Author: Lance J. Mushung

I tightened my grip on my black mini tote and stepped out of the elevator on the top floor of Parasol Corporation’s headquarters. The CEO, Kal Shakti, used the entire floor for his office.

A few steps brought me to a human receptionist with trendy long blue hair like mine. She said, “Ms. Eriksson, Mr. Shakti will see you immediately.”

A portion of a mirrored wall slid open and she motioned me toward Shakti. He was wearing his trademark white turban and sitting behind a walnut-colored desk on the far side of the floor.

The wall closed behind me as I crossed an expanse of sandy colored carpet to him. He’d set the window glass surrounding him to privacy mode. That deprived us of a panoramic view of Geneva, but suited my purpose.

When I stopped in front of him, he pointed at the wood guest chairs without looking up from a screen built into the desk. I didn’t want to think about smoothing my skirt under me, so I perched on the edge of one.

He looked up. “So, Elsa, why do you want to see me?”

“It’s sensitive.” I took a surveillance detector out of my tote. It signaled clean.

“We’re alone. My system checks continuously for any spying and recording.”

I put the detector back in my tote. “I figured, but better safe than sorry. I know what you did on Geras.”

His eyebrows rose, but only for a moment. “What are you talking about?”

“Like most, I figured pirates destroyed our research site. But then the Virgo Cartel told me you’d contracted with it to destroy the comm tech of the long-gone species there. Was comm using quantum entanglement such a big threat to your wealth?”

He nodded. “Parasol manufactures huge numbers of courier drones for interstellar messaging. The tech you found would soon make us like the proverbial buggy whip manufacturers at the beginning of the automobile age.”

“It turns out Virgo’s raiders collected what we’d found before wiping out the site and most of my team. I’ve been developing the tech for the cartel since being told about you. I can now entangle sets of nanoswitches, resulting in each being in the position of the one last changed.”

He sighed. “So, what will it take to suppress the tech?”

“I entangled four of the special nanoswitches used in replacement hearts and Virgo got three of them into the one put into you last month.” I pulled a black fob with a single covered button out of my tote. “The fourth is in this remote. When the nanoswitch in it opens, your heart stops. It’ll look like an act of God. I could have pressed the button from anywhere in the galaxy, but wanted to see your face.”

Singh sputtered as I flipped open the cover and pushed the button. An astonished look flashed over his face, after which his head fell forward to hit the edge of his desk with a thump.

I muttered, “Enjoy hell,” before putting a shocked expression on my face and running back to the receptionist while screaming for help.