Chapter 173: Company Politics "A deal? I'm interested." Aldrich already held Aarav in far better standing than
Colonel Davos. Aarav had the courage to sit right next to Aldrich knowing how dangerous Aldrich could be.
Though Null Ore could dampen powers, it was not it they just erased Alter Cells and Organs entirely.
Null Ore worked mainly by compromising the proper functioning of the Alter cells and organs, severely disrupting the processing of additional energy.
But the physical strengthening that Alter cells and organs provided from years and years of enriching musculature, blood vessels, bones, and so on remained.
For someone like Aldrich who Aarav had every reason to expect had a massively high AC count, it was an entirely reasonable threat for Aldrich to just reach out and snap Aarav's neck, especially considering the fact that technos tended to have weaker bodies even with high AC counts.
The fact that Aarav just sat calmly like this, right next to Aldrich, indicated that he was willing to place his trust in Aldrich.
Plus the fact that Aarav did not just start off negotiations by threatening
Aldrich's life definitely helped. "Have you been keeping up with news about Sheshanaga?" said Aarav. "That's one area where I'm not the most researched on," said Aldrich. "That's fine," said Aarav. "You don't particularly have to know anything. And now that I think about it, you wouldn't really find anything on the news either.
It's all mostly secret stuff.
Anyway, to get to the point: the CEO of Sheshanaga is looking for a new successor." “A new successor?" said Aldrich. "I would have expected that to be on the news."
Anything related to a shift in the power structure of a Council of Fortune company would make immediate global headlines because it would have been almost akin to hearing about a regime change in a government.
No, a more apt analogy would have been a change in a kingdom, because that's what these companies were: modern day kingdoms. Many of them were ruled by familial dynasties and the power struggles that went into deciding who took the crown after the family heads died often shed quite the blood. "It's all secret and on the down low for now," said Aarav with a shrug. "My old man didn't want to make the news public." "Old man? So, you're the heir to Sheshanaga?" said Aldrich. "Yeah. Along with five other kids, no, wait, counting the illegitimate hooker spawn, of which I am one, there's ten, no, twelve others?" said Aarav. He shrugged again. "It doesn't matter, really, so long as there's even a tiny drop of his blood in one of us. The old man's looking for whoever can meet his will, not whoever came out of the right vagina." "I see where this is going," said Aldrich. "You want to meet his will and take over the company, and for that, you need me." "You catch on quick. I like that. I like that a lot," said Aarav. He nodded enthusiastically. He reached into his coat pocket and placed a black tipped cigarette deftly into his mouth. He put the tip of his index finger near the cigarette, and a small flame emerged from several small holes in his finger, lighting it.
He reached out his case of cigarettes to Aldrich. "Want one? Just a warning: they're not anything special. You could pick them up at the nearest gas station." "I don't smoke," said Aldrich. "Understandable. Very healthy, too. If my old man thought like you, maybe he would be living longer," said Aarav. He put the cigarette case away and blew out a breath of smoke. "But unfortunately, he's due for a permanent trip to the other side in a few months, and now he's sent out all his heirs on a wild goose chase for the greatest secret of all.
The one secret we still haven't cracked with all these crazy new powers and fancy new technology." "And that is?" said Aldrich. "The secret of immortality," said Aarav. "I see," said Aldrich. "I assume you believe I can help you with that." "With immortality? Hell yeah," said Aarav. "You've made quite the waves out there, Mr. Thanatos. The power to raise the dead, the power to raise a Locus —
I'm sure everyone will want a piece of you soon. Every company worth a damn, at least.
And not all of them will be incompetent monkey brains like sir green beret out there.
That's the problem with men that take authority for granted. They don't realize that it's earned. And when you call them out on it, it's like you've insulted their whole being." "And what about you? Do you believe you deserve authority?" said Aldrich, scoping out Aarav's character. "Me? Sure, in some ways, when it's been earned. But with you, of course not.
You're the one with all the power here, Mr. Thanatos — a fact that colonel out there really could not stand," said Aarav. "You see, I like to consider myself a self-made man, though I guess that's relative.
I did start out with a loan of ten thousand credits from my old man. The maximum amount he would give an illegitimate like me.
Nothing compared to the ten million he gave his real kids, but then again, at least I didn't start off begging in the streets.
Anyways, I took that ten thousand and built up my very own company. Big enough that I get a seat at Sheshanaga's table in spite of the dirty looks I get all the time from the real heirs.
What that journey from bottom to the top did make me realize was exactly where I stood in the world at any given moment. It taught me when to know 1 held power. Authority.
And it also taught me when I was weak and needed others for support.
And to you, Mr. Thanatos, I know I have to pitch myself. I need your support. I need to convince you I'm a worthy investment." "So? Are you?" said Aldrich. "[ have a hunch about you, Mr. Thanatos, and that's that you don't really care about the credits, do you? You might care a little just to make sure a lack of credits isn't an issue but sitting atop a mountain of them isn't your end goal, is it?" said Aarav. "You would be guessing correctly," said Aldrich. "That's what I thought. We think along similar lines, then," said Aarav as he adjusted his ragged suit jacket. "So, to start off, I'll offer you what any other large corp would.
Credits and political support and whatever. I can essentially guarantee you'll make it to your hearing unharmed, though I can't guarantee I can bribe every single person on the tribunal. But even if that doesn't work, I can promise to rebuild Haven and make it a better place.
I'll be honest here and add that I don't have as much backing as a proper
Council of Fortune company or even as much as some my own brothers and sisters."
Aarav made a dismissive gesture. "But all that, I can promise later once I take over the company and kick the unruly variables out.
At that point, the real fun begins.
You'll have access to everything Sheshanaga can offer. All of its research and technology.
Anyways, that's the gist of what I can offer you. If you want more, you can always ask me." "And in exchange? What do you want from me?" said Aldrich. "Considering you're talking about taking over the company, I assume you want me to help you in fulfilling your father's wish for immortality."
Aarav took a deep draw from his cigarette. "You know, I never understood why the average rich prick likes cigars so much. I'ma rich prick too, but what makes cigars so much better than the average Marlo cig?" said Aarav as he went off on a seeming tangent, but Aldrich could tell there was meaning behind it. "Image and prestige, I imagine," said Aldrich. "Image and prestige, yes," said Aarav. "Old things that old people love to cling to. But to hell with that, I say. Out with the old, in with the new." Aarav snuffed out his nearly burnt-out cigarette with the tip of his finger.
The red hot cigarette head sizzled as it made contact with Aarav's hardened skin. "I don't want you to give my father immortality. That's all just a ploy for him to rule forever and keep making the same mistakes again and again, wasting the company's tech and research and potential.
No, I want you to help me kill him.."