The Host stood at the entrance and surveyed his guests with a mixture of amusement and satisfaction.
Aside from their gender, the men seated around the long cherrywood table had certain things in common.
Each was one of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the world, and each was an American.
They might well have been in any business meeting, save for the grotesque mask each of them wore.
These had been chosen especially by the Host to give a subtle clue to the wearer’s identity while revealing nothing precise.
The head of the world’s largest oil company, a man of Saudi descent, wore the mask of a multi-eyed insect.
The young social media titan was a curved-beak vulture, and so on.
“You will pardon the secrecy, gentlemen,” said the Host. “It is for your own protection, and mine. What we discuss here will affect the future of all humanity, and in fact will likely determine whom humanity itself will consist of.”
Note: Over a million businesses—more than 50 percent of publicly traded companies in the U.S. and more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies—are incorporated in Delaware. Among the reasons for this are the “Delaware loophole” which allows companies to declare certain types of revenue in Delaware rather than in the state where the business actually occurred, and the fact that Delaware also doesn’t tax profits on royalty payments, trademarks, or copyrights. The Obama administration sought to pass laws to hold these corporations accountable for fair tax liability, but efforts were successfully staved off by the Republican-controlled House and Senate. It comes as no surpise that the Trump administration has reversed and eliminated all such provisions.