All My Clones—Episode 16: The 80 Million Dollar Man
If you missed previous episodes of the biotech-themed soap opera "All My Clones," click here to read the beginning of the story.
Rupert gazed across the L.A. Basin from his Silverlake apartment balcony and worried about the upcoming clinical trials of the carbon nanotube project. What about those reports connecting nanotubes to cancer? Should Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals not use them as the structure for its replacement bladder? Nonsense, it's all a hysterical case of oncothink, he thought. The nanotube substructure is perfectly safe. Nobody died during Phase II, Dr. Portaupoht had assured him. But as CEO, Rupert would take the fall. Nanotubes were shown to increase bone density, which can't be all bad. But who wants a bony bladder?
He sighed, missing Vivian. A budding romance, how could he have known she was his long-lost daughter? He would give Sega Toys a call and see if they made a life-sized version of EMA (Eternal Maiden Actualization) robots yet.
A Surprise Visit from the Board Chair
He turned his cell phone on for the first time in several minutes and it rang immediately. The hummingbirds in the wisteria heard him exclaim, "Betty! What a surprise!" His board chair Betty Lidalot demanded to know what he was up to. He quickly said, "Writing up my notes regarding my assessment of VarpaWare."
She hissed, "With your bare feet propped up on a third floor balcony in some seedy neighborhood?"
He jumped to his feet and saw Betty below looking up at him. Beside her was her new Lamborghini Murcilago LP640 Roadster emblazoned with Versace's signature motif. It was bad form to be tracked down by one's board chair to your allegedly secret trysting site. Still, the golden California sunshine caught her Ritani Bella Vita diamond necklace perfectly.
When she had joined him on the balcony, he poured Betty a glass of Chteau d'Yquem 1990. "Not a wine to keep long according to Pierre Lurton himself, so let us drink."
After she sipped daintily, Betty said, "Yes, it's a really good cooking wine. According to Pierre Lurton himself." She showed Rupert a photo of him entering the apartment building with the address clearly on the doorframe — and Vivian in tow. "Where did you get that?" he gasped.
Her Boysenberry buzzed and she picked up in annoyance. Suddenly her demeanor changed as she cooed, "Why, yes. Sorry it won't be opening night, but dear, it IS Howard Shore's first opera. Oh, he is such a more mature musician. No more All-Nurse Band or that silly Canadian rock band. The Fly will be a serious work of art. Yes. I'll be there."
The rest was drowned out by a helicopter that buzzed close to the balcony before scooting off. "Who are they chasing now?" Rupert wondered.
"Probably you, the Cad Supreme," Betty growled. "I don't care about your private life or who she is. But someone has photos and they can't be up to any good. It could be Frida." She outlined being stood up twice yesterday by their star fundraiser and mentioned that Frida claimed to be ordained in some church. Silence.
DNA Activation and a Disappearance
The silence was broken when Betty snorted, "Where did you get the hideous suit?" Rupert looked down at it and said "This is one of my Jhane Barnes suits. What's wrong?"
Betty eyed him carefully and said, "Just look at that inferior sleeve with a meager collar. What were you thinking? Next time spring for the Corneliani."
Rupert stuttered, "Her name is Vivian, a software developer at VarpaWare. She says it's all fake. They have no computational technology beyond an Excel spreadsheet macro."
Betty sighed patiently and said, "We know that already. As soon as VarpaWare was connected with the Lazy DNA people, we dropped them."
"Lazy DNA?" Rupert asked in a daze.
"Now we have several offers to activate our DNA," Betty explained. "Yes, there's Activate Your DNA, DNA Perfection, and DNA Ascension to name a few. One claims there are actually 12 strands of DNA, not just two. Another claims there are 24. And a spiritual advisor will help you activate the extra strands. One will do this 'activation' by playing 'soundscape' music at you. I'm not kidding."
"And VarpaWare is involved in this?" His Palmistry cTrioPO buzzed. Joy! The incoming message was from Vivian. Rupert's heart leapt as he thought, She's staying in touch, there's hope! The message read, "Replaced me already with some old bag? Cad!" Attached was a pic of Rupert and Betty on his balcony. What else could go wrong? That is always a bad question to ask. As if voicing an afterthought Betty casually said, "Your executive VP of research has disappeared. Dr. Datta, was it?"
"Lee King Datta. What do you mean 'disappeared'?" Rupert asked suspiciously.
"He resurfaced as the new CEO of Crockogin. Yehud has ... has brain cancer and ..." Betty broke down into sobs. Three of them. She then straightened up and announced, "This will not do."
Datta Leaking Data
The next day, BioWorld Today reported that Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals filed a complaint in the Supreme Court of the state of New York against Dr. Lee King Datta, its former executive vice president for research and development. It was seeking $80 million in damages. Among the allegations were that Dr. Datta breached his employment agreement by failing to reveal he was negotiating employment with Crockogin while representing Cappuccino in negotiations on an agreement between the companies, and that Dr. Datta was leaking data from Cappuccino's files.
Back at the office, Rupert looked up from the article and grinned at Betty. Then again, with that Shuar guy out of the way, should Rupert ask Betty — His cTrioPO buzzed with an incoming message. From Frida. He read, "Frida ordained, being persecuted. STOP."
Stay tuned for future episodes to find out:
- Will Frida's persecution impinge on her ability to raise funds for Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals?
- If Yehud Shuar's brain cancer has knocked him out of Crockogin, does this leave the field to Rupert to do something he'll regret later? Or has Betty already found another opera-loving rival for Rupert to worry about?
- A helicopter closely followed by a photo. Coincidence?
- Is Dr. Datta really worth $80 million? Should he put that on his rsum?
Tune in next month for more "All My Clones"!(Have a great story that really does belong in a soap opera? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. All entries will be treated with full confidentiality, though we reserve the right to laugh hysterically over them in the newsroom.)
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