𝔽𝕦𝕥𝕚𝕝𝕚𝕥𝕪: 𝕋𝕙𝕖 𝔾𝕣𝕖𝕒t 𝔾𝕒𝕞𝕖
𝕊𝕨𝕒𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕊𝕥𝕣𝕖𝕖𝕥 ℂ𝕠𝕞𝕞𝕠𝕟𝕤
ℕ𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕞𝕓𝕖𝕣 𝟠𝕥𝕙, 𝟚𝟘𝟞𝟜 𝟙𝟡:𝟘𝟘
[𝕊𝕚𝕥𝕦𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 ℕ𝕠𝕣𝕞𝕒𝕝], 𝕃𝕠𝕒𝕕𝕚𝕟𝕘....
Today was different. Today, there was something off about the Swathe Street crowds. The usual zombie-like droning of the Reclaim Zone derelicts weaving in and out of bars, drug dens, and factories was changed. It was like the electricity— the lifeblood that ran through subterranean wires like the skeleton of the very district itself— came alive in South City’s inhabitants. Most of the buzzing interest found its epicenter at Central Square as the final debate for the mayoral candidacy was taking place while people around the Reclaim Zone voted readily. It had been a long while since the Reclaim Zone had come to life like this. Normally it was a necropolis with nothing but dead men wandering aimlessly in search of purpose, but this particular political race had the public chattering anxiously about the results.
The unorthodox nature of the campaign process drew many eyes. APEX sellout Joshua Gatch was challenged by the leader of the Knights, as well as some nobody, Dexter Campbell. The craziest part of it all was how divided the populous was. It really added to the intrigue, considering how important the final debate was. At least, most people thought it would be determinant. Apparently Jackson Rott and the Knights thought otherwise. While Knights supporters were spotted in the crowd, Rott was nowhere to be found, though who could really tell? The cramped conditions of the dark and smog-filled square was so busy that it was hard to pick anyone out of the crowd of citizens and derelicts alike.
Central Square truly was something. Built in one of the only empty spaces left in the Reclaim Zone, it was walled on three sides by monolithic factories leaving the crowd to push their way up towards the stage in one massive pack from the front. At the moment, Gatch and Campbell were both tucked away during a break in the debates. Behind the stage, the rear factory was hollowed out into one of the nicest lounge spaces in the Reclaim Zone. For the first time, so many reporters, benefactors, and campaigners of the Reclaim Zone were witnessing the atmosphere akin to a cocktail party as the candidates intermingled with their cohorts, reporters, and lobbyists. Gatch was at the very least.
In the moment, Campbell exhaled a hefty breath with a bit of a shake in his respiration. Were the nerves getting to him? That certainly wasn’t a common sight to his team, but as Campbell paced back and forth along the wooden floor of his teams suite of rooms, he couldn’t hide how flustered he was. The first round of the debate was brutal, as Gatch brought up every piece of dirt that was humanly possible to dig up on one of the cleanest men in the Reclaim Zone. It was even harder for Campbell to take to the assault at the podium with Rott there to shred Gatch up alongside him. The Knights weren’t the type to back out at the last minute, and that mystery was just another thing weighing on Campbell’s mind.
“Alright. Alright. I need something more to say…” His urgency only picked up as an intercom interrupted him. 10 minutes until the debate resumes. He looked around at those present as though pleading for solutions, but his eyes fell finally upon a mirror embedded in the wall. In the staredown with his reflection, Campbell composed himself. “We have to end this strong. We can do this. Can… Can someone keep the reporters back for a minute. I just need to collect myself a minute before I get back into it… Get my thoughts together— that sort of thing.”
As if on queue, there were nosy knocks upon the suite’s door a few rooms over. The place was much more vast than necessary, but the candidates and their teams couldn’t complain. For just these past few nights, they were living the most lavish lives out of anyone in the zone. “Reporters,” Campbell muttered. “And Gatch is probably out there talking them up too.” A final sigh escaped his lips. “Alright guys, let’s make these last minutes count… Do what you can. You all know your roles.”