“Have you seen this, sir?” Clarence slid the neatly folded business section of the Cincinnati Enquirer across the pristine waxed top of the mahogany conference table. The eyes of the gathered department heads followed, landing on the man seated at the head of the table.
Jack Chancellor barely took a glance at it, not even bothering to lift the pages from the table. The CEO of Ardent Motors shrugged. “Another competitor joins the fold. Your point, Clarence?”
“Sir,” Clarence continued after a moment’s hesitation. “They’re coming directly at us. By name. They’re calling our brand new product…”
“I know what it says, Clarence,” Jack interrupted coolly. He fell silent for a moment, tapping his index finger impatiently just a few inches from the newspaper. The accounting and marketing heads looked at him expectantly. The engineering heads seemed more interested than concerned.
“Stanton?” Jack muttered.
Stanton Glass grinned, slightly distorted by the burn scars on his neck and right cheek. The young chief engineer rose, slow and stiff, and reached for his cane. “I imagine they can’t even test a product like the Midnight where they’re from. No good roads left. Why should that stop the fine gentlemen of this country from having a little fun?”
“And the undercutting?” Clarence queried, echoed by a sea of nervous head bobbing from the accountants.
Stanton pointed his cane at the marketers. “That problem belongs to these gentlemen. Besides, this upstart competitor is making the wrong comparison. Anyone who would want a Midnight isn’t going to look at this… Bogliq. It’s going after the market for the Starlight.” He started for exit of the board room, limping heavily on his right side. He paused for a moment at the end of the table and cast a sideways glance at the Starlight project’s lead, John Case. “I wonder if it’s because they smell blood,” he added, ice in his tone. Stanton Glass then proceeded out the door.
Jack Chancellor took his glasses off and gestured toward the door. “Gentlemen, the cold, hard truth. On your way…”