This portfolio originally appeared in Jump Point 11.02.
Tromo Nivelin insisted he wasn’t a gambler. Born into a family that struggled to eke out a living, he claimed he only took calculated risks, but none would be more daring than pouring his life savings into launching Pyrotechnic Amalgamated in 2409. Rich beyond his wildest dreams at the age of thirty after the sale of a data management company he founded with a friend in university, Nivelin wasn’t one to rest on his laurels. He spent years courting investors for a new venture, Pyrotechnic Amalgamated, but most financiers looked at the crowded mining field, and Nivelin’s inexperience in it, and passed. Nivelin remained undeterred against the advice of family and friends. He didn’t know it at the time, but this high risk, high reward move would set the tone for the company; one that saw Pyrotechnic Amalgamated achieve incredible highs, including the discovery of two systems, before the accumulated risk finally dragged it down.
NO RISK, NO REWARD
According to Nivelin, the discovery of Vega in 2402 was the key moment that inspired him to found Pyrotechnic Amalgamated. Newly rich and in search of a new business venture, discussions with his husband, a lawyer representing a mining concern fighting for the rights to a massive claim on Selene (Vega III), opened Nivelin’s eyes to the profit potential that an untapped piece of the frontier could offer. Meanwhile, some of his fondest childhood memories were joining his aunt on mining runs that endeared him to the profession and sparked an obsession with geology. Nivelin spent two years researching the industry and assessing its business practices. He identified several areas where his prospective company could forge a strategic advantage, but he refused to specify them in the business plan to ensure potential investors wouldn’t steal and implement them elsewhere. After years of searching for investors, only a few had agreed to back his venture, so Nivelin, in 2409, made the bold call to self-fund the rest of it. The risk was massive but his timing couldn’t have been better.
Humanity discovered Virgil in 2412 and fast-tracked the terraforming of the first planet due to favorable conditions. To encourage private investment, the United Nations of Earth (UNE) allowed mining companies early access to prospect the system and bid on mining rights. Rather than employing the systemic scan-grid technique (popular with most mining organizations due to its thoroughness), Pyrotechnic Amalgamated prospecting ships were outfitted to scan in the style of explorers – covering as much area as possible during their first pass before honing in on small anomalies for further investigation. Other companies mocked the Pyrotechnic Amalgamated ships speeding across the system, but their unique approach allowed them to identify and ultimately underbid on several lucrative locations. The windfall profits from these claims enabled the company to expand and reinvest in technologies that kept them on the cutting edge for decades. As Humanity entered a golden age of expansion in the mid-25th century, no mining company was better positioned to explore these systems and identify viable claims than Pyrotechnic Amalgamated.
Despite these successes, Nivelin’s ultimate goal was to discover a system, believing that finding one would be enough to sustain the company for centuries and establish its name in history. He created an exploration division, whose sole purpose was to find new jumps, and required all company and contracted ships to share their flight data with it. He would retire in 2457 without achieving this dream but the systems he put in place would eventually pay off.
In 2469, the crew of the company tanker Roustabout noticed a gravitational anomaly while crossing Cano and filed a detailed report with the exploration division. It remained overlooked until 2493 when CEO Cecile Uchiha ordered legacy flight records be reassessed to factor in recent scientific advancements in jump point detection. By then, Pyrotechnic Amalgamated fortunes had soured after its pioneering exploration and scanning practices had become widespread within the industry. Losing its competitive advantage and exhausting several profitable veins left Pyrotechnic Amalgamated in a precarious position. Industry insiders believed the company would need a miracle to survive. This decades old flight data from Roustabout would provide it.
It didn’t take long for the exploration ship dispatched by Pyrotechnic Amalgamated to discover the new jump point and take preliminary scans of the system. Insiders claim that CEO Uchiha screamed in celebration upon receiving news of the discovery, and then screamed in frustration upon seeing that the system suffered from unpredictable solar flares. Still, significant mineral deposits on Pyro II and the presence of water and a breathable atmosphere on Pyro III convinced Uchiha to direct executives to devise a plan to assess and exploit the system.
Pyrotechnic Amalgamated registered its discovery with the UNE and named the system in honor of both the company and the system’s volatile star. CEO Uchiha lobbied the UNE to claim the system, which would open the floodgates of government subsidies and resources to police and make living and traveling across it more manageable. Yet, government officials decided the unstable sun was too dangerous and decided not to claim it, leaving those responsibilities to anyone who wanted to work the system. Pyrotechnic Amalgamated immediately established operations on the system’s most substantial mining deposits and bolstered its security forces to strongly “discourage” others from developing their own. While most mining sites were on Pyro II, the company built a majority of the staging sites, processing centers, and habitation encampments on the more hospitable Pyro III. Still, the looming threat of solar flares made Pyrotechnic Amalgamated reluctant to establish a permanent headquarters on either planet, forcing the company to adopt a radical and expensive alternative.
Construction began on MacEwan Station in 2506. Named in honor of the Roustabout watch officer who noticed the gravitational anomaly, the station was designed to be a massive and awe-inspiring operational hub for the company. Yet, it wasn’t long before this ambition clashed with reality. Construction-cost overruns, disappointing mining profits from Pyro II, and a downturn within the wider mining industry combined to drag down the company’s bottom line. In late 2508, CEO Uchicha slowed construction of the station due to liquidity issues and seriously considered abandoning it until another discovery convinced her otherwise.
In 2510, a Pyrotechnic Amalgamated security force hunting an outlaw crew ran deep space scans that returned an unusual result. The company dispatched an exploration ship that discovered a jump into a new system. Scans showed a promising asteroid belt but no habitable planets. Financially strained, Pyrotechnic Amalgamated decided not to pursue interests in the system. They registered it with the UNE under the name Nivelin and used the finder’s fee to fill the budget shortfall in constructing MacEwan station.
Construction on MacEwan Station was completed in 2512. It streamlined mining and supply operations for the company’s operations within the system, and provided an additional revenue stream from the sale of fuel, food, and other supplies to independent miners traveling to and from Nivelin. The discovery of the Terra system in 2516 and a jump from it to Pyro also boosted traffic to the station. Meanwhile, Pyrotechnic Amalgamated attempted to capitalize on its proximity to Terra by bidding on mining rights to several sites in the system. But, in a now infamous incident, the company wildly overbid for the Arroyo lode after data from a faulty scanner convinced executives that it was worth ten times its true value. Then, in 2539, a jump was discovered from Nivelin to Gurzil, placing it in the middle of the brewing Human-Xi’an cold war. The government quickly restricted access to the system and renamed it Hadrian. The loss of civilian access to the system noticeably reduced traffic to MacEwan Station.
By 2542, many of the company’s mines within Pyro had become significantly depleted, and aggressive attempts to find significant deposits elsewhere were unsuccessful. The loss of traffic to MacEwan station also meant that the station’s operational costs exceeded what Pyrotechnic Amalgamated made in the system that year. The company attempted to sell the station to the government, pitching it as the perfect resupply hub for Hadrian, but failed to secure a deal.
Pyrotechnic Amalgamated spent the 2550s shrinking its workforce, reducing its areas of operation, and liquidating assets to stay afloat. Following the First Tevarin war, as shield tech advancements from the Tevarin made their way to civilian ships, there was a glimmer of hope that the company could leverage the tech to access and mine parts of the system that were previously too dangerous. Yet, the new shield tech also meant outlaws could more easily survive and thrive within the system. Having drastically reduced its security forces as a cost-saving measure, Pyrotechnic Amalgamated ships found themselves under constant attack, which made exploiting those meager and hard to reach resources not worth the cost. In its desperate last days, the company stripped anything of value from MacEwan Station and abandoned its operations there, leaving the station in ruins; the name Ruin Station was bestowed upon it by outlaws and squatters. In 2563, the company finally declared bankruptcy, but would not be forgotten thanks to the discovery of the system that shares its name.