I wrote this a while ago, and I figured, eh, what the hell, I'll post it. Readers may or may not have the slightest idea what's going on. I intended it that way. That said, feel free to ask questions about it and I'll answer them.
The sunrise split the Rocky Mountains into stark lines of light and shadow, making morning on the plains of the surface. From the height of Earath, the great mountain range looked like the deep furrow left by a plow, stretching off across the horizon. The sun had been visible for over an hour by now, dawn before morning, but the sight of the light veil lifting over the broken earth certainly bolstered the horrendous tourism 7the area.
To Hoj Neddäns, the view was tiresome; he had seen it countless times before. His visitor, Ikkai Bandagrum, could not help glancing at it periodically from the full-length windows in the wall. There was something breathtaking about the majestic heap of rock six miles below, or perhaps the knowledge of what lay beneath it. Mr. Bandagrum himself, formal to the point of demanding the old-fashioned honorific with his name, wore a pinstripe suit in a black velvet that precisely matched his slanted eyes, with very dark grey stripes to go with his aging hair. His tanned skin and well-manicured hands gave him the look of overt seriousness. Hoj, on the other hand, seemed dressed like a child, with seemingly random colors, each piece stamped with a different designer's name, thrown together with little consideration for the overall effect, which was ultimately very painful to look at. His face, on the other hand, was ageless, seeming simultaneously old and young, the sign of one who had had it constantly altered through surgury and medication to combat his fear of time. Such reconstruction was illegal in the States, of course, but Hoj was a man of the world. The petty policies of individual regions did not concern him; he would go where was necessary to accomplish his goals.
The room in which the two met was spacious and bright, with walls of peach stucco; a lush red carpet lay over the limestone tiles, at an angle with the walls so its corners draped out of the four doorways, centered in each wall, that framed the room. Three of the doorways looked out to a large terrace where the view could be most appreciated, complete with an awning and deck chairs, and furnished by random plants. Beyond the terrace, there was only empty air, all the way down to the surface. Large windows with thick limestone sills filled the remaining wall space, opening the room to the light.
The fourth door was dark; it led to the remainder of the huge complex that Hoj Neddäns used as his winter home. Though it was currently summer and he had not visited this house since spring, he felt that the view of the Rockies would help him- and, more importantly, his visitor- visualize the goal of this particular meeting.
Mr. Bandagrum waited with feigned patience while his employer stood looking over the majestic sight below. Hoj wasn't admiring the view; in fact, he hardly noticed it. He simply knew that he could make better advantage of things as his quarry became more flustered. As he waited, Mr. Bandagrum indeed grew more insecure and unsure.
"So." The sudden outbreak of speech, commanding and powerful despite the weak and childish appearance of the wealthy man in his flashy suit of designers clothes, caught Mr. Bandagrum so by surprise that he jumped quite visibly. His voice always caught people by surprise, even after they got to know him. Hoj hid a tiny smile. "What news," he continued, "of the Onnist state?"
Mr. Bandagrum cleared his throat, having completely forgotten what he had been prepared to say. Exactly the effect Hoj had been looking for. "Um... The, uh... H-high Priest is withdrawn from daily appearances. Some say he begins to prophesize."
"Interesting." Hoj pretended to ponder this, though he had already made his conclusion. There was little the man could tell him that he didn't already know. "If this is true, what might it mean?"
"Well, although it is not uncommon for a High Priest to use Foresight, if this prophesy comes forth without his intent, and in such manner that he must forego appearances, then the prophesy likely concerns some event of great import, especially within the High Priest's lifetime."
The man had recovered quickly. His tendency to make assumptions and leap to conclusions made it difficult to garner the simple truth, but Hoj believed he had enough information.
"I see." Hoj conceded. "And do you know anything of the contents of such a prophesy?"
Mr. Bandagrum swallowed, trying to decide how much information to give. He was still nervous. Good. "I have heard... a few things... from certain friends of mine... reliable friends. From the little the High Priest has told his aides, I believe it has something to do with... The End."
A scowl passed over Hoj's face that he didn't have to fake. End, the final book in the Onnist Biblicia, told of the armageddon, a series of events that many believed were now approaching. It was most dissatisfying. If indeed the End was coming, it would mean the deaths of a lot of people. Even his great business would be in danger. He had no fear that the End would culminate in the destruction of the world; he had too much faith in the God and humankind to believe that. But he had to be sure that his own business, which he had so struggled to build into what it was today, would not become a sacrifice to the mechanism of the final battle.
Even if that meant he had to sway the course of the End in a way that many would find... unsatisfactory.
With hardly a pause to collect his thoughts Hoj returned his attention to his lackey. "That is very informative," he said. "Anything else to report?"
"Nothing of great consequence, sir."
"Good. Then you may go."
The man bowed and left, failing to disguise his discomfort on the way out. After he had gone, Hoj sent a mental signal to the organizer on his desk. Another man entered the room through a different door, though, thanks to the wonders of current technology, and any number of movable rooms, the same doorway through which Bandagrum had left. He was young, not yet even into his second generation of age, a rambunctious thirty-something who had managed to become a high-ranking leader in the USNA primary branch of the Global corporation, and he knew that his position was tentative. As such, he summoned as much politeness as possible when meeting his highest boss. Hoj liked the man; he could see through him like the clearest water. Without looking up, Hoj issued his command to the newcomer.
"The United States is becoming more free in its economic reforms soontime. At this rate, it's not long before it crosses the line into socialism. This cannot be allowed."
The other nodded blankly. This much was obvious. He didn't need orders from a superior to figure that out.
"But there's not a lot I can do about it, sir," he allowed himself to interject. "Most of the new barriers are laws, voted directly by the population."
Hoj let slip a patronizing smile. He was good at those, though he didn't pride himself on it.
"Just as well we provide the means for those votes to be counted, isn't it?"
The manager barely kept from swallowing. Hoj had made his meaning as clear as possible without extraneous risk. There was always the chance of bugs from one of the many jealous world governments, listening in. Not likely, in one of the most expensive offices in the world, but it could be done. The young man had long suspected that he might have to bend the law to secure his standing, but this was a highly punishable offense. He would do it, of course. He really had no choice.
He started to make his leavings, but Neddäns forestalled him.
"One more thing, Worthings. The Onnist church needs to be more closely linked to us. See if you can find a market for them." The young man waited, then nodded again.
Once the room was empty again except for Hoj, he returned to some personal work at his desk. After a while he realized he was hummimg a tune. He didn't stop himself. For all his impressive political play and financial skill, he remained a child at heart, a child playing with a large toy that didn't really belong to him; a toy that was represented by the decoration on his desk. The small globe spun, hovering in its own personal gravity a few inches above the desk surface. He recognized the tune he sung; it was "He's got the whole world in his hands." It was his favorite song; he'd heard that it was once a hymn to some god or other, but that hardly mattered anymore. He'd bought the rights to it a long time ago.