This story is submitted as a part of the latest Blog Banter Challenge. The names have not been changed, but some folks may appear in unexpected places and a few identities should be obvious, even without names.
Smoke. Peat. Honey. Heather. Just enough burn to remind you there was alcohol involved.
cr8rmaker wasn't quite sure where on Old Earth 'Scotland' had been, much less who the hell 'Glenn Morangi' was, but an appreciation for single malt scotch was one of the things he took away from his time at university.
The Old Man wouldn't have really shot the new bartender if the noob had gotten within three feet of the Old Man's glass with those ice cubes. At least, cr8r didn't think so. But, the Old Man had apparently gone off the deep end, leaving the safety of Empire for the lawlessness of null sec, so nothing was ever certain.
Another swirl of the glass.. Another sip..
His recent promotion within Trends and Analysis at The Secure Commerce Commission afforded him a few indulgences. That economic review of strategic cruiser production was well received by the suits, it seems. Upgrades to the CONCORD database access routines that allowed that analysis to be completed also pointed out some unusual loss circumstances. He'd have to have lunch with one of the guys from Loss Prevention and see if they were aware of the anomalies.
This was not going to be pretty, Jake was sure of that. 80/20 that he would not be the head of Loss Prevention in another hour. Even money that he'd be dead. Hardly gambler's odds, and gambling with the CEO of The Secure Commerce Commission was not recommended. She rarely lost. At anything.
The portal to Acacia's office slid silently aside. She was staring out the duraplast window that overlooked the undocking port. Her left hand held a small crystal glass and an earthy aroma infused her vicinity. Her right hand held a compad. Her left foot tapped slowly on the stone floor.
Still facing outward, over her shoulder she said, “Jake, if this is your idea of a joke, it's not the least bit humorous.”
“I assure you, madam, there's nothing remotely humorous about it and the only joke appears to be on us.”
Turning, she swirled the amber liquid in the glass and emptied it.
“So, your telling me that we have been paying out insurance claims on ships lost to CONCORD across the breadth & depth of New Eden? For years. For. Years. FOR EFFING YEARS???” The last wasn't so much voiced as hurtled into space with the intensity of a full BlasterThron broadside.
“It appears so. Until the last upgrade, our datafeed from CONCORD didn't include information about who was responsible for the loss of insured ships. We just were informed that a hull with an in-force insurance policy was lost and we automatically issued payments. I assure you that I'm just as personally appalled at the immorality of such payments as you are and...”
“Immorality? IMMORALITY??? Jake, you pompus pommey bastard! It has nothing to do with 'immorality'!” she interrupted.
His confusion sealed his fate...
Her voice turned calm, with a tinge of sadness. “Jake, it's bad business. We collect 5.2 million isk in premiums from a squad of Thorax cruisers and 8.8 million isk from a Hulk pilot. The Thoraxes gank the Hulk in Empire and we pay out nearly 47 million isk in claims. An Amarr High Priestess can't pray that equation into balance! A preliminary review indicates we've paid out trillions of isk to people who were concordonkened. Trillions! How do you think the shareholders are going to take that lovely bit of news, Jake?”
His cosmetic permatan failed to hide the departure of blood from his face. Morals were one thing, but mucking up profits was a serious matter.
Turning back to the window, she asked softly, “Who else did you let in on this, Jake? Who else knows?”
“ORE. I... I asked if ORE could correlate what we were seeing with the demand for mining hulls.”
Silently, she crossed the room to the bar in the corner. Pouring an inch from a squat bottle into her glass and draining it without her customary swirl, she keyed her compad.
Her call was answered before the first ring ended... “Captain Nuff, Internal Security...”
The wormhole pulsed. It almost seemed alive, didn't it?
The unknown side of wormholes provided a convenient place for clandestine activities of all shades. Circuitous routes were the norm for getting to wormhole space, making it easier to ditch tails. Reception committees could be arranged for those that didn't belong and ships losses in wormhole space were to be expected. Those nasty Sleepers.
Secrecy was paramount. New Eden didn't need to know about The Meetings. Seeing representatives of the hull manufacturers, pirate factions and certain select ladies and gentlemen of 'convenient morals' gathering convivially together just wouldn't do. Not now. Perhaps not ever.
“Well, brosefs, it was good while it lasted, eh?” intoned one of the more infamous of the group, raising a small globe of dark liquid in salute.
“You really think they will cut off insurance payments for CONCORD losses?” the red headed woman standing by the bar asked?
The head of Duvolle Labs, looked up from admiring her stern aspect, winked and raised his own glass in appreciation. “Well, m'dear, once they figure out the economics of it, they won't have much choice. The mining and transport unions have already started asking some uncomfortable questions. Soon, there will be a full fledged media melt down. Followed shortly by an investigation. With the mood of shareholders since the EBANK incident, it's quite likely the entire leadership team will get spaced if their current business practices continue. The Secure Commerce Commission may be slow off the mark, but they aren't completely daft. They have to make changes.”
Smiling at both the comment and the unspoken compliment, she shifted her weight from one leg to the other, holding the gentleman's attention and mused “Well, eliminating all of the insurance payouts would require more, shall we say, judicious target selection on the part of those pilots that engage in that particular line of business.”
The chuckle from behind the bar, was sincere. “Ah, lassie, they canna lop off all the payments! Losing customers with appropriate connections would be bad for business, eh? Now, then, who needs some more of Clansman Glenn Morangie's Finest?”
Insurance payouts for losses to CONCORD limited to 10% of normal payout value.
Limit adjusted upward by 1% for every level of the following skills: