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Pen Your Pride

Chapter 10

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"I don't see the problem," Martha McGovern flicked through the report on her tablet, pausing only to stare at the hologram of the Earth that spun slowly at the centre of the table, red dots marking the position of slums throughout the world.

"The problem," replied Kendra Ortiz, standing at the head of the table, "is that they are not making us money." She sounded stern, like an old-fashioned headmistress, prim and proper.

"We don't need money, we control the world."

"Money keeps the populace in line, without it people think they can do whatever they want, have anything for free. There is too much crime in the slums and our limit resources do not stretch to policing it effectively."

"But getting rid of them? That seems extreme."

"Not all, just a few. We need to send the message that if the slums are not profitable, they will not be tolerated."

Caspian Jensen interjected, "I for one agree, but we need to be careful, there are already murmurings of a revolt, we need to pick our targets carefully and make sure everyone in the slums knows why we are destroying some."

"Surely improving them would be the best way forward," Martha tried to keep her frustrations under wraps, "showing the people we care is the best way to get them onside."

"I, for one, think combining slums is the way to go. Let's not kill all the inhabitants, we should move them to another slum to avoid any revolt," Ukrit Himura added.

"Kill them!" Martha protested, "nobody said we were killing anyone."

"Needs must," Kendra's tone was chilling, "we have too many mouths to feed as it is."

"But killing. That's just wrong."

"We have a crisis here, sometimes we cannot just make the easy decisions."

Before Martha could respond, Ukrit spoke, "I think we have a moral obligation..."

He was cut off before finishing, "this is business, there is no place for morals here."

Enraged, Martha stood, "I didn't sign up for this, I am here for the good of the business but killing innocent people is not part of that."

"You've gotten here on your merit, to be so young and on this board is amazing, but you can just as quickly get demoted."

"Is that a threat?"

"No," Kendra was cool, a pillar of ice showing no emotion, "it is just an observation, maybe you are not yet ready to be a director, a little time in a management role may help you to see more clearly."

Martha turned to the other directors, sat in their ivory tower on soft leather seats, sat in their palace of gold with all the latest luxuries. That had become blinkered, blinded by power, unable to see what the real world had become. "Come on, you know this is wrong." She stared into each of their eyes, willing them to action. If there were any movement, it was nothing more than a twitch. "Seriously," she tried once more to rouse them, "you are going to listen to this, follow this course of action." She was now staring straight at Ukrit, she knew he would be her ally, would follow her on the path of righteousness. Still he was unmoved, the sadness in his eyes not yet affecting the rest of his body.

With a grunt of frustration Martha threw her tablet onto the table, the loud crack echoing in this soulless chamber. She did not wait and observe the damage she had done, she did not care. Before the tablet came to rest in the centre of the hologram, she had left the room, storming out, but knowing this was not the end.

~

It was difficult to make a statement when doors slid open as you walked toward them, instead Martha resorted to slamming the desk. At least she did no more damage to any technology as she thrust her fists down through the holographic screen. Ukrit swiped his hand down, sending the hologram back into his tablet and allowing him to see Martha's expression. It was not positive.

"So you're just going to kill them all," she screeched.

"Calm down..." Ukrit managed before he was interrupted.

"Calm down! Calm down! You left me standing in there, made me look like a fool," her voice never lowered, never wavered. "I didn't have you as one to put business ahead of people's lives."

Ukrit pressed two buttons on his watch, the sea of faces from the open plan office beyond watched in dismay as the door slid closed, a red square illuminating next to it showing it was now locked.

Hearing the door shut, Martha turn to verify it had been closed then looked back to Ukrit. "Sorry," a new rage filled her voice, "did you not want your employees to know you're a murderer?"

"It's not like that, you see..."

Ukrit had got used to being interrupted. "NOT LIKE THAT," Martha screamed, "don't even think of justifying your decisions."

Ukrit stood, he was not a tall man, but when he rose he had presence, "you need to stop this now." Martha, stunned, fell silent. "I do support you, but there are ways and means." His voice was quiet and calm, "do you really think I would let her kill innocent people? She will not only destroy this company but the entire world if she is not stopped." Martha went to answer but Ukrit's finger silenced her. "When I talked about a revolt, I was not talking about the slums. I was talking about this building. Sometimes being a little more politically minded would help you. Now you must go and talk to Kendra, apologise to her, say you put personal feelings above business."

"But family before business is the right thing."

As if ignoring the comment, he continued, "she will think you are just sucking up to her to keep your job but that should mean she feels she has power over you. If you could grovel a bit that would help." Martha's face showed that this part of the plan would not happen. "Meet me tonight, eight at Joshua's, and I will explain all."

Before Martha could respond the door unlocked and slid open, Ukrit ushering her out with his eyes.

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