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Authors: Niall Teasdale

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Inescapable

BOOK: Inescapable
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Inescapable

A Fox Meridian
Novel

By Niall Teasdale

Copyright 2015 Niall
Teasdale

Smashwords Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition,
License Notes

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Contents

Part One: All in a Day’s Work

Part Two: The Moon’s a
Balloon

Part Three: The Desert
of Eden

Part Four:
Copycat

Part Five: The Windy
Metro

Part Six: A Quiet
Man

Part Seven: Watching
Over Justice

Part Eight:
Adrasteia

Epilogue

About the
Author

Part One: All in a Day’s
Work

New York Metro, 1
st
March
2060.

Fox Meridian stepped
off the maglev and onto the platform in MarTech’s New York HQ as
she had done many times before. Her stomach turned over once as the
building’s systems noted her arrival and a welcome message
appeared, as had happened every time she had arrived there
previously. The difference this time was that the system was
greeting her as an employee rather than a guest of the MarTech
Group’s owner and chairman.

She had never
liked starting new jobs; starting a new job meant change, upheaval,
and not knowing what the Hell was going on for several days, if not
longer. The Army had been one thing: no one knew what was going on,
but that was exactly what the training staff had wanted. By the
time Fox had moved on to the UNTPP, she had had more of a clue what
to expect, but the procedures had been complicated by it being a
multinational organisation. In comparison, NAPA had been easy, but
she had had to put up with the usual ‘new girl’ issues and there
had been resentment in a few cases because she was sort of famous.
Joining MarTech should have been easy, but Jackson Martins had
somehow managed to avoid telling her much about what she was going
to be doing. Somehow that, more than anything else, had got her
nerves buzzing.

‘We’re to go up
to Conference Room One,’ Kit said, looking as nervous as Fox felt.
Fox was the only person in the station who could see the virtual
image of her personal assistant, which was likely for the best
since the kitsune in the white dress would have probably caused a
stir. For some, the stir would have been caused by the fact that
the Kitsune-592.23 AI assistant was not out on the market yet.
‘Mister Martins will meet us there.’

‘Jackson is
being far too secretive,’ Fox said, keeping her reply to her
thoughts.

‘I’m sure he
has his reasons. You don’t think you should have, perhaps, dressed
up a little?’

Fox flicked her
eyes down at herself before her mind fully engaged. She was wearing
her usual jeans, boots, jacket, and plazkin bodysuit; Jackson had
seen her in that outfit, or one like it, plenty of times before and
never complained. ‘What’s wrong with this? I wear this… a lot. When
I’m on duty anyway.’

‘But you’re not
on duty. You’re starting a new job with Palladium Security
Services, part of the MarTech Group–’

‘And Jackson’s
seen me like this plenty of times before.’

Tripping along
in her high-heeled, white boots, Kit frowned. ‘I suppose.’

‘Do you know
something about this I don’t?’

‘No. It’s just
that we’re going to the room they usually use for board
meetings.’

‘I’m just going
to be a standard, salaried worker, Kit. They don’t introduce people
like me to the Board of Directors.’

‘No, I suppose
not…’

There was an
elevator waiting for her when she arrived at the main bank of
transit tubes near the station and it whisked her upwards smoothly.
It was a long way up; the arcology was not especially atypical of
its class of hyperstructure, being over a kilometre in height and
quite capable of sustaining almost half a million people with
little or no interaction with the outside world. In practice, this
one had far fewer occupants since it held the main offices and
laboratories for MarTech’s research and development division,
MarTech Technologies, and it was the HQ of MarTech Group, the
overall holding company, but it
did
have the company
chairman’s residence up at the top beside a park, and it seemed
that the room Fox had been directed to was near that.

The elevator
opened onto a reception room which seemed to have been put there
specifically for people visiting the building. There was a desk for
a receptionist, though there was no one sitting at it, and a
refreshments cabinet, and a pair of large doors at the far end. Fox
walked up to those, knocked, and walked through. And then she
stopped and realised she probably should have worn different
clothes.

The conference
room was not huge, but it was large enough to seat ten people
fairly comfortably and seemed to be larger since the opposite wall
was transparent and looked out onto the same park Fox was used to
seeing from the window of Jackson’s solarium. The table in the
middle was made of dark wood, real wood, not a synthetic copy, and
the ten chairs around it all looked old and rather comfortable. Fox
figured they had picked the whole lot up from somewhere with
history going back millennia.

It was the
people who gave her pause, however. She recognised the grinning
face of Jackson Martins, of course, thin and pale with a cap of
black hair and a sparkle in his blue eyes. There was also a woman
Fox recognised, and Kit supplied the name as a text tag in case she
had forgotten it: Mariel Hoarsen was the CEO of MarTech Group, an
attractive woman in her middle years who ran a tight ship because
Jackson did not and someone had to. There were three more people
there, two men and a woman, who Fox did not recognise, but
everyone, even Jackson, was dressed more formally than Fox was.

‘Am I in the
right room?’ Fox asked, still holding on to the door.

‘This is the
place,’ Hoarsen replied, a smile touching her lips, ‘and I told
Jackson to explain all of this before you started.’

‘And I knew she
would take a look at the headline and run screaming,’ Jackson
replied, ‘which is why I didn’t tell her.’

Fox closed the
door and narrowed her eyes at Jackson. ‘Tell me what? What have you
got me into?’

‘First, the
introductions,’ Jackson said, still grinning. Fox wondered whether
punching her boss in the mouth on the first day was a sacking
offence. Then again, she hadn’t actually signed anything to say she
was an employee yet either. ‘You know Mariel, of course.’

‘We met once,’
Hoarsen said, stepping forward and holding out a hand.

Fox took it and
shook. ‘That reception after I got out of hospital following
Dallas. We said hello, as I recall, but you’re fairly well known
anyway.’

‘About as well
known as you, thankfully. Jackson gets all the big press and I can
get on with running the business.’

‘Thankfully,’
Jackson put in. ‘This is Garth Eaves. He’s the CEO of
Palladium.’

Fox found
herself shaking hands with a mid-height, fit, thirty-something man
with a handsome face and a trim body. He appeared to have had work
done to improve on nature: she suspected his nose had borne the
brunt of it since it seemed more sculpted than a nose had a right
to, but he also dyed his hair a lighter shade of blonde. Looking
good did not generally harm your chances in management, and the
fairly sharp, blue-green eyes suggested there was a brain backing
up the body. ‘Pleased to meet you, Miss Meridian.’

‘The same,
though I really wasn’t expecting to meet the top management when I
got here.’

‘Technically,
I’m not
the
top manager. I’d imagine you’ll meet our
chairman at some point, but Graves doesn’t leave Chicago that much.
Says he likes the air.’

‘David Graves?
General
David Graves?’

‘I wanted
someone with integrity and a good sense of strategic overview at
the top,’ Jackson said. ‘Garth is an excellent manager and keeps
the company running, and David provides insight on handling the
needs of… well…’

‘A paramilitary
organisation.’ The speaker was the other man and Fox knew from
looking at him that he knew about paramilitary organisations as
well. He was tall and his body showed signs of the same sort of
muscle enhancement the Army had put into her, if a little less of
it. He was also slimmer than your typical Army grunt and she
decided he was probably Air Force before he spoke again. ‘Ryan
Jarvis, Chief Security Officer. I’m ex-military police and I handle
the security operations, so I talk to Graves a fair bit.’

‘You were Air
Force?’ Fox asked. She could see him watching, assessing.

Jarvis smiled.
‘How did you know?’

‘You probably
weren’t Army and I recognise the basic body type. The Navy tends to
use different enhancements.’

‘I think I see
why Jackson thinks you’ll be good at this.’

‘Good at
what?’

‘Last
introduction before we get down to details,’ Jackson interrupted.
‘Alice Vaughn, Chief Management Officer.’

‘Which means I
do the facilities management work,’ Vaughn said, thrusting out a
hand. She was somewhere in her early forties and keeping her figure
well, though her beige suit did nothing for her. She had a slightly
timid look about her face, which featured quite a small nose and a
narrow mouth, vibrantly green eyes, and pale, slightly freckled
skin. The red hair falling to just above her shoulders added to an
impression of Irish ancestry, maybe Scottish.

Fox took the
hand, which squeezed lightly, almost timidly, but held on a
fraction of a second too long. ‘Nice meeting you, Miss Vaughn,’ Fox
told her, wondering why the woman seemed a little flustered.
However, another question was more important. She looked at
Jackson. ‘Going to tell me why I’m meeting all the upper management
of your security company now?’

‘Because,’
Hoarsen said, ‘you should meet your peers.’

Fox opened her
mouth, but Jackson held up his hands in placation before she could
voice her surprise using a few choice expletives. ‘Hear us out.
It’s not quite what you think.’

‘Okay… But I’ve
got no intention of becoming a manager, Jackson.’

‘It’s not as
bad as all that,’ Jarvis said. ‘Even if I haven’t got to punch
anyone in months, I also haven’t been punched.’

Fox gave him a
grunt and Jackson said, ‘Let’s sit down and get some coffee in.
Fox’s brain always has happier thoughts with the addition of
coffee.’

Vaughn had tea,
some English brew which Fox did not recognise, but they sat and Fox
tried not to fidget as a serving robot worked its way around the
table with coffee cups and a jug. ‘What’s he got me into?’ she said
inside her head.

‘I’m quite sure
that Mister Jackson knows what he’s doing,’ Kit responded,
audio-only. ‘He would not present you with a situation which you
would not be happy with once it’s been explained.’

‘I hope not.’
Picking up her cup, Fox took a sip of the very good coffee and
turned her attention pointedly to the man at the head of the
table.

‘And I’d better
get going or Fox will likely throw something at me,’ Jackson said.
‘You know I want you in to handle investigative work?’

‘You said you
didn’t have anyone who specialised in it.’

‘We don’t,’
Jarvis said. ‘My people muddle through, and they do a pretty
reasonable job in some cases, but they aren’t trained in the
techniques and we
need
them trained in security, not being a
cop.’

‘And,’ Jackson
continued, ‘we are going to need both sorts of skill going forward.
Garth?’

Eaves nodded.
‘Analysis of a number of political trends suggests that there could
well be a vote in the next eighteen months regarding the
privatisation of policing in the metro areas. The test will be
later this year. There’s a significant movement to increase local
authority for policing in the protectorates and administrative
regions. NAPA will be moved into a position of enforcing standards,
and local areas will be able to handle police work as they see fit,
so long as they meet the requirements.’

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