A Gently Closed Fist


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Scene Title A Gently Closed Fist
Synopsis The CEO of InVerse Technologies meets with the British Minister of Evolved Affairs.
Date February 14, 2021

From a high catwalk overlooking a factory floor, rows of hospital beds look like a spread of white mahjong tiles on a large table. Close to five hundred hospital beds are laid out end to end in rows of twenty across the warehouse floor. A latticework of aluminum framework suspended at the ceiling serves as a hub for miles of plastic tubing running to and from machines next to each bed and intubation fed into each and every man, woman, and child in one of the beds.

Up on this high catwalk, a pair of British Torchlight officers in black paramilitary gear walk with assault rifles at the ready ahead of a pair of old white men in clean suits lingering out of earshot behind them. "Whitehearth is the largest Sectioning Relocation Center we have, though it's by far from the most efficient. We have a 99 percent success rate at detentions, and that means a 99 percent approval rating from the Ministry of Evolved Affairs and the Ministry of Defence. The hardware we're using…"

Minister George Nowell stops mid-sentence, turning to rest his hands on the catwalk railing. He leans over the edge, looking down at the rows of bodies laying in suspension. "We co-opted it from the Company a decade ago. They're receiving a mixture of zodytrin, propofol, pentobarbital, and thiopental. Deep sleep, probably some sweet dreams, and no long-term ability concerns to worry about." Nowell looks over his shoulder at the tall, thin man standing nearby.

"That's all very impressive, Minister." Morgan Atkins, CEO of InVerse technologies comes to join the minister by the railing. He looks down at he bodies, then up to the minister. "But what is the state of care for these people? Are they having sweet dreams? What are their long-term prospects?"

"Long term prospects?" Minister Nowell balks at the notion, scoffing as he motions down to the rows of medicated prisoners. "Mr. Atkins, these are Section 1 Evolved. Criminals with nuclear fission, pyrokinesis, telekinesis—dangerous weapons. If I had my way their long-term prospects would be in a fucking trench behind this facility. The public may get squeamish at summary execution, but they voted for this." He motions down at the warehouse floor again, then fixes Atkins with a steady look. "If you've come here to peddle more drug on your parent company's behalf, you wasted a trip."

"I'm not…" Atkins says as he looks down to the rows of prisoners. "Can we adjourn to your office?"

North Dawn, Orkney
United Kingdom

February 14th
2:12 pm

The office of Whitehearth's Director of Operations is decorated in a cozy down-home style that rankles Minister Nowell's utilitarian sensibilities. Too many potted plants, succulents, and bookshelves for his tastes. The Operations Director has a photograph of his family on his desk, pictures of his kids. Nowell's jaw sets as he regards them, then fixes an impatient blue-eyed stare up at Atkins as meanders through the room.

"I appreciate everything Crito Corporate has done for Torchlight," Minister Nowell says with tension in his voice, "but I do not appreciate being dragged up to the armpit of Her Majesty's Kingdom to turn away a door-to-door salesman who doesn't understand the business he's peddling to. I am familiar with your reputation, Mr. Atkins, and I will not be hoodwinked by your largesse."

Atkins smiles, a polite and expected expression, but there's no warmth behind it. "If I might pose a hypothetical to you, Minister?" He asks as he paces the room, looking at pictures on the wall of the Irish coast near Cork. "What are the Evolved here doing for you?"

Minister Nowell doesn't answer immediately. But he looks offended at the notion, as if it were some kind of judgment or sleight. "Nothing," he finally says, realizing Atkins wasn't taking silence as an answer.

"When I spoke with representatives from the Ministry they cited Whitehearth's operating budget at roughly six million pounds a month." Atkins says with a swish of a hand in the air. "Profit return is roughly six hundred and eighty thousand pounds thanks to prison labor by the non-sedated Sectioned. What if I had a proposal for you that could turn this facility profitable."

Minister Nowell's attention hangs on Atkins for a long moment. He walks behind the borrowed desk of Whitehearth's operations director, then slowly takes a seat. Though Nowell says nothing, his willingness to sit and listen says volumes.

"And now that I have your attention," Atkins says with a small smile, "I'll begin." He joins Nowell at the desk, talking as he walks. "The people you have here, sedated, require constant medical attention and provide no material benefit to the facility or Torchlight. Because they're sedated. Coma patients, effectively." He motions off toward the direction of the warehouse floor they'd been on earlier. "And this is a tragedy in its most quietly devastating costume. A life without risk, a life without real pain, a life without real joys. This is existing, not living." He fixes a steady look in Nowell's eyes. "At least," he starts to smile, an easy and relaxed thing that joins a lighter tone of voice. "That is my philosophy. And at the end of the day, that's all I've got."

Nowell looks down at his desk, then pinches the bridge of his nose with forefinger and thumb. "Please, get to the point Mr. Atkins."

"The point is, you're working for them when they could be working for you. Carefully cradled in a gently closed fist." Atkins explains, crossing one leg over the other as he folds his hands in his lap.

"And how, dare I ask, would we accomplish this? Asking them nicely?"

"No." Atkins says with a crease of his brow and a shake of his head. "If you do it right?"

"They'll volunteer."

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