Thirteen

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In the end, it wasn’t any of the things you typically think of that were really “important.” It wasn’t the grandiose gestures designed to put on display a peerless magnanimity. It wasn’t the kind of weighty actions that would have entire chapters dedicated to them in a biography. It wasn’t even the sort of thing that would start off as a simple act and cascade into a waterfall of money flowing into a bank account with an expediency that would put the butterfly effect to shame. It was none of these things. It was mundane. It was boring. And yet it’s what cost him his life.

Even from his earliest years, there were few who could not admit that he was the very definition of success. He was always driven by some unseen, internal fire to keep building and keep pushing forward. Not a single failure ever seemed to stick with him; they were always either washed away or used as the ashes from which an abject victory would rise. When his company opened its first fueling station on an asteroid near the outskirts of the system, it saw barely a fraction of the traffic that frequented the belt. No one was leaving our system, so there was no need to hit the “last gas before heliopause” for anyone but the extremely lost or the extremely foolish.

Of course, that didn’t last very long. After the invention of true faster-than-light engines, that meager outpost at the edge of our universe suddenly became the stepping stone to the rest of creation. FTL drive was a blunt instrument in its early days. A ship would jump most of the extreme distance to another star system, but plan to land a few million kilometers away, to account for the extreme likelihood of a navigational error or simply not having up-to-date information on what might be waiting on the other end. That’s when the conventional engines would take over as the finer tool to maneuver into the system itself, and if you didn’t have enough fuel to get you in and then get you out, that system was likely to become your new permanent address.

His empire only grew from there, extending into almost all aspects of long-distance space travel, whether by being at the forefront of innovation on some new spacefaring must-have, or simply buying up those who were, his name found a home in almost every aspect of any ship. It quickly became the largest Martian-based company to have ever existed, a reign that was cut short only by shortly thereafter becoming the largest the entire Sol System had ever seen.

By all accounts, he was not only a great man, but a good one too. He kept his humble beginnings in mind, not just donating to those in need, but truly sharing his massive wealth with people across the system. He did things for Mars’ people that the government had never been able to, and when that wasn’t enough, he did the same for all the other planets and colonies. He was truly beloved. And that’s why the Martian Senator needed him to die.

Thirty-Four

A change can be hard to detect sometimes.
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Thirty-Three

A failure can be an opportunity in a way.

Thirty-Two

A man is convinced to do something he's not interested in.