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  • [ESB] Considering Mondo

    It came from Fort Ermingander. Mondo things will happen. Be afraid.

    Moderator: Mondo

    [ESB] Considering Mondo

    Postby The Tarjeisson Trust » Sat Jun 02, 2018 1:44 am


    Shirekeep, 12.I.1661

    For Ruslan Abaddon, the Kalgachia Desk Officer of the Ordo Imperiale Decimae, it was unusual to enjoy the hospitality of a corporate box at the Malek Fighting Pit and Stadium, in the entertainments district of Shirekeep. Still more unusual was to be enjoying that hospitality courtesy of the ESB Group. The ESB Group's own analysts were routinely commissioned by the N&H Party and its former partners in government to write up force projections and industrial output forecasts that were invariably entirely, and irreconcilably, at odds with his own bureau's work. The rumours coming back from the Kezan University's epic exploration of the Lieutenancy of Lapivril, had finally had the salutary effect of validating Ruslan's worse-case-scenario projections of Kalgachi energy self-sufficiency and silencing those who had hitherto dismissed the sniffer programme's evidence of exotic particle emissions as a crackpot conspiracy theory. It had been a rare and exquisite victory for a loyal subject in Imperial Service over the shiny corporate know-it-alls.

    Doors had opened to him after that which had hitherto remained firmly shut.

    So it was that Ruslan found himself sat in a plush black leather seat, binoculars in hand, watching a football match between two local teams he cared very little for, in a sound-proofed corporate box, with headphones on whilst pretending to listen to the commentary supplied by the stadium's internal BDN broadcast. To be honest the half-time entertainment – two fugitives from a Froyalaner Work Colony fed to a land crawling hydra-squid, itself one of the marvels of recent advances in Imperial genetic engineering – had been more memorable and enjoyable than watching two groups of overly remunerated boys kick a ball up and down between two sets of goalposts for 90 minutes. It amused him to think that there were cultures on Micras and Terra which practically worshipped the absurd sport.

    To call it a corporate box however was to do it a gross injustice. The average 'Keeper, the ubiquitous proletarian inhabitant of the imperial capital, would have seen a room large enough to house a half dozen of the wretched tenement holes into which Shirekeep apartments were usually subdivided by rent-maximising slum landlords, and that was to say nothing of the almost palatial hospitality facilities built onto the back of the stadium and connected to the back of the corporate box by a pair of white double doors. The game, which appeared to be going firmly in the favour of one or another of the teams, judging by the near riot going on in one of the denizen stands, was merely a prelude or pretext to the evening's events.

    Ruslan tingled with anticipation. After years of mockery and derision it was finally happening. His talents had been recognised. His predictions accepted for the astute judgements that they always had been. It had to be. Why else would he have been invited? There could only be one reason. He was being head-hunted. He'd already decided that he would accept. He would have been insane not to. The opportunity to transfer from Imperial to corporate service was like a dream, and on ESB wages he could buy his way out of tenure early – become a propertied denizen of wealth and standing, Balgurd be damned, if things went well he could even put in a citizenship application and become enrolled into the untitled nobility. Why not? Everything he had worked for, for eleven years, was finally coming to fruition. The only thing was. He could not agree too soon. Mustn't appear too keen. That'd be deadly. Never accept the first offer straight off. That's what they'd said in the class on negotiations, and he'd been very careful to reread those notes after the invitation had first pinged up on his hand terminal yesterday. Yet to hesitate too long might make them thing that he wasn't really interested, or worse ungrateful. He began to feel a knot of anxiety form in his guts.

    Rather than fixate he decided to take another drink. As he raised the glass to his lips and began to sip all he could taste was melted ice water. The damned glass was empty. He glanced around in embarrassment. Not counting the servants stood at the back of the box or behind the small champagne bar there were seven other people in the room with him. They all seemed to be sat either pretending to be engrossed in the game or huddled in little knots of whispered conversation. No-one appeared to pay him any heed. After putting the empty glass down on the perspex table in front of him, Ruslan lent across and tapped on the screen embedded into the arm-rest of his seat. With a few taps on the screen and after scrolling with his finger through the music, stimulants, and 'personal services' sections found his way to the drinks menu. A few more taps and he found that he'd ordered a 'Florid Florian' – rum, pineapple juice, and ginger ale. He frowned at the screen for a moment before ticking the 'make it a treble' box.

    After a couple of minutes a young Black Traveller girl in a crisp green and grey bellboy's uniform brought over his drink, poured into with ice a tall narrow glass with an inexplicable miniature umbrella perched on top, on a silver tray and set it down on the table before him. Smiling obligingly as she did so, as no doubt she had long been taught in the special schools at Erudition on Amity. Besides the glass was a single sleek black metal hand terminal.

    Noticing this terminal Ruslan slipped the headphones off his ears and glanced up at the girl in a mute expression of confusion. In halting Istvanistani she answered that 'management' told her to bring it to him. He thanked her, whilst trying not to be distracted by the cut of her uniform, and as she walked away turned his attention to his drink. After flicking the umbrella disdainfully away, he took a cool, refreshing sip, and sighed contentedly. Thinking back to his earlier moment of agitation, he considered it anew and his inner monologue told himself, patiently, as if explaining to an overly simple child, that even if there was no job offer at the end of this, the ESB was clearly trying to make amends and build up their standing in his good graces – 'making a connection' as it might be called. If nothing else an afternoon at the stadium, free drinks, and a meal to follow, at no cost to himself, the excursion had been worthwhile even in its own right.

    Putting the glass down, and picking up the binoculars, Ruslan once more made a show of quickly scanning over the stadium. The game appeared to be over. Whether this was because of full time finally being reached or because of the flares and scuffles going on at the far end of the stadium he was not entirely certain. He'd read somewhere that the Mango Hundreds, a somewhat disreputable football supporters group, had become increasingly rowdy about losing the subsidies they had enjoyed from previous governments.

    A sudden tri-tonal message ping in his immediate vicinity jolted him. His attention was sharply drawn back to the sleek jet black terminal laid on the silver tray before him. An amber message light was flickering on the top right hand corner of the device. Tentatively Ruslan picked the device up. It felt as light as it looked but his tactile sense of it was that it lacked the fragility of the crap turned out by the Church of the Machine God's accredited manufacturers. The dimensions, 140x80x8mm or thereabouts, put him in mind of some of the unaffordable Hoennese devices he'd seen on display at a technology fair. That the device carried no logo and appeared to have BDN connectivity were two details that he filed away as being 'interesting'.

    Swiping the screen from right to left, as he understood the Hoennese or Terran method to be, Ruslan saw a display screen unfurl itself in bright crisp and clear colour – quite unlike the variations of black and green to be found on the screens of indigenous devices. It took a moment or two to realise that the display page was itself a page which could be scrolled left or right with the same thumb motion. After a couple of tries at this, passing over a bafflingly large array of icons, Ruslan found what he was looking for - an envelope icon with a small red “通”symbol on its top right hand corner. Tentatively he tapped it and a new page opened up.
    The message title gave no indication of the sender but merely stated “Welcome” in Praeta.

    Ruslan tended to be somewhat sceptical of anyone who used Praeta for non-ceremonial purposes, but nonetheless he double tapped the message title and watched as the new screen popped up. Mercifully the contents of the message were written in Istvanistani.

    Dear Aqa Abaddon,

    I am very pleased to inform you that, effective as of midday, your secondment to the ESB Security Directorate has been approved by your department chief and personnel office.


    Ruslan felt obliged to re-read the first line again, just to make sure that it wasn't something in the drink that had affected his reading ability. Secondment? How was it this was the first that he'd head about this?

    Your new clearances, along with the access codes for your expense accounts, have been uploaded to this device which you must keep about your person at all times for the duration of your time with us. You have a mandatory physiological and psychological evaluation scheduled for 0800hrs on this Vivantiaday, details are included with the attachments to this message. Be sure to arrive promptly.


    Ruslan paused from reading and scrolled to the bottom of the page – there were seventeen attachments embedded in the body of the message. Somewhere in the back of his mind, the creeping suspicion that he had been royally shafted from the moment he had received the first invitation now clamoured loudly to be heard.

    Stifling the feelings of dread that all Imperial servants who had ever watched bootleg copies of “Where Mangos Dare” were prone to, he scrolled back up to reading the main body of the message.

    Your expertise is required on a matter of the utmost importance to the security of the Imperial Republic. Needless to say, this is a matter that must be handled with a certain amount of latitude and discretion. ESB has a proud history of delivering results in outsourced field operations and we are confident that you will be a great member of the team delivering results for all our stakeholders in this matter.


    Ruslan paused to gulp down the last of his 'Florid Florian'. To his uncertain knowledge the last time the ESB Group had run a black op had been during the Euran War of the 1630s. It was not a thought that inspired confidence. There were several more paragraphs of self-congratulatory corporate smuggery extolling the the virtues of the ESB Group when it came to delivering "agile and timely solutions", presumably in contrast to the muddled and sclerotic Imperial bureaucracy the message carefully omitted any reference to, whilst extolling him to consider his part in a "exciting and significant project" as a "fully engaged team player". All things considered, Ruslan decided to skip to the end of the missive.

    I invite you to familiarise yourself with the briefing materials attached to this message and look forward to welcoming you to Teldrin next week. For the moment, please enjoy the rest of your day.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Lyla Medani, Undersecretary to the Secretary of the Board of Directors, ESB-Jörmungandr Group


    Wondering how much worse this could possibly get, Ruslan scrolled down and opened an attachment at random. He wasn't disappointed.

    On on 07.XV.1660 at 1542hrs a message of unknown provenance, bypassing several Ministry and Crypteia security protocols, appeared on the BDN terminals of the Ministry of the Exterior:

    SALUTATIONS! MONDO HERE. I WISH TO CONTACT THE CATMONSTER. I GREATLY APPROVE OF THE CATMONSTER AND WOULD LIKE TO BE FRIENDS WITH IT. I WOULD LIKE TO BE FRIENDS WITH YOU TOO AND HELP MAKE BENACIA SAFE AND TIDY. MONDO OUT.


    09.XV.1660 at 1624hrs a single high-frequency data burst was intercepted by a Panopticon Horus blimp conducting routine electronic surveillance over Lywall State.

    HELLO KALGACHIA THIS IS MONDO STOP HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW QUERY STOP I AM PLANTING A GARDEN TOO STOP DO YOU HAVE COCKLE SHELLS AND PRETTY MAIDS QUERY STOP I WOULD LIKE SOME IF YOU HAVE ANY STOP DO YOU KNOW THE CATMONSTER QUERY STOP I WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT THE CATMONSTER STOP PLEASE WARN ME NEXT TIME YOU SEND A VISITOR STOP ACTIVE TEST ZONE APPROXIMATE RADIUS SIX DECIMAL FOUR EIGHT NAUTICAL MILES FROM LOCATION STOP I CANNOT ENSURE PHYSICAL INTEGRITY OF UNEXPECTED FRIENDS IN TEST ZONE STOP DO COME AGAIN THOUGH WE CAN HAVE A PICNIC IN MY PARK STOP IT IS GOOD TO TALK TO YOU BUT I HAVE TO GO NOW STOP MONDO OUT


    ESB Technical Services were able to insert a tracking algorithm, disguised as Crypteia redaction protocols, into the reply send by the Ministry. The source of the message was traced to a corrupted BDN data node in Oleslaad. Signals traffic analysis of the node indicated remote access by a BDN terminal connected to a high-energy transmitter that whose location was subsequently triangulated, using data from the intercepted broadcast received by the Kalgachi, within an area of the Inner Benacian Quarantine Zone where the last remaining structure of any significance was a ruined Minarborian artillery fort by the name of Ermingander – the name indicative of the role of the fort as a memetic Irminsul intended to ward off the predations of the Daemonic Vanic State.


    So – he was being sent to the edge of the Green to investigate either a hacker, a lunatic or a fairy-tale? He wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry, or abscond with the expense account. Perhaps all three in a sequence.

    A polite feminine cough brought his attention back into the room. The waitress with the close fitting uniform from before was stood before him. In light of the revised circumstances, her reflex smile seemed to be almost pitying.

      “Yes?”, he asked doubtfully.

      “The – er – other guests, ask when you will be joining them in the dinning room.”

      “Others?”

      “Yes.”

      “In the... dinning room, you say?”

      “Yes. In the dinning room – for dinner.” she added helpfully.

    After briefly contemplating before dismissing the option of running away screaming, Ruslan slipped his newly acquired handheld device into the pocket of his tailored Andrino jacket and rose to his feet, realising both how unsteady he suddenly felt, rolling on his heels, and how petite the waitress was now that he was upright.

      “If you could lead the way. And could I also get another drink please.”

      “Most certainly sir, but there will be wine with the dinner.”

      “If it's all the same, I'd quite like a drink before I start on the next part of this.”

    As he glanced around the now empty corporate box, Ruslan was left once more wondering what in all the hells of creation he had gotten himself into.
    1. In Modan: Daniyal ibn Daniyal Simrani-Kalirion: Prince of the State of Modan. Palatine Legate of the Scholae Kalirion.
    2. In Elwynn: Liv Dravot: Imperial Mother, Arandur of the Southern League, Widow of the late Daniyal Sikander Dravot. Administrator of the estate of the late Thorgils Tarjeisson. Chairwoman of the ESB Group.

    The Deceased

    1. Burgrave Waldemar Zinkgraven: Drowned in a Cask of Ale. (1660)
    2. Daniyal Dravot: intracerebral haemorrhage. (1657)
    3. The Kaiser Dominus: Ingested by a daemonic hellspawn from another dimension. (1644)
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