1 of 7 | Chapter 4

Attack

 

The winter festival preparations had started. There were less than two weeks left till the beginning of the festival. Like everything else in Excolopolis, it did not even have a proper name. It bothered Karen. It bothered her to the point that she had been playing around with the idea of setting up a committee to deal with choosing names, handling events, injecting some life into the city. It's a real wonder that the city is ever named, she had thought to herself so many times.

The city's winter celebration had been elegantly fused with the opening ceremony of the new International district. It was to be held on a large site flanking the eastern lake shore.

The International district had been built in the styles of eight different nationalities where, according to the plans, delicate shop, restaurant, bar, hotel and entertainment complex owners would compete for business. As the tenants frantically tried to meet the deadline set by city management (or face the threat of losing their licenses), the construction and outfitting of each of the Italian, Japanese, Dutch, French, English, American, Spanish and Austrian edifices had caused constant traffic problems on almost all of the urban road networks.

The icing on the cake was a large number of smaller entrepreneurs representing the best and most authentic of their respective nations. Prominent chefs, confectioners, restaurant and hotel managers, craftsmen and performers flocked from all over the world to be a part of the cultural revolution taking place, each contributing to the authenticity and the sheer beauty of creation.

The world economic crisis hadn't done any favors to the entertainment industry and although bigger companies were able to survive the hard times, even they considered the new possibilities in Excolopolis crucial to ending the recession. They all had firm promises from Steersman that the city would never see an offseason.

 

The feast

On the ninth of November, the winter season officially arrived, kicking off in the so-called Commercial district between the Business quarter and the new International district. The celebration was the perfect opportunity to present Excolopolis for the first time since its inception. The city facilities had an enormous capacity, able to cater for and host up to one and a half million visitors.

The weather was pleasant and everyone was out on the streets.

Steersman appeared from nowhere. The security detail was escorting their client up close and personal. They knew exactly whom they were guarding and the level of danger that it entailed.

Each soldier felt the adrenalin beginning to build. There was no room for error, and each of them knew that one mistake would mean they wouldn't even be put on guard duty at the waste management plant.

On the day of the celebration, the security detail leader met with the client himself to run through the route and discuss when and for how long they would be able to blink. Everything was planned down to the last microscopic details.

The leader calmly reassured Steersman that they were fully ready for the event.

Sean Steersman himself had paid a great deal of attention to the organization of the celebration, making sure that, for 96 hours, the entire world would focus its attention on Excolopolis, and be dazzled.

Of course, his little invention was obsessively fixed in the minds of the concerned CEOs of industrial giants, but Steersman knew that making the general public aware of where the strange news was coming from, making them aware of Excolopolis as a real place and not a weird legend, was just as important.

Steersman was chasing dreams, and only a few truly understood what it was that he was trying to do. He was almost divinely convinced that people had to be made to understand that even thought they might lose their jobs because of the resulting global industrial changes, the technology would eventually make their lives better and easier. They also had to realize that it was not going to be an easy ride.

*

Karen was happy about the festival, not only because it would bring some light relief into the daily stress of work, but also because her parents were visiting. They arrived on the morning of the opening and she picked them up from the airport. She hadn't seen them for what had seemed like forever and she could see that time was beginning to leave its mark. Her father had put on some weight and her mother was looking somewhat more care-worn than usual. Despite that, they still looked great to Karen.

“Hi, Dad. Hi Mom,” Karen hugged them both.

“Hi, sweety, we're so happy to see you,” her mother hugged her back.

“Come on, I'll take you to the hotel. I booked the best suite for you,” said Karen with a smile.

“How are you, Kari?” asked her dad. “You look great!”

“I'm fine, Dad, and you?

“Bored since I retired,” he answered, grimacing, “but I'm doing okay.”

“I thought you'd get bored,” responded Karen, smiling. Her father had been working for a satellite manufacturer for his whole life. He loved his job, but after forty years of building satellites, he'd had to retire. Moreover, he was diagnosed with a heart problem that had required surgery in order to save his life. After a long struggle, dealing with his boss and his health, he'd been forced to pass on his position to someone much younger and single.

“What exactly is it that you do here?” he asked his daughter, rather formally, looking out of the company limousine window, watching the hustle and bustle of the commercial district.

“I'm in charge of town development, Dad.”

“Wasn't it better in Tokyo?”

“It was different. Tokyo was great too, but this job is more … more of a challenge. Here, there are more tangible results. What was disappointing about working in nanotechnology was that you work for years on something that you can only observe via a monitor or a microscope. Here, it's so different. Look around. Have you ever seen a city like this?” Karen's enthusiasm started to break through.

“Indeed I haven't. What's that chap called, the chap you work for, what's his name?”

“Sean Steersman.”

“You work with him, don't you?” her mother asked, curiously.

“Yes, Mom, I'm his assistant. We work together,” Karen answered.

How together?” Mr. Colella asked suggestively.

“Jason! Stop it!” Mrs. Colella scolded gently.

“Okay, I'm sorry,” he said turning towards his daughter, smiling. “I didn't mean to pry. I was just teasing.”

 

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
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