The tricentennial celebration, or should I say the “Sempvenis presents The Tricentennial Celebration”, was a day that Robby Stein and the employees of Progmations Pharmaceuticals thought would never come. Robby threw up 4 times before he even made it out of his bedroom that morning, and he knew that his nerves were only going to get worse as the time grew nearer. Pat Carver and the Board of Directors at Progmations were still outraged that this could be happening and they had twenty-nine attorneys still working on finding a way to stop what was sure to be a disaster. Unfortunately, there appeared to be no way out of this, and Pat had no idea how to stop his company from being taken over. All of his company’s hopes and dreams, and most likely his employee’s futures, rested on the very skinny and astoundingly weak shoulders of Robby Stein, and that scared the hell out of him.
With the economic divide growing wider, crime became an even greater issue. The upper class used their growing wealth to have their parts of the cities walled off and guarded. Salt Lake City was the first to put up their walls, funded primarily by Sempvenis Pharmaceuticals, and the walls proved so successful, that the idea was implemented in every major city across the globe. Within a few years of the walls being in place, the hunger riots began.
It didn’t take long for the lower class to realize that the upper class needed them. Not only did they grow and harvest the food, but they also did all of the menial work inside the walls. Once they decided they had enough and they essentially went on strike. There existed the ability to manufacture completely artificial food in pill form, and these pills would technically get you the calories and vitamins you needed to survive. None of the upper class would have chosen those over real food and they began to get irritated.
With no real food coming in and other utilities such as trash pick-up not running, the upper-class had to resolve the issues with the lower-class or their entire society would crumble. The board at Sempvenis collaborated with the heads of several other large cities, and developed a plan to appease the poor. They proposed a list of new laws to those heading up the strike outside the walls. The leaders of the upper-class who were now referred to as the Scholas had a distinct advantage in these negotiations with years of negotiation experience and the best education money could buy. The lower class, who were now referred to as the Inops, were represented, in general, by the strongest and most outspoken. This is not to say that the Inops leaders were of low intelligence, they just hadn’t had the resources to be as educated as the Schola. When the laws were presented and the class names presented, the Inops were excited as they felt it gave them some new credibility. Unfortunately the uneducated Inops didn’t know that it translated roughly to helpless in Latin, once again make them the butt of the upper classes jokes. After eight hours of tense negotiations, the Schola and the Inops agreed to a set of 6 new laws, known collectively as the treaty of walls, which was accepted immediately by almost all walled cities across the world.
The Treaty of walls:
First Law of the Wall: All food produced both in and outside the wall will be split with fifty percent going to the Inops and Scholas alike.
Second Law of the Wall: Each family (married couple or single parent with at least 2 children) will have at least one member guaranteed employment inside the wall.
Third Law of the Wall: Health care is free to all humans.
Fourth Law of the Wall: A Schola may adopt an Inop child under the age of fifteen. Birth parents of the adopted child are then considered Scholas and may live inside the wall, with one of them guaranteed employment.
Fifth Law of the Wall: Any Inop committing violence towards a Schola shall be put to death.
Sixth Law of the Wall: Scholas and Inops shall each maintain their own independent democratic government.
The cities began to flourish again, once the laws took effect. The Scholas had the working class cleaning up their messes and giving them food and Inops finally had an influx of help for their impoverished. The Inops walked away from the agreement believing in their hearts that they had won the negotiations. The food was going to be enough to feed everyone and the health care was finally going to help cull the influx of disease that usually haunts the impoverished. The family member and adoption laws were presented as perks that would help the Inops have less dreary lives. Laws five and six were fairly easy to get the Inops to agree to after having achieved what they thought were wins in the previous four laws. The Inop negotiators saw no major issue with the fifth law since there had always been laws, be they be written or unwritten, against violence. Unfortunately for the Inops, the fact that it was only a one-way violence law didn’t raise the red flags it should have. Law five combined with the subsequent Schola law that allowed any and all types of violence against Inops made for some very bad outcomes for many Inops.
From the Schola point of view, the new laws were significantly in their favor. The food ration was easy enough as they just made the Inops create more food for the same pay. This allowed the Inops to get food and the Scholas to get the same amount of food they got before. The health care, while potentially costly, was necessary as the Scholas couldn’t have the Inops bringing diseases into the walls. So while the Inops loved the idea, to the Scholas, it was just preventative maintenance. Having a member of each family work in the walls was positioned as a big perk, because they would make more money but again the Scholas were just making them do the work the Scholas didn’t want to do.
The adoption law was actually one of the biggest sticking points and by far the most controversial law on both sides. It was the brainchild of Manfred Margolis, the head geneticist at Sempvenis. Manfred believed that the Scholas were in trouble long term if they didn’t have some deeper gene pools, specifically those that were possessing prime physical traits. He pushed the law with the idea that with proper selection, the Scholas would have the genes and people to eventually cut the Inops out completely, by building machines. Of course there were many in the Scholas that were offended at even the thought of mixing blood with the lowly Inops. Several of the Inops had reservations, thinking that if all of their best and brightest left, then they would be worse off each generation. This of course held some truth, but Manfred and his partners were able to finally get the Inops to see that it was a good thing and would provide some motivation to the Inops to better themselves.
Even life outside the walls was getting better. Crime rates were still exceptionally high, but far less people were starving or dying of disease. With the Inops now having a government, they created the position of Chancellor. Outside of Salt Lake City, Jon Pankinson was elected within 6 weeks of the laws being passed. The Inops were unequipped to have an election, but proceeded with an old fashion ballot system, giving Jon the election in a landslide. Many Inops suspected that the election was fixed, as Jon was very well known, but not in the least well liked. He was known for being quite vicious to those that opposed his point of view, and while the Inops loved this trait when he was head of the laws negotiating committee, this didn’t necessarily lead to good leadership.
In 2065 Jon held the first Top Inop tournament. He gathered the best fighters from around the globe and pitted them against one another in a fight to the death, with the victor’s city getting a substantial purse from the other entrants. While not every city participated, the thought of that purse money greatly outweighed the possibility of having to pay the winner. It should have come as no surprise that Jon’s fighter was victorious, not because anyone thought the fights were fixed, although some of them may well have been, more-so because Jon’s fighter, Klaus Savo but known simply as Jagd-u-boot, was the most massive, vicious person most people had ever seen.
The sixth annual Top Inop tournament, was a turning point in history. Jagd-u-boot had won all of the previous 5 tournaments and participation had declined, but there were still several cities that thought they could train a better fighter. That year the fighter out of the Tokyo Inops, looked especially formidable and many though Jagd-u-boot might finally meet his match. The night before the final match between Jagd-u-boot and the Japanese fighter, Kito Hiroshi, two Schola business owners, one from Salt Lake City and the other from Tokyo, got very drunk and in an inebriated bout of hubris they wagered their companies on the fight between Jagd-u-boot and Kito. In what was one of the largest upsets in history Kito killed Jagd-u-boot in less than 30 seconds. Not only was the Inop world surprised, but much of the the Schola world was in an uproar, as most couldn’t believe that someone would wager a company worth billions on one fight.
Three years later the number of company wagers had risen to 12. Afraid of the impact this wagering could have on the global economy the United Walled City Alliance met to discuss it. After weeks of meetings they met with the Global Outer Wall Council and agreed on Law of the Wall Seven.
Seventh Law of the Wall- Any company may perform a hostile takeover of any other company with each company providing an Inop employee to fight to the death with the winning company then owning both companies
With the new law in effect, life around the world for those in and out of the wall changed dramatically. All of the sudden there were companies bidding to hire the toughest Inops to defend their companies and Inop adoption took on a whole new face. Previously it was used for couples that couldn’t have children and the few liberal that wanted to save an Inop for the, in their eyes, terrible fate that was living outside the wall. Now it was owners and executives of companies trying to find the perfect balance of someone that could be a great executive and also possessed the heart and body of a warrior, to help solidify their company’s future.
“How does Vice President of Genetic Research sound, Robby?” Pat Carver asked.
“Um, I don’t really know what to say,” Robby replied.
“Well, yes would be a great place to start.”
“Yes, of course the answer is yes,” Robby replied, laughing.
“They tell me this makes you the youngest VP in company history. How old are you now?”
“Nineteen? Jesus, haven’t you been here for three years?”
“Um, yes sir, I graduated at sixteen.”
“With a PHD? Your parents must be proud,” Pat said.
“Yes sir, my mother died when I was ten, but my father is always proud.”
“Ah yes, sorry I forgot about that. Your father works down in the communications room doesn’t he?”
“He has for thirty years now, I believe. It was he that convinced me to work here instead of taking double the money at Sempvenis, in fact.”
“I never knew that. I will have to make sure that I thank him.”
“What in the hell do you mean Soritic has submitted a hostile takeover bid? That is impossible,” Pat Carver yelled at Mike Gardner.
Mike Gardner was the President of mergers and acquisitions at Progmations Pharmaceuticals. Actually not only was he the President, he was the entire department. Like most of the small companies of the time, Progmations was only concerned with making a good profit, but at the same time trying not to grow too big. The only reason Mike’s position and department existed was to make sure they didn’t get taken over, and for the past several years, he had not only done well, everyone was sure he had made it impossible.
Mike had gotten the phone call earlier that morning and still couldn’t believe it. The Global Takeover Board had been adamant about the takeover bid, despite Mike’s insistence that it was impossible. He had spent time in a war-zone, yet he couldn’t think of a time where he was half as nervous as he was then. How could he possibly tell Pat that he may be about to lose his company.
“I know, that’s what I told them. They said there was no mistake and that, If the takeover bid was accepted, it would be part of the Tricentennial celebration. They are meeting with Soritic right now and should be here within an hour to give us the details,” Mike replied. “So there is no reason to get worked up and speculate further until we get to talk to them.”
The woman from the GTB was a tiny thing. Mike guessed she was no more than five feet tall and weighed less that ninety pounds. When he first saw her, he had a glimmer of hope that perhaps she could be intimidated. Pat Carver, at six feet seven inches and well over two hundred pounds of muscle, he towered over her and Mike was hopeful Pat cold intimidate her into canceling the takeover. That was until she began explaining and answering Pat’s questions. She, despite her size, was one of the most intimidating people Mike had ever met.
“My name is Patricia Wells, from the GTB. As I’m sure you are aware, I am here to discuss the Hostile takeover bid that was submitted by Soritic LLC, and I assume you are Patrick Carver, CEO and owner of Progmations Pharmaceuticals?” The woman asked.
“Please call me Pat, and may I call you Pat? It is pretty neat that we have pretty much the same name, isn’t it?”
“No you may not call me Pat, and your charm will not have any effect on me, I can assure you Mr. Carver,” Patricia responded curtly. “Back to the reason for my visit, Soritic filed a notice of intent to perform a hostile takeover of Progmations, to be conducted on July 4th 2076 during the Tricentennial celebration.”
“I already knew that, what I don’t know and can’t understand is how they plan to do that and how you would let them. The law prohibits it.” Pat responded.
“The Seventh Law of the Wall states that any company may apply to perform a hostile takeover of another company. Each company must choose one of their employees, who was born as an Inop, to fight the other until one of the combatants is dead. The victorious company then becomes owner of the losing company.”
“I know the Law, and therein lies the major problem. There are no Inops employed here, and since it is unlawful for an Inop to perform violence on a Schola, there is nobody for their employee to fight. This takeover simply can’t happen without a fight,” Pat said, trying without much success to keep his temper down.
“We at the GTB thought the same thing, until an anonymous tip let us know that you do actually have an Inop working for you. It took us several hours, but we were able to confirm that one of your employees is an Inop, adopted under the Fourth Law of the Wall.”
“I don’t believe it. Mike here has personally vetted all of our employees,” Pat said.
“If someone was adopted, that would have shown during our background checks. It’s not like that is a little thing,” Mike replied smugly.
“I am not sure what process you use, but the adoption showed up for us with what amounted to very little digging.”
“I still say you are making a mistake, but who is this supposed Inop adoptee?” Pat asked.
“I have his name here somewhere,” Patricia said as she scanned the document on her clipboard. “Ah yes, here it is. It is a young man by the name Robert Stein.”
“Oh, no,” Mike said to himself at barley over a whisper.
“What in the hell do you mean, oh no? Is she talking about Robby Stein the VP of Genetics?” Pat asked, turning to face Mike.
“Um, yes sir. That is the only Robert Stein we have employed here.”
“Why is she saying he’s adopted? His dad has worked here forever, how can we not have known this?”
“Well as you recall, Robby was highly sought after. Our background process is very expensive and can take a while. With the urgency of the recruiting, and the fact that his father worked here, I decided not to run the check. It saved us a lot of money and helped us be fast enough to recruit him.”
“Well since all of that is cleared up, I shall be going. As a reminder the fight is going to be on July 4th in Philadelphia. If your fighter is not present at the time of the opening bell, you are disqualified, and your company automatically defaults to Soritic. Here are your papers,” Patricia said as she tossed a stack of papers in an envelope on Pat’s desk.
“Both of the Steins here in five minutes,” Pat said through gritted teeth.
Five minutes latter
“Why would you hide being an Inop from us Robby? Don’t you think that is information we would need to know?” Pat yelled.
“But I’m not an Inop, sir. Both of my parents are Schola,” Robby replied.
“Come off it boy, we’re in the fire now. We know you were adopted under the Fourth Law.”
“Dad what is he talking about?” Robby asked Kyle with a bit of pleading in his voice.
“I have no idea what he is talking about,” Kyle said while looking at the ground, not making eye contact with anyone.
“The GTB was adamant and they have papers showing that Robby was adopted. I need to know the truth and I need to know it now, damn it!” Pat responded.
“OK, yes Robby is adopted.”
“What are you talking about dad? Why would you keep that from me,” Robby asked.
“We adopted you right after the law was passed. Your mother and I had tried for years to have children but we couldn’t. We knew your birth parents and knew how smart you were. All of us decided it was in your best interest to grow up a Schola so you could have a better education. I’m sorry Robby but we only wanted the best for you,” Pat said with tears rolling down his face.
“That’s touching and all but why in the hell didn’t you tell anyone?” Pat asked.
“At first we wanted to avoid any potential stigma it would have on us, being one of the first adopters and then we saw how some of the kids that had been adopted were being treated and didn’t want you to be teased and bullied because of something as trivial as being born on the other side of a wall. I’m very sorry Robby and Mr. Carver. We never meant to hurt anyone.”
“Well you have hurt someone. Many someones in fact! First of all, look at your son, he is one of the scrawniest people I have ever seen. I haven’t seen the other fighter, but I don’t see anyway Robby could win. Hell, I bet he couldn’t punch through a wet piece of paper. And after he loses, I lose my company that my family has spent over one-hundred years growing. When a company gets taken over, what do you think that means to the employees? They all get fired, that’s what. Not to mention your son Robby. This is a fight to the death. That means he won’t even be around to fire. So despite all your best efforts Mr. Stein, you have hurt many people and you are fired. Get out of building before I change my mind and beat you to death,” Pat screamed.
“It is not over Mr. Carver. Robby may be small but he is brilliant. I’m sure we can train him in a few deadly arts and he will be able to pick it up quickly. When is the fight scheduled for?” Kyle asked.
“July fourth, three weeks from now, hardly time to train a killer,” Mike replied.
“I’m actually pretty athletically inclined, I just never put any effort into it because it didn’t help with my academics. I can win Mr. Carver, just please give me a chance and don’t hold this against my father. I think you should turn your attention to finding out how they found out I was adopted when nobody was supposed to know. I think you have a mole Mr. Carver,” Robby said in a surprisingly calm tone.
“I don’t see any way you can win, but what do I have to lose? Mike, Kyle get to work on training him. Money is no object. I want the world’s best trainers here by the morning. As for a mole, apparently you can find out by a normal background check so I doubt we have a mole.”
“But how would they even know to run a background check? You don’t publicly list your employees, so how would they even know my name, must less the need to run a background check on me?” Robby replied.
“You may have a point, but there is no need to worry about that. We need you to get trained so I can keep my company. Oh and I’ve decided that you two,” Pat said pointing to Kyle and Mike. “Will have the same fate as Robby. He lives, you live. He dies, you die. No get the hell out of my office.”
“I simply can’t believe how far he has come in the last three weeks,” Robby’s trainer Ron said to Pat. ”he has not only put on a bit of muscle, he has taken everything in like a sponge.”
“I told you I wasn’t as bad as my appearance led people to believe,” Robby said.
“I get being naturally gifted but you seem to have an unnatural gift for learning physical things. I show you a technique that takes a high level fighter weeks to learn let alone master, and you understand it and can perform it perfectly in less than a day. You are by far the most naturally skilled fighter I have ever coached, and I have coached six takeover winners,” Ron replied.
“That is great news. Have we gotten any more information on the man he is fighting?” Pat asked.
“Very little Mr. Carver. He has never fought on the record so I can’t watch any fight videos. I know he is very big, with some people saying he is over seven feet tall. He is being trained privately but I tried to grease some palms and get some video from everyone from security guards to the Inops that clean the locker room, but everyone is either too scared or has not even been able to see him,” Ron replied. “The knowledge of his size is going to prove quite helpful. We have been focusing heavily on techniques that would exploit the height differential in our favor as well as getting several guys of similar stature to get Robby as comfortable with the height as possible.”
“So bottom line it for me. The fight is less than twenty-four hours away. Do we have a chance in hell?” Pat asked. “I have been considering hedging my bet and betting all of my personal fortune on the other guy so I can be as well off as I can.”
“As you know, in any combat situation, there are no guarantees, but I would say that we have more than a good chance. In fact I think this will be one of the biggest upsets in the Inop combat history. If I were you, I would think about betting on Robby instead. When he wins, you not only gain another company, you could probably more than quadruple your money.”
“That’s a fair point, but I’m not so sure I share your confidence,” Pat said.
“Fine, how about we show you,” Ron replied as he signaled for one of the big guys in the corner to come over.
As the guy walked over, pat couldn’t believe how huge he was. If this was the size of the Soritic fighter, Pat didn’t see anyway Robby could overcome him. Pat himself was a fairly imposing man, but this giant made him feel like a child. The man put on several pieces of protective garments, which Pat assumed allowed Robby to use killing blows, without actually killing him. Robby and the other fighter faced each other and got in fighting stances.
“As you know, the fights are generally hand to hand but each fighter is allowed to bring a non-projectile weapon, with sharp blades not to exceed five inches and blunt objects not to exceed twenty pounds. We have decided to send him in with we are calling the Giant killer. It is a five inch blade attached to a spring loaded retractor on his wrist. When he grabs something and uses over a certain amount of force, the blade springs out, hopefully stabbing a part of the opponent. Here we will show you the move that we actually designed the blade for. Gentleman, proceed when you’re ready,” Ron said.
Pat watched as the two men began circling each other while maintaining eye contact. Each of them was waiting for the other to make a move. Suddenly the large man swung the very large club he was holding with amazing speed. Just as Pat was sure the club was going to smash his only hope in the face, Robby performed an amazing feat as he ducked under the swinging club, grabbing the man’s dipping shoulder, then with the swiftness and agility of a cat, Robby swung his body unto the man’s shoulders wrapping himself around the giant’s neck and in the blink of an eye reached around and grabbed the man’s throat. This caused the blade to spring into the man’s neck. Pat assumed this would have cut the carotid artery and killed the man, had it not been for the huge padding the man had put on before the fight. Pat had seen alot of fights, both Inop and Schola sanctioned, in his life, but he couldn’t remember ever seeing someone move with such speed and fluidity. He had seen all he needed to, there was no doubt that betting his personal fortune on Robby was not only the smart move, it was going to fund his retirement.
“What do you think?” Ron asked.
“The word Impressive doesn’t quite do it justice. What if their fighter doesn’t use a club?” Pat asked.
“We have actually perfected this move for all potential scenarios, club, no club, left hand, right hand. While Robby has amassed some nice skills, it will be incredibly hard to overcome the strength difference. This is going to be our go to move and I am sure he will win with it,” Ron said.
Robby couldn’t remember ever being as nervous as when he arrived at the stadium. He wasn’t surprised of course, since he had never been an hour away from fighting another man to the death. He was confident in his training, and had to admit that he really enjoyed the training and the physical exertion for nearly sixteen hours a day. It helped incredibly with his anxiety and helped keep his mind from not only his impending fight, but also the fact that he was adopted and his parents had hidden this from him his entire life. Now as he sat in the locker room, after being inspected by the GTB to make sure he wasn’t hiding any weapons to take into the arena, he couldn’t think of anything else. He knew his father and late mother had loved him as their own but he couldn’t wrap his head around hiding the fact he was adopted let alone being an Inop from him. He understood the idea of keeping it a secret from outsiders since Inop prejudice is a very real thing, but why wouldn’t they let him know. He had barely spoken to his father that day and was now having second thoughts about his anger, and not having his father added to the visitors list. If he were to die in this fight, the last thing he said to his father was that he didn’t want him to be in the locker room, he could see that it devastated him, and at the time he didn’t care. Now he wanted nothing more than to see his father and to forgive him.
Pat watched nervously as the two combatants entered the arena. He had been nervous all day but with the help of Ron, he had pumped himself up to the point where he truly believed that Robby was going to win. Robby and his opponent stood twenty-five feet apart, waiting for the starting bell. Pat knew that the opponent was going to be big, but he was blown away at the man’s size. As soon as he had walked out the betting swung even more in Socratic favor. Pat had counted on this and placed his bets on Robby when the odds reached twenty-five to one, meaning that with Robby’s win he would gain twenty-five dollars for every dollar he wagered.
The opening Bell rang and Ron watched with anticipation as Robby and his opponent walked toward one another. Socratic’s fighter was going to be the aggressor, just like they had hoped, Ron could tell. Where Robby was walking slowly towards his opponent, his opponent was walking quite briskly with a serious sense of purpose. Despite the opponent carrying a small knife instead of the club Ron had assumed, this was going exactly as Ron predicted. He knew it was only seconds away. The two fighters were now within striking distance and began circling, each waiting for the other to make a move. Just as they had planned, the opponent swung a big looping right hand which Robby easily dodged. All the hours of training were paying off as Robby grabbed his arm, swinging around to land on his shoulders. In one smooth motion as Robby landed on his shoulders, he swung around and reached for his opponent’s neck who at that exact moment reached his knife holding left hand up towards his shoulder stabbing Robby in the eye. Robby fell to the ground dead.