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Booted feet walked slowly through the chaos, stepping gingerly over the shards of broken glass and twisted metal. Dark green eyes surveyed the destruction of the apartment gravely and then the man turned back about and gestured the rest in.
He watched as the team entered and then nodded to them, "Get this room cleared. Make sure to check for explosives. Recover anything you can. We're leaving nothing behind."
Uniformed men saluted, "Yes, Mr. Maiavel."
Kathar Maiavel, owner of the once power globe spanning Maiavel United Enterprises, merely sighed and turned about, moving towards his bedroom. This had been his apartment once, his home. Now it was nothing but a ruined shell all thanks to...well, there was no proof of that.
He approached the door, expecting it to open but it didn't respond. After a pause of reflection he lifted a foot and kicked the door, watching as it slid halfway open with a groan and then stopped, jammed. Turning side on he squeezed through the door and the lights in this room bravely flickered on.
Not even here had the destruction ceased. The window with the beautiful view of the city was smashed open, drapes torn and flapping out in the wind. His massive bed had been torn apart, as if the perpetrators had expected to find some hidden gem within the fillings. There were disks, books, furniture; all of it had been over turned or destroyed or broken.
With a smirk his eyes finally fell upon the message he had spotted when he had first walked in. Scrawled across the wall, written in red spray paint were two words, and those two words confirmed his suspicions.
Kathar growled and kicked a flickering datapad, watching as it sailed out the window to be blown away by the wind. They were going to pay for doing this to him. They probably thought they had ruined him, neutered his ability to strike back. He would teach them just how wrong they were.
Stalking over to the window he leant forward against the railing, enhanced brain already starting the communications sequence. As he stared out across the city waiting for the person on the other end to answer, he marvelled at the view. The lights of the city stretched out on either side of him, but in front it was clear and lit only by the moon that shined upon the waters of the sea. A beautiful view...yet one he was going to have to abandon for perhaps a very long time. This was just one of the many things he was going to punish them for...
Finally a click and a circular HUD appeared in front of his eyes, projected there by the cybernetic implants in his ocular nerve. The image showed a rather tired and rumpled looking young man, still wiping the sleep from his eyes, "What do you want, Kathar? Do you have any idea what time it is?"
Kathar merely smiled, nodding his head towards the other even though he couldn't see it. "I am perfectly aware of the time, Calik, however I thought this was important enough to interrupt your precious sleep." As he was talking, his mind queued transfers to the other, sending him the images of the destroyed apartment. When the transfers were complete, he waited.
Silence for a moment and then the other, Calik, nodded slowly, "I suppose that means I should pack?" He didn't look too thrilled about this but at least it had woken him up.
"Yes. That would be a good idea. I have already sent memos off to the others and the flight is being prepared as we speak. Everyone will be there and those that aren't will be left behind." Kathar fell silent for a moment, taking on a thoughtful look, "It's strange that they made this move so soon. To me is stinks of arrogance, but also a hint of cowardice. They know they can't take me on head to head...so they resort to this. Ah well. I should stop boring you and let you pack." A laugh and he shook his head, "Be careful. Don't take any unnecessary risks."
The other man reached up to scratch the top of his head, "Why is it I get a sense that you're about take some of those unnecessary risks?" They both laughed anyway.
"This is completely necessary. Now hurry up. Don't want you to miss the flight." He closed the link and then opened a new one, making sure that the transmission was encoded.
There was a series of beeps on the other end, and then just a voice came through. "What?"
Kathar smirked, "This is Maiavel. Set me up a meeting with Blackice. There's something important we need to discuss." Again he closed the com without waiting for an answer and then turned, his eyes catching upon the words on the wall for a moment.
The words didn't anger him anymore. He had worked out what he was going to do. Nothing was going to stop him from achieving his goal. With a smile he walked out of the room, gesturing one of the men over. "Tell them to hurry up. We're on the red eye."
The man saluted and watched as Kathar Maiavel, the now renegade corporate, walked from the apartment and out of his old life. The soldier ran his tongue along his teeth, wondering and then relayed the message.
By the time the sun had risen, the apartment was cleaned of everything except for the message upon the wall.
Rain poured down across the city, undercutting every conversation with the incessant drumming of water striking metal or concrete. Men and women hurried down streets which, for a time, were washed clean of the dirt and the grime that was natural to such a large metropolis. Some carried umbrellas, some wore trench coats and even more huddled beneath scant shelter to wait for a break in the torrent.
One of those waiting under the awning of a building was Kathar. He had changed clothes from his business suit to something more appropriate for his status. Instead of the shined black shoes he wore combat boots which appeared to be quite worn in. Gone was the long black pants made of the finest material, replaced with pants of dark grey and of a material that shed the rain. No more tie, white shirt or black jacket; instead a simple jumper with pockets at the front, his hands current buried there. To finish the conversion, he wore a long over coat with a hood drawn up over his face and a pair of dark sunglasses covering his eyes.
His aim was to blend in and he did that quite well. The rain had suited his purpose perfectly and he, unlike so many others, took it as a good sign. He felt it was cleansing and washing of his spirit.
The call had come in half an hour ago, explaining to him where and when the meeting was going to take place. The small digital clock in the top right of his vision slowly counted up towards the time. So lost in his own thoughts, Kathar barely registered the group of men that walked towards him.
"Symon!" Roared the biggest of the men, reaching out to put an arm about Kathar's shoulders and squeezing painfully. "Good to see you. You know how hard it's been to find you, always running off like you do. Not this time. Glad we found you first." With a grin and Kathar smirked a little at the yellowed and uneven teeth. He got the message. "Come. Let's go get something to eat."
With another squeeze the man let him go and then started walking off, not even looking back to see if Kathar followed. A hand came up to rub his own shoulder and Kathar sighed, following and being flanked by the two others.
It was a complicated route they took, partly he thought to lose those following and to make sure that he couldn't find his way back by himself. Of course, the latter wouldn't work with Kathar but he kept that to himself. There were many things about the ex-corporate head that many didn't know.
Finally they came to a door that the man gestured him into, not following but closing the door behind him. Kathar heard the lock slide home and then fumbled around in the sudden darkness, following the dank passageway along. After a few minutes of groping his hands found a metal surface. A door. Finding the handle, he turned it and stepped into a very strange thing to find in the middle of this city.
The room was illuminated, but not by the mechanical glow of light bulbs or halogens. Hanging from the roof were lanterns, small fires going within them, the light being refracted out by mirrors. The room itself was something taken straight out of Japan. Paper walls, soft padded floors and a low slung table surrounded by pillows in the middle of it. Upon the table were small cups in which brewed a tea, the scent drawn to his nose.
Kathar paused a moment, looking about the otherwise empty room. Nobody there? He shrugged and started to move forward but was stopped by a voice, "Shoes." This voice he recognised, even if only via encoded transmissions.
He bent down to take off his soaked boots. "A little old fashioned, don't you think?"
The voice came again, this time from the middle of the room. "I'm not the one who refuses implants. That's old fashioned." Kathar looked up sharply, eyes narrowing upon the figure who sat at the table. He hadn't been there before, and he hadn't heard him come in...?
The man known as Blackice didn't actually look Japanese at all, but he held all the mannerisms. His face was average, a man somewhere in his mid thirties; completely forgettable. Just the way it should be. He gestured to Kathar to sit and the businessman did.
"Now..." Slowly, as Blackice poured the tea, "Why did you break all the rules to set up a meeting with me?" There was something in his voice and the smile on his face that suggested he already knew, but just wanted the other to admit it.
Kathar sighed and accepted the cup, sipping of the liquid and nodding to his host, "I need your help. You've heard by now what happened to my apartment?" The other nodded silently and it was a little unnerving thinking about just how much he did know. "That's just the beginning, I'm afraid. I am here to ask for your help by protecting myself and those that worked for me. In return, I am willing to offer you my full support, everything that I have at my disposal."
Silence for a moment and then Blackice nodded again, "You say it is just the beginning. That means you haven't heard what else has occurred." He trailed off there, watching the other draw in a deep breath. More? "No. You haven't...well. Maiavel United Enterprises, your company, has been found guilty of illegal activities ranging from pretty theft to crimes against humanity. Apparently you have been keeping human captives and experimenting upon them for your own gain. Selling drugs, weapons, the whole thing. You and your upper management have all been declared fugitives and a substantial reward has been put upon your head, be it dead or alive." He paused again, allowing time for it all to sink in. "As it stands, Mr. Maiavel...I would make a much larger profit than you would be able to provide by handing you over to the authorities."
Silence reigned for a long while, only the far off sound of water running down pipes interrupting it. Finally Kathar looked up and the look on his face was not the one Blackice had expected. It was a smile, "I suppose you have me at a disadvantage. However..." He didn't finish that sentence.
Instead he rolled to the side, the stun bolt thudding into the wall. On his feet in an instant, he crossed the room faster than a human should and slammed a hand through the wall, dragging out a struggling cloaked figure and tossing it to the ground. "There is much you don't know about me." He put a vicious kick into thin air and struck something which caused the stealth unit to sizzle and fail, leaving the figure that had tried to shoot him plainly visible.
"Apparently so, Kathar...those are illegal reflex modifications." Blackice didn't look surprised but then again, he never did show such things.
Maiavel smirked and rolled his shoulders, "Illegal and not available anywhere else. One of the subsidiaries of M.U.E. handled military contracts. Unfortunately for whoever comes into possession of that branch, they will find that all the information there has been wiped." He clasped his hands behind his back, hiding the shaking. "Here is my offer. I still have quite a number of stand alone businesses registered under several different names that belong to me. The cash flow from those would be enough to finance your little operation. Man power, technology, money. All of it I offer to you for myself and others protection, as well as one other thing."
Blackice nodded slowly, already going over the possibilities. Kathar Maiavel had been a very powerful man. "What is the other thing?"
Kathar smiled, "I want you to destroy them. Completely." Neither had to speak the name of who Kathar referred to. The hacker nodded slowly in acceptance. "Good. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a plane to catch." Kathar turned, stepping over the still downed would-be-assassin, collected his boots and left.
Kathar fell into the seat next to Calik, shaking hands fumbling to open a plastic container. The younger man frowned and reached to take it from Kathar, glancing at the label before opening it, "You used the implants again. They told you not to." Chidingly, tipping two of the capsules out onto Kathar's hand and then passing a glass of water to him.
Quickly he downed the pills, leaning back and pressing the glass to his forehead. "Necessary risks, Calik." He sighed and turned to look past the other to the window. "The pilot said we will be leaving soon. Everybody made it, which is good news."
Calik nodded as he listened and then too glanced out the window, "How are we going to get permission to take off? I heard M.U.E. was considered a renegade corporation and all its staff were to be treated as criminals." Something like this would of upset normal people, but those that were in the upper management of this company knew how the world worked.
Here, it was you or them. There was no honour between the corporations. It was a dirty dangerous world, where the winners profited and the losers...well...the losers just lost, permanently. The only people you could trust were your closest friends and paid mercenaries, though even that trust was careful. If one corporation showed weakness or grew too powerful, dozens of the others would band together and tear it apart like hungry wolves, each hoping for the biggest share. Friendship was counted in dollars and stock options.
The one person on that plane who grasped all of it sighed, waiting for his nerves to settle. "This plane isn't registered under any M.U.E. holdings nor is it under my name. Even if it were found out I was on this plane, the pilot here is among the best in the world and would have us well away before anything could be scrambled to intercept us." He slid down in the chair, knees pressed against the seat in front. "It's not over, Calik. Not by a long shot."
Calik remained silent and watched his brother slide into a drug induced sleep. He sighed and did up both their belt seats as the plane finally started to take off. The atmosphere in the plane was dulled, dozens of people lost in their thoughts of what they were leaving behind and what they were heading too. None of the people here had a life back in that city that was worth returning to, not now.
When the plane had levelled off Calik undid his belt buckles and came to his feet. Moving out into the row he walked along, occasionally stopping to talk to someone who looked worried. Every time the person would smile and nod after a while, as though whatever Calik had said had calmed them, but the younger brother knew he hadn't.
He walked into a small office style room and sat down, looking out the window at the dark sky and the clouds. It was Kathar that was always the smooth one of the two. The brains behind everything, Kathar had stood at the helm of his company for nearly ten years and pulled his younger brother along for the ride.
At first Calik was sceptical of the opportunities his brother had given him, thinking that it was just Kathar taking pity on the younger less intelligent sibling. However, over the years it had become obvious that the older man relied upon his brother more than the other way around.
In the beginning, Kathar was ruthless; efficient some might say. He took no joy in his work and he never laughed. He was the perfect businessman, never failing to exploit anyone. That was what Calik brought to the table: Compassion. After it became increasingly obvious that people were afraid to work with Kathar, Calik had stepped in and set his brother straight. He was, after all, part owner of the company so he thought it in the best interests.
It had been a long fight but in the end, Calik finally got his brother to see the light. Since then, Kathar had become a natural. Occasionally though, he still needed to put himself between people and his brother. That was what Calik was there for...to keep him in check.
He couldn't help but think now though, perhaps if he hadn't changed his brother they wouldn't be in this situation. Perhaps the other organisations wouldn't have smelled the weakness that had caused them to attack. Hindsight was always 20/20.
A knock on the door and he looked up, smiling as he saw Nadine, the companies human relations manager. "Ah, Nadine. Please come in, you're not interrupting anything." He sat up, gesturing her into the chair.
"I saw you come in here and I thought you might like some company." She smiled to him and slid into the room, taking the offered chair. "Everyone out there is either asleep or counting their losses." She gave a small laugh, reaching up to push her long black hair from her face. "They couldn't of waited till morning, could they?" In jest.
Calik smiled to her, "There are showers onboard if you need to freshen up. It's going to be a long flight though." He glanced down at the desk, eyes falling upon the data pads which showed a strange symbol, one he didn't recognise. "Is there anything I can help you with?" Looking back up to her, deciding to investigate the data pads later.
Nadine paused and then glanced about the room, "Is your brother okay? He seemed awfully distressed when he came onboard." After a nod from Calik, the only response to her query, she paused, unsure. "Well...uh...nothing I need help with. Just some things I thought you should know."
He leant forward, arms folding across the desk and studied her face. "What is it?" Softly.
She looked a little nervous then and shrugged. "Well, it's really nothing but...well, some of the people out there are talking about leaving once we land. They figure that they're safer on their then with us. I tried to tell them that it's silly to split up but..." She trailed off, looking hopefully to Calik.
With a small smile he just shrugged and shook his head, "That choice is up to them. If they decide to leave my brother will give them enough for a nice head-start on a new life and let them go. If they don't have faith that my brother can bring us through this, perhaps they should leave anyway." He tilted his head to the side, looking at her from a different angle. "Do you have those doubts, Nadine?"
A blush and she quickly shook her head, "No. I trust you both enough to know that if I stay with you I will be looked after, with a chance of regaining what I've lost. I don't believe I have a chance if I try to go it on my own." She paused again and smiled, "I trust you both."
He tapped a finger against the desk and then leant back with a small laugh, "Good. I'd hate to lose you. Make sure to convey to the others that we will look after them if they decide to stay with us. If not...then good luck to them." Pushing the chair out he came to his feet, "Is there anything else?"
An obvious dismissal and she knew it, smoothly straightening. "Just one more thing. Where are we going?"
Calik's eyes fell back to the desk, one hand toying with a data pad. "Japan."