Another five minutes.
Another five minutes.
Finish out the mile.
Finally, Trey pushed pause on the elliptical glider. He hated interrupting his workout, hated hated hated it. Never did it.
Which was exactly why it was the perfect time to get this done. No one was around, and in the unlikely event that someone found the insertion and checked the time code, Trey had the perfect alibi.
Even when he was being sneaky, he was a genius.
Trey jogged down the partially lit halls, keeping an eye on the programmed tracks of the cleaner bots on his device so he could avoid even their limited perception, data key safely in the sweaty pocket of his gym shorts. Feeling extra cool, he looked both ways before slipping into the clean room. Just in case anyone looked into it, he used Bharath’s code, chuckling to himself.
Once inside, it was the work of moments to access Y3’s base code and add in the snippet of code. It was satisfying, too: if Stephanie was going to cheat, Trey was just going to cheat better.
After all, this wasn’t just about Trey’s ego, or DevLok’s survival. It was about Mars.
Trey wasn’t a fool: he had looked carefully at the code and even built a little walled-off simulator of the Y3 to do some quick and dirty testing. It did seem to speed up computation and decision-making.
Stephanie, he was sure, would never have dared to take such a risk. Well, that was why he got the big bucks.
That was why he would win.
On the way out of the clean room, Trey paused, then snapped his head around. He thought he had heard something behind him, but he didn’t see anyone. He tried to remember if he had looked both ways when he opened the door, then shrugged. Probably just one of the cleaning bots.
“Once again.” The flat irritation in Nico’s tone was enough to pull Cameron out of their unintentional daydream. They sat up, blinking to clear away the afterimages of an imagined tryst with Noor in a supply closet as Nico went on. “We have to look beyond Mars.”
“Mars is the entire purpose of this company!” If Nico was low on patience, Stephanie was totally out of it. Cameron sank back in their chair and considered whether daydreaming was a better use of their time. “Look. At. The. Mission Statement!”
“Companies evolve,” Nico said, tight-jawed. “What happens if you lose this bid? You need a contingency plan!”
Stephanie scoffed. “We’re way ahead. And if we do somehow lose? We can evolve then.”
Cameron suspected Stephanie would be okay with losing as long as Watchover came out ahead of DevLok in the final rankings.
“Nico’s not entirely wrong,” Lakshmi said, as if that were a huge concession. Stephanie turned on her, drawing breath for an attack, but Lakshmi continued calmly. “What we’ve done”–she gestured to include Cameron––“with E is groundbreaking, and important. We owe it to E, and to the world, to look broadly at potential use cases . . .”
“You owe it to the investors,” Nico interjected. “And by the way, while they’re here, could we not refer to E as if it were a person to which we owe things?” Lakshmi opened her mouth to respond, but Nico held up his hand. “If you don’t agree, just pretend you do for the duration of the visit, okay?” He leaned forward. “I have to repeat this at almost every company I work for: I don’t care how genius your coding is or what your technology has to offer, without money you won’t be able to develop or sell it.” Nico waited a beat for that to sink in. “Now, to go back, again, to the agenda for the visit . . .”
Cameron managed not to roll their eyes. They had already memorized the agenda, and so they knew that this visit was going to be a nightmare. The part that they couldn’t quite get over was that, at the end of the day, the whole senior team was supposed to accompany the investors to the Moonshot “for some unstructured social interactions.” It sounded hellish. Besides, Cameron couldn’t think about the Moonshot any more without thinking about Noor: her sly smile as she programmed Pseudo better than anyone could have expected her to; her intense focus at game night; and of course, the roof . . .
“. . . then of course Cameron’s presentation.”
Cameron, snapped out of their reverie by hearing their name, tried to look attentive and prepared, but Nico was already moving on to the next bullet and nobody was looking at them anyway. This was ridiculous. A couple of weeks ago Cameron would have been hyped for this investor visit, wanting to get everything right for Watchover and shine individually besides. Catching the attention...