Family Business

Finally, he’d caught the sonofabitch. Ramon Martens paced across the natural hardwood floor of his chief counsel’s outer office, making a clacking noise with the soles of his shoes that sounded like the hammers of a roofing crew before sunrise on a Saturday morning. He chewed his lower lip as he paced, somewhat uncharacteristically, and he tasted just a hint of blood. It was time to unmask this bastard.

Ramon was the worst kind of billionaire: a self-made one. It tended to pull the mind down a particular path that led to paranoia, narcissism, neuroticism, and arrogance. These traits formed an unlikely balance that allowed them to persist, always in competition, but always reinforcing each other. Ramon was an extreme case, not just because of his extraordinary wealth—extraordinary even among his billionaire peers—but also because of the philanthropic leaning of his enterprise.

Tower Farma had, in practice, a monopoly over food production through its network of farmscrapers. As the last of the traditional farmers moved into the cities and returned their land to its natural state, Ramon’s Tower Farma corporation built a hundred-story farmscraper in every metropolitan area in the hemisphere. The self-sufficient hyper-efficient towers were carbon negative, completely organic, and produced enough crops, livestock, and aquaproducts to feed millions using only a city block of natural acreage.

And someone was suddenly trying to compete in a big way.

Someone—he would soon find out who—had quietly purchased all the land south of his own farms towers, and now intended to build competing structures. These structures would effectively block his access to natural sunlight. He’d be ruined.

They were calling themselves Green Sky Inc. No individual would have the capital for this; it must be a nation state. Probably China, but working through shell companies with puppet executives as to not draw regulator attention.

Ramon’s chief counsel entered then, and Ramon didn’t wait to be greeted. “Tell me who it is, Kevin. Out with it right now. Who owns Green Sky? Is it the Russians?”

Mr. Kevin Sutton folded his arms, creasing the elbows of his expensive jacket, and his eyes looked for an escape that wasn’t there. He took a big breath like a free diver and said, “It’s Penelope, Ramon.”

“Penelope who?”

Sutton let his big breath back out. “Your daughter, Ramon. Penelope. And she siphoned off your own money to do it.”

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