Page 11: Policy is everything

From Page 10:

‘Right, because,’ Jay gave a cursory glance to his tablet. ‘You have no background in teleportation at all, do you Matthias? A basic business education, no science, nanotech, engineering, nothing that would really qualify you to make that kind of assessment. You work in Finance.’

‘I do,’ Matthias agreed.

‘Now,’ Jay opened his palms over the desk. ‘I’m not trying to attack you here, not at all, we understand you saved this woman’s life and possibly the company a great deal of money, but..’

‘You’re confused, ‘Matthias broke in. ‘That’s alright. Look..’ he unbuttoned his right cuff.

‘Oh, no, that’s not necessary..’

Matthias drew back his sleeve nevertheless, exposing the arm beneath.

‘My coworkers were curious too. I lost my arm when I was younger,’ he explained. ‘My first job was actually in a manufacturing plant. I was terrible at it, hence..’ he gestured to one arm with the other. ‘It happened that my boss knew somebody who knew somebody, something of a genius who worked out of a garage. I was skeptical, but when they offered me this in lieu of payment, well, I took the arm.’

‘No doubt, but..’

‘As far as the teleporter, I recalled reading the memo that maintenance would be off that day, I knew what this arm could do.. and so here we are.’

‘Right,’ Jay smiled. ‘Good to know. Look, our primary concern is, and I understand you knew you could do it, our primary concern is that things might have gone wrong. You, or she, or one of any number of the crowd of people behind you may have been placed in serious danger. I’ve seen your file,’ he smiled, ‘I’m aware you know the value of following the rules, even if you don’t choose to capitalise on them, but for the future, maybe you could leave these matters to someone with the appropriate training.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Oh,’ Jay laughed, ‘that’s.. that’s not necessary. But look, considering you did defuse the situation, we’re going to let this slide. Especially your uh, assault upon Mr. Hendrickson.’

‘Mr. Hendrickson?’

‘Mr. Hendrickson, the security guard whom attended?’

‘Right. Okay.’ Matthias folded his hands in his lap.

‘Obviously we have no information on your medical condition on file.’

‘It’s my understanding that if it poses no interruption to my work, I’m under no obligation to disclose it.. it’s not a disability.’

‘No, it’s not.’ Jay looked at Matthias’ arm and away, looking to the tablet for security. ‘But if you do find it a hindrance, we can take that into account.’

‘I’m well aware of that. Thank you.’

‘No problem,’ Jay sighed. ‘I think that’s all we need to discuss.’

Jay rose from his seat, offering a hand. ‘It was a pleasure to meet you, Matthias.’

‘Likewise,’ Matthias smiled, shaking his hand with the exposed limb. Jay’s smile seemed to freeze in place when their arms touched.

‘Let me get the door for you.’

Jay rounded the desk, intercepting Matthias before he could move for the door. He stepped into the hall, pausing on the threshold, blocking the way. ‘By the way, I’ve been told that R&D are quite curious to take a look at your arm there.’

‘I’m sure they are.’

‘The company would be willing to compensate you a great deal for any advances you could contribute. It would be nothing invasive of course, just an examination.’

‘I’ll think about it and let you know.’

Jay smiled. ‘Sure, sure.. Well, so long Matthias, take care of yourself.’

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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.’

Page 4

‘I have some experience with these,’ he lied. ‘I can probably fix it.’

‘Go right ahead.’ The man stepped out of the booth allowing Matthias to step in behind him. Beneath the hand-shaped mould on the wall, a keypad protruded from a large steel casing. Placing his hands on either side, Matthias tugged it from the wall. There was an immense crack as he broke through the locks. He sat the cover on the floor, to one side and studied the circuits, shifting wires and examining where they led.

Behind him, the woman attempted to peer beneath Matthias’ elbow, following his movements.

‘You’re sure you know what you’re doing?’ the woman asked.

‘Absolutely. Don’t worry about the noise – they secure these things fairly well.’

By quieting his own output, he was able to sense the current running through the machine, like a human sensing their own heartbeat. Locating a diagnostic port, he discreetly detached his fingertip and attached himself to the machine.

‘Where were you trying to go? Matthias asked them.

‘Wellers Plaza.’

Sending a message through his limb, he waited for a response. A reply never came. Testing his own destination, there was an immediate reply.

‘It seems fine. Maybe there’s something wrong at the plaza. Is there somewhere you could ‘port to nearby?’

‘You’re saying theirs is down?’ asked the man.

Matthias disconnected from the teleporter, and slipped on his fingertip before stepping out. ‘Well this one is working perfectly.’

The man broke his gaze and looked to the woman, ‘Well we could just try another floor.’

‘Why not,’ Matthias smiled, stepping out.

Looking at the exposed innards of the machine, the man paused. ‘Well, shouldn’t you put the casing back on?’

‘It’s fine,’ Matthias assured him, ‘Don’t worry about it. I can fix it when you’re gone.’

‘If you say so,’ the man frowned.

‘Just get in there,’ the woman urged. ‘I can’t afford to be late.’

The man stepped in first: his number dialled, hand pressed to the wall, the teleporter bled with an impenetrable blue light. His bulging physique was locked into a fixed position before momentarily, he vanished. The woman followed after. Matthias reattached the casing as best he could, but lacking tools, it barely sat in place.

Teleporting to his destination, the world slipped out for a moment. His consciousness returned first, the world black, until slowly, his vision faded in. The teleporter locks held him in place momentarily, limbs in a fixed position before his atomic makeup was verified.

The arrival lobby at Natural Robotics was paved in wide, blue wear-resistant panels, the walls a sanitary white, running with arterial crevices which guided the way into the corridors of the building beyond. Matthias stepped out of the central teleporter, joined by fellow professionals on either side, the three falling in with a scattered procession towards the centre of the building. The corridors converged on a vast hall. Hundreds of colour-coded cubicles stretched from wall to wall. From the second floor looking down were floor-to-ceiling windows from which supervisors could gaze on the workers below. Matthias navigated the morning crowd, dodging those running against the current, the carefully balanced coffee carriers, one nudge from losing it on the floor.

Matthias’ cubicle was second from the end in a far corner of the room.  Dennis sat by the wall, a fast-talking player with beady eyes and veins flooded with caffeine.  He rotated on his chair, a finger pressed to ear, smiling at Matthias as he took his seat.

‘Absolutely,’ said Dennis. ‘We can have it to you by the end of the week. … Well I’m sorry.. it will only take a second to deliver Ma’am, but that won’t speed up production.’

Matthias logged into his computer by hand

‘That’s right. You too, have a nice day.’

Dennis’ palm fell on a button atop his desk.

‘Friday, I love you. Buddy!’ wheeling in to Matthias’ side, he tugged an earpiece free, and threw it back at his monitor. ‘You, me, tonight. Meta. No exceptions, no excuses.’

‘I, uh..’

‘Don’t even try me, I know you have nothing on. We are getting loaded.’