The President sat at the end of a long table, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his entire Cabinet occupying the rest of the seats. At the President's eye level was a set of monitors, each with the same face on it. A white haired, malevolent man in a gas mask and lab coat occupied the screen.
"Time is almost up, Mister President," the madman known only as Dr. Photon cackled. "Give me a hundred billion dollars, or I wipe out a major American city with my orbital laser cannon."
"Please, don't do this!" the President pleaded. He needed to buy time, so that NSA hackers could trace the madman's signal. "Would you care to wipe out millions of innocent lives?"
"Who are you to lecture me, you fool?" Photon taunted. "The amount of money I'm demanding is trivial compared to how much goes to pork and bailing out incompetent, corrupt executives."
"Please, we're already in enough debt. And wouldn't your laser burn a hole in the atmosphere?" the President tried playing the ecology card.
"Says the man who supports continued addiction to fossil fuels and wastes taxpayer money to prop up petro-dictatorships," Dr. Photon mocked the President. "Please, the environmental damage from even one salvo of superlaser blasts is far less than the amount of toxins released into the atmosphere every year."
It was almost time, as the President could see by a small progress bar on a nearby monitor. "What if I give you total control of the US economy?"
"No one has control of the US economy," Dr. Photon mocked. "All you really can do is either print more bills to cause inflation, or spend yourself into a deeper hole. If an entire economy could have been subverted by one man, I would have done it long ago."
"We can find your laser satellite, Doctor," the President bluffed. "And we can blow it up. We'll find out where you are."
"If you destroy my satellite or attempt to ram it with another, bombs I've placed in orbit will detonate, wiping out your ever-so-fragile network of GPS satellites," Dr. Photon replied. "Soon, New York City shall be vaporized! MWUHAHAHA!"
Seeing as the progress bar was completed, the President ordered the electronic counterattack. The NSA spooks and electronic warfare specialists launched a computer virus into the madman's control systems for the laser satellite.
"Ah, a hack attack," Dr. Photon mocked. "And a rather ineffective one at that. I still possess the ability to move and attack targets. For your brash attempt, I will now vaporize Manhattan."
The President winced as a real time image of Manhattan appeared. He could see the Hudson river, with the Statute of Liberty in the background. There was a flash of white light, and the President looked away. When he looked back at the monitor, Manhattan was still there.
"What?!" Photon questioned. "You've locked my controls! I just vaporized Jersey City and Newark instead!"
The fuming mad scientist adjusted the controls. The laser was able to fire several shots without charging, and this time, he targeted Philadelphia. He pressed the button, and the City of Brotherly Love still stood. Instead, a spot across the river was vaporized.
"Blast it!" he cursed. "I just wiped out Camden!"
He fired again and again. Trenton and Atlantic City vanished from the face of the Earth.
"You restricted my targets to New Jersey?" Dr. Photon muttered. "Curses!"
"Well, Dr. Photon," the President grinned. "You've just done more urban renewal in the last few minutes than I've done since I came to office."
"So, what?" Photon replied. "I desire to use my invention to claim wealth and power!"
"Tell you what, Dr. Photon," the President offered. "You take a job with me as the new National Director for Urban Blight Removal, and I'll give you a job with government benefits and some nice bonuses."
"Well, when you put it that way," Dr. Photon mused. "I'll consider it."
"Tell you what," the President replied. "You hit Detroit, and I'll give you two billion as a sign on bonus."
"Deal," Dr. Photon said. "I look forward to working with you, Mr. President."
"We can always use a man of your talents, Dr. Photon," the President grinned. "I think this is the beginning of a good working relationship."