“Brace yourselves,” Chloe held a hand on the steel door, holding it ajar and so that none of us could see in. I was unsure whether she herself knew what was beyond, but we all prepared for something.
And so, Chloe opened the door.
The sight that beheld me was not the one that I would have expected- or ever will expect again- in the top-floor of a civil business tower in the city. About three-quarters of the huge room was full of active machinery, grating and groaning, chopping and churning out sections of silver panel.
Chloe guided us to the side, around the men who were working hard to keep an eye on the machines. As we were walking, I noticed that the rusty machines not only spat out sheets of grey metal, but they were also making the innards of some great beast: computer chips clattered into a tray in the midst of other cables that were being wound together. All in all, everything was being gathered in the center of the room.
“Afternoon, Charles,” a worker nodded to Chloe as she passed him. I kept my head down and shuffled on.
“Good afternoon, Richard, I thought I’d come and check up on our great empire.”
“Do you have a client?” Richard inspected Mike with curiosity, but said nothing about me. I wasn’t even sure whether he knew I was there.
All for the better, I suppose.
“Perhaps…” Chloe glanced at Mike as her cheeks burned. I was surprised; I would have thought that lying would have come easily to her.
Richard took Mike by the shoulders and led him around the room. I followed like the ever-eager puppy.
“When we first acquired the towers,” Richard announced, “both were equipped with a ballroom across most of their top-floor, which of course, as you know, men like us would not need. We converted said ballrooms into production lines, as you can see now.”
“Cheaper for the company, I guess?” Mike asked.
“Well, indefinitely, but there are some advantages. Less shipping, for instance.”
“I see. But, surely, you can’t make all of the stock here?”
“No, of course not. We have other manufacturers-”
I gazed around the former ballroom with all its clunking and banging, all the noise of the computers that Tydeus were making. To think: the source of their livelihood came from right within the heart of their company; the business-side of the business combined so readily with the production side, intertwining mechanics with smart-talking. This was a company that had so suddenly exceeded my expectations of it.