3 of 7 | Chapter 11

 

“Okay, boys, get to the point.”

“Very well. We would like to invest in your company to the tune of ten billion euros for a start.”

“Look, Gentlemen. I've been already offered money, maybe less, but the general idea was the same.”

“We know it's not about the money. It's about the conditions of cooperation. From the investor's side no one would interfere with how you run your company. Everything would remain the same as it is now, including your staff. You will receive all the help you need for planning and manufacturing. We will build a factory for you, obtain machinery, labor, and all you have to do is keep your models at the forefront of design.”

“I see. And what do you want in return for your generous offer?”

“Profit, of course. Seventy percent of profits after each vehicle sold.”

“Ha … you are rather bold …. Anyway, you want to tell me that all you wish to receive in return for your monetary support is to be a silent partner in my enterprise?”

“Yeah, something like that. You are the company director. All you have to do is to be the best in the industry.”

“I still can't understand why you would trust me so much that you are willing to throw such a huge sum of money at me?”

“The world of money works differently,” said Hoey, “but it would be better if you were clear on one thing. There is an important condition you have to be aware of: if the company does not make profit, the investment will disappear as quickly as it came. That is all, and it is up to you.”

“Okay boys, I'll sleep on it and give you an answer by tomorrow.”

“Here's my number. Please call me if you have any questions. We'll get back to you tomorrow.” Vincent Hester handed him his card.

“Molto buono,” the Italian thanked him.

 

The city darkens

That evening, Mr Pagnotto held a family meeting to discuss the offer, and the following morning he also conferred with his closest colleagues and decided to hire a reputable law firm to screen the contract.

Their lawyer had arrived by evening and at eight o'clock was welcoming his client and the two businessmen into the hotel room. While he was reading through the nearly hundred-page document to make sure of its legality, the three other men stood by the corner bar, from which a bottle of twenty-five-year-old malt whiskey had appeared.

“I find it strange that since you left I haven't received a single offer,” said Mr Pagnotto.

“Were you perhaps waiting for anyone in particular?” asked Hester.

“As I had not made up my mind, I would have listened to further offers from anyone.”

“We felt that you might find our terms convincing.” Hoey smiled.

“And you made sure that no one else bothered me?” Mr Pagnotto said with a sideways glance.

“Anyway, I'm sure that there weren't any worthy offers,” said Hester.

“You do not have such word in your dictionary as ‘defeat’, do you gentlemen?” said Mr Pagnotto.

At that point, the lawyer cleared his throat, indicating that he had finished reviewing the material, and looked at them over his spectacles.

They all sat down.

“Firstly, it is a clear and transparent contractual document,” the lawyer began, somewhat wearily. “I didn't come across any of the usual twists, and the cross-references are all quite clear. I assume that you have clarified that the contract has no time limit. This contract cannot be terminated. It remains in effect until the company is closed down, or becomes invalid in the case of a breach of contract.”

“Yes, we have clarified the time stipulations,” said Mr Pagnotto.

“The only thing that could be discussed in more detail is the allocation of responsibility,” he said, looking at his client.

“What did you find?” asked Mr Pagnotto.

“In the absence of a financial return the attendant consequences are rather disproportionate. This contract states that Mr Pagnotto gives up his patent rights, and also the right of disposal over his designs.”

“Oh, no. That has to be removed gentlemen. It will not do, at all,” Mr Pagnotto said curtly.

“As the company management will remain in Mr Pagnotto's hands, this is safety clause in the contract to reassure the investor that Mr Pagnotto won't make any deals behind the investor's back that could endanger return on the investment.”

“First of all, I do not believe that—from time to time—you will not butt in with your, so to say, ‘suggestions’,” said Mr Pagnotto, making quotation marks in the air with his rather calloused fingers. “Secondly, there are external factors that I have no control of, and last, but certainly not least, I would be the last man to allow my business to collapse—more so than even the investors themselves. So, if there is no trust boys, then there won't be a deal. Simple as that.”

The two businessmen did not even exchange a glance, but the same thought went through their minds. They gave themselves a few moments to run through all of the possible scenarios.

“Okay! We will remove this clause from the contract. Our lawyers will send you the revised version to your office,” said Hester to the lawyer.

“Then sirs, if I understand it correctly, you have come to an agreement. I congratulate you on your deal, Mr Pagnotto,” said the lawyer in tones of mixed joy and apathy.

“Grazie! Let's drink to that!” shouted Castore Pagnotto.

At that moment, blind darkness descended on the room. The men didn't move for a few seconds, in surprise.

“What is that?” asked the lawyer.

Dustin Hoey stood up from his seat and walked to the window.

“Power failure … over the whole city,” he established.

Indeed, every building in Excolopolis was shrouded in darkness, with the only light in the city coming from the vehicles going up and down the now shadowy streets.

After ten minutes, it was still only a nuisance, but after the first hour it had begun to cause an unsettling confusion in the city's operation. Long-term power outages occurred rarely in whole cities as there were usually reserve networks that at least partially restored power supplies. Staff in hotels and office buildings were able to rescue people trapped in elevators, using their own emergency generators, but it was not enough to restore full power.

It was more than just a simple power failure; something else was behind it. In addition to ASEC had been left unexplained for a full hour, the increasing pressure prompted the organization to put its resources into action. Plan B was ready to go, but the only problem was that it had never been tested.

 

Crisis management

Oliver Trenerry hurried to the crisis meeting where plans were being quickly formulated. Inside the room Steersman was agreeing on some of the details with the energy research unit manager, Neil Gibbs. Having seen Oliver Trenerry, Steersman cut it short.

“What did you manage to find out?” Steersman asked the former intelligence agent.

“It's a sabotage campaign. The coordinated actions of an unknown group has paralyzed the seven different power distribution depots. Separately, it wouldn't have caused any trouble, but with the elimination of all of them there's been hell to pay. Excolopolis was clearly the target.”

 

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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