At seven-fifteen in the evening, Isadora found herself with Stanley in a small, dark meeting room on the thirty-ninth floor. She choose this spot because it was small, secluded, and it was unlikely for an intrusion to take place. Upon the wall was a projected image of a world map and various statistics on a sidebar. Some parts of the world were shaded with a light blue, a few in yellow, and even more in red.
She and Stanley met to discuss the looming Goodwin problem. A takeover by way of a board of directors vote seemed unlikely, though not impossible. Just an hour before, they listed each board member and argued which way a vote might go. In the end, they found the most likely scenario going in Isadora's favor, sixty-five to forty-five percent. It was not exactly a fantastic outcome, but Goodwin likely came up with similar figures and probably realized the unlikelihood of winning the vote. And, per Steelewood's policies, a seventy-percent majority was needed to vote out a member of the board. In this regard, Isadora felt safe.
However, the other way Goodwin could instigate a coup would be through military dominance. The map on the screen detailed the various Steelewood jurisdictions and which generals controlled them. The blue-tinted portions were for the regions which they knew favored Isadora over Goodwin. Their English branch, for instance, was completely blue. The yellow regions were completely undecided. The red zones were, alarmingly, the most numerous by an overwhelming margin. Seventy-percent of Steelewood's military were most likely to favor Goodwin in a conflict.
There could be no other conclusion: Goodwin would implement a hostile takeover, the only question was when.
Isadora slumped in her chair as she looked over the final map. Her heart sank into her stomach. “Stanley, if this is real-”
“It's horrifying, ma'am,” Stanley affirmed.
“What can we do?”
“I wish I knew,” Stanley said. “But I don't know. I don't know what to tell you, ma'am.”
Isadora sighed, “What's stopping him from doing it now?”
“Mobilization, perhaps,” he suggested. “Perhaps he hasn't yet rallied all of his troops. Perhaps he still needs to put a few pieces in place.”
“Or- wait,” Isadora licked her lip. “Goodwin seemed insistent today about the Fujikawa Network, about taking it over. Perhaps he's waiting for it go online to make his move. He knows he can't take it over as long as I'm in charge and no doubt there are safeguards in place to protect it from takeover before it even activates. Taking the network consolidates Steelewood's control over the world, makes us even more powerful.”
“Right, whoever controls the network controls world communication.”
“Goodwin doesn't just want control of Steelewood, he wants control of the world,” Isadora shook her head. “We cannot allow this to happen.”
“Do you have something in mind?”
“Bloody hell, no, I don't,” she sighed. “We just have to wait and see what his next move will be.”
“Ma'am, what if we don't catch him before it's too late?”
“Then bugger all,” Isadora sighed. “What we need is a bloody miracle. Fortunately, I've still got something up my sleeve.”
“Where is he?” Stanley then retracted, “I know I'm not supposed to ask-”
“It's alright,” Isadora nodded. “I've known about Goodwin for a long time now. I've had to take measures to keep him on a leash. The military listens to him better than they do me, which makes him an asset so long as I control him. Right now, I'm about to lose that control. I did not know that Goodwin's move was so imminent, but Sergei is out right now acting as an insurance policy of sorts. I can't give you details.”
“I understand,” Stanley said. “Do you think Sergei could stop Goodwin?”
“I don't know if it will be enough, to be honest. He can't possibly stop seventy-five percent of our forces, but at the very least, he can be a thorn in his side,” Isadora checked her phone and looked at the time: seven-forty. She sighed, “It's growing late. I should be going home. Perhaps a night's rest will help us sort this mess out.”
“Good idea,” Stanley told her. “I hope you rest well.”