“Promotion?” asked Manguy. He was walking past Katalysta’s office and had stopped in the doorway to watch as she slid the brass nameplate out of the triangular block on her desk. Another one, ready to be slid into place, was lying face down on the desk.
“Lateral,” she replied with a shrug. She had honey-coloured hair and skin that was naturally only slightly darker, making her look like she had a year-round tan. Her face was pixie-shaped and there were rumours around the office that she’d had her ears done to be pointy as well; Manguy hadn’t had the opportunity to smooth her hair back and find out. “I’m the Zeugmoid Vice President of Soft Power, Furnishing and Fillings.”
“Reporting to Dipali?”
“No, Dipali’s gone. There was a small incident… well, you either know or you don’t I suppose.” Manguy nodded; he didn’t know what Dipali had done wrong, but it was a fact of life at Data Analytics Marketetic Normalisations that any slip could be fatal, and sometimes not only for your career. In fact, when he thought about it, the word career was exactly the right one to describe the job trajectories here. And Katalysta was just doing what they all did: hinting at things he perhaps should know about, baiting him to see if he’d admit to not knowing – a cardinal sin – in order to learn what she knew. He wasn’t about to fall for a ruse as unsubtle as that.
“He was in a precarious position,” said Manguy, nodding. His black hair fell over his eyes as it did a lot at the moment. It annoyed him, but the Justin Bieber haircut annoyed many of his colleagues more so he wasn’t going to change it just yet. “I was expecting him to go a little later though; I’ll have to check who the pool’s paying out.” It was a little bit of a low blow, as he knew that Katalysta entertained little paranoid fantasies about the office pool on who would be next to go. Sure enough, she winced. “Who’s replacing him then?”
“The role’s being split,” said Katalysta. She slipped the new brass plate in, and adjusted the triangular block to make sure that it was clearly visible to anyone entering her office. “Tabitha’s taking Global Healthcare solutions, Tapestrisations and the Clotho-problem, while Trepanna’s got Soft Power and Broken Cuddly Things.”
“Makes sense,” said Manguy. He nodded again after a moment’s silence. “Trepanna’s got the knack of Broken Cuddly Things. You must be reporting to Tabitha then.”
Katalysta looked startled, and Manguy controlled a smile. He’d worked at Data Analytics Marketetic Normalisations longer than Katalysta realised and he knew the basics of how their matrix management filtered through operator algebras to produce an organisation chart that required a research mathematician to draw and an epistemological philosopher to understand. Pretty much the only thing anyone was sure of most of the time was that Jeremy Diseased-Rat was head of the whole organisation. That she would be reporting to someone with a distinctly different title was obvious to him, and it helped that he knew a lot about the different divisions of Soft Power, and just how soft power could be.
“Yes,” she said, clearly having trouble deciding what to tell him.
“So, Tabitha’s first focus will be the Tapestrisations,” he continued, enjoying the feeling of control he had. “So you must be looking at the regional health care solutions. I suspect you’re analysing how we can make a name for certain centres of excellence that have failed to market themselves adequately, and so acquire a position in the global healthcare markets that are expected to open up after 2025. I’ve only read a couple of reports, mostly peripheral you understand, but I’d suspect that Texas is likely to be big. And they’re desperate to get known.”
Katalysta was nodding along, apparently unconsciously, because she smiled with just her teeth and said, “No, it’s not like that at all. Tabitha’s first focus is the Clotho-problem because of its wider-ranging implications for market inputs in the old Soviet Union and its satellites and my studies are underpinning the solutions she intends to present to the Board.”
Manguy raised an eyebrow politely, and said, “That’s a shame. There’s a lot of interest in healthcare and I was looking to establish a small trans-departmental study group to determine where strategic acquisition and purchase might drive openings. I need someone dynamic and flexible to head up the steering committee to make recommendations based on first-hand reportage. I guess I’ll have to ask Tabitha who she’d recommend then.”
Katalysta flushed a little, and Manguy waved jauntily and walked away from her office. While he had never had any intention of inviting Katalysta to a co-operation, he did already have inquiries in from two corporate clients regarding the possibility of purchasing large healthcare facilities to reduce insurance costs, and there were a number of significant grey-market opportunities for the essentially-private facilities that these would become. Perhaps, he mused, Katalysta could play a role as a first-hand front-line reporter. Obviously she’d need a reason for being treated at one of these facilities, but that wouldn’t be too hard to arrange for….