“Yes?” Chelan asked.
“The Republic Senate lacks the speed of cold molasses,” Tara said. “If they are about to act, the proposal has been in committee for a good year. They’re very good about updating libraries everywhere with their committee minutes. It’s a trust-building exercise that costs them almost nothing. And if they’re censoring their own records to hide this, which would be seriously illegal, the gaps will show and soon thereafter the fur will fly. I fly to New Washington twice a week for in-person legal filings, mostly paying off our small debtors. I could chase this down myself, but we have a friend in Elektra De Witt, so I propose putting a bee in her bonnet and letting the Senate and Lords legislative service pore through the Republic records. That’s another layer of cutout.”
“Suppose this goes through,” Charles Smith asked, “what different does it make to us? We haven’t started acting on our spaceship plans, plans that we actually don’t have yet. If we build ships, they are all flying here to Proserpine, locations within our own territory. To the limited extent we have products to sell, thanks to Sarah and Elaine, the products are sold domestically. Except for that inquiry from the Imperial Navy, of course.”
“I need to think about this,” Elaine said. “It was very definitely not on my radar screen. I’m not writing any requisitions for anything we’d buy from the Republic. That would mostly be illegal anyhow, Bulger not having a supply of Stellar Republic credits. But there’s a supply chain. I’m thinking back to the Interregnum. Countries launched trade embargos. Wars disrupted supply chains. My suppliers might be in my country, but they needed some raw material or part from someplace else.”
“Can we back-trace,” Chelan asked? “Ask our suppliers where they buy from, and so forth?”
“Be a real nuisance to try,” Sarah Yates said. “A lot of our suppliers view everything not nailed down as a trade secret. I think I know my sources, but we mostly only buy pure elements. The molecular spray does the rest.”
“Electronic controls?” Chelan asked.
“Some decades back,” Bell said, “Space Guard decided they needed total knowledge of their supply chains. They also paid a ton of cash to make sure that the optoelectronics supply chain stayed one hundred percent inside the Union. To cover the cost, the Union put huge tariffs on imported electronics and fabricating equipment, not that there was much of either being imported, with the desired result. And if it’s mechanical, our shops can make it, including new equipment.”
“So we’ll be mostly good,” Chelan said, “and when whatever we missed bites us in the backside, perhaps it will not bite too hard.”
“Meanwhile,” Tara said, “the Elizavetsians will be laughing their heads off.”