Back at the Box Office, a douchy, 10-haired woman swiveled in her chair. “Why the fuck is the EIU going across?”
Her wenchly assistants shrugged in unison.
“It's unprecedented! Nothing justifies this!" They stared at her blankly. "If the EIU crosses over, the Box Office completely – and I mean completely – goes under. We lose total credibility! What kind of advantage are we supposed to have when there are five thousand drone feeds locked into the same five fucking square feet! When there are two thousand EIU idiots bumbling over there like it’s Mecca or the Promised Land or whatever they’re goddamn calling it now! This was supposed to be our news! Our break!” She pounded her desk with open palms. “Why are you idiots so calm!?!”
Her wenchly assistants bowed their heads.
“Stacey, get me a meeting with an Abolitionist.”
Stacey snapped to attention. “How, ma'am? They're all –"
"Call an exemption, make something up, I don't care!"
Stacey wrung her hands. "But –"
"You'll do as I say Stacey if you want to keep anything you have in your life."
Stacey gulped. She wanted to keep everything. "Which one?”
“Get me any goddamn one Stacey, they all do the same goddamn thing!”
After dismissing her wenches, the douchy woman, Jean Paltron, fell back into her leather chair and turned to look dismally out the window. Twenty years as Box Office’s Head Conglomerater had gone to her head. She glanced down into the gallery and watched as thousands of data pills whizzed past, piping into the building to meet the presses. Zettabytes of spheric footage pouring in – and of what? Of the discovered language of chameleons, the lost art of cooking, the goddamned monotony of polygamy. All this news, but nothing to match the bizarre, foreign images that the EIU would soon have at their disposal. Images that she had worked so hard to ensure that she, and only she, would get. It didn’t matter that the footage would be using flat, pre-Boom technology – Paltron felt confident that the crackly yesteryears of HD TV would thrill audiences. Hell, they’d probably go gaga for black and white archival.
The Abolitionist, rushed over in Glide Transit, stood solemnly behind her, waiting for her indulgent retrospection to end.
“Thank you for coming,” Paltron began, without turning away from her empire.
The man’s voice was solemn. “Calling an exemption is an act of the gravest consequence. I can only trust the Prime had sufficient reason to allow it."
"I'm sure," Paltron answered tartly.
"Particularly in light of the tenuous history between the Box Office and the Abolitionists."
“Oh come on, that old hat again? You ‘stately fellows’ were dicking around in our backyard, telling us where we could play.”
“A fascinating account.”
“I do have a point to this meeting.”
“So I'd hope.”
“I want you to block the EIU from entering Pureside.”
A terse intake of breath came from behind her. The Abolitionist's surprise hung in the air, as though he were waiting for her to call it a joke. She did not. He said, finally, “You have just breached one of the fundamental tenets of the Abolitionists’ existence.”
“Oh cry me a river.”
His speech became spitting. “Abstraction. Our entire purpose is to live in isolation, abstracted from reality such that we can make the unbiased decisions that help govern it. By mentioning an event that an Abolitionist decision might affect, you have kept us from being able to make any decision at all.”
“Oh come on,” Paltron scoffed testily. “I didn’t tell you why they’re going in. Hell, I didn’t even tell you they were going in for sure! All I said was that I want you to block them from going in, in the event that they ever so desired.”
“This marks the end of this discussion.”
She swiveled to face him.
“Look you black bastard—” and the Abolitionist was out.