Congratulations

”Congratulations, Ms. Aihaken. The council unanimously agrees that you have been exemplary in leading a life and education following the rules of conduct and the ideals of Hyasyoda Corporation.”

He paused for a moment to emphasize what he was going to say next.

“And so we grant you the position junior executive officer of this business arm.”

“Thank you, sir Kion, I am very grateful.” She stood proud before him. “Hyasyoda is like a religion to me and leading a life in line with its values, my faith.”

Kion smiled. “Here is your new working uniform.” He gave her the garments which he was carrying.

She took it into her arms but didn’t look at it yet, in order to remain dignified. It would signify to all which position she now held.

“Good luck.”

“Sir, if I may,” she said as he was turning to leave. “There is something severely bothering me, and which has for a long time and that I want to start working on immediately.”

“Yes. What is it?”

“It’s the capsuleers. I resent that more and more of our sales are lost to them. Their effectiveness in their crew-less ships and flexible organization structures is impossible to compete against, especially in this kind of market. It’s hurting us badly, not only economically, but also our pride and self-respect.”

“We are well aware of this fact. What do you propose to do?”

“I want to form an unofficial undercover group, investigating how to weaken them so that we can return to our former glory, and beyond.”

“I see. And which means do you foresee will be employed by this group?”

“Any means necessary,” she answered bluntly and without hesitation, looking him directly into his eyes.

He stood in surprise studying her for a moment, seeing the strong determination in her expression and sensing the well-concealed anger.

“Very well,” he finally nodded. “I will propose it to the council at the next meeting. Dismissed.”

As he left, she stood back alone in the reception hall outside of the council chamber, the other members having departed earlier. She waited until he was out of sight, following him with her eyes, before looking down at the female version of the dark blue business uniform which she held in her arms. It consisted of a jacket, skirt, and solely for females, an obligatory service hat that had its rim folded up at its sides and back, and a hatband carrying the insignia of their branch.

This color will look good against my auburn hair , she thought.

Back in her quarters and with the door closed behind her, away from the prying eyes and jelaous, critical looks of her fellow colleagues and students in the public areas, always searching for anything to fault with others in order to gain an advantage, she finally let it out.

“Capsuleers… I hate them!” she shouted and threw her boots hard against the wall.

She sat down and breathed heavily but she felt invigorated. Now at 25 years old having got the position that she had been expected to achieve from birth and worked towards for all of her life, gave her increased energy. She had become even more determined that she would participate in bringing back the golden times of her corporation.

The deep bell-like sound indicated that a message had been sent, specifically from the council, to her in-room comms. She was expecting a message at this time, as the council meeting where they would discuss her proposition was soon over.

It was a message that she would either delay her desire or reinvigorate it.

“Show message,” she said is she walked up to the large screen.

The council has approved your request. Move forward as you see fit. Odunen will assist you in recruiting members and obtaining the necessary resources. Present your plan to the council when you are ready.

She was content. Proud. She began dressing herself up in the new uniform, which she had already worn since last week. She put on the hat and adjusted it. Her sharply cut hair was mainly visible from under it at the front, on each side of her face where it was the longest, reaching her jawline.

In her spare time, she had studied what she would do if she was given this opportunity. But in reality, even the standard business education, for those who managed to get through it being both mentally and physically taxing from the long hours needed to keep up with the curriculum, offered rich and deep insights into common business methods but also loopholes, manipulation, building trust, deception, intelligence, bribes… all things that would be of use and beneficial to reaching her goal.

Exiting her quarters, she knew exactly how and where to begin, having thought it through again and again.

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She stood in front of the large screen at the end wall, while the seven members of the council were seated around the big oval table in the council chamber.

“Ms Aihaken. You may begin presenting your strategy,” said Kion.

“Thank you, sir.”

She straightened and placed her hands behind her back. In the last two weeks she had prepared a business plan she felt confident would help to regain market shares, without resorting to too drastic measures.

“I’ve devised a three-part strategy, each part supporting the others in a self-reinforcing loop. I expect net postive results in the medium to long term.”

On the screen she displayed a triangle with the words customer loyalty, commodities control and market manipulation.

“First we need to force the smaller capsuleer corporations out of the market, by dumping prices for long enough to make it unprofitable for them to manufacture and sell their goods. This will mean taking a loss in that period, but when they shift to other markets, we may increase prices again. “

“To gain market shares from the bigger corporations, however, we will need to get the buyers themselves on our side.”

“First we manipulate the markets to have the prices flucuate heavily, by restricting stock and then flooding the market. We have enough influence in this segment to make an impact. As is common, buyers especially in industry sectors want predictable supplies and prices, even if that means paying a premium.”

“To cover their need, we launch a loyalty programme with fixed prices and guaranteed stock.”

“To secure our inventories we will need to secure mining rights and open up new areas for sourcing these materials.”

In the remainder of the presentation, she went through the analysises supporting her strategy.

“Thank you, Ms Aihaken, we will discuss your strategy. You may leave.”

She bowed slightly and left.

She was exhausted after working especially long hours in the last two weeks, since she had began making the strategy.

Having exited the Hyasyoda offices, she walked through the large and busy center hall that connected the four branching side buildings, in order to get to the transport hub and get a shuttle back to her home in one of the residential towers, further out from the city center.

“Schikora!”

“Schikora!”

She thought she heard her name being called, but was sure the second time. She turned swiftly, recognizing who it was.

“Please don’t use my first name in public,” she whispered annoyed as she faced him, looking to either side to check if anyone had turned to look in her direction.

“Sorry. Ms Aihaken, of course,” he excused himself. “How are you? You are dark beneath your eyes…”

“Mr Klein, I am very tired.”

“…and gotten paler as well.”

She crossed her arms in front of her.

“Did you have anything else you wanted to say rather than commenting on my looks?”

“You got the junior CEO position!” he suddenly exclamated, recognizing her uniform.

“Yes.”

“Congratulations! I’m so happy for you.”

“Thanks.”

“Wow. It’s been two months since we finished taking classes together. I have time off now. You want go for a drink or something?”

“I am sorry, not now.”

“Why not, you’re just on your way home, aren’t you?”

“Yes, but…,” she sighed. “Hey, I am not trying to be anti-social or saying that I don’t want to, I am just really tired. Let’s meet up in a couple of days instead. I could really benefit from having some time off.”

“Sure. Well… See you then.”

She managed a small smile and a wave of her hand to him before she continued.

“Nice to see you, Schikora,” he said as she arrived to where he was waiting outside of the entrance to the restaurant. “Sorry. Ms Aihaken, I meant.”

“Ha ha…” she faked a monotone laugh. “You know how I feel about keeping traditions and etiquette. It may seem superficial but it gives order, respect and predictability.”

“I know, I know. I’m just messing with you. I’m glad you could find time,” he said. “And it’s nice to see you in civil clothes with your hair fully visible. I can’t remember the last time I saw you wearing trousers.”

“Thanks, I suppose.”

The waiter guided them to their table.

“Lots of nice dishes on the menu. What would you like?”

“Let’s just start with a drink,” she answered. “I need to build up some more appetite.”

“So, what are you up to in your new position?”

“Mainly preparing market strategies and plans. Nothing special.”

“I hope they put your talent to use. I never saw you doing routine analysises.”

“It’s a bit of both, I guess.”

“What do you feel like doing now?” he said after they had have a couple of drinks and finished up their meal.

“Well, we’re spoilt for choice in this district. Let’s just go for a promenade along the river canal and see where we end up?”

“Sounds good to me.”

The canal having walkways on either side was a popular place for promenades, combining traditional architecture with more modern elements, and having a wealth of bars and other places to hang out.

She stood with her back to the door of her rented micro apartment for the night, looking him in the eyes in a moment of silence, slightly struggling to focus on him.

“Well. Good night, Schikora. I hope we’ll see eachother again soon.”

“Me too,” she smiled as she reached behind her for the door sensor. “But I cannot promise anything. It’s really busy.”

She slowly stepped backwards into the apartment, letting the door’s automatic close be what separated them.

“Good night,” she said as the door slid shut.

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