Floating Market (1/3)

Sometimes, a Floating Market forms.

No-one knows when or where – they are emergent phenomena. Free traders accumulate oddities in their holds, the detritus of a thousand speculative trades on a thousand worlds – some trash, some too unique or exotic to sell, some which could be either. Slash-traders, smugglers, walkers of the dodgy path, have goods to unload that few legitimate markets will take. Relativists bring goods from the Outback, unheard of in charted space.

When enough fall together, a Market forms. Luggers and trade-ships, prefab modules, inflatable temps, all docked together without a plan. The long-standing Flern market drifted in the deep, tethered loosely to an infalling comet. News of the first few draws in the many in hope of a successful trade, and more come to supply the traders with necessities in turn. Opportunists arrive, hoping for their big score; agents of a hundred organizations come, seeking an advantage; the lost turn up, as they always do. The Market makes its own rules, respecting only the Sacred Deal and the Market Peace, a proplyd of free commerce out in the deep black.

Goods are offered – some comprehensible, most not. Business is done, with or without mutual understanding. Sometimes you walk away with an ancient dreaming Power, its substrate sold as a paperweight; sometimes with containers of rotted vegetation. Sometimes the rotted vegetation sells for millions of exval as an exotic spice; sometimes it calls a public health cautery squad down on your head.

Fortunes are made, and fortunes are lost, before the Market eventually disperses. The same could be said of lives.

So what are you waiting for?

Epistolary Experiment (3/30)

From: Karr mor-Kadrek, Fleet Security
To: Virni Alman, Fleet Communications
Subject: Re: War warning – procedure?

File it.

Nice of the home office to send it through, but even cutting the corner of their space, what’s the worst they could do to us? It’d take ’em ten years just to get done saying “Heave to and prepare to be boarded…”

-k

– from the archives of the relativist market-maker, Rocky Road to Riches


OVERDUE VESSEL REPORT (CRIMSON EXPANSE)

Spinward Lines regrets to announce that CMS Circumstellar Wanderer, a chartered cruise liner with 4,128 souls aboard, is 48 hours overdue to arrive at her next port of call after departing Istria (Crimson Expanse). Attempts to contact the Wanderer made by standard means and direct corporate tangle channel have failed. It is feared, therefore, that she may have been interned or become a casualty of war. No communication has been received from the Republic government on this matter, and investigations continue.

The thoughts and hopes of Spinward Lines are with the passengers and crew of the Wanderer, their families, and associates.

– from the Accord Journal, shipping news section


 

…and then there were warships all over the scanner, pinging loud enough to overload the ‘mesh…

…lizards, bloody four-armed lizards, on my claim…

…open up! they say. My hairy arse I’ll open up…

…through the walls. Blew out the garden maze…

…never find me in the deep tunnels, not with all the refinery hash…

– fragments retrieved from a log recorder, found in a rubble pile, Charach System


 

From: Sinith Arání, VP Public Relations
To: All Contractees
Subject: Shit. Fan. Congruence.

Well, folks, we’ve all heard the news.

From our corporate perspective, that means that we’re about to be condemned by a hundred polities and a thousand news organs for failing to do the impossible.

This in turn means that I need you to get three memetic campaigns polished up and ready to go:

First, that while we obviously deeply regret the specifics of this situation, in general freedom of transit is both extremely important and something they personally have benefited from greatly in the past. In the version of this we’re pitching to more militaristic governments and cultures, it probably wouldn’t hurt to remind them gently how unhappy they would have been if we’d disabled the stargates during some of their local squabbles, just so that they realize that we will have no problem pointing that out to everyone else, too.

Second, we need to subtly remind people that you can’t just turn a stargate off, anyway, in a manner that can’t be readily hacked back on, and if they think the damage the war will cause is bad, they should try comparing it to the amount of damage that a loose kernel would do to their star system.

And third, that we are doing our bit for the war effort, inasmuch as we’re waiving all transit fees for Accord member navies to, from, and in the front lines. Don’t launch that one yet; I still have to run the details past the Directorate, but it’s too obvious not to pass. And it’s not like we don’t have as much to lose as everyone else.

Actually, also, fourth: since we certainly can’t rely on those idiot baselines to hack carefully or even not to land on the stargates themselves and screw about with things beyond their understanding, you’d better start working on one to place the blame appropriately if they do manage to set a kernel loose, too.

Budgets are cleared all the way up on this one, people. We need to be at our best right now.

Sinith

– from the Ring Dynamics, ICC, corporate e-mail archive