Apocalypse origins, p.30
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       Apocalypse Origins, p.30

           R.A. Neely
 

  ***

  William set Olson's report to the side. This was an interesting development. This group was organized enough that they could be a potential threat. It was good that he had told Olson to get rid of them. Their leader was particularly impressive. He had survived an assassin's blade and had nearly killed Olson in battle. He had smirked when he read about the man unloading his clip into Olson's chest. There was a viciousness there that he could appreciate. 

  He'd only glanced at the report before Olson had arrived for his meeting. A more thorough look had him wondering if he'd been too hard on him. It appeared that Olson had simply been outmatched. Who would have thought the man would have used an elevator shaft to flank him? 

  His intercom chimed and he reached over to answer. "Yes, Alanna?"

  "I apologize for the interruption. Watkins and Reel are ready for the conference call."

  "Thank you, Alanna." William hit the button and watched as the screen descended from the ceiling. It flickered to life and William schooled his features to keep the smile off his face when he saw Reel's haggard appearance. The weeks had not been kind to him. Watkins looked much the same, worried. But that was to be expected.

  "Gentlemen," William greeted them pleasantly.

  "Dray, Reel," Watkins replied.

  Reel nodded and focused on William. "You're looking rather immaculate," his distaste forcing his lip to curl up a bit.

  "One must maintain a proper appearance," William replied. "It's good for morale."

  Reel shook his head in dismissal. "I haven't had time to worry about morale. I've lost half my men to the infected."

  "How'd that happen," William asked in pretend sympathy. 

  Reel hesitated, no doubt aware William was taking pleasure in his misfortune. "There was a breach. One of the men had failed to report that he had been bitten."

  "Ah," William replied. There wouldn't be a lapse like that among his men. William rewarded success but his men knew an error of that magnitude would see their entire family executed.

  "I've been having trouble of my own," Watkins chipped in. "Does that offer to join you still stand?"

  "Of course, Watkins. You're more than welcome."

  Watkins visibly sighed in relief, "Thank you Dray. I will of course place my remaining resources at your disposal."

  William nodded. That was precisely as it should be. Watkins knew his place. He understood that he would survive because William permitted him to do so.

  Reel glanced off screen as if he was faced with an unpleasant task. "Does that offer still hold for me?"

  William let the silence stretch out for a few moments before responding. "It does, but I have proposal."

  "What's that?" Reel asked.

  "Given our mutual...animosity, living under the same roof might prove difficult."

  "There's an understatement," Reel replied.

  "Indeed. I have a problem you can help me with. In solving it you'll have another city of your own."

  "I see, and what does this problem of yours entail?"

  "There's a group to the north. They're pretty organized and pose a potential threat to our rebuilding efforts."

  "Some would be bandit king is giving you trouble," Reel asked with a chuckle.

  "This man is no bandit," William replied. "He survived an assassination and nearly killed one of my best men in personal combat."

  "So I get rid of him and you'll find me another city?"

  "You get rid of him and you take his city. He's in Wisconsin so that should be enough distance between us." Olson's latest report had indicated the group was camped somewhere near the middle of Wisconsin.

  "That could work. Thank you, Dray," Reel said with traces of genuine emotion in his voice.

  William nodded and explained there were some matters that he had to deal with and ended the call. He chuckled as the screen returned to its berth in the ceiling. That fool. He would likely be in for a rude awakening when he attacked that group. If their leader had half a brain, he'd be building his forces even now. Jeremy hadn't returned with Olson. That meant that he was dead or captured. If captured, he no doubt would have revealed everything he knew to save his skin.

  William assumed that the group knew about him. They were no doubt panicking, impressed by the vast resources at his disposal. They were surely building up their forces. While they'd be no match for his army, they might be able to give Reel some real trouble. However the scenario played out was fine. Reel could swoop in or the group could win the conflict. He could then send in some helicopters to deliver some ordinance. He won regardless.
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