Twenty-Five Days Of Christmas: A Christmas Tale, Chapter Fourteen

The irony was not lost on me. Threadwell had been considered a great man at one time. Now, he was just another has-been. It was sad to see how used up he was. I shook my head.

I looked at him. “No need to be insolent or petulant, Browning. I know they stripped you of your power and rank. Hell. Look at you. You are nothing more than just another slave in their holding pens. I am surprised they even kept you alive.”

He bowed his head. “I was the least of their worries. As long as I do what they say, my family stays alive.”

I frowned. “Where are they holding your family?”

His eyes snapped up to meet mine, the fire of hate blazing hot in them. “Industrial complex ‘B’. Outpost factory five.”

I turned slightly to whisper into Tim’s ear. “Direct one of our jumper teams to go to those coordinates. Have them remove all prisoners from that complex.” I looked at Browning. “What town is that attached to?”

He smiled. “Topher Ridge. That is where we came from as well, under the leadership of Darnak Heffling.”
I looked at him in shock. I knew Darnak. Hell. I had trained the maniacal killer before he’d went rogue and entered the full service of the corporations. “Damn, Man, I didn’t know.”

Tim nodded and vanished to deliver the coordinates and the full orders. I was still looking at Browning.
He looked away. “Nothing to worry about now. He’s dead. Your man shot him. And that maneuver using those weird aerospace fighters was another surprise. you destroyed our mech line before we even had a chance to use it.”

I smiled. “They did that on their own. I ordered my plasma cannons to blast the hell out of your mechs. We couldn’t afford to allow you to knock out our plasma shield.”

Browning laughed. “Oh, I know. Still, we would have tried.”

I looked at the soldier in charge. “Release him from your custody. I take full responsibility for him now.”

The soldier nodded, then unlocked Browning’s cuffs. “But why?”

I grinned. “Have you ever wanted to get revenge for what they did to you?”

He nodded. “Oh Hell yeah!”

I motioned to him. “And, naturally, you have information that would benefit us as an army. Hell. Do you know how long I have been trying to acquire you and that knowledge?”

Browning shook his head. “No, nor does it matter. If you are going to give me a chance to exact my vengeance, then I am all yours. Just get my family safely out of their clutches, and we will plot the downfall of Delgoro Corporation.”

***

“When I began Delgoro Corporation, it was for the benefit of all.” Browning’s eyes sparkled true as he told the story of his company. “It was not a vehicle for the rich and powerful, as it is now. It was meant as an equalizing force in its community. It was supposed to make the average citizen rich, creating less poverty.

“The concept was simple. Pay all the same salary. And it worked in the beginning. We were the antithesis of what the other corporations had become. We became so good at our mission that the other corporations sent in spies. Saboteurs. People to undermine the work.

“And that is when my downfall began. I let the wrong person into the fold. He seemed honest enough, at first. And he lay dormant for at least ten years. Then, without provocation, he rose up against me. Claimed I was incompetent. And the board backed him.

“They imprisoned my daughters and wife, then told me that I would do as they said or my family would die. I only thanked my lucky stars that my mother and father were already dead. And hoped that my brother and sisters had escaped, with their families, into the night. I only wish that I had been more observant.

“For the last five years, I have been a slave to the very company I created to fight against the very corporate slavery it now embodies. For five years, I have not been allowed to see my family. For five years, I have not known if they are really still alive or if the corporation has executed them.”

At that very instant, our jumper teams returned, cutting his speech short. There was a sound of rushing feet, and a voice pierced the silence. “Daddy!!!”

he turned to see his daughters rushing toward him. “Oh my God! Marissa! Louisa! Arlene! I can’t believe it!” He took them in his arms as they reached him. There were tears in his eyes as he gazed up to see his wife running to his side as well. “Oh God! Danny, I owe you more than I can ever repay.”

I stood, smiling at the good I had been able to accomplish. I looked to where the jumpers were and saw that they had also been able to rescue his brothers and their families as well as his sister and her family. “I see that it is going to be one hell of a family reunion for you, Browning. They are all here.”

He turned to see his extended family walking toward him. “I will never forget this, Dan. You have just made my life worth living again.”

I grinned mischievously. “Let’s take your business back. How many of your fellow workers will follow you?”

He smiled sadly. “All would gladly sacrifice themselves for me. Even the corporate soldiers. But we are still outnumbered ten to one.”

I shook my head in confusion. “But Topher Ridge is not the closest outpost. Ballantyne is. Why were you sent to Ballantine?”

He looked down. “Because Darnak had allied the company to Drobzetti and Sons in Ballantyne. He had an obligation to fulfill. You see, he was the one who took away my company. He had been Drobzetti’s plant. In truth, Drobzetti took over my company with Darnak’s help.”

I Looked at him. “Then if we take out Drobzetti, you regain your company?”

He shook his head. “No. We will have to remove the board as well.”

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