Nov. 20th, 2011

Zane kept pressing the '777' button in the elevator. It was annoying Howard and Lydia both. Yes, the elevator had a lot of stops to make. And yes, the everpresent glow that seemed to permeate everything in the elevator made it difficult to be sure that the button was, in fact, lit up. But pressing it every five seconds wasn't helping. They snapped at the same time; Howard grabbed Zane's arm and shook his head; Lydia patted Zane's back soothingly.

All three were on edge. They were meeting with the clients. Meeting with the clients wasn't a fun prospect, not like it had been at the beginning of the project. There was too much water under the bridge. Mistakes had been made, mostly in the area of effective communication and few in the area of ineptitude, or at least that was the stand that the attorneys had recommended. The clients, it was said, weren't happy. This was perfectly clear to everybody. Why else would they be asking to meet directly with the design team, even though the product had been rolled out long ago?

The elevator dinged, and the doors opened onto a blindingly lit boardroom. A long table stabbed accusingly at the trio in the elevator. The clients were all arrayed on the far side, in front of a huge picture window that overlooked a cloudscape. Zane, Howard and Lydia walked out into the vast space. "Gabriel," said Zane warmly. "How are you?"

Gabriel didn't reply. He was the only member of the client team who was sitting. He sat at the head of the table, his massive wings outstretched, and glowered. Zane swallowed. This was not going to go well.

Uriel pointed at the three chairs at the near end of the table. "Sit," he demanded. Zane and his team did as they were asked. None of the clients looked happy. They squared their briefcases and waited. In his overstuffed chair, Gabriel stirred.

"The Almighty," he announced in his rich tenor, "is not satisfied with the product of your labors."

Zane spread his hands. "If we have failed to meet a deadline…" he began.

"Don't play the innocent," barked Gabriel. "This isn't about time. This is about quality. Humanity is irretrievably broken, and God would like to know why."

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September 2012

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