The Golden Rule

As Sev Lan Astrin hurried through the bustling Exchange to his meeting in Gilea & Company’s Golden Tower, the starscrapers of Mer Covales, jeweled and gilded, gleamed in the golden light of Galaion, and reflected back the lights of bright hololiths and scurrying flitters alike in a million multicolored shards.

It was, he thought, arrogant in the special way only the public works of the advanced, extremely wealthy, and utterly lacking in humility could be. “Look upon our works, ye mighty,” it said, “and know that we did all of this for a mere 3.6%, and can do it all again any time we please.”

That the Seranthines had hung their capital thousands of feet above the world’s pristine gray-green forests upon the diamond string of an orbital elevator was just gilding the lily. Or, rather, studding the gilded lily with gemstones and applying unnecessarily intricate iridium detailing.

It all grated on Sev Lan’s nerves, but he did his best to swallow his irritation. CFOs needing a 3×1212 esteyn line of credit in a hurry couldn’t afford to have fine sensibilities.

Debt Service

The golden room was already full of armor when the man in the shimmering papersilk suit stepped up to the podium.


”Thank you for attending this invitation to tender. I am Surian Cheraelar, Vice President of Special Collections for Gilea & Company. You all come highly recommended by our colleagues at Ultimate Argument Risk Control, and we look forward to working with those of you whose bids are ultimately selected.”

”I believe you all know General of the Wing mor-Raktas Venirek, of UARC, who will hold overall command of this campaign under our oversight. You will, of course, be at liberty to develop specific plans utilizing your own strengths to take your assigned objectives, but will answer to the General in matters of overall strategic coordination and operational conduct.”

”Detailed information is in the briefing books being handed out now, but to summarize, the government of the Calyet Guard is in default on loans provided to it by this bank of three-point-two trillion esteyn, and has elected to repudiate this debt.”

”Your task, therefore, is to distrain upon such governmental assets of the Guard as are necessary to collect the outstanding loan, interest, collection costs, and default charges.  We have identified a number of assets suitable for this purpose, primary among which are the state treasury hard currency reserves, stored at the capital on Calyet; the contents of certain governmental research facilities, located in the Calyet and Riyet systems, including the data stores; the antimatter storage and synthesis facilities orbiting Relnagat, in the Riyet system, including the fuel stockpile itself; and the Calyet Third Fleet, based out of the Loryet system.”

”I must emphasize that you are acting as contract enforcement in this matter and we may have further dealings with Calyet in the future. It is essential that collateral damage – and any freelance looting – and civilian injury must be kept to an absolute minimum in the course of this operation.”

”Likewise, minimal damage must be done to the assets in the course of obtaining them – which we recognize will be particularly difficult in the case of the Third Fleet, but such starships are only worth their prize value. This operation is being bid out as a fixed-price contract with incentives – and while you will see that we have made allowance for recovery damages, if additional assets are required to make up for unforeseen losses in recovery, those costs must be borne by the responsible party.”

”These are the essentials of the operation on which we’re asking you to bid. We’ll now take a short break to let you familiarize yourselves with the details, after which the General and I will take your questions. We look forward to seeing your proposals.”

Trope-a-Day: Banana Republic

Banana Republic: While not in the fruit sense, usually, a number of the (usually single-system) misfortunate client polities of the Magen Corporate and Iltine Union are exactly this.

One could make a case, possibly, for those polities unfortunate enough to get themselves into serious debt to Gilea & Co., and run foul of their so-you’re-a-state-so-what? collections policy, but those guys are capable of seeing the long view and thus avoid inflicting the gross mismanagement that tends to characterize banana republics.