“I welcome you to the club of people who think we have started designing our own starships,” Broadbent said. “It is already an extremely large and unselective club, of which I am a non-member.”
“You are denying it? Would you care to hear my reasons?” Brankowski asked.
“Ah,” Broadbent answered, “now we reach serious negotiations. Not, mind you, that I am saying we are planning on building a spaceship, though it is res ipsa that we could. However, you have raised the issue, so I will politely treat it as a hypothesis for the purpose of discussion.” Her tea brewer beeped. It had brewed the tea for a large mug of beverage, bringing the water not quite to a boil, steeping for the correct number of minutes, and emptied the tea into a mug. Peltier-effect cooling blocks had then dropped the tea to a drinkable temperature. She raised the mug and toasted Brankowski.
“Coffee?” he asked.
“Tea,” she answered. “Keemun, from an Australian estate. If you were here, you could share it. Alas, you are not. Please discuss.”
“Keemun. Wonderful. Alas, I am too busy to travel,” he answered. “However, there are practical consequences.” She raised her eyebrows. “Please point them out to your superiors, who will doubtless understand what I am saying, even though you do not. First, spaceships not registered, meaning registered even before construction started, cannot carry goods to or between Republic starports. You can build a ship, but it would have next to no use. Second, owners of unregistered ships cannot buy or license devices protected by Republic patents. That means no alpha drives. That means no high-field fusactors. You may build a hull, but it will have no power or ability to fly.”
“I see,” she said, her tone as bland as warm milk.
“Third,” Bronkowski continued, “your Union has no licensed naval architects, no one authorized or qualified by the Stellar Republic to produce your starship design. It is illegal for a licensed naval architect to work on the design of an unregistered starship. It is impossible for someone who is not a licensed naval architect even to begin designing a spaceship, for which you need a large team of designers, each licensed to design in their specialty. For a typical freighter there are, in round numbers, two hundred specialties, so you need two hundred designers. You cannot even design this ship, let alone build it, unless you register it with us.”
“What do you mean licensed?” she asked. “The Anglic Union at the time of its foundation banned occupational licensing. Or do you mean licensed by the Stellar Republic?”
“Precisely,” Bronkowski said. “While licensing is only mandatory within the Republic, all neighboring states have willingly and voluntarily agreed to impose the same requirement on their naval architects, so don’t think you can hire from some lesser species beyond the pale.”
Willingly and voluntarily, my backside, Broadbent thought. Those agreements were obtained by bribery or force. “An interesting point,” she offered. “Of course, it would be illegal for us to hire a naval architect of another species, one who was not an Anglic Union citizen.” Not my fault, her mind continued, that Republic engineers are all very narrowly trained.