Between Two Worlds

17.2: Merchant of Time Pt 1

“… 28.4% of SimMobile’s sales, accounting for 8.8 billion!”

Trevor pinched his eyes and gave his head a subtle shake. Watcher, he desperately needed toothpicks to hold his eyes open. He sat up a little straighter in his chair, blinking his bored tears away.

This caller was even worse than the last. It didn’t matter how polite nor professional he was, the caller had now begun citing irrelevant company statistics, accusing SimMobile for being money-sucking crooks among other colorful phrases. Trevor muttered something unsavory under his breath as the caller hung up, then slumped in his chair and covered his face.

Seriously, the party was tame! Everyone had a good time, stayed safe, and flooded his inbox with ‘Wicked!’ or ‘Awesome!’ or ‘Lit Party!’ the next day. The furniture was stain-proofed, residual clutter cleaned and security kept out any gatecrashers, except that one guy. Trevor didn’t want to think about that.

Alright, so maybe it wasn’t completely clean. There was some pill-popping, lingering smoke in the air and his indoor pool became a sea of juice. There was also the girl who made a huge scene in his bed the next morning when he couldn’t remember her name. Even so, being forced to work in customer service for a month is an unfair punishment. His dad had made him swallow business manuals ever since he learnt to read. Trevor should be up there with the big guns, discussing company direction, project time-lines and calling the shots. This sucks! he thought.

He absentmindedly flipped through a document he swiped from his father’s desk this morning. At least he had this proposal to occupy his mind. His father and the target company who created this plan were having their partnership signing ceremony right now. He began breezing through the delegation of responsibilities between SimMobile and the lesser known MK Group, then stopped.

What’s this? 

*************

His son waved so persistently from the glass doors that the project lead and lawyers on either side of Dwayne Jeong stared in amusement, prompting the man to look up as well.

Dwayne excused himself, shut the door behind him and motioned his boy towards an unoccupied office.

“What is it, Trevor?”

Trevor held up the papers. “Is this the latest copy of the Partnership Agreement between us and MK Group?” Dwayne angled the pages towards himself, pursing his brows as he recognised the missing document from his desk.

“You know the answer to that. What’s wrong with it?”

“Why does this agreement state that we’re manufacturing both hardware and software of these products?

“Because we are.”

“No, we’re not. We’re building from the alpha prototype provided by MK — even contracted their engineers for software modelling. Sure, our engineers are constructing it, but the design is theirs.”

“Nothing wrong with that. Happens all the time. And of course we’ll use their prototype. It’s already working and we need 30,000 units readied by summer. Government contracts run on strict time-lines, especially those issued from the department of defense.”

“Exactly! We’re not talking about building the next telecom tower in San Myshuno — these are specialised equipment and tech systems for the CIA! We’re literally outsourcing sensitive software designs while putting our company stamp on the entire product!”

“And? We’ve done a risk assessment of the company. They’re clean.”

“They’re too clean! No worker disputes, no media scandals, no corruption? All companies have a stain somewhere, a case settled out of court–”  

“As much as I’d like to stay and listen to your speculations, Trevor, I have a signing to attend.”

“Dad, wait! Don’t you see how dangerous this is? It even says here that they’re taking care of the after sales services!”

“Because they were awarded the contract in the first place! Enough of this nonsense!” Dwayne fumed. “How do you think government contracts work? Companies compete for these bids, have their qualifications assessed, and only then will the contract be awarded to ONE lucky company.”

“It’s safe to use their prototype and engineers because rest assured, these resources would’ve been thoroughly checked and pre-approved, just like how we had to send samples of our hardware and capabilities for inspection too. This partnership was planned six months in advance when we first met Ms Brown at the Babylon Club! Do you remember her?

“Yes…”

“Good. Because the only reason we managed to secure this partnership is our great relations with her! Did you know MK was approached by our competitors? But they picked us! Not only have we acquired the perfect alibi to build an insider network in the government, we stand to gain political favors in the future! SimMobile will be untouchable for generations to come! You’re untouchable!”

“I understand, but–”

“Trevor, I have this. Leave it to me while you get your feet wet.”

“Let me talk to Ms Brown–”

“Enough! Are you out of your mind? How much further do you intend to embarrass me? Watcher knows what MK and the media are discussing about right now, and watcher knows if we’ll ever secure future partnerships with MK when I’ve ditched them to speak with you! You made me walk out of the partnership meeting for nothing!

“I-“

“Are you trying to cause a media scandal? Because that’s where we’re headed with your ridiculous stunt. You’re the heir of SimMobile. You need to stop acting like a spoiled child and grow up. Otherwise, you can start making yourself comfortable in the customer service department for another month!”

His dad paused at the door. “Love day is coming up. Check in with all your contacts by the end of the week and get that limited edition Birkin bag for Martha, maybe clear half a day for her too. She’s done us well.”

“Of course…” Trevor replied as his father left. He knew how important it was to ‘maintain relations’. Trevor took a seat as the names cycled mechanically one after another in his mind, pairing gift to person until he reached Athena.

For a brief moment, he thought about what she told him the night of the party. Then, he rang his PA.

************************************************

“The single most important resource one possesses is time. You’ve all heard the old adage. When you realise time is the most important commodity you have, you’ll naturally select only the most worthwhile pursuits.

For the rest of your mundane tasks, this is where being a businessman comes in handy. Making money work for you is a common advice; capitalising resources and juggling connections is another. But I say you are misguided if you become a Merchant of Money. I prefer to be a Merchant of Time.

What is a Merchant of Time, you ask? Simply put, a man who makes time work for him. A man who deals time. If you had multiple instances of time, you’re always one step ahead. And the best thing about being a Trader of Time is that deals are nonrefundable. Time cannot be stopped, changed, forwarded nor reversed. Once set in motion, all one needs to do is steer it in the right direction.

“Calypso.”

Masato’s sudden interruption of his own speech surprised the audience. Curtis could feel the eyes bore into the back of his head.

“Stand with me.”

“This is the moment when all our timelines converge into one. Tonight, our servers infiltrate government systems, networks and databases. We are the eyes and ears of SimNation. The gathering of domestic and foreign intelligence, global data collection and monitoring, phone calls and messages — all forms of communication made by every citizen, be it national leader or commoner, shall be known to us!”

“The way forward is paved for you, my friends. Whatever information you desire is at your fingertips. Tonight, my heir shall be your host. Enjoy, for it is your victory as it is mine.”

As the applause abated, Masato shot Curtis a quick glance, to which the boy acknowledged with a nod. His night had only just begun.

*******

16 thoughts on “17.2: Merchant of Time Pt 1

  1. So, what the first part of the epilogue is saying that Athena has yet to use the Tome of the Fourth Sage, right? And this part, well, is the main couple going to see each other again? I have a feeling they will have a wedding once they’re old enough to tie the knot.

    1. So far Athena has used the tome for only elemental spells (Ice, Lightning, Fire) but nothing else.

      The main couple will appear in 17.3 which is two updates away. They definitely want to be together, but they are still teens in the upcoming chapter so no wedding bells to come. 😢

    1. Any questions arising from this chapter should all be answered in the next chapter! If not, please let me know. I didn’t want to separating them, but next Chapter needs its own space. 🙂

  2. okay, so Masato is taking over completely, and Curtis is very close to be the next big boss.

    I am not quite sure what bothers Kirino tho 😡

  3. I like how you’ve given us a glimpse of a different side to Trevor. A smart side, and also one that genuinely worries about his dad and his company. I get the feeling that Trevor was forced into the business without being able to choose someone else, and has likely spent his life being used and molded by the people around him. Or at least, that’s how he acted in the earlier chapters – but here, we see a different side of him, and that gives him more depth. I like that very much.

    Also… That absolute bastard. The second Masato pointed out Curtis as the heir and host, in front of EVERYONE, he painted a gigantic target on his back. He’s basically condemning him to being hunted the second anything goes wrong – or even if it goes right. While knowing how much he meant to Kirino. The look in her eyes afterwards speaks volumes (very well done with the screenshots in this part, by the way. I really like the added bits of waiters carrying trays with wine glasses in the background).
    I hope I’m wrong, and she just likes the scenery from up there – but Masato’s reaction is very ominous.
    YOU DROVE HER TO THIS, YOU FLAPDRAGON.

  4. Woah.

    Hm, is it bad that a part of me is happy for Masato’s triumph. All his hard work, he really has the world in the palms of his hands now. Apart from Kirino, that is. Kirino is slipping away.

    1. Yay! I don’t think it’s a bad thing. As much as we follow AC’s battles, we’ve actually been following Masato’s efforts too! Aw that last line. You’re so, so right.

  5. She didn’t want him to announce Curtis as heir. Now she’s giving up, because she came to care for him. Maybe Masato thought she would be proud? And Trevor was right. His dads company will take any hits for anything that gets exposed.

  6. Your images are stunning as usual! Wow… so much happening in this chapter. First of all, nice to see the story from Trevor’s perspective. He means well, and he was genuinely concerned about his father’s company. And he’s smarter than he appears. Did his father imply he “wine/dine” and then some with an employee of the company? Trevor is entertaining older females on behalf of his father’s company? I think you’ve hinted at that before. Which is totally unfair to a teen. Not to mention illegal.

    Second, I love the juxtaposition of young men inheriting from older men… since Calypso/Curtis inherits a “company” of his own. Third, I am wondering if Kirino wants out… or this isn’t what she signed up for… and she readily acknowledges it’s too late now and she can’t go back. Did she expect Calypso to “inherit” tonight? Did she want to keep him hidden and protected as she’s hinted at him being like a son to her? I’ll keep reading. Maybe some of it is answered soon. Also, Merchant of Time speech… Masato – that’s a great villain speech!

  7. As self-declared president of the Morgyn Ambivalence Club, this transition is sending me. “Grim is really…? Oh, them? Meh. 28.4%?!?!?! WHAAAAAAT” (air horns blasting)

    I know Jeong is a super-common last name but I’m just going to go ahead and headcanon that our OCs are distantly related.

    Ooh, so there’s something supernatural going on there, too! Masato’s in danger. Just as well, since I want my 2 minutes back after his diatribe about time. Also all the other crimes he committed. The sea and bare feet makes me think it’s hinting at Kirino being a mermaid, but I don’t know my supernaturals well enough to say for sure.

    Sounds like Curtis is about to be thrust into a position he can’t handle, but, like… it’s Curtis. This is Tuesday for him.

    There’s no way Dwayne isn’t in on this…

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