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  1. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated No Funds? No Problems! Sign up for the Heph-Credit Debit Card! When the Technocracy delivered the brand-spanking new colony ship, there was a flurry of bidding for seats and construction contracts from almost all subsidiaries. Even subsidiaries that had nothing to do with said enterprises were attempting to get someone on the vessel. However, as expected, mining contractors and micro-subsidiaries bought almost every seat on the vessel. The wild-eyed, greedy diggers were drooling over the reported Itoron on the untouched world. Jason Woolard, mining magnate and Board member, bought himself three seats on the ship. This being so, the Board gave him permission to oversee Corporate affairs on the planet. The bulky xylorite power-source was mostly impressive, but it just didn't sit well with the Board. They demanded something smaller and easier to carry. They had no time for inconvenient energy systems. They would be willing to sell them, but not use them. The scientists were sent back to the labs, grumbling all the way, to bring the cells up to corporate standards. With volunteers coming every which-way from former Galaron, the Board followed CEO Penrith's orders to court the refugees. Any veteran soldiers are offered work in retraining the Hephaestus Enforcers closer to the galactic standard, and giving officers and troopers some idea about the realities of galactic warfare. Hephaestus was not an organisation that valued honour, privilege, or any such old-fashioned 'knightly' virtues. The Corporation liked results and nothing else. Should a war ever come, the Board was agreed that it would have to be a total war. Every underhanded, brutal, and efficient trick would be utilised in order to ward off an aggressor. Morality was too expensive. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Actions The scientists continue their work on the xylorite energy-cells for the Ares II, in order to make them smaller. Much grumbling ensues, but work goes on regardless. (-2AP) Much to the pleasure of station-spotters, Hephaestus decides its shipyard isn't big and 'Hephaestusy' enough. More resources are allocated to enlarging the superstructure so a larger logo can fit on it. Brand recognition is important, after all. (-1AP into upgrading to tier 2) The worrisome encroachment of the Corruptors pushes the board into allocating resources towards the Terran Federation's robot army. Or droid force. Whatever. They don't care. Engineers and useful components are sent off to the Terrans to aid in their scientific efforts. Pamphlets with Hephaestus products are also sent with them. The corporation needs to get something out of this, right? (-1AP) Military veterans of any sort (though somewhat geared towards Galaron expats) are hired to train the Enforcers closer to a galactic military standard. It is requested that they teach the most effective combat techniques and tactics, rather than the most moral. (-0AP) The colony ship, filled to the brim with ravenous miners and pre-fabricated buildings, are sent directly west to the newly-found super-planet. Jason Woolard is especially excited to utilise his mining lasers on a whole new ore. (-0AP) "The planet's 20% bigger than Earth? That's like, 20% more stuff to mine on it, hey? What a bargain!" -Jason Woolard, as quoted in 'Underworld E-zine.' Population: 172,000 Humans, 9,000 Grgl, 7,000 Tassareans, 4,000 Human-Tassareans, 1,250 Libellans, 1,250 Redons, 750 Backhatta, 250 Human-Redons, 12,500 Galaron Hephaestus Enforcers: 10,000 troopers, after voluntary sign-ups. Volunteers increased dramatically, due to the frightening events going on in the galaxy. Fleet: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. One small, Grgl-made freighter. One colony-ship, chock-full of gleeful, salivating miners. Spaceports: Tier 1 Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 13AP Advertising and Market Research: 11AP Reverse-Engineering: 3AP Technology -One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. -Laser weaponry (40% Higher damage, power-hungry variant) -Warp-drive technology (Gifted unto them by the Terran Federation) -Quantum Communications Technology (Via trade with Terran Federation) -Xylorite Energy Generators (Via trade with Terran Federation) -Primitive Xylorite energy cells -Artificial Gravity technology (Via trade with The Remnants) -Itoron-Steel alloys -Mark I Construction and Labour robots (via trade with Terran Federation)
  2. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated Where the Customer is ALWAYS Right!* *Terms and Conditions Apply The Hephaestus reps, upon hearing the offer given by the Libellan merchant erupt in laughter. It would save them time, sure, but for that price? "Tell him he's dreamin'. -Steven Penrith. They wouldn't go any higher than 200 tons. It would be more cost-effective to build their own ship. As the Tassarean scientist revealed his source for the laser-advancement, the board admonished him for his behaviour. How dare he think they'd care? Criminal organisations? Smugglers? Irrelevant. Results were what mattered to the Board, and the gentleman gained their appreciation for his work. They informed him that there was a rather sensitive project they had been negotiating with another colony. Due to his resourcefulness and 'pragmatism,' he was on the short list. They assured him that the project would open many doors for him in the Corporation. Until now, a significant bonus is rewarded to him in his next check. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "I don't wanna do it!" Steven groaned. He had slumped into his armchair with his head in his hands. He was clearly in a miserable mood. One that appeared to be caused by a looming Phillip Narau. "Mr Penrith, we need to look at this situation logically." The super-accountant paced Steven's chair. He was experienced in convincing his employer to take the correct course. "We will soon be expanding our borders, and we are in relatively close proximity to multiple other colonies. We need to make sure our expansion does not impede the expansion of our neighbours. So we're not all scrambling for territory." "But why do I have to talk to them?!" Steven was genuinely whining now. "Why can't you take care of it? I hate politics! It's all about ideology, and secret agendas, and nothing to do with business! Isn't this part of your job?" "Sir, you must understand." Phillip paced around the desk, and gently eased his large frame into an armchair. "You being involved in the proceedings grants legitimacy to the proceedings, and shows that you take them seriously." "But I don't! I don't take them seriously!" "I know, sir. But it needs to appear that you do." Steven, with all the maturity of a 5-year-old, groaned again. Phillip chose to change the subject, now that his point had been received. "Why don't we talk about the Galaron influx, sir?" Steven glanced up for a moment, and grunted. He clearly perked up a little, now that his mind was momentarily distracted from the idea of political meetings. "Oh yeah, yeah. I figured it'd make for good PR if we sponsored high-achieving Galaron kids. Make them grateful for the company early on. Good chance for future brand-loyalty, you know?" He pulled his face out of his hands, and the meticulous business cogs in his brain started turning again. "Give them scholarships for higher educations. Send them off to learn at Aurora, or something. Might lose a few to idealism, but we'd retain a decent number. Good for future R&D investments." Phillip nodded his head slowly, and typed Steven's words into his data-pad. "Could we use them for anything else?" "Oh yeah, of course we can." Steven sat up now, clearly in his element again. "Those Galarons were militarists types, right? Been at war for some time. Obviously they'll be drawn towards our Corporate enforcers or private security. We could use that to boost our mud-feet's numbers, as well as potentially add veteran soldiers and their experience. We have everything to gain by having them here. As long as they fit the bill for employment..." Phillip smiled, happy to know that the boss hadn't lost his spark. Maybe he could keep up his enthusiasm long enough to look actually happy to be at that meeting... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Actions Hephaestus Holdings sends materials and relevant experts to the Free Human Technocracy in order for them to construct a colonial freighter. The completed ship will be delivered next year, in trade for basic laser weapon technology. (-2AP) The scientists, having ramshackled the Redon's emitter into a Hephaestus weapon, now look to creating more efficient energy storage. Since they have an over-abundance of xylorite currently, they decide to fiddle with that. They obtain permission from the Board to begin experiments with the substance in order to create a higher-yield portable energy source for their weapons. (-2AP) The Board is looking to hire individuals on Hades with combat experience to further train the Enforcers. With growing galactic threats encroaching, it's only prudent to arm their troopers with knowledge as well as weapons. (-0AP) Hephaestus Security are renamed 'Hephaestus Enforcers' to better reflect their growing necessity. (-0AP) The little Grgl freighter is launched again, and sent to the system directly "west" of Hades. It seeks mineral-rich planets. Habitable planets are a secondary goal. (-0AP) Hephaestus sends out a message to the following colonies via quantum array: -Terran Federation -Auroran Technocracy -Silver Knight Company -Die Volksrepublik -The Remnants The message is as follows: Dear Sir or Madam, I would like to personally invite your leader/appropriate representative to a meeting on the subject of colonisation in our local region of the galaxy. Due to the close proximity of our colonies, I believe it is appropriate we should negotiate future expansion to avoid conflict within SATO. I am proud to host you in the luxurious Cairo Casino*, as well as offer all involved representatives free board, free food, free games, and much, much more!** I hope to see you here. Regards, Steven Penrith, CEO of Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated. *Cairo Casino Ltd is a subsidiary of Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated, including all trademarked intellectual property and materials within. **Terms and conditions apply. Please speak to your local Hephaestus Representative Kiosk for further information. Population: 165,500 Humans, 7,500 Grgl, 6,500 Tassareans, 3,250 Human-Tassareans, 1,000 Libellans, 1,000 Redons, 500 Backhatta, 150 Human-Redons, 3,500 Galaron Hephaestus Enforcers: 9000 troopers, after voluntary sign-ups. Volunteers increased dramatically, due to the frightening events going on in the galaxy. Fleet: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. One small, Grgl-made freighter. Spaceports: Tier 1 Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 13AP Advertising and Market Research: 11AP Reverse-Engineering: 3AP Technology -One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. -Laser weaponry (40% Higher damage, power-hungry variant) -Warp-drive technology (Gifted unto them by the Terran Federation) -Quantum Communications Technology (Via trade with Terran Federation) -Xylorite Energy Generators (Via trade with Terran Federation) -Artificial Gravity technology (Via trade with The Remnants) -Itoron-Steel alloys -Mark I Construction and Labour robots (via trade with Terran Federation)
  3. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated Best Products, Best Value, Best Customers! It seemed mere days before the scientists returned--patting themselves on the back for developing a new alloy, Itoran Steel, for vessel construction. Steven and the Board were highly impressed by the efficiency, and began furiously arguing the worth of the new material. After about half an hour of arguing, the Board half-remembered that the science team was still awkwardly hovering in the board-room and awaiting further orders. They shoo'd them away with some other project while they did the important work; selling their new product, and upholding their current contracts. The shareholders of Hades looked upon the visible shipyard slowly growing above the planet's skyline. The construction effort was surprisingly vast for an industry Hephaestus had never really been a part of. Then again, Hephaestus had never been in the arms market either, and they made one of the largest single sales in their history. Who knew what other industries they could succeed in? The Corporation could adapt to any situation, and this was not faith. This was fact. Everyone knew what was coming, however. The population had increased significantly in the last few years. Brokers began speculating on colony-vessel costs, and investors spoke with bankers and insurance-subsidiaries on colonial expeditions. Jason Woolard, mining magnate, sat in his favourite restaurant. He preferred steak and chips like he had back in Australia. He was practically raised on pub food (perhaps indicating how he gained the impressive gut he sported), as his father was a hotelier. He purchased land when he was barely 18 on the internet while drunk, and was very surprised to discover he had his hands on the richest copper deposit on the continent. Refusing help, he set up his own mining company. He built, and built, and built, until finally being incorporated into Hephaestus after the Down-Under Purchase of 2085. Milly Price was with him, and clearly out of her element. "Hey Milly, you tried the steak? I bloody love the steak here!" Jason wolfed down the meat greedily with a smile. Milly didn't seem too pleased with her massive plate. She prodded her lamb cutlets with a wince before placing her fork down in defeat. "I'd rather discuss the upcoming colonies." "Colonies? What colonies?" "The ones that are about to be announced next quarter? Don't you listen to the meetings?" "Nup." Jason planted a fistful of chips into his mouth with a gurgling chuckle. "Boring as ****. Unless it involves me. Then I tend to listen. Mostly." He finished his statement with a throaty guffaw. Milly rubbed the bridge of her nose with a grumble. This was going to take much longer than she hoped. "I want you to help me push for colonising ONLY planets without biospheres." Jason looked up at her mid-chew with a puzzled expression. "What? But I like biospheres! The air smells like, you know, air! And the ground is nice and earthy..." "Yes, but mining is much easier on dead planets." She spoke slowly and gently, emphasising mining with as much sweetness as possible. "I want to keep the lovely green planets for tourism and limited agriculture. Trees are annoying, aren't they?" Jason furrowed his brow, and licked ketchup from his lips. "They get in the way of everything. And hippies always complain when I chop them down. Yeah... maybe it'll be better with just other planets like that one..." Milly allowed herself a small smile as Jason dug back into his steak. Six board-members down, so, so many to go. Her tourism opportunities were growing grander by the day... Action Points Work continues on the shipyard. The new hobby of "Yard-spotting" is popularised in media. As there is only one shipyard, one would think there would be little interest, but enthusiasts claim they're 'making an early investment into the hobby.' (-2AP) Having nothing else to do, the scientists are encouraged to "improve something, or whatever. We dunno." They shrug their shoulders, and make attempts to increase the damage output of Hephaestus laser-weapons. They gain significant, though mostly silent, material support. (-2AP) A general advertisement is sent out to (market) friendly empires and colonies. Hephaestus seeks surveyors to scout out surrounding systems for exploitation and colonisation. (-0AP) Population: 159,500 Humans, 6,500 Grgl, 5,500 Tassareans, 2,750 Human-Tassareans, 750 Libellans, 750 Redons, 250 Backhatta, 20 Human-Redons Military: 8,750 security forces, after voluntary sign-ups. Fleet: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. One small, Grgl-made freighter. Spaceports: Almost there, but not quite... Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 13AP Advertising and Market Research: 11AP Reverse-Engineering: 3AP Technology One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. Laser weaponry Warp-drive technology (Gifted unto them by the Terran Federation) Quantum Communications Technology (Via trade with Terran Federation) Xylorite Energy Generators (Via trade with Terran Federation) Artificial Gravity technology (Via trade with The Remnants) Itoron-Steel alloys Mark I Construction and Labour robots (via trade with Terran Federation)
  4. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated* *Batteries not Included Most people in the galaxy familiar with Hephaestus Holdings would know that the Corporation wasn't a single entity. It was a great cattle pen holding dozens of smaller subsidiaries, each with their own interests. They in turn controlled micro-subsidiaries, and so on and so on. In the end, everything was already owned by someone else. Consensual transactions were the only way to obtain anything from anyone. Even the largest subsidiaries could not force smaller, independent ones to bend to their will without mutual agreement. This was upheld by Hephaestus Security--the guardians of this bizarre, corporate order. But none of this applied to the Board. The Board was like a feudal court, made up of the most prosperous subsidiaries in the corporation. And on the throne of Hephaestus sat Steven Penrith, to whom everyone--young or old, large or small, owed their employment. The Merchant King. So when the King went down to the researchers and engineers of Hudson & Kalai Electronics, telling them they had schematics for anti-gravity systems, quantum communications, AND Xylorite power generators, they did not expect to get them for free. The Board expected them to deliver when the time came to produce them. They would get rich, or their subsidiary's reputation would be ruined. Thankfully though, they would have some time to look over the schematics and produce some small-scale models before they were needed. Steven had interests elsewhere. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The office of Hephaestus' CEO was covered in yet more paper. The great, mahogany desk seemed like a snowy mountain, and Steven like a giant sifting through its contents. "So what's a 'Xylorite,' anyway Milly?" Milly Price, agriculture and tourism mogul, shrugged her shoulders as she stared into a multi-coloured Xylorite crystal. She placed it carefully back into a small, padded box on her lap. "Some kind of gem-thing the R&D people are going ga-ga over. The xenos seem to use it for money, so we're keeping it with the gold in the Box." "Gems instead of gold? Good God. Never thought I'd ever feel culture-shock again. Not after that night in Antwerp..." Steven trailed off at the end, whisking his thoughts away to nostalgic daydreams. "Savages." "Nah, they're all right. I know this one Redon guy who tells the funniest jokes. They're mostly about maiming things, but those guys have a heart of gold, I tell you! Er, xylorite." Jason Woolard, mining magnate, was sitting in a chair opposite to Milly, casually shooting a target in the corner of the room. Steven had ordered a box of assorted laser weapons for his office. He believed they lent levity to boring meetings, such as this one. "So uh, you guys listen to the report from the expedition?" He punctuated his comment with another shot from the scatter-laser he was firing. Milly's nails dug into her chair's arms at the comment. She reached for the gun box, muttering a stream of repulsive curses involving Tassarians, Ascardians, and meat-hooks. Steven's look hardened as he slouched back into his chair. "There's not much we can do about that now. We're much too small. Maybe in the future we can bugger those guys over. It'll be long after we're all dead, but. No point in fussing over rubbish you can't change." "That Peter-what's-his-name also mentioned some of those other colonies that were on the expedition. Didn't have many nice things to say about the New-Sephs. Or even the Terrans, for that matter." Milly fired her newly-snatched laser-pistol into the target with a scowl. "Maybe we shouldn't get too chummy with them? I prefer humans over xenos, but those New-Sephs make my skin crawl. It's like the Renaissance never happened to them." "I guess prosperity and science were just a fad." Jason added with a sneering snort. Scratching his chin, Steve nodded along with them with the smallest of frowns. "Yeah. Probably ought to keep our eyes on those 'altar-boys.' May need to start looking into establishing more concrete friendships with less zealous colonies." He twisted his chair around to face the ever-growing industry that now covered his skyline. As he eyed the feverish flourishing of industry and commerce, he shook his head with a weary sigh. "**** me. I hate politics." Actions Hephaestus, finally, would begin the construction of a space-bound shipyard. The considerable production capabilities, now that the staff felt their reputation was restored, was geared towards enormous girders and steel plating necessary for the station's construction. (-2AP) Steven Penrith, worried somewhat by the increasing hostilities around the galaxy, decides that it's time to look into more practical means of protection. He orders his engineers to think up a new form of hull armour for future vessels. "Like, ferrocrete, or maybe plasteel? I'm pretty sure Star Wars had plasteel. Make me some of that." -CEO Steven Penrith, after an engineer answered his initial question with "What?" (-2AP) Population: 153,000 Humans, 6,000 Grgl, 4,750 Tassareans, 2,500 Human-Tassareans, 500 Libellans, 500 Redons, 250 Backhatta Military: 8,700 security forces, after voluntary sign-ups. Fleet: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. One small, Grgl-made freighter. Spaceports: Zilch, nada, nothin'. Who needs 'em, am I right?! Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 13AP Advertising and Market Research: 11AP Reverse-Engineering: 3AP Science One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. Laser weaponry Warp-drive technology (Gifted unto them by the Terran Federation) Quantum Communications Technology (Via trade with Terran Federation) Xylorite Energy Generators (Via trade with Terran Federation) Artificial Gravity technology (Via trade with The Remnants)
  5. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated The Best Deals, or your Money Back! The Hephaestus board was horrified. More horrified than they had ever been before. They have managed, despite all projections, to fall short of their manufacturing order. Blame was abound among all those involved with the Galaron debacle. Until finally, CEO Steven Penrith stood up. "What do we do when we don't deliver?" He boomed to the gathered throng of marketeers and moguls alike. The Hephaestus staff immediately went silent. Surely he didn't mean... "Their money back--guaranteed." Pins dropped from every shareholder present, or perhaps it was the little umbrellas falling from their Caribbean-themed margaritas. But that was the order. There would be 100% customer satisfaction. If there was not, there would be a full refund. Factory workers, ashamed at their performance evaluation, immediately and sombrely started up their assembly lines. The second half of the order would be completed late, but it would be completed. They would offer the remaining order as recompense for their failure. Actions The Hephaestus Board outright refuse to put resources towards anything other than completing the Galaron's original order. They simply could not return the money without offering the remaining order as an apology. (-4AP) A message is sent to the Galaron Republic to inform them that, due to failing to meet their quota, Hephaestus offers a full refund, as well as the remaining weapons should they desire them. It also comes with a personally penned letter from Steven Penrith, and the whole Hephaestus board--apologising for their failure, and hope that the Republic of Galaron would still consider Hephaestus for future business. Granted, this message is only sent if the weapons can be created on time. (-0AP) Population: 146,500 Humans, 5,250 Grgl, 4,250 Tassareans, 2,000 Human-Tassareans, 250 Libellans, 250 Redons, 250 Backhatta Military: 8,650 security forces, after voluntary sign-ups. Fleets: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. Spaceports: Zilch, nada, nothin'. Who needs 'em, am I right?! Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 13AP Advertising and Market Research: 11AP Reverse-Engineering: 3AP Science One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. Fully-functional laser weaponry Warp-drive technology (Gifted unto them by the Terran Federation)
  6. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated An Equal-Opportunity Employer! CEO Steven Penrith and Phillip Narau sat in a private booth in Hephaestus' most prominent restaurant. Steven had decided he was sick of talking in his office that day, and also he was hungry. The two were (surprisingly) quietly eating while discussing the latest deals and decisions at the time. "Look, Phil, mate, I know you think there's profit in that Earth expedition, but I just don't think it's marketable." Phillip, the Corporation's super-accountant, begged to differ. "The tourism opportunities would be exemplary. If we could get in early, there are only avenues for expansion there. Earth will be a target for 'pilgrimage'. People will require lodgings, food, transport. Everything we can provide." Steven slurped down his Asian-Italian 'Noodles and Meatballs' and shook his head. "You forget Phil--Governments. We'll be working with governments. They'll want to turn the place into a 'national park,' or something dopey like that. 'Free for all human peoples.' And guess who'll be fronting the bill? Members of the Council. I want Hephaestus nowhere near it so we can politely and justifiably refuse." He took a moment to shake his Fork-sticks at Phillip chidingly. "And this is all assuming Earth still exists. Considering the condition of that shitty sun of ours when we left, it's probably got the appearance of a charred tennis-ball. That is if it hasn't been melted completely, or swallowed by the sun, or shattered into a million pieces." "There could be other planets. Surviving ancient human relics, perhaps? Mars, for instance, could still have those rovers. There are many marks left by our species in our home-system. There could even be more human survivors." Steven interrupted Phil with a short groan. "Who the hell wants to go to bloody Mars? There's nothing there! Never has been! It's only connection with us is that we named it. We have as much connection with it, or any of those other planets, as we do with Hades." Phillip quickly realised he needed to push a stronger angle. "But possible surivors, sir. That is a significant payoff for a remarkably low-risk investment. Especially if some of them are skilled labourers. I would imagine they'd have to be to escape." Steven looked up from his food and narrowed his eyes as Phillip spoke. This spurred the accountant onward, clearly having captured his employer's imagination. "The Terrans and Aurorans strike me as the egalitarian types. They'll want to mete out all survivors so as not to offend the colonies that supported them. Extra human employees added to a possible major tourism opportunity? Surely that's a worth the money and time." Steven tapped his fork-stick on his chin in thought. With a sigh, he dipped it back into his noodles. "Ah, fine. Have it your way. If I'm right though, you owe me a bottle of that fancy new Sydney Pinot Noir. We have more pressing concerns though." "War profiteering, sir?" And the two of them laughed and drank the night away, as old friends ought. Actions The order for the weapons came in, and was met with glee from the factory workers and managers. The huge stockpile of raw resources is poured into the weapon's fabrication. The belching new factories are given a christening of mass-production worthy of their assembly lines. Considering the capacity of Hephaestus industrial output at this stage, the managers are encouraged to 'let loose' with their manufacturing. In fact, they are tasked to see exactly many extra weapons they can produce after the order is met. Any excess (after all quality tests) will be passed on to the Republic for free (since they're first-time customers), in order to court them for future business. (-4AP) Strangely enough, the Board realises that they have significantly more resources to work with this year than previously predicted. This is unusual, due to many of them assuming that the Republic's order would take up most of the year's budget and labour. Not wishing to look a gift horse in the mouth, the Board allocates the extra resources to the plucky engineers and scientists fiddling with the Grgl spacecraft. They are requested to study, analyse, and reverse-engineer the grav-plates that create the artificial gravity. They desire a working prototype by the end of the year if possible, but are willing to wait until the next financial year if they can't recreate it. (-2AP) Upon receiving the complaint from the Grgl representatives, Hephaestus elects one of its top negotiators to settle their worries. They explain the situation as thus-- As far as Hephaestus is aware, Grgl are treated the same as any other employee within the Corporation. Each and every individual who comes to Hephaestus for employment must first sign a contract with very explicit conditions. One of those conditions is 'if a business is formed within Hephaestus, it must incorporate into Hephaestus.' The Corporation does not 'tax' individuals. But each subsidiary gives a portion of its earnings to the Head Office and Board of Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated. This money goes towards unmarketable infrastructure, the security forces, special R&D projects, etc etc. This system is a quirk of Hephaestus' evolution from business to 'nation,' and works remarkably well--so long as businesses incorporate. A business that does not incorporate is arguably similar to 'tax evasion' in the more conventional sense. No species are treated differently in this regard, including humans. If an individual is found who is not an employee and are operating a business without corporate identification, they are disrupting revenue from its rightful course. They are therefore vagrants, and are trespassing on private property. Should Grgl appear to be unfairly treated, it is more likely-than-not a coincidence. The Confederation of Xaplonius' business is deeply valued by Hephaestus. To assuage any Grgl's fears, a full investigation into the matter will be performed at the beginning of the next financial year, just in case. In regards to the Earth Expedition, Hephaestus desires to attend, and will send 100 surveyors, search-and-rescue workers, and security personal along with the other colonies' parties. Population: 140,500 Humans, 4,500 Grgl, 3,750 Tassareans, 1,650 Human-Tassareans, 100 Libellans, 50 Redons, 20 Backhatta Military: 8,600 security forces, after voluntary sign-ups. Fleets: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. Spaceports: Zilch, nada, nothin'. Who needs 'em, am I right?! Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 13AP Advertising and Market Research: 11AP Reverse-Engineering: 3AP Science One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. Fully-functional laser weaponry Warp-drive technology (Gifted unto them by the Terran Federation)
  7. Hephaestus-- A Glimpse into the Life of an Employee The microbus stops in front of you and you step aboard quickly. The driver has a small screen displaying the stock prices for transport subsidiaries next to his controls, which he glances at between stops. Probably an independent micro-entrepreneur outside the usual circles. Risky. He smiles and greets you jovially as you swipe your debit-chit. Nice touch. This will sell well when the time comes--he's branded himself quite effectively. The trip is overall pleasant, though your mind is concentrating on the next quarterly report for your employer. You're an executive in a minor off-world financial firm. It specialises in raw mineral sales. Plenty of markets beyond Hephaestus. Prices are low here. Higher everywhere else. Easy sales. Low effort, high profit. Will likely fail though, and soon. These businesses are consumed by larger ones fairly regularly--like minnows in a pond of piranhas. Still, suitable for now. You make a note to check the next corporate newsletter for inter-subsidiary transfer opportunities. Never hurts to have a new job lined up early. This street looks a little different today. Would have been completely different last month. Shops are bought up, go out of business, move elsewhere, or are merged regularly. Like a body replacing cells. Same place, but at the same time not. The microbus stops and the driver gives you a cheery 'thank you' as you swipe your chit again. Stocks must have risen. Good for him. Maybe he'll be on an executive board with you some day? Then again, maybe not. Entrepreneurs are different beasts from salary-jockeys like yourself. They prefer to be leaders and commanders. You're happy enough to be a cog. There is still a short walk to the street where you are employed. You know the way by memory alone. Street names often change with new owners. Everyone wants to give their own, personal touch to things. Understandable. Good for PR. Old names may not mesh well with current branding. You walk past a large air vent--the ones that dot all habitats on the atmosphere-lacking planet of Hades. The vents burrow into the earth where frozen ice from the planet's caps are processed into air. Very cost-efficient. Should have bought more shares in them when you arrived. Very safe investment. A small chill bites through your synth-cotton suit as you walk past the gaping grill. Air is cold. Lacks the personal touch. Bad PR for the subsidiary that owns the vent. You continue on the walk. You look up briefly, and see the stars through the glass Hemis-dome that surrounds this business district. They stretch like blanket of beautiful, infinite lights--waltzing across the sky in an eternal dance. Much like you. Much like all the businesses, subsidiaries, and independents. You ponder if it would be nicer to have a holographic sun instead. There is a Grgl just beyond the vent. It has a small food stand. The strange, sticky goop they sell is quite popular among lower-income employees. You prefer established, more experienced goop-peddlers. You never know what could be in the independent one's broth. At least the larger ones are up front with their peculiar ingredients. Two Hephaestus Security officers are standing a little further on, muttering between one-another and tapping things on their data-pads. Probably slyly checking the Grgl's corporate ID. Might not have incorporated. Bad idea. If you're not incorporated, you're not an employee. If you're not an employee, you're a vagrant. If you're a vagrant, you're trespassing on Hephaestus property. Probably be hit with several complicated wavers to sign, then tossed off the planet. Grgl's problem. Not yours. Is that general-goods outlet selling diapers? You have two children at home with your spouse. One of them is a recent addition. Corporate-mandated 20% off infant-related products, added to the store's 40% discount. Store is closing down. Excellent. You make a note to go back after work. Stocking up would be a good investment. Children produce large quantities of waste, and little else. Granted, they have considerable worth to your emotional well-being, as does your spouse--but this is the business world. Business is practical, and pragmatic. Emotional investments belong at home where they are useful and appreciated. You turn into the final street. A Tassaran is arguing with a private security officer. He 'works here.' The security guard posits, quite firmly, the opposite. Change in management. It was merged with another micro-subsidiary yesterday. Tassaran was probably expecting to still have a job. Naiive. You allow yourself a chuckle as you get out of earshot. Tassarans are good people on the whole--quality employees--and can sometimes keep up with the pace of the Race. But businesses rise and fall all the time, here. Sometimes within hours. They'll get used to it. Or they'll leave. Perhaps they'll join security? Security plays a different game. They watch the employees rather than the market. You might go there one day too, if opportunities dry up. Currently there is work around each corner. Everyone desires cogs for their machines. You are a quality cog to be sure. Certain to be in demand, should you go inquiring. You've arrived. You walk into the lobby of your building. The secretary is different. New hire? The last one had a very nasal voice. Bad PR for official correspondence, you suppose. The secretary gestures you over. They hand you a letter. Actual paper? You've been laid off. Actual paper, though. Personal touch. Good PR. Will remember that in the future. You request references for your CV. Secretary sends them via inter-corporate mail. Your former employers are quite kind in their appraisals. Almost touching. You have a three-month grace period before you're considered a vagrant, though security tends to be lenient on humans. Might get four months instead. Spouse is still employed to your knowledge, so you will be fine anyway. Employees' families are exempt. You walk back towards bus-hub. Perhaps you'll get lunch while you update your CV? You pass the Tassaran who has given up on argument and is now looking through the business section in the Heph. Corp. Newsletter. Reasonable place to start, if a bit amateurish. He'll learn. You turn down the connecting street. Hephaestus Security are securing the goop-stand, and arresting the Grgl. No corporate ID? Sucks to be them. Should have known better. A maintenance team is fiddling with the cold air-vent, getting it back to a comfortable temperature. Admirable efficiency. That company will be sticking around for a while yet. You walk up to the bus-hub, just as a familiar microbus pulls in. The bus is the same as the one that carried you here, but the driver is different. Previous owner must have sold up. Good for him. He had good PR.
  8. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated Coming to a Planet Near You! The lack of bonus-efficiency deeply annoyed the super-accountant Phillip Narau. Though, progress within acceptable parameters was still fine by him. With a firm pat on the back from Steven Penrith, he moved to finally finish the district so the next stage of Hephaestus advancement could begin. After all, now that Hephaestus was plugged in to the galactic community, opportunities were available everywhere--granted one was willing to perform the legwork. Steven was insistent on this project being completed within the next year, and Phillip had no wish to displease the historically hyper-emotional CEO. The work on the heavy-industry district is pushed to be completed. There is much that needs to be manufactured. (-2AP) The arrival of the little freighter made the Hephaestus engineers salivate, but the board advised caution with their new asset. The freighter was landed on the surface of Hades, where all manner of technicians began to pour over its systems--eager to find technology (other than the false-gravity generators) that may not yet be known. They did not wish to deconstruct the vessel in any manner just yet. Instead, they hoped to thoroughly examine it for any insights into the construction of future vessels. (-1AP) A cadre of Hephaestus marketeers contact the Republic of Galaron. Though they may not be able to help them due to the resolution of the Terran Federation and Aurora Imperium (along with barely being larger than a scant million in total population), they were more than willing to 'help' in other ways. To be sure, Hephaestus' laser weapons were likely inferior to the technologically advanced Republic, BUT their laser weapons were cheap. Dirt cheap. Along with being easy to maintain, quick to produce, and not requiring anything other than standard power to charge energy cells. This, possibly, could be of interest to the Republic. If only to redistribute more quality weapons to those that needed them most. (-1AP) In Regards to the Cultural Exchange Hephaestus happily agrees! After all, it sounds like a market-research goldmine! Learning what other cultures would like to buy was certainly a positive thing according to the Board. So long as they were allowed to bring along as many catalogues and free samples they desired. Population: 136,000 Humans, 3,500 Grgl, 3,000 Tassareans, 1,250 Human-Tassareans Military: 8,550 security forces, after voluntary sign-ups. Fleets: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 13AP Advertising and Market Research: 11AP Science One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. Fully-functional laser weaponry Warp-drive technology (Gifted unto them by the Terran Federation)
  9. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated Insurance, Banking, Shopping, and More! "Bloody hell, Phil. Have you seen the names of these buggers?" The office of Steven Penrith was filled with all manner of data print-outs. Steven preferred paper over electronic screens, despite the obnoxious cost of wood-based products. It gave his office an old-fashioned vibe of business, and screens gave him headaches anyway. Phillip Narau was sitting in an armchair on the opposite side of Steven's desk quietly thumbing through the papers himself--coldly and silently absorbing the information. The person in the room no-one was acknowledging was Milly Price, who was currently sitting in an armchair next to Phillip fiddling with her laser-pistol. "The aliens have rather colourful names, yes." "Damn stupid names. Like the one that sounds like a bowel movement." "Backhatta?" "Grgl." "Hrm." Steven waved away the comments of his two employees, and shook his head. "No, no, no. I'm talking about these other human colonies. Aurora Imperium. The Remnants (That's a bloody laugh). Silver Knight Company. And the list goes on, and on. Now Hephaestus Holdings, there's a proper name..." Milly sighed, and put her gun back into her pocket. "Why are we here, Steve?" "Mr Penrith," Phillip cut in, glaring at Milly briefly, "requested my presence, due to the upcoming choice for representation in the galactic assembly. I requested your presence because I'd prefer more opinions. Mr Woolard would be here too, but he's busy with his mining expansions." "Politics." Steven spat the word with considerable ire. "Wish I could just buy the bloody assembly. Then we wouldn't have to talk about it anymore." With a sigh, he scooped out his synth-coffee mug and leaned back into his armchair. "So which one of these goofs are we voting for?" "I would suggest the Terran Federation. They gave us a complimentary warp-drive, and it would be best to foster relations with them. Hopefully we can steer them away from supporting any regulatory measures that could slow business." "Ah yeah? Good blokes, them. Saved us lots of time. Still need the fellas down in R&D to take apart a Klingon ship to get at those lovely false-gravity systems. At least we won't need a warp drive, though! They do have artificial gravity, right...?" "I have no data on that yet, Mr Penrith." "They probably do." "Frankly I wish we didn't have to deal with these damn xenos at all. Sick of seeing those freaks walking about our business complexes. Why can't they just leave us be and rule their own bits of the galaxy? That's what I want to know." Milly folded her arms with a glower, which was quickly intercepted by Steven. "Yeah, but they're our customers, so..." He shrugged, and twirled his chair to look out his window. "Anyway. These other human buggers. Anyone we know?" "No organisation that I recognise off the top of my head. There's a name that looks familiar, however." Steven nodded absent-minded and taking a sip of his synth-coffee, looking over the entertainment district beneath his window. "That Belgian girl I met in Antwerp? 'Lona,' wasn't it?" "A Mr 'Edward Armathwaite.'" Steven performed a sound that resembled a llama gargling acid, before spitting his coffee all over his window. He spun around in his chair bearing a face that showed both bewilderment and rage. "THAT ****?!" Action List: Work would continue on the expansive heavy industry district, doubtlessly at greater speeds due to the factories recently completed. (-3AP) Hephaestus representatives are now looking to purchase a ship with some variety of 'artificial gravity' that isn't a centrifuge model. ("I don't want 2001: Space Odyssey , I want bloody Star Wars!" -Steven Penrith, CEO of Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated) (-1AP) Population: 129,500 Humans, 3,000 Grgl, 2,000 Tassareans, 750 Human-Tassareans Military: 8,500 security forces, after voluntary sign-ups. Fleets: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 11AP Advertising and Market Research: 10AP Science One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. Fully-functional laser weaponry Warp-drive technology (Gifted unto them by the Terran Federation)
  10. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated Lowest Prices are just the Beginning! With the baby boom came a deluge of baby products that had been in storage for years. Though a little dusty, they were cheap enough to entice plenty of purchases from resident shareholders--much to the glee of toy fabricators. Now that the campaign was beginning to ebb, attention could return to the 'Five Year Plan' as the board-members had promised. Under the watchful eye of Phillip Narau, a brand new manufacturing district was drawn up, and resources allocated towards it (out of view of potential customers, of course). What exactly would be built in these factories was for now a mystery. Clearly they were designed for heavy industry of some kind. The considerable resources from the mines and factories are allocated to building the heavy-industry district. (-3AP) Utilising the quantum-communication-thingymajig, Hephaestus representatives contact the relevant Tassaran and Grgl authorities to gauge a price on a jump-drive, hyper-drive, or any such 'faster-than-light' engine that might be available. They don't seek to buy just yet, but rather shop around and assess available products. (-1AP) Population: 124,500 Humans, 2,500 Grgl, 1500 Tassareans, 500 Human-Tassareans Military: 8,450 security forces, after voluntary sign-ups. Fleets: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 8AP Advertising and Market Research: 10AP Science One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. Fully-functional laser weaponry
  11. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated Where the savings are passed on to YOU! Anyone walking near the office of Hephaestus CEO Steven Penrith would note the sound of sharp, electric crackles accompanied by innocent, childlike laughter. Phillip Narau--super-accountant--was standing in the waiting room with the agriculture and tourism mogul Milly Price, and mining magnate Jason Woolard. Phillip had suggested giving Mr Penrith a little more time before going to speak to him on business, as clearly he was not going to be in the mood for their conversation just yet. After waiting ten more minutes, the sounds finally subsided, and the trio entered the office. Steven was sitting in his large, leather chair carefully replacing an energy cell in his newly acquired laser-pistol. He was humming to himself contentedly, and nodded to the entering board-members with a smile. "You lot grabbed yourselves a laser-gun, yet?" He inclined his head towards a small box on the opposite side of the room, clearly containing a number of the newly tested laser-armaments. "Cheap-as-chips, easy to use, low recoil, and they don't need bullets. What's not to love, hey? I'm going to push getting our security boys armed with them before the year's out! Bloody Star Wars, these things!" He punctuated his comment by firing another shot into a well-worn metal target in the corner of his office. It was riddled with still-glowing melted divots and holes from his previous hours of fun. "Perhaps a little later, Sir," Phillip gently stated. "We're here to speak to you on the company's hiring policies." Steven nodded slowly, as he licked his finger and rubbed a scorch-mark off the barrel of his pistol. "Do you want to drop wages again? Bad PR, Phil. Didn't do it back then, won't do it now." "It's more about us hiring the aliens, Mr Penrith," interjected Milly. "The growth of non-human employees are troubling us." "Yeah yeah. The aliens taking human jobs, and such." Jason was clearly more interested in the box of laser weapons, and was pulling out what seemed to be a shotgun variant. "Hey? What are you buggers jibbering about?" "Sir," Phillip gently spoke. "There is a worry that the arrival and interbreeding with the Tassarean species fundamentally lowers the growth of human child-birth." Noting Steven's blank stare, he changed strategies. "Our human production is lower than our current competitors. We wish to invest in bridging the gap." Steven's expression hardened, and he leaned back in his chair steepling his fingers. "Hell, Phil. We're already working on my five-year-plan, mate. Can't this wait?" "In all due respect Mr Penrith," Milly jutted in again, "investing earlier would be wiser. Besides, projections tell us that we can match our production/mining output sooner than expected." Steven sighed angrily, and picked up his pistol again. "Alright alright, fine. I suppose we can do the whole 'human children are important' thing again. For one year. I'm not wasting more time than that." "It will be easy, sir. We still have all the material from the previous campaign. They were good incentives. They just need to be pushed a little harder." There was a louder, electrical snap as Jason sent a scatter-laser shot into Steve's target. "These things are great! Can I have one?" "Of course you can!" Steven gestured at Phillip and Milly. "We can all have one! C'mon guys! Lets blast this target to smithereens like we're stormtroopers!" With unsure glances, Phillip and Milly obliged, if only out of curiosity. And nothing productive was done for the rest of the day. A major multi-media advertising campaign begins, concentrating on increasing human breeding--possibly the heaviest campaign ever performed by the Company. Each advert stresses the importance of the human family, the traditions of the Earth-born Corporation, and the homes left behind. They play on the emotions of the human listener (and perhaps even the alien ones, if they are sympathetic), how it's their duty to aid in the replenishment of their race and, though there are other humans beyond Hades, they're not enough to be passive about it. They express the grandeur of the human species, their spirit, and their bravery. They connect it to the importance of humans to the Company. They describe everything so succinctly that it could instill guilt in the audience for any lack of action. The same incentives from the last attempt are offered, but framed in a superior way. These adverts are masterfully crafted by the top Hephaestus marketeers--it's clear the campaign was designed have long-lasting effects on human reproduction. (-4AP) Population: 115,500 Humans, 2,250 Grgl, 1000 Tassareans, 250 Human-Tassareans Military: 8,400 security forces, after voluntary sign-ups. Fleets: One drive-less colony ship, sitting idle. Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 5AP Advertising and Market Research: 10AP Science One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. Fully-functional laser weaponry
  12. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated Winner of the 2078 Industry's Award! With the laser rifle in its prototype stages, the board and Mr Penrith exclaim avid excitement over the continuing development of the 'space guns.' Mr Penrith, however, exclaimed some confusion over the inclusion of what appeared to be the application for some scientist. The CEO of Hephaestus was not the one to handle individual hires to departments he knew very little about. But since this individual had input into the space-gun's development he put in his own recommendation. Whoever owned the mining and engineering subsidiaries would make the choice later on. But since the CEO expressed interest, he might find his way in (He gets hired). Now that the prototypes were developed and patented, testing would begin in order to optimise performance. (-1AP) The increased mining operations spread across the richest deposits Hades had to offer. The landscape (thankfully far away enough for the employees not to see) was being torn through with such abandon that the miners had to start replacing their tools on a weekly basis. This was an acceptable loss, however, considering the minerals that were being drawn from the ground. Mining was good work, indeed. None knew this more than Jason Woolard, the leading man in mining development, and now one of the wealthiest board-members in Hephaestus Holdings. Today he was giving a tour to another very prominent board member, the heavily tattooed super-accountant Phillip Narau, around the latest expansion. "We have about two-hundred more positions that need filling. And boy howdy, are they filling fast! I'm getting people from just about every industry now, Mr Narau. Everyone wants a piece of my growing pie--especially me!" Jason smacked his rotund belly for emphasis, and let out a hacking laugh. Through the environmental suit, it sounded like a duck violently quacking. "Indeed, Jason. And please, call me Phillip. We are, after all, working toward the same goal. There is no need for formalities." The two walked past a group of engineers putting together a ten-foot laser-drill. One of many that were aimed at the rich mineral deposits below. "I am here, Jason, to inform you that we still require further mining expansions. Mr Penrith's plan will necessitate considerable resources in order to succeed. He has sent me personally to observe the current output." Jason gestured around himself, and let out another, now gurgling, laugh. "Good god, Phillip. Bring it on! I could burn through half the planet at this rate! With those fancy laser-guns you got me to finance, I've had my eggheads up the juice on my mining equipment. They cut through iron like butter." His face fell a little, barely visible through the visor of his environmental suit. "God, I miss butter..." "Funny that you should mention employment, Jason. That is in part what I came to speak to you of." The mining magnate narrowed his eyes at the accountant. He couldn't read the face of Phillip through his suit, not that he could even without it. Phillip was always a cold fellow. He couldn't imagine him losing a game of poker, let along betraying his thoughts through expression. "I thought Steve sent you." "He did." Phillip remarked coolly, "but I suggested it. Mr Penrith always listens to my suggestions. Just as I always carry out his more far-fetched orders. Because he only ever leads us upwards. In our case, quite literally." Jason could feel Phillips icy stare through the glass and the suit. He shivered, but not noticeably. "And what does employing people have to do with anything?" "Some of the other board members have expressed some concerns. Concerns that I agree with. I would like to know if, you too, agree. May we speak privately?" The two lumbered off to the local office complex, leaving the miners alone to tear up the earth once more. (-3AP The rabid mining expansion continues under Steve's 5 Year Plan. Ensuring that there will be many happy days of for miners to come.) Population: 111,500 humans, 1,750 Grgl, 750 Tassareans, 20 Hybrids. Millitary: 8,350 security forces, after the recruitment of all interested parties. Accumulation List Mining: 8AP Manufacturing: 5AP Advertising and Market Research: 6AP Science One disassembled jump-drive sitting in some engineer's basement. One working prototype for a laser weapon. Fleet One drive-less colony ship sitting idle, as it's no longer required for storage or power.
  13. Haephestus Holdings Incorporated Shrinking Font-sizes since 2055! The office of Mr Penrith was closed that morning. The great industrialist had spent the whole night celebrating that he was not, in fact, the arbiter of humanity. The communicators given to him by the Tarrasseans/Grgl had not yet been used, but there were a few ideas the advertising guys had. Henceforth, he got immensely drunk. Now that he didn't have the survival of humanity to consider, he could get back to what he loved doing--business. Business and nothing else. His Maori super-accountant Phillip was more than pleased to see his employer back in good spirits, but a little less pleased he was imbibing them. Nevertheless, when Steven had recovered from his night of fun, he called a very important board-meeting. "Gentlemen, this is not only a great thing for us as a species, it's even better for us from a business perspective! We have potential markets our products were actually made for." The board members nodded in agreement as they slurped down their synth-coffee with sagely nods. "We're going to need to expand our operations tenfold. First up--we're getting business out the wazoo from our, erm..." "Tarrassean and Grgl, sir." "Thanks, Phil. Yeah, Tarrassean and Gurgle patrons. But we need to get an early foot into the human market. The best way for that, is convenience." Steven stands up from his chair, and begins to pace around the room gesticulating around himself dramatically."In my drunken stupor the previous night, I had... a vision." The board members started looking at one-another pensively. "I saw a galaxy dotted with Hephaestus super-markets. But not just that, space stations! The size of cities! All Hephaestus! Mega-marts of such immensity and magnitude that my mind could almost not comprehend. I saw spacecraft the size of skyscrapers, flying the vastness of space. They too, were super-markets, but they plied unknown worlds to sell our products to people who had not achieved spaceflight. And the profits. Good God, the profits..." The eyes of the board members became wistful. "...we had to create whole new units of measurement in order to count it. There was nothing we could not buy. It was.... beautiful." Some of the board-members began to tear up at the thought. Others simply nodded stoically, with small smiles edging on the sides of their mouths. "I want this vision to be a reality. I wish to institute a great expansion for Hephaestus. The 'Five Year Plan.' In this plan, we will concentrate our resources on expanding our mining operations, and industrial output, and finally, technology. We will create the first step in market dominance--the Hermes MegaMart!" Actions When Steven gave the order for massive mine-expansions, the mining subsidiaries, their employees, and their families were ecstatic. At last they had the opportunity to really begin tearing up the landscape. The lack of any atmosphere had been such a strange boon to them. They had never realised how pleasant completely unregulated mining operations could be. As a rule, the Head Office informed the miners that they absolutely could not work within eyesight of any Hephaestus settlement on the planet's face. It made for bad business, and could lead to a decline in retail value. Thus, the miners set off hundreds of kilometres from the main settlements, and began the most intensive operation in the history of the company. -3AP Intense mining expansions with zero fucks given to waste-management or aesthetics. Just the acquisition of resources. The board was interested in the Tarrassean scientist, and decided to mark him down for recruitment the next financial year. For now however, they preferred their work-horses to continue with their research into laser-weaponry. This time, they requested some working prototypes derived from the blueprints created in the previous year. They hoped the engineering and science department would let them down. -1AP into building a number of different prototypes. Population: 108,500 humans, 1000 Grgl, 500 Tarrasseans Millitary: 8,250 Security forces, after the recruitment of interested parties. Accumulation List Mining: 5AP Manufacturing: 5AP Advertising and Market Research: 6AP Science -One disassembled and incomprehensible jump-drive sitting in an engineer's basement somewhere. -Set of schematics for prototype laser weapons. Fleet: One drive-less colony ship currently being used for storage and power.
  14. Hephaestus Holdings Incorporated The Digi-vision show "Hephaestus: The Company Line," was airing its final episode for the season. Today's episode, much to the pleasure of the execs and shareholders of the subsidiary, CEO Steven Penrith accepted an invitation for an interview as a cap-off to the series. The bubbly hosts, Sally Fisher and Ryan Cresthaven, we're wearing their million-dollar smiles and the studio audience erupted into cheers as he was introduced. Cordial, blithe small-talk and jokes started them all off, and when he was suitably comfortable the pair began their real questions. "Steven-" Sally began, before almost immediately being cut off. "That's 'Mr Penrith' for my employees, Sally love." The hosts and the audience laughed jovially. "Mr Penrith, industrialist, merchant, entrepreneur, bachelor, and saviour of the human race--what precisely haven't you done?" "Well, a reasonable marriage, for one!" Polite laughter ensued. "There are some black marks on your record, however!" Remarked Ryan in his imported British accent. "Some people say you're xenophobic!" "Untrue, Ryan, mate! These are just silly rumours started up by very silly, soon-to-be-fired employees." "Some say that you refer to our Tassarran customers as "Klingons!" "What an absolute nonsense statement, Ryan! If any of you two are classic science-fiction fans like myself, you'll know that Tassarrans look nothing like Klingons and Grgl look nothing like Maltesers! Why would I make such a callous, spiteful statement? I, in fact, was the one who encouraged commerce between Hephaestus and alien cultures regardless of their outward appearance!" "I uh, sir, he never said grgl looked l-" "And besides, even if I did make some sort of comment of that kind, hey, I'm still a businessman! And my business is the growth and success of our beloved Corporation!" A number of cheers erupted from the studio audience, and the interview moved on to favourite foods, and future plans for Hephaestus. Due to the overstocking of gold, and under the advisement of Phillip the Super-Accountant, the Corporation orders a switch to an electronic currency based on the current gold-reserves they have accumulated until a purported more valuable material is found. Alien currency may be hassle-free swapped with Hephaestus reps for 'HEcredits' at appropriate kiosks at the beginning of the next financial year. 1AP. Upon hearing that the company had access to smaller energy sources already, Steven states that he is pleased to learn such. He also states that if the scientists mouth-off to him again in such a manner, he'll replace them with Grgl. Since they had been wasting a year of company time and saying nothing until that point, Steven assumes that they have plenty of time on their hands. He and the Corporation put in a request for a number of possible laser-weapon designs, with actual construction and testing occurring some time in the next financial year. 1AP With the increasing number of alien visitors, the board-members believe some market research ought to be conducted about the customers they're catering to. Worrying that the purchases of Hephaestus products are due to novelty rather than purpose, they wish to learn about products their new customers use commonly. Tarrassans and grgl are sought out in the Tourist-Trap, and are are offered compensation (In the form of casino chips, free meals at selected venues etc etc) for completing surveys. 2AP Population: Humans, 105,500 Tassareans, 250 Grgl, 500 Military: 8000 Security forces. Volunteering dropped substantially, due to the normalisation of alien presence. Will be adding my own "Accumulation List" as it seems clever. Mining Total: 2AP, Manufacturing Total: 5AP Advertising and Market Research Total: 6AP Science: One disassembled, incomprehensible jump-drive sitting in a corner of some engineer's workshop. 3AP Fleet: One drive-less colony ship being utilised for storage and energy.
  15. Hephaestus Holdings Inc. Best Bargains since 2055! The advent of alien contact had different effects upon the shareholders of Hephaestus. They were confused, yes. But mostly jubilant at the prospect. Who wouldn't want alien customers, clients, or tourists? Not a soul in the company could say for absolute certain, but excitement was abound regardless. Not all people were happy at the thought of alien contact. Far up above skulked CEO Steven Penrith, who just that moment was negotiating a massive tourist-trap construction deal with agriculture mogul Milly Price. It was not going well. "Look, Milly, love, you're the only one with any kind of tourism experience here. All I'm asking for is a bunch of casinos, some knick-knack stores, and restaurants. You can make anything else aside from that! Hell, you could even put together a petting zoo! You've got all the animals for it!" Milly, a stout, mousy-haired woman, was being extremely difficult. Likely on purpose in order to receive a better deal. Steven didn't expect any less from her. He respected her for it--he'd have done the same. "Considering the size of the project, the costs, the labour, the resources, I'd be as mad as a cut snake to accept it. I can't organise a project like this. And you want me to build this resort in the span of a year?! It's outright insanity, Steven!" "Well who the hell else are we going to get?! I didn't think to bring any tourism-inclined shareholders here! Even Phil couldn't convince me, and he wouldn't have tried! We didn't have space in space for such a risky investment! You've actually run a chain of resorts before you went into farms-" "Resorts that YOU bought out from under me!" "Not me personally! My tourism specialist suggested it. What was his name, Phil? Jiles? Jehova?" "James Norris, Mr Penrith." "Oh, that turd. Yeah, he offed himself after the sun announcement. Bloody quitter. Anyway..." "I'm not doing it, Steve." "Alright alright. Look here--I'll give you majority shares in the resort itself. Does that sound good? I'll even give allot you an extra chunk of the profits. And you have full authority over wages, aesthetics, the lot!" This gave Milly pause. "And I won't have it ripped out from under me?" "Who would I even replace you with?" A moment more of consideration and Milly began nodding her head. "Well, I suppose if you're fronting the majority of the bill and I have enough interested shareholders willing to invest... Alright. Okay. I'll do it. But I'll be running it my way, Steven." Steven's rehearsed business-laugh chimed out jovially. "Milly, sweetheart. I knew you'd see reason. This is a fantastic opportunity for Hephaestus, and especially you." With a smile, and a handshake, Milly left the office. Phillip and Steven celebrated with a round of whisky, and office-green golf. They had every reason to be happy. They no longer had to worry about the project falling apart, now that there was a scapegoat in place to take any blame. The conversation between the two was mostly about golf swings, but slowly slithered into the alien thing (as Steven referred to it). "The bloody nerve of that orange-eyed weirdo, Phil." "Sir?" "The nerve! He comes into my office, treats me like some kind of arbiter of humanity, and, without our permission, leaves all sorts of doohickies with us "for our safety"! Even though there "are no threats" nearby." Steven lined up the next putt with a definitive scowl. "And the way he kept going on about 'breeding' was bloody grubby, too. "Oh! We can help boost your numbers with our Klingon genes! I'm a single man. Ha ha ha." ******* lecher." Phillip Narau the Super-Accountant tossed Steven's words around in his head for a moment, before speaking quite carefully. "What's wrong with being seen as the 'arbiter of humanity,' sir?" "Hey? I'm no damn arbiter! I'm not a politician, a diplomat, or king, or anything! I'm a businessman, Phil! My desires begin and end with the accumulation of wealth, and the growth of my company. That's it. The bloody nerve of that Kingon and Malteser coming in here and using all that political-speak. They were wasting this company's time. At least we had a chance at some free advertising..." "Well, sir, you are technically the arbiter of humanity." "Hey?" "Well, we are, for all we know, the only humans left in the universe. We are the last humans, you are our leader, hence, it would be accurate to call you humanity's 'arbiter.' You are the single, guiding will behind the success or extinction of the human race." At this statement, Steve went completely quiet, and his expression turned blank. He rested his putter on his shoulder, and walked towards his enormous office window. He stared out at the buildings being constructed--the expanse of open-cut mines, and the bio-domes that stretched into the distance. He shivered, and rested his forehead against the glass. "Jesus, Phil. Jesus Christ. That's a lot of pressure, mate." Steven loosened his rose-red tie and wiped his forehead. "Oh God. I'm sweating. Am I... nervous? I haven't been nervous since asking Mirabelle Carrowey to the school formal in '73. I am the guiding hand of humanity?" A moment of silence permeated the office, as Phillip clenched his jaw and looked at his shoes, unsure what to say without setting his boss off on some nervous tirade. "Oh ****!" Steve had practically screamed the statement and Phillip practically jumped in place. "Sir?! What is it?!" "I told that Klingon and his mates that I didn't give a **** about who my employees boinked! Bloody hell, Phil! They're gonna come over here and try to fill our human ladies with their Klingon baby-batter!! And ah, presumably their Klingon women doing the same thing with our human men, except in reverse. We might extinct with too much cross-breeding! You know how our people are with monogamy!" Steve raced over to his desk, and tapped his 'secretary' icon. "Inform the board! Emergency meeting, right now!" The gathered members of the board were hastily shuttled into the boardroom at 11:30pm Earth time, much to their chagrin. Synthesised coffee and chocolate was offered around by Steven and Phillip, the latter still in the dark as to what his boss was going to say. When everyone was settled, a slightly nervous Steven spoke quickly in his usual, terse tone. "Alright, folks. We have a problem. Population isn't growing as quick as it should be. We need to hurry up and increase our species annual growth in order to ah..." He trailed off for a moment, and scratched his head. "...cater to the large numbers of alien customers we'll be getting now." Adjusting his tie and clearing his throat, he regained the rest of his composure before the staring down the confused board-members. "We need to breed the next generation of Hephaestus employees quickly. Our shareholders need to start pairing off and doing the 'good, Catholic, horizontal tickle-dance' as soon as possible. And staying with one-another to raise them. Monogamously. How do we encourage this?" A brief moment of sceptical looks shot first towards Steven, and then between fellow board-members, before Milly Price, the new tourism-baron, spoke up. "How about we make all newborn children automatically shareholders in Hephaestus? Give them each ten shares to sell, or keep? That'll make our employees pay attention, and give their children future say in the corporation without having to take from their parents. Plus, a discount on all Hephaestus products for upwards of ten years, with a ten percent price-drop for each child." Numerous angry mutters and disagreements erupted from the board. "And," spoke Phillip over the irate din, "at the same time we invest heavily in baby-related products to make up for the losses. I'm sure we could produce cheap baby-products for a micro-fraction of what they previously cost. In essence, we could come out of this proposition with a reasonable net profit. While doing the right thing for the... company." Now, the board clearly began to consider the proposition. After all, they were chosen for the colony as individuals motivated by loyalty to the company, and their relentless pursuit of profit. Half an hour of deliberations, and the board agreed to a long, flashy advertisement campaign for the next year. "Alright, with that settled, ladies and gents, issue two. I don't think it's good for the ah... corporate image to be totally reliant on unknown aliens for our defence. Visitors need to know that we're capable of watching over their purchases and safety. We're in space, yeah? We need space-guns." The board, once more, looked between each other dubiously. One board-member, Barry, spoke up. "We've never been in the weapons business, Mr Penrith. We're a domestic manufacturer. We left that stuff to Lockheed, Smith & Wessen, and those other fellas up in Europe. I don't think we even have the resources to make bullets." "Well, what do we have that we can weaponize?" A moment of silence permeated the boardroom once more, before Phillip spoke calmly. "Well, we have those mining lasers. We've been manufacturing them wholesale for years, now." Jason, a rotund, mining-magnate, burst out laughing. "Laser-guns? Have you been indulging in classic films, Mr Narau? I manufacture them. Those things aren't guns--the smallest ones can't be lifted by a single miner! Now, it's not an issue of strength, they can bite through rock easily enough. I'm sure it can bite through a hostile target all the same. It's an issue of power. They need lots of juice in order to function efficiently." "Well, clearly we need smaller, more efficient energy sources." "Excuse me?" "I want all of you to gather up every electrical engineer, physicist, and other R&D blokes you've got out here, and plug them into efficient, portable energy research. I don't want us buying a single weapon off of anybody. We're going to do this one alone." "But, Mr Penrith, why?! That sounds needlessly expensive." "Why?" Steve began walking to the door, his meeting now, in his mind, over. He turned towards the board members, and stared at them, stone-faced. "It's just good business." Actions -2AP: Mineral resources and investment are poured into the alien tourist-trap. Casinos, zoos, restaurants, and entertainment complexes are quickly constructed for a purported tourism influx to the young colony. -1AP: A sleek, professional advertisement campaign begins to entice people into getting together and increasing their baby-output (refer to the post for the actual incentives, I don't want to write it out again :/ ) -1AP: Scientists and engineers are pushed into adapting smaller, efficient power-sources for possible use in weapons from current technology. Military 7,500 security forces. Employee increase due to uncertainty over alien presence. Population: 103,500 shareholders