The Manager
rating: +44+x

Good afternoon, Everett. May I call you Everett? Dr. Mann seems so impersonal. It's a fine summer day, isn't it? I'd offer you a drink, but it seems you're the host today.

Don't be so shy. You want to know about the Factory, right? Don't worry, I'll tell you plenty. You can still torture me later, of course. I'm afraid my screaming circuits are a little rusty, but I'll put in the effort. For you.

So what did you want to know? Perhaps the rundown on our upcoming products? There's a line of action figures coming up that I'm particularly proud of. We've got a new series of adult toys, and a couple others - don't want to give away too much, but let's just say there's nothing we can't make candy-coated.

Come now. Don't be so dramatic. We're hardly the worst problem you have - I wouldn't even call us a problem. We're just trying to keep you on your toes. At worst we're your court jesters, your Friday night entertainment.

Tell me you didn't find the monkeys and the liquid rock charming. Or the God series. The anti-gravity device - how could that fail to tickle you? The contact lenses were practically benevolent - doesn't everyone at the Foundation want to see the world for how it really is? The silly putty - don't deny your researchers got some laughs out of that. I've seen your testing logs, with those poor, hapless D-Classes. The pencil sharpeners, those really were a gift, considering the uses you've put them to. …Oh? You're one of the Foundation's most brilliant stars now, Everett. I've heard stories… You can't tell me a few baby-faced schoolchildren still phase you.

Oh, of course that's what you meant. No, we haven't infiltrated your organization. Infiltration implies we're the enemy, that we actually need to spy on you.

They work with you every day, why don't you ask them? How about Jack, eh? Certainly worked with more than his share of Factory items. And his lovely little necklace - I'm sure you know the Foundation has since acquired a few more of those things. Even if there's… flaws… in the production line. Didn't you ever wonder…

No, I see you're not ready to believe that one. That's alright. Loyalty is a virtue. It's true, you really have no reason to trust me.

Oh, is that what this is about? Someone told you a little story. Was it the one with the faeries? Dear me, I've struck a nerve. I can see the seed of doubt was already there. Then perhaps you really don't want to hear that the best parts of that story are true. And the parts that aren't - well, don't worry, those only get better. You can't be told too much too fast. Don't want you to end up like poor Kondraki.

You look unimpressed. I'm sorry, was that too dramatic? I try to save the drama for our products. But sometimes I just can't help myself. Look - you're important to us. Before you came along, where were we? Stuck mostly dealing in… oh no, wait, I'm not supposed to tell you that, yet. For now, let's just say they were hard times. We want you around. You're not our first love, but you're the best.

We're not going to destroy the world, Everett. That isn't the point. We're just capitalists with a sense of humor. We want to add a little spice, a little flavor to the proceedings.

We hold ourselves back, you see. We want to make sure you can handle us. For now. Soon we won't need to keep the kid gloves on.

Of course that isn't a threat. We're the Factory. We produce, we don't posture.

You're right. We've got plans. Big ones, it's true. Tell you what - if you do a good job torturing me, I'll drop you a few spoilers. You've got to go the extra mile, though. As I said, I've heard stories about you, Everett. They say there are few limits to how far you'll go, when given the proper motivation. I'll be disappointed if you just waterboard me or chop off a few of my extra limbs. And be quick about it. I can't stay with you much longer.

Before you go, indulge me with one more question. About that story, Everett - the faerie story. Did he tell you he thought - at first - that he had us tamed? That he did it all for the good of mankind?

Ah, I can see I'm right. I knew he was still a sentimental man. It warms my entirely metaphorical heart.

The future is a brilliant place, Everett. You'll love it. We'll get there, together. I promise.

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