Bell wished matters had started more smoothly. “I am Boss of the Yard,” she answered. “I believe that translates as *Master of the Works*, as close as I can pronounce your language. With respect to an Honor Guard, this is a private not an Anglic Union facility, so we are not entitled to indulge in military frippery .” She waited for a response.
“You speak my language well,” Tzoltzin said, “given your vocal apparatus. I see we already have an agreement on something, namely a dislike of idle ceremony.”
“it is always good to begin with an agreement,” Bell said. “You want to discuss manufacturing operations, you need to talk to me, or wait for Victor to ask me what the answers to your questions are.”
“Boss of the Yard?” Tzoltzin asked, his voice a deep rumble. “Perhaps closer as ‘Great Commander of Building Things?”
“A title showing much respect, Senior Inspector, for what is after all a small and limited facility. You honor me,” Bell acknowledged. “In that case we should perhaps be getting under way.” She gestured for the passenger transporter. “We may talk while we are going to the new ship you with to inspect.”
Passengers loaded, the transporter began its slow wheel toward Construction Bay Three. “I must give a formal statement,” Tzoltzin said. “It has been brought to the attention of the Stellar Republic that you are constructing a spaceship. Under our Treaty of Amity, we are entitled to inspect this vessel to ensure that you are respecting our intellectual property rights, primarily with respect to high-density fusactors and alpha cores. I am therefore here to perform an inspection, the first of several under the voluntary Treaty of Amity.”
Voluntary, Bell thought, my tight and well-shaped backside. They made clear they’d keep supporting their fake rebel groups unless we agreed to sign. At least they agreed their IP rules would only be enforced in their territory, not ours, but they get to inspect my ship for violations.
“I should then ask for the IP codes for your fusactors and alpha core,” Tzotzin said. “That way, I can rapidly confirm you are building a spaceship by buying alpha cores and fusactors, not violating our intellectual property rights. I can look at the units, and then be on my way.”
“We are not violating the Treaty of Amity,” Bell said. “However, there are no codes that you will be given.”
Tzoltzin’s cheek pouches inflated. “You are not entitled to refuse to give me the codes in question,” he said firmly.
Interesting, she thought, his English is almost accent-free. “I am not refusing,” she said. “We support amity. I understand your concern, but matters will be simpler to clarify once you have inspected the ship. I am absolutely confident that you will find that you have no grounds for complaint.”