August 23, 2006

TSOTF, Part 8

Martin angrily slammed the door shut and stalked to the bar in his room. Damn that expensive whore for suggesting that perhaps his inability to perform was due to his age! He poured three fingers of scotch into a glass and downed it. He set the glass on the bar briefly before picking it up and hurling it across the room, where it shattered against the wall into hundreds of pieces.

Running his fingers through his dark hair, he thought of his competitor, and the new bid, a full five percent above his last offer. He’d already told Jack to sell off several of his holdings, at deep losses if need be, to come up with the funds for the three percent increase, and now this? He hoped Jack got his latest voicemail before he did too much damage.

“Who the fuck are you?” he asked aloud, pacing the floor. When he’d questioned Vincenzo about the identity of the second bidder, the man had told him only that he had until morning to counter the offer. How the hell was he supposed to come up with that kind of money overnight?

He had no access to the substantial trust fund Jack’s maternal grandparents had set up for their only grandchild, a fund to which Jack had no access until his twenty-fifth birthday to begin with. His own personal account had been steadily bled by Kate’s daily shopping excursions, and he had been engaging in some rather creative and not necessarily legal financial wizardry in order to afford both the mining rights and the pharmaceutical company, the latter most relevant to this deal.

Martin sat on the stiff, beige sofa, his head hanging in his hands. Coleman and the others would be here in less than thirty minutes, expecting reassurances he couldn’t give. He was going to have to ask for more funding. There was no other way around it. He sighed and shook his head angrily.

Jack settled into his seat aboard McKay Enterprises small jet and withdrew the file on his father’s collaborators. His private investigator had encountered little difficulty in confirming that Richard Coleman had indeed spent the last ten years working under government military contract, although which government had yet to be established. He frowned, thinking back to the first time he had met Coleman.

His father had sent him to negotiate the price of a relatively small and obscure pharmaceutical company that had recently lost a government contract for producing a tainted vaccine linked to hundreds of deaths. It had seemed an unwise investment to him, but his father had been adamant that he possess the company, at any cost. Coleman had been his behind the scenes contact, despite the fact that the man had no obvious connection to the company.

Jack reached into his briefcase and withdrew the file on Bejamin Richardson. Dr. Richardson had once worked as a researcher for the CDC in Atlanta, until it was suspected that he was involved with the disappearance of a sample of Ebola. He disappeared from the states shortly after, surfacing only a few years ago at a medical convention in Venice, announcing that he had created not only a reliable method for spreading the virus through aerosols in a real-world setting, an ability only reproduced under the strictest laboratory settings to that point, but had successfully altered the virus itself and created a vaccine against it. His colleagues had called him a demented fool, looking only for attention.

It had all sounded mad to Jack, when a representative of XAres Inc. had contacted him during his first trip to Rome. All his father wanted him to do was to hand deliver an offer to a private courier and wait for a response. After he had checked into his hotel, a fragile old man had joined him in the elevator, and promptly pressed the stop button. While the alarm signaled, the old man wasted no time in trying to convince Jack to help him obtain the formula Richardson was selling. He‘d launched into a speech about the dangerous possibility of the virus being in an aerosol form and the mutation‘s ability to avoid detection through the standard ELISA and PCR testing.

Joseph Fermi had done his research. He knew everything there was to know about the McKays, including Jack’s rift with his father, and his secret maneuverings to ruin the man. He told Jack that Coleman wanted the formula for war, and XAres intended to destroy it. When Jack had laughed at the old man, thinking it all a joke, Fermi had cemented his credibility by revealing his pedigree. Joseph Fermi was the eldest son of Enrico Fermi, the man responsible for the first controlled nuclear chain reaction in Chicago on December 2, 1942. Fermi subsequently played an important part in solving the problems connected with the development of the first atomic bomb, and was one of the leaders of the team of physicists on the Manhattan Project for the development of nuclear energy and the atomic bomb.

“I will fight,” Fermi had said, his English impeccable, “Fino alla fine…to the bitter end.” He handed a plain business card to Jack, the only print a phone number, hit the run button, and exited the elevator at the next floor.

Less than an hour after his encounter in the elevator, Jack had spotted Coleman exiting a taxi in front of his hotel. If he’d had any doubts about what Fermi had said, they vanished when the bald-headed Coleman had showed up in Rome and shadowed Jack‘s every move.

His stay in Rome had been brief, and within hours of his return to the states and researching XAres Inc., he had contacted Fermi for more information. Fermi and XAres were prepared to pay handsomely for the formula, and were offering Jack a five percent fee if he could secure them the winning bid as their representative. It had been perfect timing, and he had readily agreed. So why was he having doubts now?

Posted by *Theresa* at August 23, 2006 07:16 AM

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Ahhh, doubt, brings strong men to their knees.

Posted by: oddybobo at August 23, 2006 09:21 AM

The thought plickens...

Poor, poor Martin--

Hmm...think, Jack...think, man!

Posted by: Wanda at August 23, 2006 10:31 AM

And just how did Joseph Fermi know of Jack's maneuverings to ruin his father? Which of these marionettes is the real puppeteer?


Posted by: Bob at August 23, 2006 12:22 PM

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