Jonas fired both magazines dry. By the time his twenty second hail of lead ended, Nyko and his men rushed the wounded guards on the floor and removed their masks and weapons.
“Where is a med-kit!” Nyko shouted at one barely conscious man.
“There isn’t one.”
“Of course there’s a fucking first aid kit somewhere.”
“Who’s in fucking charge here? Where do I find him?”
“End of the hall. Eric Gibson. He’s waiting for you,” the man said.
Nyko stood, swapped the magazine on his rifle for one from the man’s belt, and looked around. “Jonas, Derrick, Brian, you’re with me. Terrell and Andy; get these men out of the hall and do what you can for them. Watch the elevator and stairs.” Then he walked down the hall, followed by three of his men.
The hallway led to an assistant’s desk, behind which a solid door was marked ‘Eric Gibson, President.’
Brian pushed down on the handle and nudged the door open with his foot.
“Come in, sit down,” said the man Nyko had seen in his visor. He was the first person they’d seen not wearing a mask.
Nyko leveled his rifle at him. “Tell me why I shouldn’t just shoot you where you sit.”
“You certainly could do that. But you seem like a pretty smart guy, and you certainly have a good team.” Eric Gibson was one of those people who gestured wildly as he spoke. He was wearing a white suit, with a white tie, to match everything else that was white here.
The office was expansive. It took up fully a quarter of the floor. An amazing view of the city below and the desert beyond expanded out the solid glass walls that made up two of the sides. Not a single joint was visible in the glass. The furniture was all white. The floor was white marble, the same as the lobby floor. A white laptop computer sat open on his desk next to a massive white monitor. The only other thing on the desktop was a white pen cup filled with white pens.
“How do you ever find your pen if you drop it,” said Nyko stepping into the office.
The round faced man laughed. “It is a little extreme. But when you’re creating a utopia, one that was running fairly smoothly until you showed up, I might add, you have to look the part. I’d give my left nut to be able to wear a pair of blue jeans again. Please, sit.” He gestured towards six chairs in a semi-circle on the far side of his desk. “There is water on the table if you’re thirsty. I’ve heard killing thirty innocent people is hard work.”
“I think I’ll stand,” said Nyko.
“Suit yourself,” replied Gibson. “Take a look at this.” He reached into a drawer and pulled out a remote. With the touch of a button, the white cabinets across from his desk rolled to the side revealing a screen. He tapped a few buttons on his laptop and a Gibson Pharmaceuticals logo appeared on the screen, over laid by ‘Pharmaceuticals For The Future.’
For the next twenty minutes, Nyko and his friends were treated to a big budget propaganda video all about how Gibson saved Phoenix from the ravages of the plague and built the city as it is today. According to the video, the new Phoenix was one hundred percent self-sustaining and green. They touted their ‘Zero Carbon Footprint’ philosophy throughout, and the good that they did for the people.
Nyko waited patiently for it to be done, then turned to face the man at the desk. “Hooray for you. I didn’t see anything in there about kidnapping people from outside the walls of your city, drugging them, stealing their possessions and holding them against their will.”
Gibson held his hands up. “Yeah, listen. I’m really sorry about that. We haven’t ever had visitors that weren’t those crazy waste people. Our protocols may need some slight adjustment. Actually, this very morning I convened a committee to review those processes to create a more pleasing entry to the city for those who would like to visit. I’m willing to totally let bygones be bygones. I’ll forgive you killing thirty of my best men, if you’ll forgive the substandard treatment upon your arrival.”
“What the fuck do you want,” asked Nyko. “Speak plain.”
“I want you to work for me. We have a good thing going here on Phoenix. Until you came, we had no idea there were people alive in Las Vegas. I want to share our technology with them, and help provide a better life to everyone. That’s what we’re all about here at Gibson.”
“You just want to give away technology?” Nyko was suspicious, but there was also a chance for profit here. If he could be the one hauling goods back and forth, perhaps he could salvage this operation after all.
Gibson got excited, practically flailing his arms as he spoke. He jumped out of his chair and walked to the windows. “Yes. All of our buildings are made of a specialized nano-polymer. All this glass you see isn’t really glass at all. It’s a clear solar panel. This building generates more power than it uses, all from the sun.”
“That’s impressive,” said Nyko.
“And, it has a higher insolation value than anything previously created. We have zero climate control in this building. At night the vents at the top and bottom open, allowing cool night air to fill the lowest levels. During the day, just a tiny crack in the vents creates a convection current that carries warmer air out the top of the building, to be replaced by the stored cooler air in the basements.”
“Fascinating,” replied Nyko, quickly bored with the details. So you have super glass, and you want to share it with Las Vegas out of the goodness of your heart?”
Gibson smiled, and walked back to his desk. “Well, not exactly. We need genetic diversity. We would be willing to trade our materials in exchange for a few citizens of Las Vegas coming to live here, in paradise.”
Nyko just wanted to get away from Phoenix. There was no need to push his luck right now. “I’m not the guy to make that decision, but I will happily carry your proposal to him.”
“Fantastic. If you’re amenable, I have a proposal right here, and I’ll release you to return to your train.” Gibson opened a drawer and pulled out a large envelope and slid it across the desk. Nyko picked it up and examined the seal. “Oh, you’re welcome to open it, if you’d like. Here.” Gibson paused to reach back into his desk and pull out a second envelope. “This is a spare envelope, so when you hand it to your leadership in Las Vegas it can appear sealed.”
Nyko took the second envelope. “Alright. If you’ll let us know the location of the train, and how we can get out of here, I’ll carry this back to the leadership and bring their reply in a couple of weeks.”
“I’d like to send someone with you as an emissary. Someone who can negotiate on my behalf,” said Gibson. “Like, a diplomat.”
Nyko mulled the idea over. His goal was to get out of Phoenix with the lives of his friends. Having the diplomat along accomplished that. After he was assured that he and his friends were alive, he still needed the trade and trade goods between the cities. It accomplished that. It was also a way for Gibson to get a spy on their train. Nyko was not a fan of that. And, of course, that spy could kill them in their sleep. He was also not a fan of that.
“I’ll need a day to make the preparations before we leave. The train isn’t really set up for carrying passengers, and I’ll need to make an assessment and any repairs to the engine. I’d hate to get halfway home and have a breakdown.” Brian and Jonas shifted uncomfortably, but didn’t say a word. Derrick stood stoically as ever.
“You’ll have your day. I’ll need some time to prep the ambassador on the details of our deal. Until then, we have accommodations here, but I expect you’d like to be returned to your train?”
Nyko replied, “You expect correctly.”
“One last thing, I’ll need you to leave the masks and weapons here.”
Nyko grinned. “I don’t trust you that much, yet. As far as I know you can gas any room in the building. We won’t be made susceptible to that. However, I recognize they have value, and are probably fairly expensive to manufacture. So, I will leave them on the dock of my station when we leave. You may send someone to collect them when we have departed the station. However, they are also handy for communication. You proved you can communicate through them, so I’d like to keep one for that purpose. Think of it as the fare for carrying your ambassador to New Vegas.”
Gibson sighed. “Very well. Leave them on the loading dock when you leave, except for one that you may keep. However, the range is limited to a few miles outside the wall.”
Nyko and his men left. In the lobby, two men were waiting, holding their hands up when the elevator doors opened.
“We’re here to take you to your train,” one of them said.
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