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Client Meeting: "Danneskjöld"

Episode 00

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#1
CrazyDreamer

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"Danneskjöld" was waiting for the CCS members when they arrived. She began her presentation as soon as everyone had taken their seats:

"I represent the Sovereign Corporation known as the Jet Mining Group. We are the legal colonial government of Jet, in the Blackstone Group, as well as an operational mining company. It's the second part of that that's giving us trouble: Because our territory is rather inhospitable, we have been looking to expand mining operations to open areas of nearby systems. Unfortunately, one of our rivals has taken exception to this, and we expect our mining camps nearest their territory to come under military pressure."

A rotating hologram appeared in the center of the conference room. It showed a low mountainous area composed of exposed, rounded rock and drifts of dust; there was no apparent vegetation. A camp and the beginnings of mine-works were visible.

"We'd like a high-profile PMC hire to dissuade an attack on our camps by raising its apparent cost. There might be a few test raids to check the defenses, so we also need someone who can live up to their reputation, but hopefully it won't come to that. The contract will last three months with an optional extension; we just need enough time to develop long-term defenses in the area.

"Our intelligence branch says that CCS has been putting together a particularly elite unit of ex-military specialists. Looking around this room, I think I can at least partially confirm those reports. Would you care to introduce yourselves and tell me why you'd be better for this job than one of the better-known PMCs bidding on it, such as S.M.S.?"



#2
schanze

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Kes half-listened to the presentation roll as she fired off a database inquiry to a standalone CCS information system on the Damask Rose. It returned with a few millisecond delay. She reviewed the information and forwarded it to the present unit members.

Enhanced members could see a scroll of system information toward the edge of their vision. Those without augmented vision would have to wait for the opportunity to check the message. The general overview noted that the Blackstone Group consisted of three rimward systems roughly 420-ly from Earth: Basalt, Jet and Obsidian. All three were metal-heavy and inhospitable in every way possible. Toxin and radiation hazards appeared everywhere. Exposure meant death on every planet. Some immediately, others over time.

Overall: perfect for mining, privacy and little else.

A second information scroll detailed the two contracts, Jet541-004 and Jet541-005. The first consisted of a small-scale aerospace drone enhancement project. The second contract was the matter of this meeting. Both were marked with a green flag and the note "Open, In-Assessment."

Kes finished the upload and looked at the others seated around the table. She was closest to "Danneskjöld" and the first to speak.

"Kesendra Melzan Vrelkas, Rhea aviatrix first-class and unit lead. Formerly 12th Ruiymual Branch Fleet, MGB-0499, Group 1. Skull Squadron before that."

Kes looked to the person directly to her right.

(Assume you're the next person to the right and we'll work our way around the table.)
(Mack is the only one other than Kes with an implant. Those without can check their info source du jour but only have time to note the planets are fairly hostile.)


#3
Abaddon

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Joanna quickly reviewed the information that Kes had sent each of the team members on her PDA. Her eyebrows raised a little at the mention of Basalt...she knew of that system from the war.

Setting her PDA down Joanna followed Kes' lead and introduced herself.

"Joanna Erin Lee, gunner and pilot. Been with CCS for a few years. Previously a member of the UNS, final posting as a Gunnery Instructor at UNB Eden. Before that as a gunner/administrative officer with VB-6 Problem Children."

Smiling Joanna glanced to her right to signal the next person.

#4
Coolhand

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Dwer had managed to arrive for the meeting on time, if only barely. He nodded at all the info presented to him, taking note of the mention of Basalt. When Joanna looked to him he spoke in turn.

"Dwer Koolhan, Variable Fighter Pilot and former wing leader and flight instructor for Helios Colony Aerospace Defence Force. Previous to that Skull Squadron. Previous to that the Macross 12 long range colony fleets SVF 732 Crimson Devils. I have extensive experience when it comes to defending mining operations from raids, though our mines were somewhat more hospitable than yours."

Turning his head to the right he gave a brief nod for that person to speak.

#5
jester

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Mack's skim of the data was more complete than one would have guessed given how fast he scrolled through it. Picking up after Dwer with a brief nod to his old squadron mate, "Mack Fong, Variable Fighter Pilot, formerly senior design engineer for General Galaxy. I was a part of the Skull and of the Ghostriders prior to that. I've had ground assault, ship assault, air superiority experience, and have been to Top Gun."

Mack turned to the next person indicating that he was done.

#6
Hiro Protagonist

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"Natalya Sevatianovna Savitskya.," Natalya intoned, automatically. She was reading the download. While she had a full appreciation for the need to establish good customer relations, she'd decided long before that she didn't need to work for anyone who couldn't tell the difference between a professional killer and professional kiss ass. She was about to blow off anything further, just noting that she'd 'been around,' but she wasn't that clueless. The rest of the CCS members had followed Kes's lead. To break rank now would give the impression that the team was fractured.

Again, killers vs kiss asses, and on any other day she'd have let it slip--it wasn't that big a deal. There'd be ample to time to show team spirit at a dog and pony show like this. But the odd poppin-jay on the convention floor had been wearing CCS colors exactly like her hastily retrieved jacket. That meant there was already one strike against the team if the Jet Mining factotum had seen any of that mess.

For an instant she pondered blowing it off anyway. The mission spec was small enough that her various dividend checks would cover it if CCS lost out because of her, and she still needed to call her lawyers about her purchase plans. But she dropped the idea with a tiny, rueful shake of the head. The fact of the matter was she didn't like talking about herself and she was just looking for excuses to avoid it.

"Pilot. VF/A-Four-Von-Six durink deh var. Two time Vwanquish Champion, '55-'56. Eight operational deployments vith CCS, Five hotzones." She finished scanning the documentation and looked up at the mystery guest, one eyebrow arched, slightly.

#7
gradius

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As he heard the pronouncements of experience going around the table, Roderick winced internally as he considered what he'd done since leaving the Spacy - bumming around the galaxy. That'll go down real well..

A quick assessment of whether he could bolt out the door and get away with it was tossed aside as his turn came up a bit more quickly than he was prepared for, "Roderick Swee, pilot."

"Skull," While he could bump up his own standings by mentioning his position within Skull, Roderick didn't think it would be a good idea personally and professionally. Moreover, he didn't want to present what may be interpreted as 'command envy' as a potential source of conflict to a prospective client, so he finished rather lamely with, "long serving member. Atmospheric specialization."

Note to self: Find some way to fancy up the resume some.

He then nodded to the next person in line.

#8
CrazyDreamer

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After a moment, Rod realized that he was nodding at Danneskjöld and stopped.

"Danneskjöld" nodded herself. "Even more impressive than our reports indicate; I'll assume that the rest of the unit is likewise. But why do you think that you'd be better for this job than S.M.S. or another bidder? They've got a big name as a company, even if they don't have a unit composed of pilots with your pedigrees."

She thumbed a button and the display pulled out a ways to show an entire continent in terrain provile. The mining camp was a blue dot in a mountainous area, and a shaded red area with several red dots indicated, presumably, a rival's territory. There seemed to be a reasonable distance between the two. A note in the corner identified the view as "Obsidian terrain survey, quadrant 2 North. Overlay(s): Zones of Control."

#9
schanze

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Kes was a little surprised at the question. Either this woman hadn't done her research or she was asking something she already knew.

"If you're comparing us to SMS: we're better trained in ground, gravity-well and automated combat. Plus half of their assets are tied into the Frontier fleet. It would take longer for them to negotiate a resupply contract than it would be for us to deliver at a lower cost."

Danneskjöld pulled up a map and Kes wondered if this meant her answer had satisfied the woman. She wished the girl from marketing had tagged along.

#10
Coolhand

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Dwer piped in after Kes.

"SMS also have a reputation for being erratic. They overspend and are prone to reckless behaviour. Our crew has superior training and we have better logisitcal support than they do. Lastly were more familiar with the terrain, there was rather intense fighting over the Blackstone group during the war. Most everyone on the Damask Rose served in that engagement."

As the map was pulled up he studied the information it gave, he couldn't help but note that Jet had clearly muscled in on another firms turf, it was on the whole not surprising that they were meeting with resistance.

#11
CrazyDreamer

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"Well, the enemy is likely to be using aerospace forces to scout us, so there is some interest in superiority there. We'll see how good a show SMS puts on at tomorrow's mock dogfight; they're certainly willing to try strutting their stuff in low atmosphere."

She paused, looked around the room. "Any questions?"

#12
Hiro Protagonist

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Natalya quirked an eyebrow. The nameless functionary had just opened the door to infinite probing. The little Russian inside her--as well as the big one on the outside--was wondering why.

The fighter pilot side of her squashed that, acting on instinct and leaving the rest of her to catch up.

"Da. You arre askings us to be defending constrruction prroject--one dat is beings armed. I would like to know what you arre expectings us to be defending. Perrimeter dimensions, perrsonnel counts, materriel on site, to be beginning."

#13
CrazyDreamer

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"Local perimeter will start out around 100 meters in diameter with minimal equipment and a skeleton staff; this will actually shrink as we excavate space for equipment and personnel. We should have a second equipment drop after about a week; installation shouldn't take more than a few days, after which our operations will be virtually entirely underground and you will be more of a liability than an asset. That is also the time-frame for getting our air-defense net set up further out, which you will not be responsible for but should take any load off as it comes online. Maximum contract duration is therefore set at two weeks."

She glanced at her watch. "Any other questions? No? I'll submit an official request for tender to CCS, then." She shut off the projector, gathered what little she'd come with, and headed for the door. A moment later, a message came through via the Damask Rose's servers:

The prodigal son returns, and he's as troublesome as ever. Get to the booth ASAP, because I don't know what to do with him. —Alexi

#14
schanze

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Kes waited until the woman left. She looked around the room.

"Thoughts?"

The first person had only a moment before the message from Alexi arrived for all at the table.

"Prodigal? I... who? I'll check it out. Discuss the contract if you want and meet me at the booth when you're done."

With that Kes collected her things and left the room, headed for the booth.

#15
Hiro Protagonist

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"Assumingk dhey are providings dhe specifications for dhe planned defensive works, I am seeing no issues," Natalya said. "I am not liking dhe clocks and daggers schtick. Dhis is being all. I am not being shot down by dhe client because dhey are beingk too tight withs the data."

#16
jester

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"I agree. On the surface, this seems like a straight forward defensive problem. But, as Natalya says, I have this feeling that something important was held back. They're being cagey about the information with no real reason - especially if they want us to succeed."

Mack leaned forward in the chair a little, "By the way, who is the Prodigal Son that we have to go deal with?"

#17
Coolhand

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"Your guess is as good as mine, don't remember anyone who might fit that description."

Dwer stood and straightened out his jacket with his palms.

"I wouldn't over think things too much. Pilots don't need politics, just targets. We're being paid to do a job, if they want us to exceed that then they need to pay us more. Simple as that."

#18
Hiro Protagonist

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"Dhis prodigal son is probably being dhe little perdún who was playing games on dhe show floor." Natalya made a throwing away motion to underscore her opinion of that subject's importance.

"I am not caring for 'politics,'" she went on. "I am caring for not being killed by sloppy clients."

She looked around the table, "I am thinking Mack is being right. Dhey are playing close to chest without need. I am not caring if dhey are playing dirty or clean, but if they keep us in dhe dark too long, I am thinking it is because dhey do not want us to know of dhe knife dhey plan to stick in our back."

Her lips curved in predatory half-smile. "We are not having to decide now. We can be walking away when we want, until dhe deal is executed. I am suggesting we make dhem play like pros. Require proper disclosure and an escape clause against hijinks. If dhey are not trusting us, we should be returning dhe favor, da? We will be seeing when dhey are required to give clear informations, what dhey are doing, and how dhey are responding."

#19
Coolhand

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Dwer nodded, seeing the logic of Natalya's thinking.

"Sounds reasonable, we can back out if it's too shady. Don't think the senior management would appreciate that though, from what i hear they need the work right now."

#20
Hiro Protagonist

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Natalya almost said something dismissive about the concerns of their paymasters, but old habits die hard. Her inner censor saw no reason to flaunt the fact that she could make good any lost revenue out of her own pocket. Not that she cared if everyone knew her net worth. It just didn't seem wise to let on that she was willing to--effectively--pay the team to do nothing, especially given her interest in doing something.

She wasn't against danger, by any means. She just wanted to be sure of the game rules. She had no doubt CCS would make its displeasure known if the client pulled a double cross, but that would do Natalya no good if the double cross involved killing Natalya. The simple solution might have been to just assume the client was up to something untoward, but that would have been bad customer service. "You are having point," she said, instead. "But we are having to arrange dhis plan with legal department, anyway. If dhe apparatchiks are having problem, dhey shoot us down." She shrugged.

"We can be burning dhat bridge if we are having to cross it, da?"





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