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Andrew Dobell Author

The Prometheus Gambit - EBOOK

The Prometheus Gambit - EBOOK

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EBOOK

Book 2 in the New Prometheus, Cyberpunk Action Thriller series.

A desperate mission,
impossible odds,
and the fate of billions in her hands.


For years before she became a cyborg, Frankie dreamed of fighting the corporations. After her recruitment to the Anti-Corporation Taskforce, she might finally get her chance, and free humanity from the grip of the corporations.

Frankie must travel the world, infiltrating the American front-line, the mega cities of the far east and the industrial heartlands of Europe in their covert mission.
But when it comes to protecting their interests, the corporations will go to extreme lengths.

Frankie must fight her way through war zones, virtual worlds, and sabotage if she is going to change the world.

The Prometheus Gambit is a Sci-Fi Techno-Thriller, that’s a must read for fans of Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner, Alita Battle Angel, Cyberpunk 2077, Akira, The Matrix, Robocop and Total Recall.

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2.01

Isaac gazed out of the window as they sped over a bridge crossing the north branch of the Thames. In every direction, the spires of Neo-London stabbed towards the cloudy sky.
Like most politicians, he had two homes, a city centre apartment that kept him close to his work, and a large gated property on the outskirts, well away from the corporations’ influence.
He sat in the back of a black sedan, his driver navigating through the Friday traffic while a bodyguard sat in the front passenger seat.
“So, how did the meeting go?” asked a female voice.
A holographic screen hung in the air before him, the Prime Minister’s head and shoulders displayed upon it, talking to him.
He looked back at her and smiled. “As well as can be expected.”
“Who was there?”
“I had quite the delegation. There were representatives from Psytech, Gabbus, Nobori, Giga Corp, Hard Tech, and more. They can be quite intimidating when they want to be.”
“You don’t know the half of it. But this is why I appointed you. You have resisted the influence of the corporations so far, and you will be a key part of this new initiative against them, but you need to be ready because they will fight every step of the way, and they will fight dirty.”
“I know, I’m quite aware. I’ll be careful. Oh, and by the way, I have Nigel York coming to see me at my home tonight.”
“The Business Secretary? He’s in the pocket of the corporations as well, you know.”
“I know, I’ll be careful. Why do I get the feeling they don’t like my appointment as Foreign Minister?”
“What did you expect?” the Prime Minister asked. “You’re a threat to them. They know how outspoken against the influence of the corporations you’ve been, and they don’t like that you now have a position of power. Anyway, I have to get going, duty calls. Have a great weekend, Isaac.”
“You too, Susan. See you Monday.” The screen flicked off with a wave of his hand. The appointment to Foreign Secretary had been surprising. His outspoken opinions against the corps had always worked against him in the past, and he’d never made it into the cabinet.
When the new PM had called him into her office for a private meeting, he had expected a reprimand. He’d been convinced she was going to tell him to stop with his rhetoric, to stop being so outspoken, but, the opposite had happened.
She had told him that she was putting together a team, a group of ministers, officials and other personnel who would be working against the corporations to lessen the hold and power they had over the government.
And not just in the UK; she had desires to make this global.
Without going into too many details, she’d explained he would be a part of an off-the-books group in positions of influence who she would strategise with. There had also been mention of a task force, a highly trained squad who would basically do the dirty work. He didn’t know any more than that for the time being, but she finished the meeting by offering him the position of Foreign Secretary. Susan had also appointed bodyguards, one of whom was in the car now. Another was at his house too, all because of the threat of the corporations.
Accepting the new appointment, he had left the meeting stunned but elated that he finally had some support from those in a position to do something.
It wouldn’t be easy as the majority of the cabinet were almost certainly beholden to one or more of the corporations and would resist Susan’s plans. But it was a start, and it gave him hope, something he had not felt in a long time.
Leaving the city behind, they drove onto a leafy suburban street with trees and greenery before moving through the front gates of his house.
Having always been good with money, he enjoyed life in a large house that he knew many of his constituents would envy. They pulled into the driveway where a couple of other black cars that he didn’t recognise sat waiting.
He frowned with consternation.
“Are you expecting anyone, sir?” his bodyguard asked.
“Yes, but they’re early, and I thought it would just be one person…” Who was this? More people from the corporations come to bend his ear? This was getting tiresome.
“Wait here, sir,” the bodyguard said. The large man stepped out of the car, looking at these unexpected visitors, his hand on his sidearm.
“Sure,” Isaac said, and waited to see what would happen.
He spotted movement from one of the cars, and a man he recognised stepped out. It was Nigel York, the Business Secretary.
The bodyguard had gone for his gun, but he stopped part way, recognising the man.
“Evening, sir,” he said and leant back into the car and looked at Isaac. “It’s your evening appointment, sir.”
“Thanks, Cole,” Isaac replied and opened his door. Getting out, he straightened his suit. Ahead, he saw his wife open the front door of the house. Ignoring Nigel for the moment, he approached the house, spotting her female bodyguard behind her.
“Hi, honey,” she said as he came close. “I asked them to wait out here. Hope that’s okay?”
“Of course,” Isaac answered and gave his wife a kiss on the cheek. He wasn’t surprised, Clare wouldn’t want them in the house while she was getting the kids ready for bed. Walking over to the Business Secretary, he offered his hand. “Good to see you, Nigel. I hope you weren’t waiting too long?”
“No, not too long, don’t worry. I know you’re a busy man now. How are you finding the new appointment?” Nigel asked. Isaac spotted the implication that he’d not been a busy man before but ignored it.
Nigel was a tall, thin man, wearing a grey suit. He had mousey-coloured hair and a few obvious implants. The main one being his left eye, which had been replaced with a circular lens set into a metal housing. Seams and lines running over high-quality synth-skin on his hands marked them as artificial too.
Cybernetics were a normal, everyday part of the world, but some prosthetics still had the potential to give kids nightmares.
Isaac and his wife had resisted the more visible augmentations and only had nanobots and a cyber brain. But he had a love-hate relationship with them too. He’d prefer to be without any links to the corporations that he opposed, but the nano were in him from birth, just like everyone else.
If a woman had nanobots within her when she got pregnant, she would automatically pass them onto her unborn child, locking them into the endless cycle of paying for the protection the nano offered. It was a neat little trick of the corporations, along with the nanobots self-replicating, self-repairing, and upgrading abilities. He had to admit, the technology within them was astounding, but it was also troubling.
All of which was no doubt why Nigel was here.
“I’m enjoying it, to be honest. I like a challenge, and I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for giving me this chance.”
“Of course. Well, is there somewhere we can go to talk?”
“Yes, if you’d like to follow me to my office?” he said, noticing a couple of guys stepping out of the second car who looked like typical security guards.
“Don’t worry about them. They’re for my protection. I’m sure you don’t mind if they stay close?” Nigel said.
“Not at all,” Isaac said and turned towards the front door. He nodded at Cole, who followed him in. Clare was already inside, with the second bodyguard as he led Nigel to the right, into his office.
Walking to the door, he let Nigel in before turning to Cole and the two guards that Nigel had brought. “You’re happy out here?”
“Of course, sir,” Cole replied.
The other two looked at Nigel, who nodded, and they seemed to relax. This level of protection bemused him but wasn’t out of character for the Business Secretary. Having never really liked him, he wasn’t looking forward to this meeting at all.
Isaac closed the door and offered Nigel a seat. Sitting on the other side of his desk, Isaac reached down and pulled out a bottle of scotch that he had ready for such meetings.
“Would you care for a drink?”
“That would be most kind, thank you,” Nigel replied, taking the glass from Isaac once he’d poured a generous helping.
“So, what brings you out here to meet with me?”
“Straight down to business, then?” the Business Secretary asked.
“Nigel, let’s be honest, shall we? While I appreciate you coming out here, this meeting could have been held in Westminster. I’m not against doing some work at home of course, but I would prefer to spend my time with my family at the weekend. So, please excuse my brevity, I’m just keen to put some casual clothes on and see my kids.”
“I understand,” he said. “The reason for my visit, then, Mr Hughes, is that you have a lot of very powerful people more than a little concerned. You have always been very outspoken against the corporations, and your appointment to Foreign Secretary is a big promotion.”
Nigel sighed, taking a deep breath. “The corporations are just trying to go about their business. They want to help people, to save lives through their nano technology. But when people like you are out there spreading lies about them, that’s not good PR. This promotion could be seen as the PM legitimising your views. Understandably, this is a worry. I’m sure you can see their point of view?”
“So, they sent you to try and get me to play nice?” Isaac asked.
“In my role as Secretary of State for Business, it is my job to work closely with the corporations and businesses that trade in the UK, and as a fellow member of the cabinet, they expressed their worries to me and asked that I speak to you on their behalf.”
“Is that right?”
“They only want to help. They want to work with you and help you. They have been invaluable to governments on both sides of the political divide for decades now. If you work with them, rather than against them, I’m sure you will find they can be excellent business partners.”
“What are they paying you, Nigel? Hmm? Do they have something on you? What are they blackmailing you with?”
“Wha… I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”
“Come on, don’t play coy, I’m not in the mood for this tonight. I’ve been meeting with delegates from the corporations all day, and I will tell you what I told them. I’m just not interested in whatever they have to offer. I will do my job to the best of my ability, based on my own moral code, and I will not be compromised by a global conglomerate.”
Nigel stared at him and sighed. “I was really hoping that you would see things from their perspective. You have to understand, without them, it’s likely that there wouldn’t be a human race. We might very well have become extinct by now, you understand?”
Isaac held his hands up for a moment. “I understand what they did for us in humanity’s darkest hour. The work they did on Nano Technology to combat disease is incredible. As you say, it is very likely that they did, in fact, save humanity, and, for that, I’m grateful. But they went too far. They saw an opportunity for power, and they went for it.”
“They’re businesses operating in a capitalist society. They’ve only done what any other business would do in that situation. They maximised their profits to grow their business.”
“That’s funny. So, this is growing their business? Owning the government is growing their business? Bribing public officials is growing their business? Killing anyone who stands in their way is growing their business? That’s a pretty warped view, Nigel.”
“Killing people? What are you talking about? These are conspiracy theories and nothing more. Look, they just want to be treated fairly and for you to allow them to continue their business interests without interference. That’s all.”
“They want me to allow them to continue forcing people to live in the slums of the Undercity because they can’t pay their nano insurance? They want me to let them continue to turn off the nanobots of those who can’t pay, meaning they get typhoid or whatever is in those slums because they no longer have protection? And let’s not even get started on the bribery of ministers or judges or the police.”
“Isaac. I see this is not going to go how I had hoped. So, I am sorry, but you must understand, it’s only business, and you brought this on yourself.”
“More idle threats is it?”
“There’s nothing idle about them.”
“What do you mean?” Isaac asked when he suddenly heard the sounds of a struggle outside the door. Bodies thudded. There was a loud bang and Cole came flying through the door. He landed awkwardly, followed by the two bodyguards that Nigel had brought with him, both of whom had drawn guns. One aimed at Isaac.
Shocked at the unfolding scene, he raised his hands, watching the gunman as he did his best not to act in a threatening manner.
“Now, let’s not get over-excited here?” Isaac suggested, his voice shaking in fear. “There’s no need for violence.”
Nigel stepped forward. “Really? And you were just about to change your mind, were you? I doubt it. But now look, now I have your complete attention.”
“This is ridiculous, Nigel. What do you hope to achieve?”
“Compliance, Isaac, compliance,” he said with a smile that made Isaac’s stomach turn.
Stepping to one side, Nigel directed his attention through the door, into the hall, where four more mercenaries held his wife and two children hostage at gunpoint. His wife’s bodyguard lay on the floor, motionless in a pool of blood.
Isaac’s stomach dropped as he saw the pure terror on the faces of his family.
“Nigel, please,” Isaac pleaded. “There’s no need for this. You don’t need to do this. Come on, you have kids of your own, how can you…”
“What you need to do, Isaac, what you need to concentrate on, is what’s more important. That’s all. You need to think hard. But don’t take too long over it, because these guys can get a little twitchy sometimes.” He laughed. “You need to weigh up the options, Isaac. Balance the books, and make a choice.”
“Not one minute ago, you said the stories of the corporations killing people were lies,” Isaac said, playing for time as he desperately scrambled for any kind of idea that might help him. He felt hot and uncomfortable, and sweat was starting to bead on his skin.
“So, I lied. I’m a politician. It’s what we do, in case you weren’t aware.”
“Oh, I was well aware,” he said, his eye’s glancing about the room, looking for anything that might help him. Cole was still on the floor. Alive and looking up at the man, pointing a gun at him, but it didn’t look like he could do much from there.
The Business Secretary’s second bodyguard continued to stare at Isaac over the barrel of his gun, watching him closely while Nigel continued to look smug.
Scanning his desk, he hunted for something, anything that might help him get out of this predicament, but he was at a loss.
“Daddy? Daddy, I’m scared,” his young son said, clinging onto Clare’s leg in terror. Hearing that little voice broke his heart. He desperately wanted to resist, to stay true to his beliefs and never submit to these corporate giants, but how could he when they were prepared to go to these lengths?
He felt powerless, utterly powerless.
“Listen to your son, Isaac. Listen to the innocence that I can still hear in his voice. Do you want to take that away from him? Do you want to leave him without his parents? I’m sure one of the corporations would take him in, raise him, augment him and make him into a productive part of their organisation.”
“Damn you, Nigel! This is sick. How can you do this? You’re not giving me a choice here, are you?”
“Oh, you noticed. Wonderful. But, you’re wrong, you do have a choice. Of course, you do. But the repercussions of that choice should be crystal clear by now. So, like I said, before you tried to play for time, you need to make that choice. You need to think about what’s best for you and your family. So, think carefully, Isaac, think…”
Glass shattered. The bodyguards in the room dropped to the floor as blood exploded from their heads.
“What…?” Nigel blurted out in surprise.
Isaac’s wife yelled in shock.
Half a second later, another window smashed. Something crashed through it and landed on the floor. It rolled and came to a kneeling position.
It was a woman in black, pointing a gun at the Business Secretary.
“I wouldn’t move if I were you,” she said.
Nigel’s hands were already up. He looked shocked.
Cole still lay on the floor, his mouth open in surprise.
“Who the hell…?” Isaac said. Movement caught his eye. The mercenaries were dragging his family up the stairs into the house. “Damnit, they’re taking my wife and kids.”