Fate has no forgiveness, for those who dare to stand against it.

Chapter Fourteen : Dawn of the uncertain tomorrow.

Every breath was agony, every moment its own unique torture. Blood trailed from Kato’s mouth in a thin line. He had never known until know just how much pain he could endure while still being able to remain conscious.

His only consolation, was the look of sheer frustration that he’d seen on Johnathan’s face every time he’d been hit by him. That, and the knowledge that even now Lady was already somewhere beyond his reach.

Where the hell is she?” Johnathan yelled, punching him in the stomach. Kato had been prepared for it, but unable to brace himself properly, the blow had still had enough power behind it to double him over. Johnathan hit him again. This time, instead of a dull meaty thud, it had been followed by a sharp cracking sound.

It was probably another one of my ribs. How many does that make? Forcing himself to stay standing, Kato looked Johnathan straight in the eye, and spit a mouthful of blood into his face. Satisfied that he had been able to do even that much, he said. “And how the hell would I know? What, am I your personal assistant now?”

Raising his fist as he wiped away the blood with his sleeve, Johnathan said. “If I find out that your lying to me.”

That made Kato laugh. “What? You’ll hit me again?” Tapping the collar around his neck he said. “I can’t lie remember, not while I’m wearing this.”

Kicking Kato’s leg out from under him, Johnathan turned his ire on an already irritable Zack. “Why the hell didn’t you tie her up?”

Me! And with what? What, was I just supposed to somehow pull a rope out of my ass! Anyway, it was your idea to kidnap her in the first place. Why didn’t you bring something to tie her up with?”

Too tired to make an argument out of it, Johnathan just put his hands in his pockets and said. “Fuck it, I’ve already run out of Dust anyway.” With a shrug he added. “Guess there really is nothing to do about it but go home and get some more. Besides, her kind are easy to find, there’ll be others.”

Even though it was something Kato had seen countless times before, he still managed to find the sudden and rapid shift in Johnathan’s personality to be well and truly frightening. But it was strange, until now, he had always been able to find some way to rationalize his actions. A reason or excuse that would grant him a reprieve from the normal behaviors of civilized society.

Over and over again he tried going through them in his mind. Johnathan wasn’t the same person whenever he used Dust, that it was just a phase he was going through, a rebellious period brought on by the challenges of youth. And the worst one of them all. That all he needed was for someone to just give him a chance. Even now, Kato refused to give up on him, to think for even a moment that he was someone beyond redemption, beyond saving. But having just watched Johnathan dismiss everything save his own personal desires only proved to him just how blind to the world around him he could really be.

Kato forced himself to open his eyes, to look at Johnathan and actually see him. This is the man that I swore to serve? An amoral narcissistic rapist? Summoning the last of his strength, Kato unsheathed his claws, and cast aside his connection, his claim to the King family name. No more. I will serve no longer.

Johnathan was opening the driver’s side door when he suddenly stopped and said. “Hey Kato, I overheard my old man talking once, he was saying something about those control collars they make you wear. Wanna know what it is?”

Glaring up at him with his one good eye, the other having long since swelled shut, Kato said. “Somehow, I get the feeling you’re going to tell me whether I want to know or not.”

Johnathan nodded, making it all too clear to Kato that he was enjoying himself more than he was letting on. “It seems those collars they make you wear have a special function built into em, beyond that of the the normal paralysis I mean.” He was smiling when he said it. “They can also be used to cause pain.” He started the car. “Working you over was just for kicks. The real fun’s gonna start after I leave. Pity I won’t get to hear you scream.”

Kato could only lie on the ground and watch as Johnathan began to drive away. Unable to rise to his feet and follow, his collar began emitting a low buzzing sound once the Cadillac had disappeared from his line of sight.

It was like being struck by lightning. Every nerve blazed with fire, every joint cried out in a kind of nameless agony. Coupled with the beating he had already endured; the pain it was able to cause was beyond description.

Ah, Morishita. I would have thought you’d have gone home by now.” John was sitting in his office, enjoying a newspaper. It was such a quaint service, to print something on actual paper. Especially in an era when almost all media was electronic. “What can I do for you on this fine night?”

Nodding ever so slightly Morishita said. “Earlier today Kato requested to play a game of Go with me.” Holding up a single stone he said. “When I went to his room to meet him, I found this. It seems he was able to recreate an entire game from memory, a game that we had yet to finish.” Palming the stone, Morishita could feel the awakening of Kato’s latent potential. Teaching him how to play the ancient game had come to be one of the few joys left in his life, and to find that Kato’s opening move had contained both Aji and Kikashi, it had revealed his growth as an individual. “Now, since Kato would never willingly miss an opportunity to finish playing his favorite game—”

Lacking the patience to endure one of Morishita’s long winded speeches, John was quick cut him off. “Just get to the point already.”

Slipping his hands into opposite sides of his sleeves, Morishita crossed his arms in front of himself and said. “The appointed time has already past, and yet I find myself growing ever more concerned, since he has not yet decided to return.”

He’s with that good-for-nothing son of mine. Doing his job.” Which is what you should be doing. He thought to himself. But remembering that things would go better for him if he keep quiet on that particular point, wisely stayed silent.

And that is part of the reason why I am so concerned.” Morishita studied John’s face as he said. “You see, your son has just seen fit to return home, without Kato.”

Despite his best efforts to school his features to passiveness, John’s eye started twitching uncontrollably as the implications of what Morishita had just told began running through his mind. Touching his face to still the twitch, He said. “You’re dismissed. Now get out of my sight.”

A gross breach of protocol Morishita left, without bothering to bow.

John threw away his paper in disgust. He had come to hate everything that reminded him of Kato. Bad enough that he was a constant and unwelcome reminder of the day it had all begun to go wrong. Now he was going to have to deal with the backlash that would arise from his disappearance as well. Rubbing his temples, He could already feel the first signs of a stress related headache beginning just behind his eyes.

It had happened entirely without warning. There had been no signs of anything being out of place. Certainly nothing that would ever have indicated that everything in his life was about to go wrong. He had just, walked into his office one day to find it waiting for him, a holo-projector that had been left lying innocently on his desk. And that had been perhaps the most frightening thing of all. Not the fact that they had been able overcome his most stringent security measures, or that in doing so, they had purposefully disabled each and every one. No, the fact that had bothered him the most, was that they had done it simply to prove that they could.

A small circular device, the holo-projector had been keyed to his unique biorhythms and had activated itself the moment he touched it.

Suddenly, standing before him was a man he knew all too well, a man he had thought he would never have to see again. “They know about Kato.” Said the hologram of his former personal assistant Tom.

John felt as if the floor had fallen out from under him. Everything that he had worked for, sacrificed for. It was all suddenly crumbling around him.

The hologram of Tom went on, oblivious to John’s obvious distress. “It seems your dirty little secret isn’t responding to the age acceleration treatments the way normal chimeras should. Seems he’s begun showing signs of actually being able to resist them, a precursor one might say, of something we all thought was impossible. No, something we were told was impossible, Project A.E.G.I.S. has finally begun to bear fruit. Seems the old man has been meddling more then anyone thought that he could.”

Holding onto the edge of his desk for support, John could barely begin to believe what it was that he had just heard. It was impossible, to think that the infinite telomerase, the key to creating a perfect immortal body, one that would be free from the ravages of time, age and disease, had in fact been sealed away inside his bastard son’s body. And yet, it had to be true. The companies had been using chimeras for years to develop anti-aging therapies. Accelerating their maturation rate, studying the various effects that rejuvenation therapies had upon their bodies, even going so far as to alter their embryonic development, it had all been done to bring forth just such a one. Even seeding the earth with the potential needed to unlock the secrets of human evolution, everything else had been secondary to that one true goal. That fate would see fit to grant him one last chance at greatness . . .

John regained his composure, only to realize that while he had been absorbed in his own thoughts, Tom had continued talking.

And guess what it was they found when they tried to check his records.” John opened his mouth, only to have the hologram cut him off. “Ah! Don’t try to speak, remember, this is only a recording. Your name and mine, and a whole lot of bribes. You see, money talks John, and a company with resources like ours can loosen a lot of tongues. But the thing is, and this is the part that’s really strange. They’re actually quite pleased with the actions that you took to safeguard the company. Who would have known that wiping the memories of an entire hospital full of people, using your own personal assets to finance a cover up, and even going so far as to sacrifice your own wife in the process, could have made so many powerful people happy?

A look of stern disapproval on his face, he said. “That last one was cold John, cold and ruthless. They loved it. The only part that they didn’t like, was the fact that you went over their head to do it.” Tom shrugged as if the matter was truly immaterial to him. “But even in spite of all that, it seems that they’re actually willing to cut you a deal. You get to keep your job. Hell, they’re even thinking about promoting you to the board of directors, guess that means someone upstairs finally recognized your, obvious talents. And all they expect in return, is for you to keep your eye on him. It seems some, ‘special interest groups‘ have been asking a lot of unnecessary questions lately. Questions Exotica Geno-Works doesn’t feel comfortable answering right now. So until they’re able to make their little problem go away, I guess that makes him your problem again. Of course, it will only be for a short while, say, about twenty-one years or so. Seems that some of the higher ups have started to take a personal interest in his continued development, and they want to see for themselves what he might be capable of.” Waving his hands to ward off any potential questions John might have, he said. “Trust me, the less that’s said about that the better. So just, take him into your home and, oh I don’t know, make him a bodyguard or something. I’ve heard that that Johnathan of yours has become quite a handful. Kato could, help keep an eye on him for you. After all, brothers should stick together, right?”

Unable to contain his rage any longer, John had picked up the holo-projector, and hurled it at the wall.

Oblivious to this display of anger, the hologram just kept on talking. “Now, in exchange for this, magnanimous service. They’re willing to make Kato disappear.” Tom spread his hands. “Poof, just like Houdini. Only this time, you’ll never have to worry about anyone finding out about your dirty little secret ever again. Well, so long as you play your cards right anyway. Personally, I would take them up on their offer if I were you, the alternative really is . . . fairly unpleasant.” Tom’s hologram smiled at him knowingly.

Oh, there is one last thing. Now I’m only telling you this since we’ll probably never see each other again, but the company’s decided to reassign me. You’re looking at the newest member of the special investigative division of the SynCity police force. Seems they want a company man on the inside.” Covering his mouth with his hand, Tom just chuckled. “A crook like me working as a cop, what a delightful world we’ve made for ourselves. Don’t you just love the irony?” There was one final parting message before the holo-projector shorted out and died. “And remember John, someday soon, all our sins are going to catch up with us.” He pointed up at the ceiling. “Their’s too.”

That same holo-projector was now sitting on his coffee table, serving out the rest of its foreseeable existence as a coaster.

With any luck. John thought to himself. That delinquent son of mine will have done me a favor.