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Project Looking Glass By Mark Anthony Tierno Characters: 9865

Updated: 2018-04-10 12:02


Author's Note:

The Atomic Horrors and Great Quakes of the late Twentieth Century combined with the Great Pollution Waves of the Early Twenty First produced a tired and dirty world badly in need of a new work-force. Thus were born the genetic up-lifts of the early Twenty-First Century, as species after species was uplifted into sentience to stand alongside Man in his quest for dominance and greed over an already ravaged world. It is in this setting that the following tale takes place...

***

It was one of those days that you read about; fog so thick you could cut it with a knife. I was practicing my hook-shot with the waist-can and in walked this doll. She sauntered in with that sophisticated air that's usually reserved for royalty. She was five-and-a-half feet of the best-

Slam!

I should probably give up these cheap detective novels but it can get so boring being a class two InterSpec inspector when there's nothing to investigate. Not when nobody cares about the Interspecies Council in the first place (for history buffs who have been under a rock for the past few decades, InterSpec replaced Interpol when the Council formed and it gained all the popularity of the old U.N.- and we all know what happened to that bunch).

Intercom buzz.

"Yes, Miss Calico?"

"A Mister Smith here to see you."

"You're kidding?!"

There's actually someone with a cliche name like that?

"He's waiting sir."

Sigh, "Send him in."

I chucked the book in the trashcan.

My secretary opened the door to let him in. She's a cat after her name- with the fur in all the right places (hey, I'm not prejudice; as long as it's a good looking female, with the right kind of hole between the- ).

"Mr. Smith, sir."

I daydream too much.

In walks this balding accountant-type in a beat-up pair of brown flared pants (didn't those go out of style last century) and a dirty-white shirt with a rather bleak-looking polka-dot tie done up more as a noose than anything else.

The noose-wearer furtively came in and sat down, looking around nervously. I began thinking that maybe I shouldn't have thrown the book away.

"Inspector Flatfoot?"

"That's Flaatphut."

With a name like mine, I was born for this occupation.

"Yes. Well, I... I may have something that needs investigation."

"That's what we're here for."

Yawn.

"Well, " hard swallow, "there's some odd happenings where I work."

Isn't there always?

"Such as?"

He paused, wiped his brow, and said, "I think that my co-worker has been murdered."

"Homicide's down the hall."

"He's been missing for three days..., " he went on quickly.

"We don't handle missing persons."

I began to get up to retrieve my book.

"He was investigating some misappropriations of grants and odd personnel reshuffling."

I sat back down; might as well hear this out (it's not like I'm busy or anything).

"What company do you work for?"

"I'm Senior Accountant for Multinational Unified Technologies."

That got my attention.

"Is this the same M.U.T. that grosses 80 billion or so a year- that MUT?"

"That's the admitted amount, but- yes."

"And you're the Senior accountant?"

"Yes."

My day just took an upward turn.

I sat back in my chair, "Go on."

He swallowed and began his soliloquy.

"Well, my name is Dave Kaver. My partner began finding discrepancies in some computer balance sheets, so he began to investigate. In the next few weeks I saw less and less of him until, finally, he came in looking scared. He said that he'd found out something big and had to leave. That was the last that I ever saw of him."

First obvious question, "And what convinces you of his death?"

He took something out of a shirt pocket and put it on my desk.

"I found this in my mail drop. It's his. I think it was meant as a threat."

It was a pacemaker; the implanted kind. I could tell that it had been used. There's only one way that you remove these things, and I don't think that anesthetics were used. Some threat.

I leaned forward, "Did he leave any notes or files?"

He looked around, got up, went halfway to the door, and said, "He found that all the discrepancies occurred in connection with Project Looking Glass."

He went to the door, opened it, and turned around again, "He also referred to an Operation Sunburn, " and then he practically ran out the door.

I knew better than to chase him; he'd probably just have a coronary anyhow, and I knew where to find him. So, I calmly sat back, opened up my top right hand drawer, pressed the release button, and watched as my computer, ICy, popped up from the center of my desk, the surface flipping up into a holo-screen and the senso-pad keyboard coming up from the center. ICy wasn't exactly government issue; I smuggle him with me to every new office. He's made of pieces of this and that, government left-overs, and such, and only about a coupl

e terabytes of memory, but he's mine and I like him.

Did I mention my hardware hobby? Not just software, like everyone else and their grandmother, but actual hardware! You just can't-

Sorry; I talk too much sometimes when I get on this subject.

"You get all that ICy?"

His head materialized in front of the holo-screen. He had on a blue mohawk today.

"I think he's a paranoid Loon but I don't suppose that gets us anywhere."

"No, especially if the Federated Bird People hears what you said about Loons."

"Well, I do have some info if you're interested."

"Shoot."

Bang! sounded from the screen.

You get used to those kind of responses from Icy. Sort of.

"His partner is on record as being transferred out three days ago. Now ask me where."

"Okay, I'll bite."

"Nome Alaska, as a Janitorial Engineer."

"How much you want to bet that he's being swept up instead of doing the sweeping. Well, what about our friend with the poor taste in clothing."

"He's legit. But he's down for a transfer to Alaska tomorrow."

"Whoops! I better get to him." I grabbed for my coat. "See what you can get me on MUT and any connections with Project Looking Glass. I'll be back after lunch."

"Whoo-kay."

"And dump the mohawk."

The head on the screen gave me the raspberries as I left the room.

Project Looking Glass. After certain terrorist parts of the Middle East got turned into one vast glassy plain by certain super-powers (both sides were getting tired of them all), someone got an idea. A few measurements later it was determined that with some large scale polishing here and there that the focal point of Iran, et al, would be someplace up in orbit. So, a bit of work and a few satellites later, and the sunlight coming off of the plain is focused onto a large geo-stable set of orbiting reflectors that aim the light at some special set of thermionic solar panels or some such. During the night, stored energy is beamed back down and- Viola, that's how major parts of Africa and Europe get a sizable portion of their energy.

***

"I'm sorry, but we don't have a Mister Dave Kaver here at this office. He was transferred away about six months ago. Our records are quite clear on this matter."

The secretary was a rather stiff-lipped six-foot stork, with this way of looking down her beak at you that made you seem about the size of a muskrat. I was in the front office of the MUT building in the New York Metroplex area. It's on the top level of the 'Plex, exposed to the sunlight and everything (well, what there is of it). The front office was big and plush and a bit gaudy, done up with pictures of some of its various holdings and projects, mirrors, and other such. The place also had security cameras everywhere you looked, monitoring everything. I had come from my office to snoop, using my InterSpec ID to get in, and warn Mr. Kaver, but was a bit too late apparently.

"Mmm. Well, do you think I could see his old office. I lent something to him, you see, and need to see if he left it there."

"I'm sorry, but his office has been thoroughly cleaned out. Good day sir."

"Well, thank-you anyway, " I said as I casually slipped a tap-pad on the side of the desk.

I left through the large front double doors, doormen and guards on either side of it watching me, got into my car, set the elevation at 500 feet, and put it on hover. I then popped open the remote for ICy.

"Well pal, what're you getting on the tap?"

The voice came over the remote, "Well, they've reported you to internal security, are running a check on you, and there's radar impulses bouncing off of your car right now on a private use frequency."

"I suppose that I ought to move it then."

"Serves you right. You ought to see my new crew-cut."

"You got the address for Kaver?"

"Yup."

"Okay. Feed it into my autopilot and see about getting into the MUT cyberspace about Operation Sunburn."

"You're kidding! Their system could spit me out like a cuizinart."

"Whine, whine."

"Okay, okay. I hear and obey sa-heeb."

With that, I set the autopilot and got on my way. I also turned on my traffic radar screen and activated the anti-radar field.

About five minutes into my trip, I noticed a blip about five minutes behind me that had been there since I'd left.

"We appear to have grown a tail, " I muttered half to myself.

I began messing around with some dashboard controls. As I moved, the blip moved. So, I thought it was about time to get rough.

I flew Tango Two (my car) down low, looking for the right kind of access tunnel with Tango's scanners. I needed a specific type for what I had in mind. Concrete everywhere. Where are all those super-steel tunnels when you need them?

The blip began to close.

"They know I'm onto them. Okay."

I moved a bit faster in response; the blip closed to three miles; it must have something good under its hood.

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