When last we left off, Chris tried to escape from his captors…
The TV clicked off and Boris said,
“See, Chris, nobody was harmed in the escape. We were shooting into the air. You can see it for yourself on the news.” Chris looked over at the man, now changed out of his orange prison jumpsuit and into a pair of regular looking jeans, a button down shirt, he looked completely normal. “Now our only loose end is the truck we had to leave at the scene. Chris, have you ever been fingerprinted by police?”
Chris was feeling more backed in than ever. Now instead of 2 russian gangsters in his apartment there were 4. “No, fingerprinted by police?”
“Well my friend, soon they’ll be pulling fingerprints from the truck and searching their databases, running the so called bozorth3 algorithms…” Chris looked up in surprise. Boris laughed. “Yes, they would use such an algorithm to search for matching fingerprints – and eventually come up with your address here if they found a match.”
“Are you an engineer?” Chris asked.
“Yes. Which is why I was in prison. They came up with some nonsense crimes for me based on the work I was doing with the logistics of retail pharmaceutical production.”
Chris thought about this and ventured a guess, “Heroin?”
Boris laughed, “A lot of things actually. Isn’t it a little dishonest the way they ‘control’ certain substances? I’m simply an entrepreneur.” Chris thought about this.
“There’s a lot of engineering happening these days. A lot of investor money flowing into my kind of business. In fact, I’d like you and I to work on a special project together, if you’re interested.”
Chris looked at him incredulously. “I just want you guys to let me go.”
Boris stood up and spoke quickly in russian to the other men, shook their hands, and said “pah-kah.” Chris had heard this one before. Another of the men said “dah-sve-dan-ya” and the 3 other men left.
“They’re gone, my friend. I’m sorry you got caught up in this. It was very… unprofessional of my associates. I think you’ve got a valuable skill. I’m starting a project involving hundreds of drones. We could hire you in a shell company and give you total a totally plausible cover story. You wouldn’t even have to work with me. The only other place you’ll get this kind of experience is if you work for the defense department where they’ll use this technology to kill Arabs.”
Chris looked down for a second and snapped himself out of how reasonable this sounded. “You guys kidnapped me and forced me to take part in a prison break, and now you’re offering me a job?”
Boris smiled and nodded. “With 401K. 200 thousand to start. Housing provided in New York City.”
Chris was too surprised to respond for a moment. “Drones make sense to me, because they offer the kind of photography you’d need to get from helicopters in the past. Why does the russian mafia want to pay a guy like me two-hundred K?”
Boris put on his jacket, concealing the firearm holstered under his arm. “That part is easy. There’s a war coming, but it’s going to be fought by robots in megacities. This war will have no casualties. By providing certain products on-demand to high paying customers throughout the world’s mega-cities from ships in international waters, we’re going to revolutionize the drug trade.”
“It sounds like amazon for drugs, but what’s the war about?” Chris fought his instincts but he could easily see how this could be the chance of a lifetime. And if it was set up in a certain way….
“It’s only a matter of time before … a competitor… begins to come up with countermeasures. How long before they figure out how to make a drone collide with ours? We’ll need to be a step ahead, building out the first fleet of drones is only the beginning, but it’s going to be the biggest opportunity you’ll ever see.”
“And if I don’t want to do this, will you kill me?”
Boris laughed “Ha! No. Of course not. You are an intellectual, and so am I. This is a gentleman’s game. My friends are gone, and I am about to leave your apartment forever.”
Chris looked at him skeptically. “But I could call the police? Are you trusting me not to?”
“No. I like you but I’m not stupid. Here.” He pulled from his pocket a cylinder instantly recognizable as a pill bottle. “I’m going to watch you take 4 of these sedatives. They will render you unconscious here in your apartment for the next 8 hours.
Chris held the bottle and felt a sinking feeling, but a tinge of relief. Soon he’d be able to get back to his life.
“Chris, before you take this. You and I, we are colleagues and I will deal with you honestly, but there are ways you could betray me, no? If you and I were working together to stop terrorists, and you went and told the terrorists what we were doing, you would expect trouble, no?” Chris just looked at Boris as he continued speaking slowly. “Your job offer is open. If you want to go to a competitor, that’s fine too. I wouldn’t be troubled. I won’t be troubled if you go to the police and tell them all about what happened in the prison escape.” Chris’s breathing slowed as the look on the man’s face became even more serious. “But do not make a mistake, my friend. If you tell them what I am planning. You will die.”
Boris became once again congenial, “I mean what do you expect, anyway? I’ve got to have some of that going on, right? A word of advice though – don’t go to the police, just for yourself. You just don’t need to deal with it. They’re going to have all kinds of annoying questions, they’ll bother you for weeks and they might even try to bring you up on charges, or at the very least they’ll threaten you with it. It’s just not something you have to deal with.”
After everything he’d been through, this actually sounded like good advice to Chris. What was he going to accomplish by going to the police. Oh hi police I helped with that prison break, but I was coerced, despite not having proof of that.
Boris handed him the pills. “May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”