Mr. Mauser stood out as the only one wearing a suit - a rather severe double breasted black and gray pinstripe, controls for the wearable computer extending from a gold watch fob attached to the vest. Even without the suit, he looked every bit the stereotypical anti-communist G-man, dark hair, dark eyes, stern complexion, and square jaw balanced on a flagpole straight spine holding up a six foot frame. Anachronistic as it might be, he believed that professional presentation helped back his position as a recruitment officer for the US government.
The boy next to him was anything but professional. Fidgeting, shifting as much as he could in the horse drawn carriage, and sweating profusely, as he lacked the smart clothes fabric that kept the G-man bone dry.
"Aren't you hot?"
"What is in the case?"
Mauser opened his case, and pulled out a large box, featuring handles on either side, and a prominent lens assembly on one side. The boy suddenly lit up.
"That's a NK-109 multi-spectrum with still holography! That thing is amazing! Top of the line - it took me two years to save up for the older eighty-nine model. And before everything got ruined? How did you get that?"
"Its a perk of working for the government."
"The only one," Mauser began, more than a little contempt creeping into his tone, "United States of America, Department of Interior. I am here to survey the status of surviving townships, and helping them return to the rule of law."
For the longest time in the trip, it was quiet. Not only the boy, but the half a dozen others stopped as well. The silence lasted until the wagon driver announced they were approaching the gates.
"You have a name?"
"Do you live in Spring Valley?"
"Would you care to show me around once we're inside? There will be compensation for your time of course."
"Wouldn't you want to talk to the mayor first? You are the government."
"I find that asking a random citizen to show me around, especially a younger one, provides a far more accurate picture of the situation. Mayors, warlords, elder councils, supreme soviet - they all have a vested interest in showing they run a tight ship. I presume you can think of some reasons why."
"Would you let them keep running the show?"
"Not my decision. Some I've wanted to shoot on the spot, but that would drag me down to their level. I represent something better."
"But, wasn't the last election supposed to be in 2052? Does the president really have that much more authority or legitimacy than people in the thick of things who know what they're doing?"
"Hmm, you're smarter than you let on. So I'll tell you a secret. There are limits- very exact protocols, for dealing with an alien invasion, in part of the constitution. George Washington's Freemason lodge made contact with aliens, and that explains all the domes and circles in DC."
"Its a joke. But there are rules and procedures being followed. It is an unfortunate fact, however, that what remains of the President and what remains of his cabinet rules under emergency powers."
"How do you know they will give up these powers?"
"I have met Mr. Gray personally. I trust him. I wouldn't be working for these people otherwise."