How to Feed a Galaxy (A Colette Short)

BrikWars fiction in long-prose form. Trigger warning: Walls of text

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How to Feed a Galaxy (A Colette Short)

Postby Colette » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:51 pm

A light breeze blew over swaying stalks of corn, dusting the air with a faint cloud of pollen. A slick black road luminesced in the early-morning darkness and cut through the dirt and amber fields, a futuristic sight distinctly out of place in the rustic scene.

Stefan grabbed another cup of joe- thank the Triangle for that caffeinated ambrosia. His dilapidated hover-truck trundled through the shiny road- rust began to peel away its white paint, oddly complementing the signature Assyrian dark red stripes. The fender was busted and one of the windows was spider-cracked- not to the point of hampering visibility, but noticeable. Stefan figured he had a few more months before he had to tidy it up for a vehicle inspection. Two massive, cylindrical hover engines hummed below the driver’s cabin- not loud enough to drive him crazy, but another way to prevent his falling asleep. He couldn’t say the same for his passenger.

Stefan was a yokel from the Assyrian frontier, wearing a comfortable grey utility vest and red checkered shirt that wouldn’t look out of place on a USA hillbilly. The fifth child in a rural family, he couldn’t scrounge enough money to buy some farmland or get a shuttle offworld. He thought about joining the military, but the Second Czecho-Assyrian Civil War erupted. Stefan cursed his past indecisiveness. Had he joined, he could have scored kills against the Czechs, become a war hero, pin shiny medals to his chest and pick up hot girls in the star navy. But that destiny wasn’t for him, not for poor, lazy Stefan. The thought of having to learn how to aim and handle a heavy laser rifle, of serving as one tiny and expendable foot-soldier in the massive Assyrian warmachine- he knew he’d more likely be dead by now.

Stefan sighed. He thought his predicament ridiculous. Assyria was one of the largest, most powerful, and most technologically advanced nations in the BrikVerse, and yet here he was, single and driving a truck on the rural world of his birth. He hated flipping through the Far-ums channels and seeing the affluent Assyrian businessmen and playboys showing off their wealth. Stefan dared not pollute his mind with Space Communism, but he felt he deserved a piece of the Assyrian pie too.

He activated his windscreen and skimmed through the Far-Ums. It was illegal to view media while driving, but he’d be damned if there were any Assyrian police for miles around. He turned to the D.I.E. networks- to his disappointment, no new Death Bowl episodes were playing. He supposed he could catch up on the For Great Justice series, but he didn’t want something loud enough to wake his passenger. All those lasers and explosions could stir quite a ruckus. Stefan thought for a moment of checking the news, but decided against it- as far as he was concerned, the rest of the galaxy didn’t matter to him.

Well, there was an exception.

In seemingly the only good thing to happen to him in the last five years, some Tratt had approached him. Fancy gold Appel watch, Armani suit, Rayhawk-Ban sunglasses, the whole works. Robbing the business-type seemed tempting, but even he had heard of the bad things that came of assaulting Trattorians. Besides, the Tratt had something better- a juicy business offer. All Stefan had to do was fill his truck with Monsatan seeds and drive by certain farms when the wind blew in a certain way. Occasionally he’d have to give a ride to a local Monsatan employee, like today. In exchange, he’d get a small cut of the settlement or damages awarded to Monsatan from cases against farmers on this planet. The money was enough for the basic necessities, with some leftover for pr0n and booze, and required little work on his part. He thanked the Triangle for the opportunity.

The snoozing Monsatan representative sat next to him, his muscular body bulging through a cheap black suit. He had introduced himself as Sergeant Nickson, a former Assyrian commando hired by the Monsatan Company to serve as an “investigator” within Assyria. Stefan doubted the hulking minifig did much “investigation” with that brawn and combat experience, but he didn’t question where or how his paychecks came.

Stefan noticed a few tiny buildings on the horizon, the first non-corn thing he had seen in an hour. He thought about nudging the sergeant awake to inform him about the approaching destination but decided against it. Who knew what dangerous PTSD insanity lurked in ex-military type’s mind?

As the hover-truck drew closer, Stefan could make out a maroon barn, some white grain silos, and a small two-story house. All the lights were off, as would be expected at this hour of the morning. As the truck slowed to a stop, the deceleration woke the sergeant. The latter bolted upright, grabbing his briefcase and straightening his tie.

“Thank for the ride,” Nickson commented. “You can wait here while I take care of business. From past experience, it usually takes a half-hour.”

Stefan nodded, too tired to waste words. He rested his head against the steering wheel, the warm plastic rubbing into his forehead…

---

Stefan woke hearing a scream. Turning his head, he saw Nickson opening the door and clambering into the car. The sergeant then popped open his briefcase and tried to place a bloody anti-riot tonfa inside.

“Drive, dipshit! Don’t worry about all this shit- it’s typical business, a farmer getting too worked up over the legal accusations. Happens all the fucking time. If the court asks about this I’ll say it was self-defense.”

Stefan had already turned the truck and was driving well past the speed limit on the road through the cornfields. After about ten minutes, he was sure he had outrun the farmers’ family or any police and throttled the engines.

“So, what happened over there?” Stefan asked out of curiosity.

“Well, technically, I can’t say due to that NDA,” the sergeant replied. “Those Tratt lawyers can give orks a run for their money, and Monsatan has some of the most anal I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t be surprised if lawsuits provided more revenue than their actual farm products.” The sergeant chuckled to himself.

“Don’t you have any sense of patriotism?” Stefan asked. “Not to impugn your morals, we all have to do what we have to for money,” he added quickly, “but beating up poor Assyrian farmers on a Trattorian payroll seems off.”

Sergeant Nickson shrugged his shoulders. “For the legal record, I did not ‘beat up’ that farmer. That being said, I like this job. The Tratts offer good pay and I get to do what I love, intimidating people. Including the exercise of physical force when totally lawful and justified.” Nickson winked.

“This won’t stand forever. Somebody’s going to stand up to Monsatan,” Stefan complained.

“Hey, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Monsatan’s paying both of us- I want them to get away with whatever they’re doing so we can keep getting our money. I mean, what has this country done for us anyway?”.

Stefan agreed and grumbled to himself. Assyria didn’t help him get a farm, a shuttle, or a girl. Then the Trattorians stepped in and offered him a job and decent pay. Maybe Assyria didn’t deserve his loyalty. Assyria’s technological prosperity, military might, and economic size didn’t matter to him if he didn’t get to enjoy them.

”Triangle bless Monsatan,” he thought to himself, ”and may they continue to find success in their future endeavors and pay me,”
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Re: How to Feed a Galaxy (A Colette Short)

Postby Silverdream » Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:56 am

I liked that Orks were acknowledged as the best lawyers in the galaxy.
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Re: How to Feed a Galaxy (A Colette Short)

Postby Quantumsurfer » Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:15 pm

Clever.
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Re: How to Feed a Galaxy (A Colette Short)

Postby Colette » Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:37 pm

Jeffrey clambered up the circular stairs, his shoes clinking against the glass steps. On the top level of a Trattorian skyscraper, a ring of two-story windows and an annulus of glass floor surrounded him. The former afforded a 360-view of the brilliant Corpora skyline, a mass of lighted buildings colored by advertisements. The thin thread of a space elevator shimmered in the distance and tiny space station rings glimmered in the night sky.

As Jeffrey reached the top, he could see her sitting alone, gazing through the crystal dome ceiling at the stars above. Next to her sat platters of untouched teacups and pastries on a small glass table, a sakura bonsai shedding a few pink petals into her tea. Each rippled the reflective brown surface as it landed.

Jeffrey bowed slightly, arm across chest. “I have arrived, CEO.”

Dr. Yin did not shift her gaze or her graceful seated pose. Her medium-length black hair flowed onto a white qipao with the pink outlines of cherry blossoms, the latter complementing the small tree on the table. A diamond-studded platinum Appel watch wrapped itself around her left forearm, displaying the default numberless clockface. Her most striking accessory, however, was a pair of dangling earrings in the shape of the Monsatan logo and set with green diamonds that sparkled in the darkened room’s artificial lights.

Jeffrey approached the CEO, careful not to encroach on her personal space. He settled in one of the cushioned seats, motioning towards one of the pastry plates. Seeing no reaction, he took a small cake and nibbled on it. As a foreigner from the United Systems, Jeffrey had by now acclimated himself to the Trattorians’ cold demeanors. Still, there were some rules in this strange land he could never fully accept. He hadn’t banged anyone or anything in over a year, a privilege he felt entitled to as a corporate c-level. Everything on the homeworld Trattoria was so brikthulhu-damned expensive, even the “fast food” would set him back fifty Trattorian dollars. The media was oppressively educational and it bothered him that everything he did was recorded by some satellite in orbit.

Still, Dr. Yin had offered him a valuable opportunity. More money and options than he could have ever dreamed of back in a USA company, where shareholders still tasted bitterness from the 2004 bailouts and strangled the once extravagant compensation packages. The Monsatan Company had run into trouble in penetrating the USA farmers market thanks to plucky documentary-makers seeking to smear its brand and controversy surrounding genetically-modified food in the USA. Dr. Yin sought a native who knew the lay of the USA market’s land, someone who could conceive and deploy guerilla marketing and astroturfing tactics to attack the heart of the anti-Monsatan grassroots movement.

That man turned out to be Jeffrey Wade, Ph.D. in management from MIT and former senior executive vice president in the ADM Corporation. His tenure as Monsatan’s Chief Marketing Officer bloomed better than either he or Dr. Yin had expected. USA courts and laws were now powerless against Monsatan, he had transformed the third-world pollution-dumping scandal into a stock rally, and they had even begun initiatives to ban organic food and patent the pig. As reticent as Dr. Yin could be personally as a Trattorian, he considered themselves successful partners in crime.

“We’ve captured more of the USA market, and many investors have begun to consider ADM’s farming division in risk of bankruptcy thanks to our meddling. The credit rating agencies seem to agree as they’ve demoted ADM’s bonds to junk status,” Jeffrey introduced. “Furthermore, our lawyers have entered negotiations with the Scythian government over the possible introduction of SquareUp-resistant seeds to the Gateway system in a trial run. I understand you’ve mentioned Scythia as a secondary goal in your short-term corporate vision, but the internal government chaos caused by the disappearance of their Emperor and the assassination of their War Senate was irresistible.”

Jeffrey poured himself some tea from the gold and porcelain pot, sipping a little.

“Now for the bad news- we’ve been sued.”

Dr. Yin finally broke her study of the stars and returned Jeffrey’s gaze. She tilted her head in confusion without a word, finally picking up her teacup.

“Specifically, some Assyrian farmer blabbed to Limagraine and now they want a class-action lawsuit against us for ‘harassment, injuries, and libel’ caused by our private investigators. They’re seeking billions, and possibly trillions if the court will let them,” Jeffrey continued.

Dr. Yin put down her tea and pointed at an area of the heavens. To Jeffrey, it seemed another indistinct patch of stars.

“That would be the main cluster of Assyria’s territory in the night sky, from our vantage point.” She looked back at Jeffrey. “Every fertile planet that orbits those stars, and some that are not, should be planted with Monsatan brand seeds. That’s the primary objective of our short-term corporate vision.”

“Assuming an Assyrian court doesn’t throw us and our operations out entirely. You never know with those isolationist types, the xenophobe judges have been throwing foreign corporations out of Assyria left and right. We could be next.”

Dr. Yin rose and walked to the window, resting an arm against it. She was a small woman, teetering in high heels too tall for her. It wasn’t uncommon for her to use a stool in corporate photo-ops.

“We’ll seize Limagraine.”

Jeffrey blinked.

“Our goal in Assyria was to attack Limagraine on its homefront, weakening its domestic market and thus forcing it to withdraw competition with us internationally. If we can acquire Limagraine, we can fire the management and halt the lawsuit. It’s time, Dr. Wade.”

“CEO, with all due respect,” Jeffrey stuttered, “such an action as beneficial as eliminating Limagraine must carry some persuasive demerits. Otherwise we would have attempted it long ago.”

Dr. Yin turned towards Jeffrey. “Limagraine has initiated hostilities. Our legal team will of course accomplish due diligence with respect to the lawsuit, but it’ll distract from our vital intellectual property cases. The only permanent solution to this problem, and a clear path to controlling the galaxy’s food supply, is eliminating our largest competitor.”

Jeffrey nodded. “And what would you like me to do, CEO?”

“I and you will enter negotiations with Limagraine for a merger. It will likely fail due to the Assyrians’ jingoism, but it is worth an attempt. The next step would be initiation of a hostile takeover. I have a friend in Pernault who can provide assistance in that capacity. We will set a few other subroutines into motion, buy shares, win over the shareholders, fire the board, and steal the whole cow from under the management.”

She paused to consider Jeffrey’s role. “You will attempt Assyrian market penetration efforts. Rebut the negative publicity the case will bring, and move to the offensive and smear Limagraine and its figures. Discredit their claims, especially the original farmer plaintiff. Saturate Assyrian media with feel-good adverts featuring sunshine and idyllic green fields about how Monsatan supports small farmers. You know the drill. Oh, and we should cut ties with that investigator and all others involved in the disputed incident, just to be safe. It is a good thing we pay our investigators and associates in cash.”

Jeffrey acquiesced and also rose. “Well, this was a productive meeting. I should take my leave now, however.”

Dr. Yin returned to her seat and resumed her gazing at the stars, failing to acknowledge Jeffrey’s departure.

”She knows what she’s doing, but man does she have a weird streak,” Jeffrey thought to himself.

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I don't plan on ever finishing this short, but I found this unpublished second installment and can't remember why I never posted it.
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