So true, Cody, so true.
We will still try, of course.
But I will gove no guarantees regarding the below.
Gepo pressed the buzzer on the wall next to the door and wondered again what had been so important that Meddelfurt had to go to his room on the starbase rather than the Rose. After a few seconds waiting for a reaction he pressed it again.
"Yes?" a grumpy sounding Meddelfurt's voice rang out from the grid under the buzzer.
"Gepo here. You decent? I'm in need of a stiff drink, remember?"
"Ooh, Dredgie! Sorry, didn't expect you so soon. Come on in, I did promiss that drink, didn't I?"
Gepo shook his head and tried the door and was relieved to see it slide open. He stepped through, and nodded at the trader.
"You sorted yourself out?" he asked.
Gangrist nodded. "Yes, sorry about that. I forgot that there was this opportunity of a lifetime that i was going to go after, after I had warned you about her. Oh, that reminds me. Keep still."
The trader walked away to the back room and came back with a box with an aerial on it which he swept across Gepo's body.
"Good, you're clean. Can't trust GalCop, you know. They're sneaky."
"Huh?" Gepo pulled a face. "What? What's that?" He pointed at the aerial box.
"This? Oh, a snooper. I picked it up at a salvage outpost. Totally non GalCop technology so guaranteed to work on GalCop bugs. Can't be too careful nowadays. So, ready for that drink? I don't have the schnapps here but there is some Cexecan Liquor around. Not as nice, I grant you, but still potent enough to burn the paint of your ship. So what are your plans?" he asked as he walked to the backroom.
Gepo missed part of the question as he followed the box in the other trader's hand with his eyes. He had recognised the gadget alright, but he had problem placing it in the trader's posession, knowing that one of those would cost as much as a new Cobra Mk 1. Meddelfurt always had had an aura of wealth around him, always piloting the most expensive ships , eating and drinking the most expensive delicacies but even so. Nobody who would make his money trading would even consider getting one of those. There was no .....
Meddelfurt broke his train of thoughts when he returned with two glasses in his hand of which he handed one to Gepo.
"So?" Burpo asked again. "Plans?"
Twoggler took a sip and grimaced. "I don't know. it all depends on when I get my ship back .... IF I get her ever back."
"Can't make money with sitting around. And I can't trade without a ship. Every thing else is on hold for the moment."
He took another swig.
"Mind you, 5% of 17 million .... what is that, nearly 900.000? Enough to pay this one off and buy two new ones to boot!"
"But to get to that money I need a ship again."
"You think of going after it? But you don't know where this Captain ... Bell is? And besides, even if you find him, you do not seriously think that all you have to do is turn up, claim the extra cash and he is just going to give it? It IS a a tidy sum, even for me. But could he have that amount just lying about?"
"Just imagine all those vessels that they salvage and resell. Bell has the money alright and plenty more where that came from. And yes. He will just give it. He will have to. It offends the way the dredgers operate and their Dredger Code. "
"One thing I did learn when I worked for them was that their Code is everything to them. But it is all moot at the moment, without a ship."
Burpo cleared his throat.
"Perhaps that's not too bad a thing," he offered. "I understand that the Zaragetan leader must produce his flagship every year to show he still has the support of the ancestors and without that ship? He'll be gone before the year is over. And since Zaragete is a main player in the Dictators Brotherhood, with him gone, they are going to be considerably weakend."
"Politics, you can't make money when politics are involved. Besides, who needs politicians. We're dealing with GalCop, not planetary hotshots."
"True," Meddelfurt started, "But have you never thought how your actions could improve the lives of millions, no, billions of people? Your actions COULD make life better for billions of people!"
"Better?" Gepo snapped. " I have often been called a fool and I have often done foolish things. But I quite aware of my own restrictions and since I have no idea about what will make the lives of billions better I'll just stick with the actions that make my life better, thank you very much!"
If the sudden outburst of Twoggler had surprised Gangrist, he did not let is show. " As do we all, Gepo. As do we all. I just meant ....."
He fell silent when Gepo's communicator suddenly started beeping. He pulled the small box out of his trouser pocket.
"Gepodyne Twoggler." he spoke into the little grill at the bottom of the device.
< Ahh, Mister Twoggler. Bergerand Follics here, teamleader of the starbase engineering section. We are about to finish off the repairs on your vessel. You should be able to pick her up in 40 minutes time. We will have the complete list of repairs for you to review when you come and pick her up. Truthfully, Sir, your ship has been repaired as best as we can. It should work fine even though a number of side-effects are to be expected. Those effects are a direct result of the structural state of the ship, Sir, which is quite poor. We are most concerned about the structural integrity of the engine bays, Sir, which is something that we can't fix. It would be best to replace your vessel with a newer model, and if I may make a suggestions, this time make sure you buy a Python Eunectes Turbo Spcial from a reputable source, not one that has been butchered in a salvage gang outpost. The workmanship is outright shoddy. However, we were able to determine that the root cause of the currect structural issues were heavily influenced by some poor repair work that was performed on your vessel in the Anisis system. We have already contacted the engineering section there and they have agreed to pay the repair charges which were attributed to their shoddy work for the amount of .... where is it .... ahh, yes, ninety four thousand three hundred and sixty eight credits, which leaves a balance of four thousand and twenty six credits to be paid in full when you come to collect your vessel. I am afraid we can't accept traveller's bonds or cash, only GalCop Bank transfers. I hope that will be acceptable. Oh, Sir? Just as some free advice. Next time please make sure that the repair shop that you bring your vessel to has the correct technology level for your vessel as well as the GalCop Quality Approved Repair Workshop sticker. It may cost you a bit more but it can safe you so much hassle. Anyway, I take it I can expect you shortly to effect the transfer? With the appropriate funds?>
"Of course. I will make the necessary arrangements. See you shortly."
Gepo sighed again
"That was a close one. Ninety eight thousand?" He muttered to himself before raising his hand with the communicator.
"First mate Thormah of the Buccaneer Basher, planetside, please."
It took a while before the communicator beeped and the feline's voice could be heard speaking through it.
"Thormah, the skipper here. Good news. The ship is going to be released in an hour's time. I intend to launch in four hours at the most. First port of call will be a PA. Pick up Milbron and Morgas and get the kit back to the ship. I'll meet you there when I have got us some cargo. Oh, and Thormah? Tell Morgas that I gave you permission to gnaw off her hands if she is doing anything to the ship that she hasn't cleared with me first, ok?"
"OK, see you at the ship. Gepo out!"
Gepo then turned to Meddelfurt.
"Sorry, Burpo. Gotta dash. I spoke to a guy a couple of days ago and he complained that he had a large amount of ZX Spectrooms and BooBooCees that he couldn't shift. I might be able to assist him if he hasn't already thrown them away. I'll catch up with you an hour before we leave, okay?"
"Sure, Dredgie. It's good to see you active again. Do what you're good at, trading. You're not a roving investigator. Oh, and give my regards to Bergotti. He tried to flog those early game computers to me as well. I'd be surprised if he hadn't tried to shift them on every other trader here. But like me, nobody was prepared to even touch them."
"True that they are not the latest in technology but I have shifted plenty of them to some poor aggro's where they didn't have the cash to get anything more recent. And they do give a whole lot of paople something to do in the evenings. It's amazing how many copies of Lairds of Midnight and Oolite I have sold to those worlds on my return to them. Ok, see you later, then!"
Gepo nodded and walked out. His smile disappeared when the door shut behind him.
~Did Burpo just try to stop me again? And why is he carrying a snooper? There is something fishy going on here. But first let's see if we can come to a deal with Bergotti!~
Gepo grinned as he stepped through the corridors of the base.
- to be continued -