Chapter 172: Second Deal “And that's the best you can offer me?” said Aldrich. "A collar and a leash?" "It's a better deal than what anyone else can give you," said Colonel Davos. "So tell me. Are you going to take it or not?" "Say, hypothetically, that I do take you up on your generous offer, then what do you want from me?" said Aldrich. "You have zero records anywhere," said Colonel Davos. "You're like a ghost. A phantom that just decided to pop up one day. Attempts to scan and analyze your powers fail. Attempts to read your past fail.
I want a full explanation of who you are and what your powers are." "I see. I can sense that isn't all you want. So go on, tell me more," said Aldrich. "Next, I would want full access to all the specimen under your control. That includes, of course, the Locus. We would need to run extensive testing on them. You would be part of that testing," said Colonel Davos. "Naturally," said Aldrich. "Alright, then. Anything else?" "Once we've researched you and your powers and devised a means to counteract them, you'll be inducted into a covert operations team to put your powers to good use," said Colonel Davos. "Interesting," said Aldrich. "And what about Seismic? He's in government custody now, isn't he? Why not run those tests on him?" "He's protected by Hammerhead," said Colonel Davos. "We can't get to him easily. But if you make him, then that's a different story." "What makes you think I can control Seismic just like that?" said Aldrich. "You could control the rest of your forces. I assume Seismic isn't an exception.
But even if he was, he's not the most important one. It's the Locus we want the most," said Colonel Davos. "Cough up the Locus, and we can let Seismic do what he wants." "I see," said Aldrich. He paused before he spoke again. "I have a question,
Colonel." "What is it?" "Tell me, do I look like a fast-food drive through to you?" "What?" Colonel Davos exclaimed in surprise. "Did you seriously expect me take that offer? You take everything from me and give me nothing in return? | already told you, your freedom means nothing to me," said Aldrich. "I would guarantee your safety!" said Colonel Davos, now distinctively aggravated. "Your life! That doesn't matter to you? Not even you can survive a manhunt from the entire might of the United States." "Is that what you think?" said Aldrich. "You didn't even know I even existed just twenty-four hours ago. How can you be so confident that you can hunt me down now?
I've heard enough, Colonel, and just as I told you before, it is my choice to decide whether to give you anything of mine or not.
And my choice here is simple: I give you nothing.
As for my supposed ‘freedom’, well, I'll take my chances at the hearing I'm owed." "You-," began Colonel Davos angrily before another voice cut him off. "Good god, you're awful at this. And you're taking up the time I paid for. Get out of the way, man." This was a much younger man's voice. Far less gruff and innately aggressive than the colonel's, but not one that sounded weak either.
Colonel Davis got shoved aside, revealing a thinner man dressed in a cheap looking navy-blue suit. He put his face close to the small gap in the Null Box door, revealing large black shades that and a wild mess of ragged black hair. "Oh, there you are," said the man as he peered right at Aldrich. He turned around and barked out an order with the practiced ease of someone used to ordering others around. "Open this door, will you? How can I talk to him through this little peephole, huh?" "He's too dangerous-," Colonel Davos's voice chimed in. "Screw dangerous! Just open the goddamn door! What do I pay you guys for, huh!? Just open it enough for me to get in, yeah?" "Just enough for you to get in," repeated Colonel Davos. "Just be warned that if anything happens to you, I can't do anything about it. In fact, as far as I'm concerned-," "As far as you're concerned you don't exist, you were never here, yada yada blah blah, okay, now open the door," said the man with the shades.
The door slid open just a bit more, allowing the man to squeeze through witha labored grunt, and behind him. Once he was inside the Null Box with Aldrich, he turned around and gestured for the door to close. "Now shut it! I want some privacy here! Especially from you government rats!"
As the doors closed, Aldrich observed the man. The suit he wore had seen far better days. It did not quite fit the man's tall and lanky frame properly, and there were some scratched up parts and oddly discolored patches where they had been roughly tailored over with fabric that did not quite match the suit's original color.
There were segment lines on his brown skin, indicating dermal cybernetic procedures, and when he patted his hands together, Aldrich could observe that there were indents on his palms that opened up to jack into tech.
A techno, then. “And you are?" said Aldrich. "Aarav. Aarav Singh." The man walked straight beside Aldrich with zero hint of fear and plopped down right beside him, sitting against the wall right next to
Aldrich. "Aarav...Singh. That name sounds familiar," said Aldrich. "Sheshanaga Biotechnology and Cybernetics,” said Aarav. "That ring a bell?" "It does," said Aldrich.
Sheshanaga was a mega corporation based out of India that held one of twelve revered and immensely powerful seats on the Council of Fortune, the coalition of the largest and most influential companies throughout the entire globe.
As far as biotechnology went, Sheshanaga was the top dog in the world, though in pure cybernetics it fell behind Rheingold Cyberworks which, though not a
Council of Fortune member due to its smaller, more specialized size, was the undisputed world leader in cybernetic research and technology.
Regardless, as a member of the Council of Fortune, Sheshanaga could easily be said to have influence on par with an entire country. Combined together, the
Council of Fortune as a whole entity had as much power as any of the major world organizations like the AA and the Panopticon, quite literally controlling the entire flow of the world's economies in their hands.
The Singh family headed Sheshanaga, making Aarav here one of its members, though Aldrich was not well versed enough with the company to know what position Aarav had. “And what does a Council of Fortune family member want to do with me?" said
Aldrich. "I want to offer you a deal," said Aarav. "A proper deal. Not whatever abomination of a deal that blockheaded colonel wanted to throw your way.."