In Which There Is An Article In The Newspaper
Annabelle was making her way through the streets, tasked with dropping off a note that Mr. Tarrow didn't want doing through the post. It was probably a death threat, but Annabelle had gotten as far as she had because she had learned not to ask too many questions.It was early in the day, but the sun was already beating mercilessly down on the people in the streets.
There was a sort of unusual energy flowing about. Normally, people would gossip, of course, but it seemed like everyone else was much more nervous and talkative than usual. She could snippets, here and there. It wasn't that she was trying to listen in, but she'd developed a habit of keeping an ear out for trouble. As best she could tell, somebody had been murdered the night before. Some big industrialist by the sound of it, though it wasn't quite clear who. Personally, Annabelle was all for the occasional wealthy industrialist dying, though it sounded harsh to say out loud. The big business magnates had caused quite a bit of grief for the people of the country over the years. From what she was picking up on there was some sort of suspected political motive at bay, though the details varied wildly enough that it was clearly speculation at best.
Annabelle slipped the note under the proper door, knocking and then ducking out of the way. It seemed rather childish, but it did tend to be an effective intimidation tactic when pared with a vaguely threatening note. She could hear the panic in the recipients voice when she called for her husband before closing the door. Satisfied, Annabelle began to head back. Viradet would surely need something. There were paper boys, plying the streets as usual, and Annabelle, feeling flush, sprung for a paper from a particularly chipper looking one to see what all the gossip was all about. She wished she hadn't.
The funny thing was, Annabelle used to like reading newspapers, even as a child, poking her head over her uncle's shoulder as he explained the various political happenings and how they were reported, teaching her how to read between the lines in articles. Most of that had gone right over her head of course, but it was still nice to spend time with her uncle. There was very little need to read between the lines in this case, however.
The headline read "Technocratic Council Member Brutally Murdered" and just underneath it read "Wealthy industrialist Charles Button killed in his home, revealed to be member of the Technocratic Council." Annabelle's heart began to palpitate as exactly what had happened sunk in. Somebody, presumably somebody with ill intent toward the technocratic government, had found out the identity of one of the council members, which was supposed to be a closely guarded secret, and murdered him in cold blood.
It was, of course, possible that whoever had murdered Charles Button had not known of his position; as a wealthy business magnate, he probably had a few enemies. Skret, Annabelle would have stabbed the bastard if given an ounce of provocation. But as she read further, it was clear that whoever was responsible had access to upper society. He wasn't taken out on a rare moment when he dained to share the streets with the common rabble. He was killed at an elite party.
So the question became, was it a rival in the business, someone like Buford who didn’t like the way he did business, some disgruntled underling whose wife he’d flirted with too obviously, or perhaps a jilted ex themself, or was it actually political in nature. Of course the technocracy would assume it was political. Which meant that they would be on alert for enemies of the state. Skimming the newspaper article confirmed as much.
The problem with the Technocracy looking for enemies of the state was that they were all ex-enemies of the state, so they tended to view the world through that lease and see enemies where there were none. That was what had happened with the Democratic Antiford Movement. As soon as they’d had power, they saw the other group as rivals, as enemies, rather than the enemies of the enemy they’d just defeated and therefore potential friends. Of course they hadn’t been enemies of the state, as such, at least from what she could remember. Which was simultaneously better and worse in the eyes of the ex-enemies of the state turned newly minted state themselves.
Of course the other main problem was that Annabelle was an “enemy of the state”. She would, of course, lie and say that she fully believed in the Technocracy now, but that would convey the more relevant truth that even those she did traffic with who openly hated the technocracy hadn’t planned and executed the murder of one of the technocrats.
The question was, how long before Annabelle personally appeared on their list? She was known among the old school coppers, who were willing to over look the small stuff in order to keep an overall aura of safety, and, thanks to some earlier cog-rust that wasn’t her fault, had caught the attention of the technocratically-minded new tin men. Though whether the second group had caught on to her past she did not know.