By your own hair

“Believe me, we at Cuyel are your friends!”
Professor Yefimov didn’t move. It looked like he had become a statue of himself. The expression on his face was unreadable. But there was a rumbling behind his forehead. What was that stupid sentence he just had to hear? “Friends”? Cuyel, a multi-million dollar corporation, is anyone’s friend? The man who said this sentence sat across from Yefimov. A suit wearer. That was what Yefimov had called him in his mind. His name was… something… The professor hadn’t remembered it. Wasn’t important anyway. All the giant companies had people working, but somehow it was a faceless crowd to him. Nobody who stood out from the crowd. And certainly not the suit who had just said Cuyel was his friend.
“Oh yeah?” Yefimov struggled to answer. “Then please explain to me again why our friends are so unfriendly?”
“Yeah… uh… you know… the situation… the pandemic… the blockade… the armada out there in space… all that doesn’t make the transport routes easy,” the suit stuttered . “After all, we have to get our money’s worth. And after all, we’re not increasing the rent or anything. We’re just restricting the services a bit.”
Yefimov gritted his teeth. “Well, firstly,” he snapped, “the limitation of the data line deprives us of vital information channels. And secondly, I read just about five minutes ago that your company reported 2.5 billion Solari in profits at the end of last year. I don’t believe that you have to starve. And yet you give us these restrictions?”
“Well… the pandemic… the blockade… the armada…”
“…out there in space,” Yefimov finished the half-hearted explanation of his counterpart. He realized there was no point. Not anyway, since this suit was just a small light in the company.
“If that was all…” the professor began.
“Oh uh yes!” said the suit.
“Then you may go. I understand that our services will be drastically reduced.”
The suit murmured some goodbye, then disappeared from the room. Almost like a ghost.
Yefimov scratched his chin. And what now? He activated the terminal on his desk. “Computer, contact Commander Jung on BASE ATLANTIS.”
Commander Jung’s image appeared on Yefimov’s screen shortly after. “What can I do for you, Professor?” she asked.
“Calm my nerves if you can,” Yefimov said. “One of Cuyel’s pencil-wielders, one of those ink-pissers, was visiting here. And he brought a message.”
“And it was so bad that you need to calm your nerves?”
“Cuyel restricts our data transfers.”
You could see how Natascha Jung slid forward in her seat. Her eyes widened. “What?” she blurted out.
“You heard me right. Cuyel will throttle the data lines. That’s what we get from being dependent on these stupid ‘private partnerships’. At least they won’t increase the price for the services. But we have to reckon with the fact that the The speed of the data line is reduced by a third.”
“But… that’s completely unacceptable! It makes our work immensely difficult!”
“I know that,” said Yefimov. “But we have no alternative at the moment.”
“What if we take matters into our own hands?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“It will certainly not be easy, but what if we set up a department. ASTROCOHORS SOLAR is still in the start-up phase anyway. What if we set up our own technical department for this?”
Yefimov scratched his chin again. A sign that he was thinking hard.
“That sounds tempting. But keep in mind that this means investing a lot of money in the first place. We have to take over Cuyel’s entire infrastructure or rebuild it.”
“But then we would be independent.”
“Hm. Can that be done?”
“I have to ask around. But maybe I can find someone.”
“Then give it a try. I have a bad feeling this won’t be the last time we’ll have to accept either restrictions or price increases.”
“I’m afraid so too.”
The professor thought back to the moment when he was offered the leadership of the ASTROCOHORS CLUB. That had been a beautiful moment. But slowly he felt like he was stuck in the mud and couldn’t make any progress. Maybe it was time to pull yourself out of the swamp by your own hair.

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