As the girls entered the building, Erin was struck by the enormity of the lobby and everything in it.
The room was the size of Central Train Station. Forty-feet above the floor, the ceiling was a backlit blue-glass dome supported by thick brass arches. On each of the side walls hung a huge steel clock with giant brass gears that turned at various speeds. High on the wall ahead was mounted an enormous glass map of the world with brass continents. Blue neon tubes radiated from Xdom across the amber oceans to the great ports of the world. Beneath the map, was a steel-clad reception desk. Behind it, a line of tall, powerfully built guards paced menacingly in their black suits. Their keen eyes shifted quickly amongst the visitors milling about the room and scattered among the chairs of the waiting area.
The room gave Erin a chill, which she believed was intentional. The high ceiling and the big men would naturally make the visitors feel small. Standing between the huge clocks gave the impression that the company’s time was more important than the minutes tracked by the visitors’ little watches. And the massive world map with its glowing tendrils spreading across the vast globe made the company seem like a planetary spider.
Erin drifted toward a placard marked “History of X Energy.” Perhaps it could tell them what had happened to their beautiful city. But before she reached it, she was stopped by Monique’s exclamation.
“Oh, my Gosh, it’s THEM!”
Erin turned back toward the reception counter where the guards stared back at the girls like hawks on a wire eyeing a couple of mice.
She turned her attention to two extraordinary men moving toward Monique and Erin.
Monique was right. It was THEM.
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