I must speak the truth, and nothing but the truth. -Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part I, Book IV, ch. 3.
Cervantes, Cabral, Nasger Carlos Aguirre stood on the platform to the ferry that would take him from the humble mining town of Cervantes to the port town of Vincente. From there, he would journey to Legion World in hopes of discovering a new source of diamonds. He had a reading tablet which contained many stories for the long trip. This is a fact because almost the entire town, from the wealthiest to poorest resident had come to see him leave.
One woman whispered to another, “What is that thing sticking out of his bag?”
“It is that treasure map again. It belonged to his grandfather. The whole family is crazy,” The other woman answered.
The first woman asked, “But why is he wearing—“She got cut-off by the sound of the ferry approaching the platform. Carlos Aguirre suddenly decided to grab an empty crate near the water and place it on the platform. He then stood atop of it and the crowd came to attention.
“Good people of Cervantes! I regret that I leave you, town of my ancestors, for a New World! I fear I shall never return—“ The end of the sentence was drowned out by applause. Aguirre had no idea that the crowd was mocking him; instead he believed the crowd loved him. “I may even sell my property, which my dear grandfather gave to me upon his death. I know I will be missed at the annual Cervantes Theatre Festival, but I trust Alfonso Argenti will suffice in that role, given that he has delusions of grandeur.” The man in question was not certain how to react to this statement, while everyone else was taken aback. Aguirre had just insulted the richest man in town.
“Furthermore, I shall help establish new mines that will benefit Nasger! I shall create a new mining town and call it…call it…Cervantes II!” He shouted. He then heard the sound of the ferry and ran onto it before it left him. Carlos Aguirre looked forward to an eventful trip which would lead into a glorious adventure.
~~~~Sage Mineral’s Distribution Office, Charltonburg, Legion World A woman walked into an office and handed a man some lunch. He gave her some dollar bills and continued his telephone conversation. A copy of Schumann’s Gemstones of the World sat under the desk light, and maps of Legion World’s various regions including The Hills and The Forbidden Mountains were hanging on the wall to the right of the desk.
Sebastian Sage said, “He really wants to call it Cervantes II…I know, you would think he would at least pick a Portuguese name. The history of the first town of Cervantes is too convoluted; I don’t want to subject another town to it. This is of course if I can get the permits…I need you to help me figure out exactly what Legion World’s mining regulations are.” The response of the caller was drowned out by fierce knocking. Sebastian told the caller he would have to call back later. The sound continued, and he was surprised that the sound came not from the door but the window. He was surprised to see Cobalt Kid hovering outside.
So much for maintaining a secret identity, Sebastian sighed. He opened the window and the LMBer came inside. This member looked around at the room, noting the bookshelf crammed with geographical and mineralogical texts. It was too structured for his tastes and reflected highly on the Sebastian Sage’s preference for order. Sebastian asked, “Why didn’t you use the door?”
“That nice lady, Arleen is it? She told me that you were not to be disturbed unless it was urgent. Time is of the essence here. Is that from the new shawarma place on Korenman?” The other LMBer said in an attempt to make conversation.
“Yes, I really enjoy it. I can’t wait to take Emily there after she gets back from helping earthquake victims,” Sebastian smiled. He then decided he had to ask the question now or it will never be answered, “I know you didn’t come here to discuss sandwiches. Exactly why are you here?
“I have heard that you are seeking to send an exploratory mining team to the region of The Hills.” Cobalt Kid said. “Your advertising is very enticing.”
“Yes, yes, what of it?” Sebastian asked. He did not like this diplomatic talk, it felt like dissipation of the important information. He heard a knock on the door and decided to answer it. He told Cobalt Kid, “One minute, please.” He opened the door to see his secretary Arleen Lequinn. She had short blond hair, glasses, and a strange smile stuck on her face. “This package just came in the mail. It is marked as urgent,” Arleen said. Sebastian glanced at the label from the offices of Ryolite, Jerome, Kolmanskop , & Walters. He really wanted to open it right there and then, and only the presence of Cobalt Kid prevented him from doing so. He thanked the secretary and closed the door.a Cobalt Kid said, “I own a significant amount of land in the region and am concerned about the prospect of mining.”
“I was initially concerned myself, but if deposits of diamonds are found then after a few years the profits will be worth all the money spent on permits, equipment, labor, and all other necessary investments. If gemstones or metals other than diamonds or gold are found, we are prepared to allow other mining companies to bid for the rights. I do not see a need to take on more investors at this time but if I do I will let you know,” Sebastian explained. He had initially thought Aguirre was mad to propose mining on Legion World itself. Legion World did not have a great deal of industry; in fact there were only two other companies actively mining on Legion World, one of them produced iron and the other company produced bronze. These metals were different from gold because they require smelting and have different standards than diamonds or gold.
Cobalt Kid shook his head, “That is not what I meant. I’m not sure if I would sell you—“ He was interrupted by yet another knock on the door. Sebastian was getting annoyed and opened the door in a hurry to see Carlos Aguirre standing there holding a large bag under his arm, an envelope in one hand, and a bottle of curacao in the other. Carlos eagerly handed Sebastian the envelope. It was addressed to him directly from the capital of Camoes. Carlos Aguirre ignored the presence of Cobalt Kid and took a seat. He did not understand why Sebastian was hesitant to open the letter.
He asked, “Why don’t you open it? It’s not every day you receive a letter from His Majesty !” Sebastian had no choice but to open the letter right then and there. Carlos Aguirre said, “Read it aloud so that we can share in your happiness.”
Dear Sebastian Sage, The Kingdom of Nasger is proud to announce that the usual tax of 1/5 of everything mined on Nasgerian soil will not be applied to operations in other lands from the period of 3012-3014. The exact amount shall not be accessible prior to assessment; however around one half of the expected assessment can be estimated at this time. Sincerely, The Royal Treasurer
Sebastian smiled, “We did it…this is wonderful. The budget looks a lot better now.”
“We might not have to sell our property back home after all!” Carlos exclaimed. Sebastian blushed with embarrassment and suddenly realized that Cobalt Kid was still there. He feels it is time to introduce Carlos Aguirre to Cobalt Kid.
“Carlos Aguirre, I would like to introduce you to Desmonius Primus Julianus; better known as Cobalt Kid. He is a local landowner. ” He said. As well as a lot of over things, but Carlos does not need to know that. The two men shook hands.
“It is a pleasure to meet you. I am Carlos Aguirre Cascajo, mining liaison of the Crown, as well as a landowner myself. I own a wheat farm back in Cervantes, which I inherited from my grandfather. I know you two were having a meeting before I arrived, but I have come a long way to discuss the plans for the new mining town,” Carlos Aguirre said. He took out a tablet out of his bag and handed it to Sebastian.
He said, “In the beginning it is mostly going to be modest houses for workers of all status, including our own. However, once the business is established I want there to be places of worship and a theatre. That way we won’t have to go back to Cervantes for the annual Theatre Festival.”
“Mr. Aguirre—I think we are going to need to have a long conversation. You cannot start begin mining operations now,” Cobalt Kid firmly stated.
Sebastian said, “We do not need your consent as we plan to mine on unincorporated, public land open for sale in that region. We do not intend to buy your land.” He did not like the prospect of having to do business with Cobalt Kid. It’s like I am the Scarecrow from Oz, and I have to deal with Cobalt Kid the Great and Powerful.
“You cannot avoid buying my land. I own the entire region of The Hills,” He replied.
-------------------- Go with the good and you'll be like them; go with the evil and you'll be worse than them.- Portuguese Proverb
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Scarecrow: I don't know... But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking... don't they? Dorothy: Yes, I guess you're right.- "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)
Cobalt Kid’s words hung there for a moment with abrupt coldness. The hero and diplomat had a way of sucking all the air out of the room with a few choice sentences which was in full effect. His stoic expression revealed no emotion but Sebastian knew Cobalt enjoyed this sort of exchange.
“That…cannot be correct,” said the hero known as Question Lad. “It is highly unlikely that one person owns all the vast lands known as the Hills.”
“I assure you, my friend,” said Cobalt Kid, “it is the truth. You can have lawyers and accountants do their homework or you can save time and trust me. I own an array of companies and subsidiaries that in totality, own the entirety of the Hills. And you are right. It is very unlikely. It took quite a lot of time and effort to accomplish it.” Now Cobalt Kid flashed a smile that Sebastian immediately saw through as a façade. “I consider the Hills a…going concern for my business dealings.” Cobalt Kid did not bother getting into the details—he knew Question Lad would make sure what he said was true either way. The fact was almost a decade earlier when Nightcrawler and the Legion World Founders began selling land to its populace in an effort to build a treasury for the planet, they used one sole agency to do this: the Real Estate Offices of Ester, Spiffany, Jectra, Greybird and Cobaltus. Which, in turn, was a front for the Legion World Triumvirate, of which Cobalt Kid was the most prolific member. And during that massive land sale, Cobalt Kid used Triumvirate funds to buy the Hills outright for himself…and essentially keep it very under-developed. Some plans, after all, take a long time to come to fruition.
Carlos Aguirre, a newcomer to Legion World, did not understand what was happening. All he knew was a roadblock had come between them and their dreams and Sebastian could not hide his aggravation. “I beg your pardon, Cobalt Kid. But cannot we do business together then?”
Sebastian was quickly realizing there would be no other way. He prepared to speak but Cobalt Kid cut him off.
“We can,” he said. “I did not come here to derail your carefully laid plans. You have a desire to develop and enrich Legion World, and I am behind that sort of progress. But unfortunately, as its my land, I’d like some involvement.”
“In what way?” asked Sebastian. Of all the Legionnaires to be in business with, Cobalt Kid was one of the ones he would avoid the most if he had a choice.
“It’s very simple. You wish to mine for diamonds and I will gladly acquiesce. What I desire is something totally different. It this…substance that I would like to remain mine. I simply would ask that during your mining expeditions, that if your teams come across this substance, you will agree that it remain solely mine, and to be used for my purposes.”
Both Carlos and Sebastian looked at each other with arched eyebrows. Carlos was thinking what many Legion Worlders thought: this Cobalt Kid character is one odd fellow. Sebastian spoke up: “That is not a deal I am comfortable with at all,” he said. “Tell me, if you’re not looking for gold or diamonds, what else are you looking for? If it is other metals or gemstones, that we would be quite reluctant to agree to this. For instance, just because we are not looking for silver, we certainly are not willing to give up the rights to mining it—especially if we do all the work finding it.”
Carlos was nodding. “We will not divert revenue from the Crown to line your pockets,” he said.
Cobalt Kid smiled. “I am not looking for metals or gemstones. All of those rights would remain yours as well.”
Now Sebastian allowed a look of confusion on his face. “Please, Cobalt. Speak plainly and without all this mystery. What are you looking for?”
“I guess the proper way to explain it that it is a pocket of unique, highly charged energy. It is quite electro-magnetic in nature. And in all of the cosmos, there are very few places you can find it other than here—where it exists in enormous quantities.”
“Electro-magnetic…” said Sebastian, thinking it over. “Like your powerset?”
“Indeed,” said Cobalt. “Very much like my powers. This energy exists deep within the heart of Legion World where it has been essentially untapped for eons. What I’m asking is that if you should come near it…or find a pocket of it…or discover some access to it…you will simply stop mining in that spot and allow me to continue for you, to conduct my own…ah…personal experiments with it. Anything else, beyond this energy, would be yours. And to top it all off, I would be more than willing to begin a process of selling land to your workers to begin mining towns, and then make loans to commercial enterprises to build this ‘theater district’ you spoke of earlier. I am, after all, a major shareholder if the First Bank of Legion World.”
Sebastian knew this fact already but had forgotten. Cobalt Kid was quite a powerful individual, indeed. Major landowner, shareholder of the largest bank, leader of a highly trained military unit loyal to no planet or country and an Ambassador of the United Planets with diplomatic immunity. Yet here he was, offering them an amazingly good opportunity for what to them was very little. Though obviously, to Cobalt Kid, it was very important. Sebastian honed in on this fact: “Your offer sounds generous,” he said. “Though I’m not entirely convinced.”
Carlos almost spit the curacao he drinking on the floor. He had thought they were just about done with negotiations. “Sebastian, are you crazy? This is a chance of a lifetime!” he said to Sebastian’s annoyance.
Cobalt Kid admired Sebastian’s fearlessness as much as he admired his inability to see in shades of grey. He nodded. “I’ll put it all in writing, legally. I will only require a Non-Disclosure Agreement so our business dealings remain a secret in perpetuity between us three. I will not prevent you from mining for anything you desire save the energy I am interested in. I will not prevent you from hiring miners for either exploratory or mining purposes. You will hardly know I’m involved at all…until I am.”
Question Lad thought it over. Begrudgingly, he realized this was the only way to proceed after so much effort had been put forth. “Very well. It looks like we have a deal. So long as what you’ve said is factual and we have terms in writing.”
Cobalt Kid smiled at Sebastian’s insistence on verifying all he said. He stuck out his hand, and shook Carlos’, and then Sebastian’s.
Later that evening, as Sebastian continued to finish up plans and tie up loose ends, he overheard the loud laughter from beyond his window, as Cobalt Kid and Carlos Aguirre opened up a third bottle of curacao and began exchanging stories yet again. They were hitting it off quite well, Sebastian noted, though not with any pleasure. Cobalt Kid was not a person he trusted; even now, he suspected he was cozying up to Carlos to gain his trust so that in the future he had someone he could probe for questions.
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