Broker Royal Bank of Scotland - description, trading ...

Greed is Subtle

The morning alarm woke up Ghen. With an annoyed sigh, he stretched out his arm and silenced the foul-sounding chirps. Slowly sitting up in bed, he let out a deep yawn and got to his feet.
Running a couple of chitinous fingers along his antennae to stimulate them to life, he made his bed and then went to his closet. Today was a work day, so he needed his suit. Once the pants were on, he stretched out his wings so that he could button up the shirt, then relaxing them once all the buttons were secured.
Dressing for the day was done, now for the morning meal. Entering his kitchen, he took out the chilled leftovers of the evening meal last night and popped it into the radiator, first defrosting and then slightly cooking it.
During that process, he also fished out a ceramic cup and placed it in his brewer, serving himself some synthesized caffeine. His idle thought led him to being amused that, when eaten directly off a plant, it has a concentration that could kill him three times over. But after going through some refinement and roasting, all it does is make him hyper.
Once the meal was put together, his plate of heated leftovers and a cup of almost-piping-hot cup of Xia's, he took his time to enjoy it. His communicator vibrated. When he looked, he found it was from his boss.
"Hello?" Ghen answered.
"Ghen, the meeting's been moved up to a few minutes from now." His boss, Xkik, announced. "Apparently higher up has something important they want to say. We have a terminal ready for you, I'll message the login details."
"Wha-, what's so important?" Ghen asked in bewilderment. "Did a water line rupture or something?"
"No, nothing like that." Xkik replied with a slight chuckle. "It's actually about the rumors we've been hearing. That human corporation wanting to acquire us? That's what they're talking about."
Ghen could feel everything inside his thorax drop to the floor. "That must mean it's true then, right? Did we get sold off by the Queen to this company then?"
"Show up to the meeting and you'll get your answer." Xkik said simply. When he finished, Ghen got the notification on his communicator. There's the login details, allowing him to remotely attend the meeting. "They're about to start, hurry up."
Once Xkik disconnected, Ghen worked fast to login and set up the remote viewing. Once everything was done, his screen started transmitting the meeting room. It was already packed. And off by the main board, he saw his answer. There was a human, resting against the wall on his two legs. Standing right in the center of everyone's view was the coordinator, Tizx, watching the clock periodically.
As soon as the meeting's start time was reached, the coordinator began. "Alright everyone. I realize that this was rather short notice, so I want to say how appreciative I am that you made it. Now then, let's just get right to it. For some time now, many of you have been hearing rumors that a human corporation has been interested in us. Why? We never really knew. We're just an organization responsible for finding, extracting and providing water to the colony here all under the direction of the Queen herself. Well, as of now, I have the answer for you. Why don't I let Ryan say that?"
Stepping back, Tizx motioned for the human, Ryan, to take over. With a nod, Ryan practically bounced over and then took the position. "Good morning to you all. I hope my Zazk is passable, heh. Anyways, the answer to those rumors, is yes. Terran Galactic Company is indeed interested in you all. Which now leads to me. I'm here to announce that, effective yesterday evening, this water company is now a subsidiary of Terran Galactic Company, under the name of Zilia Water Delivery."
Many other sub-coordinators broke into hushed conversation, no doubt speaking their thoughts with each other about this move. Ghen could only wonder if this was even a good thing. What will the humans do? Will he still have his job? Will he have to learn how to deal with the ruthless humans?
"Now, I am well aware this is quite the...uh, change." Ryan continued. "That's why I'm happy to inform you that, no, nothing negative or detrimental will happen to you. You just have new people to answer to. Operations will continue as normal, everybody here will still keep their jobs. The only real change any of you will personally experience is that Coordinator Tizx here will now report to someone else. On behalf of the Terran Galactic Company, we are extremely excited and are looking forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time."
A week later.
At least Ryan wasn't lying. After the initial shock wore off, things went back as they normally did. There were no terminations, no reductions in annual pay or anything. Nothing really changed. At least until this new meeting was called. Ghen was at the worksite this time, so he took his seat and watched as, once again, Ryan led the meeting.
"Hello again, everyone!" He said cheerfully, his Zazk noticeably improved. "I hope I didn't end up looking like a liar, right? Everything's still normal, all that?"
All the zazk in the room confirmed, providing comments to their pleasant surprise as well as lingering thoughts.
"Awesome! Awesome." Ryan said jubilantly, his fleshy mouth revealing his bone-white teeth. "Now then, you're probably wondering why I'm here again, right? Well, I got another fantastic piece of news for you all! Two, actually. I'll start with the first: Zilia Water Delivery has just completed its IPO. The company is now publicly traded!"
Ghen and the others voiced their confusion, having no idea what in the name of the Queen Ryan was talking about. What was Ryan talking about? What's an IPO? And why exactly is being publicly traded such a significant thing?
"Oh, you guys don't know any of that?" Ryan asked in surprised confusion. After everybody confirmed, he let out a quick huff as he began his explanation. "Well, to begin, IPO is short for Initial Public Offering. Basically what that means is that, before today, Zilia was privately held. Only certain individuals could buy and sell shares here. But now that we're public? Literally anyone can buy and sell shares in the company, hence us being publicly traded."
"Uh, what's a share?" Ghen asked, still completely lost.
"Oh, boy..." Ryan muttered under his breath before returning to his peppy image. "To simply put it, a share is short for having a share of ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you're buying a piece of ownership, and when you sell, you're selling that amount."
"So wait...if someone buys a share, they're a co-owner then?" One of the other team coordinators asked.
"If they get enough, yeah." Ryan nodded. "You need a lot though, and that really depends on the company. If I had to give an answer though? I'd say usually you need to have a lot more shares than a lot of people combined to be officially a co-owner, but we call that being a majority shareholder."
"And how do we do that?" Ghen asked, now growing curious but still not understanding why such a concept exists.
"Simple. Buy shares." Ryan said simply. "And that leads into the second piece of awesome news. Zilia's corporate has a product in mind, a premium-package of water delivery. Instead of the usual water that you pump out, filter and ensure its potable before delivery, with the premium package, not only will you get that, but you'll also get all of the required nutrients and vitamins the zazk body requires! And they feel you guys have the best expertise and understanding to pull it off! So, here's what we're offering as a good-faith bonus: A 25% increase to your annual salary as well as being given stock options."
Ghen wasn't sure about the second part, but the salary definitely got his attention, as well as everyone else's. Although his job was considered to have a good pay, Ghen isn't going to say no to a higher salary. In fact, he's been focusing his work on getting a promotion so he can come home with even more credits in pocket.
"What do you mean by stock options?" Ghen asked after some time.
Ryan let out that smile again, the one that revealed his teeth. "If you choose to transfer over to the new group, you'll be provided 50,000 shares in Zilia itself. Why's that awesome? Let me walk you through it. Right now, our last closing price per share was 3.02 credits. And if you have 50,000 shares during that time, you're sitting on 151,000 credits, if you cash it out immediately."
"And why shouldn't we?" One of the coordinators demanded in an ambiguous tone.
"Because the price per share changes a lot." Ryan explained promptly. "When we got done with the IPO? It closed at 2.73 a share. Right now? My money's on the closing price being 2.99 a share. However, we are extremely confident in this premium package being successful. If it does? Well, my bet is that the share price will skyrocket to 3.12 a share. If you hold those shares and the price gets to what my bet was? You'll instead get 156,000 credits. Just by holding onto them, you just made an additional 5,000 credits!"
"And what if we have more shares?" Ghen questioned, now getting excited at the prospect of free money.
"Even more money!" Ryan laughed a bit. "And don't forget about dividends, but that's for another time. The premium group is gearing up right now, we just need the workforce. If any of you wants in, I'll be back tomorrow with all the forms needed to make it official. Take the day and tonight to think it over, yeah?"
Everything else melted into a blur. Ghen was practically on autopilot that whole day. Was this the secret to the humans' incredibly massive economy? How so many of them have amassed so much money out of nowhere? All you had to do was just buy this share out of a company and you get more money without even working?
As soon as he got home, Ghen knew what he was going to do during the night. After feverishly looking through the galnet, now having the human race connected to it, he looked and gathered up as many books that were translated into zazk as he could find, all talking about the human economic system. The last time he undertook such an intensive study was during his primary education phase.
And during his search, he even found forums on the galnet that were completely dedicated to the human's economy. All of them talking about strategies on what company, or stock, to pick. How to analyze a company's performance to determine if it was worth the money, or it had potential to grow over time. And that was when he discovered the humans found another method to the extremely simple buying and selling process. There were humans and some other immigrated aliens who made five times what Ghen could receive over a simple month just by watching the share prices during trading hours, and then buying and selling them at the proper times.
Ghen's mind was just absolutely flabbergasted. He thought it was just some strange concept only aliens could make, but no, not with the humans. They've practically made their economy into an art or a science. No, not even their economy. Everything. If humans can see a way to make money off of it, they'll do it. And if there isn't, they'll look for a way.
Healthcare was monetized. Galnet services, transportation, shopping at the store, they even made all of their utilities into profit-oriented companies.
And it was there that Ghen paused, the realization slamming into him. Everything was monetized. Which means, if you don't have the money for it, you're not getting it. Right? Are the humans truly that ruthless? So obsessed with making money? To the point that they're willing to deprive their own people of the absolute necessities if it's a source of credits?
Ghen let out a scoff. There's no way. Nobody is that cruel and callous. He's never been to the United Nations. He can't rely on what a bunch of random people on the galnet says. He decided that from here on out, he'll only go as far as saying that humans are a little obsessed with credits, nothing more.
...
There he was. Ryan, sitting in the office provided to him. And there was a rather large line leading to him. Looks like word got around. Although, the line wasn't as large as he expected it to be. Maybe the others thought it was just a ruse? That there's no such thing as making free money by spending it on such a made-up concept?
Ghen only knows that, if it is a ruse, it's an extremely elaborate one, where all of the humans are in on it. And he believes that's just extremely ridiculous. At the end, if he's unsure, he'll just take the transfer for the very real increase in his very real salary. And although he spent a very good chunk of the night reading up on how humans do things, he's still going to play it smart. He'll leave his 50,000 shares alone and see where it goes from there.
"Good morning sir." Ryan greeted warmly once Ghen took his seat. "Now, name please?"
"Ghen." He answered, barely keeping his nerves down.
"Alright...and what's your position at this location?" Ryan questioned after scribbling on his form.
"I monitor the pumping stations near the extraction sites." Ghen explained, staying on point. "To be more specific, I check to see if they're in need of maintenance, as well as reading the flow rate that's determined by the calculators installed there. If there's too little for what's needed, I pump out more. And if there's too much, I pull it back a little."
"Nice...and how long have you been doing it for?" Ryan complimented with a nod.
"As of tomorrow, ten years." Ghen replied, voice quickly changing to minor awe once he realized that fact.
"Excellent. Do you have anyone in mind you'd like to replace you here?" Ryan questioned after another scribble. "If you don't have anyone, you're free to say so."
Ghen took a moment to think it over. A bunch of names went through his mind, but one stuck with him. "Tilik. He's just been accepted here, but he's learned quickly. Very attentive and he always catches something subtle. I think he'll do really well in my position, even better actually."
"Tilik, really?" Ryan questioned with a little shock, going through his completed forms. Ghen felt a short sense of panic in him. Did something happen, or was Tilik actually transferring? His answer didn't take long to reveal itself. "Right, Tilik was actually one of the first people to want to transfer here. He's actually requested to be part of the testing teams specifically. Do you have a second choice?"
"Um...no, actually." Ghen replied, feeling a little ashamed. "Tilik was my only choice, to be honest."
"Hey, don't worry." Ryan said assuringly with his hands raised. "Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there's just nobody up to snuff, right? 'Kay, so, last question. Is there anything specific you'd like to do when given the transfer?"
"If you need someone monitoring new pumps, I'd be happy to do that." Ghen stated.
"So basically same job but with better payoff, am I right?" Ryan grinned. "I hear you. Sometimes, we're just not paid enough for what we're doing. I know I think that sometimes. Uh, our secret, yeah?"
"Yeah, our secret." Ghen nodded, thinking it'd be better to have friendly relations with the human, just in case.
"Awesome. Back on topic, that's it." Ryan announced, placing the form on his pile. "We'll give you a call when you're accepted."
"Oh, uh, that's it?" Ghen questioned with a shrug in shocked surprise.
"What, expecting a question like, why do you want to transfer?" Ryan chuckled a bit as he leaned in his seat. "You can bullshit all you want, but we both know the answer. Sweet money and stock options. Not saying that's a bad answer of course, just that it's pretty obvious."
"I suppose it is." Ghen commented, realizing the point. "Also, you mentioned this...dividend? Is that for Zilia shares?"
Ryan laughed a little bit before nodding. "Yep, announced before I came here. About 0.43 per share. Want to know why that's awesome? Instead of waiting for the proper price to cash out your shares, now? The company pays you for each share you hold."
"A...Are you serious?" Ghen demanded, flabbergasted.
Ryan nodded with his now-trademark grin. "Dead serious. If you get the transfer, and get those 50,000 shares? A little head math...right, if you hold onto those, in addition to your salary, you'll now annually be paid 21,500 credits, if you keep it at 50,000 shares. Only you can decide to sell or buy shares."
Ghen just stood there silent and motionless, no idea of whether to believe it or not, to which Ryan just laughed. Once he walked out of the room, he managed to snap back to reality. Again, just focus on the very real pay-raise. He'll deal with the other parts later.
After he returned to his spot, he spotted Tizx approaching by his desk. The coordinator seems to be as casual as always.
"I saw you in that line a bit ago, Ghen." He said as he leaned on the desk. "Guess you're really taking that human's word?"
"I mean, I don't know about all this share business or what not." Ghen began with a shrug, his tone sounding a little defensive. "But I mean, having a bigger salary? Course I'm going for it when I can. And if all this magic credits turn out to be real? You realize we can live like the royal servants, right? Get the best cars, the nicest food and all that?"
"I'd be very careful, Ghen." Tizx warned in a sudden shift in tone. "Don't trust those humans. The way they just...obsess over money? Come up with more and more insane ways of getting credits? I don't know, it just makes my wings twitch."
"You think this is a bad idea?" Ghen asked with a little surprise at the change-in-demeanor.
"I think you should be careful, with the humans, and with what you're saying." Tizx replied, straightening his posture. "I wouldn't put it past those Earthmen to backstab you if it gets them a few more credits. And we all know how the royal servants get if any of us lowly commoners start thinking we can break into their circle."
"I hear you, I'll be on my guard, promise." Ghen stated with a nod. With a confirming nod of his own, Tizx returned back to his duty, walking past Ghen's desk.
Several weeks later.
Everything became so much better. Ghen got the transfer. He didn't need to relocate to a new residence either. And after he was walked through into learning how to manage his stock account, and seeing that new form of payment in his hands, he already felt as though he made the best decision. But it was only when he decided to take those shares more seriously that he became privy to what he was given. After receiving the dividend payment, and actually seeing it was real, valid credits after transferring it to his main bank account, all he could describe was the most powerful high he ever felt.
While his first thoughts were to buy himself a royalty-class car, some nicer furnishings for his home, or even a better home entirely, he ended up going the smarter route.
After going back to his stock account, he discovered that Zilia's shares rose to about 3.22 credits in price. Knowing that this was the easiest money he could ever make, he took all of his dividend earnings and bought more shares in Zilia, bringing him to owning 56,891.
And from his new regional coordinator, a human named Dylan, tomorrow is the grand release of the premium package. For just a monthly rate of 14.99 credits, the tap water will now include a sizeable portion of all nutrients and vitamins required in the zazk physiology. Still, Ghen has to admit. He's not entirely sure why anybody would want such a thing, if they'd even go for it. But, as long as he's practically swimming in easy credits, he won't pay much attention to it.
And just like when he was intensively studying the basics of how the human economy worked, he barely got any sleep. His mind was constantly thinking about the things he would buy. Or rather, what other stocks to put his credits into. Even now he can still hardly believe it. Just spend your money on some, make-believe thing and, if you wait long enough and picked the right stock, you'll get more than you spent back?
His mind even wandered onto what human colonies, or even their homeworld, Earth, was like. If everybody was making so much money, what kind of things would they offer? What kind of ridiculous service or product or item can you get? He's even debating on joining some forum and just asking around. Explain how he's new to how humans do things and was wondering what he should expect if he's successful.
By the time he felt like he can go to sleep, the binary-stars of the system were rising from the horizon. After getting out of his bed and changing to clean clothes, his mind returned onto what-ifs.
What if he bought better clothes? He's had his eye on that human brand of luxury clothes, Tessuti di Venezia, that's been all the rage amongst the royal servants. Or maybe he can go on vacation and just check out Earth for real?
It was a short ride to his workplace from his home. After getting stuff his stuff and preparing to walk through the doors, he heard the roar of a car grow louder. When he looked, he saw the sleekest and quite possibly the coolest looking car he's ever seen. Each time the engine revved it would startle him, both from how harsh it sounded as well as just how intense it sounded. And after it parked, he saw the doors pop out and then slide along the body back. And there, he saw Tilik, the seat literally turning and extending out a bit before he got off.
As soon as he saw Ghen staring, he struck a rather prideful pose after putting on his lab coat and then sauntered over to Ghen.
"What do you think?" Tilik said, without any doubt inviting praise or compliments.
"D...Did you actually buy that?" Ghen asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the car.
"You're Queens-damn right I did!" Tilik laughed happily. "Thing takes off like a starship, has temperature-controlled seating, all-in-one center console, barely any bouncing on rough roads. Hoof, best decision I've ever made!"
"How much did that thing cost?" Ghen asked after letting out an incredulous laugh.
"Five million credits." Tilik replied, earning an absolutely shocked stare from Ghen. "And thanks to the incredible salary I have, in addition to all these shares and dividends, I'll pay back the credits I borrowed in no time!"
Ghen needed a few moments before he could speak again. "All I've been doing is buying more shares."
Tilik laughed and then patted the now-envious monitor's back. "Smart man. I got a little carried away, yeah, but not anymore. Any spending credits I got, going right back to investing. That's what it's called right, investing?"
"Yeah, it is." Ghen nodded, feeling a fire light up in his thorax. "And also? Today's the day that the premium water thing is being released. Here's hoping it starts out well, right?"
"Oh it will, trust me." Tilik chuckled as they both began making their way inside the workplace. "Lots of research, lots of study. By the Queen, so much of it...it'll make your head spin."
And after hearing that, Ghen had a moment of realization. "Hey, Tilik? How did you get such a nice position anyways? Weren't you just studying under me before the humans came along?"
Tilik let out a sigh after opening the door. "I'll be honest, I never wanted your job. Not because it's boring or terrible, just...I didn't suffer so many sleepless nights in the science academy just to be a glorified button pusher. This is what I've always wanted. Doing science, solving problems rather than just applying the solution, you know?"
"Wait, you got an academic certificate?" Ghen questioned, completely floored. "How did you end up beneath me then? I should've been answering to you!"
"Simple." Tilik gave a heavier sigh. "A royal servant was asking for the same job I was. Take a guess at who got it."
"Ouch. Good thing the humans came along when they did, yeah?" Ghen was taken aback. He never heard anything about a servant taking a job at his place. "Looks like you're proving yourself to be well suited."
"By the Queen, of course I am." Tilik nodded. "Like I said, I nearly broke my wings through so many nights, got certified top of my class, all just to get pushed to the dirt because someone who was born into a particular family wanted the same thing I did? I know I'm smarter than any of those empty-skull servants back in the Center. I know that, whatever, uh...corporate? Yeah, whatever corporate wants out of science, I will xeek give it to them."
"Well, let me know how things go in the lab." Ghen said, admiring his drive as they neared the main office floor. "Because this is where the button pusher needs to go."
Tilik let out a laugh as he nodded. "Hey, how about we meet up at Queen's Fine Eatery tonight. I'll pay, yeah?"
Ghen, at first, wanted to admonish him for choosing such an outrageously expensive place to go. But he quickly realized that, he truly is good for it, thanks to the humans. "Well, hey, if you're paying for it."
...
It was a fantastic opening. After being told what news sites to keep in mind for stocks, he first heard it from Dylan, and then got more detail on Business Today. There was such a massive demand right from the start that Zilia needs to increase extraction just to meet it. But what really got his attention was the effect it had. Zilia Water Delivery's share price just blasted off. After seemingly holding steady at about 3.15, by the time he got home and logged onto his account, it already reached 7.04 a share. The calculator on his account told him that he got a value-gain of 54.26%.
Never in his entire life had he felt such...joy. With all of the shares he currently has? He's sitting at 400,512.64 credits. He knows that it is woefully pathetic compared to what the royal servants have just in their pockets, but the fact that he has such money, just by owning some intangible concept? Why even work at Zilia? Why doesn't he just sit at home, figure out what companies to invest in and make his money that way?
What's even the point in working a real job, getting a pathetic pay when you can just take the money you have, determine where to spend it, and get triple back? All just sitting on your wings at home, researching?
He was so wrapped up in his excited high that he completely forgot he was going to meet Tilik at Queen's. After quickly and haphazardly putting on his nicer clothes, he got to the place only a few minutes late.
Tilik was there by the guide, no doubt having been waiting for him. As soon as he strode up, Tilik's wings stiffned out some. No doubt he must've seen the numbers as well.
"I can see your wings, Ghen." Tilik began with an excited chuckle. "Made some serious credits?"
Ghen let out an incredulous scoff, struggling to find the words for a moment. "Incredible. All I'm going to say."
"Likewise." Tilik chortled some before nodding to the table guide. "All here. Table please?"
"Right this way, sir." The guide said politely. It was a short walk, travelling between round tables. The vast majority were populated by zazk, but Ghen was surprised at seeing a few humans here as well. No doubt corporate workers checking out the local food. He did spot them having bowls filled with some kind of mass. Some were brown, others white with what looks to be black specks on them.
They arrived at their table. A rather nice one, affording a view out the windows into the busy colony streets. Once Tilik and Ghen settled in, the guide handed out the menus.
"May I suggest our rather popular option for tonight?" The guide began. "Human ice-cream. Ingredients sourced from Earth itself. Very cold, but incredibly sweet, and coming in many flavors. The most popular amongst us is called vanilla-bean. The vanilla itself soaks in the cream for much of the process, and then the innards sprinkled on top of it near the end. Rumor has it that the Queen herself has demanded personal shipments of such a treat straight from the home of vanilla, an island on Earth named Madagascar."
Ghen didn't even spare a single thought. "Vanilla bean ice cream then, please."
"Same." Tilik seconded when the guide glanced to him. With a slight bow, the guide proceeded to ferry their orders to the kitchen. Thankfully it was just a short wait before the guide returned, carrying a large plate containing bowls of ice cream. Ghen could feel the saliva on his mandibles as the bowl was placed before them. He could just feel the cold air around that glistening mass of sugary goodness. The white snow decorated with the black dots of vanilla bean.
Once the guide left them, Tilik and Ghen both dived in at the same time. As soon as the ice cream entered his mouth, touched his tongue, he exploded in incomprehensible bliss. The sweetness, the smooth and creamy mass, even the taste of vanilla he wasn't sure about was just absolutely delightful. It was so overwhelming that his entire body limped, slumping in his seat as he was forced to ride on the surging tide of joy and happiness sweeping over him.
Tilik was no different. He too was taken completely by the effects of the ice cream, his wings fluttering some against the seat. Ghen could hear some noise. It was the humans they passed by. They were chuckling, grinning, and glancing over at them discreetly. Unlike the two zazk, the humans seemingly just enjoyed the ice cream as if it was just another nice dessert to them. Or perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to succumb to the high?
And as soon as the wave of indescribable bliss and happiness subsided, Ghen knew. He just knew. This was the life. He wanted this. The ice cream was just the beginning. So many things denied because he didn't have the credits, or worse, not the blood. Because he was just a drone in the great Collective, even if he had the credits, he wasn't allowed because of what caste he was born in. That fire that sparked in him when he saw Tilik's new car? It exploded into a raging firestorm.
And when looking into Tilik's eyes, Ghen could see the same. He was on the same page as Ghen was. Both of them were sold. They have the credits. And the humans? If you can pay for it, they'll never discriminate. All they cared about is if you have the money.
And by the Queen, Ghen and Tilik will endeavor to amass as much credits as physically possible.
The rest of the night faded into a blur. A blur that evokes only one thing. Bliss. It was only when he walked through the door of his pathetic hut that Ghen's mind snapped back to focus. His mandibles felt sticky. And he felt a weight in his stomach. How much ice cream did he eat? Whatever it was, he ate such volume that the lower-section of his throax extended and rounded out, visible even under his shirt. He felt something odd in his pocket. It was a receipt. 43,000 credits for ten bowls of vanilla bean ice cream. Was that ten bowls for both of them? Or individually? Ghen didn't care. He's good for it.
Returning back to his calculator, he acted upon the decision that he had made at that eatery. He's acquiring as many books about investing and stock trading as he could find, frequent and study all the discussions and arguments presented by other like-minded individuals such as he, all to ensure he can live the good life. And he had a very good feeling Tilik was doing the exact same thing.
Well, first, the gurgling in his stomach, as well as the feeling of something rising demanded his attention. Looks like he'll need to take the night off to let his stomach get back to normal.
Three Years Later.
Ghen looked out beyond the horizon, seeing the colony that he grew up in. On the far side was where his old house was. With only a simple robe on, made from the finest silk from Earth's nation-state of China, he relaxed in his seat.
It was a long road. Stockpiling credits from pre-existing investments and from subsequent pays, he and Tilik made it. From having only half a million in assets and cash, now transformed to over eight-hundred million. And now, his call contracts on American Interstellar? They've just announced a breakthrough in their next generation of warp drives, reducing the speed coefficient even further, resulting in far faster travel. And with that, their stock price climbed sharply.
Another hundred million credits in the bank. Soon, very soon, he and Tilik are about to become the galaxy's first zazk billionares. But that's not enough. There are many humans who are billionares. Only those he can count on one hand are considered trillionares. He's going to break into that circle. He and Tilik.
Looking beyond the colony, he saw the abandoned building of the workplace he transferred to when the humans arrived. Turns out, the reason for such a high demand was that the humans also slipped in sugar to the tap water. As soon as that broke, many influential royal servants demanded investigations and outright banning of Terran Galactic Company's influence over the former government division. Zilia's stock price plummeted. But thanks to an advance tip from his human coordinator, Dylan, he and Tilik made a put contract. And that's where they struck gold, as the human saying goes.
Dylan warned that if they were citizens of the United Nations, they'd be investigated and convicted for insider trading. But, since they weren't, and the Collective were only just introduced to capitalism, there's no risk at all. Now the colony is going through a withdrawal phase, Zilia has been dissolved and reformed back as a government division and are currently at work re-establishing the standard, plain water delivery.
"Well, shit." Tilik muttered as he walked up to Ghen's side, taking well to human speech. "Looks like you win. American Interstellar's announcement really was a good thing. There goes a million credits. Ah well, the Royal Shipyards will make it back for me soon."
"Oh? Did they just go corporate?" Ghen asked curiously, glancing to Tilik.
"Hell yeah they did." Tilik chuckled, sitting down. "Queen and her retard servants fought it hard, but Royal Shipyards is now officially a human-style corporation. And, to a surprise to all the xenophobes in the galaxy, they're already being offered contracts for ship production. That'll raise the stock price pretty good."
"What's that human word...?" Ghen muttered, already having a reply in mind. "Dick? Yeah, calls or suck my dick, Tilik."
Tilik roared in laughter. "Already made them. Forty credits a share by this day next month."
"I have half a mind to go thirty." Ghen chuckled. "Either way, until then, I heard from Dylan that he knows a guy who knows several prime human women who happen to be into zazk."
"You're interested in women?" Tilik said as his wings fluttered. "With how often you tell me to suck you off, I'd have thought differently."
"Oh, I always thought it was you who was into men." Ghen responded dryly. "Just wanted to be a good friend, you know? Considering how you never seem to make it past, Hey sweet thing, I'm rich you know."
"Oh, go fuck yourself." Tilik countered with a little laugh. After he stopped, wings stiffened, he looked to Ghen. "So, know any royal servants we can put the squeeze on for more revenue streams?"
"I got just the one." Ghen nodded, sitting up. "Fzik. He's been fighting to control the ice cream trade. Worried it's a corrupting influence. Got done talking with the human CEO of Nestle earlier. If we clear the way, he'll know how to squeeze a little more gains in stock price when he makes the announcement."
Tilik's wings stiffened even more, signaling his approval. "Alright, time to throw some credits around, yeah?"
AN: Sorry for the period of no updates. College is starting up, lots of stuff to clear and work out. Not sure why but I just got a bug up my butt about incorporating money and the stock market into a short. Here it is. Sorry if it seems abrupt, character limit fast approaching. Let me know how you guys think about it!
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A Brief introduction to African Socialism

At the end of the Second World War, Europe realized that their hold on their colonial holdings was slipping fast. Most of them began to draw up plans to gradually grant independence. The people within these countries however had different priorities. They saw their chance to break from the colonial masters and took it. In 1950, only Egypt, Liberia, Ethiopia, and South Africa could be considered independent, by 1965 the vast majority of nations were on their own. Some flourished, some languished, but almost all improved with their newfound freedom.
At this time, the world was locked in a struggle between Western Democracy and Communist Dictatorship. With little warning, a new theater opened in the Cold War. Africans were given the decision of who to side with. As an enemy of their former masters, the Soviet Union made a natural ally, and Socialism's anti-imperial (theoretic) stance appealed to people in post imperial regions of the world. Since independence, seventeen African nations have had a government which self-identified as socialist, six of those as Marxist-Leninist. Like Africa itself, socialist movements in the continent were varied and diverse. Ranging from self described socialist Nelson Mandella becoming celebrated world wide for his devotion to peace and equality to Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, whose violence and economic mismanagement killed thousands.
The purpose of this post is to describe the ideological origins and tenets of African socialism, with a look at what makes it distinct from mainstream Communist movements. On this map red shows those states which identified as Marxist, yellow shows those which identified as with a variety of other forms of socialism, and green shows those which more closely fall under the Arab Socialist movement and will not be discussed here.

Ideological Origins

Broadly speaking, African Socialism drew inspiration from two main sources, the traditional body of socialist literature and that of the Pan-African movement.
Socialism
Both the ideological tenets of socialism and the practical concerns socialist nations played a role in African nations adopting socialism. Most of the nations of Africa were in a struggle for freedom from capitalist European countries and found a natural ally in the Soviet Union. Following WWII, it was in many ways a binary choice to side with the US or USSR. Those who led rebellions or coups against US backed leaders had few options other than the USSR.
Political concerns aside, there were many reasons why socialism was ideologically attractive to educated Africans. Socialism is at its base revolutionary. "Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries unite!” With even a cursory glance at Marx, it doesn't take much imagination to see why people oppressed for decades would turn to him.
The anti-Imperial rhetoric of socialism (regardless of the actual aggression of the USSR and PRC) was another motivating factor. In this case, I point to Vladimir Lenin's Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism. In this work, Lenin points towards imperialism as a symptom of the capitalist system. However, one of the reasons this work remained applicable after the collapse of most overseas empires is due to his characterization of imperialism. One example he gives in the book speaks of US domination of the Argentine beef industry. According to Lenin, though the US never carved out a concession area or installed a governor general, they used economic power to dominate the industry and exert control over the country. This characterization rang true for many people who looked at the efforts taken by former colonial powers looking to retain their economic stakes in their old colonies.
One of the problems socialists face in implementing their policy is that Orthodox Marxism is heavily based on the conditions of 19th century Western Europe, and when applied outside of those conditions, thinkers need to reconcile the inconsistencies with the conditions on the ground. While we will look at how various African leaders adapted the ideology, one sub-ideology which played a major role in African Socialism was Maoism. Orthodox Marxism focuses heavily on a revolution based around industrial workers. Early 20th century China, much like post-colonial Africa had little in the way of industry. Mao re conceptualized the idea of the proletariat to include peasant farmers and made the revolution as agrarian as it was industrial. For example, the first president of Socialist Madagascar released an ideology book heavily inspired by Mao's Red Book. China also served as an alternative source of support in the event of a conflict with Russia; Somalia received aid from the PRC when they were at war with Soviet aligned Ethiopia.
Pan- African Movement
The Pan-African movement did not solely influence the African Socialist movement. In fact, almost all post-colonial governments took inspiration from many of the tenets of movement. Nor were all the central figures socialists, indeed Emperor Halie Salassi of Ethiopia was about as far from socialist as could be. However there was a degree of mutual influence in a number of places. The start of it can be traced to Jamaican thinker Marcus Garvey. The Pan-African colors and the icon of the Black Star both came from him. Kwame Nkrumah mentioned him directly as an influence. This remained on the nationalist and pan-nationalist side of African socialism. This and racial empowerment remained a constant theme in African socialism, with many African thinkers rejecting class reductionism. African's tended to be acutely aware of the role of race in world politics and used it in conjunction with class and capitalist interest to explain the world.
Another major thinker was American W. E. B. du Bois. One of the founding members of the NAACP and author of one of the first sociological works about African Americans, Du Bois is one of the most important figures of the American Civil Rights Movement. Du Bois was in reality a Social Democrat, who often saw world communist governments as a means to an end for black people. In Socialism and the American Negro, he referred to the New Deal as a America's foray into Socialism. Though a stalwart supporter of democracy he visited Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin personally. He was a strong opponent of colonization and spoke to young leaders in the 1945 Pan-African congress. There he met future President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah. He would become a mentor to Nkrumah and move to Accra in his final days.

Non-Marxist-Leninist Socialism

Many of the most interesting and successful movements in Africa were non-Marxist-Leninist. They took local beliefs and attitudes and molded socialism to fit them. These were incredibly diverse, ranging from forms of social democracy to far more authoritarian structures. The leaders ranged from educated elites to guerrilla leaders. The first socialist governments sprang up at independence and continued through the Cold War. These are some of the more notable ones.
Consciencism
Few other thinkers have had near the lasting influence on African politics and philosophy as Kwame Nkrumah. Born to a poor family in the British Gold Coast, Nkrumah was sent to school by his family where he excelled. Interested in Politics and Philosophy, he saved money to pay to visit the United States. He worked menial jobs to put himself through school at Lincoln University and University of Pennsylvania. In the US he became close to expat and American leftists as well as enjoying African American culture. After graduating he went to the London School of Economics. This is where he began political organizing. He returned to the Gold Coast where he founded the Convention People's Party. When the British began increasing local rule, his party swept. When the British did not meet the demands of the Ghanian people, he became a champion of the people with his down to earth nature and organization of general strikes. When Ghana was given full independence, he was the overwhelming choice.
A strict empiricist, Nkrumah sought to make an organic political philosophy that was designed to change as the material needs of the country changed. He determined that the welfare of the individual was the most important concern of the government and society. It was from this lens that he criticized capitalism, contending that it reduced man to a means to achieving the goal of profit. He pointed to traditional African values, Islam, and European influences as the three ideological tides that shaped Africa. The latter two he condemned, though admitted their merits where he saw them (such as the French education system), and gave qualified approval to the first. African society was to be, in spirit but not practice the driver of society. This meant that pan-Africanism and historical study were to be focused on, but the actual institutions such as tribalism, traditional monarchy, and class hierarchies were to be abandoned.
This is where socialism came into Nkrumah's Consciencism. It was not out of devotion to Marxist thinking, but out of a belief that socialist economic structures would be the most effective way of leading the country to prosperity. In a 1967 address he gave in Egypt he stated "Socialism is not spontaneous. It does not arise of itself. It has abiding principles according to which the major means of production and distribution ought to be socialized if exploitation of the many by the few is to be prevented; if, that is to say, egalitarianism in the economy is to be protected. Socialist countries in Africa may differ in this or that detail of their policies, but such differences themselves ought not to be arbitrary or subject to vagaries of taste. They must be scientifically explained, as necessities arising from differences in the particular circumstances of the countries themselves." To Nkrumah, Socialism was not prescriptive, but rather a process where one used communal ownership as needed to create a better society. He was a believer in the idea of scientific socialism in believing that socialism came from the natural needs of the people, rather than an ideological devotion.
Ujamaa
If Nkrumah was a product of the study of Philosophy, Julius Nyerere was a product of the study of anthropology and history. Unlike Nkrumah, Nyerere was the product of elite lineage. His father was a chief who earned the favor of both the German, and later British Administrations in Tanganyika. He was chosen by the British to receive education to be a local leader and studied at Makerere College before finishing his post graduate work at University of Edinburgh. Upon returning, he founded the Tanganyika African National Union, which pushed for independence from the UK through non-violent protest.
His philosophy of Ujamaa, meaning familyhood in Swahili, became the guiding ideology of the party and independent Tanganyika (and Tanzania after their unification with Zanzibar). In this ideology, Nyerere posits that socialism is the natural state of African people. Before the introduction of Western influences, African people lived in an equal and communitarian society. While he admits the existence of elites he countered that the relative equality of means meant that there was no comparison to modern economic structures. For Africans to be prosperous, they had to return to the social structures as well as the spirit of pre-colonial Africa, while accepting modernizations that would benefit the common man.
He posited that African society had a natural social value attached to work, and this work was done, not to the benefit of a capitalist elite, but to the benefit of society, thus with the fruits of labor belonging to society, they could be considered socialist. Through a return to these structures, they could have a socialist society that was structured on the needs of Africans, rather than those of 19th century Europeans. He regarded Marxists as rigid and dogmatic, stating that, "The works of Marx and Lenin are regarded as holy writ… We find them condemning others actions because they do not accord with what the 'priests of scientific socialism' have decided is the true meaning." His ontology marked the community as the basic unit. He believed in socialism through consent of the people, but not necessarily through democracy.

Marxist-Leninism

Marxist-Leninist nations in Africa tend to fill a different niche that those of non-Marxist states. Non-Marxist states tended to grow from movements within the countries with a locally based variant of socialism guiding the development of government structures. Marxist states on the other hand tended to come from the geopolitical needs of the nation. They tended to lean heavily into the support of the Soviet Union or People's Republic of China. These governments tended to be criticized by Orthodox Marxists both within the countries and abroad for simply slapping a Marxist aesthetic on a run of the mill authoritarian state. This is not universal, and depended on the leader and movement. Thomas Sankara (referred to as the African Che Guevara) is celebrated by leftists for his attempts to organize Burkina Faso, whereas his successor Blaise Compaoré simply co-opted Marxist symbolism until the end of the Cold War when it was dropped entirely. The two states I will profile show a best and worst case for African Marxists.
Benin
Nothing I write would be complete without me mentioning Benin somewhere. The Republic of Dahomey gained its freedom from France August 1st, 1960. At that time Hubert Maga, a school teacher turned politician from the North was named first president. Benin is divided into three broad super-cultural groups (though there are a total of 64 ethnic groups). The Fon in the South, the Yoruba in the East, and the Bariba and other Muslims in the North. The Maga government was soon overthrown and the country rapidly switched between a number of governments, each dedicated to giving as much as possible to their constituent area before being removed from office.
This changed in 1972 when a young army officer named Mathieu Kerekou led a successful coup. Kerekou was different in the sense that he had no real ties to any of the political families that had been competing for power. He also ended the system of clientism that had defined Dahomeyan politics to that point (though some contend he showed bias against the Fon. Strongly nationalistic, Kerekou made his hatred for the French clear early on, pointing to them as the cause of many of the country's problems and the patron of the old regime.
In 1974, Kerekou changed the country's name from the Republic of Dahomey to the People's Republic of Benin and formally adopted Marxism-Leninism as the guiding ideology of the nation. Oil reserves and refineries as well as the banking system were rapidly nationalized and Kerekou made overtures to international communist nations for aid. Austerity programs were also quickly ended. The North Koreans were particularly close allies. Curiously, Kerekou worked to retain warm relations with the United States. Peace Corps remained in operation through his entire presidency and working in the American embassy was considered a strong stepping stone.
The practical effects for the average Beninese person varied from urban to village. Local leaders were required to be members of the People's Revolutionary Party, and extreme corruption and inefficiency meant that few resources radiated outside of population centers. Instilled with a strong labor union tradition during French occupation, the national labor movement was consolidated into a single approved union that was basically mandated to follow government orders. Unionized workers as well as students were the chief opponents of the regime and faced significant surveillance and harassment.
This started to change in the mid 80s as it became clear that the regime's economic reforms weren't working. Benin was lagging behind its neighbors Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria. On top of this, student groups and workers in unofficial unions were demanding change. Simultaneously, the election of Francois Mitterrand in France opened a new era in Franco-Beninese relations, shifting the nation back to Western alignment away from the moribund USSR. Under mounting pressure, Kerekou agreed to a constitutional referendum and free elections. Upon his loss, he gracefully stepped down in 1991, but was reelected in 1996. Having dropped Marxism, he led his second term as a moderate liberal, doing little to harm the economic and political reforms of the early 90s.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia, on the other hand, faced the fullest horror of Communism and likely suffered to a similar extent to Ukraine and China. In 1970, the Solomonic Dynasty leading the Empire of Ethiopia was one of the oldest royal houses in the world dating back to 1270 and drawing its lineage back to the Biblical King Solomon. Their last Emperor was Halie Selassie, celebrated among Pan-Africanists as one of the only African leaders to resist colonization. Though celebrated by the diaspora, Selassie's rule was authoritarian and secretive. In 1973, a famine hit Ethiopia. Rather than petition for aid Selassie covered it up, and only accepted aid on the contingency that it was given in secret. The inaction of the Emperor prompted a revolutionary council known as the Derg to take over.
This council quickly moved to numerous industries. Eritrean, Tigre, and Somali nationalists took advantage of the situation to launch offensives against the government. When the Carter Administration warned the Derg to cease the human rights violations they were committing in the crackdown, they cut ties with Washington and invited East-German and Soviet military advisors. In the Tigre region, the Ethiopian military embarked on a scorched earth offensive to quell the rebellion. Using such tactics in a nation with food security concerns was probably ill-advised. The offensive in the North consumed around two thirds of the national budget.
The problems the Derg had created were compounded in 1983. In 1982, the rains failed and there was risk of another great famine. Having become an international pariah due to the extreme violence of Derg forces, the international community was reluctant to give aid and the Reagan administration lobbied heavily against it as part of his campaign to halt Communism in the Horn of Africa. When the famine hit in earnest, the Derg mobilized to create collective farms. These farms were incredibly inefficient, consuming 82% of imported fertilizer while contributing only 15% of grain production. To staff these farms, people from offending areas, particularly Tigre were forcibly removed from their homes and shipped to location. Africa Watch estimates that around 50,000 people died on these farms alone, comparing conditions to the Ukrainian farms in the days of Stalin. In total, as many as 1.2 million people were killed, 2.5 million displaced, with Human Rights Watch estimating that around half could be attributed to government actions.

Conclusion

Socialism is a phenomenon that struck the African continent in many ways across the Cold War era and beyond. Its incarnations were as diverse as the groups it affected. This is by no means an exhaustive look at African socialism, but simply a chance for the reader to find a starting place for further study and give context to an under studied part of the world. Indeed, there were many important people and thinkers left out, such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Walter Rodney, and Siad Barre. Please let me know in the comments what if anything you would like to learn more about. If you found the philosophical analysis or historical fact more interesting, I would be happy to write more about it.
Sources African Socialism Revisited- Kwame Nkrumah
Ujamma – The Basis of African Socialism- Julius K. Nyerere
Drought, War, and the Politics of Famine in Ethiopia and Eritrea- Edmond J. Keller
Applying the weapon of theory: comparing the philosophy of Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah- Tomáš František Žák
Three African social theorists on class struggle, political liberation, and indigenous culture : Cheikh Anta Diop, Amilcar Cabral, Kwame Nkrumah - Charles Simon-Aaron
Socialism and the American Negro- W. E. B. Du Bois
Benin- Chris Allen
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[PI] It's more than likely that Covid-19 will still be around at Christmas time - how are we going to explain to kids that Santa is still allowed to go into millions of houses?

I originally posted this in response to this AskReddit post. I recognize that it is nowhere near Christmas, but everyone needs a dose of alternate history once in a while.
I apologize for the dry nature of this post. It was definitely written as an exercise in recording my stream of consciousness. At the very most, this can be considered a brief world-building experiment.
TL:DR; For ethical reasons, your personal Santa does not live long enough to contract or transmit COVID '19.
To properly understand Santa's COVID resistance, children will have to be let in on the secret history of the Kringle Consortium, and the ancient conspiracy behind our modern Christmas traditions. This may be shocking to many children, so it is up to parents to choose when and how to expose their children to the truth. I consider it the same as explaining to a child where chicken nuggets come from; They may initially be disturbed by the truth, but knowing will eventually help them grow into well-rounded adults.
With that in mind, I present a chronological history and brief analysis of the Christmas Conspiracy, in 9 parts.

Part 1: Ancient History (300AD - 550AD)

Santa Claus was initially a mortal man - Nicholas of Myra (270 AD – 343 AD). He was a Catholic bishop in what is now Turkey, who saw the state of the poor, and would occasionally help by leaving anonymous gifts of toys, food, and money outside their homes in the night. When Nicholas died, a dedicated cabal of Christians memorialized him by secretly leaving anonymous presents for the poor in his name, on the date of his death, December 6th.
Unfortunately, Christianity underwent an exponential growth phase, under the Holy Roman Empire, and soon there were tens of thousands of Christians needed to run this operation and to maintain the myth of an immortal St Nicholas.
From about 500AD, they had realized that many cities had no idea who Nicholas of Myra was or what he looked like, and belief in him was waning, in favor of various local fairies and goblins.
The Cabal of St Nicholas, as they were known by then, had taken to arranging sightings of "St Nicholas", dressed in his iconic vestments, to combat this doubt, but they were facing an issue. At some point, people would compare descriptions of the Faux Nicholas' features. They needed reliable continuity.
Thus began the first major undertaking of this group.

Part 2: Wax Santa and the Travelling Corpse (550AD - 1100AD)

Like many holy men of the time, Nicholas of Myra's body had been painstakingly preserved and maintained, rather than being left to decay. This gave the cabal a couple of options.
First, they made molds of Nicholas's face, and constructed very detailed wax masks that could be worn when delivering gifts. These, when combined with a small costume change to obscure most of the head (this is the origin of Santa's hooded and fringed coat), allowed the gift-bringers to seem identical to the occasional child or drunkard who caught a glimpse of their activities.
However, this alone wasn't enough. The wax masks were rigid, and wouldn't pass close inspection. Santa needed to be able to occasionally make carefully managed appearances where he would speak or be seen to nod and wink or similar actions.
In or around 750AD, the cabal hired the services of Boutros Al-Hadrami, a Moorish master puppeteer, to help them resolve this issue. Al-Hadrami rigged wires and armatures to Nicholas' actual preserved corpse, to allow it to be manipulated as a sort of puppet. By all accounts Al-Hadrami was the only Turkish man available with both the skill and strength needed to operate this macabre marionette, so he travelled from town to town for decades, operating the "Hero Nicholas" puppet.
Eventually, the presence of this seemingly silent, massive black man had to be incorporated into the myth; and so began the stories of Black Peter or Krampus, depending on the region.

Part 3: The Crusades and the Age of Automation (1100AD - 1600AD)

Around 1100AD, the Knights Templar came into power within the Church, and folded many other secret orders under their direct authority. This included the Cabal of St Nicholas.
The Knights Templar were a smaller organization at the time, and were focused in part on simplifying and reducing the number of convolutions and complexities that each order added to the Faith. To that end, they were responsible for moving the date of Nicholas' appearances to December 24th, to coincide with other Christmas operations of the time, as well as reducing monetary expenditures, by giving only childrens toys, rather than money or food.
The Knights Templar were exceedingly well-funded by the riches they attained during the Crusades, but they were also extremely cautious with their money. By all accounts, they were the ones who began to run the conspiracy like a business, rather than a religious observance.
They introduced dolls in the form of Saint Nicholas for the poor, as well as running an underground network where well-off families could pay a premium to have their child visited by St Nicholas. These rich families would even be able to select the toy that Nicholas would bring their child (thus introducing the idea of a Christmas list).
The Nicholas puppet had been rarely used since the death of Al-Hadrami, as few could even come close to managing to operate the puppet, with any sense of realism.. The knights had resorted to purchasing slaves specifically for their strength, then training them to operate the puppet, but this route was producing less and less convincing performances.
Eventually, the Knights would hire Leonardo da Vinci himself to design a new form of puppet, operated entirely by springs and gears. This new "automaton" would play one of several pre-recorded actions from a pegged programming disk. However, it's size and weight made standing performances impossible.
To hide the mechanical components, and to conceal the actor providing Nicholas' voice, a large sledge was added to the myth, upon which Nicholas would be seated. To prevent close examination, this sledge was hoisted onto rooftops, and a story was concocted about flying from home to home, to deliver presents via the chimney.
However, by the end of the 15th century, it became clear that the Knights had a new problem. Christianity was spreading rapidly outside of Europe, into Africa, Asia, and even the new American continent. There was no way that they could maintain the myth across that large an area, with their current scale, and there was no way to transport the Nicholas Automaton to the new world, without significant risk of loss, damage, or exposure.
The myth needed revising, yet again.

Part 4: The Lapland Illusion (1600AD - 1900AD)

By the mid 1600s, the invention of the steam engine and the burgeoning field of optics had drawn the attention of the Knights. They needed a way to manifest "Father Christmas" (as St Nicholas was becoming known) around the world, without the logistics of world travel, so they turned to optics.
Building off the research of Galileo and his peers, Jesuit Priest, Christoph Scheiner, worked with the knights to develop a series of collimating lenses and optical repeaters that could be secreted within strategic church bell-towers, which would take an image, projected at a high brightness from a few sources, and relay it from church to eventually project a moving image onto cloud cover in many locations, potentially thousands of miles away.
However, to implement this new technology, they needed to produce a massive amount of light and motion at the origin point, without drawing attention. These hubs were built in low population areas around the world. We only know the precise locations of a few of these hubs, but they include Lapland, Tunguska, Alaska (at that time Eastern Russia), and Greenland.
It is unknown how many of these projections were actually produced, or what the effective area was for each northern operations center, but this time period was when the flying sleigh and reindeer entered the mythos.
The funding for this massive undertaking came from possibly the strangest place yet. In 1670, the knights began marketing "Candy Canes" as a Christmas confection that looked like St Nicholas' shepherd's crook (aka his bishop's staff). Soon this candy (little more than common sugar and peppermint extract) was a staple of the holiday season.
On a darker note, the commercialization of the Nicholas Conspiracy was almost complete by this point, and the manufacturing and door-to-door labor was almost entirely done by young orphans, who were paid in basic room and board. Most of these orphans didn't live to see adulthood. These "elves" were just another victim of corporate greed.
As central banks became common, the Knights Templar, now known as the Freemasons, began to divest their holdings into a group of large corporations, to launder the funds and divide and hide their large expenditures. This group of companies was called the Christkindl Consortium, or Christ-child consortium. Among the notable members were: The Federal Reserve, The Royal Bank of England, Lord and Taylor, Macy's, Hallmark, and Coca Cola.

Part 5: The Pre-Modern Era (1900AD - 1950AD)

Advancements in photography and aeronautics began to pose an existential threat to the myth of Father Christmas. An airplane could theoretically interrupt a beam path or photograph an apparition from the wrong angle. Furthermore, the isolated regions that they operated from were becoming more and more accessible to travellers. And so, the Kris Kringle Consortium, as it had become known to its American members, began a shadow arms race against the world.
Initially, things were going well, advancements in miniaturization and global power distribution seemed to indicate that they were less than a decade away from being able to produce and control full 3d apparitions of Santa from completely local base stations. Something the size of a police call box could have served an entire village. But on Jun 30th 1908, disaster struck.
A test of a power transmission tower in New York overloaded several prototype image transmitters in the Tunguska research facility, causing a massive explosion that demolished the entire facility. There were no survivors.
It was decided that the future of St Nicholas lay on a completely different path, and research was halted on the global poweimage transmission technology. Much of the developed hardware was eventually simplified and commercialized by another Kringle member, RCA. And thus, the age of television was born.
Meanwhile, the consortium shifted all funding into high-energy physics and biology, hoping to discover a fundamental paradigm shift. This was expensive, but by now, making money from Christmas was second nature to the group. They tasked Coca Cola, of all organizations, to develop a new worldwide branding for St Nicholas, complete with product tie-ins in every vertical. In the 1930s, this campaign launched, and the world finally met Santa Claus.
Unfortunately, the two world wars didn't completely bypass the Kringle Consortium. Hitler, being a consumate business man, became aware that some of his nations businesses had significant world-wide holiday reach, and he demanded that these member companies divulge the secrets of the Consortium to Nazi high command.
In 1942, Nazi Germany siezed control of the northern hub in Lapland, and used it to distribute propaganda gifts throughout mainland Europe for almost 2 years, only being successfully driven out in November of 1944. In the process, the Germans destroyed the hub, and killed all employees.
It was, in fact, a direct response to this occupation that led to a certain group of Kringle-affiliated particle physicists being brought together in the Nevada desert to find a way to definitively win the war for the Allies.

Part 6: Multiverse Traversal (1950 AD - Present)

In 1952, Irwin Schrodinger had the breakthrough that made modern Christmas possible. He was a Kringle-sponsored physicist, working on understanding quantum phenomena. Irwin had previously hypothesized that until the state of the universe is observed, it is in a state of quantum superposition, where all possible outcomes exist simultaneously. These possible outcomes represent the infinite probable variants of our universe. Observing the system collapses all the other possibilities, except the one which is selected, effectively ending these infinite and unique universes.
With the assistance of Richard Feynman, Schodinger made a further discovery in 1955. He discovered how to isolate specific objects from the quantum superposition, and cause them to persist in our universe, even after the collapse of their source universe.
Using this discovery, real versions of Saint Nicholas could be selected from universes where they lived in contemporary times, and where they were about to present a gift to any given child in the world. This discovery had almost limitless potential for the consortium's mission, but came with serious ethical considerations.
The machine made no separation between objects and people. Anything could be pulled from the waves of the Quantum Foam, just by providing accurate targeting parameters. The few members of the Catholic Magisterium tasked with oversight of the project were adamant that it could not be used on a human.
They believed that either the resulting human would have a soul, in which case they would have to admit that every choice we make destroys an infinite number of human lives, or it would be a soulless homunculus, imitating humanity in open defiance of God. Either was seen as an abomination.
The project was firmly restricted to whiteboards and notebook math for another 5 years, until a compromise was reached. The design was modified to allow for two types of extraction: permanent and temporary.
A permanent extraction manifested physical objects from other universes, but would not allow for the extraction of anything living. Meanwhile, a temporary extraction would last only until the quantum waveform was collapsed, by observation. At that time, a temporary extraction would return to their own universe, and cease to exist.
However, none of the scientists or business men could be trusted to operate the machine continuously. Instead, a board of executives would meet once a year, and would summon a single temporary overseer. One whose trustworthiness, ethical purity, and commitment to the cause could never be questioned, as it was confirmed by Mother Church herself.

Part 7: Nicholas Springs Eternal (Present)

On December 26th of each year, the executive board of the Kringle Consortium meets in one of two locations, The HAARP center in Alaska or the Pine Gap base in Australia, and ask their quantum machine a single, binary question: "Does the human race deserve joy."
This question is used as the basis of a quantum superposition which is sustained for an entire year, and which is used to manifest that year's Santa Prime (sometimes humorously called Old Nick, or The King in Red). This incarnation of Saint Nicolas (or simulacrum thereof) is immediately given full control of the machine and of all associated resources, to prepare for the next Christmas.
Over the course of the year, question after question is queued into the machine's massive registers, with all the associated intelligence needed to answer it. "Is [James Voorst, Sally Embry, Xiu Chen, etc] NAUGHTY or NICE?". Old Nick's job is to ensure that no answer is predetermined, and no name is missed.
On December 24, as the first time zone reaches midnight, the machine's primary function is triggered, and Santa Prime takes his seat as observer. Hundreds of thousands of superpositions are created every second, and the machine selects the best universe match it can find within an time for walking the tree. From that universe, the relevant gift is permanently manifested, and the relevant santa is temporarily manifested to deliver it.
Once delivered, and properly out of sight, the result of the machine is observed by Santa Prime, destroying any evidence of that local Santa's existence, except for the gift, and perhaps as a final mercy to the deceased, a consumed final meal of milk and cookies.
When at last his nightly harvest is done, the King in Red, would-be savior of the poor and executioner to millions of his own kin, lays down for his own winter's nap, never to wake.

Part 8: How Does This all Relate to COVID '19?

Children can be assured that the universe pruning algorithm has been designed to reject any universe in which an ongoing pandemic threatens the health of the child. Santa will be perfectly healthy when he delivers your gift, and then will be ethically disposed of in the collapse of the quantum waveform.

Part 9: Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn't every child get presents? Why isn't every present perfect? Why do children sometimes see their parents place their gifts?
The universe selection algorithm is a variant of a MIN/MAX pruning of an infinite binary tree of universes. 1.5+ billion of these selections need to occur every night. So naturally, there is a timeout that will select the best universe evaluated, even if it doesn't meet the minimum threshold for a perfect santa experience. The project targets year over year improvements in this field, rather than perfection.
What about bad santas? Could one be selected by accident?
Unfortunately, a small number of casualties must be considered acceptable by the project. That's why suicide and abduction rates all increase slightly around Christmas. This has been identified as an opportunity for potential improvement of the project in future years.
What about Santa Prime? Could we ever select a bad one?
Thankfully the longevity of Santa Prime's manifestation allows the machine to perform a much more exhaustive search of the multiverse. So long as there is a reasonable chance that the Prime question could be answered "yes", we should never receive a negative Prime Manifestation. So, you tell me, "Does the world deserve Joy?"
submitted by gschoppe to HFY [link] [comments]

MAME 0.217

MAME 0.217

What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a new MAME release? That’s right – MAME 0.217 is scheduled for release today. Just a reminder, this will be the last MAME release that we distribute a pre-built 32-bit Windows binary package for. Compiling for 32-bit targets will still be supported, but you’ll have to build MAME releases yourself starting from next month. This will also be the last release with source code distributed in the “zip in zip” archive format. We recommend getting source code by cloning a tagged revision from one of our version control mirrors (GitHub, GitLab or SourceForge), or you can use the P7ZIP tools to extract the self-extracting 7-Zip source archive. For MAME 0.217, we’ve switched the Windows tool chain to GCC 9.2.0, and uploaded an updated tools package (the minimum supported GCC version has not changed).
With all the housekeeping announcements out of the way, we can get to those juicy updates. The most exciting thing this month is the recovery of the Sega Model 1 coprocessor TGP programs for Star Wars Arcade and Wing War, making these games fully playable. We’ve been working on Virtua Fighter as well, and while the graphics are greatly improved, there are still some gameplay issues as of this release. In other arcade emulation news, sasuke has been busy fixing long-standing graphical issues in Nichibutsu games, and AJR has made some nice improvements to the early SNK 6502-based games.
On the home system side, there are some nice Sam Coupé improvements from TwistedTom, support for Apple II paddle controllers, a better Apple II colour palette, and significant improvements to Acorn RiscPC emulation. TV game emulation is progressing steadily, with two Lexibook systems, the Jungle Soft Zone 40, and the MiWi 16-in-1 now working.
For front-end developers, we’ve added data to the XML list format allowing you to handle software lists enabled by slot card devices (there are a few of these for Acorn and Sinclair home computers). The minimaws sample script has been updated to demonstrate a number of tasks related to handling software lists. For MAME contributors, we’ve made save state registration a bit simpler, and more manageable in the debugger.
You can get the source and Windows binary packages from the download page.

MAMETesters Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Source Changes

submitted by cuavas to emulation [link] [comments]

MAME 0.217

MAME 0.217

What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a new MAME release? That’s right – MAME 0.217 is scheduled for release today. Just a reminder, this will be the last MAME release that we distribute a pre-built 32-bit Windows binary package for. Compiling for 32-bit targets will still be supported, but you’ll have to build MAME releases yourself starting from next month. This will also be the last release with source code distributed in the “zip in zip” archive format. We recommend getting source code by cloning a tagged revision from one of our version control mirrors (GitHub, GitLab or SourceForge), or you can use the P7ZIP tools to extract the self-extracting 7-Zip source archive. For MAME 0.217, we’ve switched the Windows tool chain to GCC 9.2.0, and uploaded an updated tools package (the minimum supported GCC version has not changed).
With all the housekeeping announcements out of the way, we can get to those juicy updates. The most exciting thing this month is the recovery of the Sega Model 1 coprocessor TGP programs for Star Wars Arcade and Wing War, making these games fully playable. We’ve been working on Virtua Fighter as well, and while the graphics are greatly improved, there are still some gameplay issues as of this release. In other arcade emulation news, sasuke has been busy fixing long-standing graphical issues in Nichibutsu games, and AJR has made some nice improvements to the early SNK 6502-based games.
On the home system side, there are some nice Sam Coupé improvements from TwistedTom, support for Apple II paddle controllers, a better Apple II colour palette, and significant improvements to Acorn RiscPC emulation. TV game emulation is progressing steadily, with two Lexibook systems, the Jungle Soft Zone 40, and the MiWi 16-in-1 now working.
For front-end developers, we’ve added data to the XML list format allowing you to handle software lists enabled by slot card devices (there are a few of these for Acorn and Sinclair home computers). The minimaws sample script has been updated to demonstrate a number of tasks related to handling software lists. For MAME contributors, we’ve made save state registration a bit simpler, and more manageable in the debugger.
You can get the source and Windows binary packages from the download page.

MAMETesters Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Source Changes

submitted by cuavas to MAME [link] [comments]

MAME 0.213

MAME 0.213

It's really about time we released MAME 0.213, with more of everything we know you all love. First of all, we’re proud to present support for the first Hegener + Glaser product: the “brikett” chess computers, Mephisto, Mephisto II and Mephisto III. As you can probably guess, there’s an addition from Nintendo’s Game & Watch line. This month it’s Mario’s Bombs Away. On a related note, we’ve also added Elektronika’s Kosmicheskiy Most, exported as Space Bridge, which is an unlicensed total conversion of the Game & Watch title Fire. If you haven’t played any of the handheld LCD games in MAME, you’re missing something special – they look superb with external scanned and traced artwork.
On the arcade side, we’ve added The Destroyer From Jail (a rare Philko game), and alternate regional versions of Block Out and Super Shanghai Dragon’s Eye. The CD for Simpsons Bowling has been re-dumped, resolving some long-standing issues. With its protection microcontroller dumped and emulated, Birdie Try is now fully playable. Protection microcontrollers for The Deep and Last Mission have also been dumped and emulated. Improvements to Seibu hardware emulation mean Banpresto’s SD Gundam Sangokushi Rainbow Tairiku Senki is now playable, and sprite priorities in Seibu Cup Soccer have been improved.
In computer emulation, two interesting DOS compatible machines based on the Intel 80186 CPU are now working: the Mindset Personal Computer, and the Dulmont Magnum. The Apple II software lists have been updated to include almost all known clean cracks and original flux dumps, and the Apple II gameport ComputerEyes frame grabber is now emulated. We’ve received a series of submissions that greatly improve emulation of the SWTPC S/09 and SS-30 bus cards. On the SGI front, the 4D/20 now has fully-working IRIX 4.0.5 via serial console, and a whole host of improvements have gone into the Indy “Newport” graphics board emulation. Finally, MAME now supports HDI, 2MG and raw hard disk image files.
As always, you can get the source and Windows binary packages from the download page.

MAMETesters Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Source Changes

submitted by cuavas to emulation [link] [comments]

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