All of the patches containing the drug had been returned and destroyed, save for a bundle of fifty and the formula, printed and electronic, which Ken secretly retained. He couldn’t bring himself to lose everything he’d built up. It was locked away in his private vault sequestered away just off his bedroom, lost in the architecture of his sprawling mansion. The next person to see it after him would do so only after he was dead and his attorneys had executed according to his Last Will and Testament, so he truly didn’t care.
Replacement patches without the narcotic or nanobot carriers, were delivered; predictably, Time Dilation could no longer be achieved and the company exploded into chaos and recrimination.
For several days Ken let Henry wrestle fruitlessly with the problem until he was forced to admit defeat.
“How many dilation trials have you performed?” Ken demanded in a mock rage.
“More than fifteen, Ken. We’ve run dilation trials on every program type in the archive but nothing is giving a decent result. It’s not just us, every branch is reporting the same phenomena.”
“Call an emergency Board Meeting today. Department heads better arrive prepared. I fucking well expect an answer and a solution. Make it happen!” Ken was back to his tyrannical worst.
Henry scuttled away to set the meeting up and pass the warning on to other Executives.
Fifteen minutes into the emergency session there was only chaos and no headway. Ken had kicked off proceedings with a tirade of abuse, setting one department against another, making them jittery to commit themselves and not able to perform under the withering pressure.
With his Board and Executives in a state of panic and disarray, each Department in a shouting match with the other, Ken sat back and watched his company cannibalize itself for an hour, then he switched his approach, helping them calm down and focus on solutions.
He let the situation go as long as it could, until the obvious question on everyone’s mind was about to be asked—he intended to be the one to ask it. He rose and put his balled fists onto the table; those who saw him do it went suddenly silent;
“Okay everybody... Calm the fuck down!” It instantly went deathly quiet, “...Good. Now, could it be the patch? Possibly something’s wrong with the formula, perhaps inhibiting subjects’ adrenaline production? Maybe some kind of blocking or tranquilizing effect...?”
He paced like a predator at the fence, the only Executive allowed the privilege of rising from his seat, and then he halted theatrically, as if a thought had struck him. All eyes on him, he’d played the charade perfectly and sealed it with the little clickety-clickety-click of his nails drumming a galloping rhythm on the Board Table.
“...Perhaps my information of that sabotage by our late and dearly missed Mr. Angelis was wrong...? Perhaps those patches were not sabotaged? Perhaps the sabotage was everything he ever did here? The breakthroughs came after he arrived... remember...?” And he drummed the NLP trigger again, bending their minds. “...The whole production of patches probably one big scam... a lie he’s been selling to us all along? You know, I recently found out something shocking, he had rather a checkered past, I’m afraid... did time... Meth.”
Everyone conveniently forgot that it was Ken who had been Craig Angelis’ greatest and only supporter from the outset. Their emperor could be stark naked and with vested interest in seeing him finely dressed, they fell over themselves to see it.
By asking the question he appeared ignorant and innocent of the patch’s chemistry if the accusation was ever made.
“Well, that was the first question I was going to ask... nothing in the program has changed,” Henry replied. “I never liked the guy...” he grumbled, quite happy to see blame taking this positive new trajectory.
Very aware that it would be sudden death to remind Ken of how Craig had become a Board Member in the first place.
Max Schneider who headed up software developments happily threw his vote into the ring with it;
“It’s a good point, Ken. We’ve debugged every line of code... nothing. We’ve run comparative matching to the master copies in the archive... nothing. The A.I. is in great shape, it’s double-checked our input... we’re coming up roses. What else could it be but Angelis? Fudging the whole thing with chemistry... who would have thought...?”
When Max was done, Mark Hart, Leon’s second in charge who had been promoted into the vacated position, took the cue to give his assurances that nothing had changed in the hypnosis sequences of the A.I. He too nodded solemnly that it could only be Angelis.
They spent another twenty minutes deliberating and finally began winding up after they had thoroughly inspected all of the possibilities and had reached no more conclusion than testing the new patches just delivered.
As Ken was about to adjourn the meeting, Henry piped up. “Are there no patches left from the batches that Craig produced?”
Ken thought that he could hear suspicion in Henry’s voice, “You organized their destruction, Henry,” Ken’s voice brimmed with sarcasm. “You would know better than anybody.”
“I destroyed everything that was given to me. I thought that possibly one of our branches... our problem child... might not have returned their entire stock,” Henry retorted.
“I checked in all of the returns personally, unfortunately we had a one hundred percent response,” Ken assured, and nobody around the table understood the significance of that tickle he fidgeted with near his eye. “You’re welcome to call them to double check if you doubt me, Henry.”
By just saying it, he ensured Henry would dare do no such thing.
“If you checked them personally, then far be it for me to interfere, Ken. I’m just sorry because with an old patch we would be able to clear this up immediately,” Henry lamented. “What made you recall them so hastily, Ken?”
“If you’d read the memo Henry,” Ken’s tone was acid, “then you’d not have to waste our time with superfluous questions... I had the Pentagon crawling up my ass about that General Daly incident. Would you want them sniffing around the facility with any possibility of laying their hands on something that Angelis may have done?”
Henry wouldn’t meet Ken’s challenging glare, daring him to dispute it. To shut off any other decenters, Ken emphasized it with a lie that nobody could contradict.
“...I have an inside source with the CIA. They’d picked up on Angelis’ drug problem... connected the dots. I had the tipoff, so I pulled the plug in case the idiot had done something stupid in the only bit of responsibility he had... and it seems I was right too, doesn’t it?”
He didn’t bother to rap on the table, by the look on every face; he’d done enough to put it to rest.
“Either that or there’s a ghost in the machine!” Henry concluded and it brought a few laughs of relief, grateful to have the ordeal over with.