Chapter 174: The Unending Thread "Kill your father? Now isn't that a bold proposition to throw at me so soon?" said Aldrich. He leaned forward, the metal of his armor clicking with the movement. Beside Aarav, a man of average height, Aldrich, in his thick armor especially, looked like a hulk of a man.
But despite that, Aarav did not care. He just waited patiently for Aldrich to talk. "Taking out the head of a Council of Fortune megacorp is basically akin to assassinating the head of a state," said Aldrich. "You're asking me to take a risk as big as that? This is a massive gamble, isn't it? Either you and I take out your father and we get everything you promised.
Or we fail, your head rolls, and I become a target." "Every deal has some level of risk," said Aarav. "And you seem to know a thing or two about gambles. Why do you think I'm offering you so much, Mr.
Thanatos? What is essentially joint ownership of Sheshanaga? It's reward commensurate with the risk.
And the actual offing the old man part - I will handle most of that. 1 know exactly how to get to him.
My old man thinks of himself like a god, deserving of the gift of immortality, but in the end, all he is is just a weak little insecure man, destined to go under the dirt and turn into maggot food like the rest of us.
I know how he thinks. What he wants. What he fears. I know how to manipulate him. Believe me, I've planned for this moment my entire life. All I needed was one missing puzzle piece to fit into place, and I believe you can be that piece." "T'll humor you then: tell me how you're going to take down your father," said
Aldrich. "It's quite simple, really," said Aarav. "My old man trusts nobody in his old age and declining health. He sees all of us, his sons and daughters, own blood and flesh, as vultures circling above, just waiting to pick into his corpse.
And he would be exactly right about that.
He's got exactly one person he trusts, and that's his assistant- mistress. A girl he picked up from the streets to groom into his perfect woman." "I'm assuming you've got this woman compromised somehow, then," said
Aldrich. "You've got that right. I won't go into the details of it, but she's essentially my agent. But that alone isn't enough," said Aarav. "Because no matter how much my old man trusts his mistress, it's not to the point where she can dictate his will for him.
And I can't just off the old man without getting ownership of the company first. That's why I need to win this dumb immortality rat race competition of his against all my siblings. He'll give me rights then in a grand ceremony, passing off the company while he enjoys his eternal retirement." "Retirement? Then is there a need to kill him?" said Aldrich. "It seems to me that all you need on your end is something that will convince your father that he'll stay on living." "That's the thing. That's what he told us. That he'll step down. But I know my old man better than that. He might not have spent time with me like he did with his real children, but it's because of that that I know exactly the type of man he is.
He can't keep his hands off what he thinks belongs to him. And when he doesn't get his way, he'll break it so that nobody else can have it. That's what he did to my mother. That's what he'll do to the company.
Even if he steps down, he'll have a high enough position in the company to ‘oversee’ things that he could stage a coup anytime he wanted. He might step back for a few months, years, even, but eventually, he'll get hungry again, and he'll do whatever it takes to carve back that power, even if it means burning it all down.
It's better to eliminate him as a rogue variable sooner rather than later."
Aldrich took a moment to think about Aarav's words. ‘They were ruthless and harsh, yes, but not out of the ordinary. Company politics were brutal in the age of mega corporations. The Corporate Wars of 2077 and 2090 that killed hundreds of thousands were a testament to how bloody and brutal company conflicts could get.
In the highest echelons of corporate maneuvering, there was no room for sympathy. It was kill or be killed. Deceive or be deceived.
For this reason, Aldrich could not fully trust Aarav, but he knew he would have to deal with corporations because they were such huge powers on the global playing field. It was inevitable for Aldrich to have to wade through the web of deceit and conflict woven into these mega corporations.
What Aldrich needed to do was choose his spider carefully. He needed the right spider that would help him navigate this web and hunt down the others that would get in his way. "I know I said this was a gamble, Mr. Thanatos," said Aarav as he noticed
Aldrich's pause. "And it is, don't get me wrong, but now, you yourself don't have to go all in. That's for me to do.
This is how I envisioned our potential partnership to go.
I help you out right now and do my best to get you through your hearing.
Consider that a down payment, that you can take for free from me.
Afterwards, when you are more established, we start R and D together. You see, my old man is quite the suspicious type, so he won't be taking any secret immortality formula without being absolutely sure it won't backfire on him.
At the very least, he won't accept your powers as they are now. I doubt that paranoid old mind of his will accept the risk of dying and resurrecting only to potentially be under your control. He'll want something else, something more digestible to his sensibilities.
That's where the R and D comes into play. We create something over an extended period of time that seemingly replicates your powers in a way that my old man will accept it." "That means access to my powers. To my units," said Aldrich. "It will," said Aarav. "But I understand that trust is a two-way road. In exchange, I will give you access to my tech, my laboratories, and my research.
If you need anything from us, I can get it done. As long as it isn't an unreasonable request, of course.
Vimana - my company - specializes in the cybernetics side of biotech, and it is accomplished enough to be one of Sheshanaga's top subsidiaries.
I don't know whether you care about research, but even if you don't, if you're just interested in the cybernetic armor and monofilament wire weapons and dermal skin plating and whatnot, then you won't be disappointed.
I'm confident my company's cybernetics have enough combat potential to warrant your interest. It would take at the minimum an A rank hero to afford my company's direct line, but you'll have it essentially for free.
My company's influence is also not anything to scoff at. At the very least, it will give you enough standing where anyone, even the most influential of figures in the world, will have to think twice before crossing you.
And I would practically become your corporate sponsor.
Plus, at any given moment, if you think our partnership is not up to your standards, you have free reign to end it as you wish. You can consider this a trial period to grow our trust with each other with free cancellation if something doesn't suit your fancy.
If another company approaches you with an even sweeter deal, then you are free to take it — 1 will not stop you.
But just let me know first to see whether I can match it." "A tempting offer," said Aldrich. He could not even begin to imagine the potential that this deal had.
Fler'Gan was curious about this world's technology. If he had unfettered access to high end laboratories, especially those related to biotechnology and cybernetics, then he essentially had the perfect playground to merge magic and mechanization together.
This was not to mention the immediate high-end equipment that would come
Aldrich's way. "But if you're here in front of me, then I'm sure your siblings will come as well," said Aldrich. "And I assume each of them hold companies of significant merit too. Companies even larger than yours, you admitted.
What separates you from them?" "Commitment," said Aarav. "I told you that you didn't have to go all in. But I'm all in. I'm willing to spend everything I have, everything I've built up, and bank it on you, Mr. Thanatos. My siblings or any other company, really, will not do the same.
They will not trust you. They will be wary of you. None of them will give you as much as I am willing to give you. They will want more from you. They will place more conditions on you." "And why is it that you are different?" said Aldrich. "What makes you so willing to bet it all on me? You don't even know whether my powers can even be replicated in the way you want it to be." "Didn't | already say? I'm all in," said Aarav. "And all in means I'm willing to take the risk that our R and D partnership might not work out as well as I envision it.
But even then, I would still be willing to bet on you.
And there's a very good reason for that.
You should have wondered by now why I picked up on you so quickly. Why it was that I managed to pay my way onto this isolated prison transport.
This is the reason." Aarav took off his shades, revealing one normal brown eye.
And one other eye with a pupil completely black and shaped into the pattern of a lotus flower. "When I close this eye of mine, I can see a silk thread.
A golden silk thread that floats atop a sea of darkness.
When I think about making some, how should I put this, unhealthy decisions, the thread shrinks.
When I think about making healthy decisions, the thread grows.
When I think about our collaboration, the thread never ends.."