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A Hand of Iron
Sun Apr 19, 2009 3:30am (XFF:

The sun was just setting when the executive board members of the Iron Hand tournament filed into the top floor conference room of Frost Tower. They all found their respective places and turned to the figure silhouetted in the dying light filtering in through the wall-spanning window. Lexander Morningstar stood at the window, hands clasped behind his back in a relaxed parade rest. He wore a tailored gun metal gray suit of a cut that accentuated the fact that his body was made up of powerful layers of muscle conditioned to the rigors of a military life. He turned briskly and surveyed the board members with cybernetic eyes that matched his suit.

Information about each board member began scrolling across his vision, as Frost Tower's high powered computer interacted with the AI in his cybernetic enhancements. A name floated above each member's head. If he focused on one board member for more than a couple of seconds, a resume, psychological profile, and personal history could be accessed. He smiled as he walked to the conference table and took his seat beside the empty throne at the head of the table.

"I take it Desdemona will not be joining us again?"

Lexander looked at the speaker and a name appeared above her head. Celeste Gloomrel, CEO of The Hornburg Group, Board Member of The Renewed World Trade Alliance, and Marketing Director of The Iron Hand Tournament.

"Baroness Frost is personally overseeing another project." Lexander stated matter-of-factly. "She has asked that I chair the meetings for this years tournament."

A man with dark hair and glasses sitting next to Celeste tapped a button on his pda and all of the other member's pdas beeped in turn. "I have just sent you the financial report for this year. This includes all of your private pledges, the cost of advertising, and the pledges of smaller firms." The name Raphael Delacroix, CEO of Delacroix Financial, Board Member of The Renewed World Trade Alliance, and Chief Fiduciary Officer of the Iron Hand Tournament appeared above the mousy man's head.

Lexander scanned the document and frowned. "Did you get the memo about elevating Grox Arms from a tier 3 donator to a tier 1?"

Delacroix gave a furtive glance to Marko Cygnus, the heavily bearded president and CEO of Syndic-Tech, who sat across the table from him. "Yes... I did. Before we can elevate him, I need to know the nature of his donations."

Even if Lexander hadn't noticed the look to Cygnus, he was expecting this particular question. Baroness Frost had mysteriously elevated the company of a rather small time arms dealer to the prestigious ranks of the tier one donators based on a private contract between Grox Arms and Frost Electronics.

"The Baroness is playing this one rather close to her chest, Rafael." As Lexander spoke, he looked at each board member in turn, his gunmetal eyes boring holes in their faces. "While I cannot divulge the nature of their agreement, the Baroness is personally fronting the remainder of the donation to place Grox Arms in tier 1."

"According to the charter, Morningstar" Marko Cygnus said in his hollow voice, "funds need to be made in cash, not matériel. Any matériel provided by Grox Arms would need to be liquidated and properly filed."

"Technically correct. The Baroness understands the need for full disclosure." Lexander paused for a second, as if composing his thoughts. "Without divulging the full nature of his contribution to her project, you are familiar with the wares that Grox normally trades in? Voltarian and Imrekse technologies." Lexander practically saw Cygnus salivating in anticipation. "As a gift, the Baroness will be providing each of you with technologies relevant to each of your personal industries for reverse engineering and incorporation into your wares. Hopefully this gift will allow you to overlook the slight indiscretion with Grox's elevation to the 1st tier."

Marko nodded, with the rest of the table following his lead. Syndic-Tech was probably Frost Electronics biggest competitor. Cygnus was every bit as ruthless as Baroness Frost. The main point of contention was that Grox and Frost had been working together for a number of years on an exclusive project. Part of their contract had been a no-compete clause that prevented Grox from selling to Syndic-Tech. Prior to the no-compete clause going into effect, Grox had come across a cache of Imrekse gravity projectors, which were supposed to be incorporated into an air carrier design Syndic-Tech was working on for the Mavericks. Without the alien gravity projectors, Syndic-Tech had to turn to a smaller firm, J&S Aerospace, which had provided a substandard engine that had detonated during the trial run, causing Syndic-Tech to lose face with General Eclipse. Cygnus hadn't forgotten that and planned on milking it for all it was worth.

With that taken care of, Lexander turned back to Celeste. "How are we doing on recruitment?"

"Open registration starts tomorrow. We have already sent out ads to run in all cities in the Free Zone which have been running for about a week now. We have also sent out communications to the mercenary companies and any Maverick or Hunter forces that may be operating in the areas This will be a big recruitment time for those groups, so we want to make sure they have plenty of notice."

Lexander nodded. "Excellent. And your own personal security forces... have you already picked your champions?"

"Actually," a quiet voice stated. "All we are waiting on is the list of the Baroness' choices." Lexander looked to the speaker and the name Rufus Spotsworth, MD, PHD. CEO of CyberGenetica, Board Member of The Renewed World Trade Alliance, and Chief Medical Officer of the Iron Hand Tournament appeared.

"Several members of her personal security force have signed up. I will also be entering this year."

Marko Cygnus smiled. "You were just rebuilt, what... a year ago? Are you so eager to test out your new enhancements?"

"Actually, just looking forward to retiring early."

"Well, I'll wager after you run into my boys, you may get to spend the rest of your retirement in a medical bed. Any takers?" Marko laughed, and everybody looked awkwardly around the table.

"I won't take that bet Marko, because I really don't want your money. I will offer you a bit of advice though... don't send anybody you can't replace. Now, I believe this meeting is concluded. Have all of your reports filed tomorrow." With that, Lexander stood up and headed from the room, signaling the adjournment of the meeting.

* $ * $ * $ * $

A brief burst of static heralded a voice over the FR loudspeaker. "We have just received the official sign in sheet for the Iron Hand Tournament in Delta City. If you are interested, please sign up. That is all."

NRP: Sorry if this seemed to kind of ramble. It's 2:30 AM and I'm a bit preoccupied with other things. Everybody sign up

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