It was Friday, the last work day before that big announcement, which will change the world forever. But only a few people knew this. The rest was just looking forward to the upcoming weekend, trying to release all work stress away, to enjoy the sunny day.
Even Caroline had her usual work regime that day. There were several meetings planned in her personal diary.
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Kalatova!” she welcomed her new guest, a famous Czech female journalist with extremely high professional reputation. This woman was able to influence the national politics, just by writing her articles, sharp as a razor. But Caroline was just smiling, when her staff warned her to be cautious.
“If you have nothing to lose, what could they take from you?” she replied to their advices with secretive smile.
The women sat on the Corporation’s large terrace. Only two of them were there. A woman against woman, although they both pretended to be friendly. But only one of them could win.
“So, Mrs. Rubesova, you are becoming an important public player in the Czech republic every day. And many people ask, where is your power coming from, and what will bring it to the citizens?” Kalatova made the opening move.
“The sun will rise tomorrow, regardless of anybody, including me. So why to worry, why to overanalyze the world? People will decide themselves, what is good for them,” Caroline countered it easily.
“Many people are also anxious, because of the unclear ownership of the Corporation, for example. It seems, that the board of your Corporation is allegedly created with planted puppets. And there are even suspicions of foreign interests, that you could be covertly representing. Allegedly, of course!” the reporter continued her interview harshly, but with caution, to avoid any possible indictment.
“The boundaries are open, so the people and capital flow from one country to another. Some foreign investors paid our initial capital, as it happened in one third of all domestc companies, owned completely from abroad. We are just employees here! Go find the owners and ask them, what they want. Do you ask your employer, what are his plans and connections? No. You just do your work and you pursue your dreams. Life isn’t about complicated politics,” Caroline returned the compliment with smile. But this blow warned the reporter, that she has to slow down with hidden accusations, or she will damage her professional reputation irreversibly. Caroline just turned everything back, against the reporter.
“OK, so let me ask the question differently. What is your personal mission, Mrs. Rubesova?”
“Well, every executive has one primary task: to take care of his or her people, so they can live happy lives and pursue their dreams. No financial goals can surpass this mission. And this mission is large enough to occupy your whole mind.”
“So you are saying, that you live for the others,” Kalatova said with deepest doubts.
“Everybody had a phase in his or her life, when he or she preferred his or her personal interests, financial gain, and so on. But later, when you have a house and a car, what’s coming next? Is there anything bigger in life? Definitely. To give something back to the people, to the society. Opportunities, for example, how to discover their hidden potential, how to help them to become the persons they always wanted to be.”
“There are rumors of very unusual recruitment methods, used by your Corpotation, by the way. Manipulation and PSY games…”
“Visit the nearest bookstore, you will find thousands of books there, with one simple goal: how to become more effective in your work, how to surpass others! It’s called competition. To assert yourself, you need to be different, original, to follow your own way. Go and ask any employee of our company. Listen to their direct opinions, instead of listening to some rumors!”
“You are very hard to interview, Mrs. Rubesova, I have to admit,” the reporter tried another approach, to get close to Caroline.
“Flattering could help,” Caroline smiled.
“You were elected the Woman of the Year, you pursue many CSR activities… and I couldn’t find one single person, willing to speak publicly against you. Do the people fear you? What do you think?” Kalatova was slippery suddenly, provoking Caroline.
“But of course we have adversaries! Powerful and ruthless! It belongs to the job irrevocably. Even on an entry work position, as an apprentice, you have adversaries, competitors, smiling at you, but planning moves against you behind your back. Later, as an executive, you have adversaries again. There will be somebody always, full of desire to take your place. No need to worry about it. Just do your job and sleep well, if you can. It will all soon pass…”
“I see that you have a simple life philosophy.”
“Life is simple, but we people often make it complicated ourselves. It’s the decision of every person. Or you can keep it simple. Your choice.”
“But the event tomorrow will be glamorous and big, as I heard. Can you reveal us, what are you planning?” the reporter tried the last bait.
“Just wait for tomorrow, and watch TV, you will learn everything! It will be a great evening, be assured! Let’s have some fun! Let’s make it the best time of our life!”
“Thank you for the interview, Mrs. Rubesova. I suppose, that you will ask for an authorization of the article, before publishing…”
“No, not necessary. Write what you want, Mrs. Kalatova, the readers will shape their own opinion anyway. It was really nice to meet you!”
When the reporter left, Rudolph approached Caroline. “They called from Ministry of Defense They request a meeting. Today.”
“Oh, not again! I know, what will happen there – they will play their silly games on us, trying to get control, again. It’s so boring!”
“But we should go there, to show some respect,” Rudolph suggested with strategy in mind.
“And where is the meeting taking place?” Caroline asked.
“They insist on a restaurant, out of Prague, out of reach for all cameras, microphones and curious eyes and ears.”
“I have no time for some ridiculous conspiracy meetings!” Caroline rejected this idea. “Call them, that there are only two possible locations: a pub nearby, where we make all of our business meetings, because they provide us with an attractive discount on food, or the Ministry of Defense building. It’s a work day, after all! I can’t spend half of it travelling to some distant wilderness, to make a preposterous show in the countryside or where! Don’t forget – they are pushed by the time, not us! So they will submit.”
“As you wish. And there is an Operations manager waiting to see you, saying he has some critical information. Allegedly, two of our employees are the members of the domestic Intelligence service, he claims,” Rudolph continued.
“There is no need to talk to him! Simply fire him, on the spot! You know the basic rules – whoever tries to mark anybody in our company as a spy, he or she has to be released immediately. This is an old, basic and effective method, how the Intelligence services worldwide try to disrupt organizations, to make them more soft and easier to conquer or to dissolve, by inserting a suspicion inside. And we know, how to react appropriately to such games,” Caroline said really coldly. Usually, she tried to talk to that particular person at first, to get some information and insight into his or her motivation, before making a final decision. But not this Friday.
Later in the afternoon, Rudolph informed Caroline, that their audience is set at the Ministry of Defense building. She accepted this news as a natural thing.
But the Minister was not presented at the meeting. He sent an adjutant instead. No wonder, that he was afraid of any direct connection during this extremely sensitive negotiation.
“I have the top security clearance and I was told to give you a message, so listen well, please,” the man introduced himself to them, and he omitted to mention his name. But the new visitors were not interested about it anyway.
“The conditions you offered to us are unacceptable,” the man started. “We want to have the direct control of the Facility before the announcement, to make sure, that the Device is what it is supposed to be. We don’t want any surprises. You could build anything inside, and you could be lying to us, hiding the true nature of the Device. Why do you hide it? Is it a threat? As the Defense of the State, we can’t allow any surprises on our national territory, endangering our national security. So we need to study the functions of the Device in advance,” he interpreted the message.
“Not possible, sorry,” Caroline replied. “The Facility is completely sealed, and it will stay sealed firmly, until the upcoming announcement, without any exceptions. If we would allow anybody to move inside now, we could jeopardize the whole operation. And we all don’t want that, do we?”
“Well, then we could seize the Facility, and take control of it by force. There is a justified suspicion that something questionable or even illegal is happening there, if you deny us to make a proper check!”
“You won’t do that. Because the world would find out! You could never keep this information away from the world public. And moreover, we wouldn’t help you to keep it out of the media and public eyes, but on the contrary! We would gladly help the journalists, as the damaged side! It’s still our private property. And you don’t want the world to find out our mutual secret before the announcement! You would be blamed and the whole plan would be blown as charade – including your previous ‘Stechovice Treasure’ information operation! Do you want to lose this unique opportunity? Do you want the Ministry and the Military to be embarassed as never before? Then go there, bring your commandos to help you to get inside, so all the surveillance cameras around will record a nice show for the evening news. Just go!”
The adjutant hesitated. Maybe he should stay silent, and go away. But he was just messenger. He needed to receive as much information as possible, so his superiors could decide the right way.
“So, Mrs. Rubesova, you are telling me, that we can’t do anything. That you will assert your own interests, ignoring the state interests and valid laws. Have you ever heard of high treason?”
“Yes, I have, in the movies! Sounds intriguing! But making this bold move here would be really unwise. The journalists and the political opposition would literally eat you! How many of them is on our pay lists, what do you think? Should I help you to count them all, or at least to offer you a clue about this impressive number? Maybe you should consult this idea with somebody experienced in Public Relations at first.”
The adjutant asked for a permission to leave, for consultancy with superiors. Caroline, bored, drank her mineral water. She knew, that they are under heavy Surveillance in that room, and she thought about saying something funny for the curious cameras and microphones.
“I must say,” she started with serious voice, to attract attention and expectations that something substantial will be revealed, “that weather today is just beautiful!”
She and Rudolph couldn’t resist to laugh!