The Only One That Matters
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|The Only One That Matters|
|Author||Steven Lockley, Steven Savile|
|Timeline||11 October 3067|
Narrating the story in the first person, the mysterious Askai meets a prospective future client in a diner in Harlech, Outreach, on 11 October 3067. The client is one Mr. Wooden, a person self-described as having an "influential role" in Interstellar Expeditions, and accompanied by a man Askai initially dubs "Ugly" and whose name is later revealed as Hon.
When queried about his ties to his former employer, Askai affirms they are severed "like a bloody stump", but refuses to offer more details. His internal monologue mentions his former mentor-turned-traitor, that his former employer wants him for information he possesses, and that others (implicitly within his former employer's agency) probably want him dead over having those secrets revealed. Also, he seeks to hide the fact that he desperately needs this new job to "rebuild his life."
Just as Askai and Wooden are ready to seal a deal, three gunmen storm the diner and start shooting. Askai realizes that they aren't hitting anyone though, and divines that they are looking for him and are trying to provoke him into reacting, apparently wanting to capture him alive. He feels the attack has "Word of Blake" written all over it. After taking cover on instinct and protecting Wooden he manages to shoot all three attackers in a brief firefight, but is himself wounded in the process.
Within a few seconds afterwards, he and Wooden determine that the only other person who knew that they were meeting here today was Hon - who indeed produces a gun and tries to shoot Askai, but is himself shot dead in the nick of time by Wooden.
Having saved each other's life, Askai and Wooden agree to start the negotiations over at another place.
- The story's title refers to an exchange between Askai and Wooden where the latter asks if Askai is a first or last name. Askai does not answer and also refuses to be called "Mister Askai", stating that the name Askai is "the only one that matters".
- Wooden's first name is not given, but Askai mentions how he had obtained Wooden's profile and picture from public sources in preparation for the meeting, indicating Wooden to be a high-profile person within Interstellar Expeditions. Context strongly suggests he is Interstellar Explorations CEO Dr. Reiner Wooden.
- Total Chaos, pp. 4 - 7