|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
A Glass Elevator
The elevator stops halfway up to the office and one more passenger boards, his weight causing the box to wince as it begins to rise.
“Hello Sir, sirs. I’m feeling great, by the way, all of my fractures and lacerations have healed to the fullest degree, thanks to you and your wonderful staff! I can’t thank you enough, so I will just thank you so much for the physical therapy, and all the medicine, and the happiest of endings at that spa session this morning, and and and…” he trolls on, sucking the air out of the room-sized elevator like a vacuum does to a vacuum chamber.
“That’s all very well and good Alvey, but nobody asked. You also told me all of that, ver batum, may I add, earlier today. And last night, after the procedures were complete. I’ve grown quite tired of your abysmal redundancy; just pipe down, will you? We have two intruders in the main office,” instructs Sean Hymarc, sipping his tobacco flavored nicotine-infused latte. He then exhales and pinches the bridge of his nose, lowering his closed-eye gaze to the floor. “This is becoming a recurring theme, I am not a fan.”
“Vorry not, zir,” says Doctor Torpol over his clipboard, “Zere iz no vay zhat zey can escape. I do not know who zey ahre or haow zhey ghot in, but, zhey cannot get out. Zhe building is in lockdown, zhe office iz completely seceur.”
“Wonderful, thank you Edvard. They can’t be much different than the other one, but this is no time to skip precautions. As for who they are specifically, well, we’re about to find out.”
Indeed we are. The glass elevator climbs up the exterior of the Apex Corporation’s building, the second tallest skyscraper in all of New Manhattan, and Sean Hymarc peers through the wall-windows around him. The sun is shining, the birds are likely chirping, and the eight percent of New Manhattan that he owns is bustling with the activity of his many adopted child companies bringing dollars in by the shovelful. He strokes his chinstrap in pace with his breathing, pondering over who could possibly attempt a hostile takeover of his company next. There are plenty with the motive to do so, sure; when Apex overtakes a weaker, more insignificant corporate body, all of the cretins previously known as employees are fired and replaced with Apex-approved worker drones who do their assigned task infinitely better than the erroneous humans that were once paid to do it.
That’s another thing – the drones don’t need to be paid. The only human employment opportunities that exist in Apex are in the physical fitness, science, and MERC divisions, but all the available positions were filled long ago. Hymarc hires his fitness gurus himself by outbidding whatever sorry excuse for a fitness emporium that once employed them; Torpol’s extended family covers the science division, save for the test subjects which are, for the most part, all homeless vagrants swooped off the street by the MERCs; and as for the MERCs, well… they were specially chosen for their roles, and no new positions will be opening any time soon.
Unless they do, but yanno, they won’t.
Speaking of which, Hymarc’s custom uPhone starts to buzz in his pocket. He presses the button on his earpiece, accepting the call.
“President Hymarc. KingPig and I have the intruders held at gunpoint, they do not appear frightened.”
“Well who’s fault is that, Gary? My word, shove your gun in their mouth if you have to. Strike them. Restrain them with barbed wire and bind them together! I shouldn’t have to explain this to you, your hardware was just updated. The Good Doctor’s installed his latest torture software into your brain, you insolent cyborg. We should have let you perish at the warehouse… gah, look at what you’ve done to me. Fucking… you fucking cunt. Just tell me what they’re doing.”
Without pause or hesitation, the robotic voice continues. “One is caressing the plaster plants in window planter Alpha-Omega and the other is… I don’t know how to describe it without offending you, sir.”
“Just do it, there’s nothing that can be done about it at this point.”
“He, if it is a he, is sitting at your desk. With… with his feet up.”
Hymarc removes his earpiece and whips it into the back wall of the elevator, shattering a gaping hole into the glass and inadvertently killing a consumer via pseudo-meteor strike, scaring the wits out of a woman who’s carrying no less than four boxes of cinnamon rolls down the street from that dreadful, tiny, insignificant little bakery. The elevator jolts to a stop and the door opens to allow a small robot, no taller than a human’s femur, to roll in and get to work on blowing a replacement piece of glass. Another small robot, this one holding a porcelain plate with an earpiece sat upon a velvety red pillow, rolls in behind it. Behind that one, a robot shaped like a blowtorch with wheels rolls in and lights the cigarillo that Sean pulled out of his pocket as the second robot entered. Around him, everybody is drenched in a most uncomfortable silence.
“We’ll be there shortly.”
“Should I call for backup?” G1-Zm0 drones into Hymarc’s ear. “The girls are currently off premises, but Ray and Wolf are surely dicking around the building somewhere.”
Instead of answering right away, Hymarc takes the time to chain smoke his cigarillo down to the bitter end. He then pops the ‘bacco roach into his mouth, chews it up a bit, and packs it between his gums and his bottom lip.
“If you really think it’s necessary, then yes. We gave you a brain more capable than the average human’s, you need to make decisions like these for yourself. Do what you need to keep the
Zeroc at bay.”
A moment of pause for analysis. “Understood.”
With the hole patched and all the extra drone weight removed from the equation, the elevator resumes rising, opposing magnetic forces sending the evidently very fragile glass cube up to the top floor of the skyscraper, the speed of ascension being calculated and optimized in mathematical language in real time on the Doctor’s electronic clipboard. The doors open and everyone walks out with their various weapons drawn, Alvey’s being a peeled banana that ends in a bite mark, slightly less intimidating than Doctor Torpol’s disintegration pistol.
Everyone besides Hymarc, that is. He’s locked in a gaze pointed across the cityscape, his eyes transfixed on the single tower in all of the city that’s taller than the Apex Corporation headquarters, so far away that it resembles a matchstick. He squints at it in a show of primordial dominance, not paying enough attention to notice the silver disk hovering above it when said disk flashes in and then immediately out of visibility.
Addressing the tower, ‘One day… you will be mine. Even if I have to burn this city to the ground.’
Hymarc is so distracted by the foreign manifestation of his self-image that the elevator doors close behind him. He descends two floors before impatiently inserting his manual override key and going back to his office. It’s a good thing he forgot his spit cup; with the way today is going, he’ll need as much extra nicotine as possible.
Fifty floors below, Ray and Wolf hold a puzzled stare towards the floor indicator that can’t seem to decide whether the elevator is moving up or down. Assuming it’s suffering a malfunction, they continue their game of chopsticks unbothered.