Chapter 1 - Intruders
“Chief!” a snappy voice echoed around the dark room. It startled Malera, who was hunched in front of her holoscreen. She had been daydreaming again. This could not be good, at all. Especially at work. She just could not dream away the day.
The woman in question glanced out of the darkened windows for confirmation. The day was over and she had slept through the evening hours. This kind of behavior was not good for The Assistant Chief of Security Forces of Lysandria. It has never been a good idea. But this was already the second time in this year she has caught herself doing that. Napping.
Working in the Security Department should have been rewarding and challenging job for a person like her. But here she was, sleeping away the day.
“Chief Malera! You have to see this!” the annoying high pitched noise emerged again, stirring her from her thoughts.
“I’m coming, coming,” the brown haired woman grumbled and stood up from her desk, while rubbing away the sleep from her eyes. “This better be something good.”
Malera made her way through the dark office which was mostly abandoned by her staff. Only small amount of people worked the night shift, just like she had been today.
Malera reached the tiny blonde security feed operator sitting in front of the huge holoscreen array and touched her shoulder lightly. The screens were the only source of light in the room and it illuminated the frightened face of her employee.
“What is it?” Malera asked, her eyes drawn to one of the many security camera feeds in front of her.
The woman pointed at the screen. “This is the third time I have seen this man.”
“And?” Malera prompted her for more information while she rolled her eyes and sighed. This wasn’t a big breach of security she had been worried about.
It was just a man. One man from the twenty thousand of men living in Lysandria at the present day.
The blonde opened her mouth to explain before Malera could say anything back to her. “I have never seen this guy before. He seems to just appear and then disappear into the thin air.”
“You just said that it was the third time you saw him on your live feed, Shinye”
“No… um… yes,” the woman sighed, thoroughly confusing her superior.
“What I meant was… Usually we can track people, who they are or what they are doing, as you know. But this guy...” Shinye sighed in frustration. “I have seen him three times this so far. In different places all over the city. But, for the life of me, I cannot track down where he came from nor can I find out where he went.”
“What? This is not possible!”
“That’s what I am saying!” Shinye pointed out.
It was not possible for people to disappear in this city. Nothing was left unsecured. Nothing was left to chance. Every last person of the 40 000 people who were living in the city, were monitored every second of the day. The security forces knew everything - what the people did, where they went. Every official entrance and exit to the city was monitored, too.
But this man is bending that invisible rule, right under her nose. He is unknown. For her system, he is nobody.
“Who is he?” the Chief asked sharply, startling the woman sitting in front of her.
“I don’t know yet.”
“How can you not know who he is?”
“Our database didn’t recognize him. No hits on the radar either.”
“HEAL is offline?”
“If he even has one.”
“I have yet to run him through the CDDC.”
“Do it, what are you waiting for?” the Malera stood up, running her fingers through her long, light brown strands of hair. “I want know who this man is.”
“I’m on it,” Shinye nodded in agreement and turned her attention back to the screen in front of her. The logo of Central Database of the Dome Cities came to life under her touch.
Malera watched her employee starting to work in lightning speed, shifting through several databases at once. In the far corner of the screen, she saw the face recognition engines combing through the unified databases.
Finally, she forced herself to move, to walk away from the camera feeds to let Shinye work her magic.
She didn’t want to back to her desk yet. She has been there most of the day, she needed to move. She chose to slowly walk around the room, just to observe the remainder of her team working.Shinye and Tom were the only ones left in the room and Malera could figure out, Tom was quite busy updating the Agrico CamFeed system at the moment, so she didn’t even take any steps closer to him, instead she chose the path towards the windows.
Her team’s office was quite a big room, filled with glass screens and holographs, cubes humming lowly on the tables. She always felt trapped in this room. Not in this room in particular but office rooms in general. They were dimly lit and full of people and it made her feel like she was in a cage, not being able to leave.
There were a lot of these types of offices in the building. Small rooms, in glass houses, filled with people who were monitoring the city around them. It was all part of their job. Her job.
But she felt just a bit uncomfortable whenever she needed to spend another night in there. Apparently nobody had warned her before she accepted the job offer that spending her days and sometimes nights in these small rooms was to be a part of the job description.
She still missed her rookie days, running around with the Security Squad. ‘Z-squad’, as they had been calling the group. Z stood for the zealous, nickname given them by one of the control officers. Simply because they were overachievers in their rookie group. Everyone wanted to do the best, whatever it took. Not everybody from her group achieved success, though.
Now, after working over ten years in her chosen field, she was trapped in the glass building, working night shifts within the monitoring system. Her team had grown from 3 to 6 in this past year, making them the most effective security team in Lysandria. All of her employees respected her and were always giving her the space whenever she needed it.
She liked that and showed the same kind of respect back. They were a tight group of workers, achieving the impossible, if needed.
The downside was - she missed the fieldwork. Action. Taking down the bad guys. Arrests and chases. She missed it all.
Her little stroll around the room ended in front of a large window.
The whole city laid in front of her, the flickering lights from the streets below her cast shadows to the ambient night of the living areas. Blue, halogen glow from the industrial area on the left caught her eye, but the flashing lights from the entertainment and financial district swallowed her attention. Further away, up the hills she could make out the warm yellow glow from the agrarian fields, the low light coming from the special bulbs they use for the plants.
It was her city. She was born and raised here, amongst the busy rhythm of the streets. She will be forever proud to be a citizen of Lysandria. Forever.
“Pssht, Mal,” she heard a whisper somewhere close by and it startled her. She turned her head towards the sound and discovered her friend peeking in from one of the doors.
“Oh sheesh, Mayke, you scared the crap out of me,” she whispered back to the man smiling at her.
“Sorry. Can you come to the hall for a minute?”
“Yeah, sure,” she walked towards the door and squeezed herself through the doorway into a brightly lit blue hall that surrounded the tech rooms.
“What’s up?” Mal asked from the man, squinting her eyes.
“I just got the word from upstairs,” the words rushed out of Mayke
“What is it?”
“There are some rumors. I have heard things,” he continued with his voice low, leaning in closer to her, like he was sharing a big secret.
“Come closer,” he instructed her and then whispered into her ear, making the shudder run down her spine.
She shifted closer, their bodies were almost touching.
“They say that there is a promotion available. Only for you though. It has already been decided somewhere higher up. You are going to be the Captain of Security as soon as Porrtage retires.”
He moved away from her, observing her reactions with glee on his face.
Mal opened her mouth once, twice, but there was no sound coming out.
Big smile emerged from Mayke. Mal raised her eyes to meet his, to find any confirmation to what he had just said. Mayke nodded enthusiastically.
“What?” she finally voiced her thoughts. “I thought they would consider Camden first. I never thought that they could give that place to me.”
Mayke burst out laughing. “Seriously?”
When Mayke saw that Mal was not laughing with him, his face straightened as he got confused.
“You seriously thought that Camden would get the spot?”
She nodded, looking up to Mayke’s green eyes, which were full of amusement.
“Camden is…” he paused, grimacing. “… a good man. But he hasn’t the strength and the skill to lead the teams like you do, or that is what I heard upstairs anyway. You have to keep it on the down low, you know. Nothing is final yet. They are still rumors. I just thought you should know. Maybe it would put a smile on your face. I haven’t seen you smile in months.”
Mal was floored by his words
She never thought that the day would come when they would promote her. She has always known that she is good at what she does and she was doing everything with a passion. But she wasn’t sure that the men upstairs would think the same way she did. But apparently they did.
“Wow,” she breathed out.
“I know, right?” Mayke smiled widely.
“Thank you, My, for telling me this,” she smiled back to him.
That man was always looking out for her, always making her smile. She really liked him.
“Only for you,” he winked, reaching out to take her hand to his. He raised her delicate palm to his mouth and kissed it. “Only for you.”
She felt butterflies making rounds in her stomach and suddenly experienced her legs losing the ground beneath her. Mayke’s gesture was making a riot in her body, making her want more. He rarely did something like this, but when he did, it always meant a lot more to her than him.
Instead of reaching out to him, she pulled away her hand, trying to steady her beath.
“You are a sap and you know that,” she said, a little bit too breathily.
“And you like it,” he shoot back.
She was silent for a moment and looked into his eyes. Mayke’s green eyes were glinting with happiness in the harsh light of the hallways. Finally she answered shyly, “Yes, I do.”
The door slammed open somewhere in the far end of the hallway. It broke the silent spell around them. Mayke was first to stir as his face projected the seriousness that usually occupied his features.
“You should get back to work,” he whispered softly, giving another kiss to her hand before letting it go.
“Yeah, I should,” she nodded, smiling at him. “Thank you for telling me, My.”
“No problem, you know that. Just keep it low, Malera, ok?”
“I will,” she whispered again, opening the door to her tech room.
“See you around?”
Her gaze lingered on his retreating form for a moment, as she did not want to go inside yet. But she had to. There was work that needed to be doing
“I’ll call,” she whispered before the door closed.
She barely heard his answer. “Looking forward to it.”
Smiling, she leant back at the closed door.
Exactly 26 floors down from Malera, very near to the Security Office Building, a tall man crossed the street. His steps were hurried and he glanced around the area like he was searching for something. He was dressed in the black nanosuit, like all the citizens of Lysandria were. His dark blue overcoat flapped on the gentle breeze, as he tried to ignore the flow of people on his path.
He found the front steps of the big library with no problem and he walked up the stairs.
Just before he entered the building, he stopped and looked directly at the security camera.
He smiled and turned away, disappearing to the darkness of the library.