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Control

By Laura Kinch All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi

Blurb

Rebecca is tired of her job in the City. Then she meets Jason Gray, who tells her she’s a Controller. She has the ability to control machinery with her mind, and he needs her talents for a very specific task. At first, Rebecca scoffs. But when her apartment is attacked by a machine called a Peacekeeper, she loses her job and all her shares, and finds herself hunted by the cops and a Controller called Valerie Chase, she has no choice but to follow Jason to the world Below. Below, Rebecca discovers her life in the City has been a bubble of security. She knew nothing of the massive mines and burnt-out workers who live there, managed by System Controllers who’ll wipe out a village at the first hint of production loss. And amongst all this: Jason, his resistance fighters, and their warship Leviathan. Jason says Rebecca’s talents are ‘special’, that he needs them for an important task. But the man is slow to reveal exactly what this task is. After being misinformed her entire life, can Rebecca trust Jason’s mission will make a difference for those living Below? It’s starting to sound like something much more personal.

Chapter 1

“Gods, hurry up!” Nick snorted cold, wet air in frustration and rubbed at the dark stubble on his chin. What was taking so long? He was going to get busted. It had taken long enough to reach the rendezvous point. He’d had to take special care to avoid the authorities. And now he was stuck waiting. He was conspicuous as hell.

Nick switched his torchlight off. Behind him, the monstrous towers of the City stretched up towards the sky, like a hundred thousand fingers dripping in diamond light. The glow of those lights provided more than enough ambient light for the young man to see by, though the more sparsely lit City outskirts were some few hundred meters behind him. Nick waited on one of the spans of the linking bridges that joined the great City with the surrounding countryside and that bridged the kilometre-wide gap over the gurgling, roaring waterfalls beneath.

The hum of an engine cut thought the night air. Nick swore under his breath. From the City side of the bridge, twin points of light announced an approaching vehicle. A moment later the cop pulled up beside him and lowered his window. “Out a bit late, aren’t we?”

Nick forced a smile. “Yeah, I suppose.”

“ID.”

Nick allowed the bracelet on his wrist to be scanned.

“Nick Forsythe. Employed. Mechanic.” The cop read his scanner. He glanced up. “And that vehicle’s yours?”

Nick turned to the ageing green sports car parked behind him. The paint was fading and it didn’t even have anti-gravs. He winced. “Yeah, didn’t that show up on the ID?”

“It did,” said the cop, with the faintest hint of a smile. “I just wanted to see if you’d admit that hunk of junk was yours. So what’re you doing out here?”

Nick gave his best, nonchalant shrug. “Eh... just had a bad breakup. I needed some air.”

“You gonna jump?”

“What? No!” Nick mentally kicked himself. He’d been lucky enough to attract the attention of the nicest cop in the City, who now thought he was suicidal.

“So there’s no reason for you to be out here then. Tell you what; I patrol back this way in fifteen minutes. Make sure you’re gone by then.” The cop rolled up his window and drove off.

Nick cursed and kicked a loose stone. It bounced into the side of his vehicle. Despite its condition, Nick winced. “You said they patrolled here an hour apart, Steph,” he grumbled to himself. He walked back to the bridge’s edge and looked down, searching the darkness below.

Movement caught his attention. Nick fumbled for the flashlight, switched it on, and pointed it into the black expanse. The beam was lost to the drop. He swung it to his right, but all he saw was the cascading water curtain on the far side.

Then the beam reflected off dull metal. Something was down there. In the darkness the shape moved towards him, up from the depths. It was huge, and the torchlight did nothing to reveal its full dimensions. A dull metal hull rose and stopped a few meters below the bridge. A gloved hand reached up and grasped the lower railing.

“Hang on.” Nick dropped the torch and rushed to help the man. He grunted as he heaved him up and over the railing. “You took your time, Jason.”

“Had to wait for your friend to leave.” Jason reached from beneath a dull black trench coat, slick with spray from the falls, and grasped Nick’s hand firmly and briefly. “So, are we ready or not?”

Nick pulled his hand back. “We’re just as ready as I said in our last communication. I told you then I could have her to you with a minimum of fuss. I could have her to you now!”

“And I told you: this is something I wanted to do myself.”

“You realise why that makes me uncomfortable, right?” Nick growled.

“Shh!” Jason grasped Nick by the arm.

Nick too heard the approaching engine.

“Your friend’s back already,” said Jason. Nick could feel the man’s hand tense around his arm. “Come on.”

“Relax, he’s seen me already, he’ll just think...”

Jason opened the door to the passenger side and swung himself in. “It’s not what he’ll think that I’m worried about.”

Nick scowled. But he couldn’t afford to be caught out here, especially with Jason. He might be able to get away with saying Jason was an Unemployed, but then he’d get done for trying to pawn off shares or something. And what would they think of Jason? Neither of them needed the complication. Nick climbed in the driver’s side and put the vehicle into gear.

“Just remember, this is the City. It’s different. You’re not going to get shot on the street corner just for being vaguely suspicious.”

“We’ll see.”

They tore away with a screech of tyres.

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