Vera Straker tensely strode the grand hall of Kryos Industries’ Progenitor base. Her first time in the new wing of the compound since its completion. The sleek, uniformly concave corridors rose high and bright, creamy off-white, save the small brackish dots tucked within the thin, smooth, soaring crenellations; the alcoves of the ever-present sensor system; Kryos’ unliving eyes and ears. The ceiling light was of such intensity, the entrant was compelled to adjust the opacity of her thin, flexile glasses to combat the glare.
When she reached the end of the hall, she paused and heard the patter of feet on padded ground and the clacking of a baseball bat.
She passed through the threshold to the sport’s arena, which sprawled similarly sleek and monochrome and radiant as the corridor which lead to it and entered the filled-out field. She paused beside the right-hand coach-box and spotted Kryos in the batter’s position, he alone, shorn of helm. Pale and lithe. Dressed like all else upon the station in the wetsuit and syn-chitin exoskeleton company policy mandated. His form exuding languid focus. His keen amber eyes secured upon the thrower’s wind-up.
The pitcher stood athwart the soft synthetic mound within the diamond and cocked back his arm and paused before releasing the small, nobbly, albescent sphere, ivory and pitch as all else within, in a burst of blinding speed. The batter struck true and watched the ball sail over the outfield, past a great blue whale, visible through the translucent, floor-to-ceiling window-panes of the undersea station.
Before the baseball could collide with the padded walls of the interior arena, a catcher drone snatched it from the air and made way to the pitcher.
Eidos Kryos observed his victory placidly and turned, spotting Vera at the edge of the field. A young catcher moved to stand dutifully beside him. Kryos looked upon the youth pleasantly, ruffled the boy’s hair and moved off past the foul line, folding his arms behind his back, still holding the bat, horizontal to spine, and strode to Straker as the numerous floating drones which had formerly paced the outfield slowly congregated around him like a swarm of complaisant and ersatz insects.
“Good form, sir.” The woman replied with restrained adoration, bowing low and cordially, hands folded before her waist, eyes wide and to the ground.
“Rise, Director Vera, and observe more than just my form,” he gestured to the young men upon the field where all stood at attention, hands behind their backs, eyes fixed straight ahead, waiting upon Kryos’ word to continue or disperse. “Grunsel of our lodge.”
Vera surveyed the synthetic-chitin-clad players, impressed by their staid devotion to protocol.
“They’re striking. But, why baseball, sir? Why not combat sports; boxing, for instance?”
“Boxing would bolster their martial prowess but too swiftly kindles animosity and ill establishes those delicate and synergetic bonds of trust, so pertinent to our endeavour. Team sport is the common ground upon which disparate spirits may walk, doubly in contest and unison, whilst yet aiding in the development of those sturdy faculties so desperately needed for the tribulations to come. But you came with news.”
“Yes. Its about the grid attack. The saboteurs have been secured.”
“All detected and known to our database. A secondary sweep was made upon my command.”
“And what of the perpetrators connections?”
“Members of Aestival. As you had predicted.”
“Unfortunate. So many have died already. Fifty lives extinguished during the grid attack. Many more, forever altered. Reduced. And only so that the murderers themselves might die. What of my daughter?”
The director’s visage distorted with pride.
“I found her. I contacted a tracker. He has identified her along the CAV-way. She’ll be in his custody shortly.”
“If your tracker proves sufficient.”
“Yes. Rest assured, he is skilled. He is also poor. Desperate.”
“What did you offer?”
Kryos looked up to the ceiling, as if observing some invisible object of extraordinary value.
“My heir’s savior shall have residency and more besides. What of her captors?”
“Vangr and Haldeck covered their tracks with considerable acuity. I’m still searching.”
Kryos placed a hand firmly, yet gently upon the director’s shoulder.
“You have done well. Your initiative and commitment are truly commendable.”
Vera smiled and bowed her head.
“Thank you, sir.”
He tightened his grip, causing the woman to wince as the drones pressed around her, inches from her body, humming intensely.
“Deliver her to me, personally.”
Eyes to the ground, the woman responded breathlessly.
“It will be done. Sir.”