“He’s gone crazy,” Vanderhaar told the four men who stood facing him from behind the large desk. Even in the dimly lit room, he could easily see discontent on their faces.
“He’s just one man. You’re the law here. Order his arrest. Use your tracking systems.” The man behind the desk growled.
“I have ordered his arrest, but we can’t track him.” Vanderhaar tossed the blood-crusted chip on the table. “He cut it out.”
“Madman.” Another of the men said.
“Don’t worry.” The man behind the desk said. “Without his chip, he’s a non-entity, he can’t even get into his apartment. He’ll show up soon, and we’ll get him. Nevertheless, Vanderhaar, you have been a disappointment. What shall we do with you?”
“You don’t dare. I’m the one with the contacts, without me the network falls apart.”
“Don’t make that mistake.” He looked up from his desk and stared hard into Vanderhaar’s face. “No one is expendable. Get Mr. Dales, and maybe we won’t have to find another delivery boy.”
“Delivery boy!” Vanderhaar’s hand went to his gun. “I have so much on you. If anything happens to me, you all go down.”
Vanderhaar’s tone relaxed as he set on the edge of the desk. “Besides, he can’t prove anything; I have all his records and a psychiatrist to back me up. It’s his word against mine, and I can make him out to be a mental case.”
From their darkened cells, all the voices of the Trust spoke out in unison. “He is here.”
“What?” One of the men said.
“I think they mean me.” Matt stepped out of the shadows with a gun drawn. “Sorry I was late. I had some stuff to get. Oh, do continue, you were talking about how you could convince everyone that I was insane.”
“How dare you!” The man behind the desk stood. Matt just waved his gun, and the man sat back down.
“I know the behavior you’re used to, so I’ll just tell you to shut up,” Matt said softly. “In case you haven’t noticed, things have changed.”
“You are insane.” The man behind the desk proclaimed. “Vanderhaar, take care of this.”
“Yeah Ken, take care of it,” Matt said. “I don’t think he’s not taking care of it, is he? I think Ken knows which way the wind is blowing. But just to be sure, toss your gun behind you, back there in the shadows.” Matt waved his gun to designate direction.
“Surely you’re not implying that you are…” The old man said.
“That I’m in charge?” Matt asked. “What do you think, team? Who will be running the Trust from here on out?”
All the voices spoke as one, “Matt Dales.”
“I don’t think they are often wrong, do you?”
Vanderhaar tossed his gun away.
“Good move, Ken. Maybe I’ll let you stay chief.”
The old man reached toward his drawer. Matt put a bullet through the desk, and the pistol the man held behind it was rendered useless, a bullet wedged in the firing mechanism. “I could have put that between your eyes. Consider your life a retirement bonus.”
“What do you want Mr. Dales?”
“What do I want?” Matt thought of Jill, trying to block out the image of her falling to her death. They couldn’t give him what he wanted. He knew, though, what he could take. “I want you to get your ass out of my seat.”
“You have some serious gall; I’ll give you that.”
“You won’t give me anything. I get what I want from here on out. Or all of you will be ruined, and I will still get everything I want. I’m a nice person, unlike some. I don’t need to ruin all of your lives and the lives of everyone associated with you. I could, in a second, but I don’t have to.”
“There is no way that I’m going to let that happen. Vanderhaar. If you want to keep your position, I suggest you take care of this lunatic.”
“Four, three, A, six, two C, one, x,” Matt said in a conversational tone. That is the access code to your private files is it not? I know it all, every dirty little secret each of you has hidden, every last credit you stashed away.”
“That’s impossible.” The man closest to Vanderhaar burst out.
“Okay gang, where did he hide the money Nathen Athlewood embezzled from the colonial education fund?”
“A college fund under the name Samantha Athlewood, account three one six eight two two.” All the voices said.
“You’ve implicated your three-year-old daughter. Maybe I should ruin you just because you are a waste of skin. But then it would be your daughter that would have to pay. Didn’t I tell you to get your ass out of my chair? There’s a good boy.”
Once the old man took his place in the group, Matthew Dales took the seat and his place as the administrator of the Trust. “I had given thought to just giving all your dirty little secrets to the public, the press, and the UN Authorities. Maybe I could just put it on the public message board. But I know what the people would do to you. It would take me too long to purge the memories from my mind.” Matt laughed. “I have enough bad memories. Besides, there are too many others just as bad would take your seat. So I had this brilliant idea. Wanna know what it was? No one? Okay, I’ll tell you anyway. To make sure you can no longer rob, steal, and make yourselves immensely wealthy. I’m taking the seat myself. I am in control. It all ends now.”
“So, what happens?” Vanderhaar asked.
“Now, we change the organizational structure. Keep in mind; there isn’t one of you that wouldn’t happily ship Earthside with a short dose, which would be poetic justice after all.” Matt leaned back in his new chair. Many changes needed to be made. “First of all, Mr. Kossman might like to see his daughter again, and I need a secretary. The Trust has taken people who could have been helped. From here on out, no one will be short dosed. If someone is, one of you will be next. It’s time for the Trust to change and take more of a leadership role in colonial operations. Don’t you agree?”
No one moved. Matt put his feet up on the desk and relaxed in the complete knowledge that even though he was surrounded by serpents, not one would dare strike.