Columns of the Estate
Act I, Scene I
Tzebra was well known throughout many systems in the bubble. His business arrangements and interventions benefited numerous minor system powers, and many major powers. All had profited in some form or fashion over the years. Even those whom lost had profited in some way.
Numerous Imperial Senators were alarmed by a plague of nomadic mercenaries, plundering through a range of systems, over 170 light-years in diameter; many through areas Tzebra was currently operating in. With their own personal security personnel unable to stop these attacks, Tzebra was approached with regards towards any information he might have, and a plan on countering these attacks, if such a thing could be done.
Tzebra’s response was simple and to the point. “Not wanting to risk Senatorial personnel by traveling. Each should designate one of their patrons to meet him in the Orang system, three days hence”. The affected Senators agreed, with designated patrons arriving in Orang, where they were to board Tzebra’s Imperial Cutter, for business negotiations. Many expected a dry affair, and were shocked to find a grand party, thrown in their honor, with business and informational negotiations set for the following afternoon.
After the initial day’s morning meal, and with all formal greetings having been performed, the meeting began in earnest. The patrons were shown towards the ships conference room. The table at which they found themselves sitting before was of a unique design many could not quiet place. Tzebra entered the conference room, and tap the wall behind him, which fluctuated slightly before morphing itself into a series of large multi-functional screens. Tzebra turned towards his guest. "Is there anything you require, or any refreshment you would care for, before the briefing begins?"
One of the patrons' spoke, running her hand over the smooth table. "Yes, you must tell me, what the magnificent table is made of."
In Tzebra’s eyes the look of amusement appeared, though his face remained unchanged. "It is made from the polished hide of a Thargoid Medusa." Each patron looked carefully at the table before them, as Tzebra touched the wall once more. "If I may have your attention forward, the briefing your employers requested is to begin". On each panel appeared the name of a system, various minor factions, known trading entities, and biographical data on each of their leaders.
Pointing at each individual screen, Tzebra outlined the requested strategy.
"The goal is to neutralize the threat in such a manner that the end game remains an unknown until it becomes too late to prevent it. The focus should be on providing a foundation for secure system recovery and reconstitution. Those who will be vanquished should be allowed to profit during this phase, by providing what remaining assets they can muster, aiding the contractual administrative assets. A profitable defeat is more palatable than other alternatives. A few in their hierarchy will of course have to serve as example of what the other alternatives can entail.
Phase one has already started, with fourth estate and fifth column efforts. For those for whom the terms may appear foreign, fourth estate is a negative mass-information campaign while the fifth column is one of subversion from within their own ranks. For the past few months, associates have been included into their ranks, providing information on assets, movements, and both inner-system and out of system associates. Against the out of system associates, movement has already begun against their economic foundations, through an eclectic range of available options, insuring all appears as unfortunate circumstance.”
The patrons’ at the table started to talk all at once, each verbally drowning out the others around them. Tzebra held up hand. “Please be calm. I know the question you are trying to ask over one another, and the answer is I and my associates have known about what was taking place for close to a year.” This produced grumbling around the table as Tzebra continued to hold up his hand.
Tzebra looked at each. “Your employers were not notified simply for the reason no action would have been forth coming until they were personally affected, and attempts at preventing such was far too late in coming. Their movements have progressed too far for prevention, so I concerned myself with gathering knowledge about them, for a moment such as this. Only within the last few months have my assets been able to infiltrate their ranks, and this moment must not be tampered with.”
Looking around the table, each of the patrons’ looked at each other and then back to Tzebra.
“But if it is as far advanced as you say, then why have you not confronted it with force? You clearly have the means, assets, and motive.”
Tzebra looked at each patron. “Would you destroy yourself for a temporary measure, which though you may win, would damage you beyond repair? No you would not. You would want to not only insure your victory, but seek to make sure your enemy could not recover, and you would want to profit from all of this, otherwise what’s the point?”
Tzebra looked at each patron. “No, in this case the approach must be one of a slow, focused, and determined multi-tier and multi-system dismantling, of the entire structure, through all tranches simultaneously. The point should be stressed that this will not happen immediately, nor can it. This must take place at a slow and well-thought out methodical pace. This leaves the sources of their recent misfortunes appearance as those of natural occurrence versus a regulated effort by outside parties.”
Tzebra paused once more, looking at each patron, then turned slightly and pointed at each of the open displays.
“Phase two will be an administrative force, comprised of specific analytical parties, specializing in the areas of sustainable infrastructure growth, finance, and capital planning. Through this the system's economic structure will be bolstered through diversification, allowing for secured loans to be issued for grass-root projects. This will increase the overall gross system profit and its' purchasing power parity in relation to its' trading neighbors. With the scope of the operations being multiple systems, this should be forecast out to at the minimum 150 light-years, for sustainable growth.”
The patrons began shifting in their seats again. One of the female patrons, who had remained attentive throughout, spoke up. “The scope of what you are suggesting could take well over a year or multiple years to accomplish.”
Tzebra slowly nodded, a slow smile appearing as he looked to each of the other patrons’, and then back towards the screens.
“Phase three is where the Senators come in, providing a voice for a variety of systems, within specific spheres of influence of the higher-ranked Senators. You will raise the issues for their protectorate status to be voted for, while quietly outlining to those it will directly affect, that this will allow the individual systems command capital, to become available for their uses, while enjoying increased security benefits. This will translate into wealth for everyone involved, including you; being the silent partner in this arrangement, stabilizing the system for use by another. I myself will incur no payment for my services, as the profit for this will be made 'at the merge' so to speak. Once my work is complete, all will find themselves very wealthy, including the vanquished; who will be working for you specifically at this point."
One of the senatorial patrons looked around the table and then asked. "Can you be more detailed in exactly how you are profiting from this, and how it will affect us?"
Tzebra look calmly at the patron. "Neither you nor any you represent will be negatively affected. My work is simply one of trade and finance, with the minimal 'blood on the ground' to borrow the metaphor. Should any of the minor factions choose to fight with one another, I can enter both camps easily, as trusted ally to both. This will be an earned position for the majority in each system, and one which I will nurture as carefully as a skilled gardener. This insures my profit through thoughtful trade negotiations which will equate to more profit for each of you. The more trades I broker, the better the economic situations; regardless of individual petty conflicts. Any combative state entered, by myself, will also be fiscally beneficial for all involved. I will add the caveat that those whom you are patrons for, may be asked to say something specific, relating to the most minor of issues, or provide a simple show of force, and do nothing more than fly through a system; sightseeing if you choose. You will not be asked for any direct roles in anything I do, and would much rather prefer you to simply turn a blind eye and enjoy the increase of your individual accounts."
The patron felt stung by the last remark. He reminded himself that the person speaking was one, whom had lucrative business dealings throughout the entire bubble, and even those in the Pleiades and Pegasi sectors, along with those in the Harma system, counting him as trusted ally; including the senator he was patron for. All, whom he had dealt with, walked away with a healthy profit. The patron also noted that the man before him held multiple elite statuses with the pilot’s federation. Each not easily earned, nor given lightly, and which opened many doors automatically. The simple words of a multiple elite were treated with respectful weight, and equal amounts of caution. One look at the table they currently found themselves at, spoke of the seriousness, and the caution.
The remainder of the day included healthy discussions over the various actors in this protracted campaign, along with numerous business negotiations between all parties present. The remainder of the time on-board was spent basking in rare and luxurious accommodations, with awe inspiring scenery. By the time the negotiations and voyage had completed, each patron had received approval, from their respective Senators, and had relayed such to Tzebra.
Seating himself at the controls of the Imperial Cutter, Tzebra looked over his shoulder towards the communications panel. His message was simple and to the point. “Clear to proceed.”