Manager Strisk eyed the rickety structure sidelong.
“Mmm,” he said. “Not sure, if I’m honest.”
Bork looked pained. “What’s the problem now?” he wailed. “We’ve done everything you asked us to do. It’s tall enough. It’s steady enough – mostly. It’s a lovely orangey-red. There literally is no condition on your list that this magnificent tower does not meet, or indeed surpass by miles. Metres, anyway.”
“You have done a beautiful job, Bork, there’s no doubt about it.” Strisk reached out a hand, pressing his palm thoughtfully against one of the metal girders. He looked up, eyes following the framework up its height right to its very top, two hundred dizzying feet above them. And looking back down again, he stamped his foot on the concrete.
“And the pad is exactly as specified,” said Bork, preempting the complaint he was certain would come. Manager Strisk smiled at him benevolently.
“The pad is the very pinnacle of the concreter’s art,” he said. “I have no objections about the pad.”
Bork was minimally mollified. “There is no fury of fire and noise that will crack it,” he muttered, as much to himself and the uncaring desert around them.
“I’m sure of it,” Strisk said vaguely, his gaze once again targeting the tower’s top.
“It’s all exactly as you wanted it,” Bork said again.
“It is,” said Strisk. “I have no complaints, you may be assured. But as you will certainly appreciate, in preparation for an endeavour of this great magnitude, all dots must be teed, and eyes crossed. The very future of Bimbledyne Astrowidgetry International hangs in the balance. Our company’s noble charter and distinguished history demand nothing but the most selfless dedication from all of us.”
“We were only chartered on Monday. Just after lunch. I was at the meeting, remember? Ghil brought pie.”
“That’s as may be.” Strisk put on an air. “But a noble and distinguished history,” he said with a waft of a hand, “Need not be a long one. We’re destined for great things, young Bork, you mark what I say. This facility will be the launching pad – aha, my little pun – for our planet’s first great trek into the darkness beyond. And you and your team are making it all possible.”
“I’m actually not sure that was a pun, Strisk.”
“What? Never mind. Great things, Bork. Do not doubt it. It’s just…”
He paused. Bork waited patiently for the Manager to articulate whatever gleaming innovation he thought he was nurturing.
“It’s just that now I see it,” Strisk continued, gazing upwards thoughtfully, “I really wonder whether a nice sea green might have been better than orangey-red. Greens and blues are very relaxing, studies have shown.”