The hallways gleamed in the pure white illumination-units that hung in the ceiling. The company was adamant about them not being regular "lamps", but the aforementioned term. It didn't matter to him; after all, he was just there for a quick transaction. His footsteps echoed in the empty corridor he was walking along. Everything was white. The ceiling was white, the floor was white, hell, even the plants were white. He hadn't been able to resist the urge to stop, take off his gloves and feel the leaves. Plastic. Not even the views outside the windows were real, mere projected images given a three-dimensional makeover. How he knew? He knew that the outside world sure as hell didn't look like that. There were no rolling, grassy hills filled with happy deers and surrounded by brilliantly green forests. There were no sparkling streams with dancing fish in it, and the last time he'd checked, there were no lakes in the middle of the damn city!
The corridor seemed to stretch on for eternity. For ordinary people, of course. Not for him. For he knew what the designers of the building had been thinking. It was all a trick of light and perspective. The secret was to keep your eyes away from the apparent horizon. If you looked at the end for too long, it'd confuse you, and worst of all, give you a headache the size of Helio, the red moon he knew would be shining down on the dirty, noisy city outside. Were the occupants of the building trying to fool themselves into thinking their reality was any different then the one on the outside, the one everyone who were nobody had to live with every day? Scorching rays from the twin suns, dust storms that could tear the skin of a man and chilly nights that turned you into a block of ice unless you wore a personal heater unit?
Again, it did not matter to him. The transaction would not take long. A desk appeared at the horizon and approached much faster than one who didn't know about the building design would expect. A woman sat behind it. She was typing away on a computer terminal. Behind her, a large, stylised sign proudly proclaiming that the "Amazing world of G & G" would only continue to improve. He was sceptical. Everyone he knew was. The woman looked up at him and flashed a brilliant smile that could have blinded anyone who wasn't prepared. She rose from the chair, stepped out from behind the desk and approached him, her face a mask of happiness.
"Welcome to the G & G building," she said and shook his gloved hand. "Do you have an appointment?"
He smiled the best he could in return. It wasn't easy, smiling, if you had to do it on command to a person you'd rather punch and run away from. "Yes, I do, in fact. My name is Richard Andersson, I'm here to speak with Miss White about a business transaction."
He noticed that the woman was still holding his hand, a fact which he inclined his head too. She let go, blushing. He wanted to groan. It was happening again.
The woman went behind her desk, still blushing, and began to type on her computer, presumably looking for confirmation that he actually had business in the place. She nodded approvingly and motioned to an almost invisible, white elevator door.
"Please take the elevator to floor 259 and walk directly to the end of the hallway. There will be a waiting room. Please take a seat. Miss White will be with you shortly." She pretended to become engrossed in her work, but he noticed her taking sneak peeks at him when she thought he wasn't looking. It would end, he knew, as soon as the doors closed. Then she'd wonder what had just happened, why the man had been so… attractive.
He smiled a little when he was on his way upwards. Even the controls to the elevator were white. In fact, the only thing that was not white in the elevator was the screen that displayed the floor number along with a tiny little advertisement for some random G & G product. Like now, for example, there was an ad for a "Multi-Stage…" He couldn't even pronounce the thing in his head. It looked like an ancient iron lung, the only difference being the multi-coloured lights and seemingly moving segments. Whatever it was, he was sure it was damn expensive, and he was right. The neat little note in small type underneath listed it as costing well over 20,000 credits, which was ludicrous. Obviously, only the occupants of the building could afford something like that, and only the fat cats at the top. He shifted his grip on his briefcase. It was getting heavy. Not surprising, considering the contents.
The door opened sooner than he thought it would. The elevator had to be one of those new, fancy turbo-models. Silent, fast and ridiculously unnecessary…and impressive, he had to admit. The sight that greeted him was almost identical to the one downstairs, but this corridor actually had some real windows, though they were smaller than the fake ones. He was near the top of the building, probably just a couple of floors down from the CEO's office. The people working on these floors had no worries in the world and were most likely permanent residents in the building. They had no qualms about looking down on the misery the rest of the city experienced every single day and night. The red moonlight glinted of the plastic. It was a strange sight.
The waiting room was…as most waiting rooms were, he supposed. Sparsely furnished, not one sign of other people, and a horrible selection of magazines lying on a glass table in the middle of the room. Many of the issues were decades old. He sat down in one of the very uncomfortable chairs and waited. There wasn't even a clock on the wall to show how long he had been there. His wristwatch had stopped running years ago, but he still wore it for sentimental reasons. It had been a gift from his sister before she ran away from the city. Gods knew where she was these days. He still received letters from time to time, but she never revealed where she was or what she was doing.
He looked at his phone. The digital display showed that over 45 minutes had passed in the horrible waiting room. He was running out of time. He was about to stand up and pace for a bit when a doorway suddenly slid open to his right. He hid his shock and stood up with a smile. A stern-looking woman stood in the doorway. She was wearing a dark blazer and a skirt that probably would have been called daring a couple of centuries ago. Her hair was dark blonde with hints of red stripes here and there. Her eyes were icy blue and betrayed their owner as a no-nonsense person. She stepped out into the room and held out a hand.
"Mr. Andersson?" she asked. Her voice was filled with ice.
"That's me," he replied and shook it. "And you're Miss White, I presume."
"You are correct," she said and stepped aside. "Please, step into my office and we can get started." He did so, and she followed, locking the door behind them.
The "office", as she had called it, resembled an apartment more than an office. Against huge, panoramic windows, a desk was placed with leather chairs in front of it. Supposedly, the visitors were supposed to be awestruck by the view of the city, but the large dust storm moving in the valley behind it kind of ruined everything. To the left of the door was a glass stairway leading up to a balcony of sorts. On it, a large dining table, an entertainment centre and a kitchen gleamed in their metal shininess.
Miss White saw him staring and coughed slightly. "I like to keep my home and my work close," she said and marched ahead towards the desk. "I'm surprised they sent one as young as you, Mr. Andersson. I heard your CEO only trusts people with experience. How old are you, exactly"
He shrugged. "Twenty-one." She gave him a look. "Well, let's just say that I hold a little sway with the man and his advisors. I've solved a few crises for them. I guess this is their way to show that they appreciate the help."
Miss White seemed to accept the answer and nodded for him to sit down in the chair facing the desk. Now this was a comfortable chair. Too bad no one told the designers of the waiting room chairs. Miss White frowned when he did nothing. "I'm sorry, but I am extremely busy, and I'd like to get this over and done with as soon as possible."
He smiled and shrugged. "I'm sorry, but I've never done this before, so please excuse me if I'm a bit slow." He placed his briefcase on the desk and put in the code to unlock it. He opened it, looked at the contents dreamily for a second and turned it around so Miss White could see them. "Two million, not a credit more, not a credit less."
She inspected the cards, scrutinising them like an expert banker would do when presented with such a large amount of cash. They passed the inspection, it seemed, as she closed the briefcase and placed it on her side of the desk. "Perfect," she said and pressed a button on the desk. A wall slid open to their right. It was dark inside.
"It's all in there," she said. "All you need is a charge-period of twenty minutes, and they're ready to be used."
"Quite a place to store them," he said. "Wouldn't it be…bad for business if they went off in there?"
She shook her head no. "There is no chance of them accidentally detonating because of said charge-period." He was about to go inside the dark room when her voice stopped him. "Before you take them and leave…perhaps you would like to…" Her voice had dropped an octave or two, which in turn caused him to groan inwardly. Ah, not again, he thought and turned around. She had removed the blazer and was in the process of unbuttoning her blouse. He turned around again, facing the darkness. "You have no idea what I can do for you," she continued and purred. She actually purred, he thought. There was no avoiding it now. He reached inside his coat and felt the comfortable weight.
"Sorry, but I'm not really interested in that kind of thing," he said and turned around quickly, firing three quick shots. The silencer generated a small vacuum around the pistol and completely absorbed the sounds. The only thing signifying that something had happened were the tingling noises of the spent shells hitting the floor and the thump of Miss White's body as it fell. He really wasn't interested in that kind of thing.
After making sure no one had heard, he dragged her body behind the desk, hoping that no one was scheduled to wash the windows at this hour. Afterwards, he went into the dark room, fumbling with the light switch. The illumination-units came to life and showered the room in photons. In the middle of the surprisingly large storage room, a rectangular box stood. He went to it, tapped it once, twice, thrice. It hissed as the hydraulic joints moved and opened the lid. He peered inside. The sides of the box were mirrored, making it appear that there hundreds of the bombs inside. He smiled and fished out his phone and dialled a number.
A gruff voice was heard on the other end. "You have them?" it asked.
"Yes," he replied. "All ten of 'em. They didn't expect any trouble."
"Of course they didn't," said the voice. "The money is real…well, the top layer of case, at least. Anyway, the train's about to enter the yard. Yin, Chris and Liz are ready to create a diversion at the station."
"Alright, tell them to cause a ruckus as soon as the train stops. I need time to plant these things," he said.
"I will tell them. Remember, you'll be able to interface with their comlinks when you're close enough. Operation Fox is a go."
"Roger that, boss," he said.
"The guards will shoot you on sight if they catch you planting one…hell, they might even shoot you on sight just for being there. Oh, and Dyx?"
"Be careful." The line was disconnected.
Dyx smiled. "Don't worry, boss," he said and put the phone away.
He carefully lifted the tiny metal balls out of the box and put them in the padded pocked of his coat. He felt for the scabbard of his sword. It still hung on. Good. He had been worried about the new suits, but they were proving more and more useful. He pulled out his pistol again and looked at the silencer. Still three-hundred shots' worth of juice in this thing, he thought. Now…where to start?
He decided to place one of the balls in Miss White's desk, just for a bit of irony. He looked out the enormous window and saw the transit train slowly approaching the station. Just a couple more minutes, and all hell would be breaking loose at street level, and soon the entire building. He had to be fast. He couldn't risk going all the way to the top. The CEO of G & G was paranoid to the extreme. Even though he didn't sleep in the building, he most likely had a small army of armed guards at the entrance to his office. Dyx had to place the balls at structurally integral locations, or at least near them. The explosives were powerful enough to blow through a pair of walls in order to reach their intended target.
He had just stepped out into the corridor in order to take the elevator down a couple of floors when a bullet thudded into the wall, inches from his head. He looked up and saw several men wearing suits and earpieces blocking his way. All of them were aiming guns at him.
"Freeze," said one of them. "Did you really think we wouldn't see the murder through cameras?"
Dyx considered his situation, did a couple of quick measurements in his head and smiled slightly. "Actually, I was kind of counting on it." He reached quickly into his coat, pulled out one of the balls and, without pause, hurled it at the men with all his strength. It had the desired effect. Desperate to get out of the little metal sphere of death, the men tripped on and over each other, some getting expensive leather shoes shoved into their mouths. The unlucky fellow who had taken the ball to the forehead collapsed with a red circle imprinted on it.
It took the men about five to ten seconds to figure out that the ball wasn't going to explode. By then, it was already too late. One of them noticed Dyx tearing off his clothes, revealing a dark-grey bodysuit that clung tightly to his body. The light gleamed off the artificial muscles. A metal rod with little notches suddenly extended itself from his back. Dyx grabbed it and, to the one man's horror, pulled out a straight, narrow sword. Then Dyx ran at them.
Dyx danced. That was the only word one could describe his graceful movements with. He danced among the group of men, cutting in every direction. Blood spurted and flowed. Men screamed in agony. It didn't last for twenty seconds. When Dyx stopped moving, so did everything else. He stood in the middle of the circle of bodies. The white corridor had been coloured crimson. He shook his head and groaned out loud when he saw that his hair had been stained. When he went inside the building his hair had been almost as white as the surroundings. He looked around for a bit and picked up the ball. It too had been dyed. A tiny screen counted down.
Sixteen minutes remaining.
An explosion shook the building, an alarm went off. Dyx smiled. Operation Fox was, indeed, a go.
To be continued…
Right, so I'm back after a long hiatus after my computer imploded. I lost quite a bit of writing to this incident, including several new chapters to several of my stories. But, the good news is that I've managed to recover quite a chunk of it, though a lot is missing, and it'll take some time for me to re-write them to correspond to my changes of mind in the time that has gone by. This story is a small three- maybe four-parter that has the honour of being the first thing I write on my new computer which I built last weekend (it's a real beast!). So, yeah, I'm back. Please read and review!