Chapter 346 Hammerhead Meeting 2
Bart was a mutant Alter, a hulking giant of half man, half hammerhead shark. Most notably his head was completely shark-like with the characteristic T-shaped hammer head to boot. Yet despite that, his eyes were surprisingly human in their expressiveness.
"I have to thank you for lending your company to Haven when it needed it the most," said Aldrich. "And my apologies for pushing back our meeting. I know you requested it a few weeks ago, but I had some matters to tend to."
"I understand. Becoming a Sentinel is no easy task, I bet," said Hammerhead. "And lending? That isn't the word I would use. Technically, I'm still getting paid for all this, you know. That Fortune boy you've got's putting up a pretty penny to make this contract happen.
I'm assuming you're helping him in the Inheritance, then?"
The Inheritance was the term coined for Sheshanaga's CEO making his succession quest public to the world.
"Correct," said Aldrich.
Hammerhead nodded as best as his body let him. He very properly used knife and fork to slice of a thin chunk of steaming meat that looked all too small in his huge, toothy jaws.
Dressed up in a fine black suit, Hammerhead almost looked ridiculous, but a sight like this was not all too uncommon these days with Mutant alters being around a plenty.
"Heh, once that Fortune boy gets Sheshanaga, Haven's going to be a beast to reckon with," said Hammerhead. "First time a Fortune Company will ever ally with a Sentinel directly.
I'd be careful if I were you. Too much power draws a lot of eyes. They'll want to break you apart."
" 'They' might find that harder to do than they think," replied Aldrich. "In any case, since you took the time to get here, I'm assuming there's something you want from me, isn't there?"
"Forward, aren't we? But yes, you're right."
"Is it about Seismic? I know the, hm, legalities of using my power on him are a little in the grey area, to say the least."
Hammerhead shook his hand because he could not really shake his head that well to convey a 'no'. "Seismic's been an old friend of mine. I don't own him. I owe him, really, for saving my life when I was young, dumb, and a crook.
As long as Seismic's happy with his current arrangement, then I'm happy too."
Aldrich nodded. Currently, Seismic was halfway across the country in Neo-Seattle where he was spending time with his son and arranging him to move to Haven once it was more established.
Seismic had been there for the past few weeks as Aldrich wanted to give him a break, especially for the heroism he had shown in the Locus attack.
"Then what is it?" asked Aldrich.
Hammerhead had several construction contracts now with Haven. Haven did not have any proper currency to pay them with anything, not to mention the fact that Haven was technically a rogue state, so Aarav had stepped in as a guarantor for the deal.
Technically, Hammerhead Industries therefore had contracts with Aarav, not with Haven, but at this point, Aarav basically was Haven.
This was a massive risk on Hammerhead's part. They were a big company that operated primarily in the U.S. Taking a deal with a rogue state that the U.S. did not recognize was enough to blacklist Hammerhead from domestic projects, tanking the company's stock value by 30%.
The U.S., unlike before the Altering, was a more centralized government now. Most governments in the world were - it was a necessity to quickly organize fighting against variant threats.
It gave the government more leeway to browbeat companies into doing what they wanted. Of course, companies on the scale of those in the Fortune or the highest end of the tier 1 had power over governments, but the U.S. was one of, if not the most powerful nation state out there.
Hammerhead was a solid tier 1 company, but after going against the U.S., they teetered down into the edge of tier 2. Their gambit to deal with Haven was considered by many to be one of the riskiest investments in modern memory.
If it did not pay off soon, Hammerhead would bleed out.
Basically, Aldrich owed Bart here quite a bit, to the point where he wondered why Bart even took the deal in the first place.
Was it because of Seismic? Probably not. Aldrich already knew that Bart and Seismic were good friends. But good friendship alone did not necessitate a risk this big.
"It's about your power." Bart stopped eating, putting his fork and knife down.
"My power?" said Aldrich, surprised. He thought Bart would be asking Aldrich for more payment. But his power was an odd thing to ask about. As a construction company, Hammerhead had very little use for Aldrich's power, especially considering the fact that its work was almost entirely automated.
"It's the whole reason for this," said Hammerhead. "I believe in you, Thanatos, to reach real high, but if I was a proper businessman, I would have never taken these contracts for you.
Mind you, they're still preliminary. I'm only contracted to build up necessary infrastructure to make sure Haven's citizens can survive. Afterwards, I can pull out, most folks will say I just did my part to help the people living her survive, my company's valuation will go back up, and the government will start working with me again."
Aldrich was not fazed. Bart was not making threats here, he was just stating facts. Aldrich was more curious where this was going. What did Bart want? "Then why did you?"
"Can your power...can it fix someone? Fix someone real badly injured?" said Bart. "Like what you did with Seismic."
"It depends on the type of injury," said Aldrich. "If it's a condition that developed naturally by the body, then my power can 'freeze' it, stopping it from progressing further, but it cannot reverse it.
If the injuries are solely of a physical nature, however, my power can reverse that."
Bart took in Aldrich's words. "I'm going to send your folks a file. It'll have medical information about my daughter. I want you to tell me if you can heal her."
"Heal her?" Aldrich paused. "My power isn't exactly healing. You understand the prerequisite of my power to work, don't you? It's been reported widely enough.
I have to kill your daughter first to make it work."
Bart closed his eyes, sighing deeply. "That's fine. She's...she's not really living, the way she is right now. The file will clear it up."
With that, Bart stood up heavily, the specially arranged large chair skittering behind him. He adjusted his suit and turned away. "That's about all I wanted to ask from you. I thought...I thought enough time had passed that I could talk about this without feeling like my heart was sinking out of my chest, but I guess it isn't true: time doesn't heal all wounds.
I'm in no state or mood to talk anymore.
When you've read through the file, reach out to me.