Page 24

‘Fine.’ Matthias stepped in front of the door and, fixing his feet against the ground, steadying his balance as best he could, tugged the wooden boards from the opening, setting each by the door. The door shuddered and cracked as he pressed it open. Inside, sunlight wilted through covered windows over a dismal apartment of crumbling refuse.

Matthias took two steps inside, followed by Stacey, who closed the door after him.

‘Now what?’

‘We wait.’

 

Alexander stood by the windows to his office, gazing over the city. He wore a gray suit and tie over a blue shirt, a casual hand resting in one pocket.

‘Sir.’ A tall, neat blonde in dark glasses entered the room, her cautious heels echoing as they hit the floor. ‘Paul Bowman is here.’

‘Thanks, Jane. Send him in.’

Paul stepped into the office wearing a dark suit and a cautious smile. His eyes flitted about his surroundings, somewhat impressed yet further intimidated by the space and style in which Alex kept himself.

‘Paul,’ Alex smiled, approaching from the windows.

‘Mr. Denton, it’s a pleasure to meet you.’

The pair met in the centre of the room, shaking hands.

‘How are you doing?’

‘I’m well, thank you sir.’

‘Call me Alex.’ He gestured towards his desk, ‘Please, take a seat.’

Resting in a slight chair at the head of the room, Alex rested with an open, earnest demeanour, his radiant blue eyes glowing with contagious enthusiasm.

‘I appreciate the invitation,’ Paul began. ‘I have to say I’m a little curious.. do you usually interview your security personnel personally?’

‘I have a specific position in mind,’ Alex related. ‘It’s important that I find the right person for the job. You came highly recommended by a friend of mine.’

‘Oh?’

‘I don’t believe you’ve met, but he’s familiar with your work. I thought you might appreciate the opportunity to increase the value of your work. For us and for yourself.’

‘Absolutely.’

‘I place a great deal of value on research and development. We lead the market on new and emerging technologies, but for every development there’s a necessity to guard our inventions closely.’

‘I understand.’

‘I’m looking to place someone on a new team guarding a new development. You’ll be well-compensated, have access to the latest equipment, but secrecy is paramount. I think uh, one of our latest recruits is someone you’ve met before.. Matthias Drake?’

Bowman squinted. ‘Drake? In security?’

‘No, no, he’ll be assisting the team with some more technological aspects. I was briefed on the altercation between you and just need to gauge where things lie..’

‘Well I only met him the once,’ Bowman replied, brow furrowed. ‘I don’t really know the guy.’

‘He managed to subdue you, though?’

‘I. wouldn’t phrase it like that. He.. I let him pass. A woman’s life was at stake. He saved her.’

‘So you didn’t know anything about Mr. Drake beforehand? His qualifications?’

Bowman’s face began to redden and he tugged at his collar, clearing his throat. ‘I have to admit, it’s not my proudest moment. He was very convincing of his ability to save the woman, and he succeeded. I did make an effort to physically restrain the subject.. Mr. Drake, but, well, to be honest his strength was.. surprising.’

‘Not a particularly large fellow, though?’

‘No, as I said, I was surprised.’

‘What happened when he thrust his arm into the field?’

‘I.. Mr. Denton, I hope you don’t mind me saying, but is this your usual interview technique?’

‘I’m sorry,’ Alex smiled. He sat back, his intensity dissipating. ‘I’m very curious about the situation, that incident led to Mr. Drake’s employment, and to some degree, your own.’

Bowman hesitated. ‘There was a white flash. I don’t know how he did it, it’s like when his arm entered the field, something went out and the whole thing died. He shut it off with his arm, and she came out unscathed. There was another gu there from I.T. who said it couldn’t be done, but it happened.’

‘Okay.’ Denton tapped his fingertips together, entertained. ‘And you ahven’t spoken to him since?’

‘No, sir.’

‘No problem working with him?’

‘None at all.’

The notification of a call appeared on Alex’s computer monitor. ‘I’m sorry, Paul, I have a call here.. do you mind if I take this? It’s actually my head of security.’

‘Not at all.’

Paul sat back in his chair, gazing idly towards the windows.

Alex pressed a finger to his ear and engaged the call.

‘Hello. I’m actually in a meeting. Can it wait?’

‘My apologies,’ a dry voice rattled. ‘Our agent just called. She has the package, ready and willing. Apparently there’s some damage.’

Alex smiled on Paul, across the desk. ‘Take him to the penthouse.’

‘Very well.’

The call dropped.

Page 9: Corporate Rivals

Alexander Denton was an attentive man. From the pristine quality of his double-breasted suit, to the consummate clarity of his office and even the minutiae of the day-to-day operations of his company, he demanded perfection. He was a tireless man: it was said that nothing could escape his attention. Right now, he was sitting behind his black desk upon polished golden floorboards, illuminated by the mid-morning light shining through spotless floor-to-ceiling windows.

His head of research, Dr. Daniel Meadows, squirmed. Alexander’s heedful eyes were fixed on a conspicuous stain of hastily caught tartare on the right breast of his visitor’s shirt, his eyes also caught the small line of missed whiskers at the base of his neck. He studied the man’s eager abjection to gain approval, a smile stretched between his cheeks, sensitive eyes leaning somewhat forwards as he sat on the other side of the desk.

Returning his attention to a holographic monitor between them, Alex continued to watch the remainder of the footage Meadows had delivered.

Matthias was visible between the shoulders and arms of the second row of the crowd. The observer appeared to be shorter, the visual feed from their retina revealed a neck craning between elbows, struggling to keep line of sight. Beyond the clutter of arms, Matthias was studying the exposed controls of the malfunctioning teleporter booth, and pressing buttons.

‘I’m assuming we’ll be getting to the point forthwith,’ he pressed Daniel.

‘Yes,’ Meadows effused, smiling. ‘It shouldn’t be a moment.’

‘Very well.’

He watched as Chris arrived, and the proceeding confrontation. When Matthias drove his arm into the stasis field, he leant forwards, watching closely as the false coating fell from his silicon, the field dissipating from within.

‘My, that is interesting..’

‘Absolutely, sir, the..’

He drew Meadows silence with a raised finger, watching as Matthias withdrew his exposed sleeve and the woman from the teleporter booth.

‘It’s..’

‘Impossible. I know. Only a nanite swarm operating.. several decades ahead of current aftermarket technologies could have penetrated that field in time.’

He reframed his posture, closing his hands upon the desk. ‘Thank you for bringing this to my attention.’

‘That will..’ Meadows stammered to confirm. ‘Yes.. yes, sir, yes. Thank you, Mr Denton.’

Meadows rose slowly from the chair and left the room betraying a hint of confidence, his head held just a moment higher.

‘Meadows!’ Alexander barked.

‘Yes, Mr. Denton?’ Meadows paused at the door, looking back.

‘This came from Natural Robotics?’

‘It did, sir.’

‘Thank you. That will be all.’

‘Sir,’ Meadows gave a smile and hurried from the room.

Alexander folded his palms behind his head and replayed those few seconds of immediate interest.

‘Matthias..’ he murmured. ‘Phone. Jameson, Security.’

The video paused and was overlaid with a dialog: “Connecting..”, followed by the waveform depiction of incoming audio.

‘Jameson,’ asserted a clear, deep voice.

‘When you have a moment, get to my office. I have a new project to discuss.’

‘Will do,’ James replied.

‘Oh and Jameson.. hold all other concerns, this will take a priority.’

All other concerns, sir?’

‘Yes, everything.’

‘I’ll be right there.’