He admired the design of the Game Master’s quarters. Letting the guards frisk him, he stood passively. If they thought he was stupid enough to bring a weapon with him, he mused; then they were even more worthless then he figured them to be.
Straightening his coat, he walked towards the Master. The dark cherry fireplace was a nice touch, he noted, it added some charm to the room. Everything inside the quarters reminded him of their secretive headquarters. Maybe the Masters and them weren’t that different after all…
“Mister James,” Ferini said, sitting in one of the chair. “Make yourself comfortable, shall you?”
“It’s nice of you to meet with me, Master Ferini,” he said, sitting down.
“You’re a powerful customer,” Ferini said. “Of course I would speak with you.”
“That’s very generous of you,” he said, pretending to enjoy the flattery.
“We try to make our best customer’s happy,” Ferini sipped at a red wine. “Would you like some wine?”
“No, thank you,”
“So,” Ferini said. “How do you like our entertainment?”
“It’s very good,” he lied. “Especially the Almir woman. Where did you find her from?”
“Oh, Katie?” he chuckled. “I’ve owned her since she was six.”
“Six?” he said. “That’s a long time. How old is she now?”
“She’s twenty-five,” he said. “She just turned it; however, for a five year period there I didn’t have her services.”
She managed to make you look like a fool, he thought, staring into his opponent’s eyes. You will never admit that to a customer like I!
“She was injured severely and it was an extended time before she could fight again,” Ferini swept his hand, trying to make his lie seem bigger.
It was a smooth recovery, he noted, to a surprise question. Obviously, he had time to formulate an answer over the previous five years. It was obvious that he was proud to have her back; he talked about her with his chest puffed out.
Only a peacock would strut around anymore, he thought, keeping the frown from his face.
“Today’s battle seemed to be a bit easy on her,” he said. “What is your plan for tomorrow?”
Ferini’s eyes lit with glee at the question. Leaning forwards in his chair, he smiled. With a psychopathic chuckle, he started to explain what would happen.
“I’ve got three genetically enhanced gladiators,” he said. “They’re stronger, faster and just as capable as she is. I am going to make her fight all three of them.”
“Don’t you run the risk of killing her?” he asked. “How would that make you money?”
“Katie is someone that people bet on winning,” he said. “If I can kill her, then I stand to make more money then anyone ever has!”
“Why would you want to kill off your cash cow?” he asked.
“Katie is…shall we say…a bit of a free spirit,” The Master’s eyes clouded over. “So she can be a pain in the ass.”
“Pain in the ass or not,” he said. “Why would you want to kill her off? People like her don’t grow on trees.”
“Don’t grow on trees…” Ferini said, voice trailing off.
He watched the Master retreat into his memories. He was probably thinking about how she couldn’t have children, he mused. The Syndicate had detailed records on Almir, ranging from her cybernetics to her general health. There was nothing that the Master knew that they didn’t.
“You’re right about that,” Ferini said, shivering.
“Would it be possible to see her before that fight?” he said, changing the subject.
No need to make him suspicious, he reminded himself.
He had figured that was going to be the answer. So, he told himself, it was time to go to plan B. Thank God he was someone who always worked alternatives!
“I tell you what,” he said. “I’ll give you three million credits to fight her one-on-one tomorrow.”
“Three million credits?” Ferini’s eyebrow’s rose. “That’s a lot of money…any reason why you want her to live?”
“Other then I like seeing her fight,” he said. “None.”
“For that kind of money,” Ferini chuckled. “I could reconsider…at least for a couple of days.”
“You have thirty seconds to take it,” he said. “Otherwise I’m taking it off the table.”
“You don’t have to do that,” the Master said. “I’ll take it, and give you access to Almir the next day, deal?”
“I would say we have one,” he said, extending a hand. “Two days is perfect.”
Ferini took his hand into his grasp. Shaking it with a firm grip, the Master smiled the entire time. All one had to do was play to his greed, he told himself, and the Master would do anything!
Greedy people are so easy to manipulate, he thought.
“I’m afraid I have some business to attend to,” he said.
“It was nice meeting you, Mister James,” Ferini said. “And don’t hesitate to see me if you wish Almir to…live longer.”
“I won’t,” he lied.
This is going to be a one-shot deal, he mused, passing the guards. Why his superiors wanted her alive didn’t matter to him. All that was important was that he got her off this rock, and off alive! Other then that, he let them worry about it.
And two days is exactly the right amount of time I need, he thought, walking away from Ferini’s quarters…
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