Tobias motioned to a plush chair, even fancier than the one I had sat on in first class on the train. His office was a giant room, with a curved glass top and wall that let him see the city skyline. From outside you could see the towers of the three richest families.
The room itself seemed like an extension of the lab I had seen downstairs and aside from a large mahogany desk, two seats and a glass cabinet that held drinks it seemed nothing like a typical office. The floor was a pristine white colour and hundreds of mathematical equations were written over it in an orange pen. It looked like the floor of a mad man and not a prestigious CEO.
In another corner there was a pile of hundreds of unboxed DualCam’s stacked in a pile with one of them projecting a still image of a beautiful lake and a forest covered in trees on to the wall.
“Please take a seat Ms Young,” said Tobias as he turned off the camera and I sat on a small wooden chair that seemed out of place with the rest of the room.
“Would you like a drink?” he asked. I refused, highly suspicious that he would be drugging me in some way. I really hoped my disguise was still working.
He sat down in his chair. It was slightly raised and angled towards me, giving the impression that he was higher up and looking down on me. This was amplified by the poor quality of my chair and the plushness of his. It felt like being in school again with a fearsome headmaster standing over me.
“You are very lucky. Ms Young. I’ve never invited a journalist into my office before.”
“Then why me?” I asked. “You have thousands of journalists outside but why did you choose me?”
“Serendipity. I believe that you should grab any chance life throws at you. Don’t you?”
“Exactly!” he said, not really caring what I said. “When I saw that a journalist had won our competition I knew it was meant to be. We’ve always wanted to show a journalist what we do here and yet can’t afford to have everyone looking around at our secrets. Today you helped me break that privacy. You are a sign of things to come Jessica Young.”
“Thank you?” I said, phrased more like a question than a statement. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of his words. “So exactly what is it you want to show me?”
“Actually I’d rather ask you. What did you think of our demonstration earlier?” he was clearly searching for compliments.
“Frankly, I was horrified. I thought you had killed that man.”
“Perfect, that’s exactly what I wanted people to think!” he exclaimed, clearly proud that I’d said exactly what he wanted me to say. “But, what about the technology? Can you see how it has the power to change the world?”
As much as I liked his technology, I’d already witnessed it do horrible things in the killing of Will. “It’s interesting… but doesn’t it promote the idea that our country should be at war? Isn’t peace more important?”
“Unfortunately, that’s not the way the world works,” said Tobias. “The world is broken and my technology will fix it. Our country is one of the richest in the world. It will be attacked and war is inevitable. I’m just trying to make the world better.”
“So you’re essentially waiting on a war before you can use the technology? Isn’t that pessimistic or downright sadistic?” I asked.
“It never hurts to be prepared. Showing off the technology now helps us get the investment we need to make the world better later.”
“And yet, if we do go to war, won’t TethTech profit massively?” I could see I was getting to him. He’d probably had this discussion a thousand times and each time would be another burden on him. However it also meant he was an expert at dodging questions.
“That’s why we’re using the technology in other ways. For example if someone got a life threatening disease, their twin could take over their body and help them live until we find a cure,” he said.
It was both a fascinating and horrific thought. That someone could live even when they had been sentenced to death by illness. What kind of a life would that be? I thought to myself. Being paraded around like a puppet. It sounded horrible and yet you couldn’t argue with the desire to save lives.
“Of course the body could also be held at rest,” said Tobias as if reading my thoughts. “The healthy twin could link to the ill twin and put them in a state of sleep. Like a coma but without any detrimental effects to the body in the meantime. The healthy twin then lives their life whilst we find a cure.”
“And if a cure isn’t found in the twin’s lifetime?”
“Then sadly that’s where the science ends, at least for today. Who knows what we’ll be able to achieve in fifty, thirty, maybe even ten years. We’re just dipping our toes into the pool of possibilities. There’s so much we don’t yet understand about Tethers but we will. In fact what we showed today was only a small part of the real discovery we have made. There’s a lot more secrets to be revealed very soon.”
Rex T Jules
A tall muscular man stood in the corner of Emmie’s room as Rex tried to plan his next move. The man hadn’t seen him yet but he could clearly take Rex in a fight.
What worried Rex most of all, was the set of knives the man had attached to a leather belt around his waist. Some of them were definitely stained, with what, he did not want to know. Rex could also make out scarring on the side of the man’s face. This was no houseguest that much he was sure of.
He pushed back the door leaving it slightly ajar and ran back to his own apartment. He grabbed two things from inside the room and headed back to Emmie’s.
Rex spotted his opportunity when he saw the scarred man was distracted by a black device. He slowly crept forwards carefully watching where he stepped to avoid the creaky floorboard he had never got round to fixing. When he felt he had gone as far as he could without arousing suspicion Rex raised his arm upwards and swung it forwards. The scarred man was unprepared for the wrench that hit him square in the jaw.
He stumbled backwards, his eyes not quite believing what was happening. Before he had a chance to respond Rex swung the wrench again and hit the man in the legs forcing him to the floor. As the man landed he hit his head onto the floor which knocked him unconscious.
Rex remained poised over the man’s body for five minutes, waiting for him to get up but he did not. He hoped he’d done the right thing and looking at the reddened knives around the man’s waist confirmed it.
He prodded the man’s stomach with his foot and nothing happened. This mysterious man was out cold.
Rex made his way to the table that had occupied the scarred man’s view minutes ago. He could see a large black box that had been ripped open, its wires and circuitry exposed. The box was reflecting a single image onto the wall that flickered into and out of focus.
The image showed Emmie’s face and another face next to it that didn’t look at all like her. A message at the bottom of the image read “Skin transfer complete,” which did nothing to help him understand what had happened.
Whatever the image meant, it was very important to the man with the knives. Rex bent down and started to empty the man’s pockets hoping for clues. He didn’t find much. A driver’s licence identified the man as ‘Vlad Givik’, although that could easily be fake.
In the other pocket Rex found a mobile phone that showed an outgoing email in English. It simply read:
“Target has disguised herself. Photo attached.”
The photo showed the image from the black box and the pieces fell into place for Rex. Emmie had somehow changed her identity and whoever was after her and Will now knew exactly who she really was.
Emmie was in serious danger.