Hey folks! In the past few weeks, I’ve been working diligently to get my “works in progress” pile under control. This included getting Data Miners off my computer and onto the shelves, but also to get this anthology known as Yuva moving again. I’ve done my best to get more writings on the project, and actually managed to get some writing done myself.
As a result “The Torch”, the first chapter in the story which acts as the prologue, is coming long and is almost complete. After some months of letting it accumulate dust, I finally managed to get the third section finished and plotted out how I wanted it to end. The following sample is the next half-section, which is the just shy of the final chapter. I hope you like it, and enjoy the not-too-subtle tech references which I have been researching of late and knew I had to incorporate. This is, after all, taking place in the near future…
For the sake of preserving some element of surprise and mystery, I won’t say exactly what they are or where to find them. Suffice it to say, I think that flexible, transparent computer tablets and commercial space flight will be a reality in the near future. Based on discussions that took place between myself and Khaalidah, this story’s co-author and a major anthology contributor, we also figured that orbital satellites would be island estates of the future.
In addition to orbital banking replacing “offshore banking” – a la Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Cyprus, etc – there would also be private estates in orbit where laws were laxer and people with money could do whatever the heck they wanted! It’s like international waters, but with the added benefit of low gravity and high-tech medical treatments which would never be legal planetside.
Anyway, no more spoilers! Enjoy!
* * *
From the spacious backseat, Muktari got quite the view of the Frankfurt skyline. The window’s active display matrix was sure to keep him apprised of what he was seeing as they passed along the Schaumainkai. The patterned lights – yellow, orange, white and opal – achieved a beautiful, glittering balance, drawing the eye and appeasing the senses all at once.
In truth, it wasn’t much different from the skylines of Dubai, Mumbai or Shanghai, or even London or New York for that matter. They all were a testament to the grandeur and excesses of humanity, how people could always be expected to build higher and higher when they had run out of room to expand sideways. Or, in other cases, to avoid pillaging the lands occupied by more traditional buildings and boroughs.
But this was always the challenge of such metropolitan centers. The inflow of capital, investment, new people and technological change; one always had to find places to put the new things. And places to put the things needed to dispose of. And every new age seemed to trigger a new wave of this process: redevelopment, rezoning, and redistribution.
The car veered left and began joining the highway. For many minutes, the skyline disappeared in the distance, replaced by the developments that ran south of the river. The window had a hard time keeping up, as there weren’t many heritage sites in this area, but plenty of modern buildings of note. He turned away finally, and began paying attention to his fellow passenger. She had shown up the airport to escort him, and he was beginning to sense this would become a pattern.
“You didn’t have to meet me,” he had said as soon as he reached the front doors.
“Escorts can be so impersonal,” she said. “Besides, my father doesn’t trust specialized talent to just anyone.”
“So I can expect you to be a noose around my neck then?” he said. He had been in a bad mood after the flight, admittedly. A restless sleep and an early morning flight was known to do that to people. And changing time zones and shuttling from one part of the Earth to the next was something he had been doing far too much of lately.
Now, seated across from her, he thought some polite conversation might be in order.
“So where is Mr. Harding flying me to?”
She looked up from her Tab and smiled. “To him,” she replied simply.
“To him? You mean to his private estate somewhere, or corporate HQ?”
She chuckled mildly and continued typing and stroking at her device. Muktari sighed heavily. He was hoping to be pleasant, but the way she was preserving the surprise was beginning to annoy him. Was it too much to ask that she help him plan his evening? If he were to be taken to yet another time zone and have to face the prospect of even more lag, he would like to know about it now.
“You know, I heard that Harding was not in the best of health lately.” He let the words hang, hoping to gauge her reaction. “I might suspect we were heading for the Swiss Alps, or perhaps some clinic in Brazil.”
She made a sideways gesture with her head, like a half shake. A denial perhaps, or an indication that she could not say either way.
“It would seem ill-advised for a man who was in the twilight of his days to still be chained to his desk.”
She appeared to be finishing up with her work and put the Tab aside. She looked at him furtively and said nothing.
“No?” he said, and nodded. “Very well, keep your secrets. But know that all this running around and pretense isn’t making me any more interested in what he has to say.”
She continued to stare at him, smiling in her usual way. It too was becoming very annoying.
“What?” he said at last.
“We’re here,” she replied, motioning to the window. Muktari looked out and spotted the strip that they were now parked upon. Less than a hundred meters to their right, a small Atmo was parked.
“We’re flying in that?” he said, gesturing to the craft.
“Where are we going?”
“To the stars,” she replied. “Have you been topside before?”
Muktari blanched. It was one thing he had assiduously avoided, and hoped to continue not to do in his lifetime.
“Well then,” she said, taking his expression to mean he had not, “you’re in for quite the treat.”