Someone once called it “The Government’s Escape Rocket”. The glass tower of St Mary’s Axe had twisted its way up the sky, green and blue glass in a double helix of corporate DNA. These days the glass was broken and shattered, littering the streets, with shards still falling on the armoured umbrellas. The sensible folk stayed well away, in their guarded enclaves up West.
But some people still came here, ready to trading something someone wanted for something of value.
This time it was blood diamonds, soaked in the blood of the millions of victims of ethnic struggles in central Africa. They were illegal to trade in any civilised country – which why this deal was going down in the cut-throat streets of the City of London. You could buy anything here, from a few euros worth of badly-cut charlie, to the soul of the CEO of one of the Global 2000. A handful of illegal diamonds in exchange for a thimbleful of extremely illegal nanotech was just another deal for the alexes in their white socks. There wasn’t much else for them to do now that the smart money had moved to Bratislava and the Shenzen Autonomous Zone.
“Pigeon array in place?”
Three drab birds flapped their way from one tree to another. The cameras behind their beady little eyes ran through yet another set of diagnostic software. Overhead a pair of seagulls circled, the radar in their bellies watching every movement, ready to alert a high-resolution peregrine falcon stationed halfway up a decaying office block in the middle of Minories.
A Porsche SUV rolled down Aldwych. Its dark armoured windows pretended to hide secrets, secrets that expected the world to be kept in the dark. This time we were going to illuminate them. As it passed just another white Transit van, one of my men pressed a button.
No explosion – at least not visibly. The van’s sensor array sprung into electronic life, bathing the SUV in terawave radiation. From my chair in the boarded up shop, bathed in the blue glow of OLED screens, I heard the hum of the disc array, as the sensors all along the street began to flood our systems with data.
“Three men. Two armed. Probably with H&K ceramic machine pistols.”
“I get a couple of steel attaché cases.”
“Refine the data on those.”
“Looks like someone is trying to run interference. Literally. There’s a Faraday cage in their hooked up to a radio. All I’m getting is some pirate station’s take on East London bangla rap. Good beat, too. I’m grabbing MP3s. But that’s all I’m going to get.”
“Shall we go for neutrino scan?”
“Anyone want to authorise the chit for it? We’ve got the budget.”
“I’ll sign – just fire off the bugger.”
The lights brightened for a second or two while the operations team took the neutrino generator’s capacitors off-line. Somewhere inside a grey box magnetic fields began to wring a small star out of the zero point field. The star wasn’t there for long - just for a nanosecond. It was enough time to collimate a neutrino-beam and to fire it through the cases.
“Any chance of a geographic?”
“The crystalline scatter looks like Ivory Coast. I could refine the impurities data to tell you just which drift, but I think we’ve got enough to go on here.”
“Pigeon shit ‘em?”
My charges were ready, fully loaded with the prerequisites. Three cups of corn this morning, and a nip of exlax. I’d turned off a couple of reflexes, before letting them into the sky. I may be just a Pigeon Handler in the Met’s Technology Control Squad, but I know better than to leave myself with a cage to clean…
I sent the first instruction, and the birds flocked out of the trees, drawing along a couple of naturals that must have wondered where the cat was.
I do know where this going, and some of the changes I need to make to what I've written so far...