The room is cold, and the air feels stale. About half of the lights are off; the others are dimmed. In the main body of the warehouse, it is quite dark. One solitary lamp shines in the middle of the square and some ambient light filters out of some of the interior housing units.
Dashner sits at his desk in the artificial half-light, feet up, eyes closed. The hum of his headphones is disturbed when the door behind him is hurled open and slams closed.
"What did you do?" The suit asks, but Dashner does not hear. Music blares out of his headset. The suit steps over to his desk and flings Dashner's feet onto the ground. Dashner looks the suit over, silences the song, and removes the headset.
"Ah, Martin. How can I help you?"
"What did you do?" Despite the shadows around his eyes, and despite the composed, calm face that the suit tries, or Director Martin Jacobs, to project, Dashner can see his anger.
"Care to be a little more specific?"
"You know very well why I'm here."
Dashner shrugs and places his elbows on the desk. He folds his hands and looks up, knowing that he is untouchable. "I don't think there is anything to say."
"Nothing to say? What about an explanation?"
"Explanation of what?"
The light in the courtyard flickers and goes out. The housing units go dark. A far off alarm signals a power dip and a transfer onto temporary batteries. The lights in the office remain on.
"This. I know that this is your doing. I know that you are responsible, that you're the reason that we're now underpowered."
"Yes. I know you brought more servers in and wired them into the power grid."
"Well, seems like you don't need me to answer anything then, do you?"
"So you admit it?"
"I don't admit anything. But if I did admit it, I might point out that first adding two or three servers shouldn't have overwhelmed the electrical grid, and second that adding those servers will let us purge that constant dust storm. I don't know about you, but I'm getting a bit tired of living in here."
Martin sneers at Dashner before saying, "That isn't your call."
"Woa… I never said it was my call; I never said I did anything."
"Don't insult my intelligence. We both know that you did this, now I need to know where you've hidden them so that I can get it undone."
"No? Do you think this is a game? Do you think that this is somehow your playground? That you can steal our power without consequences?"
Dashner remains quiet, considering his response. "Look, I'm not going to admit to adding them, but you can't take them off of the network."
"No? Why not?"
"They're already part of the system; they're already doing work and making calculations. If you take them out, then we could lose a month's worth of data."
Martin removes his glasses and massages the bridge of his nose. "Mr. Dashner, I thought we came to an understanding on these issues. Now you are telling me that not only did you go behind my back, but now there is no way to undo the damage."
"We did. We agreed."
"Then what, might I ask, possessed you to add additional burden on the power system?"
Dashner's face wrinkles. Worry lines start showing. He takes a breath and exhales slowly. Then he says, "There was a problem with the calculations."
"Yeah… I noticed that some of our numbers were off."
"Off by how much?"
"Enough that if we deployed, the device would explode."
"It was either more servers, or we add another two months before we can get out of this place."
Martin sighs. He knows he's powerless to stop this, that he's going to need to figure out a way to ration power and that Dashner will be no help in the unrest that is already brewing in the dormitories along the square.
"You still think we can be done in four months?"
"Probably five, no more than six."
The director inhales sharply. He'd heard those same numbers for the last few months. "Were you even going to tell me about the change in the timeframe?"
"I didn't think there was a need."
"Mr. Dashner, your inability to think is one of the reasons we are in this mess."
Dashner cringes at the insult, though the director expects that Tom Dashner was more reacting to hurt pride than out of anything resembling remorse.
They wait in silence for a moment before the director says, "I need to go work on getting a power rationing plan together. Your actions have condemned most of us to spend the next five months in darkness."
"It'll be over soon."
"I hope you are correct. We're dipping into our emergency reserves. Another surprise like this one and the system will fry itself. I cannot imagine the repercussions if that were to happen."
The director leaves without saying goodbye and Dashner swallows, watching the door ease closed.