“Don’t you think it’s a little cruel that you gave him a puzzle with no solution?” Skott asked with a raised eyebrow as he regarded the six year old Osiris sat in the corner of the workshop. Mentel grabbed the man’s shoulder and pulled him back, “Don’t say that so loudly, I’m done for if he suspects that there is no solution.” The mechanic whispered harshly as he smiled at Skott. Putting his hand through his black hair, Mentel smiled down at his son who was furiously pressing all the lights on the cube in his hands. For each light that he pressed on the cube, another light would illuminate or fade away in a separate location. Also, to make it worse, the cube was able to rotate from its core, allowing for the lights to be matched up in certain designs.
“It does have a solution though.” Mentel continued, “He just hasn’t figured it out yet.”
At the questioning glance that Skott gave him, Mentel smiled sheepishly. “I had to buy it from the Thunderist academy, they said that it would keep him occupied until the age of ten, all I have to do is download new patterns for the cube.”
Leaning against the workbench, Skott brushed a wrench aside and looked around the workshop. “And is it doing the trick for the little guy?” Mentel however frowned at the question and regarded the cube in his son’s hands a little more closely, “No, he managed to exhaust all the default patterns long ago, he’s now working off the customized ones. It would take me a day or two to figure them out myself yet he does them in hours.”
“And what about finances, how are you both keeping?” Skott asked with concern in his voice. The mechanic sighed and smiled at him warmly, “I know what you’re going to ask, and no, it’s fine… we’ll be able to manage. I just wish that I could put him into a decent school.”
Skott turned around and leaned his hands against the work bench, “You know I could have him into Expenditech Institute in a heartbeat, hell, I could arrange for the Thunderists to have a look at him. Just stop being so proud about it, he’s your son and he deserves the best that he can get!”
Mentel picked up the wrench and busied himself with the machine in front of him, his eyes were clouded over as he spoke. “I have no desire to send my son to one of the boarding schools, I don’t think I could manage it.”
Before either of the men could say another word, a large beep sounded from across the room. Mentel turned to see his son grinning at him as a loud voice echoed throughout the room, “Phase 34, Complete. Congratulations Osiris Creek. You have successfully completed the entire progr-”
The voice disappeared and a clicking sound emitted from the device before it started to beep again. Osiris frowned at first, only to groan as a familiar voice sounded out, “Downloading next Phase.” Picking the cube back up, Osiris stretched out and lay on his back, his bemused smile was evident as his fingers started to dart around the toy. “Nearly had it that time, Dad.”
Mentel winked at his son, “You’ll get it next time, the Thunderist’s are probably sweating as they try to keep up with you.”
Skott smiled weakly at the two before he snapped out of his reverie, “Seriously, Mentel, you know how many contacts my company has. We can find a good school that is local, his current school barely offers a challenge.” Mentel however, laughed at the words. “I don’t keep him at that school for academic reasons… no, I want him to be able to make friends from similar backgrounds. I want him to learn social skills that he couldn’t get if he was pampered and trained by the top minds on our planet. No education teaches you how to make friends. Besides, this is the school that Osyria chose for him.”
“Well you know that the offer still stands, regardless.” Skott said with a smile as he watched Mentel work at the bench, “Oh, and be careful with the Infusion Generator there, the plasma cells look to be pushing a little to the left.”
Mentel paused momentarily, glancing at the Generator for a few seconds before he face broke into a smile. Reaching over, he started to readjust some of the connections to the board. “You never cease to amaze me Skott, here I was thinking that you just had a managing role in your business.”
The large man chuckled, “I wish! I had to build that company up from scratch. Laser Technologies was my Major at University. Quantum Mechanics followed suit, which for some strange reason drew me towards alternative power supply research. But you know what the government are like, they’re all hounding me, asking for me to push my research into the arms division.”
Mentel frowned, “And what did you say to them?”
Skott grinned, “I said over my dead body, I wont be a part of anything like that. I wanted to make a difference in the world, but it’s not like the fairytale adventures in the stories.”
The mechanic put down his tools and picked up an empty cup, which he brought to a recession in the wall. “Coffee please, House.” Suddenly, a square of the wall opened to reveal an empty plate on which Mentel placed his cup. A torrent of brown liquid started to pour into the cup, causing a thin plume of steam to rise from it. “In what respect, Skott? It’s difficult to make a big difference, but I believe that it’s worth the pursuit.”
Skott frowned as he turned around, unfolding his arms when he spoke. “You know what this city is like, this entire planet! We’re completely dependant on the energy crystals that are sourced from the other planets. I wanted to provide an energy source that wouldn’t rely on external systems… but the volume of energy that we require to maintain such technology is simply astounding!”
Mentel smiled weakly as he regarded the cup in his hands, “I don’t think that its possible for us to rely on ourselves to such an extent, if there was such a thing possible, wouldn’t the Thunderists have told us by now?”
Lifting his hand to his head, Skott sighed, “They’re not infallible, Mentel. We rely on those men too much these days. Did you know that they have increased the number of Sections being sent Mining to nearly forty?”
Mentel gripped the cup, “Are you serious? It was only about twenty last year. Surely we have not furthered our energy consumption by that much in such a short space of time? Don’t you think that they’re just being precautious?”
Skott shook his head, “No, I wish it were so easy. My business has a lot of government ties, so when a tax was introduced on my corporation to fund some of the Sections, I started to ask questions.”
“And?” Mentel asked, his eyes focused on Skott‘s expression.
“War. They say that they are taking precautionary measures so that the cities have enough energy to maintain themselves and to power the highest security level. It just doesn’t sound right though, we have peaceful status with the majority of the countries in the Alliance.”
Mentel was frowning now, “And a mutual assistance pact with the others, even the planets we mine on don’t care since we pay them. Do you think its for real?”
Skott laughed as he pressed a button on his earpiece, “No, I think that they’re lying through their teeth. They’re up to something, and I want to know wha-” Skott cut off as a look of confusion crossed his face. Mentel saw the earpiece glowing and realised that he was in a call. The mechanic gestured that it was okay and that he could leave. Skott waved his thanks and picked up his jacket before giving Osiris a thumbs up signal. Osiris, however, didn’t notice as he was still engrossed with the cube in front of him. Yet after a slight admonishment from his father, Osiris glanced up and waved goodbye to Skott.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can, tell her that I’ll only be a few minutes, thank you.” Skott said into the ear piece as he closed the door to his car. “Hospital, East Sector, Quick route.” Skott said as he reclined in the leather chair. A few moments passed before the car started to move, however a low beep caused the large man to sit up in his chair, “What is it?”
“You have one new message, Mr. Gryffon.” A voice sounded from various speakers placed in his car. Skott sighed as he fell back into the chair, “Play it.”
Mr. Gryffon, we would like to remind you of your debts to this company. We understand that you have many hospital bills to pay and that you’re currently going through a difficult period, but your time out of office and your constant donations toward Thunderist research… we at the board feel that the company needs to undergo a new direction. A direction that we hope you will come onboard with.
Shooting into an upright position, Skott didn’t issue any voice commands, he mashed the buttons on the plasma screen until he saw the familiar face illuminated on his windscreen.
“What the hell is the meaning of this?!” Skott said through clenched teeth.
Victor Elthia smiled knowingly, “I take it you got the message then? Strange how you rarely respond so quickly until it is your job that’s on the line.”
“You have ten seconds to tell me what the hell is going on!” Skott said as he gripped the hand rests of the leather chair. Victor moved to the left to pick up some folders and sheets of paper, the camera blurred momentarily before it locked on his face again, allowing the resolution to clear up again.
“As you well know, the company is in a tight position. You’ve basically run us into the ground with your personal hospital bills, your investments have gone sour and your remaining working capital was sent to the Thunderists in the hopes of a miracle cure for your dying son. A few weeks back, you allowed shares of the company to be released to the general public so that you could secure some more capital.”
Skott was fuming, “What of it?!”
Victor smiled again, “The value of the shares slowly dropped. Your ethos of finding a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, new power supplies? Its not really reassuring to our investors. If I had the money, I would have bought up the shares and attempted a take over. Anything would have been preferable to the direction you were taking us.”
Skott grimaced, “You’re trying to usurp me? You’re going to try and take the company I built away from me? I took you in when nobody would even look at your résumés…”
Victor sighed, “That was then, Skott. This is now. We at the board couldn’t afford to buy you out, but we were able to give our own personal shares to a third party. You will be kept on as an employee, but the direction of your company has changed. You’ll now be assisting in the manufacturing of Dalthon-Gryffon Weaponry.”
“You sold out to Dalthon?!” Skott nearly roared at the screen, his hands were close to ripping the arms from his seat as he stared with indignant outrage at the man grinning at him on the screen. “You know what they’re like! They’ll cut you out and take us over completely, we cant go into the arms trade!”
Victor shook his head, “No… You wouldn’t go into the arms trade, this is actually a very lucrative venture for the business. Yet we needed to secure your signature for the final agreement.”
Skott, “Go to hell, I’ll never sign such a thing… you may want a quick cash in, but I will not stand by and see my company be a tool of destruction!”
Victor grimaced, “But you will, Skott. How else will you pay for your son’s healthcare. Dalthon have agreed to cover the full cost of his treatments because they want you. You are the face of Gryffon Tech Industries and you alone built it up, they want you onboard.”
Skott was so livid with anger that his voice cracked the first time that he tried to speak. “If… you ever try to use my son as leverage against me again, I will hunt you down and kill you. Dalthon want me so they can learn how to operate the business. Everything from Gryffon has my patent on it, they cant touch anything without me. We’re not having this discussion now. I want to see you in my office in two hours, bring Dalthon with you. And Victor, you are, and always have been expendable. Never forget that.”
With that last sentence said, Skott ended the transmission and lay back in his chair. A few moments of silence passed before the large man started to cry. “Estimated time of arrival, three minutes.” The car spoke quietly, its emotional sensors adjusted accordingly to his saddened state. Skott wiped the tears from his eyes as he looked in the mirror. Seeing the red in his eyes, the large man looked away and leaned back in the chair before he groaned silently, “Why does this have to happen now?”