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Chapter 2 - AU Zhukoverse Drabbles

Changing times

Location - Csesztreg
Time - 0945 Friday 27/09/3051

Merchant Factor (Second Grade) Victoria (Astor) was quietly wondering if the Galaxy had it in for her, the new posting as head of Planetary Administration on Csesztreg was a huge opportunity for her but, nothing in her life had prepared her for this.

Csesztreg was a barren and cold world, there was some primal beauty to it, if you appreciated such things but she didn’t really go in for endless tundra’s and snow capped mountains. Back in the Homeworlds she’d overseen a town with a population of 22000 assorted Lower Caste personnel. Now she was to oversee a world who’s population at the last census on records was over fifteen million!

She’d been briefed about her appointment before leaving the Homeworlds and had spent the months long journey to the Inner Sphere learning as much as she could about the world and working with other senior Lower Caste personnel who were assigned to the world.

Many Merchants were almost giddy with excitement over the huge mineral wealth that was rather easily accessible. The Lyran’s had been using Csesztreg as an ore breadbasket for centuries and mines both large and small dotted the planet as did a considerable infrastructure geared towards the processing and transportation of the ores.

Initial records showed that the mines were well run and that the refining equipment whilst old was still perfectly workable and she’d marked that down for upgrades to improve efficiency and reduce downtime on maintenance as a priority.

The ores and metals were moved from their processing sites to the main DropShip port at the Capital of Budapest by an extensive rail network, many of the big freight trains were either simple diesel trains or even older coal burning steam trains, but they had been built locally and there was a great depth of knowledge on world for their maintenance.

The planet was reliant on imports of food, its greenhouses and local fishing industry were adequate but not exceptional, but soon Harvest would fall to the Hell’s Horses and that worlds bounty would be her gain and someone elses problem.

There was a soft chime from her desk and she repressed a sigh.

“Yes?” “Ma’am, your 10 o'clock meeting is here.”
“Thank you Gunther, please send them in and bring the tea tray in ten minutes after the door closes.”

Victoria glanced at her empty mug of coffee, it was the second one she’d had, she knew she needed the energy for what was to come as representatives from various Castes as well as the old leadership of the Planet filed into the room and she stood, smiling at them all and nodding in greeting. Once pleasantries had been exchanged and the tea brought in Victoria sat behind her desk, took a deep breath and began.

“I have a communique from the Khan, I know that many Civilians are worried that our Caste system will be a return to the ways of the Draconis Combine, but Khan Lair Seidman has ordered that no such system shall be undertaken on Csesztreg…”

THAT got everyone’s attention and there was several mumbled discussions around the table and some shocked looks, mostly from fellow Clansmen.

“In truth we do not have the capacity to introduce such a system on so massive a population, the testing and evaluations of more than fifteen million people would create, and I use his words here, ‘a bureaucratic trainwreck with the paper trail large enough to stretch back to the Homeworlds’. Instead we will be largely keeping things as they are, but with Clan oversight once the various industrial and commercial and civilian sectors have been evaluated.”

Some people looked like they wanted to interrupt but Victoria raised a hand and smiled. “I assure you that all voices will be heard but please, let me finish. We will not be masters, or overseers with a whip in hand, we will help administer and run, we will order materials and help supply equipment. We will spend our resources to help fight the pollution on this world, we will introduce our own crops, made to survive on hardy worlds like this, as well as the latest water pumping and filtration systems. The citizens of Csesztreg will be fed, watered and taken care of, their young will have modern educational facilities, and the world will be protected from outside predation. We ask in return that you meet the quotas for ores and metals, that your workers remain loyal and hard-working, not troublemakers or shirkers. We will rule with a light touch, outside of interactions with the overseer’s who will monitor production levels and facilities, as well as people like me, you will not see our presence, at least that is our hope and wish. We are not the Draconis Combine, we are not the brutal Smoke Jaguars or the haughty Falcons, we are Hell’s Horses and you will find we are not what you fear.”

With her little speech over, a dozen people all started talking at once and Victoria let out a quiet sigh as she once again wondered what the universe had in for her.

“Ma’am, what about wages? From what I understand your people are what we would call socialist, people need money to buy food and keep paying for houses.” This was from a balding, dark skinned man who had to be in his late 50’s.

“Please, call me Factor if you must address me by any rank, and yes we are, but workers will be paid in our currency which does have a higher value than the Rasalhagui Krona, this omni-currency will be phased into place to replace any local currency, and will be digitally accessible by all workers. Those who are unable to work will still be given an allowance, whilst food prices, thanks to planned higher yields and imports from off world will drop considerably, and our water purification technology is far more capable so water prices will drop considerably. While the Clans do not have any true families, we know that ripping apart families, or forcing them onto the streets only causes pain and trouble, it is my job, to ensure that does not happen.”

“You mentioned schools…?”
Aff, that is, yes, we found that there is only educational institutions in Budapest as well as the other major cities, the outlying settlements have little to none, this will change. With better education, people can reach their fullest potential and place in society.”

“Your society…”
“Our society.” Victoria said, putting a bit of steel into her voice.
“Make no mistake Madame, this world is ours now. And things will change, for the betterment of all, not just the Clan, of which, you are all now members of.”

Once more everyone who wasn’t Clan began talking at once in raised and animated voices, and Victoria knew this was going to be a long day.

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