The City: 040: Gene

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Gene was the last member of the board to arrive. The retired entertainer was used to making people wait for him, so he was not particularly bothered by the ten pairs of glaring eyes staring daggers at him.  He was even less interested in the man in the cheap avatar up front, the mysterious bag man for whoever had bought Sizemore out.  Gene had headlined The City’s first live concert, a proof of concept that elevated it from nerd hangout to International hot spot.  Let them stare and fight each other for scraps.  His seat on the board was assured.

The City: 039: Linda

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Linda patted Trey’s arm in what she wanted to project as a grandmotherly way.  Not that she’d have ever touched him in real life, but the gesture was for the cameras each of them had secreted about their persons as if it was.  Linda considered herself the Grand Dame of the twelve member board, and she had chosen to play this acquisition soft, for now.
“I’m sure dear Augustus has a good reason for his absences, and our new associates have a good reason for remaining anonymous, for now.”  The Smiling Man said nothing.  The rest of them filed in.

The City: 038: Trey

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Trey took his rightful seat at the head of the table.  A few of the others had already arrived, mostly tech hotshots and other youngsters.  Sizemore was not among them.  Trey had been one of the principle investors in Midas, and he had invested billions with the company, but he never spent a second longer than he had to in The City.  He hated computers, but he knew a good pitch when he heard it, and Augustus had delivered.  Which made his absence now all the more galling.
“The Coward didn’t even show up to his own resignation,” he grumbled.

Hugh Likes Comics: Rurouni Kenshin

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Written and Drawn by Nobuhiro Watsuki
Published in English by Viz Comics

Like “Lone Wolf and Cub,” “Rurouni Kenshin” is a manga about a wandering swordsman, but tonally, the two could not be farther apart.  Set in Tokyo in the 1870′s, this is the story of Kenshin Himura, a former assassin and swordsman during the Bakumatsu period of civil wars who has vowed to never kill again, but cannot give up his sword.
One of the reasons I find this comic so interesting is that it is set in set in a dynamic and chaotic historical period that I knew very little about going in.  This story is set in a Tokyo that had been Edo not very long before, still healing from the open wounds of a civli war that toppled the established social order.  It’s a fascinating setting, as full of contradictions as the characters themselves.
Through a series of events, Kenshin settles as a guest of Kaoru Kamiya, a young woman running her deceased father’s kendo school, but lacking students.  From there, he meets a series of people, each of whom has been affected by the new era in a different way.  He meets Yahiko, a young orphan whose parents were Samurai, struggling to maintain what he things honor means in a modern world, and Sanosuke, a fighter whose mentor was betrayed and killed by the Revolutionary Army Kenshin supported.  He also meets Jin-E, a swordsman like himself who, unable to put down his weapon, turned into an assassin.
“Rurouni Kenshin” fascinates me because it is so full of contradictions, and those paradoxes are built right into the characters and setting.  It is most unlike “Lone Wolf and Cub,” and other Samurai stories in that rather than praising duty over life, it is a story of a swordsman struggling to put his past behind him.  Kenshin carries a “sakabato,” a katana with the edge of the blade reversed.  This allows him to fight with his sword without killing.  These are stories not about “Life in Death,” but life beyond it, and the struggle to atone for the lives already taken.
This comic originally ran in “Shonen Jump” magazine in Japan alongside boys’ adventure stories like “Dragon Ball” and “One Piece.”  It shares some of those series’ more kid-friendly aesthetic, both in the tone of the writing and the art.  Watsuki also is heavily influenced by American super-hero comics, particularly Jim Lee’s X-Men.  The result is that Kenshin’s skills often appear more like super powers than swordsmanship techniques.  This distracts from some of the more serious themes of the comic, but still allows for some entertaining and fascinating stories from a historical period many western readers know little about.
“Rurouni Kenshin” volume one is available through Amazon, or your local comics or book store.

The City: 037: Kat

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Kat was the first to arrive.  She passed the intern going out, and gave him a friendly little smile.  She had the freedom because no one else was looking.  She was the youngest shareholder, but she would be damned if she was going to let anyone push her around just because she was an heiress, or because the three percent of stock she owned was barely enough to qualify for a seat at the table, rather than the bigger meeting later in the week.  She was a tiger, and she could afford to be patient, and kind.  For now, anyway.

The City: 036: Glenn

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In Midas Corp’s 97th floor board room, Glenn went from chair to chair, placing the regalia of business just so.  There was a folder, complete with simulated documents and a tablet detailing the sale between Sizemore and the new backers, a legal pad, and a selection of pens and pencils, even a cup of coffee.  It was all strictly symbolic.  The board would bring their own implements slaved to record and message.  But The City’s kabuki of the physical world was of the utmost importance.  And Interns had to play their part.  The Smiling Man nodded, and Glenn exited discreetly.

The City: 035: Victoria

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At the other end of the compound, Victoria watched without interest as her driver negotiated the limousine through the checkpoint.  Heightened security bothered her.  The first change was not a reassuring one.  And for a virtual bank of all things.  It would be ludicrous if the threats they faced weren’t so serious.  Getting killed in the real world was risky, but getting assassinated in The City, losing her access, possibly even being hacked, that was what kept her up at night.  And the changeover would be a prime opportunity for an attack.  Sizemore’s replacement had better be good, she thought.

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