1 of 3 | Chapter 3

New technology

 

Six weeks had not passed without a trace in a fuming state of agitation and ever growing ambition. The city construction project offices and real estate agents were groaning under the pressure as the town continued to grow in every possible sense. The population was rising with breathtaking speed and the already high immigration doubled within only a few weeks. Lush suburban areas with hills, fairytale lakes, and green belt residential areas magically appeared on what had been empty desert, constructed by companies dealing exclusively with city urban development. They had struck the jackpot when they were awarded the contract, but were paying amply in pressure cooked blood and sweat. It had been almost three years since the first landscaping project had begun, and since then, the staff and machinery had been changed so often. Men and machines were spent like cheap currency just to keep the work on schedule.

The most important areas of operation were controlled by single companies. Supply & Trust Inc. had sole charge of all logistics in the city. Commercial units bought only from those producers and food supplier chains that were registered on S&T lists. There were many who wanted to get onto the list to be able to deliver their products.

The energy was the only resource that was supplied locally and the demand was huge. The incredible growth in both public and commercial energy usage demanded an ever increasing surplus that was supplied so far by five different power generation plants.

The work of Supply & Trust Inc. was essential to the city, which meant that they worked under constant scrutiny. The company was kept close, occupying the first ten floors of Steersman's tower. Karen was constantly meeting with S&T reps and informing them of changes and shifts in city's demand. In return, the company systematically reported to Karen on their own development progress. There was always an emergency to deal with.

“I have no idea what's causing such big drains in the power supply, but in the last couple of weeks, we've been under the critical level several times, and we had to call on the reserve grid,” said Forest Elmer, looking worried. Forest Elmer was the much harassed operating director of S&T. “We need to commission two more distribution depots into the system, otherwise we are facing some serious trouble.”

“I've noticed problems a couple of times myself and power surges at home in the evenings. Is that what you're talking about?” asked Karen.

“Yep. Looking at the reports, I have a sneaking suspicion that electricity is leaking from here.”

“What?! From here?!”

“From this very tower!”

“What could be causing it?” Karen asked carefully.

“Well, I have no real idea. As far as I know, apart from the offices, there's nothing else here that requires any great amount of electricity,” Forest answered, then nodded towards the ceiling. “Perhaps Mr. Steersman could tell you more about it. It's not really my job to ask questions, you know?”

Karen looked thoughtful and was just about to respond when Forest's secretary appeared. The two stopped their discussion as she approached.

“No one has seen him sleeping! It's gotta be him using all that power to stay alive!” Judy butted in sarcastically. She was the office gossip, always weaving horror stories and nosing out the latest scandals. Her colleagues found her amusing, but her constant babbling wore Karen down.

“Really, Judy? Up there, on the top floor?” Karen sometimes liked to stoke the fires. Getting these people to spill their stupid stories was the only weapon Karen considered using against those who had yet to develop a filter between their brains and their mouths. She noticed that if she encouraged them, even more bullshit tended to fly and eventually they ended up shooting themselves in the foot. They never even seemed to realize it either.

“You didn't hear this from me,” said Judy, covering her ass, then she started to whisper as if sharing a state secret, “but there's a rumor that Steersman may not even be human!”

“Really?” Karen asked, wide eyed. “What is he then?”

“Well, I don't really know for sure. But, if you ask me, it's not normal that someone never sleeps, just works day and night.”

Karen let out a big sigh. Even for Judy, this was pushing it a bit too far.

“Judy, get out!” snapped Forest. “Go and do some work … and mind your own business for once!”

“She asked, and I told her what I heard!” Judy said sulkily over her shoulder as she flounced out of the room.

“Sorry about that, Karen,” Forest shook his head.

“Don't worry about it. Just please don't let her be here tomorrow,” Karen told him, surprising even herself with her vehemence.

“Pardon?” Forest started.

“Get rid of her, Forest!” Karen stood up from her seat. She suddenly realized that she did not have to put up with any nonsense from these people anymore. They have to learn to get their jobs done without the surplus crap. They are here to serve the city, not the other way round.

Forest Elmer watched Karen leaving. His face betrayed the difficulties of his situation. He knew damn well that it was not worth taking up the battle on behalf of his secretary. Besides, Judy was a pain to work with.

“Judy, come in here!” he shouted.

 

The presentation

Almost two months went by, and it soon became clear that Natalie Garner had been wrong. In her last interview, she supposed that Sean Steersman had no knowledge of any field other than business. The skepticism surrounding the airy tower structures and the molecular waste neutralization plant site was beginning to fade. It seemed that Steersman had more up his sleeve than just slick a business presentation, especially when he gave a technology demonstration during the opening of the newly completed industrial site.

Many international TV stations were invited, which gave Natalie Garner a fit of hysteria that spilled over so much that even threatened her broadcast for that day. Eventually, and somewhat miraculously, Natalie managed to get through the show with her anger still simmering. Everyone agreed that she was uncharacteristically quiet, though. Karen knew that Steersman would make it up to Natalie later, but for the time being, he had other things on his mind and certainly did not care about the reporter.

 

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CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY

CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH