Acquisition of Personnel
a prologue to Arc X, by CupcakeTrap
(15 January, 27 CLE)
(Corporate Administration Bureau—Central Office—Zaun)
Zafion has been tightening its security
“Hey, Zet, we got another one.”
Zelton Brikkler kept his eyes on the page while he finished typing out the rest of the current sentence.
Zafion has been tightening its security, e.g. seeking PsiKorps consults.
Zelton Brikkler never really liked being called “Zet”, but he liked being liked, and fussing over what people called you didn’t seem like a good way to get liked.
He looked from the typewriter to his assistant, Tromm Fekto, who was carrying a plastikloth envelope shut with a seal of ultra-black techmaturgic tape. He’d yelled at him when he first started for carrying sensitive communications around in plain paper.
Zelton took his unsealer stamp from a drawer and struck it on the black strip. Zelton Brikkler—Corporate Administration Bureau swirled out over the tape in thin purple lines, and then the tape broke.
The letter was significant, but not surprising. Eleven more Summoners reporting to Zelton’s contacts that they’d been approached for participation in a possible upcoming League dispute. That made fifty-seven so far. The number of Summoners being approached, and the rates being offered, had already made it clear that this was no mere spat over Bandle Merchant Guild trade taxation or Piltover’s latest attempt to use the League to foist restrictive environmental rules on Zaun.
“Here, have a seat,” he said, and Tromm sat down as indicated.
Tromm apparently also took that as a prompt to share his own thoughts. “So far, almost a third of these reports involve bit players that usually stick to Summoners CAB recruits for the general pool. I think we’ve got to work out why these small-time corps are suddenly taking on all the risk and expense of hiring Summoners directly.”
Zelton had hired Tromm for a reason. The kid had the sense, at least, to see the real story here. “Yeah. CAB gets better Summoners for less pay. So why do you think these little mini-corps are breaking their piggy banks to go solo?”
Tromm shrugged, but obviously knew Zelton expected better than “I don’t know” from him. “Maybe they think we’re too cozy with the big players. We did kind of screw them on the Bel’Zhun deal.”
“They would have been lucky to get half the tonnage of pyrikhos that they got. It’s not easy shipping through a warzone.”
Tromm took another try. “I did a little reading up on some of these Summoners. There’s something else. They’re mostly known for fieldwork, more than matches. Maybe they’re looking to run some covert ops without telling us about it.”
“That would help keep it covert,” Zelton muttered. Tromm’s eyes widened slightly. He shook his head, and gestured for him to go on.
Tromm continued. “For covert ops, they’d want their own Summoners on their payroll answering to them. The Summoners who work for CAB answer to CAB. We basically represent all of Zaun.”
“Hold on, there,” Zelton deadpanned. “The Council of Zaun represents all of Zaun. CAB is just a humble corporate administration agency under the full control of the popularly elected Council of Zaun.”
They both had a laugh.
Tromm went on. “So anyway, those Summoners from the pool, they’re more loyal to us, and the biggest megacorps, than to whoever’s sponsoring them in a particular dispute. So it seems to me like you can trust them to back you on the Fields when your mini-corp’s issue comes up, but they’re not going to risk their relationship with us by going on clandestine missions.” He paused. “Does that sound about right?”
Zelton smiled just a little. “Yeah. I think you’ve got it.” He looked over the sheet again. “And you know why they’re bit players? Because they’re apparently too stupid to think we wouldn’t find out about this, and put two and two together.”
He mentally flipped through the names and faces that packed so much of his memory. “We can’t go to Dunderson with this yet. … get me a meeting with Gerald Hurston.”
Tromm was visibly surprised, but Zelton could also already see the wheels turning.
“Sure. Uh. You’re thinking…these little guys have less to lose than the big players, so…whatever they’re planning is going to be risky, and Piltover’s probably on the list of targets. And if we use Pilt assets to dig deeper, it’ll be longer before Dunderson’s people call us in and make us report. More time to get something substantial together.”
“That, and he’s getting old, so I might as well call in some favors before he kicks it.”
“I’ll set it up.”
Zelton turned back to his typewriter, but his thoughts wandered. If the big corps were buying up Summoners, and even the small-time players were getting anxious, then there was something going through the big grimy nervous system that was Zaun’s corporate network. Maybe none of the individuals involved really knew exactly what that something was yet, but the system knew. And in his considerable experience, Zaunites were wrong all the time—some of them had to be scraped off the walls afterwards—but Zaun was just about always right. And Zaun was getting ready for a fight.
He found himself smiling. This was good. Zaun had been out of the game too long. They’d let the Guardian’s Sea dispute go by, even though it was a Zaunite rig that got the first good measurements of the nexus. (And, well, maybe set it off.) When Azir declared Shuriman independence, they stepped aside for Noxus, even though it was their pyrikhos fields at risk. Well, Zaun wasn’t going to be stepping aside for anybody this time.
He opened a deeper drawer, which hid a hextech chiller. It was an old model he hadn’t upgraded in years, for sentimental reasons. It was one of the first pyrikhos-driven chilling units on the market, actually, and he’d bought it with his bonus from the League dispute that had led to the device’s invention and gotten him promoted. He picked out a nice cold heavy glass bottle of ThaumaKola from the neat row, and pushed the drawer shut with his shoe.
He held the bottle up in front of his eyes, and frowned with concentration until
A purple flash knocked the cap off the bottle, and a swirl of green smoke rose up from the neck. The cap clattered, bent and smoking over the surface of his desk.
“Here’s to…here’s to it being about damn time.”
The Factions community has selected Zaun as one of the two factions to compete in the upcoming tenth arc.