вторник, 20 ноября 2012 г.


Chapter III

The Moment Matrix's Voice Faltered

"I can't believe the sneaky leakage came in person," said Icon. The newly-formed team was walking through the main corridor. Microsoft looked at her, and, noticing his confusion, she went on. "Well, CEOs don't just visit each other like that in the broad daylight. I bet the UN doesn't know shit about the meeting."

"Maybe, he just wanted to discuss the permission to use the patent, I heard they want to launch their own teleporting line," said Microsoft.

Icon looked at him in disbelief.
Microsoft shrugged. "What?"

"Sometimes I really do think you are not from our era, Mikie."

Kern exchanged his amused look with Icon's annoyed one and turned to him to explain:

" ZP's the first in the World’s TTT, and now that his Contribution to Development report was approved a month ago, he has carte blanche to launch whatever he likes."

Microsoft puffed out his cheeks. "That's not fair."

"Well, the policy cut the rate of patent wars by half, but that's not the point," said Icon. "Don't you see what is going on? If anything goes wrong in the rescue mission, Rawotzki is screwed as much as we are."


"Why? Oh, my sweet motherboard!” she shook her head again. “The market is volatile at the moment, the security of teleporting is being questioned, so how successful do you think their line is gonna be? If he starts launching now, he'll lose more than he'll ever win. The longer we are looking for the solution, the less sure he is to keep the top of the World’s Techs. When he’s down, he’ll have to ask Ford to give the permission for the teleporting line, which he’ll never get, because Ford would want to secure his top Tech place for years to come. So, Rawotzki must have a plan and doesn't want the United Nations to know about it!" She looked at Microsoft expectantly as if he was a little child to whom she had just explained why the grass is green. Microsoft mouthed an understanding "oh".
"I would give everything to be in that room now." Icon looked back in the direction of Ford's office and shook her head helplessly.
Microsoft, to his surprise, found himself thinking he would too.

Everyone stopped before a huge metal wall. The security system scanned Matrix's body, and the wall dispersed revealing a spacious room filled with tables, screens and projections of maps and blueprints. Sensor chairs appeared from nowhere and drifted towards the hovering board in the middle that served as a table.

"It gets better and better," Microsoft muttered to himself and reluctantly followed Icon into the room.

Ford half-rose from his chair and with a loud "What a nice surprise!" shook Celestro's hand.

"Well, your face certainly doesn't think it's nice," said Celestro and took a seat opposite Ford. "But I'm sure things will get better as we speak."

"I don't have the slightest doubt."

For a moment the two men didn’t speak, just scanned each other with their eyes, each trying to decipher the expression of the other. Finally, Ford broke the silence.

"You look good."

"Thank you. I do own the Cosmetic Genetics network. You should visit my center here in the city, you'll get 12 % discount as my teacher and old friend."

"How does it work, then? 6 percent teacher and 6 percent friend? Or just 3 percent friend? Or 0.5 percent teacher? What about the rest 88 percent of what I am to you?"

"Evos, please, we are friends, aren't we."

Ford sneered and waved Celestro's remark off.

"Alright, then, I suppose you didn't come to ask for the teleportation patent."

Celestro smiled and wagged his finger at Ford.

"You've always had your way to congratulate your humble student on his humble achievements. Thank you, I’ve finally got better than my teacher. And in my turn, congratulations too. First-time grandfather, eh? I hear your granddaughter has a beautiful first name."

"Careful there, Celestro."

"Sorry, I got carried away. I repeat, I am here as your friend, not your competition."

"Speaking of which, since when do you own Cosmetic Genetics?"

Celestro raised his eyebrow slightly and leaned back in his chair.

"Honestly, I had a higher opinion of your 'R&U' department. I bought the fifth percent an hour ago. Actually, you know, it hurts a little that you are not following me online."

"As you know, I've been a little busy."

"Oh, I know, because I," Celestro put his hand over his heart and bowed, "I do follow you. I know you froze the intercity and interstate webs, I know you are raking the southern area and have no clue how to get the boy out in one piece or where exactly that piece is right now. I also know that the UN is carrying out their own investigation, they are monitoring all your communication lines, not just business conferences. Besides, they are trying to go around the teleportation law to make you responsible, should the outcome of the rescue mission be... undesirable."

Ford listened to the tirade with a contemptuous smile, but his trepidation was almost palpable in the air when he heard that the UN was prying around, which Celestro had absolutely no reason to tell him.

"You really learned a lot, Celestro,” Ford said. “This information you've just given me is priceless. I believe, I owe you now, don’t I?  What is it you’re asking for?"

Rawotzki leaned forward, his face changing to an almost grave expression, and looked Ford directly in the eyes.

"It's not just your problem now, it's mine too. I had everything planned, the production line is ready and right at that perfect moment something like this happens. I don't want us to be another stork and fox, I want us to take the jar and the dish and pour everything into one big bowl, so we could both drink from it, because we are in it together." He assessed Ford’s reaction, and his usual nonchalant expression returned to his face. "Actually, if I didn't know you, Evos, I would think you had staged all this to prevent the launch of my teleporting line. But I do know better, and I'm here to help you."

"You are here to save your genetically modified ass." Ford leaned forward closer to his former student. "I see you want to join the rescue team, and if I didn't know you, Celestro, I would think you're doing this to get access to the teleporting program, because you tried disintegration, but can't quite get to grips with reintegration."

Rawotzki shifted uneasily in the chair.

"See? I follow you close enough. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work, my time is precious now, and, as you've just given me to understand, so is yours."

"Evos, I respect you and your great company. If it hadn't been for you, I would have never gotten this far.  You have to admit, your profile has always been transportation, while I can provide you with the brightest minds of programming, with the best software. It's a bit-for-byte deal."

"Bit for byte, you say? Well, since I have my bit sorted out, I don't really need you byte, do I? No offense, old friend. I appreciate you calling on me and warning me about the UN. And again, you look marvelous in that new skin of yours."

Celestro pursed his lips in frustration, then slowly stood up."I see. I'll pretend I didn't understand that you’ve just called me a snake, which is why I urge you to consider my offer and give me a flick later. My visit was a bit spontaneous, I admit. Don't rush into it, Evos, you have a lot at stake, and let's be honest, much more than me. And once again, remember, I'm still your friend."

Ford gave him a weary look and sighed.

"I want to believe it so much, Celestro, I really do." He ran his hand along the table and, without taking his eyes off his former student, announced: "Gear, please see Mr.Rawotzki out."

As Celestro Rawotzki was activating his license on the inhouse transmitter platform, Microsoft lost his temper and pushed himself away from the hoverboard, bumping into the wall behind him and making everyone jump.
"I'm done," he said hopping off the chair and heading for the exit. "I'm out. I don't care what the evaluation program said, I just can't do this."

"You can't quit, Mike." Matrix said quietly. Too quietly. Microsoft turned around to find Mat's serious yet sympathetic look on him.

"Why not?"

"Once you've entered Ford's office, you got into the non-disclosure commitment program."

Microsoft felt his legs giving way. He steadied himself against the wall.

"You want to hear the penalty for quitting?" Mat's voice faltered.

"No," said Microsoft in a coarse whisper, pushing his chair back under himself. "I know what the punishment is. I'd read my employment contract before I signed it."

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