“We have detailed financial records,” Broadhurst answered. “They are backed by secure bank records. If someone in the Stellar Republic thinks they own the ore, they seem to have forgotten to pay us. We know how absent-minded some people are. Indeed, we have detailed records indicating that large amounts of ore over many voyages of our ships have been taken in this manner, and very clearly we have not been paid for any of them.”
“I see,” Bronkowski said.
“Then you will doubtless be enthusiastically willing to help us recover the ore, or payment for it. Indeed, the Republic embassy in Anglic Center will soon be receiving a legal request from us, asking that the Republic identify the persons who have been receiving this ore, which you can surely do by tracing spaceship flight paths, in order that we may litigate to recover our losses under our treaty rights.” Tara Broadhurst smiled. Now her smile did not reach her eyes. “Of course, if you are unable to identify the spaceships that recovered all of this ore that was taken from our vessels, then we will insist on filing space piracy charges against these unknown parties, and rely on the Stellar Republic Fleet to catch and hang them, as provided by our Treaty with you.”
Bronkowski shifted in his seat. “We are the Stellar Republic. Our Fleet is not at the beck and call of every third-rate minor country that only controls small part of its own planet and cannot build its own spaceships.”
“Nonetheless, there is a treaty.” Tara nodded firmly. “All across the galaxy, the participating species and allies of the Stellar Republic rely on treaty agreements with you, agreements that provide that participants and allies make certain sacrifices, and in exchange the Stellar Republic provides certain protections.” Well, she thought, all across a tenth of the galaxy, but let’s feed your clueless ego. “In the case of the Anglic Union, our treaty with you agrees that if acts of piracy take place in the Solar System, you will be responsible for performing the criminal investigations and in exchange we will agree that Anglic Union citizens in space are only subject to the laws we jointly agreed are malum per se and hence may be enforced by you. I’m confident that the Stellar Republic does not wish to endanger its relations with billions of other star systems, as they would wax wroth when they found out you were not honoring your treaty obligations, by failing to carry out an agreement which is obviously in both of our interests.”
“I can assure you, counsel, that the Republic has every intent of honoring its treaty obligations, so soon as we have a chance to examine the details of what you claim they are.” Bronkowski pulled back in his chair. “But how do you know this scheme has been used to steal hundreds of thousands of tons of ore, as opposed to the 30,000 tons you claim to be recovering?”
“There are a variety of standard methods for determining what path each spaceship is taken through the heavens, based purely on its own internal records. The Space Pirate Harrington has repeatedly rendezvoused with one of our ships, a ship that was falsifying its location, and received twenty to thirty thousand tons of nickel-iron, not to mention thousands of tons of rare earth – heavy metal concentrate. Ship Commander McTavish logged all these transfers, because of course he was being paid for them, in what he reasonably viewed to be an honest set of transactions.”
“I see,” Bronkowski said.