“Are you worried that maintaining warships would be a money loser?” Raymond asked.
“Our Audit Committee has very firm ideas about maintaining a positive cash flow,” Tara said. “However, one of our major creditor-investors is the Seldon Legion, so I expect we would treat with the Space Guard on a break-even basis, counting usual overhead and maintenance costs. Doctor Chelan may have objectives he hasn’t told me about, beyond paying off corporate debts. I will say he views Stellar Republic intellectual property claims as a challenge, not as an immutable obstacle.”
“OK, I have a research problem from you, for us to solve. Is that enough for one day?” Raymond nodded.
“In that case, for you and your bodyguards there’s a secret passage that lets you leave without being noticed. I’ll get you there,” Raymond said.
Raymond and Ariel Tablemaker
Two days later, Raymond made his daily pass through the Senate Research Office, saying hello to regular friends, collecting and leaving data sticks, and sharing gossip. Once upon a time, before the Interregnum, some people would have called his approach inefficient, because email could do everything. He had long since realized that, in a universe where nothing travels faster than gossip, collecting and passing gossip was a highly efficient way to support his boss’s research needs. In addition, physical presence meant he could surreptitiously pass requests with no electronic record crossing any office wall.
About half way through his tour he stopped at an office door, tapped twice on the door panel, and waited for the young lady within to look up. Some number of surreptitious watchers might suspect that the two of them had a romantic relationship. That was regretfully not the case, he thought, but he saw no reason to disillusion them, especially when it provided a fine bit of cover. She looked up. He tapped one finger to his lips, got a nod and smile in response, and slipped inside, closing the door behind him.
“And what fine bit of trouble are you bringing for me, this time?” Ariel Tablemaker asked.