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By Ryan Browning
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Ryan Browning
All rights reserved.
Truth and Tragedy
"Are you ready they are calling for you at the press conference Madame?" A soft voice echoed in the back of the woman's mind. The woman focused her attention on the earrings before her. Light reflected from white gold earrings dangling from the woman's thin fingers. Swaying in the air the delicate figure dangled. Eyes dilated focusing on the minute details sparkling in the light.
"I love you Victoria." Memories of the delicate features of Victoria's husband rushed into the center of her thoughts. Twenty years ago Victoria stood on that beach at a time when the future seemed uncertain. Memories of the smells of the beach the day the earrings were presented as a gift. During uncertainty Victoria let love and dreams guide her through the shadows. Looking towards the future it never looked so dark. Today uncertainty clouded the future like a thick heavy mist. Victoria came back to reality putting turning to her assistant.
"Tell them I need only a moment more Carissa." Looking into the mirror the image stared back from the cold glass showed an elegant, expensive, and stylish white couture dress. Sparkling white silver and gold radiated in the light of the stark dressing room. Victoria looked the role of queen prepared for public execution. Thoughts of how Anne Bolynne felt preparing for her own execution leapt to the woman's mind. The absurdity of the thought echoed the absurdity of the times.
Disappearance of Muse Industries CEO would have stockholders panicked and worried. Responsibilities of the CEO now rested on Victoria's shoulders. Faith existed to comfort the darkest hours when answers cannot be found. Faith told Victoria her husband would be ok. Keeping other peoples hopes up during such dark and troubled times remained the only pressing concern. The stockholders had to be reassured that the future of Muse Industries is not contingent on one man.
Of course it was a monumental lie. If anyone could sell that lie it was Victoria, but she knew all too well it was that genius that attracted her towards her husband. Henry Rollins Williams was one of a kind. Legend stated the man was a genius in both computers and medicine. Henry forged the modern age with the invention of cybernetic implants starting with the first neural data computer link. Muse marketed the implant calling it the Mind's eye.
Victoria and Henry were married the same year seen the meteoric rise of Muse industries on the back of the Mind's eye. Rags to riches wouldn't do them justice. The Williams family became one of the most powerful names on the planet Earth. Muse Industries wasted no time in gaining control of the entire cybernetic market they created. No one could compete with Henry's unique knowledge creating a monopoly.
Governments pay vast fortunes for their cybernetic research and development. Nations needed cybernetic implants allowing Muse to operate above the law. Power and prestige to rival the gods' one journalist exaggerated in the first few weeks. The journalist proved an oracle. Over the next several years unleashed the brilliant tactical planning of a modern day Caesar. Henry funded leading geneticists, engineers, and computer scientists.
Today Muse ranked the number one most profitable and wealthy of all multinational corporations. Henry now possessed power capable of shaping governments and nations. Muse drew the brightest minds and developed cutting edge technology. Henry didn't discourage competition, but the technology made it hard to reverse engineer. Cybertechnology allowed Henry to grasp a stranglehold on the future.
In an anarchistic state system all nations are forced to fight over limited resources and power. Multinational corporations operated in the same system with not enforceable international law. Self defense requires the maintenance of the most powerful military. In the past military power remained in weapon systems. Tools of war allowed ancient leaders to overlook the power of the individual. Only the exceptional soldiers stood out. The Achilles of war.
Muse changed all that. Cybernetic implants leaved the playing field between trained warriors and soldiers. Cybernetic and genetic modification revolutionized warfare far more than the invention of firearms ever had. One well trained soldier with the best equipment and weapons didn't equal one modified civilian. When the greatest warriors were implanted they become gods of war to make Mars and Ares proud. Soldiers now became the true weapons of mass destruction.
Henry's genius crafted the best cybernetic implants, and Muse controlled most of the genetics industry as well. Success comes with a price breeding envy and silent enemies. Nothing is more offensive than power to the powerless. Over the last twenty years several assassination attempts targeted Muse employees, families, and facilities. Victoria knew that her husband travelled with the best soldiers in the world, and recruited from the best government agencies.
The man in thermal optical camouflage standing invisible guard served the royal family until the assassination. Henry travelled with the best recruits handpicked by him and fiercely loyal to the ideologies of Muse. Victoria smile reflected back from the mirror remembered her husband called his body guards "the Williams 13th". Henry did have an eye for talent. Victoria blocked it all from her mind walking towards the door.
"I must confess Mr. Kincaide. I have grown quite use to your ghostly presence." The door slid open in response to Victoria's motion. Stepping out into the hallway individuals assailing the woman. One of the aids for the show ushered her forward.
"Mrs. Williams this way please Mr. Stewart is expecting you." Kincaide's steady hand and invisible presence kept a small opening behind Victoria for an escape route. Assistants led Victoria towards the stage haltering her at the entrance. Cameras turned getting ready to capture the entrance. Hearing the Cue Victoria took a deep breath before walking forward.
"I'm pleased to welcome to the stage the beautiful wife of Muse Industries CEO, and old friend of the Daily Show. Please give a warm welcome to Mrs. Victoria Williams." Jon Stewart's voice died off. The crowd greeted the woman stepping onto the stage with thunderous applause. Walking over at a brisk pace Victoria sat down face to face with the most intimating of the journalists wolf pack.
Jon Stewart remained a journalistic lion. The man redefined comedy and journalism over the last thirty years. Age wore the once young man's face down, but the characteristic charismatic smile and indomitable intelligence leapt from Jon's eyes. The lion had not lost hunger for the truth. All lies would be devoured between gnashing jaw of public opinion.
"Always a pleasure to have you Mrs. Williams" Jon greeted his guest.
"It's good to see you again Jon." Victoria returned a smile at the host. Sharing an empathetic moment both people they looked at each other across the desk.
"I must say the whole world is in tears tonight over the tragic events that took place only a few hours ago in Beijing. How is your family holding up?" Victoria smiled knowing the concern was legitimate, but sensing some real questions lurking beneath the surface.
"Jon as close family friends you know that my husband has the best body guards on the planet. I am certain that he will be fine and the situation will be resolved shortly." The show aired video showing the Muse Industries airplane coming under attack. News media claimed the attack came from a rogue paramilitary corporation. Explosions lite up the sky rocking the plane causing it to lose control. Video followed the aircraft crashing through several buildings landing in wreck in the lower wards of Beijing.
"Information is limited at this time as you know Ms. Williams, but we've heard that there is a ground fight. Social media is full of pictures of unidentified group of assailants moving into the area." Jon paused for a second to control the emotions inside. Silence fell over the crowd watching in the studio. Jon looked up at his guest with a question glimmering in his eyes.
"This leaves the whole world wondering at what point this behaviour becomes normalized. Every major corporation now owns their own private military. Adoption of PMC by corporations like Muse claimed for security purposes might cause events like today." The question was predictable and Victoria maintained composure.
"Jon I don't like guns. I run a charity that supports children victimized by war. I don't condone the use of privatized armies by corporations, and I have been outspoken against my husband's security policies in the past. The real culprit isn't the corporation that use these groups, but the leaders of the UN. World leaders that refuse to surrender power to allow enforcement of international laws. We are living in the corporate wild west on a global scale." The crowd roared in approval filling the studio with the thunder of clapping hands. Applause overwhelmed the stage for an entire minute.
"UN and world leaders need to take responsibility for governing this planet. With international laws Muse and many other corporations would not require security corporations. Many of my outspoken opponents have stated my views are Marxist and against free market economics."
"I have to agree with you Mrs. Williams. Tragedies like this one seem to set a real cost to the public." Jon turned on his charismatic charm.
"Jon the real cost isn't just to the public, but to every person on this planet. Not everyone celebrates Christmas but my family does. I have a teenage girl at home watching this on the news right now. Wondering if her father will get home alive and for Christmas. The price that is paid isn't just by the public it's paid by everyone and its cost is always the same. Freedom comes only with the sacrifice of blood." Victoria paused for a moment relying on well-honed instincts to draw her audience in. Sitting in silence the crowd hung on every word. Looking up Victoria turned towards a camera.
"I have only one message to anyone who uses violence and terror to try to change the world, and it's the same message I have for my daughter. We will we get through this and everything will be fine." Applause echoed in response to Victoria's words.
"You have always been a source of inspiration, and despite the events today is it not true that Muse Industries is preparing to release its New Year line up early?" Jon hit the solid questions. Now it was time for Victoria to talk about something positive.
"My husband decided this year in the spirit of Christmas and generosity it entails. Muse is offering 2034 lineup of cybernetic implants as free upgrades. This is Muse's way to thank our customers for their support." The crowd cheered again as cybernetic implants had become a staple of modern society. Almost every person in the world had at least one cybernetic implant.
"We want to share with everyone in the world the blessings the world has shared with us and our family."
"Victoria you have taken very stern stances against cybertechnology, genetic modification, and the political power structure. In Your book you claim governments place military power in the hands of seven families. How do your beliefs stand in line with your statements tonight?"
Victoria waited with the precision of a hunter for this question. Jon Stewart was the finest entertainer. The fact a comedian was the best journalist seemed the cruellest joke on journalism. The question showed The Daily show was the closest you could come to real news. Societies addiction to entertainment to drowned everything else.
"I love my husband and my family. First and foremost my job as a wife is to protect my family and take care of them. My political stances are not the same as my family politics. My book the sinful seven reveals what I know to be true. Remember I count my family as the first of the sinful seven. As a Senator of the United States of America I stand opposed to the tyranny created by the economic and political climate, but as a wife and mother I pray for the safe return of someone who I loved beyond all reason. Any wife just wants her husband to be safe and their family to be together. Tonight I am just a wife."
"We've got to cut to commercial but I am wondering can you stick around for a moment. We'll throw the rest up on the net." Jon eyes surged with empathy as his hand gently touched Victoria's.
"Sure Jon I'd love to." Victoria replied straight and poignant echoing with elegance and authority.
"The reports we are getting in right now are terrifying. Beijing police and military have been pinned down and cut off from the crash site." Terror trembled in Jon's voice now that only a few minutes ago sounded strong like a lions roar.
"I haven't heard anything from the ground team, but Muse Industries has sent in expert extraction teams. The last report I received that Henry is coordinating an escape with his team. Remember Henry has trained for this and this isn't the first time something like this has happened." Victoria smiled remaining calm as a leaf on water.
"Your family has been big supporters of New York City. People here on the streets are angry right now" Jon added.
"I thank the people of New York City for the support. This is why we call New York State our home." The interview concluded both people saying goodbye. Victoria met the awaiting bodyguard entourage. Led from the building the security team escorted the CEOs wife to a private VTL limo waiting on the roof.
"Madam I warned you about the dangers of flight at this time with the weather conditions." The gruff voice of the security detail bellowed. Victoria stepped into the car past the guard. Snowflakes whipped around outside. Engines hummed louder as the vehicle gained altitude at steady pace.
"Limited visibility will make this a very difficult target to hit and with the thermal shielding we are practical invisible in this weather." The tone of Victoria's voice carried the authority of command earned only through the rigors and terrors of actual combat.
"I'd ask you to relax Major Lee, but I know your upset you're not in the mud and blood with Henry." The lines of brooding etched lines across Major Edward Lee's face staring back at this woman in regal white.
"You and your husband are far too comfortable putting yourself in the way of danger for my liking." Victoria's delicate fingers grasped the thin stem of the crystal glass raising it to her mouth. A faint crimson colour stained the rim of the glass.
"You would think a real warrior would understand they died the minute they were born. You shouldn't worry about such a trifling thing as death. There are so many more important matters to contend with right now. Don't you agree Maj. Lee?" Lowering the glass Victoria smiled at the major.
Edward stared back at this woman in white. A major in the American Airborne 101st. Edward fought wars on every continent in his 20 years of service since he signed up at 18. War honed the man into a perfect soldier in mind and body. Edward saw the worst parts of war in his life and almost nothing scared him except Victoria.
"Madam my father once told me the most beautiful flower is the most deadly, but not until you did I understand what that meant." A smile crept across Victoria's delicate features.
"Thank you Edward for such a wonderful compliment, but now let us move onto the business of seeing that my dear husband makes it home for Christmas." Wind whistled past the car streaking across the sky. Snowflakes flung by the window in a streak of white. Looking out Victoria sipped on the champagne trying to silence her worry.CHAPTER 2
Silence lingered in the hallways of the upper New York prep school. The Masters Preparation School ranked number one in the world for education. The cybertechnology boom had hit New York culture with the force of a tsunami. Sweeping changes washed away the old world leaving only the glistening new technology in its wake. The Williams family called New York City and state home. Wealth and influence that poured from the most powerful family in the free world led to the creation of renowned think tanks and academies.
Excerpted from Patricians by Ryan Browning. Copyright © 2014 Ryan Browning. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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