Monday, October 3, 2016

Bamboozled pt. 2

No one can win them all. No person, no planet, no empire. that's fine. Only someone who does nothing makes mistakes. The same applies to Zaonia. The Tech Knights are fallible as any Zaonian citizen would tell you (strongly in many cases) as this should illustrate. I do not like setting up someone as a Mary Sue, or a gadget as a Katana or a planet of organization as the Good Guys who must win. Just because I created you doesn't mean you get a free (or even easy) pass. Read the Tesla stories if you need a clue how low I can stoop to make a story fun (for the reader).

Zaonia  (0104 C885655-5     Ag Ri) shares a star with Nuzon (0104  E653555-4     Ag Ri). contact between the two planets was sporadic and often antagonistic. The Nuzoni fled Zaonia during the Time of Things Going to Hell. The Nuzoni maintained that they were exiled. The Zaonians insisted they did flee and that they stole the last working shuttle and broke it.

Now the Nuzoni made contact with one of Zaonia's subsidized merchants who was intrigued by wooden computing devices made locally. These slipsticks or ruled slides could be used in various areas of a ship where magnetic fields or radiation interfered with regular computers and were keen besides.

The devices were made of bamboo, a local plant.  The captain doubted he'd fill a hold with the little gadget or more importantly sell them all.  So he asked what else the bamboos were good for. The short answer was: Everything!

You could build with it, create fabrics, containers, medicines from extracts, fodder for some animals, decorations, even make -paper!

Word of this got back to the Tech Knights while they were slapping themselves on the back and pouring libations and figuratively speaking a group spit take occurred.

The Tech Knights called the bankers and explained that it was time to use their leverage of holding mortgages on ships to maintain their markets. Meanwhile they got hold of the lawyer and told them how badly they'd fuck him up if he didn't do something fast. Any Tech Knight can be called out into a gun duel over a political issue at any time. This was felt to assure only people with a commitment would take on the job. Their threats were not taken lightly.

The merchant captain knew law. He pointed out the contract spelling out his subsidized route mentioned the star system but not Zaonia specifically. The Tech Knights' lawyer went into hiding. They then looked nervously at Inerze, their major customer despite a recent bit of unpleasantness. Those contracts were coming up for renewal and the prospect of replacing Zaonian hemp with a plant that had even more uses was pretty enticing. That would be where the subsidized merchants would go to as well.

The fact the Inerzans would also be giving the uppity Zaonians the finger, hell the whole hand, was icing on the seed cake.

Bankers, Tech Knights and some merchant captains met behind closed doors while the citizens went about their day working, hitting smokeasies, and listening to the tubes. The secret council drew up several plans.

Invade Nuzon: very bad. Planetary invasions were hard. They had only experience in repelling one and it would lead to a long occupation and a permanent enemy.

Carpet bomb the bamboo fields: illegal, immoral and did you see how fast  that stuff grows? Unless they hired a ship just for that it was unfeasible and probably cost more than it was worth. Also the Polity would probably notice at that point.

Coerce the merchants to stop shipping bamboo: unlikely. Keeping a merchant from profits was nearly impossible. The contracts were no help. The new lawyer said as much.

A solemn delegation went to Nuzon to discuss the matter. They received a friendly if guarded welcome. Then they had another meeting. the Nuzon emerged with a 'sweet deal'.

The banks of Zaonia were going to float a large and low interest free loan so that Nuzon could subsidize their own merchant ships. One way to keep a merchant from profits was to stick one in his place who made more money at it. In exchange for this Zaonia received a decent portion of the bamboo business.

The Zaonians could use the bamboo themselves or just let it rot or ship it far away. Reducing the amount of bamboo on the market would protect their timber and paper industries. It would also drive the price of bamboo up which thrilled the Nuzoni. The timber and paper industries still took a bit of a hit but other markets were opening for them. Zaonia would just tighten the belt for a while (meaning the ordinary citizens, the Tech Knights got to keep their flying cars andimported death ray laser pistols.)

Their former lawyer even turned up, on Nuzon where he began a new practice representing subsidized merchants. He told everyone of the dangers of messing with low tech planets and that truly terrible biological weapons wouldn't kill you, they'd leave you broke but alive.