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Under New Management (1 of 2)
Sat Nov 14, 2009 5:48pm

NRP: I hate to bury Jetmode's new CD, but I'm giving this its own thread because it's going to be the beginning of a sort of mini-mission.


Desdemona Frost stretched out in the back seat of her limo and tried to relax for a few minutes. She’d just left what had been a mediocre presentation of Madame Butterfly at the Frost Opera House where during intermission an anti-corporate activist had thrown a glass of red wine on her. The crazy woman was promptly hauled away and in all likelihood was at that moment being beaten to a bloody pulp in a dungeon somewhere. It was a pity because the dress looked fantastic and the wine stain would probably never come out.

Despite that night's incident, public opinion had actually been extremely sympathetic towards Frost Electronics Corp in the weeks following the debacle at the Iron Hand Tournament. In fact, the limo’s small vidscreen was still displaying muted newscast footage of that terrible day when hundreds of spectators lost their lives. According to company analysts, FEC would actually came out ahead in the long run. Ratings for the broadcast broke every record, planning had already started for an even more grandiose coliseum, and the anti-Frost agent known as “Action Man” had been branded a terrorist by all legal authorities, including the Maverick Hunters. Well worth the price of a building.

The lights of Delta City streaked by outside Frost's limo like shooting stars. The glow of the vidscreen was just bright enough to make Desdemona’s reflection visible inside the glass of the window. She studied her face for a long time. Contrary to popular belief, the young Baroness was not particularly vain. She understood her own sex appeal and at times used it to her advantage, but it usually proved to be more of a disadvantage. In the corporate world no one took beautiful women seriously and Frost had had to be ruthless to gain the respect of her peers. Often she'd even gained their fear, which was even better.

Lexander Morningstar stood waiting on the curb at Frost mansion. It was late, but he knew that the boss preferred to receive bad news right away. He noted how incredible she looked being helped out of her limo by the chauffer. The cyborg’s synthetic eyes zoomed in on her bare arms and back that were exposed by the clever cut of the gown. He sometimes fantasized about taking the Baroness by force on their boardroom conference table. He probably would have done so by now if she wasn't the only person in the company who outranked him.

“Good evening, my lady.” the burly executive greeted with a short bow. “I trust the opera was satisfactory.”

After an evening of listening to rich mummies pour syrup into her ear, Frost was sick to death of polite social formality. She didn’t even look at the man when asking “Morningstar, do you know anything at all about traditional western musical theater?”

He blanched. “Er- Very little, I’m afraid.”

“Then I’m sure you would have loved it.” God, she was really starting to hate these people.

Unclear what his boss meant exactly and deciding that she probably wasn’t going to invite him in, Lexander cleared his throat and reported “I’m afraid we failed to purchase that mercenary group you were interested in acquiring. The auction exceeded my 250 million maximum bid.”

Frost sighed “C'est la vie.” as casually as if he'd mentioned the weather. “I only wanted to buy the group to dismantle it anyway. We can still get rid of the pests; we’ll just have to do it from the outside.”

“Shall I have Space Branch nuke their compound from orbit?” Morningstar asked with a little smile.

“No. It should be done quietly. Who can we hire?”

The cyborg thought for a moment, then was struck by an unconventional idea that might save the company a little money. “While I was in that desert of theirs I heard reports of several warlords operating in the wastes out there. I’m sure they could be bought cheaply. I'm just not sure how well armed a bunch of brigands will be.”

“Then arm them.” Frost replied flatly. “But not with weapons that can be traced to us. I want the company’s hand to remain invisible. Do we still have any of that Ducandian artillery that was confiscated after their collapse?”

Now a large smile appeared on Morningstar’s face. “Yes, my lady. Three tanks. One behemoth-class and two dragon-class. All with most of their original armaments.”

Simply instructing her subordinate to “Make it happen.”, the Baroness began climbing the steps to her mansion. Morningstar's synthetic eyes zoomed in again to watch the movement of her clingy gown as she walked.


A new dawn broke over the Stomping Grounds. The sky lightened, the stars vanished and finally the bright sun peeked over the edge of the wastes. Activity began slowly, like a rusty machine being used for the first time in years. In the bar Otik began brewing a large batch of his famous hangover cure. The mercs would start crawling in asking for it very soon, as most of them had celebrated extra hard the night before.

Axel found Maq and Kail together in his old office. She was sipping at a cup of black coffee and didn’t look fully awake, but the assassin seemed alert.

“Is he up yet?” Axel inquired.

“Never went to sleep.” Kail replied, not even needing to ask the Russian who he'd meant. Damien was the only thing anyone was talking about. The dark reploid explained “He’s been in the SG Backyard all night, visiting Lumberjack Bob’s grave. Every now and then he whispers to it, and then laughs.”

Axel peered out the window and spotted Jumpy crouching on the ground near the barracks. He was chewing on something. The big Russian asked half to himself “Do you think he’s crazy?”

“He’s not in that straight jacket for nothing.” Maq answered, rubbing her violet eyes. “Does this coffee taste alright to you?”

“I meant Damien.” Cossack clarified. “Why would anyone pay three hundred million credits for a business that looses money? It’s crazy.”

“We all do crazy things sometimes.” Kail mused.

From beyond the doorway Damien’s voice added “Truer words were never spoken, my sable friend.” The man himself then strolled into the office, hands in the pockets of his long coat. The three veterans looked at their new boss not knowing what to expect. He continued “To answer your question, Axel, I didn’t pay a thing for this place. Last month I discovered a way to turn fertilizer into gold. The problem is that it only lasts for 72 hours.”

Kail asked “What happens after three days?”

“It turns back to manure. A little surprise for the boys down at the bank.”

Axel laughed “They’ll probably think their vault was robbed by practical jokers.”

The sorcerer turned the desk’s clock around to face him and said “I’ll be leaving in fifteen minutes to deliver the gold. Before I go I’ll unload my personal effects from the Vulture. See that they’re moved in here while I’m gone. And make sure the desk if facing the window.”

All three puzzled for a moment, then Maq reminded him “This is the CO’s office.”

“Yeah. And I’m the commander.” said Damien, a little surprised this wasn’t already understood. “I didn’t buy this place to let someone else run it.”

“So which one of us is your executive officer?” Kail asked, wanting the job if only to prevent others from having it.

Damien furrowed his brow. “Executive officer? You don’t get it. Things are going back to the way they used to be. I'm talking about the old days. No more of this CO/XO business. First thing I’m doing is bringing back the Squad system. You three are going to be squad captains. Axel, you'll be in charge of Tekno Squad. Maq is captain of Mystic Squad, and Kail, you’ve got Shadow Squad.”

This was not something that any of the three had seen coming. What surprised the three most was that none of them hated the idea. Axel offered a mock salute to Kail, saying “Captain.”, which the assassin return with a similar “Captain.”

Maq remembered that there had been four squads in the old days and asked “What about Psycho Squad? Who runs that?”

“Jumpy, of course.” Damien answered. “He’s the only other living veteran we have.”

Everyone in the room reflexively wanted to point out that Jumpy was insane, but no one said a word. They all understood that their new commander had a strange affection for the little cannibal. And perhaps it was fitting that Psycho Squad be led by a madman.


NRP: To be continued...

    • Under New Management (2 of 2)Kail, Sat Nov 14 7:17pm
      -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- “Careful with those boxes, ladies.” Sarge barked. He’d placed himself in charge of moving Damien’s furniture in and attacked the job with gusto. Every unfortunate soul he laid... more
      • *snrkgiggle*Demios, Sat Nov 14 8:54pm
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        • Bow Chicka Wow WowAxel, Sun Nov 15 11:49am
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          • Liska slowly woke up from her own bed, stretching her brand new legs out and over the side of her twin sized bed. She had been quickly repaired for the auction, and thus was ready and back to normal... more
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              NRP: Didn't mention Cross because... Well because this is long as it is damn it! Since Damien's return there had been some serious partying going on. Booze flowed like water and liquored up Mercs... more
              • Zeo + elephant butt = WINAxel, Sun Nov 22 4:49pm
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                • HogwashKail, Fri Nov 27 4:44am
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                  • Walls are for flying through!Demios, Sat Nov 28 4:55am
                    Kail's blastsaber sprang to scarlet life with a snap hiss and the faint smell of the rapidly burnt air the plasma quickly displaced. Maq, in Kail's body, was about to succumb to the berserker rage... more
          • Liska's bad day.Lock, Sun Nov 15 10:34pm
            Liska slowly woke up from her own bed, stretching her brand new legs out and over the side of her twin sized bed. She had been quickly repaired for the auction, and thus was ready and back to normal... more
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