Addison King was not aware that he was being watched as he poured his seventh cup of coffee for the day. His mind was elsewhere. Some people get a feeling, you understand, when they are being stalked. There is some kind of extrasensory perception that alerts more fortunate prey. Usually people who attained Addison’s level of power had also developed this particular skill. You have to know if someone is out to get you. It is possible that Mr. King, CEO of Infrasource, was distracted by the merger that was scheduled to take place the following day. It could be that this is why, though his mind was as sharp as his ethics were lax, he did not feel the whisper-quick shift of air in the room as a dark figure approached from behind.
No, the merger was all that occupied his mind in that moment. It was his idea, that. Infrasource would merge with, though “swallow” would be the more appropriate term, two other global companies: Hospitech and Nutretics. Imagine that - Infrasource, the corporation responsible for every building, road, and power supply in the known civilized world, would soon dominate medical care and food supplies as well. If you were a human being living almost anywhere in the year 198 SD, all of your needs would be met by a single source.
Almost anywhere. Nobody living in the grid ever wanted for a single thing. It was a kind of tech-heavy Utopia, though Thomas Moore wouldn’t claim it. A person had unlimited choices coupled with the freedom to choose - within parameters, of course. One did not have carte blanche, yet most people did not notice any form of authority whatsoever. If everyone’s needs are being met, regardless of race, age, religion or gender, you can imagine that the crime rate was startlingly low. Those few who enjoyed disobedience for disobedience’s sake were quietly dealt with and, if possible, rehabilitated.
However, if you lived outside of the civilized grid you were on your own. Not very many chose this life, though some sure as hell did. A small percentage of people who learned about the world outside could not abide the hypocrisy of living in grandeur while others lacked basic provisions. Some were forced into it because they disobeyed one too many times - which is also a kind of choice. Some were born there. No choice in that. Many generations of these outcasts grew up in wastelands which mutated their bodies as well as their humanity. Yet they were human, perhaps more so than the privileged class that remained protected by hermetically sealed walls and plexishields. One needed protection in these times. The air was poison and the water was poison and the only cure for poison was the medicine that flowed freely from the corporations to the people.