“Hard to miss that,” Tara said.
“Though I am supposed to ask you a question,” Raymond said. “Privately. Is Bulger preparing to build starships?”
“Chelan has certainly not committed on that,” she answered. “What my boss has said elsewhere is true, so far as I can tell. I’m not an engineer. We’re currently trying to get the operation up and running, as opposed to large parts of it being inactive due to lack of maintenance. There was a lot of lack of maintenance. Then we need major maintenance on the ships currently in our fleet. There’s also a need to pay off all of our debtors. Short term, our plate is now full. We have folks who want us to maintain Space Guard ships. A couple of satellite photos will, I gather, show that to do that we’d need a new graving dock. I’m taking people’s word on that question. Docks are expensive; we don’t have the cash flow yet.”
“I am hearing rumors you are planning something illegal,” Raymond said.
“Interesting. I heard similar rumors, from Republic Legate Bronkowski,” Tara answered. “Of course, it’s obvious that more spaceships would be a major profit line. The Legate claimed we needed Republic registrations to build ships, which is obviously false. He also threatened not to sell us alpha cores or high-density fusactors – this is not new – and offered me an extremely lucrative long-term contract if I would convince our managing board to commit to registering our ships with him.”
“How charming,” Raymond said.
“The illegal would be making pirate copies of drives or reactors in violation of their patents,” Tara noted. “We are very definitely not doing that.”