As far as the eye could see, protesters lined the street in front of the governor’s mansion. Only a thick double-line of Knight Errant riot-control police prevented the anti-Proposition 23 crowd from tearing into the metahumans broadcasting their sympathies for the Ork Underground and Project Freedom.
AR graffiti painted the UCAS flags along the mansion’s perimeter in lurid coats of neon colors, each “for” and “against” message desperately trying to override the opposition. None of the groundskeepers dared go out into the crowd to remove the “protest art,” and several employees called in sick rather than brave the crowds for work. The reflected image of a grimacing Governor Brackhaven shined in the bulletproof glass of his office window. “That pesky KE officer is sniffing around with his black agents. I don’t know what to do anymore, Emile. How could this whole Ork Underground district nonsense have gotten so out of hand?”
Standing on the other side of the governor’s desk, Emile Corrigan (Chief of Staff) shuffled through sheets of electronic paper, barely glancing at the contents. “I’m not sure, Governor.” Brackhaven spun around, slapping a heavy hand on his desk. “Unacceptable. Simply unacceptable. Dammit, Emile, Proposition 23 was supposed to die a silent death. ‘Ignore it and it will go away.’ I distinctly remember saying those words, telling everyone to keep their mitts off. And now, this.” He waived his hands at the view outside the mansion. “Did you hear what they’re calling it on the news? ‘Project Freedom.’ How the hell is anyone supposed to bury that?”
Corrigan waited a moment to be sure the rant had finished before shrugging. “We could postpone the election.” As Corrigan expected, Brackhaven snorted in refusal and sat. “And tell the press what, exactly?” “The truth. Due to the escalating violence, Knight Errant is over-extended and cannot guarantee the safety of the voters. The election will be rescheduled when the criminal anarchist factions are contained or when we’ve had a chance to bolster the city’s security forces. We’ll make an appeal to the president for UCAS reservists to help out during our time of trouble. This election was only decided because of Representative Grey went fucking missing – probably dead. Since it’s just a special election, and not a constitutionally required election, we can simply keep the appointed representative in her office until the next scheduled election. By that time, the supporters of Proposition 23 should lose their momentum.”
The governor frowned and clasped his hands together on his desk. “You know damned well that I’ll be crucified in next year’s campaign for that kind of decision, Emile. What would possess you to come up with an idea like that?” “You asked for my opinion, governor,” Corrigan pointed out. “I can only give you advice. It’s up to you whether you take it or ignore it.” “Don’t suppose we could alter any results we don’t like before it gets reported to the newsies,” Brackhaven said wistfully. “Get caught doing that and your entire staff will be crucified, governor. You included. Hell, you might not even make it to next year’s elections.”
The echoed taunts of shouting protestors filled the air as both men sat in temporary silence. Brackhaven’s eyes narrowed as he sipped as his imported coffee. After a long moment, he broke the tension. “Emile, you and I go a long way back. I trust you with everything, you know.” “Yes, governor.” “If I didn’t trust you, you wouldn’t be my chief of staff.” Corrigan stiffened. His fingers left indents on the papers they now clenched. The last time Brackhaven talked to a staff member that way, she found herself playing scapegoat the next morning when Knight Errant arrested her for a fraud she hadn’t committed. Brackhaven put his cup down and folded his hands before him once again. “I want to know what happened. Find the bastard who gave those idiot trogs legitimacy and bring me that name. I don’t care who he or she is, what job he may hold, or who his friends might be. Find him and bring him to me alive and in one piece. I have questions that I will get answers to before I skewer that son of a bitch to the wall and ruin his life. I run this office. I dictate policy. No one so much as sneezes around here without my say so, and everyone better remember that.” Cold wormed its way inside Corrigan’s gut like a parasite waiting to devour him from the inside out. “Find him, Corrigan. Now.”
Corrigan knew a dismissal when he heard one. He acknowledged the order and beat a hasty retreat like the good little toady Governor Brackhaven expected him to be. Once in his office, after the door was securely closed behind him and the sound dampeners had been activated, Corrigan dropped both the papers and his meek demeanor. He sat down, pulling a disposable commlink and a pair of AR glasses from a secret compartment in his desk. Leaning back, Corrigan activated his agent that waited for instructions with artificial patience.