Co-authored by Avio Yaken
“Beseth Dunijia’s economy is rather stable. Perks of simply relocating a society, instead of having to build one from scratch. The first few months were … tedious, but that was expected. After all, factories cannot be built in a day or even a week. And it took a while to convert everyone’s money into Besth script. But now, all the infrastructure is up and running, and another problem looms - a closed economy like ours cannot last. Monetary transactions are mostly between Beseth citizens. Sure, you’ve got the occasional Gurista raider setting down and buying some provisions. But they sell more than they buy. And taxes funnel additional money into the coffers of the various Holder Houses and the state. All this money being drained from the economy, it’s not sustainable, not at all. We need to bring in money from outside Beseth Dunijia.”
- Kheqali Bullahadian
04 November YC123
Rented storage unit on the Rabbit’s Warren Fortizar
“Hello, are you Helk?” Kheqali said, walking towards the storage unit he had rented.
Leaning against the frame of the door is a bald, stocky Civire man. A leaner, younger man of Deteis descent flanks him. The Civire replies, “Yeah, that’s me. You’re the uh … guy? Messaging me about the product?” He looks over his shoulder to his companion. “Morello, this is the guy?”
The Deteis referred to as Morello makes a facial expression of annoyance and confusion. “The ■■■■ you asking me for? Ask him.”
“Right, right … you’re the guy right? Come on, gimme a name. Come on.”
“I’m Kheqali,” Kheqali says, approaching the two men. Exasperatedly, he adds, “Yes, I’m “the guy”.”
Helk rubs his chin. “Kheqali … Kheqali, what is that? Amarrian?”
“Yeah, so? Is that a problem?” Kheqali asks, putting an edge to his voice.
“Well, so long as you got the product we were discussing … not an issue,” Helk says. He leaves his leaning position against the wall and walks forward. “Just seems you’re a ways off from home, is all.”
“No, I’m not. I’m four systems away from home, thank you very much.”
Helk’s face falls flat. “Yeah … you’re welcome.”
Spontaneously, Morello began coughing, muttering “Dumbass” as he clears his throat.
Helk turns his head around and snaps, “Morello, shut your ass up.” He turns back to Kheqali and, changing his tone to something more chipper, says, “Well! Anyways … you tell me you got some hot commodities that I just need to have … well, here I am. Wanna show me the product?”
“Alright, come on in then,” Kheqali replies, passing the two Guristas and unlocking the door.
The two follow Kheqali into the storage unit, looking around at the sealed crates with curiosity.
“Alright, let’s see,” Kheqali says, taking a look around. He points at one crate. “Let’s go with … this one.”
Helk rubs his hands together, picks up a nearby crowbar, and gets to work prying open the crate. With a strong pull, the lid pops off and Helk shoves it aside to take a look at the contents. “Alright … promising so far, packaging looks clean, modern and fresh … ,“ he murmurs as he reaches in and pulls out one of the packages to reveal …
An action figure.
“ … Alditch Shootah? What is this? A cartoon character or something?” Helk asks, looking at the back of the package.
Morello reaches around and pulls out another package before commenting, “Isn’t this that uh … Mittens fellow? Mittani or some ■■■■? The goon guy.”
“I think …? What is this brand?”
“Eggerz - says so on the lid and packaging, you moron,” Morello responds.
Helk looks up. “W-What? Are these … capsuleer action figures?” He starts looking through more of the packaged toys in the crate as he allows the Amarrian to answer.
“Yep, the entire Eggerz ‘23 lineup,” Kheqali replied, pulling out a datapad and handing it over. “Here. That’s the full manifest. 7,500 units of each toy.”
Morello intercepts the datapad and reads the contents with his spare hand while still holding the action figure. Helk, on the other hand, slams his hands down on the edge of the crate and stands up straight. “I can’t do anything with this ■■■■!”
Morello chimes in, “Weren’t you telling me you’d take anything you could get your hands on?” He puts the datapad down on a nearby crate.
Helk pivots to face his partner. “Sure! But you think I’m gonna be able to move some action figures molded after some god damn capsuleer shitheads?”
Morello flips the packaging around and pulls the figure’s sting through a “Test Me!” hole made in the back. The figure responds with, “Twist the knife!”
Morello lets out a slight chuckle as Helk turns to Kheqali. “What kind ofgame are you playing bringing this ■■■■ out here, eh?”
“What do you mean, what kind of game?” Kheqali asked, confused. “It’s all very straight forward - you sell them to kiddos, kiddos have fun, we make money. What else do you think I’m doing?”
“Trying to take me for a ■■■■■■■ ride if you think I’m about to hand over credit for this. I have a brand to uphold! A reputation to keep!”
Morello chimes back in as he returns the toy to the crate and picks out a new one, Bily, “Yeah, a reputation for selling overpriced plastic ■■■■ - absolutely has to keep that up. Priorities.”
“All my clients got money to burn to keep their brat quiet, Morello. My clients just happen to be my … colleagues-in-arms I guess you could say - other Gurista, you see. And … well, I don’t think you’ve caught the vibe yet, Mr. “I live four systems away” as capsuleers aren’t really welcomed in these parts. You know how many friends I’ve lost to capsuleers? Never mind the specifics, but just about everyone I’ve ever worked with in this organization can say they lost someone they knew to some egger ■■■■. See, I got principles - “
Morello snorts at the mention of principles, but goes unnoticed as Helk continues his tirade. “ - And my principles dictate that I can’t sell no damned toy that glorifies these nigh-immortal pricks and their insufferable popularity contests. What do you expect me to do with this ■■■■? What Gurista worth their salt would ever hand their kid a damn action figure of these power tripping scumbags?”
“Umm … umm … ummm,” Kheqali stammered, frantically looking for a way out of the predicament he had found himself in.
Helk continued, now pacing back and forth, “ - Loyalist lapdog shits, the lot of them. Self-righteous vigilante shitheels who prop themselves up as heroic figures only for each one of them to have a bodycount that puts each of us miserable bastards to shame. I’d kill them all if it actually mattered, but the pricks just keep coming back!”
Suddenly, an idea dawned on Kheqali. “Oh! You could market them as villains! Antagonists!”
Helk snaps back, “■■■■ you on about?”
Morello, however, slips back into the conversation. “Wait, wait, wait, he might be onto something … “
Helk turns his head to Morello. “What?”
“Yeah … yeah … . Just … market these figures as villain figures, I guess. It could work … ,” he thought aloud, refining the idea as he spoke. He holds up the Bily figure. “Hell, this figure right here? Bily or whoever the ■■■■? Has a running away action and it comes with a Komodo titan. So we can have the Eggerz run away with a Guristas Titan chasing after them.”
Helk rubs his chin, thinking. Meanwhile, Morello continues, “It’s an angle we can play … tap into the capsuleer sentiment and make a few sales, yeah?”
“Yeah … yeah! Yeah! You know what? This could work … and who knows? Maybe the brats will put the ■■■■■■■ to a firecracker or something and need a replacement. Repeat business! My favorite kind … ,” Helk starts coming around to the idea. He turns to Kheqali. “Alright, we’ll take them!” Before Kheqali can respond, Helk unholsters a pistol from his waist holster and slaps it down on a nearby crate, no doubt to intimidate the Amarrian and sway the negotiations in his favor. “What kind of deal do you wanna cut me for the lot?”
“Yo, yo, what the ■■■■? Why the hell you pulling that thing on me? That’s unnecessary, man! Real unnecessary! Put it away, man!” Kheqali blustered, making wild hand gestures.
Helk ignores the startled Amarrian and starts checking his nails as he continues, “It’s necessary if I feel like I’m getting a raw deal here.” Morello appears unfazed at his colleague’s intimidation tactic, even possibly in agreeance with it. Helk stares down Kheqali as he continues, “Tell me something. Do I need you? Maybe I can just … take the toys and go?”
Kheqali steels his nerves. You can’t back down now. Too late for that. All or nothing. He feigns casualness and calm as he remarks, “And lose out on future profit? Fine. You take these, make some extra profit, and lose out on any future sales that I can negotiate for you.”
“Be nice to have a reliable supplier for once,” Morello mentions in response. “Cap this guy, and it’s back to depending on a cargo ship for the stuff we want.”
Helk ponders this for a moment before asking the Amarrian, “So, what exactly do you get out of this? Eh? Just money? Are you even an independent seller or are you representing others in this?”
“Not an independent seller, no,” Kheqali replies. “This sale is for my boss - he found some stuff and decided to buy and resell it. But, as for any future sales, well … you know how I said I live four systems away? Well, my boss built a city there, and we’ve got companies - clothing, ammunition, weapons, even toys! But, well, the market is understandably limited there, so these companies are trying to branch out, sell to our neighbors in the region, like you! I run the bank, so the companies trust me to represent them and make sales on their behalf. If you really wanted to, I could probably even lobby some of the companies into opening up production lines for any toys you want to produce, for a fee, of course.”
Helk and Morello look at each other silently. Helk subtly retrieves his gun and replaces it in his holster. “That so?” he asks. “Well, maybe there is some potential for future business after all … Alright, then, sorry for the scare there then, my man … A’ight, let’s talk numbers then, I’m thinking maybe you can … cut me a generous offer for this load? As a test run, you see, … I gotta see if this stuff will sell after all.” He lets out a chuckle.
“Hmm … how about … ,” Kheqali retrieves his datapad and hits a few keys before handing it over. “That acceptable for you?”
Helk grabs the datapad and examines the numbers, with Morello leaning in. He hands the datapad back. “Alright … we’ll take it, see how it works … And we’ll give you a call if we need some more stock, yeah?”
“Alright, let’s head on down to the Depository and get these funds transferred, shall we?” Kheqali replied, taking the datapad. “And I’ll be in touch with any future contracts that come up.”
Helks nods his head. “Sure, sure,” he says, before faking a quick draw to get a reaction from the Amarrian, laughing at his own attempt.
“Enough fedoshitting around, Helk, let’s get this over with,” Morello says as Kheqali rolls his eyes in annoyance.
“Yeah, yeah, just having a little fun. Alright, lead the way.”
The three men exited the storage unit. Kheqali pressed a button next to the door before leaving. The door clanged shut, leaving the unit, and the stacks of crates inside it, in pitch black darkness.
A few hours later, in the Amarr VIII (Oris) - Emperor Family Academy Station,
Shasta strode into the small reception area.
“Duke Shasta!” the secretary said, jumping to his feet.
“As you were,” Shasta replied, gesturing for the man to sit back down. “Is the Minister in her office?”
“Yes, sir,” the secretary answered. Shasta nodded and knocked on the door before entering.
Ariene Chastot, the Minister for Science and Research, was sitting at her desk, looking at a datapad and shaking her head. She looked up as the duke entered the little office. “Duke Shasta,” she acknowledged.
“Minister Chastot,” the duke replied, sitting down in one of the two chairs in front of the minister’s desk. “How is the decryption going?”
“Not very well,” the minister admitted. “The encryption on the survey databases is very hard to break. However, I believe that we’ve been able to copy most, if not all, of the data.”
“Well, have your team keep working on the decryption. If you need intelligence analysts, Intelligence will provide them,” the duke replied.
“Yes, milord,” the Jin-Mei woman answered. “Is that all?”
“Actually, no,” the duke replied. “In fact, I have another assignment for you. Assemble a team of scientists and analysts, preferably those with knowledge of the precursor civilizations, especially the Yan Jung. You’re heading to Eugales.”
“Here,” the duke handed a datapad over. “The details of your assignment. UNF discovered a number of Yan Jung archaeological sites on a moon in Eugales. They’ve extracted a bunch of them and moved them to a secure location. I want you to study them. Details on the ruins are on page two, everything Intelligence could find. A transport will be waiting in Hangar 5. You’ll depart as soon as your escort arrives.”