Money, we need it, want it, desire it. But in the end, of what worth is it?

Chapter Forty Two : Family Matters.

Can you believe what the council has done!” Said the hologram of Tim. “Passing a law so that every man, woman, and child in SynCity is guaranteed a free NSB. We spent good money developing that technology, and now they want to take the patent away from us and put it in the hands of amateurs. Ridiculous! Next thing you know they’ll be wanting to give them to chimeras as well.” Pacing back and forth the hologram of Tim showed a man as fit as he had ever been. The Companies, they liked to keep their executive level employees in top condition, and if that meant that he looked like a man at the height of his prime despite being twenty years past it, well, the only one who paid for it was his wife.

We knew a day like this would be coming sooner rather then later.” Said John without a hint of regret. “With the way the world has begun moving towards a more technologically integrated society, it was only a matter of time before the need for total integration trickled down to the masses.” Choosing not to worry, John looked to the future instead. “No. What we need to do now is to find ways to stay ahead of the game.” He was silent for a moment as he thought about how to turn the current situation to their advantage. “We’ll give them the patents, and the technology, but with a few, minor modifications.”

Modifications?” Said Tim, his interest peaked. “What kind of modifications?”

Nothing illegal, and certainly nothing that could be traced back to us. We just, change a few things. Make it so that the current model of NSB’s become obsolete every couple of years. That way, when people feel the need to come in for maintenance or repairs, we can offer them the option to, upgrade if you will.”

Upgrades. I like it. After all, keeping up with the Jones can be so expensive. And it beats the hell out of gifting the council with a lifetime guarantee.”

My point exactly.” Raising his glass in a toast, He quoted the company motto. “Because if god didn’t make men equal, why should we let technology do the job?”

His link to the security grid telling him that Johnathan had entered the manor and was on his way to the office, John sighed and said. “Sorry about this Tim, but I’m going to have to call you back. It seems that the prodigal son has just returned.”

Do close the door won’t you?” Sitting before a roaring fire, John said. “Its beginning to feel a bit chilly in here.”

Sipping his rum, the elder King felt a peculiar sense of vindication when the door to his office was slammed shut.

What the hell is going on!” Seething with rage Johnathan tossed the now useless pieces of his cred card at his father’s feet. “You aren’t allowed to simply cut me off! I’m your son your heir. You have a responsibility to take care of me!”

A responsibility you say.” Deigning to take notice of his erstwhile son, John saw that he was holding his hands clasped behind his back. “Strange, but my responsibilities ended the day that you turned twenty-one, or were you beginning to believe that simply by being my son you were guaranteed a free ride through life?”

I’m your heir.” Said Johnathan as if it were all that mattered.

The heir to what I wonder? A fortune that you didn’t earn? A position in life you’ve done nothing to deserve? I spent the best years of my life building our family name into one that I could be proud of. And I’ll be damned before I let a bastard like you drag it down into the mud.” Choosing an insult calculated to hurt, the elder King simply said. “If only Kato had been born as my son instead of you, what an heir he would have made.”

Fighting to restrain himself, Johnathan said. “Don’t you dare compare me to him. He’s a chimera, he’s nothing.”

You think, I would compare you to him? Oh my dear boy, you seem to have gotten it all wrong. You see, there is nothing to compare. You simply aren’t fit to stand in his shadow.” Letting himself begin to chuckle, it was to Johnathan’s credit that he had actually managed to maintain his composure. “Did you know, that he’s actually begun to make something of a name for himself in the UnderCity? Byakko of the west they’ve started calling him. Why, even the Five Families themselves, the self-proclaimed ruler’s of SynCity’s entire criminal underworld have started to take note of his abilities. Some of them, why they’ve even tried to recruit him.”

In a way it wasn’t all that surprising. Kato had always been one to chafe under any sort of restrictions placed upon him, and since so many syndicates operated outside the rules that had been set down by Exotica Geno-Works, many of the chimeras who couldn’t make their way in the world began resorting to organized crime in order to survive. But once they had been given the freedom to let their natural instincts run wild, they thrived.

This is all because of him. Its his fault your disowning me. You’ve as much as said so.”

And that was it, He had finally heard enough. “So your mother never loved you and your father lived for his work. Cry me a fucking river. Half the world is more screwed up then you are, so grow up and have the balls to take responsibility for your own life. Kato isn’t to blame for the choices that you’ve made you are!” Staring at the man standing before him it was suddenly about so much more than petty games and sadistic power plays. It was about being able to look his own son in the eyes, and not feel contempt, for the pathetic waste of space that dared to stand before him and call itself a human being.

But I can’t even ask you to that much though can I?” John sighed as he slumped into his chair. A sense of defeat hung heavy on his shoulders. “I suppose it all started to go wrong on the day you were born. My own wife betrayed me, my personal assistant sold me out to save his own skin, and now this. And do you know what the sad part is?” Not bothering to wait for a reply, the elder King went on. “I never saw any of it coming. And then one day, I asked myself. What can I do to make things right? Then the answer came to me. Wipe the slate clean. Have him cloned, and start over.” John’s voice lost the last of its warmth when he said. “You know, you really should thank Kato for doing his job so diligently. Because even when you couldn’t see him, he was still watching out for you. In fact, if it wasn’t for him I’d have been able to replace you a dozen times over by now. But that stupid, arrogant, fool of an assassin, he had to go and try to kill you by blowing you up!” Hanging his head in shame, John said. “If only he had used poison like I told him to. Yours would have been, a miraculous recovery.”

Johnathan stood stock still as he remembered what the police had said to him. That the investigation had been closed. The act of a disgruntled former employee they had called it. Looking to his father, as if actually seeing him for the first time, he said. “It was you? You were the one who tried to kill me?”

Oh, many times. You see, its something of an unwritten rule you come to understand when you get to where I am. For instance, the board of directors at Exotica Geno-Works, in fact I do believe that its the same for all three companies, they like to ensure that those who survive long enough to join them, are the ones willing to do whatever is necessary to stay in power.” Chuckling slightly the elder king spread his hands. “How else would we keep ourselves from being unseated by someone younger or stronger then we are?

You know, somewhere deep inside my heart, I’d always harbored a secret hope that you would one day overdose on Dust. But then, we did create Dust to be addictive, not lethal. Though you have been a great help in testing out the long term effects for us. A pity that all those pesky human rights laws kept us from testing it legally on live subjects, but then again, that’s what we have chimeras for now isn’t it?”

As if suddenly seeing everything in a new light, Johnathan said. “I can’t believe that I’m actually hearing this. My own father . . . wants me dead.” And instead of being put off by the revelation, he found himself, relieved.

Disgusted by his son’s casual acceptance of such a thing, the elder King said. “Did you really think that I would just stand idly by and watch, as you reduced everything that I’ve worked for to nothing! Well, answer me!”

Honestly,” Said Johnathan, as he let an inch of the katana he had stolen from the boxes that had been left over from when Kato had cleaned out the dojo slide free of its sheath. “I never would have thought that you had it in you. So glad to know I got it from your side of the family.” Drawing the katana his father thought to sell at auction in one smooth motion he discarded the sheath and said. “And since you’ve already disowned me, I’d say that this is the perfect time for the two of us to go our separate ways, eh father?