End Times: Golden Parachute

“Welcome to Rhineshire Tower. Good afternoon, Lady Rhineshire. Shall I inform your uncle and the board that you have arrived?”

“Yes, you may Echo.”

The egg-shaped android took a position next to and slightly behind Luanne as she walked through the sliding crystalline doors and into the marbled lobby of the tower. Normally, one could find many people in the lobby having impromptu meetings or waiting for an escort to the upper levels of the tower. Today was no different. High above everybody’s head, a half-dozen scout drones watched for any sign of security issues. While she did not see any of them, she knew there were at least a dozen stealthies darting about the room like flies in search of rancid food.

“Your uncle wishes to speak with you in your office,” added the android as they traveled across the lobby towards the elevators. As she walked through the lobby, everybody smiled at her and yielded right of way.

She stopped in front of an ornate brass elevator door and a light automatically illuminated; indicating that an elevator was on its way. Glancing around the lobby, Luanne noticed that the activity seemed subdued. Even though there were more people in the lobby than was normal, it was more quiet than usual. She made a mental note to address the morale problem.

“Let him know that I am on my way. Do you know what he wants, Echo?”

“Naturally, it would be about the events of last night.”

The elevator door opened. She and Echo entered the gilded glass elevator. She watched the rest of the enclave get shrink as it ascended the tower.

“Of course, it would be. Can you have Commander Marion contact me at his earliest convenience?”

“I am afraid that I cannot do that, my Lady.”

“Why not?”

“Johnathan Marion is no longer employed by Rhineshire Holdings and is currently detained for questioning.”

A sudden jolt of electricity went through Luanne’s body. She had specific policies that would have required her authorization. “Who authorized that?”

The doors of the elevator opened. Without responding, it swiftly left the elevator. It took a position near a large mahogany desk in the center of the room. There was an elderly man waiting at the doors.

“Luanne! It has been too long,” exclaimed the man as he held his arms wide.

Stepping out of the elevator, she wrapped her arms around the elderly gentleman, “How have you been Uncle Rejnold?”

“I could be better. How are you holding up, young lady?”

“I was fine until I just found out I no longer have a head of security.”

“Yes… I just found out about that myself. They told me he breached security and disabled one of those AI. Assistant Director is handling Johnathan’s duties for now.  How is… Cam…”

“Marie. She’s not doing well. The cancer is shutting down her internal organs. The auto-med thinks it’s any time now.”

“Sorry to hear that dear… and now this crisis to go on top of that.”

“Is the board ready to meet?”

Rejnold shook his head and looked away from her, “We’ve already met.”

Luanne took a step back as she gasped. She had to consciously relax her hands as she realized her nails were digging into her hands, “What? Why? I should have been there!”

The elderly man took a deep breath and continued to avoid Luanne’s glare, “The board has concerns about your leadership, dear. They’ve asked me to take over as acting CEO until we can find your replacement.”

Luanne’s eyes widened, “Replacement? How can they replace me? We have majority ownership.”

Rejnold remained quiet and stared down at his shoes.

She marched right to her uncle until her face was within inches of his, “You… you voted against me. Why would you do that?”

The man stuttered, “I didn’t mean to shock you like this. It’s not just this crisis, my dear, it’s your charity work… then there is that project of yours in Red Mesa. Denver is asking lots of questions; questions that make the board… and myself… uncomfortable. Also, I don’t think you’re giving Rhineshire Holdings the attention it needs especially after what we saw last night.”

Throwing her hands in the air, Luanne yelled, “We don’t even know what happened last night. Commander Marion was working on trying to figure out what happened. Just why was he fired, Uncle?”

The video panels in the room flickered and began displaying the seal of the United States Senate, “We now take you to the Denver Enclave where Senator Winchell is about to issue a National Security statement…”


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