Truth and the True: Part 7

Hardwick laughed though it didn’t have the joy and surprise of most laughter. “You want me to go to war with the Nine? Don’t kid yourself. I’m sure we’re every bit as compromised as anyone else. The moment we try to do anything, they’ll know.”

Ryan shook his head. “I’m not asking that. I’m asking that you talk to people over there and see what you can do to free us from them. Say that you want us for yourself. Since they know you’re friendly to them, they’ll know that if they want something from us, they can get it.”

Vaughn’s uncle stared at Ryan and let out a sigh. “What the hell are you thinking? My dealings with the Nine aren’t from a position of power. I hired them to keep whatever’s left of the Cabal away from my people and my business. Those bastards are still out there. The Nine have the connections to keep them away. It’s a near thing, though. From what I’ve heard, the Cabal’s personal army wants to go after the Heroes’ League, but they’re not going to stop there. Some of my employees’ kids work with the Heroes’ League now and the rest? They may not be in the League, but the Cabal’s been after us for years. I’ve got a duty to keep my people safe and if it means I have to work with the Nine, I’ll work with the Nine.”

Hardwick stood up from his chair, looking down at Ryan. “You can release those documents to the authorities if you want, but if you’re thinking about it, keep this in mind. The Nine already knows all of it. I don’t lose anything by asking  for their help, but you guys lose everything if they decide to use their connections in government to pull your access to Abominator tech. You need to ask yourself if that’s what you want because if the Nine decide to go after you, I’ll pull your funding. Ask yourself where your business is without me or them before you try to blackmail me.”

Only the tightness around Ryan’s lips hinted at his thoughts. “There’s something you don’t know and you don’t want to push us to expose Hardwick Industries’ connection to Red Lightning’s breeding program before you let me have my say. We’ve got complete control over the birthing chambers now.”

Ryan grinned as Russell Hardwick’s eyes widened.

“That’s right,” Ryan continued, “we have access to the ability to clone people and modify human DNA along with thousands of Abominator designs and modifications that will work on humans and aliens alike. In our reports to Hardwick Industries, we’ve told you about our success in using Dr. Griffin’s techniques, but we haven’t told you everything.

“Our people discovered how to understand the physical controls for the birthing chambers at a level allowed to the Abominators’ lowest servants but they kept on working at it and someone, just a few weeks ago, figured out how to give one of our people complete access to the birthing machine. There’s a genetic structure that makes Abominator technology respond to human commands as if they were Abominators. It opens up everything to us. Everything their civilization achieved… They ruled the galaxy. We could do that. It could be humans. And Higher Ground in combination with Hardwick Industries will make billions, if not trillions, of dollars off of it. Given time, I might even be understating what we’ll get.”

Hardwick stood in front of the desk, saying nothing, making no noise but the quiet rasp of his breathing at first. Then, “This genetic structure, you’ve given it to one person. Why only one?”

Ryan’s face froze for a second. “It’s complicated. The Citizen’s Mark-that’s what it’s called—won’t work on just anybody. We tried to add it to other people before him, but the machine wouldn’t do it. Something was missing from their genetic makeup. We don’t know what, but we’re having our man investigate. When we know, we can give it to more people.”

Nodding, Russell Hardwick said, “This man you’ve got. What’s he like? Is he loyal? Is he competent? I know what kind of people you’ve got working for you—people the government pegged as so smart they’re potential supervillains. Can you trust him?”

Leaning back in his chair, Ryan appeared to consider the question. After a few seconds, he leaned forward, saying, “Yes. He’s been with us since the beginning of the business. He’s one of our first hires and he’s been successful at every task we’ve thrown at him.”

Hardwick sat back down in the chair. “There’s no chance he’d try to prevent you from finding out why the Citizen’s Mark won’t work on other people? Because the way I see it, he’s got a monopoly right now. There’s nothing stopping him from controlling every Abominator artifact he sees. What’s he going to become then? Worse, what if he uses that birthing chamber to give himself more power?”

Ryan shook his head. “He won’t. He’s loyal. We know what he wants and we’re giving it to him a little at a time, keeping him hungry. And just like with everyone else, we’ve got insurance in case he goes rogue.”

Hardwick’s mouth twisted into a shape that wasn’t quite a smile. “The same kind of insurance you had for Dean Whiteford? Or is it just blackmail?”

Eyes never leaving Hardwick’s face, Ryan’s barely moved. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. We’re all quite saddened by Dean’s death even though we’d been having some differences with him recently. As for our loyal employee, we’re taking all appropriate precautions to insure that he remains loyal.”

At that point Hardwick did grin. “I understand and I’ll think about your offer. Don’t try to hurry me. Releasing what you’ve got might destroy my career, but whoever replaces me won’t give these kinds of offers appropriate consideration.”

7 thoughts on “Truth and the True: Part 7”

  1. First, take the time you need. RL first.

    Next, HOLY! Yes Nick there is a Santa Claus because that is the evidence Lim needs.

    And to all MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  2. “Yes. He’s been with us since the beginning of the business. He’s one of our first hires and he’s been successful at every task we’ve thrown at him.”

    Aww man, it’s Sandy isn’t it?

    1. He’s my guess, too.

      I’m also inclined to think that it might be for the best if he was dissappeared one day.

      That actually brings up something that I think Jim is doing well. See, I think that it would be a tragedy to destroy the artifact. I think that humans should try to reverse engineer and adapt all the xenotech. But at the same time, there are very good reasons to keep all this under cover.

      If I was there, and I could do so, I would back up the data on the birthing chamber to a secure location, and then wipe it. Just the machine could advance human genetic/medical knowledge by decades, while hiding the imprints would greatly reduce the possible harm. The data could be studied a few decades later, when we’re more ready for it.

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