The Inheritance

Jeremy Jensen, a retired Marine who has served several Martian and Lunar tours, gets a message delivered by an android; his Corps mate Harry Fleck is dying, and his will states that Jeremy, or Jerry, is the sole heir to his fortune and assets.

Jerry doesn’t like it a bit but accepts the invitation to go see Harry on Mars, where his suspicion becomes reality; he is to find Harry’s son in the Gliese Planet Group …

1

“Good morning sir, please allow me to introdu…”

“Go away.”

The intercom screen went black. Why do they do that? Why send droids cold selling stuff no one wants to buy? On a Sunday morning no less…

Part from that, who on Earth is going to answer the door on a lazy Sunday morning; every self-respecting lazy ass answers the inter from their bedside. OK, admitted, unless you’re daft enough not to have one installed at the bedside.

I turned over and got the most lovely view ever; she was laying facing me, the sheets halfway down her torso, providing me full view of her chest.

Just as I reached out to embrace her left breast, she turned on her back.

“Who was that…?”

Shit… I was just getting in the mood for some shenanigans.

“Some sales droid.”

I put a hand on her stomach, slowly sliding the sheet further down. She responded with lazily sliding her arms above her head, exhibiting her breasts in full and uttered a faint sigh: “Nice…”

“Ding…!”

Shit! Not now… please?

“…’llo…?”

“Good morning sir, please all…”

“Didn’t I tell you to go away, less than a minute ago? Fuck off, and don’t come back!”

Janene swung her legs outside the bed and sat up: “Got to get up, I’m seeing Mum today…”

Great… that’s my chance on a morning hump out the window…

“Ding…!”

“For fuck sake, droid…! Which part of ‘fuck off’ wasn’t explicit enough for ya?”

“Mr Jensen, I urge you to listen to…”

“Like fuck am I listening, nor do you urge me to listen to your ‘look how great our product is’ crap! Hang on… How do you know my name?”

“I don’t sell, Mr Jensen. Please allow me to explain.”

“This better be good, tinman! You just blew my chance on a morning shag, so saying that I’m not happy is the friendliest way of saying you’ve ruined my fukken day…”

“JJ, are you still talking to that droid? Come on baby, I need a lift to Mum in half an hour…”

“Thought you guys were meeting up in the Centre? I’ll be right down. Tinster, you’d better talk fast, you heard the missus… come in.”

I slipped into some threads and made my way down. The droid was waiting in the airlock to be let in. Although most droids nowadays look more human than most of the people I know, they’re still referred to as tinmen, dating back to when the first human resembling robots were developed. Resembling is maybe too big a word; they slightly looked like humans, made of Titanium and Marsite. Soon after the larger robot producing companies started developing and producing the same robots, with a latex, or latex-like ‘skin’. The smaller companies followed their big opponent’s development progress closely, and copied them, in a bid to increase their sales.

“Start talking tin…”

“Mr Jensen, allow me to scan…”

“Oh fuck, just get on with it… she’ll kill me if I’m not ready to take her…”

His right eye widened and a line of laser light crossed my eyes: “Please state your full name.”

“Oh fuck… Jeremy Jensen… what you see is what you get. Now come on, get your skates on Andy…”

For some reason droids don’t seem to like to be called ‘Andy’; it’s like calling African Americans ‘black’ or white folk ‘honkie’.

“Birth date, please, sir…”

“F… Oh two oh nine twenty one sixty… Second of September sixty. That makes me a Virgo. Not that I’m a virgin, ask the missus, we have some good romps, I’d say about three times a week, at least. Most times more…”

“I am not interested in your love life, Mr Jensen.”

“So what are you here for?”

“Babe, have you seen my purse? Can’t remember where I left it…”

“Check the bed side, honey. Think you took it up to bed last night. I’m sure it was the last thing I saw before you blew me brains out…”

A giggle came from the bedroom: “If your brain is milky white, then that’s what was blown out, baby … Got it! You’re a star, babes…!”

If a droid could look annoyed, this one was. Part from the muffled mechanical sounds you hear when a droid moves, he looked awfully human.

“02-09-’60. That would make you ninety six years of age. Is that correct?”

“What is this… cross examination? Yes, that’s correct. I was regenerated to 36, that was twelve years ago… can we get down to the real issue here please?”

“Thank you, Mr Jensen. I apologise for impersonating a salesman earlier; there were too many androids soliciting in the block. I have a message addressed to you, from Harry Fleck…”

“Flag…! The Flagster! Why didn’t you say so in the first place, tinster? Wait a minute… if it’s from Flag, then why all the hush-hush stuff?”

“Do you confirm knowing the person, Mr Jensen?”

“Oh come on, man! I’ve done three tours with him, two on Mars and one on Luna. Shit, we even went to the Training together. Now, care to tell me what’s so secret about knowing Flag? Please…?”

“JJ, I’m ready baby… can you socialise some other time please? Mum’s not gonna like it if you drop me off too late… you know what she’s like…”

Janene stood halfway the stairs, dressed in tight fitting jeans and a dinky little top showing off her assets; she may be a pain in the ass sometimes but man, has she got a body! And an appetite for sex, normally too healthy for an old fogey like me. After all, she just actually turned thirty recently, whereas I’m regenerated, or, as I put it, recycled to be aged thirty six, in fact I’m ninety six. I could just manage peeling her threads off and… OK, OK, it’ll have to wait…

“Listen, Andy, can we get back to whatever it is you have to tell me? Duty’s calling, you see…”

“I shall be back in sixty minutes, Mr Jensen. You should be back then as the travel time to your partner’s mother is fifty five minutes two ways.”

I nodded confirmation: “You’re well informed, got to give you that. I’ll be sure to be back, even better yet, I won’t stop anywhere for a coffee. We can’t have you waiting for me, now can we?”

2

Andy, whose name I still don’t know, didn’t seem the least impressed with my sneer. The humming of his body when he turned on his heels to walk into the air lock, still rings in the back of my mind.

I dropped Her Sexiness off at her Mum’s place and couldn’t get home soon enough to find out what Flag’s message was. I apologised to Mum for not coming in, but was actually sort of glad to have an excuse not having to face hat old hag. Let it be understood that I’m not after her money; I’ve got plenty of it after my three extra-terrestrial tours. You didn’t think I could have financed my recycling on my standard pension, now did you? Contrary, Mum considered me a worthy partner for her little girl because of the figure my card represented, not for who I am. She had a very low opinion of me; to her I was just another sex obsessed, rich fella who got himself regenerated to bed young, innocent girls. Well, Mother dear, your little girl was everything but innocent when we met, or should I say where we met; in a cheesy back alley cat house. She was fleecing me of my money with her astronomically expensive drinks, and yes, I fell for her ‘charms’. I fell in love, and went back there almost every night for a month. That’s when I asked her to come live with me…

“I’ll even pay you. You’ll get to earn the same as here, with the difference that you can keep it all instead of having to pay that pimp eighty percent.”

Lucky for me, Janene accepted… That’s almost eleven years ago, now, and soon after she moved in, and the pimp had finally let go of ‘his property’, she refused to take any money from me. By the way, we’re still madly in love and behave like newlyweds.

What did you expect from me? It was the first time after my regeneration I could actually go out and look at girls and actually have feelings in my crotch.

My re-gen period consisted of quite some enhancements; my spine and my right arm were reconstructed and since I had to be there anyway for the reconstructions, I had my face and other vital organs revitalised to the age of 36. The Corps picked up the bill of the reconstructions, and I paid for the revitalising of my organs and face. It meant finally getting out of that wheel chair the Corps had put me in. I don’t hold a grudge, but that is what happened; they sent us on a recon assignment on Mars with a glider that wasn’t checked. Three of my best buddies died. I was the only one alive, be it barely…

Anyway, I wonder what Flag’s message is, if it’s important enough to be woken up on a Sunday morning. As Andy had said, he returned just as I swiped my card over the door.

“Timely, Andy… Come in.”

“Thank you, Mr Jensen.”

I waved at the lounge as I walked into the kitchen: “Sit down… drink? No, sorry, ignore my stupidity. Force of habit.”

“I understand, Mr Jensen…”

“Please, Jerry, or JJ.”

“Oh, OK, sir.”

“That’ll have to do, I guess… So what is so important you have to relay it to me on a Sunday morning?”

“Mr Fleck has a personal request to you. He retired from active duty, not long after you crashed on Mars, and took up a job with several geological expeditions. The last expedition he went on was on Mars, this is the one where Marsite was discovered. Since he signed on for that mission as a partner, rather than a simple scout, he shared in the profits of the first Marsite mines; there were three.”

I sat down with my first coffee of the day; I really missed my early morning cup. “I know all this, Andy, why don’t you just tell me what he has to say?”

“All in good time, sir. His partnership in the mines meant he didn’t have to go on expeditions anymore; he settled on Mars after having gone through a regeneration programme, not unlike yours. His hips and back were reinforced, and he had several organs and his face revived.”

“Still nothing new here, Andy. Get to the point already…”

“It appears his regenerations have gone wrong somewhere; they are irreversibly deteriorating. Mr Fleck is dying.”

“You’re pulling my leg, yeah? Re-gens have never gone wrong. I’ve never heard of re-gens deteriorating…”

“Research has shown that Marsite in its raw form can influence regenerations negatively due to the build-up of the material; he has repeatedly been in contact with it.”

“I appreciate what you’re saying, Andy, but why didn’t he just call me? Or send a V-message? With all respect, why would he want to send a droid to pass on the message? It just doesn’t make sense to me… And another thing; How long has he known this?”

“Mr Fleck has been arranging several issues over the last ten years; his funeral, his last will and testament and many other things.”

“Are you telling me he’s known this for ten years and never told me?”

“That is correct, yes.”

All the time we had been talking, Andy never moved a muscle and yet he looked so human…

“OK, so where do you fit into this story?”

“I’ve been Mr Fleck’s assistant for the last four years and have as such been very closely involved in Mr Fleck’s efforts to get everything arranged, contracts made up and legally binding once signed. My initial profession is legal, you see. In that aspect, I am also the witness for signature, as Mr Fleck can’t attend himself, as he is unable to travel, and even sitting up is too tiring for him.”

“That’s all very nice but I fail to see what all this has to do with me…”

“Mr Jensen, you are the sole heir of Mr Fleck’s estate. You are inheriting all of Mr Fleck’s real estate, and half of his fortune. The other half will be divided among several charities.”

Wham! I felt like I was falling down an elevator shaft, somewhere in the region of four hundred floors down.

“Why me…? Surely he has relatives that are worse off than me. I mean, I’m not filthy rich but I don’t have to count pennies to pay bills…”

For the first time, the android shook his head: “His relatives, the few he had, died during the virus outbreak on a shuttle flight to Mars, nine years ago. Ironically, they were on their way to visit Mr Fleck, to discuss his legacy.”

“Shit… that is new to me… So what am I looking at?”

“I can’t discuss his legacy, I’m afraid, Mr Jensen. That will have to wait till the reading of the will.”

“Hang on! He’s not dead yet, is he? What are we talking about! We can’t just discuss this as if he were dead! I don’t get it… Did Flag send you to inform me of all this, or is there an ulterior motive?”

“I assure you that there are no hidden reasons, sir. Mr Fleck did speak his hope that you would visit him before he passes on.”

“Yeah, of course I’ll go and see him! He’s the brother I never had and always wanted… we used to take turns saving each other’s asses, either on Luna, or Mars…”

“I’ll arrange the flight for tonight, Mr Jensen.”

“Wait a minute… I need to get other things arranged, my friend. I can’t just up sticks and leave; I’ll have to let Janene know, get some funding on my card, and more of that… There’s…”

“No need, Mr Jensen. I was requested by Mr Fleck to have a card ready for you; will five hundred thousand credits do?”

I gasped for air. Five hundred big ones… enough? That’ll feed the whole damned apartment block for three months! “Five hun…dred…thousand?  Hey, I’m a big spender, but not that big…! How…”

“Compliments of Mr Fleck. He said you would react like this. He also said you shouldn’t worry about it. His exact words: ‘There’s more where this came from’. I did advise him that it was a poor choice of words but he was adamant I should use his words.”

“Oh, that’s his choice of words alright… I still don’t know your name… I feel ashamed now for being so rude…”

“Mr Fleck told me about your nick name for Androids, that there was an eighty percent chance you would call me Andy. He was wrong; it is ninety nine and something percent. You can call me Andy. As a matter of fact, I think I suit the name.”

My laughter echoed through the apartment: “OK then, Andy it is, or, already was… but what was Flag’s name for you?”

“My earlier name is irrelevant; I am now your secretary.”

“Wait one minute, Andy… You’re still Flag’s assistant, or secretary, whatever… He ain’t gone yet, remember?”

“Mr Fleck told me this too; he insists that you accept me as your secretary. His business has all been taken care of, and you will need a secretary for things to come.”

“Things to come? Such as?”

“Sorry, Mr Jensen, I can’t discuss that kind of matter… yet.”

“Oh, OK… So when…”

“I am sure Mr Fleck will discuss most of the matter with you. Please feel free to invite Ms Janene on the trip, too. I’ll arrange the flight for tonight.”

“If you insist. But there are no nocturnal flights from Cardiff…?”

“We’ll be travelling with Mr Fleck’s personal glider…”

“Personal… glider… OK…”

Things were getting more fuzzy than clear; I learned facts from an old mate, shit, he’s virtually the brother I never had yet we were, so I thought, quite close. A card valued for five hundred K, his personal glider… I mean, I know he has several houses, on Earth and Mars, and I estimate him to be good for a couple of tens of millions, but his own glider! The upkeep alone is well over a million a year, not even mentioning getting one of them…

“Sorry… I need to let this all sink in… and I need to contact Janene…”

I put my earplug in and dialled the Worthington estate.

3

“Good morning, Worthington Estate, you are through to Becky, how may I be of service?”

“Hey Becks, it’s Jensen.”

“Oh, Hi, Jerry…”

“Can you put me through to Mrs Worthington please?”

“Yes, sure, one second…”

“Hello, Jeremy, you’re lucky we haven’t left for the Centre yet.”

Lucky indeed…it’s why I called the estate instead of calling Janene direct; once they’d have left, I wouldn’t have been able to get in contact. Mrs Elisabeth Worthington doesn’t condone the presence of any mobile gadgets on her shopping sprees. Although she always drags her tablet everywhere. ‘To keep in touch with developments on the exchange market’, so she claims.

“I know, Mother, it’s why I called the estate… Can I have a word with Janene, please?”

“Just a moment, dear…”

“Hi babes! Miss me already?”

“I miss you the minute you walk out the door, honey… listen, I need to tell you something…”

“Uh ohh… sounds serious?”

“It is… Remember Flag, my old Corps mate?”

“Yeah, ‘course I do, silly… go on…”

“Erhm… he’s dying…”

“Aww no… sorry baby… want me to cancel the day trip and come home?”

My brain said yes, still wanting to deal with this morning’s unfinished… business, but my heart said: “No, you’re OK honey. Go have a little you-time with your Mum… there’s something else though…”

“You sure babe? Don’t want you to be sad on your own…”

“Nah, it’s OK. Andy’s still here…”

“Andy…who?”

“The droid that woke us up. He’s Flag’s secretary…”

Andy started protesting; I put my hand up to shut him up.

“Listen… Flag’s asked me to come and visit. You’re welcome to come, but I’d rather you make the choice yourself; will you go to Mars with me?”

“Of course I’ll come, babes, no doubt about that! We’ll discuss things when I get home tonight, OK?”

“Not really… the flight leaves tonight… I can grab you some things and we’ll just have to get you some new outfits when we get there. You don’t have to cut the day short, stay out as long as you want. I’ll pick you up and we’ll be on our way to Cardiff from there…”

“That’s very short notice, babe… but it seems you’ve got it all worked out… ooohh… just thought of something…”

“What…?”

“I’ll tell you later…”

“Go on, you’ve got me curious now…”

Whenever Janene has one of those, so typical for her, eureka moments, nine out of ten, it involves something saucy. She came closer to the screen and secretively looked around:  “I’ve always imagined us shagging in zero gravity… I think it’ll be magical…”

I snickered and whispered: “you horny little minx…!”

“Just for you, big boy… just for you…”

“Go on, make the most of the day. I’ll let you know later what time we’ll be thinking of setting off…”

We’ll be thinking? Sorry, I don’t get it…”

“It’s a chartered glider, I’ll explain later… go on, go shopping… we might be away for something like…”

I looked at Andy; he seemed to be counting in his head: “Two months at least, sir.”

“Two months, think your Mum won’t be very thrilled with you swanning off for that long…”

“It’s an emergency, babes, she’ll understand… See ya later, kiss kiss! Oh, JJ… I’ll send you a list of things I really want to take, is that OK?”

“Go on then. I’ll see what I can find in there… take your tablet with ya, so I can reach you guys…”

“You’re a star, baby… Will do…Love you, kiss kiss!”

“You too, sweets…” The screen went black.

I turned my attention back to Andy: “Right, how’s this all gonna work? I mean, do I need to do anything?”

“No sir, everything has been arranged. All you need to do, as Ms Janene suggested, is start packing. A transport shuttle will pick up your luggage between six and seven tonight; after that you needn’t worry about it anymore. Ms Janene and you will need to be in Cardiff by ten tonight, at the latest. Lift off is at eleven.”

I was glad to have a bit of notice and not being shot off into space too early. “At least that’ll give me the opportunity to have a last proper steak  in the Centre. Guess that old hag’s very likely there too, wanting to say her goodbyes to her li’l girl and all that…”

“Beg your pardon, sir?”

“Oh… nothing Andy, I was just thinking out loud…”

“I see. Will you be needing my services before we set off, sir?”

“Erhm… no… don’t think so…”

Andy went into his inside pocket and pulled the latest model, state of the art mobile out and held it towards me: “If you need me, for anything. My number is stored under hash one, or voice code Andy.”

“Wow… I thought I was a gadget buff… nice touch, Andy… Did you store…”

“Mr Fleck did, sir. His voice is quite similar to yours.”

“I know. It’s the reason why our mates always took the Michael with us…”

“Take the Michael, sir?”

“…Were joking about us… Take the Mickey or Michael…”

“It is stored, sir…”

It was my time to have a clueless look; Andy rephrased: “I will remember for next time you use the expression, sir.”

Even though we’re in the middle of the advanced Android era, I never felt the need to get one, after all, I can do everything myself, so why have someone or something else do it for you…  So yes, I had a bit of catching up to do in droid lingo and behaviour. But I’ll get there… Wait till that little minx finds out about Andy being my secretary; she was used to droid servants at home. Saying that, she’d more or less fled home at the time we met. At first, she didn’t want her Mum even knowing where she lived, and forbid me to contact her. After a year, for her twenty first birthday, I called her mother and went to visit her.

Janene was livid with me when her mother walked in: “You have not got the right to go behind my back, mister! Not you, not anyone…!”

Elisabeth sobbed for well over an hour that evening, glad as she was to see her daughter. I managed to keep the two together in the same room.

“Listen, sweets, at least you have a mother to fall back; I’ve never even known mine, if there even is one. Cherish it. Move on. You’re both adults, so deal with your issues as adults. Just don’t ever turn your back on your parents.”

As it stands, Janene doesn’t know her father, which I think isn’t really fair on her, and it could well be the reason for what’d happened between those two. I’ve never known what the actual cause was for Janene to leave everything behind and turn into what she was when I found her, and I don’t know if I ever will. Janene will tell me, whenever she’s ready to.

And look at her now, out shopping with her Mum as if nothing ever happened. And I ain’t the one who’s going to disturb that relationship. Until now, that is…

“Sir…?”

“Wha…oh, sorry, my mind drifted off for a moment…”

“How many trunks would you say you need for your luggage?”

“Let me see… how big are they?”

“Mr Fleck bought ten from the Domains, sir, they’re standard Corps regulations size, two by two by six feet.”

“Well… two for the missus… one should do me just fine, so three… No, make that four, just to be on the safe side. You never know what women want to take with them, do you?”

“I don’t sir, but I trust you do…”

I pulled sort of a sheepish face: “Yeah… sorry.”

I wandered into the bedroom, looking at the bed. “That would’ve been one heck of a shag… It’ll have to wait, I guess…”

“The trunks will be delivered within the hour, sir. If…”

“Can you drop the formality please, Andy? I’m just Jerry, JJ or as you’d probably say it, Jeremy. No more sir please…”

“I am not programmed to befriend people, sir, I apologise.”

“Are there upgrades available for your type of droids?”

“I can query, sir, of course, but…”

“Consider it your first official assignment; purchase an upgrade that contains befriendment.”

“Sir, I don’t think…”

I stuck my hand in the air: “Assignment…”

“Very well, sir. I will look into the matter.”

“Thank you… I’ve got some packing to do, I believe…”

I’ve got about six hours to pack before they come to collect our stuff. Then I’ll have to hurry my ass to the Centre, pick up Janene, wherever she may be, have a ‘last supper’ with her and Mum and then hurry our asses to Cardiff. That all before eleven… Would she want PJ’s? Nahh… don’t think so…

Andy left me with the message he had some errands to run for Flag.

4

The trunks were delivered just as Andy had said; I rolled the first one into the bedroom and had a look around, just to see if I could already start packing Janene’s stuff, the more I looked into the walk-in, and her shoe drawers, the less I could determine which or what to take. “I’ll have to wait for her message, I guess…”

I should have said that sooner; the minute I spoke the last word, her message came through. I didn’t waste a minute, and by the time I’d done getting Janene’s stuff together, almost four hours had sneakily passed, two trunks were full to the roof and there were still two substantial piles left… Right, my stuff…

Whilst seemingly automatically getting my own stuff out and filling trunk number three, I thought back about the day… OK, so I’m the sole heir to his real estate, but surely there must be someone more significant to him… And what about Andy? He’s been at his side for the best part of five years or so… Wouldn’t he be honoured for his services in any which way? Half of his fortune goes to charity… I can’t help but wonder what kind of figures we’re talking about… Is he going to send me off with a couple of grand in my pocket? Can’t be; he knows I’m not shy of a bob or two, myself…

I pushed my ear piece in and dialled Janene’s number. Not a clue why it’s still called ‘dialling’, all I do is hit a button, that reads ‘Janene’, on my tablet…

“Hi babe… you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’ve got everything from your list, and then some… can’t have enough with ya, eh?”

“Aww, you’re an angel… I’ll have to give you a treat tonight…”

Her horny eyes made me melt; a warm feeling travelled from my throat down to my groin.

“Listen, we’ve got time for a meal in the Centre with Mum, if she wants, of course. Our luggage‘s just collected and flown to Cardiff, so we can fly to Cardiff from the Centre. I don’t want to go back and forth, you see…”

She turned her face away; I could vaguely hear her talking to her Mum. “Mom says she needs to arrange some things but she’ll join us gladly… Where did you think to go?”

“How ‘bout that little Argentinian restaurant we found last month? They do a mean steak… just what the doctor orders…”

“Oh, the… can’t remember the name, but I know how to get there…yeah, OK, sounds like a plan, babes…”

“We won’t be able to over-do it though… remember, you’re gonna be slung into space at nine G… that’ll get your supper going…”

“Oh babe…! Don’t spoil it!”

“Just kidding honey… I’ll meet you there in half an hour, is that enough time for you guys to get there?”

“Yeah, no probs… Mum’s already ordered a cab, flight shouldn’t take longer than twenty or so…”

“OK then… see ya in a bit…” I gave her a wink and a hand kiss, just before the screen went black.

“Right… aircon is on low. Vents are running on minimum. Server: idle, stations shut down. Light set to auto, shades auto… don’t think I’ve left anything out… Oh…the forwarding service, let me check… shit… I didn’t enter the new number of the mobile Andy gave me…”

I added the new number in the forwarding service, left the server to go idle again and turned the monitor off.

“Right… See you in a month or two, apartment…”

More to follow

Watch this Space!

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