End Times: News Report

Johnathan was not happy. He stood in the transparent glass elevator as it carried him to the top floor. There was a military operation going on of which he had not authorized. Nobody was giving him any answers. Now, he had orders to report to Rhineshire tower; a distraction he did not need right now. The elevator halted and he took one last look over the Enclave. He saw the lights and activity below; more than was usual.

The door slid open, he turned and entered the room. An egg-shaped android with blinking lights where a single eye should be located greeted him.

“Good evening, Commander. The Lady is waiting for you in the entertainment room.”

The android led him through the gilded halls and into a large pristine room. Bookcases lined the walls except for one. A super-sized video screen dominated that wall along with other ornamentation on each side of it. There was leather theater-style seating in front of the video screen.

The screen was showing the news about the raids that were happening around the enclaves around the country. An animated AI driven pundit criticized Rhineshire Hospitality for becoming lax on security and how, under Lady Rhineshire, the corporation was not keeping the security zones around the enclaves clear of dregs.

Behind the seating, an Omni-Entertainment Table illuminated the rest of the room with its glow. Johnathan always wanted to use one of them but their cost was prohibitively expensive due to their holographic technology.

Johnathan was always ill at ease when visiting the Lady because of this opulence in which she and the others of her station lived. He knew the only reason she had paraphernalia was due to expectations of her peers. He spied her standing before the video screen. She was facing away from him but he could tell she was in distress. Over the years that he worked with her, he learned her mannerisms. The android announced his arrival.

“Lady Rhineshire, Commander Marion has arrived.”

The Lady turned her head slightly and said, “Thank you, Echo. You may take your leave. Could you close the door behind you?”

The android slid out of the room and the doors closed. As they sealed shut, the Lady ordered the screen to turn off and turned towards him.

“Commander Marion reporting as ordered, my Lady.”

The Lady spoke to him with clear stress in her voice, “How did this happen Commander?”

“I am still working that out, my Lady. It was a contracted operation and Black Guard is not returning my calls.”

The Lady squinted at him and raised her voice, “You, Commander, are the head of security of all enclaves. How did an operation of this magnitude escape your attention?”

“My Lady, my apologies. I believe Black Guard staged from nearby military bases.”

Johnathan stood there as the Lady stood in silence. He could tell by the sweat on her forehead and clenching fists, she was trying to hold back. Finally, she spoke.

“Give me privacy! CEO privilege.”

On that order, the video screen went completely dark as did several other electronic devices in the room. The Lady bowed her head and started crying softly and paced across the floor.

“At ease, Commander.”

Johnathan relaxed his muscles and allowed himself to track the Lady as she walked around the room.

“John… how sure are you of that?”

“I have some doubts, my Lady, but I am pretty confident. My reports informed me that the drones around Chicago came from the direction of Pence Air Base.”

The Lady shook her head, “John, you can stop with the formalities,” she sighed, “Senator Stutz had implied that I was creating some concern with my ‘charity work.’”

“Rhineshire Reclamation?”

“Exactly.”

“What’s the problem with that?”

She shrugged, “He didn’t say.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Is there anything you want me to do?”

She thought for a moment, “I want you to see if there were any survivors?”

“In all due respect, that is unlikely. They used military grade auto-drones.”

“Go ahead with it; send sentry drones. I want them to report directly to you and not share anything with Black Guard or anybody else. I want as much detail about these raids as you can. Report to me in the morning.”

“I’ll do what I can. What should I do if I find survivors?”

“We’ll deal with that if it becomes necessary.”

“Understood.”

“Thank you, John. You may go now.”

John bowed before the Lady and turned to leave the room. As he stood before the doors, they opened. The android was waiting for him.

“This way, Commander.”

Johnathan followed the android back to the elevator. He stepped inside. As he stared back down onto the enclave and the moonlight glistening off Lake Michigan, he thought about the situation. Lady Rhineshire had always been a controversial figure ever since the day she became CEO of Rhineshire Hospitality.

For as long as he knew her, she had always had soft spot for underdogs. That was the main objection to her becoming CEO; too much empathy. If it was not her empathy, it was her alleged lack of ruthlessness. Johnathan knew that was not true. Where the other business leaders wielded their power like a cudgel, she wielded hers like a fine stiletto.

He warned her about her ideas of Rhineshire Reclamation. He knew that she would be challenging the preconceived notions about dregs that the business leaders had. He suspected that it would not be popular with the artificial intelligences that ran the mundane aspects of enclave life.

As the elevator door opened, an information drone greeted him. Whatever is going on, there is politics and that was never a good thing.

 

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