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Towers by Isla Molina Book

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Towers by Isla Molina Book Read Online And Epub File Download


Overview: An abrupt twist. An abducted friend. A new quest.

In the year 2083, seven city-states have consolidated power over a resource-poor world through the deployment of the nanotech surveillance cloud Chroma. In Philadelphia, even as she researches the inner workings of the Sainz family’s power, gutsy, solitary Dez Lighthorse is launched into their infighting.

But when her best friend disappears, Dez plunges headlong in dangerous pursuit. From the pristine world of the Towers to the blazing deserts of the Middle East and the brewing war with the Family of Fayed, Dez must learn to rely on her brains and her courage.

The perilous quest is aided by a mysterious foreigner and watched over by the quirky Mystic.

Together, the unlikely team may prove unstoppable.


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Towers by Isla Molina Book Read Online Chapter One


Like water to a fish, the purity of the air in the Towers went unnoticed by the residents. As did the imperceptible hum of the filters deep within the walls.


Desdemona Lightfoot wondered what else the Citizens took for granted. In their shabby homes in the Margins, Tillers would set lemon peels in water on radiators to humidify parched lungs and cut the stench of acrid dust.


Watching the morning sky pinken the horizon over the Delaware river was like a private viewing reserved for spectacularly special humans. Having never been above the tenth floor of the abandoned buildings in old city center, the view from the 1200th floor of Tower One made her heart race and a small sheen of sweat popped across her skin. 


She stepped within an inch of the glass. 


Did Citizens ever get vertigo? Her mission was to acclimatize. Quickly.


Over the mechanical murmur, Dez heard the footfalls outside the apartment and turned to the white room. The soft lighting was perfect, clean but not clinical. White contoured furniture was scattered across white lacquered floors. Holo screens displayed a synched view of a vast ocean of soft swells under a clear blue sky. Not a red Chroma cloud in sight.


Konstantinos, her Ministry of Rules appointed lawyer, cracked open the door. “Good morning”


She waited by the window. 


Pale white hair was cropped tight over augmented green eyes and square cheekbones. Stepping in, he smiled widely. “Morning, Desdemona.”


She said, “Dez is fine.”


“Ah, yes. Well, then, Dez, good morning. How was your first night?”


Above his delicate white collar, the deep fake shade of his skin made her question his judgment on all things. But Konstantinos was a necessary part of the plan. 


She wondered if she’d ever be in the mood for pleasantries again. “Fine.” 


He nodded at her brevity and opened up his e-reader. “Let’s see. I shall give you a quick rundown of everything we set in motion last night. I have set up credit with the bank so that you can immediately enjoy the fruits of your inheritance. That credit will of course be deducted from the final resolution of your assets. Later today, you will be assigned a personal banker. You will also be assigned a personal assistant who can show you around the Towers. I have scheduled you in later this week with the medical clinics. They will run a full workup so that you can get your personalized supplements, tinctures, what not.” He pointed to an alcove on the far wall. “Your suite maid will explain the meal plans.” He returned to his e-reader. “Should you want to take visits outside the Towers, of course we can also provide escorts—”


A Tiller didn’t need an escort in the Margins. “How long will it take to resolve the legal issues around the will?”


He closed the e-reader. “A while, I’m afraid. Not less than a year. Most likely two. But maybe even three.”


“Explain the process to me.”


“We enter into negotiations. I will represent you. As the Ministry rules dictate, be assured that I can only represent your interests, none other.”


Given the precariousness of her position, she couldn’t be assured of anything. In fact, she was pretty sure she couldn’t trust Konstantinos as far as she could throw his tan limbs. But none of that mattered. Her job was to play along. She simply nodded.


He continued. “There will be technical experts called in to do forensics. They will examine the original programming of Adria Wouk. Then they will evaluate the progression of advances that were built upon her original code. That will determine what aspects of the current iteration of Chroma are... well, not to put too fine a point on it, but, which aspects of Chroma are technically….yours.”


“Not all of it?”


“Anything that was developed by the Sainz family or System could be determined to be of separate intellectual property. That would be retained by the family.”


She raised her eyebrows.


He acknowledged, “I won’t deny that this is going to be a very complicated and lengthy process.”


“Once those forensics are finished, what are my options?”


“Option one is to sell the original code and patent to the Sainzs. Outright. Just sell it. You would be wealthy beyond your dreams. You could go anywhere in the world.”


“I would be giving up all rights and any control of Chroma?”


“Correct.”


“They could do with it what they want?”


“Correct.”


“What is option number two?”


“Option two is for you to preserve ownership as intended by your Professor Wouk, and simply license.”


“License the use of Chroma to the Sainz family?”


He shrugged. “Correct.”


“Could I place restrictions on their use?”


“That would be part of the negotiations around a licensing agreement.”


She crossed her arms over her chest and felt the silky sheen of kimono sleeves. The white robe matched the four others in the closet as well as the sets of loose-fitting pants and shirts. “What do those negotiations involve?”


He sighed loudly. “Oh, teams of lawyers.”


“How much do you think I will be able to restrict their use?”


“I don’t know. This situation is, well, historically unprecedented...”


“Because they’ve built their empire on Chroma.”


He frowned. 


“And so much of their control is based on Chroma surveillance.”


He winced.


“If I ask for too much, if I ask for things they won’t concede...”


“They will drag out the negotiations.” 


“Because until this is settled, they can carry on the way they are.”


He nodded. “Correct. I’m sad to say, it is vert much in their interest to drag out the negotiations. Now option three, of course, is for you to walk away. You don’t sell. You just walk away.”


“Which would deny them use of Chroma.”


“Yes. That would be the result.”


She turned to the window and gazed at the now blue sky. “Would they have to shut Chroma down?”


“Immediately.”


She leaned her head on the cold glass. How did they get the windows so clean? “Where would I go?”


“Anywhere in the world. Bring your friends, bring your family. You could move to any of the other city states.” 


Without Chroma, the Sainz family and System would revert to brute force to maintain power. The Blues would sweep the streets and replay the violent suppression, the indiscriminate oppression, that occurred during the Eclipse. “If I left with Chroma, Philadelphia and the Tillers would be impacted. In a dark way. In a terrible way.” Her warm breath fogged the glass.


“I can’t speak to details. But...”


Because the Margins were a foreign country to him. “Have they threatened that?”


He hastened to say, “No.”


“But…”


“They have not said that directly. The Family deals in subtleties.”


“But that is the implication: If I don’t negotiate, it will not go well in the Margins.”


He hesitated. “As your legal advisor, I must admit, that would be a compelling threat to garner your cooperation. “


“They don’t think I’ll leave my friends to fend for themselves.” 


“I believe that is their assessment of you, yes.”


Against the glass, she whispered, “They are correct.” She straightened and turned. “I am instructing you to proceed with option two. I intend to license Chroma to them.”


“You don’t have to decide now.”


“I’ve decided.”


“Very well.”


“Did you bring my will?” Last night, as part of the plan, she had instructed him to prepare a safeguard against any Sainz treachery.


“Yes. I’ve listed Professor Burgess and Alma Luther as your beneficiaries.”


“Under any circumstances?”


“Oh, yes. If you pass under any circumstances, they will inherit your assets.”


“The entirety of my assets?”


“Oh, yes. As you instructed.” He flicked a document from his e-reader to a holo. “I’ll leave it here for you to read and sign.”


She took one step toward him. “Can you explain to me how Chroma tracks us.”


He blinked. “I...uh...that information is restricted.”


“I own it. I have a right to understand it.”


He frowned. “It uses a combination of techniques. In the Margins, it tracks the standard IDs in all esuits and visors as well as visual biometrics.” 


“Explain the biometrics.”


“A Chroma sweep compiles images of face, iris, head, and fingerprints. The cross-reference is done in stream. ID is instantaneous.” 


“And with certainty?”


“Almost 80%” 


“So, there are no tracking chips injected inside our bodies?” It was a strongly held suspicion.


He cleared his throat.


“What?”


“It, uhm, Chroma does track DNA.”


“Explain that.”


He swallowed. “The nanotech, uh, scrapes for skin samples.”


The deviousness of System no longer surprised her. “And in the Towers?”


“Chroma uses only noninvasive biometric identification on Citizens. Your clothes and wearables are clean.”


She breathed in heavily. “I have one condition before we begin negotiations.”


He waited.


“Wipe my identity from System. If and when Chroma tries to ID me, I want it to come up blank.” 


His jaw slackened. “Everyone’s data is already in System. It keeps everything running smoothly. Ghosting is not allowed. It’s against all the rules.”


A ray of sun streaked across the white floor.


She said, “The rules have changed.”

 



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