The Guides, Ryan

When the corporate takeover of the United States was complete, the companies now in charge realized they needed an entity to maintain order and insure a smooth transition, all the while concealing their involvement in running things. This led to the birth of The Consortium. They handle all the day to day operations and manage the portals via which money comes into and goes out of government as well as making sure the right candidates stay in office with enough uncertainty to insure that the citizens continue to believe they’re a part of the process, when, in fact, their involvement has little to no effect on how things turn out.

If asked, no one will admit to there being any corporate oversight and highly placed officials claim The Consortium is just a consulting firm, there to make the mechanism of government operate a bit smoother. In fact, an entire division exists that does nothing but deny corporate involvement in the functions of government. The human resources division oversees population control and management issuing frequent guidelines and regulations, often termed “friendly reminders” and are quick to act should some rogue group step out of line. Overseeing much of this are the “Specialists” who are called in when a person or group has posed a particular problem. Of the Specialists, none are more experienced or capable than Oliver Ryan.

Ryan came to The Consortium as a young man not long out of college, serving for a time as an intern on the staff of a Congressperson from the Midwest before accepting a job as a lobbyist in Washington. In that capacity, he proved himself adept at persuading Senators and Representatives to support the various causes he touted, whether “family values” or “gay marriage”, “fiscal responsibility” or “deficit spending”, which garnered the interest of The Consortium when it was first looking for recruits. Ryan always seems friendly and open, while keeping his cards close to his vest and not revealing his true intentions until he has his subject completely at ease, at which time he springs his trap. Not even the wiliest of opponents has been able to evade detection from Ryan.

Ryan has taken to heart the lesson of the Apostle Paul, to be all things to all people and can slip, seemingly at will, into whatever persona best suits his strategy. He’s everyone’s best friend or closest confidant; he sympathizes with all the troubles one is having, and is there to smooth over any difficulties. All the while, he’s watching closely, carefully noting body language or the tension in someone’s voice, or the fear in a person’s eyes. His questions are quick and nonchalant but probing, slowly unraveling the subterfuge underneath. In his hundreds of interrogations, he has yet to be tripped up by a subject.

For all his experience, however, one thing Ryan has not encountered is a Guide, largely because no one is even certain they exist. Guides are said to be individuals with special abilities such as knowledge of the future who show up from time to time to impart wisdom on anyone willing to listen. The theories Ryan has read on them state that they seem to serve the function of changing people’s perceptions, often altering the course of someone’s life, which can, in turn, affect how society moves. Such people are frowned upon by The Consortium, which goes to great lengths to make the future as predictable as possible. Ryan’s job, should he encounter one, will be to isolate and study the person, and thereby contain the damage such a person can cause. Ryan is looking forward to the opportunity, and the report he’s just received about an intruder at an art opening downtown, may just be what he wants.

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