The ride back to the satellite was uneventful but filled with me digesting all that had gone down in the meeting. If you are an experienced negotiator you learn to recognize the text and unwritten subtext in a meeting and there was practically two simultaneous conversations that had happened.
Strickland from Orange Corporation was the unfortunate one to get the ball rolling, following Kells’ bombshell announcement she was demanding a reduction in water from every satellite.
“You can’t seriously expect us to just dump our water supply to match Red’s bad luck?” he said.
“No need to worry.” She countered without looking at him, “your AIs have already jettisoned the appropriate amount of water in your holding tanks to balance out the start. I hope that will be satisfactory.”
Subtext: We have complete control over your AI and satellite mechanicals and they will do whatever we want, including throwing out your water… air… you… whoever, whenever we wish.
“Suitable reprisals will commence when it becomes apparent that anyone is operating outside of the terms of the Mars contract. Gravity is a harsh mistress.” she continued.
Subtext: If you are caught cheating your satellite might suddenly drop out of the heavens.
“The Miller, Norton and Yarbury Contracts will be limited to 4 per year.” Kells continued.
Subtext: Four! Holy cow that was a lot. Usually you were restricted to one a year, if you were lucky.
The Miller, Norton & Yarbury Contracts, ‘MNYCards’ for short, allowed a Corporation to play the field with legally binding contractual obligation “cards” that you could hold and then present in negotiations when the need and appropriate time arose. It was no problem to manipulate the market, blockade a shipment, steal employees, whatever you wanted when you had an MNYCard to “legally allow” you to do it. They were very expensive, but came in handy when you needed to put some pressure on a client, delay or obfuscate a deal or even something as straightforward as having an independent military contractor mess stuff up for you. All legally binding and without consequence.
“And who exactly will be in charge of settling disputes and ensuring fairness?” asked Tarbet of Blue Corporation. Kells shot him a peaved look.
“I shall remain in orbit around Mars as the Earth representative CEO. For a price, I shall bring with me overriding administrative power and special conditions wherever I take up residence,” Kells said with a distasteful sigh, “Wherever that may be.”
Subtext: There were only 6 satellites in orbit, so she was staying with one of us, whomever bribed her the most, and the satellite host Corporation was going to profit. Bigtime.
“How are you going to manage precedent here?” Yellow’s Stephenson spoke up. Murmurs of approval of the question arose. Ms. Kells' shark smile returned. When she spoke it came out like a mother scolding her child.
“Yes, we can’t have a free-for-all, silly. That would be unwise, so there will be the standard four fiscal quarters: water supply, military deployment and exploration, dispute resolution, unit resupply, and a year end accounting. You will execute your strategies in the open market or otherwise, in a rotating order, and disputes will be settled in a civilized manner.”
Subtext: This really was going to be carefully managed by ECM and our parent Corporations were going to be able to monitor and watch our movements. Oh, and all disputes will be violent and definitive. Civilized manner my butt.
“Now if you excuse me,” she said, stepping away from the table, her escort snapping smartly to her side. “I must be packing my bag and heading for Blue Corporation Satellite to take up residence this year.”
We all knew what that meant. No subtext needed. Mr. Robin Tarbet had already bribed and secured the CEO this year and probably screwed us all. And this time I didn’t even get a drink first.
This was going to be a very interesting corporate competition for the next short 6 years. It was either going to rocket me into the Upper Executive Level or end my career, my family, and possibly my own life.
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