Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

Telemada Centre is pretty on a New Year evening. The displays in the shop fronts are outshone by the Christmas lights. I watched on live AV as Veleria Diesel turned them on. Seemed right that her fight for the rights of the poor was finally getting recognised.

The transparent escalators are the tourist feature: Dubbed ‘Stairway to Heaven’, they ascend nine storeys from the entrance plaza up to the restaurant tier. People who want to do anything as ordinary as shopping can use the lifts.

I am on it now. The sensation is eerie, provided by some retasked military stealth technology. Ahead of me Haddad is oblivious to his nemesis standing quietly watching the view from three metres behind him. There’s no hurry. He’s going to a very exclusive restaurant with his latest nanodoll. A little harsh as the young lady is actually an undercover Narcotics agent, but the role she has did necessitate selection by her proximity to looking like a porn star.

He’s on the phone to his legal team, who are informing him that his appeal has been rejected and he has twenty-four hours to present himself at any law-enforcement office for last will and demise.

He finishes the call and laughs out loud, commenting loudly to his bodyguards that if they think he’s going to step up for death, they are mistaken. Then he orders them to prepare his airliner and transfer his remaining funds to Grenada. He will leave for the airport after lunch. The exercise of unthinking arrogance is almost artistic in its nonchalance.

We arrive at the top tier and he wanders into the restaurant. I walk over to the bar and order absinthe over sake with a twist of speed, a cocktail colloquially referred to as ‘Emerald Seppuku’. Haddad notices that. He nods to me, the respect of a hard-living man acknowledging conspicuous excess in another. My n-tech reduces the drink to the danger level of water, but he doesn’t know and that’s the idea.

Everybody has n-tech of varying types from the age of six months. The health of the world has improved beyond measure with every medical procedure reduced to micro surgery with a few million surgeons already on board. Just lie down, let the master surgeon guide your n-tech and you’re fixed. Your ID is onboard as well, so the amputational horrors of implanted chip theft are a thing of the past.

A better society. As n-tech can only interface from under three metres, the big-brother worry is removed as well. Utopians are already hailing the new age. Not quite. Dangerous and greedy people still take advantage of society. In a landmark and completely secret agreement, my agency appeared.

Haddad is seated and I have an Emerald Seppuku delivered to him. He sips it appreciatively and gestures me over. I walk over and combine flattery with macho humour. I walk away with his card. I am sitting at the bar when he rises and heads for the toilets as the nephritic doubler instruction resolves. Minutes later the bodyguards get frantic and I am just leaving when the paramedics arrive. Too late: Nbola is always fatal. For some reason all of the n-tech in a person just goes berserk, becoming several million tiny blades. A paralysed, agonising ninety seconds as you are pureed from the inside out.

Nbola is very rare and a cure is being sought. It is also fictional. The more enlightened the society, the more insidious and decisive the means of protecting it need to be. I am a Surgeon-General. Never need me to operate on you.


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