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Volume 3, Part 2b

After the completion of his meeting, when his guests had departed, George Smith walked to one wall of his office, pressed a perfectly concealed switch, and a section of the wall slid open. He entered the darkened room, and the doorway slid shut behind him. He flipped a light switch, and looked at the man sitting behind a desk on the other side of the room, chin resting on intertwined fingers, elbows propped upon his desk.

"Greetings, Granddad. Or should I say, great, great... was there another great? I was just wondering that while talking to our guests, though of course they didn't know I was talking about you... Anyway, I can never remember-"

The old man's hands fell away from his chin, and his arms came to rest in a folded position on the desk. "Just Granddad, if you please. It takes too long to be all the time reciting all those 'greats.' Besides, it makes me feel old."

"Old? Because of two or three 'greats'? Granddad, you're old enough for practically infinite 'greats.'"

"My boy, I'll thank you not to toss around the word 'infinite' so lightly. Old as I am, there's nothing 'infinite' about me. That would imply a line stretching forever in both directions. And while I may not know if my life...ray... will extend forever into the future, or not, at least I can say that it has a definite beginning. Besides. You are only my great great grandson. It's not like I've been having kids since the dawn of this particular human race's go-around."

"I know, I know," said George with a smile, and finally began walking toward his 'grandfather.' When he reached the desk, he sat down in a chair to face Lucien (for whom Mr. Larik had been named). Staring at his ancestor for a few moments, he said, "It really is like looking in a mirror. Hard to believe I'll soon start looking older than you, old man."

With a dismissive wave of his hand, Lucien sat back in his own chair and said, "Yes, yes. Enough small talk. Did they accept the offer, or not?"

Smiling again, George said, "Honestly, Granddad, I don't know why you don't just listen in. It would be no trouble at all to hook up an intercom in this room..."

"I just like my privacy, and feel you deserve yours, as well. It's no trouble for you to come in here, is it?"

"I suppose not. ...Anyway, yes, they've accepted. Mr. Gernsdotir has already signed his contract, though Mr. Larik must take the matter before his board of directors. He's pushing for it, and chances are it will pass the vote, since it's in the directors' interest, as well."

"Good."

"And now that they've accepted your perfectly reasonable cover story for why you want our companies to join forces, care to let me in on the real reason?"

"But like I said, I want our families to reconnect."

"I know. That's not what I meant. I meant, the sound business reasoning I just explained to them, which you yourself explained to me the other day... Well, like I said, it's quite sound. I'm also pretty sure there's more to it than you let on."

Lucien grinned and said, "Time will tell."

George rolled his eyes. "Well, that certainly sounds promising. What kind of 'time' are we talking about? Mine or yours? I mean, am I ever going to hear the whole story, or are you waiting to explain it to one of my distant descendants?"

"Actually," said Lucien, "I thought I might wait to tell God, rather farther into the future than you guess. Meanwhile, there are a few other companies I'd like to bring into our fold. Non-family, at the moment, so I wanted get these old friends in on the ground floor, first... before making some new family friends. We really need to branch out into all the arts... literature, music, video, etc...."

"So I take it that's a 'no' on my getting the whole story?"

Lucien laughed. "Oh, very well, my boy. Seeing as your body cannot be possessed nor your mind read, I'll let you in on the ultimate plan, though it really won't mean much to you, with the exception of a little laugh, and a lot of money. But please don't tell anyone else, even family. You never know who might be listening, and I'd so hate to have a good joke spoiled...."

part 3
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