Chapter 38

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"It is with great sadness that we call this meeting. The sudden death of a friend is a sad and shocking thing, but to lose two at the same time is unthinkable," Derik tried to sound confident but the emotion made his voice waver, "funerals are being organised, unfortunately for us, business does not stop and that is why we are here. After Kendra, Ukrit would be in charge, as we have lost both it is left to me, as the longest serving director, to head the company." He allowed the silence to envelope the room, it was the only respectful thing to do. When he felt the others were ready, he continued, "we have three points on our agenda today," this was met with the firing up of holograms. "Firstly, we need to discuss the statement we will put out to the people regarding Kendra and Ukrit's deaths, secondly we shall start the ball rolling on appointing a successor, finally, an update on where we are with the issue of the slums."

The first two points were relatively straightforward but, like most agenda items in business meetings, dragged on longer than necessary. Everyone wanted their say on who would be appropriate as replacements for the two lost souls, and when it came to a statement on the deaths, every word had to be ratified in minute detail. In some ways, although they discussed both Kendra and Ukrit, it was nice to throw themselves into their work, to block out the feelings that mixed within their bodies, to allow their heads to clear and focus on a task, away from the unfolding events. That feeling of escapisms did not last long however, the divisive issue of the slums was raised, and knowledge of progress did not go down well with all.

"Well, that took longer than expected," Derik uttered. His tone did not exude confidence and, sat in his chair, he already appeared less threatening that Kendra, who stood for whole meetings. "Right, onto the final item, should be a quick one. As you know, the following slum in Sector 45 is due for destruction," the rotating Earth faded into view, a red dot on the location in question. "The squad are preparing at the moment, and will be despatched later today."

"What?!" Martha's energy raised her to her feet. "We can't do this, not now, not after what has happened."

"The deaths were sad news, but action was agreed, and we need to proceed as planned."

"Who agreed the action?"

"We all did, there was a vote."

"A rigged vote!"

"I know it is hard to hear," Derik remained amazingly calm despite being shouted at by an irate young lady, "but this was a democratic vote, and we need to trust the democracy in this boardroom."

"It was not democratic, it was a farce."

"I am sorry to hear your grievances, but we have to move forward."

"No we don't, we know it is wrong, we know how to do the right thing."

"It is not about right or wrong, it's about democracy."

"If you say democracy once more I'm going to..."

"Wait," Casper saved Martha from her rage, "I think what Martha is trying to say is that it would be hasty to start the mission given what has happened. Do we want more death on our hands right now?" Casper gave Martha that telling look, the look that said he was in control, that there was a better way to solve the problem. With a glance of sheepishness, Martha mouthed 'sorry' and sat down.

"I understand," Derik replied solemnly, "but we agreed to this course of action, even though Ukrit and Kendra were taken from us, it is not our place to question their direction for the company."

Martha stood again, "it was not Ukrit's direction." She felt foolish as she looked to Casper, once more sinking into herself as she sat.

"Let's look at it this way," Casper said, "how many people voted for the slums to be destroyed?"

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