deWulf Corporate Democracy Turn 127

Fiction by Sylvester Wrzesinski

Moderator: Xveers

deWulf Corporate Democracy Turn 127

Postby Xveers on Sat 16 Jul 2016 23:14

Excerpt from Fenris Business Monthly
"The Premium Source for Business News"

The Helium Crisis of 12.4

Most societies occasionaly suffer this awkward moment when they discover that some key resource or component was either in short supply, about to become in short supply, or is about to be flat-out gone. The results vary, but often resemble someone grappling with imminent death. On the individual scale this can be a heart-rending process of anger and bargaining and denial.

On the level of a society, it can degenerate into a farce. And like most farces, they're only entertaining from the outside.

For the Ibizans, the Helium crisis was something that, like most real crises, was seen coming in the rear view mirror for some time. That is to say, the kind of mirror that says "Caution: Objects may be closer than they appear". And like most problems that one sees in a rearview mirror, they go from being at the edge of your concern to forcibly reshaping your world in the blink of an eye.

Imperial Armaments had been working hard to meet their latest contract, shipping Cabrera-class massdrivers to a brand new client. Someone other than the Ibizan Navy, for once. But that contract had official approval from so high up the ladder one needed an oxygen mask. And the payments arrived on time, and of the correct amount. So they produced. Until suddenly they weren't. The last shipment of Helium had been a week late, but that wasn't unheard of this year. The weather had been especially harsh this spring, even delaying the cargo maglevs that delivered the chilled tanks to the Imperial Amaments factory outside of Bortral.

But when next month's shipment arrived, half filled, questions began to be asked.

Distributors of course pointed fingers to suppliers, who in turn pointed fingers to the orbital cartels that supplying the helium. They promptly pointed their fingers at Queiroz, the closest gas giant orbiting their primary star. And the collection of debris that once was a vast skyhook farm that harvested elemental helium from its upper atmosphere. Accusations of corruption and incompetence rained down on the cartels, until they opened their books and demonstrated quite conclusively that they were indeed barely profitable, and had started work on replacing the skyhooks (and indeed there were a handful of new ones in orbit).

What they had done in the meantime was scrap every component that had helium as a cooling medium and repackage it for sale. It took them barely a year to run down every wrecked starship, shuttle, and cargo pod that had been lost in The Binary War. They even joked that they'd done more environmental cleanup of their star system than anyone else had ever done. Whole cubic AU of space returned to pristine wilderness. An empty vaccum, but pristine nonetheless. The income from the rest of the scrap had also provided the capital to rebuild some of the skyhooks that were scooping helium at a prodigious rate.

But not prodigious enough. The shortage quickly began to bite into the civillian sector as conventional uses of superconductor soon found themselves out of a key resource, and a mere strategic shortage turned itself into an economic crisis.

And like any crisis there is opportunity. "Give us a licence, and we'l have helium flowing into your economy like water" was the promise made by Geiger-Voss Industries.

A deWulf Corporation.

In the two weeks it took for an agreement to be hammered out, Geiger-Voss tankers hauled enough helium to restart all strategic industries. One week later, the rest of the Ibizan economy was back on its feet.

And not one more skyhook was built in Queiroz orbit.

*Edited for incorrect reference.
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Re: deWulf Corporate Democracy Turn 127

Postby Xveers on Fri 29 Jul 2016 20:17

SchützeFlach Station
Y-12 Research Base
Location Unknown

“Alright Sir, please place your bag inside the scanner. Any ID cards, access keys and handis in the bin as well. Thank you. Step into the scanner, please”

Marshal Yakir observed the what for him was perhaps the ultimate debasement. Senior PackMaster Rollen, senior commander of the deWulf corporate navy, submitting to a slow, invasive scan of himself and his personal property on entry to the station. The scanner rings slid up and down, side to side as they imaged their commander in chief before letting out a single noncommittal beep.

“You’re clear, sir. Step on through. Please collect your belongings on this side of the scanner.” The security rating looked over at the Marshal. “Please place your bag inside the scanner. Any ID cards, access keys…”

--Five Minutes Later—-

“And I can’t believe you not only LET them do that to you, but you actually signed off on that!”

Rollen let out a wry chuckle before answering “we do that precisely because we don’t want ANYONE knowing about where this shipyard is. Total access and informational control. No exceptions. Not even for me.”

Yakir nodded in response “We heard enough rumours about what it was, but never where.”

“And the reporters have so many conflicting stories about it that it’s impossible to separate the fact from fiction” confirmed Rollen. “Of course, we make sure that we ‘leak’ a few stories here and there as well. Most of them entirely fake, but a few of them with a few kernels of truth in them. Some of them even verifiable. Intel assures me that in a few years, the rumour mill will become self-sustaining and we won’t need to do anything except vehemently deny a few of the more plausible lies.”

“Grumman Weekly Star?"

“That’s the preferred one. Sometimes I think they’re a vanity service. They’ll print anything if they’re paid enough.”

“So what ARE we here to see?”

“A solution. We’ve known… no, realised… that our current methods were inadequate. We don’t have the needed firepower to properly crack a defended planet. And it’s not just a matter of enough firepower, but the right kind, properly applied.”

Yakir burbled with a sarcastic laugh “So not just a bigger hammer?”

“Oh, a much bigger hammer. But a more accurate one as well. We've been using a spike maul. What we need is a pile driver."

The two walked into a small cafeteria dining room, a few errant trays and bottles all that remained of the last meal served.

"Please, over to the window" invited Rollen. "I think you'll see what we have in mind."

The opposite wall of the dining room was a single floor to ceiling window that spanned the whole wall, looking into one of the three main shipyard bays that gave SchützeFlach Station it's distinctive appearance. The outside walls were covered with docking frames and the outputs from more than a dozen smaller foundries and assembly bays that provided the individual components that went into every special project birthed here.

"That... that IS a hammer alright." Yakir's eyes ran over the half-assembled hull, openings dotting the smooth grey plating like lesions. "Has to be at least a battleship in tonnage. And the hullform's not a traditional deWulf layout."

Rollen nodded. "Very perceptive. We're departing from a lot of our more classic design concepts with her. She doesn't look like it, but she masses closer to one of our heavy dreadnoughts than a battleship. And she's far more heavily defended than anything else we've ever built as well."

A trio of eyes followed over the completed hull, and rows of point defence batteries ran up and down her hull. Looking closer at one of the incomplete sections gave Yakir an idea of just how much armour and shielding had been built into the massive hull, and as he looked aft he saw only a pair of gigantic Donnerer RG-120 class drives sunk into an equally staggering armoured housing.

"Only two engines? I hope you're not hoping to catch someone with this. And I'm not seeing any actual offensive weapons on her."

Rollen grinned, teeth glimmering in the cold, sterile light. The look of a hunter finally being able to show off the trap they had so carefully crafted.

"Oh, she's armed alright. And she won't have trouble catching what she's chasing one bit. Not one little bit at all."
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