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Fate of Perfection (Finding Paradise #1)
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In a corporate-controlled future where the ruling conglomerates genetically engineer their employees, Millicent Foster is the best of the best.
Physically perfect and exceptionally intelligent, Millicent is granted the uncommon privilege of breeding. But her daughter inherits more than superior genetics…little Marie has a rare ability that the world has never seen, and her conglomerate, Moxidone, will stop at nothing to have sole possession of the child.
Teamed with Ryker, the formidable master of security, Millicent must risk everything in a life-and-death struggle to tear her daughter away from the ruling force who wants to own them all. The odds are stacked against them, but Moxidone will learn that the pursuit of perfection comes at a perilous cost—and that love can’t be bought at any price.
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“We’re ready for you, miss.”
Millicent glanced away from her idea board. Mr. Arnet, her subordinate, stood rigid with downcast eyes, waiting. She glanced at the time. “My demands have been met with regards to the tests?” she asked.
His Adam’s apple bobbed as he gulped. “Yes, miss. They acquiesced to your . . . requests.”
“Good.” Stepping back from the glowing screens, she swiped her hand through the air in front of her documents, using the movement of her body heat to issue a command. The documents scattered, filing themselves back into their respective folders. “And the weapons?”
“Are laid out for you, miss. As requested.”
She waited for Mr. Arnet to back out of the way before she stepped forward. Two of the Moxidone conglomerate guards waited beyond, looking at the ground respectfully. Without a word, she stalked through the department, going over the various commands she’d need to practice with the new suit. Mr. Arnet followed behind, and two more staffers joined him at the door leading into the weapons bay.
“What’s the news from the other conglomerates, Mr. Arnet?” Millicent asked as they approached two men sitting in metal chairs. Their hands were bent behind their backs and obviously secured. Rope tied their ankles to the chair legs. Muscles bulged on their large frames and surly expressions accompanied hateful stares.
“Just that Gregon Corp. is boasting a new, completely secure firewall. It protects their upper-level staffers.” Mr. Arnet slowed as they approached a small table with a hologram pod sitting on top. “They’ve tested it thoroughly. Their systems specialist seems . . . smug.”
Millicent sniffed as she palmed the table, bringing up the hologram and then the console. After tapping in her code, her program sprang into the glow. “Having Curve huggers test your program is about as useful as accessing the mainframe through a burned-out screen. That’s just laziness. They should’ve contracted me to test it.”
“It’s said that their programmer has complete confidence. From what I hear, she said she didn’t need your—Moxidone’s—double check.”
Millicent arched an eyebrow. “She doesn’t think I can get through, is that what you’re saying, Mr. Arnet?”
“Yes, miss,” he said quietly. “That is what I’ve heard.”
Millicent looked over her prison program without seeing it, hearing the unspoken challenge by the programmer in the other conglomerate. There was only one person in the world as good as Millicent when it came to programming. Millicent and this other woman were constantly at war in a passive-aggressive sort of way. Being that they worked for competing conglomerates, they’d only communicated via notes when contracted to review each other’s work. And those notes were always a list of failures.
And now this woman was throwing the gauntlet, basically telling the world that she was better than Millicent. This was Gregon Corp.’s attempt to get the code tested for free, Millicent had no doubt.
Still . . . the wall would have to be torn down. That was a given.
“I’ll expect more information by the end of the day,” Millicent said in a flat tone. “Now, let’s test, shall we? Where are the weapons?”
“Over here, miss.” Mr. Arnet motioned her over to a case along the far wall. After glancing at the test subjects, still tied to their chairs, he placed his palm on the scanner and then stepped out of the way. The metal cover slid aside, revealing four guns resting on velvet.
Gun—right, Millicent thought.
A lightweight metal pole extended from the right sleeve of her suit, with a catch on the end. She chose the five-shot, a small gun that was great in close combat. After hooking it in place, she gave the command for her suit’s mechanism to pull it back in and secure the weaponry.
“Yes,” she said, moving her arm to learn the feel of the added weight. “Noticeable, but an improvement. Let’s hope the mechanism is improved as well. Are the test subjects wearing bulletproof plates?”
“Yes, miss. Unless you repeat fire, the plates should hold.”
She nodded without comment. Most staffers in her position wouldn’t be concerned with killing. In fact, they’d probably aim to. The fact that it made her uncomfortable was an emotional gray area, and something she couldn’t advertise.
A pole extended from the other sleeve, with a larger catch. Being right-handed and faster on that side, she often chose a larger, heavier gun for her left hand. It was a handicap she was familiar with, and now strengthened with firepower. The left wasn’t as fast, but it made a bigger impact.
“Knife, miss?” Mr. Arnet glanced at the row of knives, ranging from pocket-sized to incredibly daunting.
“This suit is only equipped for two guns.”
“Yes, miss.” Mr. Arnet backed away.
Millicent reassumed her position in front of the hologram. She accessed the implants of the test subjects. “I will be uploading the program in four . . . three . . . two . . .”