Strings of Retaliation – 5b – Office

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As soon as Gail left my office, I turned my music chip on to play Silence by Delerium.
I used to dip into the glamorous and superficial reality of a tech industry star only a few times a year for formal events. It entertained me, like getting tipsy on a good bottle of scotch. But too much of a good thing annihilated its pleasure factor. It became a smothering habit that either killed you or drove you insane.
By trading my silver strands earrings for a pair of wooden hoops, I accepted to down a bottle every single day.
I may need to act on that metaphor.
The mirror inside the accessory box reflected my black hair, flowing down to my fashionable black suit. In contrast, the pink ivory of the jewels stood out all the more. The box also contained make-up in the two key shades of my corporate image. I already had smoky eyes so I touched up my lipstick with the one provided, and I was good to go.
“Splendid!” Gail held a new cup of steaming coffee. “I think there’s a beaded hair band.” I pulled the delicate object out of a compartment. “It’ll be subtle mixed with your curls.”
I held back a sigh of annoyance and wrapped the string of pink ivory pearls around my head. With the push of a hidden button, Gail brought down a full-length mirror over one of the paintings.
At least it doesn’t look too bad, I thought as I fluffed my hair around the hair band.
“They’ll be head over heels!”
My secretary/bodyguard/publicist led the way to the elevator, down a couple of floors and into the main meeting room at the heart of the company headquarters. The room I would have blown up when I attacked Merrilyn Tech if the plan had gone smoothly.
A group of young men — with the odd other woman — applauded when I entered. Like me, they inherited their shares of the company at a family member’s death. Not that they would ever thank me for it. I knew, from Gabriel’s files, which one assisted their parent or spouse prior to their unforeseen promotion.
My biggest opponents.
“Absolutely perfect!” Ben commented when the clapping stopped.
“We’re done rebuilding the servers,” was the CTO’s way of proving his worth.
“Financial files are almost all recompiled.” The CFO seemed very ill at ease so I smiled reassuringly. Maybe I could get him to like me before the first business meeting.
I made my way around the table to meet the board. Every member felt oblige to justify their presence with some accomplishment. In a nutshell, the information for each of the company departments — which I had copied for the FBI and then destroyed — was almost recompiled.
“Our competitors are making forays into some of our markets, though,” Ben concluded as I sat at my end of the table. “But for now, pastries!” He uncovered a large plate of muffins, croissants, buns and danishes with a smile that could melt the coldest heart.
Ben’s charisma obviously made him a favourite of the directors who didn’t seek power for themselves. They were the ones I had to win over. From the first contact, some of my opponents’ strategy consisted in befriending me so they could overpower the other directors through my interventions.
I could do sneaky just fine but being political was another thing entirely. As I watched Ben pull all the attention toward him during the mundane conversations of this so-called ‘bonding meeting’, I couldn’t help but admire how skilled he was at manipulating a crowd.
The best way I knew how to get people to do what I wanted was to scare the crap out of them.
By the end of the first hour, I was ready to shoot myself. Everyone’s faked happiness and cooperation sickened me. We all evaluated each other, looking for weaknesses, and we all hid it behind kind words and anything but genuine interest. I had about reached the limit of my tolerance when Ben made his way closer to me.
“We have a meet and greet with the press and some investors for lunch,” he said and it took all my will to avoid slapping him. “It’s important for people to get to know you and see this awesome relationship we have between the directors.”
Can’t I just kill them all?
“Sure!” I bared all my teeth in what should pass as a smile. “However, I do expect to be consulted prior to the organization of such engagements from this point on,” I said loud enough for everyone to hear. I fluttered my lashes to add a touch of innocence.
“We wouldn’t want to burden you with such little things,” Ben insisted, broadening his smile — which I wouldn’t have thought possible.
Maybe one day he’ll pull off the Cheshire cat’s disappearing act as well.
“Burden?” I giggled. “Don’t be silly.” Ben’s smile stiffened. Some of the directors’ brows furrowed. I had gone a bit too far. “I need to be consulted so I can prepare.” I looked around the table. “How else can I properly reinstate confidence in our brands and pull this company out the gutter?”
Half the directors didn’t like my request and barely veiled insult, but they had to bow to the argument or else they would alienate the unaligned members of the board.
“Your devotion to your work honours you.” Kim was the only woman around the table and she directed the Special Projects division — the department that created me. Her strategy was to become my best friend. She emphasized her admiration by raising her cup in salute.
The others had to follow.
They hated it.
Lorelei: 1. Board of Detractors: 0.

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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