The simulation ends, having been ran a further three times, the exact same way it always ends, in failure. The pair, who are business executives, at that point call it a day.

Charles is still optimistic, while Roger, who is sat across from him and separated by only a simple table wears a scowl. The short, older, heavier man is sure that it won’t matter how many times they run the simulation it will never work.

“Cheer up, Roger. There is always tomorrow.” Charles offers confidently.

“You’ve been saying that for four years. Don’t you get sick of the rhetoric?” Roger asks deflated.

“Why would I?” Charles queries.

“Tomorrow we take the Trans-Tram to Independent, or have you forgotten?” Roger says wearily as he rubs at his temples.

“I have not.” Charles replies emotionless.

“Then you know that we face the House of Representatives. We have nothing to show. No progress. Nought.”

Charles raises his hand. It’s one of his cues that he’s about to begin speaking, but Roger cuts him off.

“And don’t you dare say that the failures are looking more promising.” Roger says with a stab of his fore and middle finger, between which sits the same cigar he’s had all day. It is now however, far shorter and stubbier than it had been earlier.

“We have no success to report and that’s the only thing they want to here. In their world it’s one or the other, success or failure. There is no grey area for optimism. We have nothing to deliver. Hell, they may already know that. In which case, we may never even make it to Independence. Instead, the Trans-Tram may meet an unfortunate end. An end that sees the pair of us enter that eternal vacuum.” Roger says stabbing his fore and middle finger toward the bulkhead at his side.

“Don’t be so over dramatic Roger. If that was to be our fate then we’d really have nothing to worry about anymore, now would we?” Charles says too chipper for Roger’s liking.

“Huh. You may not care about death, but I do. I got this far by fighting tooth and nail and I’m not about to go down as the man who failed humanity. The reward for which is too see the vacuum in person.”

“Just calm down. We have nothing, true, but we will in time. And from what I hear, no one, including Salvadore-Triturn, has either.” Charles says calmly.

“You better be right. I don’t want to be the man that was part of the precept negotiations who ultimately ended up expunged from history because of his failures.” Roger says with finality, hoping to bring the conversation, which he and Charles both know has become circular, to a close.

Though, even with the conversation having been closed Roger still doesn’t feel any better. Instead he just chews on the end of the remains of his cigar. It’s a nervous habit, but one he can’t break. Mainly because he refuses too.

In fact, he reasons, everyone has a nervous habit. Except that is for Charles. The man is an enigma. In fact, if Roger didn’t know any better he’d put money on Charles being a synthetic. Especially, with the way he never seems to be surprised or fazed, by anything. But Roger concluded long ago that Charles’ lack of unchecked emotion comes from the fact that had once been a spy. He might not know the details of what Charles had done, but he knows he’d used his skills against politically motivated anti groups that the state deemed were necessary to be weeded out. That means, if Charles had heard of no other party having managed to push any further forward with the synthetic programme, that it was fact. The man’s web of contacts, informants and sources seemed, at least to Roger, boundless and is how the duo have managed to stay in business, since they joined forces, for the last two decades.

Back then they hadn’t been an official partnership. That had come much later. Instead, in the early days Charles simply fed Roger information. The kind of information that Charles thought Roger might find beneficial. Roger had known from the start that such a relationship would eventually lead to more, and it had. Charles had wanted in on the synthetic programmes, so at that point they officially entered into a partnership. Though, that was not before they derailed Roger’s former employer, Jefferson-Hindes. The massive corporation hadn’t survived Roger and Charles’ combined might when they’d opened the floodgates of their own company, Mammoth Tech. Eventually they even subsumed Jefferson-Hindes assets, data and resources. Dexter Hindes, the last tie of the corporation’s namesake had cursed the duo, Roger especially, before taking his own life. Roger had never paid the bitter man’s cursing any mind however. In the end, business is business, and he and Charles had been more willing, capable and ruthless than the competition, except that is for Salvadore-Triturn. That particular mega-corporation had to be considered an equal, at least in terms of its ruthlessness. The corporations overall size however, put it at several times that of Mammoth Tech. But, that also meant that its failures were that much greater as a result.

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