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Everybody Pays

Previously.

TEC struggles to process the response, looking as confused as a machine possibly could.

Drexl simply smirks.

“I’m afraid failure to procure a full payment from my debtors means that our agreement is null and void”, he states – motioning for a guard to show TEC the door.

“And I’m afraid that I simply cannot find you the answers you seek – not if you’re going to fail on your end of the bargain.”

Moments later.

As the door to the office is slammed shut in the face of the Automaton, Drexl begins chuckling from behind his desk, prompting the rest of the room to join in with a chorale of laughter.

“You see gentlemen”, Drexl begins, slowly breaking up their amusement. “There are two types of power in this world: the power of brute force, and the power of influence.”

“The borrowers? They fear us not only for our strength, but for what we represent – the consequences of their actions catching up with them.”

Drexl leans forward, opening a small wooden box on the table. He removes a cigar, placing and lighting it between his lips.

“At the Shark Tank, we command both respect and fear. Not only that, but we have also mastered the art of manipulation as our good friend, TEC, has found out first-hand.”

He exhales a cloud of smoke from his cigar, the swirls of which dance around him like spectral tendrils.

“In this line of work, it is as important to keep your own, hands clean by conscripting others to do your bidding for you as it is to fish out those drowning in an ocean of financial despair, so that they have no other option but to turn to you for salvation.”

Drexl’s men all turn to one another, nodding in agreement.

“A lot of you seemed somewhat surprised when I employed the services of a robot to take care of business, but I have taught you all a valid lesson when I say that life comes at a price – one that I refuse to pay for with my own, blood-stained palms.”

Big Slim takes another healthy drag of his cigar.

“I ask you all: what better way to arm ourselves with an encyclopaedic knowledge of human equation than with artificial intelligence itself?”

The men briefly deliberate their boss’ question.

“But whilst TEC has all the neural engineering to become the eyes and ears of our operation, uncovering the vulnerable cracks in society so that we might exploit them, it has shown that fatal mortal trait of mercy.”

“That’s not good for business, nor does it lend itself well to the reputation I have worked so hard to instil.”

”And – in failing to meet its end of the bargain – this robot now has it’s own debt to settle.”

“At Odyssey, I shall loosen my unsullied hands and allow my shielded conscience to wander – that you can be sure of.”

“When someone, or indeed something, breaks a promise with Drexl, they can consider it a payment owed.”

“Because sooner or later, as you know well, gentlemen…”

Drexl’s goons join in as the scene begins to fade out.

“EVERYBODY PAYS.”

Laughter.

Cut.

Drexl