A Captain's Business is never done
was seated in the
main control room sending the double encrypted message with the
location of the Data Crystals as well as the frozen sample case.
The message had taken him quite a while to encrypt as he was using not
only the highest Hidden encryption which meant complicated and time
consuming to code but once they decode that all they would be able to
read was the message ‘Guiding Light Comp Code’ which would tell him
which code to use to decode the internal message. Maybe he had
been a touch paranoid to take the added precaution of encrypting the
actual content of the message with a second code just in case someone
had cracked the ‘Hidden’s Code’ however unlikely that was but as Uncle
Dayfad had taught him better safe than sorry and it ain‘t paranoia if
they really are out to get ya and he had long since won the argument
with the Hidden’s Mind Healers about his paranoia, they finally
admitted having his entire family murdered by bio-warfare had him the
right to that touch of paranoia in his psyche.
The internal message was made using the encryption all Guiding Light’s Comps used when fighting so his Uncle should have no problem decrypting it as it was basically the equivalent of the a Family code as only a Crew member of Guiding Light knew it and it changed regularly. The Hives might be the equivalent of a killer bee hive and slow to learn and progress but it didn’t mean they couldn’t learn things when demonstration models were handed to them on a plate like what happened during the original encounter with the Hives and Survey lost those ships. At first the Hives concentrated on the Warp Arrays and engines but by the time the Prophet blew the Junction trapping the Legion of Ships in Sol under siege they had cracked the Human Comm. System and wrecked havoc. That was when all their Comm. Systems became completely encrypted and the code changed regularly it was also another reason their ships had the self destruct they didn‘t want the new equipment falling into the Hives hands to examine, the Hives were idiots they had been in space for Millennia but never got outside their Corridor until Humanity gifted them the Warp Tech during the first deadly encounter.
During that first Hive War the CTC had dismantled enough Hive ships to realise that the Hives didn’t create their Tech it was all stolen and never deviated from the stolen originals only changing it for something new when they stole something new. That was when Humanity realised they were parasites in more than one way. Dismantling those ships had also told them another sad story that ship design wasn’t designed for Hive comfort which implied it had been stolen from the race who created it. Since the Hives didn’t have Warp Tech only Power Tech when they encountered Humanity it had been postulated that that a long destroyed Race had the unfortunate luck to have been from the same Corridor as the Hives although probably born in a different Solar System, that unknown Race had probably been exploring their Corridor having just discovered Power Tech and the Transit gates and encountered the Hives on one of the planets in their Corridor, the Hives had stolen their Power Tech and swarmed out into the Corridor quickly destroying that neophyte Space Race by using them as incubators just as the Hives attempted to destroy Humanity in the same fashion when they encountered them.
The Comm. Problem was solved by the full encryption of the code itself as the Hives weren‘t smart enough to break a code before it was changed. Everything was Encrypted for that reason. Course that didn’t explain why each Ship had a different internal code, that could be blamed on the Dark Times when every Ship was for themselves and even the Ship Clusters tended to be a little cutthroat in their politics within the Ship Cluster only showing a solid front against the other Ship Clusters. The whole Legion of Ships was set up that way first the internal Ship code unique to each Ship, then another encryption known only by the Ships in a Citadel Ship Cluster that code was used to co-ordinate the Cluster when fighting as a unit. All the different Ship Clusters in the Confederacy had this setup, individual ship code then Ship Cluster code for use within their own Citadel Cluster when fighting in formation. The big Citadels in turn had another Encryption Code for use only between Citadels to synchronise the whole Legion of Ships when fighting as a whole.
Once the double encrypted message was sent Vin sat back and relaxed slightly before logging on to the Lanthorn Mail Server and collecting his Ghost mail. The first was a message from his Uncle Dayfad written in big letters saying contact him immediately, the second was a link to the Candela server to retrieve the Crystal Dawn Blueprints, happy about that he inserted the Crystal he had made to retrieve it the night before and set it to download. While that was happening he sat back and inserted his Mail Crystal from Four Corners Comp-Office into the Barge reader and started writing another email and attaching a copy of the letter from Granny Maybourne off the Mail Crystal and getting it ready to send up to his Uncle.
While he was waiting for the Crystal Dawn Blueprints to finish its download he re-read Granny’s letter so he had it fresh in his mind about the points he needed to bring up with his Uncle about it. The Federation politics buried in it was enlightening, from the sound of it the Federation had another moral hick-up amongst the instigators of the coming exile, last the Hidden had heard all the Orphans in Allcon unless proven both ’Pure’ and financial enough not to be a drain on the new Federated Empire’s financial coffers until they were of age were to be amongst the Exiles listed as undesirable, that was what the whole Orphan Ships thing was about. From what Granny wrote about the Fed’s sudden reorganisation and funding for the Orphanages on MesaTex these last few months someone must have had qualms about wholesale exiling the ‘pure’ human children to the Independents along with the Genetically corrupted. Vin frowned realising that in hindsight they probably should have expected something like this happening the longer it took the Fed‘s to implement their plan, the original timetable was for the Junctions to be blown only a few years after the surrender but one thing lead to another including Dis-Pater’s native planet and animal life throwing the Medical researchers for a loop with the regenerative properties of Senata, so delay after delay had set in trouble being attitudes change over time, the original decision to empty all the Allcon Orphanages willy nilly had come about because the penny-credit pinchers amongst the Fed’s didn’t want to continue paying for Allcon’s massive roster of Orphans, mainly because a heck of a lot of them were the children of dead Allcon Soldiers or victims of Federation actions during the War.
Vin snorted, if he had to guess, he say it sounded like some Federation bleeding heart in their Congress finally pointed out that even the youngest of the War Orphans was almost raised by now and it was morally wrong to throw the ‘Pure’ even ‘Allcon Pure’ in with the ‘Genetically Corrupted’ besides doing so would mean those pure human children wouldn’t be able to repay their debt to those who paid for their keep up to now or hadn’t they realised the War was long over and even the youngest of the War Orphans were approaching adult hood and soon able to enter the workforce and start paying Taxes.
However it came about the end result was making cracks in their secrecy if a old couple like Granny and her husband could find out the gist of their plans and start making her own based on it. The Maybourne‘s small private orphanage had been run on private contributions up to now but the Federation moved in on them when they had a lot of Financial problems after Preacher Maybourne died leaving only Preacher’s elderly parents left to run the place and seeing they were in their nineties they’d not only been having trouble keeping up with the kids but keeping the money coming in. Which wasn‘t surprising Granny Maybourne was a kind but cantankerous old woman her husband, old man Maybourne might be a good handy man but little else as he let his wife and son run his life. Their son Thaddeus or ‘Preacher’ as he was called was a charismatic man, a real bible thumper and strict but kind hearted nether-the-less in a distant kind of way to the orphans his parents raised, old man Maybourne had always told the kids not to mind the way Thaddeus kept his distance he had always been odd man out amongst the orphans they look in when he was a kid and having to fight the other kids for his own parents attention took it’s toll on the boy growing up. Even with the lingering resentment they had raised their kid to be a good man as he made sure his parents got regular money for the home, his death two T-years ago must have hit the place hard because while Preacher and his wife hadn’t much to do with the day-to-day running of the Maybourne Orphan Home as it was called ‘Preacher’ and his rich Allcon bride could pull finance out of his butt whenever his parents Orphanage needed the extra Credits.
According to he letter Granny and Grandpa Maybourne had finally been forced to sell the Orphanage to the Federation as it was getting harder and harder to keep food on the table with Preacher dead especially when their widowed daughter-in-law wasn’t about to continue her husbands foolish financing of his parents charity. The fact she had recently gotten remarried and moved away hadn‘t helped either as Granny couldn‘t shame her into giving them money any longer either. The old couple had been happy with the deal they made with the Federation to save the children’s home even though they weren‘t in control they were allowed to stay on until things settled down and the children got use to the new caregivers. Granny’s letter said they finally got suspicious when the Federation informed them they intended to reshuffle the children into other Orphanages giving them some lame malarkey about restructuring and lack of space, they had already marked the files of the children they were sending elsewhere namely the ten kids listed in the letter, claiming it was for redistribution to other Orphanages to spread the load.
Granny Maybourne’s wasn’t anyone’s fool the Orphanage was expanding with a bigger building being built, there was absolutely no reason to send kids elsewhere or need to spread the load and she knew it. She had also been smart enough to notice a decidedly unpleasant pattern concerning the staff’s attitude to the children scheduled to be shipped out and wanted answers. In the end she had her husband sneak in to take a look at the records and look for any correspondence the new manager of the place had in the office to find out the truth of what was happening to her children. According to a memo the old man found the children were to be divided into pure and corrupted and the corrupted to be sent off. The break up was by the colours of the Medi-Pendent, if a child had white, yellow, blue or green they were considered genetically pure and staying on MesaTex, but if any child had a purple, red, orange or black medi-pendent they were to be placed on the transfer list and scheduled to be sent elsewhere.
Granny had not been impressed after hearing the contents of that memo, she didn’t know why red and orange were considered corrupted but she did know purple meant the child had ESM as they had care of such a child long ago unfortunately the child had to be sent for specialised care, her experience with Vin had shown her a black medi-pendent meant Wild CLR so probably Ghost Legion. Knowing she could not do anything to help the children considered pure as they were staying and thankfully from the look of the upgrades to the Orphanage would get good care so she decided to devote her and her husbands time to saving the ten so called corrupted children listed to be sent off to God knew where. Knowing Vin as a Ghost wouldn’t care if they were considered corrupted she had decided to take him up on the offer of help setting up a new Orphanage on Dis-Pater, to that end they had followed his advice and used the money the Fed’s had given them for the sale of the Orphanage to purchase three female and one male Blue-Buffalo embryo and a single second hand animal gestation bank to bring them to term when they arrive on Dis-Pater, they would at least supply the children with milk and other dairy products eventually. The rest of the money which wasn’t very much had gone on second hand clothing as she was taking Vin‘s warning about the drastic seasons to heart. The only thing they had left to do was find the finance to purchase transport to Dis-Pater for the elderly couple and the ten children and their few belongings, she knew they would be practically destitute on arrival but it was better that then let the Federation do whatever they intended to the children.
She concluded the letter telling him they would send another letter when they had a definite departure date.
Sighing Vin frowned when he had originally read the letter he had realised he had a lot of work ahead of him finding suitable land to file on for the Orphanage and getting housing ready for the old couple and the kids, he’s also realised he had to see about getting Winter food stores for them as well with Winter closing in they would probably need it. He also doubted the Federation paid the old couple much for the Orphanage and getting twelve people and their belongings to Dis-Pater would take most of it. Granny saying they would be practically destitute when they arrived also had him worried the Orphanage had some hard times when he was growing up but Granny had never called them poor before. At least setting up the Orphanage might be something he could trust Josiah to help with as it was a charitable venture and hopefully wouldn’t clash with his Psi conditioning.
Quickly he began putting together a report on all his speculation on the information hidden in the letter.
He had just finished and was about to make some decisions about transport for the Maybourne’s when he was interrupted by ding of the download finishing so he saved the report then reached over and removed the big Crystal with the Crystal Dawn redesign from the socket and carefully put it away then called up Candela and asking them to track down his Uncle for him. It took a while but the call was finally transferred to the CEO of Candela‘s private office a harsh screech before the transmission resettled told him the connection was now scrambled so it was free to talk.
“Kevin I take it you found the messages in your mail box?” he said dryly.
“Yep, but that ain’t why I’s contacting ya, I‘s just dealing with that first seeing ya don’t often put in a notice like that it must be important. Before we start on whatever ya need to contact me about I got something for you as well, the Maybourne’s sent me a letter and it’s pretty unsettling and has stuff in it ya need for ya other Job.” he said hinting at him being the Master of the Hidden. “I’s transferring a copy of the letter they sent an my report on what I think it all means to ya Lanthorn security mail box now!” he stated pressing send on the email and attachment he already had set up.
Frowning Dayfad nodded, “I’ll read it when we finish Ship business.”
“What’s up?” frowned Vin worried.
“I have some personal news for you about one of your past relationships,” he said dryly. “Congratulations it’s a girl!”
Vin paled, “Charlotte Richmond had a baby!” he demanded jumping to the most horrific of the possibilities he had been dreading.
“No, you will be relieved to know that woman did not give birth, she did have enough sense it seems and made sure her little game of making her husband jealous did not have such a glitch. No, I am afraid your little gift is from an older indiscretion of yours. I am sending you Data copies of Official Documents from the MesaTex archives. I believe it will say it all.” he said with a smirk.
Vin frowned getting straight into his mail finding a copy of Birth Certificate Data. A baby girl named Rowena Leah Caelian-Roth - mother Maeve Caelian, father Unknown, according to the certificate the little girl was somewhere between two and two and a half Terran years old, to be more exact he’d have to work out the difference between the MesaTex and Dis-Pater Terran year calendar. Vin winced even without the calculations he had a good idea of when that little girl was conceived.
He moved onto the next document which turned out to be a copy of the death certificates of Maeve and Alonzo Roth dated about a MesaTex year ago. Frowning even harder he moved on getting worried, the next was a copy of a the little girls Medi-pendent data, little Rowena had a Black Medi-pendent and her CLR was recorded as CLR 19. Vin winced, that with the baby’s age made it pretty obvious he was the little girls Pa if he‘d had any doubts.
He moved onto the next Data letter which was from the family lawyer settling Maeve and Alonzo’s estate. It stated that the child Rowena was not a Roth as a CLR test showed she was a CLR 19 so the Roth family were fighting Alonzo’s will that left her a equal share of Alonzo’s estate with any of Alonzo’s blood children, the lawyer went on to state he didn’t think they’d win that battle as while Alonzo knew she wasn‘t his, he never legally adopted the child or stated for the record in the will or anywhere else that fact so the Roth family were claiming he didn’t know, this meant Rowena would not inherit any of the Roth money and it would instead of being divided three ways would only be divided two ways between the other two children of the marriage who were Alonzo Roth‘s blood children, they were also fighting the child sharing in Maeve‘s Dowry on the grounds it was part of the marriage settlement and the child was illegitimate and an affront to the marriage it was part of. The solicitor still had hopes of fighting on that front as the Dowry was from the Caelian family and the child was a Caelian Heir through her Mother even if illegitimate, it all depended on if the Judge who saw the case was Federation or Allcon born as Allcon born Judges were more forgiving where the rights and maintenance of illegitimate children were concerned. The letter went on to state that the good news was the Roth family were not fighting for custody of the illegitimate child, so Rowena’s custody had already been settled and she was now legally under Ambrose Caelian‘s Guardianship. Unfortunately the final custody of Michael Daffyd the five year old son of Maeve and Alonzo and the as yet unnamed baby girl transferred to a Gestation bank the night Maeve died was still in dispute between the Caelian and Roth families.
Vin was flabbergasted he had a daughter, Uncle Dayfad must be ecstatic not knowing whether to congratulate him and jump for joy at having a Tanner Heir even it she was illegitimate or drag him over his knee and spank for not taking better care. Although he could truthfully blame the pregnancy on Maeve, she knew damn well how to prevent that seeing she was the one who gave him his sex education talk in all it’s glory including how a woman with a Comp-net could keep track of her fertile period to stop that happening or happening for that matter. Vin to this day wasn’t sure how he ended up in her and Alonzo’s bed that month except it started out with Maeve bringing out a dusty bottle of her Pa’s lethal Honey Mead and it was some sort of celebration concerning Alonzo finishing his schooling but it sure had been exhausting with them double teaming him that night not to mention educational as Vin proved once and for all he was a Cross-Shield and more than a little leaning towards the male side of things which amused Maeve no end.
Vin snorted, Maeve was one crazy woman who was pretty much a force of nature personality wise and Alonzo wasn’t much better, they had been a perfect match for each other for all it had been an arranged marriage and little Michael had been real sweet and not much trouble at all to look after when his parents had been working. He had known from the start what he was getting into by not heading for the hills in his Carrier when he woke up the next morning hung over from the mead and his arse telling him in no uncertain terms he’d lost his Shield Virginity the night before. He blamed that on Maeve as well as she honey talked him into staying put and trying it sober, that month had been fun and Alonzo had obviously enjoyed himself as well although given little Rowena’s existence maybe Vin had been left a little out of the loop on what they were really up to. Given how close they were she and Alonzo had to have planned the creation of Rowena or it wouldn’t have happened. Vin snorted who was he kidding given how forceful those two were and the hints they’d been making about keeping him, he had no doubt that if the Eli-Joe thing hadn’t happened Vin probably would have been casually told about the baby and half seduced, half bullied into becoming their permanent third which was probably Maeve’s master plan and the reason she let herself conceive and Alonzo hadn’t been objecting at all to the addition of Vin to their bed either as he‘d been agreeing to the idea of keeping Vin all that month. He should have seen it coming, Maeve was always a little possessive of what she considered hers and she had lumped Vin in the being hers category from the start.
One good thing Vin finally had a child to shut up the idiots about the bloodline continuing without resorting to the Armageddon banks. Of course she wouldn’t be the legal Heir as he never even handfasted her Ma and wouldn’t even be in the running for the Captaincy unless Vin died without legal heirs which was unlikely given how close he and Ezra were to the second stage of the bonding and the creation of embryonic Heirs for both Ships. Hell she had a long way yet to being even considered a Tanner as she wouldn’t even be registered as his daughter and get a heart switch without her DNA being tested, although he had no doubt she would pass the DNA test with flying colours, the timing was just too close given that month he spent as a the Maeve-Alonzo sandwich filling just before the whole Eli-Joe frame up happened, her CLR level was proof enough for Vin.
“My name ain’t on the certificate so she’s one of the Caelian Heirs even if not one of the two main ones as Maeve‘s legal kids come first, old Ambrose ain’t gonna give up his Grand-daughter to me no matter how much I’s wanting her, best he‘ll give me is visiting rights.” sighed Vin.
“It would only take a DNA test to prove she’s yours but you are right I believe he will fight you for custody given the fact he almost bankrupted himself getting custody of the other two children from the Roth family, even then he only managed it because Alonzo Roth had three older brothers with children of their own putting the Caelian-Roth children very low on the Roth inheritance tree. From what my agents say he dotes on all three children thankfully as a Jeweller the Crystal resonance Ghost children give off isn’t a problem but undoubtedly her Psi has already manifested especially if she was bonded to her parents when they died.“
“They were both the low end of Average Low range for scanning and in the nil range for TK,” mused Vin. “So probably not a full parent bonding or death voids but she could still have been effected by their deaths, her Ma‘s side of the Psi inheritance will have cut it down to something manageable as their ain‘t ever been a Battle Psicon/Average Low child born higher than Psicon Low so little Rowena will probably be pretty much average for a Ghost Child.”
“That is still incredibly high compared to even the Highest Psion level, Kevin!” objected Dayfad O’Neill. “A Psicon baby is a handful without the proper Parent bond especially with Crystal around to trigger poltergeist activity, not to mention lack of a bond is almost guaranteed to create the Warrior Mindset due to the lack of comfort and mental safety such a child needs.“
Vin winced no sane parent really wanted their child to be stressed enough for their mind to form into the Warrior mindset, thankfully she was still young enough so even if it had started forming there was a chance of stopping the process in it‘s tracks with a parent bond. That is if it was forming, he thought thinking on what he knew of the rest of the Caelian‘s family. “There is a chance we’s wrong, old Ambrose Caelian has a higher Psi rating than Maeve who took after her Ma in her Psi and he has always been pretty hands on with his grandkids so even if she weren‘t bonded to her parents ‘em being so Low, little Rowena might have bonded to him, iften that happened their wouldn’t have been a need for the mindset to start forming for her mental protection. Trouble is if old Ambrose is bonded to her with the Psi Parent bond it would stop me taking her from him while she’s so young, that type of bond don’t fray until puberty is well set in. I ain‘t too worried about poltergeist activity from her either, old Ambrose is a Master Jeweller not a Crystal Cutter so the only Crystal in his shop and home are too low grade for her Psi to hijack for such activity, ain‘t as if she‘s on a Ghost ship surrounded by the stuff so even with her in the terrible two‘s the TK stuff shouldn’t be causing much of a problem as a Psicon Low it would plum tucker her out right quick without the Crystal to give her the Psi boost.” he said ruefully knowing Crystal could be the bane of a Psicon parents existence when a baby’s mind started exploring it’s surroundings, as a baby he had been a notorious poltergeist even without the Crystal boost but then he was a Psicon High which was a whole different level of TK. His Grandpa use to tell him amusing bedtime stories of how much destruction his High TK level caused them as a baby whenever he hijacked the Crystal and even without the Crystal boost he had been well able to retrieve his teddy bear if he dropped it, a problem they had to keep an eye on when out in public as that kind of activity would have attracted the Guild‘s attention right quick.
“All that can be ascertained at a later date, Kevin!“ his Uncle decided. “Then we can decide custody and visiting rights depending on what we find. The most important problems facing her existence is first security due to the Sith Faction amongst our people and second as a Ghost she is bound to be on the top of the Exile list especially as her CLR level is on her medical records, so we best get her off MesaTex and safely into the Independents as soon as possible certainly long before the Federation has their purge scheduled.”
Vin nodded agreeing with that wholeheartedly, “Maeve had a Red Medi-pendent but Alonzo had a white so the LMM had to come from the Caelian which means the other two kids are probably on the list as well just not as high up as Rowena, even Ambrose is probably on it iften Maeve got that Red from him. One good thing old Ambrose Caelian can be reasonable for the most part but he can get mighty stubborn where family is concerned, don’t let him think we’s a threat or he’ll reach for a weapon, he‘s the one taught me the knife.” he said with a smirk making his Uncle snort because as a teenager Vin had shocked more than one of his weapon instructors with his Knife fighting skills the boy had only to learn the difference between fighting with a bladed weapon and Reaper.
“He has a telltale for when he’s reached that stage he starts slipping into Welsh and cussing up a storm so tell whoever ya send to speak to him to keep an eye on his hands iften he goes all Welsh on ‘em. We best not beat about the bush and come out and tell him straight about the purge headed his way and what it means to him and Maeve’s kids, then arrange to shift him and the three kids lock stock and barrel to Dis-Pater, move his shop contents as well otherwise he’ll be even less co-operative. I’s willing to use my MesaTex money to pay for the move and set him up on Dis-Pater. Iften he gets too stubborn kidnap ‘em and shift ‘em anyway I‘ll deal with his temper once they‘s here.” he said with hard look. “I take it you already have a guard keeping ’em safe?”
“Of course,” Dayfad said dryly, surprised he needed to even ask. “Your replacement in Texas Corridor is on guard duty until I can get a more permanent guard there, she is your only Heir at the moment, so a prime target for the Sith as you said when they find out about her. I’ll make sure they are shifted soon even if we have to resort to kidnap as you suggested. Given what my agents have found out about the man’s finances due to the legal battle with the Roth family for the other two children you will have to pay for the move and accommodation although given his status as a Master Jeweller a shop in Purgatorio should thrive and his MesaTex real estate assets should be easy to sell as the Federations game isn’t yet public knowledge. Hopefully it won’t come to us resorting to kidnapping and the man sees reason so such things can be set in motion.”
“Good luck with that he’s a stubborn old cuss, I suggest ya drag Granny Maybourne into the discussion iften ya have to for backing up the story about the purge coming, you’ll see in the letter that she and her husband have a good idea what the Fed’s are up too, so having her on hand might keep the old man calm and listening.” Vin frowned making another decision. “If we’s shifting the Caelian household including the shop stuff we may as well transport the Maybourne’s and the Orphans here while we’s at it. I‘ll pay for both out of my MesaTex money, have ‘em get me five hundred Blue-Buff embryos with a good gene selection and a couple of animal gestation banks while there as well, even adding that to the bill it shouldn’t cost me more than two thousand Fed Credits for it all.”
“Noted! The next problem, where are you going to put all these people when they arrive on Dis-Pater?” asked Dayfad archly.
Vin sighed, “Old Ambrose won’t come near Four Corner even iften I had the accommodation, plus the place ain’t big enough for two Master Jewellers setting up here even if the town wasn‘t burnt to the ground, so as ya said he’s gonna have to be set up in the Port. The Maybourne’s I intended to get ‘em a Homestead for the Orphanage and use a couple of the Crystal Dawn Barges for the buildings but they won’t be freed up for months yet, so we need to put ‘em elsewhere for the moment maybe even over Winter and set the Orphanage up in Spring when we ain‘t fighting constant rain and snow or working our guts out elsewhere.” he mused.
“I agree, you are much to busy trying to save that town to add building a Orphanage to your problems.“ Dayfad said thoughtfully. “I have an idea for a place to put the Maybourne’s until the Orphanage is ready for occupation, plus if we use it Crystallum can deduct the rental from their Corporate tax as a charity donation. That would just leave Ambrose Caelian and the three children to find accommodation for.”
“What ya have in mind?” asked Vin raising an eyebrow.
“One of the Penthouse Apartments in the Crystallum Port Chamber in Purgatorio. As you know the Port Chamber itself still has a long way to go before it is habitable as we have been concentrating on rewiring, insulation and installing the interior walls before adding any fittings, we had intended on starting on the shopping mall section of the Chamber as the Port is complaining about the transport tunnels still being sealed months after we drained the Chamber. Our present plan is to rent the apartments this Winter to regroup some of the Credits we are spending so we are using old ship fittings from the dumps for the kitchen and bathrooms to make as many of them liveable before Winter arrives. Come Spring we intend to rip those ship fittings out and refit it all as luxury apartments and then sell them for an obscene profit. We should be able to get one of the massive eight bedroom penthouse apartments ready in a month using the ship fittings and standard plumbing and other fittings from a general building supply warehouse.
Vin nodded remembering that had been his idea to regroup some of the money Crystallum spent draining and stripping out the water logged walls and fittings from the flooded Port Chamber then rebuilding them from the rock wall out. Come Winter Port rental prices would skyrocket and luxury wouldn’t matter so much when people flooded to the Port looking for a place to hold up in for the nine month Winter. His Uncle had been sending him reports on the progress on rebuilding the flooded Port Chamber they got with the Crystallum Squatter Claim and those reports made him curious about the slow progress so he’d gone and looked it over dragging Ezra to the Chamber construction site much to his disgust and had a long talk to the project manager about the delays when he was in Port during the Ellsworth Inquest. The main hold up on doing the luxury apartments in time for Winter was the cost of the fittings they needed to get the prices they wanted when the apartments went up for sale, after looking it over he had ordered them to use the Ship fittings from a dump and just rent this Winter and leave the luxury fit out for after Winter by that time he thought the Tile Factory should be able to supply the tiles and Bucklin should be making the Geode bathroom fittings both of which would be perfect for the luxury apartments and make sure they garnered the money they wanted when they went up for sale.
“Sounds good we can list the rental as a Charity donation as ya said, leave the master level to the Caelian’s the two master suites up there should be roomy enough for him and the three kids and they’ll probably be bringing their own furniture so leave ‘em empty, we’ll shift ‘em into a smaller apartment later when the fit out won‘t be so rushed, that will leave the six bedrooms on the level below the Caelian’s for the Maybourne’s and the Orphans, doubt they’s bringing furniture so buy a adult bed for the Maybourne’s and place it in one of the bedrooms on that floor and fill the other three with spacer double bunks for the kids, two of the double bunk in each of the three rooms, ‘em rooms are big enough to hold four kids a piece in comfort and while the Maybourne’s are gonna start out with only ten kids, knowing Granny she’ll probably be picking up stays before Spring so best we have the bunks ready for that from the start. Want me to pay for the Maybourne furniture or add it to the deduction from the Tax bill for Crystallum?” he asked with a questioning look.
“Crystallum can cover the costs, it really does need the charity deduction and we can pick up the space bunks at any auction fairly cheap.” Dayfad said dryly. “Come to think of it Wildfire also needs some deductions so I’ll have Wildfire swallow the transport for the Maybourne‘s, which will just leave you the cost of the Caelian’s transport and the purchase of the Blue-Buffalo herd and gestation banks you want.”
“Move Ambrose and the three Caelian kids into one of the five bedroom apartments when one becomes ready for rental, when it goes up for sale after the luxury fit out I’ll deed it to Rowena, old Ambrose won’t take charity but iften we do it that way he’ll end up accepting it as he‘s Allcon so will treat it like me, as her Pa gifting her a home as part of her dowry for when she‘s grown. That way he can use his own money to set up his business again, which reminds me make sure to salvage the other two kids ‘Roth’ inheritance when we shift ‘em we don’t want ‘em losing their money when the Junctions close either.” Vin said thoughtfully.
“I’ll have our agents see to that as well!” he said making a note so he wouldn’t forget the Roth inheritance during the move. “While you own Crystallum it is as your Lanthorn persona while the Junction is still open it wouldn’t be wise to create a link between your Ghost identity and your non Ghost Lanthorn identity, it would be best if we can show your Ghost identity purchasing the apartment for your daughter’s ’Dowry’ as you called it from Crystallum.”
Vin winced, “As Kevin Tanner Ghost Born I don’t have the assets to buy one so it will have to look like some sort a trade unless I just hand over my MesaTex account to pay for it?”
Dayfad frowned, “I’d prefer you not too, Kevin! That is the only real money your Ghost identity is known to have, let me think?” he muttered skipping through Crystallum‘s work schedule looking for something Kevin’s Ghost identity could trade Crystallum an apartment for relaxing when he found something suitable. “Thankfully you are a qualified Guild Licensed Generator Tech now so we might be able to work something out, first off the Crystallum Port Chamber will need a new Warp Array before Winter the one we are using during the refit is on it’s last legs as it has a fairly burnt out Crystal which is why it was never salvaged when the Chamber originally flooded. As the Chamber will be public not Ghost the Array will have to meet Guild specifications for the Chamber to pass inspection. Our second need is for the Crystallum recycle plant on Deuce, it also needs a new Array so we can get it working again it will also have to pass an inspection as Crystallum isn’t listed as a Ghost Company. As you know Guild Warp Arrays aren‘t cheap especially as you will be supplying the Warp Crystal, we can easily have it on record as a straight Trade of two Guild certified Warp Arrays in exchange for the Apartment Dowry for your daughter.”
“Be a month before the big pieces of fixed Warp Crystal I’s got growing is finished filling the dust holes, ain’t really got anything but shards until then, I’ll start cutting the Warp for the two Guild Warp Arrays as soon as they finish, does mean I’s gonna have to get more Warp from the rip valley’s and start new Warp Crystal for Wildfire iften I’s using the Crystal I’s already fixing for Crystallum that will delay the Wildfire checks until the new Crystal is ready.”
“That’s fine Kevin, Wildfire isn’t a priority those checks can wait the three months, the delay will give me time to actually work out which Ship needs new Crystal and who just needs a Crystal check and the cutter number placed on Crystal to make them legal.”
Vin nodded thinking on the logistics of fixing more Warp, “I’ll build a separate Warp Shard Array just to keep the extra Crystal I‘s gonna put on to repair charged enough to grow, that way the Crystal work ain’t gonna drain my new Barge Array, I’s doing Data for Candela as well remember. Be better in the long run iften I set up an Array just for the Crystal work as that will let me have more being fixed at a time so the time spent building the second Array will be worth it.” he said thoughtfully. “While I think of it we‘s got a whole heap of Plasma dust on hand and while we’ll use a lot of it blowing dams soon we’s got a lot of plasma cutting ahead to fix the town so iften any of Tartarus Conglomerate has need of Plasma demolition bombs let us know we’s gonna have the makings running out of our ears by Winter.”
“I’ll let them know, Vulcan will definitely be interested they mainly do non Crystal mining so prefer Plasma demolitions when they need to blast so might want to stock up, Gaia as well they also often need dams blown.”
“Anything else before we move onto the Maybourne letter which I Haven’t even read yet but has wetted my curiosity?” asked Dayfad.
“Just a few things,” laughed Vin. “Don’t suppose the Crystallum claim scans were sensitive enough to register gold, iften we‘s gonna start a new generation of Matrix tech‘s to training this Winter they‘ll eventually be wanting their own Amp‘s?”
Dayfad frowned at that seeing the problem immediately, “Which brings us to the reason it has taken so long to send you gold for a new Amplifier, Lanthorn’s gold reserves are down as all our assets are tied up elsewhere. To answer your question no the Crystallum Claims don‘t have gold or anything but Crystal marked on the scans that came with the Crystallum Claim data work, which wasn‘t surprising the Federation isn’t interested in anything but Crystal when it scans a Crystal rich System for assets to auction off to the mining companies, so the Claim scans are crude as the Federation’s primitive mineral scanners are tuned only for Crystal resonance, not that gold in a Crystal rich system would be found by the other tunings either with those primitive pieces of junk they call scanners, as you know gold dust tends to de-matrix Crystal by shorting it out when it gets into a Crystal seam during the neophyte formation, turning it into a substance not quite quartz but not Crystal either even Shattered Crystal is closer to normal Crystal than Gold corrupted Crystal, it is why gold filaments are the conductors for Crystal tech not copper or the other normal conductive metals, unfortunately by destroying the Crystal matrix the Gold contaminated Crystal seams aren’t registered on the primitive Federation Crystal scanners yet they are Crystal enough to interfere with the equally primitive non Crystal tuning of the scanners which is why it needs Ghost Scanners to do a full scan of a Crystal System.”
“Which is a problem seeing we need to start thinking of upping the gold in the treasury to have it on hand for Amplifiers for the baby tech’s your thinking of dumping on me for training.” Vin said with a frown as he thought of a solution. “Can we build at least one Ghost Scanner and keep it hid long enough to do a true scan of the Crystallum Claims we got? I figure we‘s gonna need the making’s of the hull alloy anyway once we get the Citadel back and Wisp up and running.”
“Lemmos might object to that Kevin,” Dayfad said immediately. “Even on the Journey, the Mining Ship Cluster and the Manufacturing Ship Clusters did not like the fact the Patrol Cluster forged and manufactured the Hull Alloy it used for the Ship frames and Hull plates it will be even worse now that Lemmos is part of Tartarus Conglomerate they are already objecting to Crystallum’s re-cycle plant reopening under Lanthorn’s control.”
“The manufacturing ships can go hang with their complaints, they never did like mixing and moulding the Alloy claiming it was too costly and time consuming which is why Survey took back those forges and moulding equipment from ‘em way back in Sol, they was Survey property anyway as they had been part of the Ship Dock we moved from Alpha Centurai, letting ’em make the Alloy was costing the Ship building project time and money with the whingeing and excuses for the constant Alloy shortfall which in turn was making us fall behind the construction schedule for the escape from Sol. Lemmos I’ll grant ya might have a case with the Quorum they were always good at keeping up the base element ingots for the Alloy forges.” mused Vin thinking on a way to sooth Lemmos’ frazzled feelings seeing as they were part of Tartarus Conglomerate so should be shown some consideration as a Allied Ship in a business venture, he really hated inter Ship politics. “Separate the Re-cycle plant from Crystallum and set it up separate, then offer Lemmos the option of buying a half share in the new company it’s part of which will be supplying the raw material and ingots for the Alloy forge we‘s gonna build on Deuce.”
“I’ll work out the proposal and send the offer to Lemmos, that is quite devious Kevin; if they accept the complaints stop and we get operating capital, if they don‘t accept they lose their right to object as we offered them partnership.“ laughed Dayfad, the Quorum had no idea how devious and ruthless Kevin could be when he put his mind to it. “Which just leaves the Crystal Ceramic problem to solve? The Federation have informed us Wisp can not buy the seed stock and make ships, they will only let us repair ships that already exist and they will be shipping ready made Ceramic for the dock and the Federation tech‘s they supply will be adding the activating catalyst as it will remain under their control.” Dayfad said dryly.
“I take it Alchemy ain’t been able to legally get the seed stock and catalyst formula from the Fed’s either?” Vin said with a sigh he hadn’t expected them being able to get it the Fed’s kept tight hold and track of the Hull making seed stock even before the War it was kept for space craft only. “Confirms our fears about ‘em limiting our tech base after the Junctions close. I didn’t expect ‘em to give Wisp the right to make Ships either but it would a looked strange iften we didn’t enquire, okay go with the smaller repair only company when under Fed scrutiny which means they’s only gonna be shipping the ready made stuff only needing the catalyst to start hull repairs, not letting us make it ourselves as that would eventually let us make Ceramic Ships from scratch once the Junctions close. It really ain’t that much of a surprise they’s been keeping the ship moulds and Ceramic seed stock in Federation hands since they destroyed the Allcon Ship building infrastructure, pretty obvious they‘s intending Crystal Ceramic Hull to be another thing this side of the Junctions don‘t keep once the Junctions close. While it ain’t so pressing now we know Federation Fleet have been stealing ship tech including the Ceramic seed stock.” Vin continued even more seriously, “I don’t like being that dependent on Federation Fleet even iften they will end up neighbours and allies from the look of it, we don’t really know their policies or how they will form their new society once away from the Prophet teachings, we got to remember they were raised on those teachings so might have a lot of the same prejudices which might create a future clash between our two societies so I’d rather not let them come into the Independents with the Crystal Ceramic monopoly to hold over us.”
“Yes! I see what you mean that could cause problems down the track, I have no problems with them having the moulds as eventually we can reproduce that with trial and error creating our own ship moulds or even improving them when we get the Archives back, a monopoly on the Ceramic seed stock is another matter. I’ll have our agents follow through with the plan to steal the seed stock and catalyst formula from the Federation, the agents are already in place they may as well follow through with the plan as we originally intended if our legal attempts to obtain it through Alchemy or Wisp failed. That does bring up a potential security matter concerning Wisp, eventually the Federation Inspectors will be wondering about the expanded facilities on Deuce it is obviously designed for more than simple ship repairs we need an excuse for the expansion.”
Vin frowned, “It would have to be something small and non threatening which rules out a lot of things, the Deuce hangers can be for the small ships repairs the space dock for the larger Corridor Ships.”
“Deuce will be to big even for that explanation I’m afraid Kevin we need more?”
Frowning Vin gave it some thought his eyes falling on the dismantled scrap skiffs he could see through the control view port and was reminded of all the uses they were going to put them to as work horses on Dis-Pater which gave him a solution. “Have Wisp try to get a contract to assemble the modular mining skiffs in bulk for Dis-Pater use, at the moment they’s being shipped into the Independents dismantled as needed and only being sold to the Independent miners, make out Wisp is setting up a factory to put ‘em together and convert ‘em for use as ground transport on Dis-Pater, it wouldn’t be a bad business deal from what we‘s seen of the scrap skiffs, as they’s cheaper than the converted carts and life boats so a prosperous homestead might be able to afford one eventually even if they can’t afford a Tread Cart and they’s also much better than the horse drawn buckboards homesteads are using at the moment so I think the market will be there. Let ‘em snigger behind closed doors at us buying the contract for that purpose knowing that once the Junctions close and we lost the shipments of dismantled skiffs the business will collapse.”
Dayfad looked thoughtful, “If we can get such a contract it might work and the use of the skiffs as ground transport is also a sound idea if innovative and Dis-Pater will probably not be the only planet purchasing them from us once modified for such use. Once we have the Ceramic seed stock we can always attempt to make our own moulds for the skiffs after the Junctions are blown and the Federation will be none the wiser for the deception. The extra space will be explained by the need to add treads and rework the engine for ground use only and perhaps install that satellite navigation system you mentioned before.”
“We’ll have to work out how to enclose the drivers section iften they’s the same base design as on the scrap skiffs it’s a cut down cockpit with just crash frame around it, with Dis-Pater season’s it would be better off enclosed so it can be heated or cooled depending on the Season.” said Vin remembering the open frame of the scrap skiffs driver section.
“I’ll keep that in mind while working out what we need to do with the skiffs once they arrive if we go that route. Crystallum already has an order for five of them being processed, the previous owners sold or took with them anything usable before they abandoned the claim so we have to purchase such thing to get the mines working again. I’ll have Candela have a look at one when it arrives and see how viable such conversions would be before we commit Wisp to such an idea.” mused Dayfad making a note so he wouldn’t forget.
“What about the idea of making a Ghost Scanner and getting a real survey of the Claims done?” asked Vin bringing it back to the original idea.
“While creating a Ghost Scanner would be a resource guzzler we could make one if you are willing to supply the Crystal needed and before you commit to it Kevin that would mean sacrificing three of the pieces of Flawless Tint and three of the Basic Flawless from your amplifier which would cut down your immediate profit on that Crystal. That isn’t even the start of the resources such a scanner would need, a Ghost scanner unlike the primitive human corridor scanners uses a three beam scanning technique requiring three separate processors and three data shunts into a storage drive on the scanner itself. The Flawless Tints would be used as the processors and the Basic Flawless as the shunts, the storage would be normal First Grade Data which given your present Data rubble explosion shouldn’t be a problem even if we do have to wait for the repairs to be complete. Crystallum will also need a larger Archive system to store the completed scans in as the onboard Data hard-drive would only be for temporary storage as the scan is being done. That’s not all it would also need a high quality Warp Array to power it.” Dayfad warned seriously.
“Dam! Weren‘t expecting that much of my Flawless to be needed.” grumbled Vin, the rest of it was easy he could fix what was needed in a few months but that Flawless was another matter that took five years to stabilise. “We need the scanner, I can swallow the loss of the six pieces of Flawless for the time being, the Amplifier Crystal will be coming up on the Cart with Maude, I’s put it in the security box ya sent the gold down in so the pilot ain‘t tempted to take a piece. After the meeting Maude is headed to Frisco, we got a Federation death notice confirming Fredericka Standfishes death on the Evening Star and as they paid out the insurance we can pretty much use it as proof of her death, Maude’s headed here to settle her estate as doing anything else would be suspicious. Ya might want to think about sending the Ship Clusters Lawyer with her it’s gonna be a damn mess as Freddie inherited Terran Legacy from her Ma’s side and she was last of that bloodline Cluster and while I think Maude might be able to hold her own with Genesis, I don’t like her heading into potential Sith territory without backup, Cody‘s a Warrior so can play bodyguard as well as lawyer.”
“Quite right and it will give our Ship Cluster a chance to finish some of the details concerning Morrigan’s change of Cluster their old Cluster have been dragging their feet on, while Genesis has handed over the Morrigan Armageddon Bank to Guiding Lights Keeping as well as both Ship and Ship building Treasury as their new bankers there are some of the more obscure business details the Genesis Citadel was handling for their Ship Cluster that we are still waiting on, such as the details of Morrigan share in the Terra Forming, according to the records Morrigan had paid for three planets before Blenken decimated the Cluster and while they were unable to contribute afterwards those planets were paid for and are yet to be accounted for to Guiding Lights satisfaction.” mused Dayfad it was just one of many disquieting holes in the Morrigan Treasury account when it arrived from Genesis. Add in the problem with Fredericka Standfishes estate and share of the Terran Legacy told him Vin was wise to expect trouble, Genesis would be doing anything to keep that Legacy on their ship and in their Ship Cluster and with Fredericka being the last of the Bloodline through her mother and with two Genesis berths as part of that inheritance it was a very different situation than the Tanner’s and Standish faced trying to access the Armageddon Banks, the Tanners and Standish had surviving Heirs in the form of Kevin and Ezra stopping immediate access to the banks, with Fredericka dead her mother‘s bloodline became a lost bloodline and that made the Armageddon bank capable of being opened to save the bloodline and whoever got control of the children had control of the Terran Legacy.
“Make sure Cody knows he’s entering Sith territory and what he’s probably dealing with and to watch both his and Maude’s back the entire time.” Vin said seriously.
“I shall make sure both Cody and Maude Standish know the danger they are headed for.” the older man said seriously. “It might be an idea for Cody to take a couple of his Apprentices with him, I am sure he could use help as it is bound to be complicated and inter Ship estates can be quite educational for an apprentice.” he said thoughtfully.
Vin snorted, imagining the horror on Matilda Standfishes face when Cody Montague and his two baby lawyers, all three trained Ghost Warriors turned up acting as Morrigan’s lawyers and the Patrol Citadel‘s proxy to make sure her new Ship ain‘t robbed of what it‘s due.
“Anything else before we move onto discussing the Maybourne letter?” Dayfad said turning serious.
“Maybe, Maude and Abby will be living at the Port, me and Ez are suppose to find ‘em housing and knowing Maude she‘ll want something fancy for show.” Vin grimaced at that. “I ain‘t sure how much ready money they’s got but Ez has the Five thousand Fed Credit insurance for Freddie’s death on the Evening Star and when the tread cart we’s upgrading the Plasma systems for goes for sale there will be even more. Frankly Sir, I’d prefer ‘em to be in the Crystallum Chamber as we can secure it better, maybe we can let ‘em purchase an apartment at the lower price of a Dump Ship kit out and they can renovate it to luxury level themselves when they’s got the money, if not maybe we can let ‘em make a deposit and pay it off over a few years.”
His Uncle frowned, “I agree, better they be in a more secured area under our control, Purgatorio is not the safest place to begin with and with a past record of Sith attempting to destroy their Cluster it is better to be safe than sorry and let your Paranoia loose to lead you. I shall discuss your fears with Dowager Standish when she is up here and show her the blueprints, photos and artist renderings of what the apartments will be like eventually and see if she wishes to enter such a compromise, do not get your hopes up her reputation does precede her Nephew, she might not be willing to live in what is essentially temporary accommodation over Winter even with the added security it will offer they will not be luxurious merely functional until Spring?”
“Do the best ya can Uncle Dayfad, I’s knowing Maude ain‘t the easiest person to talk sense to. Play up the security angle and it might work seeing she‘s been living with her own paranoia since Standish Cluster were killed and now she‘s got Abby to think of.” deciding saying anything more on the subject was just repeating himself he moved on. “Now about the Maybourne letter, ain’t really much to it so ya can read it at ya leisure, the gist of it is they found out about the Federation purge plans and even managed to find out about the Federation using the colours of the Medi-pendants to work out who to exile. While on the surface it don’t seem much but on closer look when ya think about it shows a massive break in Fed security that is real worrying, iften a little old Allcon couple like the Maybourne’s could discover the plan how close is it to being blown wide open and panic setting in when the general public realises the Federation‘s plan to redo the exodus getting rid of what they consider undesirable?”
The older man paled and nodded, “I’ll take that thought under advisement when I read it Kevin, if the security was that slack it could be the forerunner of greater problems ahead as you said, if so we will need to have a contingency plan in place in case the Federations planned purge become public knowledge, riots and panic will be the least of the problems we face especially at first when it isn’t known exactly who the Federation consider undesirable or what they intend to do with them.
“On that thought I’s thinking we’s done for this comm. meeting Uncle Dayfad. I’s got dinner on and by my Battle-Net it’s time for me to go check the oven.” he said ruefully.
“Of course Kevin, it seems we finished all the work we need to discuss, expect the Cart to pick up Dowager Standish at noon, I’ll have lunch waiting for her when she arrives and we can get to know each other before we start discussing your and her son‘s bonding contract.” Dayfad said ever the gentlemen.
Vin gave him a disgruntled look, “Iften she ends up my Great Aunt as well as my Mother-in-Law I ain’t gonna be happy, Uncle Dayfad.”
Dayfad O’Neill just smirked and cut the connection leaving his nephew very unsettled.