Ari Gold is not at peace. Never has been, and apparently never will be- not if bullshit like this keeps happening. You can’t get good help: That’s the one thing that’s never changed since the old days.
And they still get out of his way when he walks down the hall- that hasn’t changed either. You would too, if you saw the Ari Gold of 2039 coming at you. The big pistol on his belt, the bulging arm muscles, obvious even under his suit. And then there’s those legs- cosmetic surgery has come a long way in thirty years. It’s hard to even call it cosmetic anymore, when the recipient’s leg looks more like a horse’s, and he can (and has) knocked people stone cold unconscious with one kick to the head.
It’s obvious to Ari what happened. They came up through the tunnels, under the wall. The places his men are supposed to be charting, and mining, if they weren’t so scared, and lazy, and worthless. They’re still scrubbing the blood off the walls and taking the bodies away when Ari gets there. He feels nothing for these men, nothing at all. They were weak, and lazy, and careless. All the evidence he needs to make this judgment is right there in front of him, stiffening by the minute.
In a few minutes Ari finds the storeroom he was looking for, the place where they came in. A quick inspection, and he knows exactly who he’s dealing with. The calling card is handed to him a second later by an underling who literally turns and flees in terror before Ari can say a word to him. The black card, blacker now with dried blood, only confirms what Mr. Gold already knows.
He reads the label anyway: “The Murphy Group.” A little smile curls on the end of his lip. They realize, of course, that this means war.
Meanwhile: Turtle’s slow breathing is the only movement in his cell. There is no light, no sound, no nothing. Right now there is not even Turtle. He throws his entire self into the meditative void with an almost Trappist zeal.
Ari Gold is meditating too. His practice area is a little different: For starters, there’s the gigantic gold-plated Buddha that almost envelops Mr. Gold as he sits cross-legged in front of it on the giant, Opium-den-red pillow. There are Buddhas everywhere, and maybe a few of the more well-known Hindu deities for good measure. As he sits, Ari’s mind is not what a Zen teacher would consider “clear” by any stretch. When he closes his eyes, his anger does not dissipate. No, quite the opposite. With his concern temporarily withdrawn from the waking world, Mr. Gold’s rages are free to careen though the black gulf of his semi-consciousness , like pulsars transmitting through deep space.
But maybe that is a kind of meditation. Beggars can’t be choosers. And maybe, just maybe, on some astral plane, the minds of Ari and Turtle meet. They’ve had thirty years after all, to get to know each other, to get inside each other’s thoughts. Thirty years since that fateful day when Turtle barged into the offices of the Miller/Gold agency and demanded Ari helped him go into business. He’d said “no,” of course, given the kid some big, half-made-up lecture about what it had been like for him starting out, and then sent him on his way with no help whatsoever- just as a matter of principle. That had been the beginning. And now, the beginning of the end.
Ari, lost in memory, is maybe the only thing in his entire fiefdom not moving right now: In the cyborg workshops under the Silver Lake reservoir, in the hangars and barracks of what was once the Paramount lot, from the tops of skyscrapers and half a mile under the Hollywood Hills, Mr Gold’s people are preparing to make war.
But first, dinner. Ari halted his practice mid-breath and stood to the meditation cabana. If he’s going to unleash hell, why not a little taste of heaven first? He walks to the table, where a lavish meal is waiting: The finest veal still gettable anywhere west of the Great Divide, and an eight year old Bordeaux brought up from the deep cellar for the occasion. His face bathed in red-tinted candlelight, Mr. Gold eats.