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Headline: Corporate Sabotage?

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[align=center]Corporate Sabotage?[/align]



[align=center]Earlier this month, the head of a weapons corporation, Laughing Armaments, gave a private demonstration of it's revolutionary magitek devices behind the closed doors of Ul'dah; What began with such promise has fallen to utter catastrophe and left it's recent investors with profound and lingering doubts. [/align]



[align=center]The Eorzean branch of the corporation had no sooner established itself than had it been, as addressed in a public statement by spokesman Windel Higgs, 'the victim of corporate espionage'. He began by stating that several key development plans and prototypes had either been stolen or destroyed, the issue only compounded with the disappearance of the primary object in the company's magitek research - a crystal the spokesman referred to only as 'unique unto itself' and 'vital to the study and creation of it's [The Magitek Armament's] regulatory devices'. Several of it's employees were injured and even more confirmed dead in the aftermath of the attack.[/align]



[align=center]'Clearly this is an act that goes against the name of progress.' Higgs began firmly in the press statement, expressing no shortage of fury. 'This unprovoked attack, and the unnecessary destruction of internal facilities clearly demonstrate a lack of professional or personal concern for our tradesmen - had it not been orchestrated in the lesser hours of the evening, it is highly probable that an even greater number of our men and women would have been needlessly harmed in the pursuit of their art. To those criminals I can only damn you to the Seven Hells, and pray you feel the gravity of the sins and the pain you've caused to those you've injured in your brazen and violent act.' [/align]



[align=center]The President, Char Lohengrin, refused to comment beyond the statement that 'measures are being taken to ensure this does not happen again - and that our company's assets are located and returned'. It is speculated that rival weapons corporations, and even Garlemald itself, are to blame but at present there is far to little evidence to indicate any party in particular. Higgs confirmed that Laughing Armaments would continue it's work despite the loss, 'as anything less would be an admission of defeat on our part'. Regardless, the theft of such prototypes and objects cannot bode well for anyone.[/align]



[align=center]A substantial reward has been offered by the company for any and all information regarding the theft that leads to the capture of those responsible, and the reclamation of it's stolen property. [/align]



Story: Sorrell Blanth

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Immediately, upon reading this headline, Rhaya increases security at her offices of business, taking the time to patrol the building herself at times. Crime was always a problem with Ul'dah, but whenever a big story like this hit the streets, all the common thugs suddenly became much more... Brazen.

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"...Who do we have on security right now?" came the voice from the other end of the paper.


"On foundry grounds? Your brother's men, my lady." Noelise clasped and unclasped her hands anxiously. It was rare that her employer ever paused this long in her morning scramble to read the paper. "Why? Is something...amiss?"


"Send word back to the house. I want manor guards here as well. And tell them to organize a night's watch. I want the grounds watched at all bells."


"You read about the commotion in Ul'dah, then?" Noelise asked.


The paper lowered just enough for the Lady Dufresne's jade eyes to appear over the top edge. "We don't exactly deal in cutting-edge research, but we have our own trade secrets to protect. Fury knows whether other arms dealers may become a target -- we make enough weaponry, the possibility is there. And after recent events, I'm through assuming that Ishgard is secure enough on its own. Double the watch, and let no visitors in without a guard escort."


"Of course, my lady." Noelise bowed. "And now, the more important matter I spoke of?"


"Ah, yes, I never gave you a tea preference, did I?" Lady Dufresne lowered the paper all the way to reveal a smile. "Ceylon should be fine, dear. Wouldn't want things to get too exciting today now, would we?"

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Rini hummed happily as she hung the latest advertisement on the board for her Free Company. She took a moment to glance through the papers before reading the headline. Her cheerful expression quickly faded as she suddenly grew nervous over the small bill. She glanced around throughout the quicksand, her ears already laying back as she tipped toed outside. With her arms rung around her chest, she crept back towards her home.


"Am I harboring a fugitive?" She murmured under her breath.

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Sigurd discovered the article pasted on a market board outside the Quicksand and studied it closely with utter delight gleaming in his eyes.  "Ama-teuuuurs," he muttered in slurred speech, alcohol leeching from his breath after a night of binge drinking.


Laughing Armaments had become a pesky business rival in the Magitek armament industry.  It had a terrible habit of creating innovative new products that drove down both the demand and price of comparable Magitek weapons manufactured by Ebonbrand Teknoworks.  The news regarding Laughing Armaments' "unfortunate" loss of proprietary Magitek trade secrets was an unexpected pleasure.


Sigurd mocked the purported statements of Laughing Armaments' President, muttering: "Th-thu-this act 'goes against progress?"  He then embarked on the following long-winded drunken tirade:


"This is, hic, an act of great progress, hic, and f-fabulous news!  Gonna cor-corner the market now! Ole' Lo-hengrin is gonna be shitting himself and licking his wounds for weeks!  Time to flood the market with our Magitek shit and price them into the ground!  M-must find who did this and give them a few bottles of wine on the house!"


Sigurd mumbled a few more thoughts about finding the saboteurs, purchasing the prototypes at low cost, modifying the design, and then selling the similar product at inflated prices.  Unfortunately, a nagging high-pitched voice barked at him through the small link-pearl in his ear, lecturing him to "return home this instant."  Although his new "home" in Gridania lacked the bustle of Ul'Dah, at least Gridania's lavender beds had lower crime rates in a pleasant wooded setting.

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In the wee morning hours before the sun had yet tried to force its golden rays thru the snowstorm that raged outside, Dacein Vallerimont buckled various straps and belts which held his armor firmly in place. There was only a lficker of light in the darkness but it did not matter. His movements calculated automatically in his mind by a routine he's done thousands of times. The young Knight reaches over for a small cup of simmering tea and glances over the paper in front of him.


"Great", he voices quietly to no one but himself ashe takes a gentle sip from the hot tea "I'm going to have to hear about someone complaining about pulling double guard duty tonight"


He lets out a sigh of relief. Luckily he was above such menial tasks and instead had an audience from someone within House Haillenarte itself.


No sooner had he stepped outside into the howling snow when he heard the mutterings of an un-amused newer recruit bent over from the icy winds in front of a small burn barrel complaining of his guard posting. Dacein flashed him a bright cheery smile and with a "Good luck friend, Military life tis such a pleasure, is it not?" he swung his leg over his his Chocobo, Raven, and sauntered off towards the dark silhouette of Ishgard in the distance.

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