This portfolio originally appeared in Jump Point 5.12.
To quote famed businessman Engel Nordigan, “a good business is blessed by the public. Profits can be spectacular, but if the public dislikes or even worse, distrusts a company, they will face an uphill battle.” Few corporations understand that mantra more than Chemline Solutions.
Victor and Adorai Zahid didn’t have what many would consider a ‘normal’ childhood. Their parents, both employees at Kel-To ConStores, were part of the internal inspection teams making sure the various branches adhered to the corporate safety mandates, which required the family to be constantly on the move.
In Victor Zahid’s memoir, Titan, he recounted that the family would rarely stay in one place for more than a month, as they rotated through the thousands of Kel-To ConStores located throughout the UEE. For Victor and his twin sister, Adorai, this left little opportunity for any kind of stable home. They spent their entire childhood racing around various transport ships and Housing Exchanges while their parents worked. At night, their parents taught them from a meticulously constructed education curriculum, designed to allow them to test for Equivalency early. Their assignment during the day was simple: learn. They were encouraged to find out about the area they were living in, the people around them, anything. Each night, the children would need to present what they learned that day and then the parents would discuss the information.
“I didn’t get it at the time,” Victor wrote in Titan. “But in retrospect, talking about why this HEX was in a sad economic state or why that hauler we talked to was doing the things he was doing was their way to teach us empathy, to understand that everybody had a story.”
Although both of the twins were equally studious, their interests began to diverge as they got older. Victor developed a taste for commodity trading, often using his allowance to purchase small quantities of goods to trade at other stations. When he wasn’t actively buying or selling, he kept meticulous notes about prices from the TDD and local traders. Meanwhile, his sister Adorai became fascinated with the world of mathematics and engineering and studied all the various stations and ships that they encountered throughout their travels.
Both of the Zahid twins achieved Equivalency at sixteen and received partial scholarships to Terra University. Victor graduated with a dual-degree in economics and business management, which led to an immediate position at Clifton Brothers in Prime. Adorai stayed in school a little longer to earn a degree in geological engineering. During her final year, she was approached by reps from Edo Inc., a small mining and exploration exchange based out of Lo in the Corel system, to work in their planetary development division.
Although they spoke often, the twins did not see each other for almost ten years. Adorai stayed in one spot and progressed through the ranks at Edo. Victor, however, seemingly was unable to shake the transitory lifestyle of their youth. During that time, he left Clifton Brothers and went on to start a number of business ventures of his own, including an event planning company and a brief foray into band management.
In 2889, while Victor and Adorai caught up at their father’s 98th birthday party, Adorai told Victor about the experimental extraction technology she was trying to develop for Edo. Although the research was promising, financial projections as to the cost to implement these upgrades outweighed the potential profit margin, so the board of directors were moving to cancel the project. While she lamented having to abandon the research, Victor could see the potential. If successful, this technology could revitalize old dig sites. About two hours of intense discussion later, he proposed an idea: why not develop the technology on their own?
An Idea Into An Institution
Within the year, Chemline Solutions was born. Although its primary business would be as a provider of industrial chemicals (referred to as ‘the cash flow’ by Victor), Adorai was able to convince Edo’s board to sell her research to the fledgling company. As she got back to work, Victor tapped into the various connections he’d developed over the years to build the company’s initial client list. His goal was to build enough capital not only to support Adorai’s research, but also to have credits on hand by the time she completed it.
Between Adorai’s work behind the scenes and Victor’s business acumen, the company grew at a remarkable rate. Within five years, they operated out of six distribution hubs strategically placed throughout the UEE.
By the end of the 29th century, Adorai had completed her first functioning prototype of her new extraction process. Utilizing low-frequency seismic vibrations, the project (codenamed Resurrection within the company) delivered on its promise of unlocking previously inaccessible gas pockets for collection. With the company already making a steady profit, Victor was convinced that this would take the company to the next level.
Victor began scouring the UEE for potential dig sites. The answer was a small moon in a distant system.
Situated near the remnants of the first planet in the system (destroyed when the star went nova), Odin 1a had been extensively mined by a variety of companies for almost twenty years until it was finally abandoned in 2865. The moon, known as Gainey, turned out to have a significant quantity of gas pockets, and the lack of a local population made it an ideal site for the new tech. The only shortcoming was that twenty years of intensive resource harvesting had left a shocking amount of abandoned buildings, satellites and trash around the tiny moon, the cleanup of which pushed out their timetable.
Thanks to the condition of the moon as well as its remote location, the company was able to secure extraction rights at a bargain rate from the Planetary Development Bureau and immediately began construction on the extensive network of structures that needed to be positioned around the moon to house the seismic actuators that would extract the gas. By 2904, Chemline Solutions activated their first gas extraction facility.
Adorai’s theories started paying off almost immediately, but over the course of several years, she became increasingly worried about the increasing seismic events on the moon. Fissures began to open up unexpectedly in seemingly random places, which made it difficult for Adorai to confirm that her machine was causing them.
According to Adorai, soon after she began to investigate these seismic events, Victor entered into negotiations to build another extraction facility on a populated world. Still nervous that her technology might be dangerous to a local population, she protested the expansion, but he refused outright, citing the massive profits the new facility could generate. When presented with her findings, Victor claimed that her ‘evidence’ was a collection of inconsistencies and assumptions.
The ensuing argument escalated over the next few months and ultimately resulted in Victor firing Adorai from the company. The twins, inseparable through their childhood, were now locked in a bitter legal dispute. Adorai sued Chemline Solutions and her brother for the rights to her technology, but the initial company doctrine signed when the company was formed specifically stipulated the extraction technology as a company asset. Regardless, the string of lawsuits and countersuits spanned nearly a decade.
By 2919, Chemline Solutions couldn’t maintain the Gainey facility anymore. Due to the fallout from Adorai’s very public battle with the company, the UEE was reticent to provide any more licenses for the technology.
Victor tried for years to find a buyer to take over the Gainey facility to help offset the legal costs, but no one was willing to assume responsibility for the property. By 2923, Victor removed as much equipment as he could and permanently sealed up the facility.
The Path Forward
These days Chemline Solutions has pivoted back into primarily serving as an industrial chemical distributor. Victor Zahid has attempted to obtain extraction licenses since, but the initial cost requirement to construct the vast array of structures needed to fully utilize the technology has now become a larger obstacle than the government’s reticence to sanction it. In 2938, Victor instituted an ‘open door policy’ for geological and mining inventors to pitch their ideas, hoping to strike it rich with another genius design.
Adorai Zahid receded from the public after the series of trials was settled, becoming a professor of Geological Studies at Terra University. In 2940, she released an educational textbook about surveying ethics, but has never spoken publicly about her experience with Chemline Solutions.
It’s unknown whether the twins have ever spoken directly since.
SettingsOne column Two columns Oldest first Newest first Most appreciated first