'Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.' -Thomas Jefferson
The day was coming to a close as Adam sat in his office compiling a debrief on the whole Panchea debacle. He had already filled Sarif in on what had happened, what Darrow had said, but physically compiling the whole experience was a hold over from his days as a cop. Plus there was something cathartic about writing the experience down. It was easier to cope with when it was compartmentalized and organized in a nearly military fashion.
Sarif himself was out of the office, and been for several days. He said he needed to talk with Darrow about everything that had happened, about his role in the whole thing. Sarif said he'd be back soon, ready to take the next step. However his absence from the building was beginning to make people edgy about the future of the company. Especially since news of Sevchenko's death and Megan's subsequent defection were still hot topics of gossip around the office.
There was still a dull ache in his heart concerning her. Adam wanted to believe so badly that she wasn't dead, but when he'd finally found her, he almost wished she had been. The woman he found in that white room was not his Megan. Perhaps that was why her betrayal didn't sting as much as he thought it should have.
Adam was just finishing his report when Pritchard stalked into his office.
"Jesus Christ Jensen, how many times do I have to tell you I am not your personal secretary?" he griped as he threw a small bundle of scrap papers at Adam before flopping down on his couch.
"Perhaps you should tell that to the people who keep calling you trying to reach me."
"And maybe you should stop holding on to your Infolink frequency like the Holy Mother held onto her virginity," Pritchard grumbled as he lay back on the couch and threw an arm over his eyes. Why couldn't the Tech Lab have a nice cozy couch like this?
"You're going to hell for that one, Francis," Adam replied shuffling through the various notes. Trying to read Prichard's writing was like trying to read hieroglyphics without the Rosetta stone; nigh on impossible.
"Oh goody, looks like you'll have some company. Is Sarif back yet?"
"No. Jesus, Pritchard I can't read these." He threw the messages on his desk in disgust.
Pritchard sighed dramatically, and Adam silently wondered why he wasn't a thespian of some sort. Everything Pritchard did had a flair of the dramatic. "There are two from Belltower, one from Mustang Arms, one from TYM, one from Eliza Cassan, and one from Big Bro Security. There were more, but I ignored the rest."
"What did they want?"
"Eliza Cassan enquired after your health -though why, I'm sure I don't know- and the rest were job offers."
Adam raised an eyebrow. "Job offers?"
"Yes I know, who would want you as their head of security? Oh wait, everyone apparently." He huffed in feigned disgust. "Speaking of which, when is Sarif supposed to be back?"
The irony of the situation was not lost on Adam, he'd just spent the last few months getting shot at by half the organizations on that list. What the hell made them think he would even considered joining their organizations? Besides, he didn't trust any corporation or business (aside from Sarif Industries) to not have any ulterior motives; ie: working for the Illuminati.
"I don't know, he didn't say. Why?" Adam threw the notes in the garbage. Everyone had their own angle, their own goals and ambitions. Sarif genuinely wanted the betterment of humanity, and while at first he didn't believe that anyone still had that kind of idealism (or naïvety) left in this world, he did now.
Vaguely he wondered how to get in touch with Eliza Cassan. If he just called the main line would she reroute the call?
Pritchard growled in annoyance. "Because until Sarif is back I can't implement any of the new security measures I've been working on. Athene told me in no uncertain terms that everything had to be 'approved by Mr. Sarif'. It would save me a whole hellva lot of trouble if I could just do it now and show Sarif later." He promptly dissolved into grumbling about how annoying Athene was with her strict adherence to company policy.
"Don't get your panties in a twist."
Pritchard shot him a dirty look from under his arm. Adam smirked. It felt good to smile, it had been too long.
"Adam?" a voice called from just beyond the doorway, a moment later Sarif appeared, "Good, you're still here. I need to see you up in my office."
"Sure thing, boss," Adam replied and stood from his desk. Pritchard stood as well, jogging out of the office to catch Sarif before he disappeared. Again.
"Frank, what do you need?"
"I completed those new security measures we talked about and I need you to look them over so I can started implementing them."
"Send them by my computer and I'll have look, but go ahead and get started anyways. I'll give you a shout if I see something I don't like."
Pritchard gave a sharp nod and headed back to the Tech Lab. Adam caught up with Sarif at the elevator, it opened and both men stepped inside. Once the elevator was moving, Adam spoke.
"How's Mr. Darrow?" He couldn't be bother to disguise the hate he felt for Hugh Darrow. That man's ego knew no bounds.
Sarif gave him a look, but didn't comment on his tone. "As well as can be expected."
"Don't tell me he's had an acute case of consciousness."
"Adam," Sarif said warningly. "I don't agree with what Hugh did, but he believed it was his only choice-"
"And that gives him the right to try and kill off a third of the population?
"I didn't say that."
Adam looked out the glass onto Detroit, expression hard. "He would have killed you too."
Sarif sighed and pushed himself off the elevator's railing. "Hugh warned me about the chip, told me not to get one. Not that I would have had the time anyways."
The elevator came to a halt, and the door opened. Sarif stepped out first, Adam followed closely behind.
"David," Athene said and smiled as both men approached her desk. There was a special warm tone in her voice that was reserved for Sarif and only Sarif. The rest of the time she had the brisk demeanour of a nurse.
"Athene," he replied, equally as warm. "Any messages for me?"
She sighed and gave him a look.
"That many, huh?" Sarif chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck.
"I'll be in to tell you all about it as soon as you're finished with Mr. Jensen."
He gave her a smile and then headed into his office. His jovial expression vanished as Adam closed the door behind them. Wearily he trudged over to his desk, giving his augmented arm a irritated roll before collapsing into his desk's chair. Sarif gestured for Adam to take the seat across from him.
They sat in silence for a few moments and Adam waited patiently for Sarif to begin. The man was looking exceptionally rough, clothing wrinkled from sitting long hours and shirt sleeves creased from being rolled and unrolled. He had a rough days growth of stubble on his checks and the lines around his eyes seemed deeper. Sarif had the look of someone who hadn't slept.
"How do you kill God?"
Adam was startled by the question and not sure what to make of it, much less how to answer. "Boss?"
"Because that's what they want, Godhood. How else would you put their desire to create a new kind of humanity, one that they can control with the flick of a switch? So I ask you, how do you kill God?"
Adam frowned. "You can't."
"No," he agreed. "Not the real God, but an organization with aspirations to that? They've shown the chinks in their armour Adam, and we've got to strike."
"I'm not sure I follow..."
Sarif stood and grabbed his baseball from it's little stand on the corner of his desk.
"Tai Yung Medical made those biochips, but who distributed them?"
"LIMB," Adam replied, thinking he was starting to see where this was going.
Sarif walked to his window. "VersaLife has a monopoly on Neuropozyne, and LIMB has a monopoly on the installation and maintenance of augmentations, were going to change both those things. But first we're going to start with LIMB. I'm sure they're all laughing at the irony of that title," he said the last bit mostly to himself.
"So..you want to start offering installation and maintenance of augments right here."
It seemed like the next logical step, after everything that had happened, but also for the company in general. S.I. was already a very hands on company when it came to helping people decide on the right augmentation for them. To the general public it would seem like an extension of services.
"Yes, somehow we've got to stop the world's dependence on that organization." Sarif gave his baseball a quick upwards toss. "First thing in the morning I'm pulling my funding, and Hugh's agreed to help fund the set up of our own clinic."
Adam frowned. "I don't think we should be trusting him on this, not after everything he's done."
"Hugh's sitting on a pile of cash and a guilty conscience-"
"With all due respect, boss, the last time he had your trust he twisted it for his own purposes. How do you know he won't do it again?"
"With who, Adam? The Illuminati know his game now, and they'll do everything in their power to destroy his name, take his money, the respect of his peers and leave him a broken shell of a man."
It was more than he deserved in Adam's mind.
"While he still can, Hugh's promised to help." Sarif sighed. "I don't want any further argument on this, just...keep your eyes open."
"Of course." Didn't he know by now that he didn't have to ask that?
Sarif pinched the bridge of his nose with his organic hand then let it roughly scrub down the side of his face. His face scrunched up slightly in what looked like pain and he rolled his augmented arm again.
"You okay, boss?" Adam asked getting up from the chair and walking to the window.
"It's nothing," he denied with a casual flick of his augmented arm.
It was clearly anything but. Adam scanned him quickly, taking in his stiff posture and pained expression, to his haggard appearance. His CASIE aug gave him read outs on heart rate and skin moisture. It didn't take long to come a deduction.
"When was the last time you had a Neuropozyne injection?"
Sarif looked over at him with a scowl on his face, he never did like it when Adam used the augments Sarif bestowed on him against him. Adam looked back, face impassive and unreadable even without his sunglasses (in an attempted to be less self-conscious about his augmented eyes, Adam had decided not to wear his sunglasses while in S.I. Headquarters).
"About a month."
"Jesus Christ, boss!"
Adam didn't think he'd ever heard of someone going that long without an injection and not suffering DDS. After two weeks most augs were incoherent due to the pain.
Tiredly Sarif moved away from the window and back to his desk. From his desk drawer he pulled out a bottle of painkillers, popping the top he shook two out onto the desk.
"Pour me a finger of scotch from the cabinet over there would you, Adam?"
Adam didn't move. "Liquor isn't what you need right now."
"There is too much to do right now. I can't be down for a day or more with an injection. Scotch, Adam. Please."
It was the tone of undisguised pain in that last word that made Adam acquiesce, and he walked over to the cabinet. A moment later a glass was set down on Sarif's desk. Sarif took it gratefully and crushed the pills beneath the heavy glass. Then he scrapped them off the desk into the waiting glass and downed it in one gulp. Sarif made a face of disgust and set down the empty glass.
"Why would a injection set you back a day or more?"
Sarif gestured for Adam to have a seat again, collapsing into his own chair. "Neuropozyne makes my head...fuzzy. My doctor tells me it's an allergic reaction that impairs cognitive function, and it makes me nauseous. It's fairly rare the way I hear it, so I've been trying to lessen my dependency on it."
Suddenly Adam had a new found respect for the man.
"That's why you're so special, Adam," Sarif continued. "You're the next step in our evolution, don't you see? One day we'll all be like you, able to seamlessly intergrade with our augments. No need for Neuropozyne or any other drug that might limit our potential."
"But in the mean time you still need your injection."
"Tomorrow, after work. I can't tonight. Tomorrow."
Already Adam could see a relaxing of Sarif's posture, the painkillers were starting to kick in. He sighed, a low sound, almost unheard by Sarif.
"I'll be back tomorrow to make sure you do,'" Adam said and stood to leave. "Do you want me to tell Athene to hold off on the messages until tomorrow?"
Sarif looked over at him, baseball rolling slowly in the palm of his augmented hand, "I'd appreciate that."
Adam crossed the room with a few long legged strides, he reached for the door but stopped when Sarif spoke again.
"I'm sorry, Adam," he said, voice low and remorseful, "for not giving you a choice."
There was a time when he had wanted to hear that admission of guilt from Sarif. Ironic now that he finally got it, Adam didn't care to hear it anymore.
"Don't worry about it, boss. I forgave you a while ago."
He heard Sarif release a shaky sigh as he opened the door and stepped out.