‘I suppose I handle a spanner pretty well.’ ‘Good enough,’ Mooney nodded. ‘We’d like you to come and work for us? We know you’re unhappy here and we-’ ‘How do you know I’m unhappy here?’ Jason frowned. Mooney scoffed. ‘Come now, you work at Veoh, who’s happy at Veoh?’ ‘Good point,’ Jason nodded. ‘Anyhow,’ Mooney smiled as he settled upon one of the terminals. ‘I represent three celestial beings who are setting up a site where people everywhere can find their way to each and every Video they would possibly want, despite where it may reside on the Internet. Now, due to circumstances beyond their control, they cannot be here in this dimension to ensure that everything goes smoothly, technical-wise. We would like you to help them keep everything in order on that front.’ ‘I dunno,’ Jason shrugged. ‘They pay me a lot here.’ ‘Don’t worry about that,’ Mooney said, opening an Exit portal by slicing through the air with his sword. ‘I’M SURE WE’LL COME TO SOME KIND OF AN ARRANGEMENT.’

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