Revenant Hotel, 75th Floor, Luna Colony
The elevator door opens with a chime, as a couple was inside. The woman was fixing the man's tie, once she was done, the couple walked out of the elevator and down a long hall. The entire level had been vacated save for the luxurious suite at the end of the hall. Every other door had a guard dressed in immaculate Luna white, each equipped with concealed light weapons as to not to clash with the decor. The couple was the contrast however, she was dressed with an elegant, neomilitaristic dress, her hair was down and looked almost silk like. He was wearing in a complete three piece suit, all in black, complemented with round shades that partially concealed his eyes. They spoke no words, although it wasn't completely certain they weren't speaking via comms. Any and all weapons had been surrendered at the entrance of the magnificent hotel, but then again, they were the weapons themselves. As they reached their destination, the luxurious marble double doors opened to them. The suite was perhaps one of the most luxurious in all of Luna Colony, it has an indoor pool, a conference room, two bathrooms, a very large balcony that would oversee all of the colony, and a comfortable living room. A man and his entourage stand as the couple come in, and sporting a well practiced smile, he greets them.
"Mr. and Mrs. Kusanagi! I am very happy you could make it without any issues, please, please come in, make yourselves at home!"
Wayne Thomas Russell as as charismatic as he looked on the holo, and he had a firm handshake, yet Akio wasn't entirely sure what to make of him yet, Xuennu remained stoic as always. Following protocol, Akio nodded to the man.
"Congratulations on becoming Governor, Mr. Russell, a well deserved victory"
The Governor smiled brightly and nodded, as he pointed at the very comfortable seats, addressing the staff, he puts them to work immediately.
"Thank you Mr. Kusanagi, you're most kind, do you have any words of wisdom for me on this new stage of my life?"
He was taken aback, was Russell actually asking him for advice? However, without skipping a beat, he would reply.
"Be prepared for everything and anything"
A well practiced business laughter proceeded as snacks and drinks to be served on the table.
"It is quite an honor for me to be meeting you both, Thanks to you and all of the people of Mars, history was finally opened for some changes here and there, I know what you're thinking, you and I are not the same, and believe me Mr. Kusanagi, I don't presume to speak as if we were, but your struggle as well as that of your illustrious and beautiful wife has inspired me, if unlikely change can actually be achieved against all odds once, then it can surely be repeated one more time, right? It was Mars' time, and now it's Luna Colony's, it's people like you and me that---"
Confused, and perhaps a bit annoyed, Akio raises his hand, shaking his head slightly.
"Forgive me, Governor Russell... You sent word that you wished to meet to discuss something of utmost importance, and we made it here to see you, in your colony, under your own terms, may I ask you... What exactly are we doing here?"
A bit surprised, but in a good way, Wayne Thomas Russell smiles, and then chuckles.
"My apologies, Mr. Kusanagi, it's just that I've been talking to so many corporate characters, CEO's, and high profile influencers, and there's this annoying habit in the corporate world to always start a serious business conversation with a few minutes of ass kissing and praise, it's a breath of fresh air to do away with all that, so, on to business then"
Akio nods as he finally sits, followed by Xuennu, both of them looking at Governor Russell, waiting for him to proceed.
"Currently, Luna Colony has a contract with Mars, two contracts to be precise, and those are served by two different entities, one is for the delivery of purified water by the Water Merchant Guild, and the other one is for the delivery of cloned produce by Mars Farms, this guarantees Luna Colony the stock of both pure water and real food for the discerning palate of our discerning citizens, I believe the contracts were secured by my predecessor, one Anthony Bancroft, yes?"
This time, it was Xuennu who nodded and chimed in.
"That's exactly right, these contracts have been valid for the past two years"
The Governor claps once and continues.
"Excellent, now, and given what has been happening on both Luna and Mars, I would like to renegotiate these contracts, and I believe I have an offer you'll find very appealing"
The couple both frown at Russell's words, and in spite of clearly wanting to interject, they would allow Russell to continue.
"The present contract guarantees full distribution of pure water to Luna Colony at a cost of 3.5 million Sol Credits a month, and the full distribution of real food, such as fruits, vegetables, and meat at a cost of 7.5 million Sol Credits a month, bringing us to a full 11 million Sol Credits a month, now I understand the value of what you're bringing to Luna Colony, and because our citizens have very discerning taste, we can't afford to rely on water delivered by Ice Haulers, they are unreliable on their dates, and it's not entirely clean either, plus, the demands of Luna Colony are hard to meet, the Water Merchant Guild fulfills our needs perfectly, and when it comes to food? Well, none of us wish to return to kibble, scop, and processed algae either, so my offer is this: I'll up the water contract to 6 million Sol Credits a month, and the food contract to 11 million credits a month, which takes us to 17 million credits a month total, as long as Mars can guarantee the timely distribution of both, what do you say?"
The couple remains silent, as they look at each other, after a few moments, Xuennu replies.
"With respect, Governor, did you bring us here to discuss contracts, logistics, and distribution of water and food, when you could have done this directly with the Water Merchant Guild and Mars Farms? I am certain they could have taken a call or two and make the changes that way"
The Governor smiles again, he was probably impressed by how sharp they both were.
"Mrs. Kusanagi, I know I could have done that, I know I could have just called them, told them I wanted to re-negotiate the contract, and in the end, I think both you and I know they would still have called you to make sure you would approve the contract, this would still cause curiosity and you'd have the need to find out just what was going on, maybe get someone to infiltrate Luna Colony, spy on a few people for a few months, and get your answers that way, but why do that at all? Why bother? I am an open book, I play straight and I play to win, there's nothing to win if I antagonize Mars, there's nothing to profit from me keeping information from you, that was the Bancroft way, and look what good it did him. If anything, I am trying to save us all some time and lay the cards on the table as it were"
The couple remains quiet for a few seconds, this time it was Akio who spoke.
"Why? The only reason why would anyone want to renegotiate anything is to ensure they get a better deal, more water for less cred, that sort of principle, yet you're doing the opposite, I would be lying if I said I wasn't curious about it"
The Governor nods again, as he proceeds.
"I know you have dealt with many unpleasant situations in our 'illustrious' corporate world, and I know you and I will never be the same, nor will we ever share the same views, but I think there's something in common we can all share: Profits. I spent a few days in New Geneva negotiating a deal that would have them to back off while still profiting of their business and corporate interests here, but ultimately, full control of Luna Colony resides with me, and profit is the name of the game, and I intend to have the right players on my board, if you catch my drift. There are several works and projects that I've already authorized, including a very appealing docking sector. The reason why I am offering you more is very simple: I want to keep you as a player on my board, I want to profit off of you, and I want to keep you happy as you keep on playing, and the way to do that is to give you reasons to keep on playing too, but I also need to make sure that no mysterious foreign agent makes it to our water and food, poisons a few good Lunite Citizens, and the game comes crashing down on all of us. I offer a fair shot, but unlike the openness of Mars, things here need to be done the right way, if you're gonna play, you're gonna play smart, do you understand? Besides... I saw what Tengu did, and I understand that it was because of their actions that I actually had a prayer of a chance to win this election, and I am very well aware that what was used against Bancroft could also be used against me, but in my mind, if I don't give you any reasons to use Tengu, you won't use them at all... Not that I am implying that you and Tengu are linked in any way, I'm just... Covering my bases here, as it were"
Akio leans against his seat, remaining quiet especially at the mention of Tengu, and he finally nods.
"Clever. You get New Geneva's eyes off Luna Colony, you take control, get to pick your players, and control profits that way"
The Governor grins again.
"Profit is the name of the game, Mr. and Mrs. Kusanagi, even if corpos won't recognize it, Mars is the bread basket of the Inner Planets, we don't wanna risk the well being of our citizens by some misunderstanding, we take care of the middlemen and we negotiate directly, the docks will be open for the Water Merchant Guild and Mars Farms deliveries of course, but play it smart, and all sorts of further business can be done that way, the trick is playing it smart, which I don't think will be an issue for you and yours, correct?"
Xuennu looks at Akio, and after a few seconds, Akio nods.
"A direct route to Mars from Luna Docks, and the local security on our payroll so they look the other way every now and then when we either drop or pick up certain cargo"
The Governor claps once again.
After that, Akio, Xuennu, and the Governor all stand up. The Governor extends his hand as Akio shakes it, he then does the same for Xuennu.
"I believe this is the beginning of a very profitable friendship, Mr. and Mrs. Kusanagi, the changes on the contracts will kick in later tonight and they will be reflected on the payment cycle at the end of the month, the route to Mars will be ready within the week, and if you need anything else, I'll give you my private frequency so you may contact me at your leisure"
Once the deal was secured, Akio looks to Xuennu and then nods to the Governor.
"Thank you for having us, we'll retire for the evening, and head back to Mars in the morning, we appreciate your kindness and hospitality"
"It was an honor to host you, Mr. and Mrs. Kusanagi, please enjoy your evening at my humble colony"
It took them a few minutes to get back to the elevator, and once the doors closed and the elevator started to move down, Xuennu looks at Akio.
"What do you think?"
"Seems like a good plan"
Xuennu frowns and after a few seconds, she looks at him again.
"What do you really think?"
Akio smirks and grins, looking at her.
"He'll fuck us the moment we slip, so once we return to Mars and tell the others about this new development, we need to make sure we make them understand there's a new ruleset to play on Luna Mars... Dressing code, discretion, subterfuge, that kind of thing, not everyone will be able to play here, and some could more than others... We'll need to discuss this with the others, especially Rika"
Xuennu nods as she looks at the elevator screen.
"We'll handle it and send some feelers, if Vulca Group can play ball, so could we... I don't trust them, but it's a lot of money we could use... But Akio, if someone crosses us, they are getting shipped somewhere in those cans"
Akio grins again and looks at her.
"I wouldn't have it any other way..."
As they reach the lobby, the couple makes it out of the hotel, eventually losing themselves in the crowd of elites while an old, and familiar tune plays in the distance.