2 of 7 | Chapter 11

 

“Are they those little black snowmen-like figures that are everywhere?” she asked.

“Yes. Has that reassured you, Ms Clancy?”

“Yes.” She smiled, embarrassed. “I have to say that I have never organized an event of this scale, where everything has gone so smoothly. It is not only the exhibition that is extraordinary, but also the circumstances.”

“Everyone knows their duty,” said Steersman.

“Yeah, but I hadn't experienced anything like that before, and I've dealt with companies so precise and so fixated on detail that they even check the direction the grass is lying.” She gave a laugh.

Steersman smiled. “Probably the difference is that I'd never check the grass. If you can determine expectations with no more than five operational points, then it is almost certain that everyone will have a clear idea of their direction and duties. You always need to select the best person for the job and that's it. If they are the best and no one else can do their job better, then they should be given freedom to sort the details out for themselves.”

“I think you know well enough how to motivate people,” she said, moving the conversation in a different direction.

“I manage to do fine, yes. It's a great misconception that people can only be motivated by money. There are people with far more sophisticated hearts working at the ASEC; people who live for professional success. For them, the stability and security of their family, honor, professional challenges and a concrete goal in life are very important. These are more difficult to secure than money,” he added.

“I don't know what will come next for me. I have achieved everything that can be achieved in this profession. And after the DCG Expo it can only go downhill,” Alisa sighed.

“Well, take a break somewhere far away, and then it will come to you,” said Steersman, quietly.

“I will,” she said reverently, as if she had suddenly found peace. “It's a shame that we can't see the stars.” She looked up at the warm glow of the floating dome that sheltered the arena.

“You could see them from your hotel room if you wanted to, and anyway, the expo will close very soon.”

“I might do that then … would you like to join me?” Alisa looked at him.

Steersman nodded. “All right. See you in twenty minutes,” he agreed.

“See you there.” She smiled back at him, as she left.

Outside, the city showed not even the slightest sign that the sun had set. The air was warm and balmy, and the night was dizzy with wafting fragrances carried by a gentle breeze. It occurred to only a few to spend such a night in sleep.

*

The vehicle exhibition area opened the next morning, bathed in vibrant sunshine. The movement of city traffic gave some indication of the even more intense vortex of visitors descending on the expo that day. The traditional rotating car displays used by automotive companies had been turned upside down, each host company trying to appeal to the public with bold festival elements and gimmicks. Their rivalry seemed friendly, but only on the surface. The fight was all about winning the favor of the public, which was hardly surprising, as the company with the most popular car was be given four million drive units—a gift that would mean a huge step ahead in the emerging market competition.

ASEC finally decided to make an index of visitor interest as a basis for making the final decision.

They declined to specify exactly what behavioral criteria was used to establish the level of interest of each visitor, but everyone understood ‘interest’ in the traditional sense, which meant that manufacturers aimed for spectators to experience more and more exciting shows associated with their models.

For them, it was not that difficult to achieve. In the cases of some models, there was an unbelievable variety that showed the depth of human imagination and ingenuity. Because no company knew what their rivals would come up with, an array of variations appeared for each model that, by itself, could have represented the entire field of technological diversity. All in all, the hordes of novelty hungry visitors were not destined to go away unsatisfied.

However, behind the spectacle and pageantry, hard business wars were being fought. For the heavy weights of the business world, this meant a crowded fish pond into which they dived and—with ruthless aptitude and fierce tenacity—joined the bloody battle to catch their intended victims.

They worked like undercover agents, unnoticed, using sophisticated methods to intimidate rivals with the help of whatever tools they needed, working for principals who were cloaked in obscurity. Whether it was blackmail on the basis of questionable past transactions, airing private peccadilloes, or even both, they all enriched the storehouse of the Machiavellian arts. Thus, after the first days, choice of agents with offers began to wain, only the hardest were able to stick the pace.

A small southern Italian company was ‘enjoying’ striking popularity among agents.

Over the first two days, nearly fifty had placed offers. Castore Pagnotto's workshop had always produced masterpieces, but the small family concern had come to the event with an extraordinarily beautiful design. With their sports vehicle, the family had given themselves a huge boost in collecting public ‘votes’. Even with such an advantage, they had not trusted to chance, and had brought from Italy a coach packed with a troupe of nubile Amazons to still further draw wondering eyes.

“As far as I know, nothing is against the rules as long as the guest is in no danger. Well, except for maybe the heart attack,” was the easy going reaction of Mr Pagnotto, as he answered a question from a GlobalNet journalist regarding his army of gorgeous sex-bombs.

A little further away stood two men in Savile Row suits, motionlessly watching the company owner.

At that moment, Mr Pagnotto had all of his attention focused on his service team, who were carrying out the final adjustments to a second prototype that was still under development. The only one in existence had been delivered from Naples during the night. Still in pieces on departure, engineers had worked to assemble it in the truck on their way to Excolopolis. It was to be the cherry on the cake that represented the Pagnotto workshop.

The two in suits patiently waited their turn. They knew exactly when to put in their offer, knowing it was a dead cert. They were left with almost no competition, as those who had already tried had all been refused and had gone for easier prey. Indian companies were proving to be better partners and all had high potential designs which the agents were more than happy with.

“Mr Pagnotto, if you could spare us a moment of your time we would be happy to explain how your name will become immortalized for generations to come,” one of the business men behind him said quite suddenly. “My name is Vincent Hester and this is my partner, Dustin Hoey.”

“Greetings, Mr Pagnotto.”

The sun bleached, gray haired man looked at the two strangers in some surprise and said, “okay, boys, please tell me, what will make the Pagnotto name a legend.”

“We know how much work you put into your company and the risks you take,” Hester started. “And we truly appreciate your kind of entrepreneurship. We would like you to devote your talents exclusively to that which has made you a name to be reckoned with in this industry.”

 

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 12 | INSTALLATION
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH