There was a seemingly endless pause after the LSF officer had given his report, Valerie's eyes were glued to her contact list with almost religious zeal but she was too far behind for her sensors to register anything
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The conflict in Edinburgh has come to an end, and it has sent the Bretonian Stock Exchange into a frenzy, as investors are rushing to get rid of their Planetform stocks. Though it has long been known that the OSC will have to pull the Luxury Liner Shetland out of the system, nobody expected that Planetform would lose Perth station as well. This means that not only did the terraformation of Ayr come to a halt, but the project to introduce native Gaian flora and fauna to other terraformed planets is also over - which will probably set back those other projects for years, if not more.
But how did all this happen?
The conflict started when the Gaians, whose chief aim has long since been the annexation of planet Gaia, announced that they will begin all-out warfare against the OSC presence in the system. Few people took this seriously at first, but the Gaians posted a call for mercenaries soon afterward, with surprisingly large wages: their ranks soon swelled with people from all over Sirius who weren’t attracted by the eco-terrorist cause, but the amount of credits to be made. Since the BAF couldn’t and wouldn’t send a battle fleet to secure Edinburgh, OSC and Planetform also announced that they would be hiring mercenaries, for just as much. (Larger wages were deemed to be unprofitable by the stockholders’ board.) Fighting between the two sides soon began in earnest, with the Gaians launching regular attacks at Shetland. Their aim was to drive it away from orbit, since that would also mean the corporate facilities on the surface would have to be evacuated.
The ferocity of the battles raging in the system surprised both sides, as neither expected the other to put up too much resistance. The fighting went on for days, and ended only a week later: though the Gaians had the upper hand by then, the corporate fleets could still hold the system longer... but at what cost? With the events in Europa proceeding as they had, it was clear that they couldn’t wait for the military to launch an attack against the eco-terrorists, and the fighting in Edinburgh impacted commercial traffic heavily, with over a hundred trader convoys having been captured or destroyed. The Shetland has also suffered minor damage: not enough to strand it in orbit, but enough to cause concern, as no repair ships could make it to the planet without getting intercepted by the Gaians. Having been faced with a conflict that had no end in sight, and cost the company billions of credits already, Orbital Spa and Cruises finally decided to call it quits, and pull out of Edinburgh.
The executives of Planetform were very much upset by this decision, as it also meant that they would have to end their operations on Planet Gaia: they threatened to sue OSC over breach of contract if that were to happen. However, these threats did nothing to change their minds, though they did offer to transport the company personnel with the convoy that was to extract the Shetland from the system. Planetform refused this offer, and arrange their own transportation, hoping that the Gaians would focus their attacks on the liner leaving the system. As it turned out, this was a huge mistake: the mercenaries hired by the OSC refused to show up to defend Planetform interests, and the eco-terrorists opted to attack the last remaining corporate station in the system, instead of making a final assault on the Shetland.
While the liner was headed for the Leeds jump gate, and the relative safety provided by the border station Aberdeen, the Gaians launched a decoy attack on the convoy, and attacked Perth station in force instead. The station’s personnel sended out distress calls to the OSC fleet in the system, but they (understandably) refused to respond to them, and the mercenary groups also stayed with the evacuating ships, simply because their company paid better. Faced with an overwhelming number of attackers, and hardly any defenders of their own aboard the station, the captain of the base had little choice but to surrender. This also provided the Gaians with several dozens of hostages, though they agreed to let most of them go, except the high-ranking Planetform executives. In a surprising move, they also let the two BPA officers who were stationed aboard Perth leave as well, citing that they wished the authorities no harm. (A rather puzzling statement, since the Gaians have repeatedly broken Bretonian law, and fought the authorities in space countless times.)
Meanwhile, the Luxury Liner Shetland made it safely to planet Leeds, where it is now stationed in orbit and undergoing repairs. In an effort to get the required materials as soon as possible, OSC announced that deals will be open to unlicensed traders and freelancers as well: since the prices they’re paying are higher than the norm, freighters have started to flock to the area. However, just as they have threatened to do so, the legal representatives of Planetform Inc. have sued Orbital Spa and Cruises for breach of contract, failing to respond to distress calls (which claim will probably be dismissed in court fast, as the OSC convoy was under attack as well - by the decoy wing), willful endangerment of company resources, as well as numerous other charges.
Though at first glance, it looked that the two corporations might manage to settle out of court, this hasn’t happened, and as the trials have begun, investors have rushed to sell off their Planetform stocks, as the company’s other operations are in serious jeopardy now. The terraformation of planet Harris is in danger of getting shut down as well, even though it’s claimed to be near completion: company officials fear that the Gaians will focus their attacks there now, and the sightings of several new Gaian ship prototypes have done little to allay their fears. However, experts say that the eco-terrorists might not have enough strength left to push their attack farther, and since the various mercenary groups have left after having finished their jobs (though a few have reportedly stayed on with them), they will probably concentrate on holding their new territory now.
In the day since the attack, the Gaians have announced the formation of the “Protectorate of Gaia”, a new body dedicated to the preservation of the planet and its unique eco-system. It is unclear whether they think of this “protectorate” as an autonomous state, as no other factions have stated that they’d support it - though there are rumors that an alliance with the Mollys of Dublin is now a likely possibility. Regardless, the Gaians have also allowed scientists from Cambridge to continue research on the planet, though under their own supervision. The Cambridge University still hasn’t made an official statement regarding this: however, several professors have left for the planet, and a certain Mr. Graham was quoted saying that “the understanding and preservation of the treasure trove that is Gaia is more important than engaging in politics”. Though Planetform officials have been reported to be continously demanding the Bretonian Armed Forces to issue a statement regarding the developments in Edinburgh, Her Majesty’s Navy declined to comment on the situation at this time: the only thing that was confirmed was that a low-ranking officer said to the press that “settling the situation in Europa naturally takes priority”.
As such, Edinburgh should now be considered dangerous for traffic, and civilians are recommended to stay away from the system, or stay in close proximity of Aberdeen if they absolutely have to travel there. However, smugglers have been sighted by the police officers in great numbers, as apparently there is plenty of money to be made: the Gaians are selling off captured equipment in exchange for supplies, and of course, arms. Whether the outcome of the conflict in Edinburgh will determine the fate of the system for years, or if the situation will change in the foreseeable future, remains an open question.
Posted by Strail on Sunday, May 02, 2010 @ 18:50:41 BST (1680 reads)
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Experts warn of imminent crash of the Rheinland diamonds market, Kruger Minerals decline to comment (Exclusive reporting by cmdrsaman)
In a study commissioned by the Rheinland Landsbüro, the experts from the SPC (Sirius Prospector Company) warned the government that the Rheinland diamonds market is overinflated, very unstable, and might collapse at a moment's notice. While the study wasn't meant for the public eye, it got leaked somehow, as both the IRNS and the Neue Berliner Zeitung published it on the neural net at the same time. According to the SPC's experts, the demand for diamonds in Rheinland is being kept high artificially, and the rate of mining in Dresden has been so high that in a matter of months, the field might deplete so much that Kruger will have to increase their selling price drastically. The only other solution to this would be to feed the company government money, to compensate for them selling diamonds at a loss, but with the state of the economy as it is, it's very doubtful that that will happen. It does raise an interesting question, though: should demand for diamonds really be that high?
As most of our readers probably know, the trading ports of Rheinland, are full of the precious gemstones by now. Anyone flying through New Berlin is bound to meet a freighter or two with its cargo hold full of diamonds - provided the authorities can keep the outlaws at bay, that is. But what are all those gems actually used for? Granted, diamonds do have a place in the process of manufacturing heavy machinery, which Rheinland is famous for: they're a very important part of mining machines. They are also used for electronics, and supercomputers, but recent developments in the field suggest that in as soon as a year, quantum and organic computers will be ready for mass production. However, industrial applications don't even account for 40% of the demand for diamonds. The rest of it is made up of one thing, the civilian sector - and the Rheinlanders buy the gemstones for their unique product: Bling.
Bling is the brand name of several jewellery products, all manufactured by the company called Rheinlander Bling-Bling. It took the Rheinland markets by storm, with an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at everyone who could afford to buy some jewellery: thanks to the incredibly cheap diamond prices, real diamonds could be worked into all kinds of decorations. Bling soon became a status symbol among Rheinland's citizens, who might still be desperate to regain some of their perceived former glory. Several lawsuits have been filed against the Bling-Bling company, some by people claiming to have been blinded by the Bling, but the company won them all. Even amidst the ongoing outlaw attacks, and the rebuilding efforts, the market for Bling hasn't shrunk, though analysts are by now starting to question whether it will grow any further, or if Bling has reached its peak popularity in Rheinland. That is, of course, if the supply and price of diamonds remains the same.
If the Dresden field should run out, however, or reach the point where mining it is no longer economically viable, Rheinland will be left with precious little diamond supplies within her borders. The next largest deposit is located in the Omega-11 system, close to Dresden, but full of dangers - and outlaws. Daumann Heavy Construction has maintained Solarius station for a very long time, but in recent years, the station fell into disuse as the focus of mining Diamonds shifted to the Dresden system, where working conditions are much better. The other inhabitants of the system, however, are the Red Hessians, who in the meantime have gotten stronger, up to the point of manufacturing their own fighters, and completely keeping the Rheinland Military from entering Omega-11. Because of them, securing the diamond deposits of the system will be a great challenge... unless a third source is found. The Independent Miners Guild has already expressed an interest in setting up a permanent operation inside the system, but since they couldn't compete with Kruger's prices, they abandoned their plans. Now, it looks like they might start negotiating with the Hessians again, and if they can manage to secure a deal with them, then they'll be in a position to control the majority of Rheinland's diamond supplies. If they'd manage to do that, the IMG might grow very rich overnight... but setting up a permanent base of operations in the system would most probably cost a huge amount of credits. There are already rumors, however, that the miners are planning to auction off some of their less-than-lucrative outposts, to cover the expenses of moving into the system. Still, this would be an enormous gamble right now, as there has been no change of prices as of yet, and Kruger Minerals decline to comment on the state of the Dresden field. But the coming weeks might see the diamonds market, and the economy of Rheinland, change drastically.
Posted by Strail on Sunday, May 02, 2010 @ 18:46:49 BST (2098 reads)
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