Rhys leaned back in his crappy office chair in his cubicle. The gun was beautiful. The man felt a swell of pride as he admired his handiwork on the blueprints splayed across his screen. Oh man, everything flowed perfectly, it would be a fine well-oiled machine. If Henderson approved it.
Rhys slapped a metallic hand over his eyes and groaned. All Henderson would look at was that asshole Vasquez's blueprints. Some of which, Rhys recognized as parts of his own handiwork. That damned weasel of a man. Charming upfront yet a slimy businessman only into it for the money...but weren't they all? Unfortunately, Vasquez was Henderson's second in command making it rather difficult for Rhys to prove Vasquez’s plagiarism. But never mind that.
He gave a final once-over of his plans before standing and smoothing out the wrinkles in his plain black vest. He frowned noticing a coffee stain on the white collared shirt beneath it. He carefully plucked the hard drive from the computer slot and inserted it into the port on his left temple. The cool sensation of a new river of information caused him to shiver as the data was imported directly into his ECHOeye.
As protective measures against the prying eyes of the weasel Vasquez himself, Rhys deleted the information from his computer before spinning on a heel and bee-lining it for Henderson's office.
Rhys didn't want to go on as just an expendable invisible programmer in the shadow of the great Hyperion. Rhys didn't want to die, known to nobody but his only two friends, Yvette and Vaughn. He wanted to be just like his idol. The man himself, Handsome Jack.
Handsome Jack could never die known to nobody. He was THE Handsome Jack. He made it all the way up the corporate ladder and made a name for himself. Hell, the man ruled the most powerful company in the galaxy. Rhys admired his adversity, his determination and his drive. And his work on curing Pandora from the disease of bloodthirsty, cutthroat bandits and psycho scum? Incredible. With his face plastered all over Helios, Rhys couldn't help but feel honored under his gaze.
Handsome Jack's paper gaze staring at him from a poster on the wall, that is.
He had never seen Jack up close and personal. The only time he'd ever been graced enough to set his eyes on the CEO of Hyperion himself was a quick glimpse of him strolling through the courtyard one night. It was that and company wide announcements.
Rhys was also deathly afraid of him. He knew the stories. The rumors. He'd seen the bodies idly floating past the station windows. Handsome Jack was ruthless. He was quick to temper and he had quite the bloated ego. He'd killed his last six personal assistants. Anyone (including the poor blokes delivering statistics to him) unfortunate enough to screw something up or bump into him on the wrong day would not be spared from his homicidal tendencies. Rhys used to believe these were exaggerated rumors. That is, until Henderson (who is a trusted executive) confirmed them upon Rhys's curious inquiry.
In Rhys's mind, the day he met Handsome Jack would also be the day of his death at the hands of his biggest role model.
Rhys knocked on the office door and ushered himself inside at Henderson's words,
"Come in." The office was rather small. Henderson lay sprawled in his chair, feet on his desk. He lazily twirled his mustache with one hand and read from a pamphlet with the other. He swung his feet down with surprising agility for a man nearing fifty, before his hip joint popped loudly. Rhys couldn't stifle a wince.
"Sir, I have the blueprints for the special weapon you asked," Rhys announced. Henderson sat forwards with slight interest.
"I assigned you this project thirty-two hours ago. Do you mean to tell me, you've filled in the precise measurements and mechanics for a fully automated pistol in that time?"
"Yes sir," Rhys replied, pride creeping into the edges of his tone.
Henderson sighed, "Hyperion could use more motivated men like you, Rhys, Jesus Christ. Well, this better be good. Show me."
Henderson's desk doubled as a holographic table. Rhys pressed the tip of a fleshy hand against the cool surface and a menu popped up. A code flashed across his ECHOeye vision which he quickly dialed into the table. Suddenly, blinding blue lights sprang to life unfolding like origami, faster than the blink of an eye. The smooth barrel of a gun appeared in the hologram and Henderson whistled, impressed. He flicked a hand across the surface of the hologram, zooming it in to inspect the triggers and squinting at the tiny labels.
Rhys's stomach fluttered nervously. He couldn't help it. The seconds Henderson spent inspecting his model seemed to slow. Time crawled. What if it wasn't good enough? Vasquez would one-up him yet again. Rhys’s design would be scrapped. He would never become more than a nobody. He would die another unknown employee of Hyperion. This weapons blueprint was his chance at any sort of recognition…
The creases around Henderson's brow deepened as he frowned. Rhys nervously drummed his fingers on his pant leg.
"Is there something wrong...sir?" He asked tentatively.
Henderson flicked a finger along the hologram, his face suddenly lightening.
"None at all."
He looked up from his inspection.
"Rhys this is genius..." Rhys felt a physical lift in his chest, like something had been pulled off his heart.
"Almost as good as Vasquez's work-" the weight on his chest was pulled right back down.
"I've already sent a messenger with his work to Handsome Jack's office. However, your work here is incredible, I think Handsome Jack would like it. I'll send you up there too."
"You mean, you-you approve?"
"Yeah. Go print this out and take it up to the big man's office. I'll let you have the honor of delivering it yourself." Rhys could barely stop the stupid grin from creeping across his face. This was his chance! He made it! Holy shit he made it! His hard work had finally paid off.
The excitement Rhys felt rolled right down to the bottoms of his feet pushing a newfound spring into his step as he thanked Henderson and bounced out of the office. His blueprints couldn't print fast enough for Rhys' s newfound energy. He neatly collected the papers into an envelope while exhaling deeply.
This was his chance. If Handsome Jack approved of his work then Rhys could finally gain the recognition he deserved. After all this time. This was his chance, maybe his only chance. He couldn't screw it up. No, he WOULDN'T screw it up. He was Rhys Strongfork, the best firearm programmer in the department (apart from perhaps Vasquez and a handful of others). He made quick time out of the department sector and down the hallway until he came to the center of Helios.
Rhys worked on the Hyperion station Helios, the core of the company. He looked up at the spiral of floors in a circular pattern above him. He worked on the second floor, Handsome Jack's office was located on the twenty-second.
The hub where Rhys currently stood was full of life and busy people. They rushed about, ties flapping and heels clicking on the white tiled floor. A breathless woman bumped into his shoulder and then yelled "sorry!" Without a second glance back to see who she'd run into.
Rhys clutched his envelope tightly to his chest and hurried to the nearest elevator with increasingly long strides. He was a man of average height and lanky figure. He had slightly raised cheekbones, an averagely long face and a rounded chin. His chestnut hair was slicked back in several layers of gel. The ends stuck out around his neck in a mullet. He was rather handsome, actually. The most defining features were definitely his mechanical arm and his heterochromia. His electric blue left eye, and his Hyperion-yellow right arm were generally the first features to catch the eye.
He stepped into the elevator with several others clad in Hyperion attire. Rhys himself wore a long red tie and a white collared shirt. Black pants and a vest to bring the outfit together. He had a Hyperion badge on his left breast.
Rhys quietly rode the elevator, his mind racing and his foot tapping. The machine stopped to let people off and slowly the number in the elevator dwindled. From four, to three, to two, to Rhys. The elevator dinged and Rhys nearly jumped out of his skin. Whether it was from excitement or the looming threat in the back of his mind that if he fucked this up he would literally be killed, Rhys wasn't sure. Probably a bit of both.
This was his stop. Floor 22. Rhys took a timid stride out of the elevator. His fleshy hand shook and his face quickly heated as the reality of his situation hit him like a truck. This was a matter of life or death, literally. He mopped the beads of sweat off his face with the sleeve of his shirt and forced himself to swallow. He took a deep breath. No turning back now. He squared his shoulders and willed himself to breath. Smoothing out his vest and puffing out his chest he looked down the hallway. At the end was a tall, pleasant green potted plant. Above it was a poster of Handsome Jack's handsome profile with the lettering "Hyperion"
Down the right hand hallway on the left side was a metal sliding door with a gold H emblazoned in the center. Rhys made a steady line for it, forcing himself to breath. He would be fine. His blueprint was flawless. Handsome Jack would accept it.
Rhys paused at the door, his mind freezing up. What was he supposed to do at this stage? Knock? He warily glanced about, nobody was in the hall. Rhys raised a metal hand and prepared to knock, when a disembodied female voice came through hidden speakers.
"Please state your business."
Rhys made eye contact with the surveillance camera stationed above him.
"Mr. Henderson sent me, miss. I'm delivering blueprints to Handsome Jack," he proclaimed. His heart hammered loudly in his chest.
The doors slid open to reveal another sliding door but this one painted gold. Rhys stepped over the threshold and cautiously poked his head in to look around. This couldn't be Jacks office, could it? A plain desk was pushed off to the side. Stationed behind it was a young woman with short curly hair and thinly rimmed glasses. She peered at him from behind her computer. She was very, very pretty.
"H-Hi," Rhys blushed. Why weren't words flowing?
"My name is Rhys," he managed, sticking out a fleshy hand. This must be Handsome Jacks personal assistant. The woman stood, she wore a black vest with a tight, yellow striped pencil skirt. She took his hand.
"I'm Meg, Jack's secretary," she replied with a smile.
"It is very prett-nice to meet you," Rhys stuttered. She sat back down.
"Nice to meet you too," she said brightly before promptly burying herself in her work again. Rhys swallowed tightly, reminded of just what was at stake beyond the next door.
"Er, is he ready to see me?"
Meg glanced at her watch before looking up.
"Yes, he should be ready by now."
Rhys nodded, unconsciously running a hand through his gelled hair. He smoothed and patted it down, making sure no embarrassing licks stuck out the wrong direction.
"Oh and Rhys? A little advice, whatever you do, even if he's unfair or is dissatisfied about your work, do NOT talk back to him," Meg said, a serious glint in her eyes.
“It would be a shame if this was both our first and last meeting,” she continued with a grimace. With one finger, she pushed down a button on the desk and the doors slid open with a satisfying click.