The Not Too Distant Future.
"Wall Street was breathing a massive sigh of relief today, as congress signed the Unity Act into law. The new law has corrected a long controversial section of SEC regulation; hereby repealing all Anti-Trust laws. Within three hours of the law becoming effective; alliances were formed between long political and economic enemies.
Market Analysts are stunned at the speed with which the Recession was brought under control, as global economic concerns quickly placed their bids. And now, let's go to Wall Street with Karen Gillys. Karen?"
"Thanks Dan. In what has been termed 'The Bloodless Coup', ninety six of the largest public stockholder companies in America became a conglomerate, dubbed 'The Corporation.' Eighty Three CEO's have resigned; and been legally denied their originally agreed severance packages. A move that has been widely celebrated by Corporation Employees.
The Corporation is now effectively the largest force in Domestic politics, and international trade and economics.
Remarkably, the sudden shift has been widely celebrated most by those that stand to lose their financial independence, as the new conglomerate has taken over a near limitless supply of franchises, which had been left closed by the economic Crisis. With the deep pockets of The Corporation now backing those closed franchises, unemployment has plummeted as hundreds of thousands of businesses across the globe can reopen once again. Newly appointed Corporation CEO Alexander Appius has already outlined plans to spread into new areas of industry and commerce across the world. To Quote Mr Appius: "A new Era of profit and prosperity has come. History will mark this as a new Golden Age, out of the darkness of the times."
While still having economic enemies and legal opponents across the world, nobody can deny that today's result on Wall Street seems to prove his words true. Back to you Dan."
"Reporting live from Wall Street, Karen Gillys. When we return, we'll be speaking to our panel of experts to explain what this Global merger means for you, and how it will affect international relations in years to come. Until then, this is Dan Pierce, KBX Broadcasting, your home for the latest news, and new subsidiary of The Corporation."
Six Months Later
"The Corporation was quick to begin damage control today when the East Mediterranean Ocean Oil Rig was ripped apart by a massive explosion. Less than an hour ago; a spokesman for The Corporation confirmed that thirty six workers were killed in the explosion. The families have been contacted, but their names have been withheld for the time being.
Alexander Appius; CEO of The Corporation has announced that they have already approached the situation and found a solution, to insure there will be no repeats. Mr Appius plans to unveil the prototype of a new, fully automated submersible drilling platform, ready to be retrofit and moved into place within the next week.
The Corporation assures us that oil production will resume within the week, and that consumers will have no noticeable disruption in their supply. It is the first serious Crisis that The Corporation has been forced to deal with since The Great Merger last year.
And now, for more in depth coverage, we go to our anchor, live at the scene; Karen Gillys. Karen, are you there?"
"Right here Dan. The coast is already covered in oil. I can see ships from The Corporation already on the scene. They've deployed the usual apparatus to contain the oil slick, but the fact is that the oil is pressurized and coming into the ocean at thousands of barrels an hour. The rescue effort is divided between containing the oil and putting the fire out. The local wildlife is swamped. I covered the BP spill in the gulf years ago, and I can tell you; this looks like it's going to be worse."
"Karen, is there any sign of developments at the drilling platform itself?"
"I'll be honest with you Dan; I can barely see the rig from here. It's been a staple of the coastline for a decade now, and we can't even make it out. But we can tell immediately where it is by the smoke. The fire is completely out of control; and a number of ships are pumping sea-water, trying to cool down the blaze. but with the sheer volume of crude oil in the water already, it may be doing more harm than good. I can taste the smoke in the air from here; and the wind is blowing it the other way. Helicopters are being forced away from the scene by the ash and smoke."
"Karen, we're going to have to take a break soon, but we'll come back to you as soon as we can."
"Understood; I'll keep you up to date as things unfold."
"Karen Gillys, live from the Mediterranean. And she was not the first to make comparisons to the infamous Gulf oil spill of 2010. The BP spill in the Gulf was of course the beginning of the end of that particular energy company; and the Corporation's purchase of BP was what brought them into the energy market.
With that in mind, we're going to take a break, and then come back with our panel of market analysts and legal experts to determine what impact this tragedy will have..."
One Month Later
"The last victim of the Mediterranean Oil Rig was laid to rest this afternoon, brining to a close the ongoing mourning period for the families of thirty six victims. The family of the last victim have expressed their gratitude to The Corporation for covering all expenses; and for respecting their privacy during this trying time.
But the funeral itself was not without its own share of controversy. Outside the cathedral itself during the service, there was a near riot as police clashed with the always present crowd of protesters that follow. The Protesters continued their crusade against the Corporation and its policies with regards to the environment; the third world exports, and Free Trade Agreements.
The Corporation was quick to condemn the protesters for their disrespect, and their blatant exploitation of a family in mourning.
Mr Appius was quick to rally; approaching Congress today to call for permission to construct a fully automated Oil Rig. The argument in favor of the project was that a fully automated rig would pose no safety risk to workers.
The Corporation has been seeking approval for the automated rig for over four years now; but found little support in Government; until today, with the latest opinion poll showing overwhelming support from the public, and the consumers of The Corporation's fuel supply. The more vocal opponents have accused The Corporation of also exploiting the Mediterranean explosion to push their new technology through the approval process, but those comments were quickly shouted down.
The prototype is scheduled to be completed within two years.
In related news, the Mediterranean Oil Well has finally been sealed; and the long road toward cleanup continues.
Market analysts say that The Corporation's immediate redistribution of food and goods to affected areas will earn them sufficient profits to maintain their stock price, which has come as a relief to nervous stockholders. There has been remarkably little outcry from the locals who relied on the ocean; and now turn to The Corporation's mobile markets to put food on the table.
And now, let's go to the scene of the cleanup..."
Two Years Later
"The Corporation was in top form unveiling the prototype of the first fully automated oil rig. The new design is the first to get Government approval. Simulations under real world conditions have demonstrated the new design to have a flawless record. A record that no human crew has ever been able to match.
Experts are anticipating another huge jump in stock prices for The Corporation once the new equipment begins operation..."
To: The United States Senate
We, the undersigned, hereby testify that the results of the ADP Simulations were falsified, and that there was no oil obtained by the automated drilling platform.
Their motives are unknown to us; but as members of the scientific community, have tested our facts against independent evidence, and have confirmed that The Corporation is lying about the capabilities of the Automated Drilling Platform.
It is our hope that the governments of the world will realize that they have been deceived, and take appropriate action.
"... reviewing our top story tonight: The Corporation has categorically denied, that the allegations made by the Signatories of the Testimony brought before the Senate this week. They have offered as evidence, a large supply of recently gathered crude oil, brought from the automated platform. Testing has confirmed the oil is newly drilled, and quotas are being met ahead of schedule.
The claims of the scientific community took a serious credibility hit when it was shown by The Corporation's legal team, that several of the signatories were former employees, whose services were terminated for insubordination and corporate espionage.
The signatories of the controversial document have retaliated by pointed out that The Corporation has contributed millions to each of the Joint Senate Committee members in re-election contributions and Private Sector businesses, but whatever the motives, the allegations brought by the Scientific community were summarily dismissed."
Six Months Later
"...The Corporation today announced that they were suspending their cleanup in the Mediterranean. It is a time for summing up, and here are the most up to date figures we have.
It is estimated that over forty thousand birds were killed, and more than three times that number of fish species. The spill occurred during the migration season; and it is estimated that over twenty million barrels worth of crude oil has been lost into the Mediterranean Sea. It is estimated than an area of ocean measuring over half a million square feet is now effectively dead. Experts suggest that it may recover within the next 400 years.
Residents have been warned to avoid the area due to health risks. Local fishing villages and coastal towns have been abandoned, and are now seeking homes and employment; which The Corporation was quick to provide. Market analysts have praised The Corporation for their charitable donations.
Fuel prices are expected to rise accordingly with the new estimate of the lost oil."
"WILL YOU TURN THAT OFF!"
Sykes jumped and turned off the television. "Sorry boss."
Devorux was glad for the sudden silence. The bridge of a ship, even one this size, was too small for arguments. Having that particular news item reported on the bridge while they worked was in very poor taste.
Devorux looked out the window at the coastline. It wasn't that he was unmoved by the sight. It was a fantastic view. Mountains in the background, untouched, pristine beach, crystal blue water shining in the sunlight...
It wasn't that he didn't notice, or even that he didn't care; but there was something that interested him more. He was raised in a very poor family, and he had nothing to do with his spare time but look to the uptown side of New York and stare up at the skyscrapers. He came from a neighbourhood where people were happy to fill in the minutes between being born and dying and never go anywhere with their lives.
Devorux vowed he'd never be that pathetic. He'd fought his way up. Even in The Corporation, nobody cared about kids from the poor side of town; and he'd had to fight his way up. Even now, he was in a position that made a lot of difference, but took no personal glory or credit. He was in it for the money. And anyone who looked at him would notice that he wore it in every way he could. Even his work clothes were personally tailored; made from the finest fabrics. Anyone who looked at his face would have seen a man sculpted straight out of a renaissance painting. He was handsome, in a dark and violent kind of way. But the look was clearly artificial. The result of a lot of plastic surgery.
Devorux didn't care about fame or credit. He'd built his towers, he'd broken untouched ground and he'd won his way into a comfortable life.
He wasn't about to give that up. Not for anything. The Corporation had given him this, and all it asked for in return was his service. A service he was willing to give.
It wasn't that he didn't like what he was looking at. It just didn't do anything for him.
Bligh, the head security chief of the Groundbreaker; checked her monitors, and swept her two-toned hair back behind her ear. "No sign of anyone within sight of us captain. I have teams patrolling the coast just to make sure. The story we're giving them is that we're looking for a fugitive. My teams have been given Federal Marshal Uniforms. There were only a couple of people. Looks like a pair of campers." She nodded, and looked in the appropriate direction. "My people are heading that way. Nobody else in range."
"Drop anchor." Devorux commanded. "Fore and Aft."
Sykes worked his console. "Anchors away."
"Fixed. We are over the reserve, ocean currents stable."
Devorux sent a look over at Bligh. "So, what kind of odds am I getting?"
Bligh didn't answer.
"C'mon, I know that somebody must have opened a book on it somewhere. What are the odds?"
"Five to one against you."
Devorux grinned savagely. "Put me down for fifty."
Bligh gestured over at Sykes who made a note without meeting his captain's eyes.
Devorux clapped his hands together. "All right, let's get to work."
Bligh put a hand to her earpiece. "Confirmed. Nothing on radar, sonar or thermal scan. We're alone out here."
"What kind of rock is down there?" Devorux asked.
"Core samples say hard bedrock." Sykes said.
"Can this thing drill through that?" Bligh asked in concern.
Devorux grinned and dialed up the power. "This rig can eat through anything."
"Kind of like you." Bligh commented coldly. "And they say people don't look like their pets."
Devorux glared at Bligh. "What the hell is your problem? We're on the same side here."
A nature reserve was a great place to have a camping trip with your family. Smitty was teaching his kids how to safely set up a campfire so that the flames would not spread.
"Hello there folks."
Smitty spun and saw that his campsite had been invaded by two men with uniforms. They were both carrying badges and guns.
"Wow! Is that gun real?" his son said quickly.
"Quiet Leroy." Smitty said quickly. "Excuse me sir, but who are you?"
The first uniform smiled easily at him and came forward. "Sorry if we startled you there. We're US Marshalls, and I'm afraid we're going to have to move you folks out of here."
Smitty couldn't believe it. "What? I've been coming to this campsite for fifteen years; nobody ever said anything to me about a restricted area!"
Uniform two held up his hands. "Relax. You aren't breaking a law. You see, there was a jailbreak about five kilometres from here back toward the highway. A bunch of prisoners were being transferred; and one managed to escape. Word is that he was headed this way. There's plenty of forest for him to hide in out here. So they sent us to clear out the reserve. Don't want to risk him taking any hostages."
Smitty paled. "My god. is the road out clear? We just got here... i don't have any weapons except a Swiss army knife, and my kids..."
Uniform one nodded. "It's highly unlikely he could have made it this far on foot yet. If it makes you feel better, I could go back with you, make sure you make it out of the reserve safely. But I wouldn't worry about that. Just make sure you get out of range quickly. This is a pretty dangerous man." He sent a look at Smitty's children. "And the things he's done to children. Allegedly."
"Say no more." Smitty said instantly, his imagination doing worse than a warning ever could. "Come on kids, the camping trip is cancelled."
Bligh nodded. "The campers are gone; we are officially on our own out here."
Devorux hit some buttons and the ship quivered at the sounds of machinery coming to life. Retractable pylons extended down into the water till they hit bottom. Everyone on the bridge gripped their consoles as the ship raised slightly from the surface of the ocean, slowly, laboriously.
Devorux felt a tingle. It was working.
Sykes turned from his console. "Pylons locked, zero bubble. We're stable at an altitude of fifteen feet."
Devorux whooped. "Yessir! That's the way to do it! Pay the winners!"
Money changed hands grudgingly, including Bligh's.
Devorux laughed. "Lower the drill."
The centre of the ship was open to the water, the entire thing a floating support platform for the drill and the tanks. The drill lowered through the opening at the centre of the ship into the water, and began it's decent into the ocean.
"Seventy five feet from the sea floor. Sixty. Fifty."
"Slow it down." Sykes directed carefully, working his controls, to ease the drill bit to it's destination.
There was a tense beat, though nobody knew why they should be nervous.
"Touchdown!" Sykes said finally. "We have a firm drill area sir, ready to begin."
Devorux sent one last glance at Bligh, who nodded. The area was secure.
Back in her private quarters that night, Bligh hung up her gun belt, shrugged out of her jacket, and rolled her head back and forth. Her shoulders always ached when she started to get tired.
She hit the intercom. "Sykes! Have somebody bring me food."
"The captain has requested that you dine with him in his stateroom this evening." Sykes' voice responded promptly.
"I'll bet he does." Bligh scorned. "And if I should refuse?"
There was a beat before the voice came back, flustered and uncertain. "Uh... he didn't say ma'am. I think that they're still serving in the galley if..."
"Never mind." Bligh said dismissively. Devorux commanded his people from the top down. People who worked the ship didn't have details on his way of thinking. And Devorux would not have gone out of his way to give her choices in the matter. If she went to the Galley, she'd have to eat with the rest of the crew. If she went to the Captain's stateroom, she would get a five star meal; but would have to share it with Devorux. If she did neither, she would go hungry.
Deciding it was not worth the effort; she pulled her jacket back on and left her cabin. She came back a moment later and collected her gun.
Bligh entered the Captain's stateroom without knocking. It was the first time she had been there, and she was momentarily stunned by the sheer opulence of the room. The walls were covered with rare oil paintings with gold frames on one side, and cutting edge entertainment equipment on the other. The floor was lined with marble, the music playing was some classical aria, the bed was covered in dark silks and the cutlery and dining-ware on the antique dining table was all gold or sterling silver.
Devorux himself came into view from the adjacent bathroom; wearing an expensive eveningwear dinner suit. He actually looked good. "Good evening Ms Bligh." he said. "Please, won't you sit down?"
He even pulled out her chair for her. Bligh took it all in, and wondered if he was always like this, or if he was trying to seduce her. She hadn't known him long, but what she had seen so far suggested that this extravagance could be typical for him. Either way, she could afford to be gracious. "Thank you."
"I thought you might prefer to eat privately. Rank has its privileges, and I knew you would prefer something other than what's being served in the Galley. I had my personal chef flown in before we set out."
Devorux waved her down. "Relax; he doesn't know where we were setting out for. I made it a point to have him helicopter off before we set our final bearing."
Bligh, in her role as Head of Security was satisfied with that. "Seems like a waste of effort. And helicopter fuel."
"Ahh, but it's worth it. For dinner tonight, we start with an entrée of artichoke and black truffle soup, served with a layered brioche with mushrooms and truffle butter. For the main course we have Tartar of Kobe beef with Imperial Beluga caviar and Belon oysters. And for dessert, Amedei Porceleana chocolate Sundae, with Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, and Madagascar vanilla sauce. All of it served with a 1955 Latour."
"Sounds far too expensive to be considered food."
Deveroux popped the cork on the bottle. "Which is why you should be glad that I'm paying; and that I bought enough for two."
Bligh smirked despite herself. "Sounds delicious."
Devorux poured the wine and sat down, helping himself. For a time, they ate in silence. They may have been on the same team, but they still didn't like each other too much; and as such they didn't have much to say to each other.
"You must be very pleased with yourself." Bligh commented finally. "The rig is a success."
"The rig was my idea, and it's proved its ability. I'd have to say I'm pleased, yeah. But you're not." It was not a question. "And this is a good day for us, so... what's wrong?"
Bligh took a defiant bite. "None of your business."
"It is, if it's something that's gonna affect the job."
"And I should just take your word for it?"
"If our positions were reversed, would you take my word for it?"
Bligh smirked tightly. "Touché."
There was some silence as they ate. But it was clear neither of them had let it go. She knew it was only a matter of time, so she spoke first, instead of having to wait for him to ask. "We camped here."
"When i was young, we lived out west. We camped here sometimes. That's why I had my people work away from the official campsites. I knew where the 'unofficial' ones were." She sighed. "Dad would hate this. He liked fishing here."
"Can't fish on a reserve."
"Can't drill for oil either, but here we are. Anyway, back then it wasn't a reserve. Back then you could do things like take your dog for a walk on a beach or take a photo of a public place that had people in it." She took a sip. "He liked to fish."
"Well, tell him that he should join the Corporation. They catch about a bazillion fish a day."
"Not the point. Dad would hate me doing this."
"Does that bother you?"
"Not really. He and I parted ways a long time ago." She gestured out the window. "I'm not saying I'm against this, I'm not saying I'm scared. Fortune favors the bold; and I've been beating the odds my entire life. I'm just saying, this isn't some nothing spot we're digging up. It's a nature preserve. It's a pretty well traveled tourist spot during the right time of year. We tear this up, people are going to notice."
"Bligh, nobody's going to know we were even here. Anything that gets torn up will have a hundred feet of water over it. And after that, the next drill site is halfway out in the Atlantic. We stand to make a fortune; and get away with it, and have nobody even know we were here in the first place."
"The most money, the least rich." Bligh muttered under her breath.
"What does that mean?"
"Something my father used to say whenever he got passed over for promotion."
"Did that happen a lot?"
"All the time. My father had a knack for pissing people off. I had to inherit something from him."
She gestured around the room. "There's more money in this room than most people see in a lifetime. And this rig is working great. It's your design, and you stand to gain the most from this. So you tell me, do you feel rich?"
Devorux was silent for a long beat. "I grew up in south Detroit. My father, rest his soul, was an honest man. And not honest like us, I mean actually honest. He was a prison guard. He got laid off when I was a kid. I had to find work very young. I became a cop; with my dad's help. When I was a cop, I looked into it. The company that owned the prison had to keep their profit margin, so they made two positions redundant. not to make a profit, just to keep the profit a little higher. At the end of the year, the board of directors for that company took a vote on what to do with the extra hundred grand they saved and voted unanimously to give themselves end of year bonuses. Then they realized that they still needed to keep the profit margin up; so they fired another two workers. And not a one of them had committed a crime. A few weeks later, my father was brought in. He had been arrested for stealing a car; trying to pay off the debts that being out of work put on him. The car belonged to one of the board of directors he worked for. The guy pressed full charges, set a coven of lawyers loose on my family."
Bligh said nothing. As Devorux spoke, he started, even, calm; but gradually worked himself up, getting more and more passionate until he was almost yelling.
"When I finally got some pull with the Corporation, I suggested they go into security services. Give us some muscle, opens up new chains. Mr Appius agreed. I suggested he buy the Company that fired by dad. The Board of Directors couldn't match the bid, and now each and every one of those people who put my father in jail are looking through garbage cans for their dinner." Devorux laughed hatefully. "There is no right and wrong. There is only winning or losing. I intend spend every day I have in this world looking down on saps like my family, my old neighbors. They struggle their way through life; and they don't live longer for it, and they don't enjoy it. I sleep on silk sheets every night. I have orange juice and champagne for breakfast; caviar and lobster every night. They're going to bury me with pockets full of hundred dollar bills; and people where I used to grow up are going to envy my corpse." Devorux was breathing hard, but he got his face back under control. Something dark and ugly had been revealed from beneath his artificial perfection.
"Devorux." Bligh said coldly. "Back where I come from, that's not ambition; that's greed. So you get a million dollars one day. You won't be happy unless you get two million. You get two million; you won't be happy unless you get five. And you get caught; you can trade it in for bread and water."
"Oh please. You have any idea how cushy prison life can be when you've got money? If they send me away, I'll have guards saluting as I walk past my private Five Star cell." He chuckled darkly. "Besides, if it's all for nothing, what's your stake in this then? They find us here, you stand to lose as much as I do."
Bligh snorted. "I'm smarter than you. So much so, that I should be running things here. So much so, that I should be running a lot more of this Corporation." She growled low, under her breath. "I'm not. And none of that is my fault. I agree; living for today is the only option. But when I'm gone, people are going to remember my name." She smiled brilliantly, suddenly exquisitely beautiful. "Money is not the point. You can't take that with you. Control is the issue. I intend to live forever. Immortal. There are ways. But that takes money. Takes power. The top 3 percent of this world rule the rest of it. They are subject to laws as it suits them. All those 'saps' as you put them; they fight their way through life because they can't control it. I am in control of my own life, and nobody gave me anything." She gestured at Devorux's plate. "I intend to live as a god; not a vacuum cleaner."
"You can't take power with you either."
"Maybe not. But they're going to know my name."
Devorux considered that a moment. "Well, to each their own. Here's to us, gods among dumb animals."
Bligh smirked despite herself; and they toasted each other.
AN: Okay, so here's how it is. I watched this show as a kid. And even then I could tell that it was a great idea, but lousy writing. Especially the villains. Too much of it was unrealistic, and even worse, one dimensional. I mean, what was the point of most of those bad guys anyway? "When we wanted a toothpick we burned down a forest to get one?"
Also, it was way too preachy. The one-dimensional problem extended to the heroes as well, at least for all the episodes I watched. The show gave some back story, but I can't promise I'll follow it too closely.
So here's my humble offering. Something of a rewrite for the pilot. This story will take the spirit and the feel of the characters, and the premise of the show, and upgrade it. Hopefully, you will enjoy the result. I do my best not to offend the shippers and the Planeteer purists, but make no mistake; this is based on the premise of the series, and not on the cartoon itself.
Nevertheless, there will be many similarities. For instance, the bad guys are the first characters we meet.
Wish me luck, and please let me know what you think.