3 of 7 | Chapter 4

 

The building site was under as much protection as Steersman himself. To build a factory within two months was an almost impossible task, but then Jim Hols was not one of the usual contractors. Till now he had been managing construction sites in Excolopolis with other companies, but his management abilities and professional efficiency had got him noticed by Steersman, so he gave Jim a new job. He wasn't disappointed either. Jim was a miracle worker with people, deadlines, and high-pressure situations.

“No, but then he probably wouldn't even notice considering the speed he works at.”

“Quite possibly. I let him know that this facility has a more important role than anything that has been built in the city so far,” explained Steersman. He liked to think of each individual plan as part of an integrated system, an ecosystem that functioned as one entity. With that in mind, he was always aware of every nuance that affected or could influence his decisions. He always chose the option that he foresaw would have the most advantageous consequences for subsequent events.

“It seems to me that he doesn't care about his professional reputation. He just wants to build,” said Karen.

“Then, we'll give him more work ….” Steersman broke off as a familiar voice called his name out across the crowd.

“Sean! Good evening!” Natalie appeared from amongst the revelers, accompanied by her inseparable colleague, who was holding a small camera in his hand.

“Here's our favorite reporter and her faithful sidekick! Good evening Natalie, Frank.” Steersman nodded.

“Hello, Karen,” she looked at her, smiling.

“Hi, Natalie, how are you?” asked Karen, noting that the reporter was dressed as if she was embarking on a polar expedition.

“Well, next time we could try celebrating a warmer season,” said Natalie with a shiver.

“Then we shall,” Steersman assured her. “You are not on the clock now, are you?”

“Not really, just a few pictures to get the atmosphere,” she replied. “Hey, how do feel about saying a few words for the camera, from a spectators standpoint?” Natalie's face lit up.

“I don't think it would be appropriate right now. Let's talk about it next week,” he brushed her off.

“Oh, well, worth a try,” said Natalie, smiling and secretly biting back her disappointment. It might have been that she was afraid fate, the fate that had brought her fame so suddenly would take it away as quickly as had came. Sometimes she felt that she really was dancing on a knife's edge. Her last fit of hysteria had already caused rumbles of dissatisfaction at the company.

“Have a lovely evening, Natalie,” said Steersman.

“You too,” she said, taking the hint, and she whisked her colleague away into the crowd.

Karen could only smile as they continued on.

It suddenly seemed to her that the security people were listening with more attention to the voices in their earpieces. They became more alert. She had the unpleasant feeling that something bad was just about to happen. Steersman's expression, as usual, betrayed nothing, only his face reddened by the bite of the cold night air. Uncharacteristically, he seemed to be having a great time. Karen had never seen her boss relaxing. He was usually aloof yet affable, not giving the appearance of being too distant or cold.

They were headed towards the stage where Steersman was to give his speech when the organizer saw them and hurried over.

“Mr. Steersman, you are on in four minutes,” he said quickly, looking relieved to see him.

Steersman looked at the organizer and nodded.

“Okay, I'm ready,” he answered.

“How long do you plan to speak for?” asked the organizer.

“I have been informed that I have fifty-five seconds at most,” Steersman said, nodding towards the security guards.

“Oh!” The organizer looked a little baffled, “then it's going to be a short one,” he said and turned to let the TV producer know that Steersman was ready.

The music faded and a presenter, dressed up for the occasion, stepped onto the stage with a huge grin on his face and asked for the attention of the audience. His face simultaneously appeared on seven massive screens, the size of football fields, that were dotted throughout the city.

“Is everyone having fun?” he shouted out to the audience, and he was answered by the roar of ecstatic applause.

“Faaaantastic!”

He paused for a second and then continued. “In a moment we will be hearing a few words from the man whose name is synonymous with this city. Please welcome … Mr. Sean Steersman!”

The TV presenter stepped aside applauding, and Steersman walked casually out into the blinding stage light, his hands in his pockets as if he was merely strolling along the sidewalk. Then he began.

“Good evening. I'm Sean Steersman. For the first time, the city looks just as I imagined it; humming with life, happiness, vibrancy and health. I wanted this city to represent a new model for human society, where all of the things that we find irritating and unpleasant in large cities, the traffic jams, office bureaucrats, management abusing their power, dirt, rubbish, dirty air and poverty cease to exist.” He spoke calmly, quietly, almost hypnotically. “Of course, there are rules here too, but rather than iron clad, incomprehensible laws, they are simple and clear, a form of etiquette, with guidelines such as do not damage your environment!” He began to speak more slowly, emphasizing each word. “Would it not be wonderful if everyone in this world obeyed this simple rule if there were no way of sidestepping this rule, for any reason. How easy it would be if there was someone to ensure that we all follow this simple rule.” He paused. “I hope very much that the day will come when we, humankind, are given that chance. We here will bear witnesses to that moment.” Steersman drew to a close, “I thank you all for being here today and I wish you all a wonderful evening. Please visit us again, and … enjoy yourselves!”

The music faded back in, drowned by the roar of applause that followed him as Steersman left the stage. The party atmosphere continued.

The security detail commander was already waiting for Steersman as he stepped down from the stage.

“Mr. Steersman, we've caught someone,” he said mechanically.

“Where?”

“About five kilometers north of the industrial site. He had a mid-sized remote controlled rocket device with him, and was in the process of arming it for launch.”

Steersman rubbed his chin. “Let's go, I want to see him!”

“Mr. Steersman, we will have finished interrogating him soon, and we will have a report for you in a few hours ….”

“I want to see him!” Steersman repeated quietly.

“Yes, sir.”

They quickly made their way to the waiting security convoy, and within minutes were leaving the International district. Karen, sitting opposite Steersman in the black SUV, didn't register alarm, but her bosses speech had given her thoughts a new twist. She wasn't sure what to think. What does he have up his sleeve? One day someone will ensure that people obey the rules? What the hell is that supposed to mean? She didn't get it. Did anyone in the crowd get it? And what was he trying to say to them? she wondered.

The convoy drove out through the empty darkness and towards the gigantic building site where the industrial complex was being constructed. On that territory, the security company had made a fortification that was certainly large enough to pass for a small army base, though without permanent buildings. Modified military transports were lined up in a circle, and in the middle, there was a state of the art communication satellite dish directed towards the heavens. There were cables leading to each truck. Steersman, the security commander and some of the guards disappeared inside one of the trucks.

 

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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