The Inquest of Commander Xi

Commander Xi stood under the giant columns of the Panoptic Tower entrance. The grand sigil of the Supreme Leader hung in the vaulted lobby like an immense eye, watching his servants.

As militia men passed by, they saluted the Commander. Servants wheeled cases containing  weapons, and bureaucrats checked every visitors’ papers and RFID chips, scanning their hands and eyes as they entered the building.

The Grand Technocrat had requested a special meeting. Commander Xi knew he couldn’t refuse a face-to-face meeting, because it must have been exceptionally important. Normally your standard meeting would be held remotely on holotube, but he looked forward to this one because it was well known that entering the Panoptic Tower meant you got a meal consisting of Old-Earth delicacies such as meat.

At the appropriate hour, his AR wristband lit up and he proceeded past security. They scanned his chips and eye, confiscated his weapons — except for his ceremonial dagger, of course, which was required to be on his personal at all times when in public.

The elevator took him to the 231st floor, which had an amazing view over the hive city. Screens inside displayed surveillance footage from the lobby, the exterior of the building, as well as some random shots of citizens working at their desks.

Within a few minutes, the Technocrat entered, wearing a thick hazmat suit and respirator, indicating he had just returned from one of the toxic zones. The Commander bowed low, as servants whirled around the official disinfecting him, and stripping him of his garb. The man under the respirator was grey, and had the nebulous look of someone who had been through rejuvenation at least a half dozen times. He was wearing his full regalia, which was either a very good or bad sign.