No-one mentioned the cooling corpse whose sanguinary fluids, having made a rapid exit from the body via the massive hole made by the electronivabratory blade, were currently seeping into the lush carpeting. The floor covering was rumoured to have been made, at incredible expense, from the shaggy hide of a great buffalo, cloned via an expenditure of resources and energy sufficient to power a city block for a month. But such things were trivial for MegaUltraEvilCo, the massive business conglomerate whose exotic chemical compositions made it one of the leading forces in the cutthroat business world of 2284, particularly its extremely profitable throat-cutting division.
The ruthless CEO flipped her weapon carelessly onto the table. Already the room’s built-in sanitation nanites were deleting the blood. The rest of the Board looked on emotionlessly. If you questioned the leadership, you’d best be prepared to back it up with the necessary force. Each of them had clawed to the top of the ruthless corporate foodchain through ruthless ruthlessness that required a certain, if one might be so bold as to use the term, ruthlessness. That was just business. “Business is War”, as the ancient saying went.
The High Technologist was not, technically, a member of the company’s ruling body, but he sat easily in his own chair. He wasn’t going to be as foolish as his predecessor-of-a-few-minutes-ago. He’d been careful to bring good news.
“Through frankly practical measures, we now control much of the user experience. We control what information they seek, and what they get. We control whether or not they use our platform. We control what we add and what we omit from our search engines, and we monitor everything they do and suggest what we desire.”
The Senior Vice-Wrangler said, “It’s better than nothing.
The CEO turned to the assemblage; her laugh was dark, much like her eyes.
“Very well!” she spat. “It’s time to take action.”
The entire assemblage seemed to hold its breath, as the CEO shrugged and said,
“Just let it do what it wants to do.”
And that was it.
The High Technologist asked, “No added messages of our own?”
The CEO looked out at the vast sea of electronic billboards, which cost the company more money than an entire fleet of delivery trucks and whose leases needed to be renewed, at vast expense, every year.
“What about making sure they can’t find information that’s damaging to us?”
The Head of Corporate Espionage perked up. “We’ve been trying to quash some of those damn rumours for months,” she said. “We’ve eliminated several rivals, but people are beginning to hear about certain side effects of Formula P-232, and it’s getting more difficult to ice out the competition.”
The CEO glanced over at the electro-news. It showed their stock price slightly down; of course, even a small fluctuation in stock price, when you are a CEO with normal incentives such as, say, company stock, is the difference between gaining or losing a large fortune.
“Why wouldn’t we take these opportunities? It costs us very little to do a few of these things; it’ll be almost impossible to detect; it’s only illegal if we’re sued for our monopoly, and we’re already paying lobbyists for that.”
“Yeah, but I just don’t feel like it.”
Around the table, the executives were nodding their heads and shrugging.
“My husband wants a boat. But who cares?”
“Yeah, I was thinking of buying a ton of real estate as an investment, but I figure, eh.”
“Exactly,” said the CEO. “Why would we save ourselves a ton of money, increase our profits, damage our competition, and do all the things we incorporated to do? Seems dumb.”
The Head Technologist nodded. “I figured you’d say that,” he said, and he got rid of his deliverables, for which he was fired.
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities and create things. Every year, I put on Evil Expo, the Greatest Place in the World to be a Villain. I also write a lot of fantasy and science fiction.. You can get most of my books right here. Go ahead, pre-order “I HATE Your Prophecy“. It may make you into a bad person, but I can live with that.