A/N: Hey there!
Before we get started, I just wanted to explain a little bit more about the story.
"Angels" was written to order as a Christmas present, for two friends who requested that I write them an erotic futuristic romance. I'm not sure any of us were quite prepared for the marathon epic that came out of this simple request, but I absolutely loved writing it, and when I mentioned it to a few other friends, they asked me to post it to so that they could read it too. So, here it is.
Anyway, the point of this note is just a heads-up; since the brief was "an erotic futuristic romance", there is a lot of reasonably explicit sex (both gay and straight couples), all the way through apart from this prologue, as well as some fairly strong language. There is also a proper plot, I promise, with a suitably dashing hero and a beautiful heroine...but I thought I ought to warn you up-front, since I appreciate that erotica isn't what everyone is looking for here.
Thank you very much for reading. I normally hang out in the parallel virtual space dedicated to fan fiction - which the filters keep deleting, no matter how much I try and name-check it, and despite the fact that it is the sister forum to this one! - where I am KittyUK, just to fool ya. However, this is my first foray into fictionpress. Like all writers I am a total review hound, so if you do have anything to say I'd be so grateful, and I always R&R in return.
Hoping you enjoy the ride...
Even by the standards of the super-rich, the luxury and comfort of the private island was miraculous. The one hundred men and women had been fed and pampered, entertained and cosseted and discreetly serviced, all at the extraordinary expense of the Archangel Corporation; a company famed for its lack of fame, a name known to governments but not to the public, to the ultra-rich but not to the moderately wealthy, providers of cutting-edge medicine, and the toughest and most impenetrable security systems, including wetware and secret quasi-military technologies, and what it euphemistically termed "tailored personal solutions to medical challenge" - a term which allowed them to squeak through the increasingly narrow gaps between the barriers erected around genetic and nano-technologies.
And now they had spent the most fantastic amount of money simply to bring the one hundred richest people in the world to a sales pitch.
They made their way into the presentation space that had been built at the centre of the island, converted from a long-defunct volcanic crater into an immaculate facsimile of a Roman amphitheatre. They lounged incredulously on purple velvet cushions that yielded beautifully beneath their bodies, sipped rich, red-black wine and nibbled on crystallised grapes served on chased gold platters.
The head of Archangel, known simply as Miranda - no surname and no known history, just Miranda - stepped out onto the stage. Her flame-coloured hair was piled into an artful mass of curls and tendrils on top of her head, and she was dressed in a simple white lab-coat and black trousers.
She smiled at the assembled audience.
"Good afternoon," she said. "Thank you for accepting our hospitality. It's truly an honour for Archangel to have the chance to present the latest addition to our portfolio, which will be coming on-stream in two years' time. I've invited you all here so that you can review what we're offering…and also so that you can book your place in the queue." She paused to let the brief murmur of outrage die down again. "Forgive me. I realise that this is not language you are accustomed to hearing. But, ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you…what Archangel will be offering today will be more than worth waiting for."
A young girl of around ten or eleven, with curly black hair and violet eyes, leaned against the arm of the man who was with her. He was in his early forties, with brown hair that grew straight up for the first inch or so then fell forward over his forehead, brown eyes that hid behind sleepy eyelids, a lean and slender build, a lined and unremarkable face dominated by a long, Roman nose,and a curiously expressionless mouth that did not seem designed for smiling. He should have been ordinary-looking, but instead he was charismatic and darkly sexy, and a number of the women there that afternoon were already watching him sideways from beneath their eyelashes.
"Daddy," she whispered, "what's she talking about?"
The man smiled down at her and stroked her cheek.
"I think," he whispered back, "she's trying to sell us something."
She looked puzzled.
"Well," she said at last. "That doesn't sound very exciting to me. Why have they gone to all this trouble?"
The buzz in the auditorium was astonishing; the excited hum of conversation had begun the second they showed their first prototypes; Miranda and Jim had been besieged with people. Already they had taken firm orders for all of the first four waves. They could have booked twice and three times as much business, but Li, Archangel's Futurologist, had been insistent. "The success of the programme depends on taking the best of the best," he had said. "No compromises. And there just aren't enough people available who will meet our criteria. We drop our standards and we fail."
"Impact?" Miranda had asked crisply.
"Eighty-four per cent increase in risk of terminal failure for at least one client with every extra pair we add to the programme beyond three per wave." Miranda had winced, and conceded.
"Miranda," said the man with the little dark-haired girl, taking her hand. "It's a very great pleasure to see you again." His eyes lingered on her face and he held her hand just a moment longer than necessary.
She smiled at him.
"Mr Warwick! How nice to see you again." She looked down. "And Maggie…how are you? You're growing up so fast."
Maggie smiled shyly and his her face in her father's sleeve.
"I think you know that I am always very interested in what you're offering…can you give me some idea of how long the wait is likely to be?"
She shrugged. "I'm afraid it's likely to be at least six years."
He raised an eyebrow.
"Six years? Even for…an old client like myself?"
"I'm so sorry, Mr Warwick, but yes…even for an old client like yourself." She looked at him from beneath her eyelashes for a second. "Although if you'd like to sign up right now then I can offer you first choice of that wave."
"I thought you said they were all of the highest possible standard."
"And indeed they are…but even perfection has its…gradations."
He smiled."I am forced to disagree. However reluctant I am to argue with a lady. Perfection is an absolute."
She rolled her eyes and smiled.
"You are such a pedant, Mr Warwick. Very well, then. Let's just say that the Angels are as close to perfection as it's possible to get in this wicked, imperfect world…and that having first choice will allow you to select whoever you think will fit your needs most closely. Do we have a deal?"
"Indeed we do. Just show me where to sign, and I am - as ever - all yours."
"You're a flirt, Mr Warwick."
"One day, Miranda, I hope to have the chance to show you that I mean every word."
She blushed a little, and looked down at Maggie, absorbed in watching the crowd.
"And how is your daughter?" Miranda asked. "She looks…absolutely fine. Perfect, in fact."
"She's doing fine. Coping without my wife, much better than I thought she would…she's a very adaptable little girl."
"And the security restrictions? I imagine it's hard to keep her sheltered as you would want to - although fortunately in a few years Archangel will be able to help you with that - "
"As I said…she's very adaptable. She's made her own world…I try to make it as interesting as possible."
"That's good. Don't get too attached, though, Nick. Love can be a very dangerous thing."
"Indeed it is." His eyes met hers for a slow, breathless moment.
"How are we doing, darling?" asked Jim, appearing at Miranda's elbow and ostentatiously putting his arm around her waist.
"Just discussing terms with Mr Warwick here…darling," she replied, managing to make the endearment sound like an insult.
The advertisement was placed in six key sites and five carefully-chosen ephemeral publications, once a year, for twenty-four hours only.
Willing to become Angels
Do you have what it takes?
Find us if you can…
The Archangel Corporation