четверг, 11 июля 2013 г.

DISINTEGRATION Chapter XXII The Time to Sow and the Time to Reap

DISINTEGRATION

Chapter XXII

The Time to Sow and the Time to Reap

The words sounded to Microsoft as mockery at first. He even forgot about pain for a second and almost dropped the pledget he was pressing against the wound. The wad wasn't helping much, though, it'd got soaked in blood almost instantly.
"I know it comes as a shock," Ford went on. "Judging by the passionate words you left me in your...how should I put it... last note, you must truly think we are related."
Still sarcasm and mockery was all Microsoft heard. 
"I don't believe you," he said through his teeth.
"I thought you wouldn't, I thought you wouldn't." Ford patted himself on the chest and fished a very familiar document out of the front pocket of his vest. It was the exact replica of the birth certificate Celestro had showed Microsoft. The plate enlarged at the touch of the SC, and Ford put it on the table for Microsoft to see. I, Evos Mondeo Ford, being ...father of the minor child, Celestro Aurelius Ford...
"What?" Microsoft didn't realize he'd said it aloud and startled when Ford answered.
"That's exactly what it says. I don't know how he tricked you, but then, he's always been a smart kid. Celestro Rawotzki, as he calls himself now, is my son. Not you."
A heat wave of shock went through Microsoft's body, turning to cold sweat. 
"No, it can't be true, I saw it." Microsoft shook his head, refusing to accept the truth that was now shattering his whole world. "Celestro showed me this same document, only there was my name on it."
"As I said, he's always been a smart kid."
Ford looked almost impressed. Birth certificate was next to impossible to replicate. Suddenly everything fell into place for Microsoft: Celestro's readiness to help, meticulous plans and equipment he provided without a question, a different algorithm at the output of teleportation and, weirdly, Microsoft himself being alive. Hell knows what happened to the boy. "I don't know what I'd do if my father had done to me what yours did to you." The words surfaced in his mind like a water mine cut loose. That's exactly what he would do, thought Microsoft, he would do whatever it took to have his revenge. 
Ford, apparently, felt the necessity to say something else, since Microsoft was too astounded to talk for quite a long time.
"I am sorry you've been misled, and with horrible consequences too. But you should know one thing, it was me who found him. I came across his name once, a beautiful name,  Celestro, one of a kind. I saw it in the list of interns who applied to work in my company and I researched him. I didn't find him at first. He was supposed to take the last name of his first foster parents when he was of age, since he wasn't allowed to know his real last name. There were a couple of Rawotzkis in the country, but the names were spelled differently and they had nothing to do with Celestro. He used a last name that didn't exist. A stubborn boy, you know, very independent too. He was 16 when he hacked the register and changed his last name. He did it so impeccably that no one ever questioned it, or bothered to check. 
"I would expect it didn't take him much effort to change his birth certificate and my waver to make them look like they were in your name, either." 
Microsoft didn't have much desire to listen to the story of Celestro's life, but somehow he couldn't say anything, just stared at Ford as if the man wasn't real. Ford sat on one of the hoverchairs
"When he came to do his internship here, I admired him. He was a pure genius. Very soon he was better than anyone in the company, he was even making plans to set up his own business. So I told him. It was illegal, I know, but I couldn't do otherwise and I honestly thought he already knew. Such a smart guy, I thought, he must have researched his heritage with no trouble at all. I told him everything and asked him to take my name and share my business. I said I'd help him whatever it was he wanted to do or be. I didn't expect he would be so furious. I couldn't imagine how much he actually hated me for leaving him. He hated the father he'd never known so much that he didn't even bother to find out who he was."
"What did you expect? That he would run towards you with open arms?" Microsoft hardly recognized his own voice as he said that. It was coarse and low, full of bitterness and defense, as if he was taking Celestro's side.
"No." Ford must have felt it too, because he seemed a little taken aback by the tone of Microsoft's words. "But all I wanted was the best for him. And he turned his back on me and told me to never mention out relation to anyone, or he'd sue me and destroy my name along with my career. He didn't want to have anything to do with me."
"Why am I not surprised?" said Microsoft with the same bitterness in his voice. 
"Well, I am surprised, though." Ford straightened up. "I'm surprised you're defending him. He tricked you, he lied to you, used you. You almost died because of him."
"Actually," said Microsoft. "I almost died because of you." 
As soon as he said that he realized he'd just made things worse for Matrix. The fact that Matrix had told Microsoft about Ford's order was quite clear from the death note, but now Microsoft himself had just confirmed it to Ford's face. There was nothing left to lose.
"You were prepared to kill someone to save your fucking name, just like you didn't think twice before you left your own child for the sake of your career." Microsoft waved his hand in a hopeless gesture, spraying blood all over Ford's face and vest. Ford went stiff and looked at the stains. For a moment Microsoft thought Ford might take a swing at him, when the opening dispersed and both of them turned around. Matrix stood there as if he was about to break down, his eyes widened and his chest rising and falling .
"What is it?" snapped Ford.
"Diod Medina teleported." Matrix caught Microsoft's eyes for a moment. "To four places."
"Well, then, find out where exactly he is now," said Ford, losing his temper.
"No, I mean to four places... he's at four places at the same time." Matrix's voice cracked.
"What are you talking about? How is it possible? Did you clone him?" yelled Ford.
"He's split up." It was Microsoft who had spoken, and he saw by the way Matrix covered his mouth and drew in breath that he was right. 
Microsoft's legs gave way. Everything he'd been numb to till now, rushed over him all at once: throbbing pain in his arm, blood streaming down and making his skin itch, his head spinning, nausea climbing up his throat. He fell to his knees and threw up into the pool of blood under him. The next moment everything went black, a second time.

"You're a part of it, aren't you?" hissed Sakura while Rafael was helping Arone onto the sofa.
"How very unprofessional of you," said Celestro, leaning back away from her. "Calm down, sis."
The screen displayed shocked faces of people, some were screaming, some were crying. The news about the split up boy went online hardly a minute after the teleportation. The four T/R platforms where the accident took place were swarming with journalists. 
"It is the most outrageous and inhuman thing since tortures of the Middle Ages," one of the journalists reported. "An innocent boy has been brutally quartered and spat out onto the streets of the city. What is it that Evos Ford is trying to say? What kind of a barbarous portent is that? The police and the UN officials are demanding entrance to the Ford Industries building as we speak..."
Celestro turned the display off and the room went eerily quiet. Arone sat on the sofa shivering as if from cold, Rafael beside her, his right arm over her shoulders. Sakura pierced Celestro with her eyes, still waiting for him to answer her question.
He raised his hands dismissively. "I have nothing to do with it, okay?"
"Lie," said Sakura. "Another shameless lie."
"Why do you always blame me?" he said. "Whatever happens I just must be involved somehow, is that what you think?"
"Because you always are," said Arone, staring unseeingly in front of herself. "And it seems this time you dragged Micro into it."
Celestro knelt down before her so she had to look at him.
"Arone. Remember I told you, everything would be okay? It is okay, just as I promised. I don't have anything to do with the boy's horrible death, nor has Microsoft. You'll see when he'll get back. You'll ask him yourself." 
Celestro reached out to stroke her hair but got a harsh slap across his hand.
"Get your filthy tentacles off her, vulturous brood!" Rafael stood up in front of Arone shielding her away from Celestro who got up on his feet and was looking at her over Rafael's shoulder. He didn't care about the elaborate names Rafael carried on giving him, but she didn't move, just stared on blankly into space.

The first thing he saw was a red-haired girl with incredibly long lashes fluttering like dying butterflies over her swollen from tears eyes. He thought he was dreaming or in heaven, neither seemed to be true, since he could feel the bright light hurt his eyes. Arone smiled at him, relieved and worried at the same time. 
"Hi," she whispered.
"Hi," he wheezed back and raised his head a little to see where he was. The windowless room was pale green. He was lying in a soft bed, his arm in a healing sleeve. 
"It's almost recovered." Arone ran her fingers along the metal of the sleeve. "You survived."
"Who told you I wouldn't?"
"Adrian did. Now everyone knows anyway, it's all over the news. But I wasn't talking about the time-travel. You lost a lot of blood, you almost bled to death."
"That would've been ironic, wouldn't it? Escaping one death and offing myself accidentally." He tried a smile.
"No, it would." She gave him a reproachful look.
"I'm sorry. Not just for the joke, for leaving you out. I should have--" She put her finger across his dry lips.
"There's a lot of things we should and shouldn't have done, Mike. Right now you just have to get better. You're the key witness."
He raised his eyebrows. "Am I?"
"This isn't an ordinary hospital, it's the Federal Forensic Infirmary."
"Sounds creepy."
"Ford's under arrest, your team is being questioned."
"What about Rawotzki?" 
"He said he's not involved, they questioned him and let him go. They have nothing on him. ZP's rating's never been higher." Arone's voice was full of loathing, but there was hope too. "He told me you had nothing to do with it, you or him."
"I bet he did."
"Isn't that true?" 

Microsoft felt sorry for her, because he could see it in her eyes that she wanted him to say 'no', to assure her that all that had happened was a tremendous and terrible coincidence. Except it wasn't.
"He's up to his eyes in shit," said Microsoft, pain-stricken. "And so am I."
Arone drew in her breath and bit on her lips to hold back tears.
"I'm gonna tell them everything, Arone." Microsoft took her hand and squeezed it in his. "I'm gonna tell them every bit of it, whatever it may cost me. I'm done scheming and lying, I'm done getting my hopes high for people who never live up to them. I need you to be with me, to tell me this is the right thing to do."
She nodded and leaned forward, letting his arm curl around her.

Microsoft couldn't say how long they had been lying like this, locked in each other's arms, but it didn't seem long enough when someone entered the ward, thumping against the floor to a halt. 
"Kern!" Microsoft was sincerely happy to see the man. Arone stood up, and he introduced himself to her in his usual avuncular way.
"I'm glad to see you recovering, my friend." Kern winked at Microsoft. 
"Me too." Microsoft remembered where he was. "Are you allowed to be here? We're all suspects, shouldn't we be separated or something?"
"We're not suspects, Mike." Kern plunged heavily on the side of the bed. "We're witnesses. And I'm the man of law, so I'm the best example of a cooperative witness there is. Speaking of witnessing, that's what I came to talk to you about."
Kern paused and looked at Arone.
"Oh," she said. "Do I have to leave?"
"It's up to Mike."
"I'd like her to stay," said Microsoft, sitting up. "I want her to know everything. But first, tell me what happened. I don't understand how the team got away with it."
"Consider the non-disclosure agreement your life ring. Ford hoped it would be his collateral, but it turned against him and left him, in fact, the only person fully responsible for what happened. The rest of us are under protection of non-disclosure, privilege of once being the first in the Top Ten Tech."
Microsoft spotted a self-contented smile on Kern's face. "You knew."
"Well," the big man said. "I had no idea what would happen. How could anyone have? But I certainly wasn't worried for the legal side of it. The team was covered, and I didn't really bother for the Old Hundred. I'm sorry for him, but I can't say he didn't get what was coming to him."
"And Matrix?" 
Kern frowned, and his enthusiasm faded.
"Yes. Him..." Kern's sigh sent vibration through the bed. "His name is not Matrix Eroglou, it's Tensorfield Riemann. He was a young criminal exiled for violating the international servers. They made a mistake while blocking his memory, and when it started coming back to him, he figured out how to get in touch with Ford, who was one of the most influential international figures at the time. He struck a deal with him, and Ford got him out, bought him a new name and a new life in exchange for his talent, which, I have to admit, is genuinely unmatched."
"He's in trouble, then?" Microsoft felt a pang of guilt.
"He could have been spared, but he stupidly ran off, disappeared before anyone knew who he really was. Now, if they find him, he'll get the whole lot and bonuses. So, yes, he's in trouble."
"Why did he run off?" 
Kern gave him a sad smile.
"He was afraid, I guess. After two years in exile I doubt anyone would want to go back there."
"But you said he could have been spared," said Arone.
"Well." Kern shuffled around on the bed, trying to make himself more comfortable. "He'd certainly get a milder sentence, but he is a fugitive, and he broke into the governmental system. He's outdone himself by far this time. Still not a good reason to make things worse by escaping."
"Did Ford give him away?"  asked Microsoft.
"No, no. I don't think Ford even cares about him that much now. His life is a pile of debris at the moment. There was a total shakedown in the company, they've looked through every single byte. That's how they found Matrix's file. Speaking of files, I'm actually here to ask you something."
"Go ahead." Microsoft anticipated the question.
"They found some quite interesting documents on Ford when they stormed in with a warrant, you must have blacked out by then, but I reckon you know what I'm talking about. I mean, there were only two of you in the room, and the birth certificate on the table."
"Yes, he told me everything," said Microsoft.
"I had a hunch, though it's a mystery to me why he would tell you something like that. Anyway, Celestro Rawotzki, or should I rather say Celestro Aurelius Ford, has been interrogated. He refused to admit that he'd known anything about the operation, and Ford's silent so far. I agree the situation is peculiar, but accusing him on the ground that he's Ford's son is absurd, so hopefully you have more to tell--"
"Excuse me?" It was Arone who had been listening to Kern with a such an outraged and astonished expression on her face as if he'd just stepped on her foot and spilled coffee all over her.
"U-um, yes," said Microsoft. "Rawotzki is Ford's son, and I am not. He forged the papers. I thought it was all over the news too, so, I didn't bother to tell you."
"You didn't bother to tell me?" she echoedб rising her voice at the end of the question. 
"Sorry, I put it the wrong way. I just thought you knew. And besides, we've talked only for a few minutes, it didn't come up, somehow." Microsoft turned to Schrödinger with a pleading look.
"The information's not out yet," said Kern clearly amused by the little bickering he was witnessing. "It's your call, Mike, but I have a very strong suspicion that Celestro Rawotzki had a part in what happened, I can smell a rat when I see one."
"What if I told you...," said Microsoft stealing a look at Arone. "What if I told you everything that happened was Rawotzki's plan and I helped him come through with it completely unaware I was doing it?"
"I'd say, we'd better have good evidence of that last part." 
"I didn't exactly have no clue," sighed Microsoft and Arone bit on her lip. "Considering Adrian surely told everyone what had happened to him, my grounds are fairly shaky."
"He said he'd mistaken an opening and fell into the elevator shaft." There were no emotions in Kern's words, but his raised eyebrow was enough for Microsoft to understand Kern didn't believe Adrian's story.
"He must have been damn rattlebrained to have missed the opening." said Microsoft. He knew Adrian loved him, but he'd never imagined he would be that much of a friend to him. 
"Anyway." Kern stood up and put his palms together. "The hearing is tonight, your arm must be fine in half an hour. Your attorney will want to talk to you as soon as you can come out of the ward."
"I thought you were my attorney."
"I can't," said Kern and ruffled Microsoft's hair making him feel like a naughty child. "I am still a witness, thus, a biased party, I've no right to represent you. But don't worry, the defense is good."
Kern's face lit up with a happy-go-lucky smile as he nodded goodbye. After he left, Arone kept silent for a while, and Microsoft thought she was still bitter because he hadn't told her about Celestro and Ford being related. But when she turned her face to him, she was about to cry again.
"Do you think they'll exile you?" she asked.
"Let's hope not." He pulled her closer to himself and brushed his lips against the red softness of her hair, inhaling its sweetness. "I hope not."

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