Silence, utter silence. Not a sound penetrated the great hall. No wind to rustle the curtains, no creaking of beams or floorboards. Not the flutter of a flag or the blaring of a horn. Nor was there the sound of footsteps. Just silence.
Clarence West simply stood before the great oaken doors, waiting for his cue. A signal that would be the harbinger of a new age. A promise of salvation and hope. The first step in his eternal empire. For that is why we have come so far, he thought to himself, reviewing his speech. His right hand creeped into his suit jacket's pocket, sliding over the folded paper that lay within. The hand quickly withdrew, I am stronger than that. If I forget I will make it up. They will obey me all the same. I refuse to appear weak in any way. Now put on that winning smile, your people await.
As if answering his thoughts a symphony of trumpets sounded as the great doors creaked open, a line of light growing between them. Clarence stepped into the light, blinded by the spotlights for a few moments. His eyes adjusted quickly, revealing a crowd of tens of thousands of men and women gathered in the courtyard before him, all garbed in military fatigues. It was a sea of desert camo and black rifles, set up in front of a backdrop of grey, flecked with the odd patch of golden sand.
Clarence made his way to a podium that stood in the middle of the stage, set up solely for this occasion. He adjusted the microphone that rested upon the wooden frame, setting it at the perfect position for a man of his small stature. Clearing his throat, he took a quick glance around the crowd, noting that the majority were young adults. The easiest to indoctrinate. Old habits die hard, just like their owners. Finally ready, Clarence opened his mouth to speak.
"Dust and bones. It seems that is all that can be found out in that arid sea you call the wastes. The product of a bloody war that knocked us down many pegs on the technological ladder. A war that was meant to end all wars, and came close to ending all life. But, we survived. Emerging from our half buried shelters, opening our eyes we saw a sorry land, one that sucked the hope straight from our hearts. But, we perservered.
"We adapted and made a living for ourselves, relearning the ancient art of tilling the ground and working with what it could provide. So much knowledge was lost then, so much that had to be regained. Salvaging remnants of what used to be we have advanced, slowly but surely, we have advanced. Reverse engineering any technology that still works has allowed us to speed up our return to this planet's golden age. A priveledge I would like to return to the rest of the earth. A right that all people deserve.
"That is why you joined up. That is why you are here now. That is why you will go out and fight, removing all threats to unity. All opposition to my global government must be crushed, quickly and efficiently. So go now my comrades! Go out and fulfill your duty! Do what you were born to do!"
The thunder of marching feet filled the courtyard as the soldiers turned and filed out, leaving Clarence West alone on the stage. A smug grin crept onto his lips as he watched, the fantasies of his youth finally coming to realization. The years of work, the murder, the bribery, the treachery, it was all finally worth it. He had never imagined it would feel so good but it did. His veins pulsed with adrenaline as the excitement built, sending a surge of warmth throughout him.
Clarence turned from the stage and walked back into the White House, or at least what had already been rebuilt. The going was slow but it was happening. There was a spring in the man's step as he made his way to the oval office, ready to sit in the chair and assume his role as president but this time it would be over so much more than the United States.