Chapter 2: The Laeril Commission
“Considering your current position, Mr. Herrek, I think this is a splendid opportunity for you and your company. Now that the Rynans have invaded Free Association space, I understand that many of the current contracts you have for ships under construction in your shipyard are being cancelled without compensation.”
It was true. With the coming of the Rynans, people were hoarding their money, and assets like ships were nothing but a liability now... targets for the Rynans or the Association looking to requisition ships for their own use. Looking through the glass window into the dark shipyard area below the office, Councilor ren Jerroll knew that the Letarri had a good bargaining position for several ships in the midst of construction.
The company representative's lips pursed, but he made no reply at first. Finally, he nodded. “The company is in a position to listen to your offer. However, we are looking for a fair deal, as always. We have already received offers from the government for these ships...”
ren Jerroll smiled. “I am certain that those offers are a pittance compared to what those ships are really worth. On the other hand, I am willing to cover the remaining amounts still outstanding on the contracts on ships that we need, so long as I am able to take possession of the ships once the ships are complete, and that they are completed to my specifications.”
The rep blinked. “Let me get this straight... you want to take over the contracts and the remaining fees outstanding?” he asked.
ren Jerroll nodded. It did seem like a deal too good to be true. He was sure the representative was wondering who would throw away such a large sum of money on ships now? But where these ships were going, all the money on Teratha meant nothing, and ships weren't the liability they were in Free Association space...
The rep stood up. “I don't see any problem with this arrangement, Mr. ren Jerroll. Did you have particular ships that you were interested in?”
* * *
The ship in question was a medium-sized trade hauler, nearing completion. Of all the ships in the shipyard, this one, Engineer Danir Alavaji thought, was the most promising for the vanguard ship. Standing in the vast cargo bay, which stretched from nearly one end of the ship to the other, he nodded as he thought of the changes that would be needed.
The company representative was still talking. “... large cargo hold was meant for inter-region hauling. The original contractor was looking for something that could carry huge cargoes long distances... I believe he was in food supplies and sundries, as it were. Hence the lack of any particular shielding around the hold. Cargo comes in through the cargo elevator which rises to the shuttle bay. Back of this level is reserved for the engines and several engineering rooms.”
“I am curious,” Alavaji asked, “About the upper levels. Normally, on a ship carrying cargo, you often see a ship that's merely a cargo hold with engines attached.”
The rep nodded and chuckled. “True. The contractor was actually taking his own cargo hauling crew with him. Had a few incidents out by Polspri a few years ago, you know the story... cargo gets unloaded, and four of twenty crates walked off by themselves. In those regions, the security doesn't watch too closely unless you pay them to get interested, if you know what I mean.” The rep looked up at the ceiling of the cargo hold. “I guess the guy decided it would be cheaper to pay his own crew than trust the local authorities, and I don't blame him. He was bringing them along in another vessel alongside the hauler, but I figured that his business got on well enough that he decided to build a hauler that could haul both cargo and handlers with it.”
Alavaji chuckled. “Let me guess... this trader is from Pelonnes...”
The rep laughed. “Yeah, was it that obvious? It's the kind of hard-headed thinking that made Pelonnes what it is today...” He quieted for a moment, thinking perhaps of the planet's fate with the Rynans on the way. “Well, anyway... what do you think?”
Alavaji nodded. “We're going to need to make some adjustments for this cargo hold, but it's nothing that can't be completed by our deadline. I'll have the preliminary plans for this section sent over to your office. Let's head to the upper decks and see what's there, shall we?”
* * *
“I've finished reviewing the ships available, sir, and I think we've found our vanguard ship.” Alavaji went over the specifications of the ship and the engineering changes required.
“How did the shipyard take the preliminary changes you sent them?”
Alavaji chuckled softly. “I think they were preparing for worse. To be honest, sir, I was expecting worse. The whole thing was complete laeril for us. Serendipitious, as the shipyard rep said. It helped that the ship was made for carrying a large crew, and the cargo hold's size gives us the space to make the changes we need. There's no other ship that even comes close to our needs.”
“Any unexpected problems?”
Alavaji paused. “Well, there are a few issues with the increase in power needs for the central computer and the data archives area. I have a few engineers working on the problem, and I am confident that they'll come up with a working solution. I've told the shipyard that they can expect further changes because of it. Other than that, there are no big looming issues with this ship. It should fit our needs nicely.”
“Fine, then. I'll authorize those changes to the ship. And thank you for your hard work, Danir. Pel koloro.”
“Thank you, Councilor. Pel koloro.”