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At the Hughes Procreation Center Athena, mysterious and inexplicably beautiful, prepares to commit an unspeakable crime. Inside, Abigail Zipper prepares to give birth, watched by her antsy husband, Ed. Abigail wishes Jake Moonrath could be there to keep Ed company. Meanwhile in Beverley Hills, Jake himself finds his efforts to reach Hughes in a hurry stymied by a medical officer watching a gladiator holo he’s set up on the roof of the cab.
It’s not looking good for Ed, Abigail and the new baby.
Across the road from the Hughes Procreation Center, the blonde woman in the Feeding Frenzy summoned an audio connection on her bracelet and began to talk. The communications link thus established was, by dint of superior processing power, twenty billion times more secure than anything the US government’s security agencies were capable of decrypting. But the organisation she worked for was not short of money; and what was left of the US government had just about given up trying.
‘I am ready,’ she said. ‘Time is 11.45.’
‘Good.’ A man’s voice. ‘Latest figures show over ten thousand inside.’
There was a silence.
‘Ten thousand about the minimum we need, actually,’ the woman said.
Jake’s repossession of ‘Time-expired Jennifer’s stolen lifetime ends in disaster as Franco Ardizzione does something utterly unexpected live on-air with “an ancient handgun – a primitive thing made to fire metal bullets”. Now Jake really has a problem.
‘It’s my job to return stolen Biotime to its owners.’ If only he could tell her about his parents. But she wouldn’t understand. Jake turned to Franco. ‘How the hell do you know about me?’
Suddenly, the little man’s composure cracked. ‘All I know is, you’re the meanest double-crossing bastard I ever set eyes on and… ‘ he slumped to his knees on the Outlive-U. ‘Don’t put me under, man, I’ll do anything, I got ‘Time. Please? I don’t want to wake up 15 years older.’
Jake stepped back. The mood-swing was wrong. ‘Away from the bed, Franco.’
‘I beg you.’ Franco’s voice had dwindled to a whine. His hand was under the bed.
‘Stand up now. Last warning – ‘
While the ominous Athena polishes off a nourishing energy drink in the Feeding Frenzy in Santa Monica, Biotime agent Jake Moonrath is in Beverley Hills, face to face with ‘Time-expired Jennifer – the woman whose lifetime he has come to repossess. Why is her boyfriend, Franco Ardizzione, so cool when he looks down the muzzle of a Big Fright? Jake is uneasy. But not as uneasy as ‘Time-expired Jennifer.
A groan came from the next room. Jake slowly raised the Big Fright. Disabler: ready. The old men in Washington had been procrastinating over changing the Criminal Justice Act for decades. Hands: steady. So the guys on the front line had to creep around risking their lives (valuable) and those of their targets (value actuarially assessed) to preserve someone’s precious civil liberties. Civil liabilities, more like. Taking two steps back, Jake launched himself into the bedroom.
Jake had only one thought as he rolled twice across the floor, leapt to his feet, and waved his Big Fright at the two very naked people on the bed. He should have known what the targets were doing. His bracelet could tell. But the Biotime-dependent veterans on the Hill didn’t allow Enforcement Officers to exploit the potential of the equipment, did they? So Jake hadn’t known that ‘Time-expired Jennifer and Franco Ardizzione were making love. If you could call it that.
Jennifer was old. (more…)
In Beverley Hills, Jake Moonrath’s pulse pounds as he prepares to re-possess the stolen lifetime of ‘Time-expired Jennifer, biological and chronological age both 54. He is puzzled that her boyfriend, Franco Ardizzione, has a discrepancy of fully 13 years between his biological age – 18 – and his chronological age of 31. That much Biotime would require serious money. Is Franco really nothing but a small-time con-man?
Meanwhile, Athena appears outside the Hughes Procreation Center. She, truly, is mistress of her own destiny.
Across the road from the Hughes perimeter fence, a blonde woman stood outside the Feeding Frenzy milk bar, inspecting her face in the mirror of a scratched, pale-blue powder compact. It was a bright, clear morning, and few people were about. No-one saw that the woman wore no powder, or indeed make-up of any kind; her face was perfect already. When the breeze sent a strand of her hair curling up into the cool moist air she frowned as if troubled by some personal anxiety and snapped the compact shut.
It was nearly time.
Long ago, in another existence, the woman had been trained to ask little, and to give everything. It did not trouble her that only one person would ever know the greatness of what she was about to achieve. It was enough to know that she, Athena, was mistress of her own destiny. She entered the Feeding Frenzy.
Here is the twenty-fifth droplet of my novel Biotime.
As Jake Moonrath cautiously approaches the termination contract he is seeking to enforce, his friend and fellow Home Security Bureau Informal agent Ed Zipper is preparing for the end of life as he knows it. He’s about to become a father. Is that why he’s feeling so uneasy? Or can he sense an even greater catastrophe is about to happen?
In the following episode, Athena will enter his life. But not in a good way.
Ed Zipper was delighted with the birthing room at the Hughes Procreation Center. A picture window framed a band of glittering ocean above a row of palm trees. The ceiling was awash with sea-reflected light. Ed forced a smile as Abigail settled back amidst the crisp white sheets, her hands clasped over her taut belly. He could hear music drifting in from the cafés along Santa Monica Beach.
Why did he feel so nervous? (more…)
Here is the twenty-fourth droplet of my novel Biotime. Jake Moonrath arrives in Beverley hills and finds a Neon-Glo blue Nagasaki commemoration stood in the driveway of 137 South Clark. We begin to learn more about how the Central Authority of the United States – and its elite secret agency, the Home Security Bureau – enforce the law.
Jake felt the Cheyenne slow for the Beverley Hills turn-off. The streets grew wider. Houses retreated beyond swathes of shrubs and lawns. Upmarket malls stretched for block after block.
It felt safe and prosperous. Yet according to Rose, this was all about to come crashing down.
The pulse tracker on his bracelet was red. His chest tightened as he imagined Jennifer and her boyfriend waiting to ambush him. He turned to face the back of the car and closed his eyes. Time for calm. Time to remind himself why he knew more about Biotime than Rose could ever imagine.