Saturday, June 6, 2015

CH3: Breakout, Part 2

The Collapse of Hellas Trading 

Hellas Trading was a major state-backed venture to open the rich mineral deposits of the Hellas crater to exploitation. The company was chartered by Elysian Autarch Miraxus II in 5,010 AD; although officially state-owned, it was primarily funded by public bond sales, with total subscriptions reaching three billion Elysium Therms by 5,020 AD. The initial aim of the company was to build a rail line through the forbidding terrain between Elysium and Hellas, which would allow the exploitation of the rich uranium and tungsten deposits of the crater.

The company was both a major source of employment for all ranks of the social spectrum, and a savings vehicle for much of the new middle classes, who lacked a secure place to store their assets. The company offered generous rates of interest, secured by the projected mineral reserves of the crater, and it was generally agreed that, as a major state project, the Autarch would not permit a default on the company's debts. 

Besides its economic role, Hellas Trading was widely romanticized as a “new frontier”, promising adventure and glory as well as profitable employment to its employees. The Elysium Observer, the largest newsfile targeting Elysium's educated classes, published a long-running and extremely popular series, Frontier Adventures, depicting the many challenges of the company in the most positive and romantic light possible. The company director, Trev Gersettus, became a municipal celebrity, famed for his “rough and ready” style and personal charisma. 

However, even as the company was feted by the elites, it was falling further and further behind schedule and over budget. The difficulty of blasting through the rough terrain had been seriously underestimated, and MuniDef soldiers had to be deployed to guard the rail line from persistent raids by the Knights of Sorrow operating out of the Hadriacus range. When the line was finally completed in 5,026 AD, the Mineralogist Guild reported that the reported uranium deposits were only a quarter as rich as the initial surveys had claimed, and panic selling of Hellas Trading bonds began on the Elysium exchange. Miraxus II moved to liquidate the company but, critically, announced that all debts would be repaid only out of Hellas Trading's existing assets, which at this point amounted to a few million Therms in unspent reserves and a rail line to nowhere. The collapse wiped out a large percentage of the savings of the Elysium middle classes overnight. The municipal economy contracted sharply.

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