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Flash Friday 23/10/2015: Wrong in the Head

October 23, 2015

The CEO snubbed his expensive cigar on the gold-plated ashtray atop his desk before sitting back into his large luxurious executive chair. “So, how much did they put on my head?”

Black Raven did not lower his plasma pistol, its red laser sight casting a dot on the CEO’s head. His full body armour shined silver, reflecting the many portraits of the CEO around the office walls, all of them sneering at him as if daring him to pull the trigger.  “Thirty-seven million credits.”

The CEO let loose a short, sharp laugh that caused his stomach to wobble. “Thirty-seven million! Are you kidding me? I waste more than that on a weekend down at the gambling planets two galaxies away. Spend it on booze and some fine Alyrian women and still have enough to blow some at the roulette wheel. You honestly went through the trouble of breaching a top nanomachine manufacturer and avoiding all of my security for thirty-seven million?

“It’s a living.”

“It’s a fool’s errand, that’s what it is. Whatever schmuck paid you for this mission either thought you were an idiot, or had the tongue of a snake.”

“I was sent here by my agency.”

“Then they’re pocketing nine-tenths of the bounty themselves. You go check whatever boss sent you on this mission, see if his pockets aren’t groaning under the stress of credits. You’re being played for a fool.”

The CEO sat back in his chair as he lit up another cigar, chuckling to himself as if he had won. Black Raven, however, had not moved a muscle the entire time. While the CEO had won his battle of wits, there was still very much the problem of having a firearm trained on his forehead.

“So,” the CEO continued, his tone wavering. “How about fifty million?”

Black Raven said nothing.

“A hundred million. Hundred and fifty million. Two hundred million. Listen, buddy, I can throw in some stocks, too. Nanomachines is where the future lies. Hell — you don’t even need to look that far forwards. Gold-plated ashtray. Gold-plated nameplate. If I could get my ass gold-plated, I would. Would make sitting in these god-awful chairs comfier. Two hundred and fifty.”

“Accepting a counter-offer by the target compromises the integrity of the agency.”

The CEO tutted. “There’s nothing I can do?”

“Nothing.”

A heavy sigh. The CEO span around in his chair to look out of the large window behind him. The red dot was still trained on the back of the chair, where his head would be. “Eh, you know what? Maybe it really is time. I always thought I’d go out in a blaze of glory. Like maybe in the hands those poor idiots we extort for thousands of creds every time they need some nanomachines to cure whatever cancer dear gramma has. You get sent by one of them?”

“Our clients prefer to stay anonymous.”

“Of course they do.” A thick cloud of cigar smoke came from behind the chair. “At least when I ask people to open their wallets for me, everyone knows what my face looks like. Not like these cowards that hide behind pseudonyms and slide credits across the table to the first person who’d take a job from a faceless spectre. That the kind of people who you want footing your payroll? Faceless spectres?”

“It’s money.”

“Ah!” A laugh. “Yes, I know that motive too well. That’s exactly why I ’employed’ the Krim. It’s a little company secret we have, keeps us in front of the competition. Found a planet chock-full of naive creatures called Krim. You won’t find them in any encyclopaedia. Their existence is a trade secret now, a whole planet under mercenary control, all paid for by me. Very good at mass-producing nanomachines, I might add. But I’m dead now, and so is my business, so I suppose those little bastards just found their guardian angel. Alright then, buddy. When you’re ready.”

“Very well. Goodbye, Mr. Schaltz, it’s been a pleasure to–”

“Wait.” the CEO said, frowning. “What did you call me?”

The bounty hunter faltered. “You are Mr. Schaltz, right?”

“No! I’m David Damiani, CEO of Health Lite Nanotechnologies! The hell is this Schaltz guy?”

The bounty hunter paused. He placed two fingers to the side of his helmet. “Patch me through to the agency. Yes. Hello? It’s Black Raven. I need a double-check on this Schaltz hit. Is the photo correct?” Black Raven checked a PDA embedded on his wrist. “Yes, I can see the updated photograph now. Yes, I can see how the CEO can easily get mixed up with an drug-dealing squid-like alien with six eyes. Absolutely. I’ll get right on it. thanks.”

He removed the fingers.

“So, uh. Have a nice day, Mr. Damiani.” He held up a coy hand as a goodbye, then began to slink out of the office.

“Black Raven, was it?” the CEO said. “Remember that ‘little company secret’ I just told you because I thought I’d be dead?”

Black Raven froze, his hand on the doorknob. “I do remember, yes.”

“You do? Because you realise the absolute last thing I’d do is let someone who remembers my company secrets leave, right?”

“I understand,” Black Raven said, “which is why I’m willing to strike a deal with you.”

“What’s that?”

“You don’t press the big, red ‘SECURITY’ button under your desk.”

“Right. And what’s your side of the deal?”

Black Raven opened the door and ran.

He managed to jump through a large window before the sirens blared, metal sheets falling down to protect what was once a window. Black Raven knew his stealth aircraft would catch him before he hit the ground; right now, he was more concerned about getting around to getting back to the agency so he can give them their six-eyed alien head and a piece of his mind.

998 words

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