Author : Cesium

Andelie stands atop the Fisher Building, gazing across miles of open air at the Monolith. It is formally the Colonial Administrative Headquarters, but it is always called the Monolith. Its imposing black form towers over the rest of the city. Fisher is the only building that comes close.

The Fisher Building is nominally the future corporate offices of Fisher Insurance, an immensely profitable and perfectly unremarkable corporation of which Andelie is also nominally an employee. It has risen story by story into the sky over the past decade. It is now only weeks from its official opening. Its unofficial opening will come significantly sooner.

Andelie adjusts her goggles, zooms in on the base of the tower. The motorcade is just pulling past lines of rippling flags into the entrance. They are later than she expected, but not behind schedule. The schedule is theirs. Andelie can afford to wait.

A scudding wisp of cloud obscures her sight for a moment. She looks away, touches a finger to her phone. The countdown starts.

Beneath her feet, illicit machinery moves into position. Industrial-grade fabbers complete the final stages of years of preparation. Surplus construction materials left deliberately unrecycled in the basements are covertly loaded onto high-speed lifts.

Careful deceptions and generous bribes have kept the Fisher Building’s true purpose hidden since its inception. The Monolith is well defended against terrorist attacks and armed siege alike. To decapitate the irredeemably corrupt government in an appropriately spectacular fashion requires a more innovative approach.

The clock ticks down to zero.

Down the face of the building, windows lift open and retract. Rail cannons extend, locking into position. The first salvo comprises kinetic and incendiary shells, fabricated from innocuous raw materials. Wind speeds and atmospheric conditions are known; angles and tolerances have been calculated precisely. Andelie watches the guns fire, perfectly synchronized.

The side of the Monolith bursts into plumes of dust and flame. Automatic turrets are already returning fire, but the Fisher Building’s active and passive defenses, which are overengineered for mere earthquakes and storms, adequately shield it. The architects of the Monolith, however, did not anticipate that it might face a skyscraper bristling with hostile guns.

Flying drones approach, but veer away before coming into range. The automated safeguards against colliding with tall structures are hardcoded even into military aircraft. They can be overridden, but it will take time.

The second salvo of explosive rounds shatters the weakened skeleton of the lower floors. The Monolith sways, bleeding acrid smoke, then collapses in on itself with an elegant rapidity. A cloud of dust enfolds its base and blossoms out through the city.

Just like that, it’s over. Time has run out.

The ultimatum to the armed forces, Andelie knows, has already been broadcast. She does not expect significant resistance. The weapon she stands upon should be intimidation enough. “Good work,” she says into her phone. A new age has begun, she thinks.

A stiff breeze ruffles her clothes and exposes the ruined stump of the Monolith. It was the Colonial Administrative Headquarters, but now it is only the grave of the old regime. The Fisher Building’s imposing silver form towers over the rest of the city. No other building comes close.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows