Paul sat across from his host. At first, he did not partake of the meal.
"It's not poisoned, you know," stated John. "If I'd wanted you dead, then I'd kill you myself, and not take a chance at accidentally ingesting the wrong morsel."
"Gee, thanks," replied Paul, begrudgingly.
"You should really try the steak. My applied biologists have re-engineered the aurochs to 99.999... maybe another nine - well, to some very high degree of accuracy, at any rate. This is the fruit of those efforts. Well, it's meat, but you get the point."
"Are these whole wheat rolls?"
"They're barley, actually. There are some medieval wheat ones next to them, though, and there's some precolumbian corn bread around here somewhere," John said, looking around the table.
"This is an awful lot for just the two of us," commented Paul.
"Well, it won't go to waste, if that's what you're thinking. Besides, this is a special occasion, and I wanted to make sure that I had a variety. I know how picky you can be, after all. I also didn't order a dessert, since I know that you don't like sweets."
"This is still a lot, though. Look at how big this table is."
"Oh, the table's not this big for the food's sake. I suppose that it's serendipitous, though." John took a swallow of some punch.
"And what's 'serendipitous' mean?"
"It's basically a pleasant coincidence. I needed a long table to dine with someone working for a rebellion, and it happens that it holds more food, which means that I didn't have to have any side tables brought in."
"Well, I'm glad that that was convenient for you," quipped Paul, sarcastically.
"I do want to say, though, that I'm quite surprised to see your opposing me so vehemently. I always considered you a friend."
"What was I supposed to do, dude? You're literally taking over the world!"
"You sound surprised."
"Yeah I'm surprised. Who does that?"
"I do that," answered John, matter-of-factly.
"Well, don't. It's evil."
"Says who? Says a bunch of comic books that you read as a kid? Only evil people take over the world, is that it?"
"Your soldiers are killing people."
"It's not nearly as many as were being killed in the other wars. Here." John grabbed a tablet from a pocket on the side of his small throne, tossing it across the table. Paul caught it deftly.
"Is this an old iPad 7?"
"Well, the shell is. I wiped it and installed a small Linux kernel for the OS. It runs faster now, and I'm not beholden to some corporation. The data's all there, but the first few charts that you'll see convey my main points. War death rates are down. Accidental death rates and disease death rates are down in the areas that I control. Childhood obesity is down here. I'd go on, but it would start to sound like I was making things up." John finished off his punch, then grabbed a pitcher for a refill. "I might be taking over the world, but I'm not evil. That's why my home is in the area that I conquered first, by the way. They've been under my rule long enough to know that things are better than they were before."
"Maybe you just tell them that. How do they know that it's true? How do I know that any of this is true," asked Paul, indicating the tablet.
"It's because of something that your rebellions take for granted. It's for something that the politicians of the other governments don't say. They don't hide it, but they don't mention it, either, letting it be hidden among the noise of their resistance, the politicking, and, well, anything that they think will help them keep their jobs. You may have noticed that I haven't restricted communications. There is plenty of open talk of rebellion. Talk is cheap, of course, but it is what it is." John pulled out his pocket watch. "Oh, is it that late, already? We'll be arriving soon." He stood and stretched.
"Oh, we're stopping off at my house to drop me off. You'll be taken to a facility in the city center to be kept overnight. You're still a prisoner for now. I can't very well go around getting assassinated, now can I? We'll continue our conversation over breakfast or brunch or something." John started toward the door.
"And here I was hoping to hear how you'd handle Afghanistan," said Paul, half-jokingly.
"Oh, that's easy. I have an army of transforming robot dirigibles. Well, goodnight."