I walked up to the desk eyeing both of his hands on the table. The desktop was large with a marble finish. Recessed in the table near Geklov's hands was a computer control panel. There would be a panic switch on the floor. Hell, his foot was probably on it right now. There would also be security cameras and listening devices. They would come in handy for blackmail or gathering information from his associates. Information is as valuable as any other asset if you know how to use it.
“Now, have a seat. No need to look so uncomfortable. We are both friends here, yes?”
I plopped down in the seat feigning indifference. I leaned against the left arm rest so I could easily grab my blaster from its holster. “It’s good to see you made it back here Geklov. I was worried for your safety when you left the party early. It would’ve been a shame not to be able to finish our negotiations.” I did everything I could to keep the anger from seeping into my voice.
“I found an opportunity to leave safely and I took it, of course. It was fairly time sensitive. Trust me when I say if there had been time I would have taken you with me as well.” His words rang true but there was something in his eyes that said he was laughing his ass off on the inside. My heart sank a little.
I have pretty good intuition and suddenly I felt way out of my league. It wasn't a common feeling, but there it was in the pit of my stomach. It wasn't what he said that was picking at my emotional strings. There was something about that quick look. It was the look a parent who already knew what the outcome of a conversation was going to be. He would let me have my say and let me think that it might make a difference, and it would, as long as what I had to say lined up with what he wanted.
The voice in me that speaks on instinct was whispering in my ear telling me to pull my blaster out and blow his head off before this went any further. There was something wrong, and it was time to kill and run. I couldn’t listen because I had to find a way to get Tasha out of this. I pushed the small seed of panic deep inside and tried to focus on Geklov.
“Okay, let’s just get to the point. I am here to negotiate for Tasha. I would like to get her out of whatever contract and debt she owes to you.”
“Yes of course, but you understand that there are two problems with this. One, Tasha is a very valuable asset regardless of the large amount of pain and suffering she has brought on this corporation. She is brilliant and I would expect her discoveries to be worth quite a lot of money in the future. The second, it is hard to find such a high quality piece of ass, if you know what I mean. Oh, course you know what I mean,” he said, with a huge smile on his face.
I grabbed the armrest and straightened myself in the chair using the movement to mask the anger and accompanying disgust that shot through my body. It took all the strength I had to keep sitting. I shoved the feelings deep inside but they fed the fire that was already turning into an inferno.
I managed to keep my smile in place and fixe my eyes on his. He was trying to make me angry, but why? What could he gain if I got so pissed I tried to kill him or gave up and left. There was something I was missing and I needed to figure it out fast.
I did my best to ignore his last statement and tried shifting my strategies. I was good at negotiating and taking people’s money. I couldn’t let him get to me. If I didn’t get control of this fast everything was lost.
“I don't get it, I am here to offer you a large sum of money and take a troublemaker off your hands. Why are you trying to piss me off?”
He smiled at me with that knowing look again, “It is good to test a new associate’s temper, Lakasha. The way I see it, you and I are going to be working together for a very long time. It is good to know you can control yourself.”
“I’m not sure where this idea of us working together came from. But yeah, I can be plenty professional. I’m going to say this one time. I came here to pay off Tasha's debts and take her with me. Not to interview for a job.”
“That is unfortunate, because Tasha's debts must be paid, and make no mistake I will get the money out of her one way or another.” He smiled a sick little smile, pausing for effect, “But her contract, as you call it, is not for sale. The best you can do is reduce the payback she owes me.”
As my mind started to piece together the enormity of the situation I had gotten myself into my right hand involuntarily slid down toward the blaster. The angry fire that had started in my stomach, contained up until now, burned bright. I was kidding myself when I came here so unprepared. It would have been better to bring some friends and put Tasha into hiding while I splattered his head all over the wall.
“Okay. If that is how you see it I won't press that point right now. How much money does Tasha owe you? I want a straight number Geklov, no coming back later and changing it up. If I paid off all of her debts how much would she owe you?”
“Oh, I think a good estimate would be twenty billion.”
He was fucking serious. I could tell by the look on his face. I almost asked him to repeat it to be sure but I knew it wouldn't do any good.
“Twenty billion seems a little steep for a couple of labs and a small scientific outpost. I mean, I saw that thing myself. There is no way that it cost anywhere near a billion.”
“Well of course it didn't, but since we will be working together let me give you a little lesson on business. She owes me for all of the minerals and supplies used in her research that we will get no income from because of the loss of the labs. She owes all of the people that provided either scientific expertise or mined and transported the minerals she was using. She owes me for the alliance I put together with the Brothers of Death. Then, there is the issue of all of the future lost revenue from the ships destroyed and the members who left the corporation after the unfortunate incident with the Blood Raiders.”
What a complete shit bag. He hadn't even used the money to gain an alliance with the Brothers of Death. That was the reason I had gone down to the research stations to start with. The people who lost ships were reimbursed by their own insurance contracts not to mention part of flying in space is losing ships. Almost everything that happened at the research station was one hundred percent Geklov's fault.
Then he wanted money for any future loss of income? Hell, he could put any number on that he wanted. There was no way to prove him wrong. It dawned on me again that he had no intention of letting Tasha or even me out of this. As long as he knew how much I cared about her he had me.
“I think it’s a little unreasonable of a number, let’s say seven billion in lost revenue. We don't even know if her invention was going to work.” It was something to keep the conversation going as the dark truth of the situation started to reveal itself. My own arrogance made me think I had some power to negotiate. I was too used to dealing with pirates and a ridiculous self-imposed honor code. `
Now I understood the look in Geklov’s eyes. There were only two options. The first, he would taunt me into trying to kill him then dive under the table. Herrier would kill me, and he would still have Tasha with no one to get in his way. The second option was I cared enough about Tasha to be blackmailed into giving him control of all my assets including myself and my corporation. I had nothing to bargain with. Anxiety gripped at my heart as a trapped feeling fell over me. Then, there was a welcome nothingness as the pirate took over.
“I don't think it’s unreasonable at all. There are plenty of records of sales when other businesses have discovered new implant technology. To tell the truth, I was expecting a fifty billion ISK profit selling the invention to the implant industry.”
“How about I give you three billion and you let us walk out of here?” I said in a cold voice I rarely heard outside of my mind. I focused on him, death in my eyes, and he lost a little of his smile. This was the decision point he was waiting for and knew he had me.
“How about you give me five billion and sign a contract to work for me, Lakasha. There are many things I could do with someone of your particular skills. I am not blind to the fact that you helped my people escape the Blood Raider invasion. I am also not blind to the fact that you are a very beautiful woman.” I swear he licked his lips a little and I almost ended him right then. “Besides, think of how great it will be to work hand in hand with Tasha each day, fulfilling whatever needs I may have.”
I stood so fast the chair shot off behind me and clanged down the steps. I slammed both of my hands flat on the desk. They would have been around his neck but I couldn't reach him. I leaned over the desk and looked into his eyes, “You listen to me. You are going to take the three billion and...”
Something was buzzing just outside my mind. I was so caught up in the anger of the moment I missed the station alarms going off. I looked up, clearing the rage enough to listen, and then my heart stopped.
The loud speakers were blaring, “Antov Romanski you are an enemy of the Caldari State, drop your weapon and wait for security detainment”
Antov was Geklov's number one bodyguard and lackey. I had to get to Tasha...