Disclaimer: I own nothing in here except the things that no one would recognize and I really have nothing worth suing for anyway. All persons, places and things are fictitious or used fictitiously.
Verschworung und Kaiserreich

The conference room was filled with reporters, sitting, standing, helping themselves to coffee from the carafes at the back of the room. The mood was quiet, almost bored, just another network announcing the new line up for the next season... what would stay, what would go, and what would be replacing what. It was a puff piece. None of the reporters really expected to find anything untoward, but it was a slow news day for the entertainment beat, so there was very little choice but wait for the announcement, phone it in and take an early day off.

The door at the back of the room opened and two men entered, the vice president of network programming and the head of PR, two matching suits with a half a personality between them. The head of the PR department, Edward Jones, stepped forward to the microphone, checking the sound and introducing Mr. John C. Smith, head of network programming.

"I would like to announce that the following shows have been continued into the next season...Amigos, Fred and Joan, Everyone Hates Johnny, LAPD, Beantown, Anarchy and Chaos, Anarchy and Chaos: CSI.... His voice droned on and on listing the good, the bad, and the indifferent of the TV viewing season. Finally, he reached the end of the 'Continued' list. Everyone sat forward waiting to hear the 'Cancellations' list. That was where the real juicy stories were.

Smith swallowed hard before beginning the next part. It was not going to be easy, but if he slipped it in, maybe no one would notice 'til he was out the door. After all, he really had no answers and would hate to have to fake it in front of this room full of bored piranha, with his facts hanging out like fresh meat. "The network has decided to discontinue the following shows for the new season..." He started the list slowly, keeping his voice to a monotone as Ed from PR had advised. As predicted, the crowd grew bored and restless listening to him name off shows that no one watched or that had seen their best years long since. "...Witchblade..." Suddenly he saw a head perk up in the crowd.

"Witchblade?" the writer asked, shaking himself from the reverie of boredom. "Excuse me, did you just say you had cancelled Witchblade?"

"Excuse me, Mr...?" the PR man asked.

"Eric Reeves, Sci-fi Eye... Now..."

"Questions will be taken at the end of the announcement, Mr. Reeves," he said sharply and returned the microphone to Mr. Personality. The list continued, but the crowd was no longer bored, there were stirrings and eddies in the school as the question that had been raised and squashed bred others.

Finally finished with his announcement, Smith looked desperately at Jones, hoping beyond hope that he had run too long and could avoid questions. The other man shook his head sadly and took over. "Now, we will have 5 minutes for questions...Mr..." He looked at the feature writer for Diversity, trying to redirect the conference, ignoring the raised hand of the writer from the Sci-Fi magazine.

"I want an answer to my question first," Reeves said, breaking in. There was a nod of agreement from around the room.

"After careful review of the second season numbers, we found that it was not economically..."

"But there are plenty of shows that have had a small decrease in second season ratings that are still on the air. At least three of the shows you are continuing..."

"There were other factors that have made this a valid decision at the corporate level. Are there any other questions?"

"But what about the fan base? I understand that shows with a good fan base are always considered a good investment. What about Space Track? It had bad numbers..." he plugged on doggedly. After all, he though, you can't expect network drones to actually give you answers. Without hope, we live in desire...

"That was a long time ago. Besides, the writers believed that they had gone as far as they could with the story lines as they stood. Now are there any other questions?" he asked frantically.

"Yes," said the writer from TV Times. "I would like to hear you answer his question." There was a rumble of agreement from around the room. John was starting to get panicky. This was exactly why he had tried to get out of this; there was no way they were going to let him go now.

"I am afraid that is all the time we have for today. Everyone, a formal press release will be waiting for you on the way out,. Thank you for attending." Ed waved the reporters in the direction of assistants standing by the doors with stacks of handouts, distracting the crowd from the fleeing Smith as he took the opportunity provided him to escape through the rear door.

Once outside he headed straight for the private elevator and his meeting with destiny. John had no doubt that the press conference had been monitored and he was wondering if he would be given a chance to clean out his desk before he was thrown out of the building for gross incompetence. It was not the first time someone had been fired for causing a stir with the press. Cursing the Science Fiction community in general and that blasted curious reporter in particular, he inserted the pass card into the slot and sighed heavily as the elevator made its way up to the penthouse.

Smith entered the dimly lit office slowly, not really in any more of a hurry for this meeting than he had been for the other. "Sir, I..." he started as he looked around the room, trying to catch sight of his employer in the gloom.

"That was poorly handled," a voice said calmly from the shadows of a large chair.

"I'm sorry sir, I did warn you that..." he said, shivering at the icy sound. Somehow, screaming would have felt much...safer.

"Enough of your excuses," the voice said sharply. "At least it is done. The fans will not believe it. They would prefer some sort of conspiracy...they always do. The furor will die down in a few days and they will wander off to other pursuits."

"Yes, Sir, I am sure..."

"Dismissed." the seemingly disembodied voice said, the word dropping the temperature in the room to well below freezing. John Smith turned and fled. He might not be good with the press but he did know when to cut and run. Maybe it was time to dust off the old resume? he thought as he ran down the stairs, not bothering to wait for the elevator.

The pale, distinguished man stood slowly, lost in thought and stepped across to the window overlooking the bustling city below. A dark shadow detached itself from just inside the door and followed behind quietly to stand in the middle of the room, waiting for instructions.

"Keep an eye on those writers," the gentleman said to his shadow by way of acknowledgement, not even bothering to turn around. "It would not do to have art too closely imitate life...again."