Interlude: Aiden
November, 2022
Interlude: Aiden

Eight Months Ago:


“Here’s to not being owned by BioTech for the next twenty years!”

You raise your glass in response to Jack’s toast.  “Here, here,” you say, and take a drink.  It’s a quiet Wednesday night at Giovanni’s.  Jack brought you here straight after the end of the post-trial press conference to celebrate, and to discuss your next adventure.  “You need to buy Dirk some of that ghastly Foxglove scotch for me.”

Jack shrugs.  “You can do it yourself.  Kiko has stopped taking my calls.  Time to take matters into our own hands.”  You were both holding out hope the WDF would do the right thing on Grove, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen.  “You can take Hamster.  Go get Cara and Roland out of there.”

“I’m going to need more of a crew than that.”

“Indeed.  Tomoe’s already volunteered, she’ll give you some legitimacy on the ground.  That means you’ll have Julian.  Dirk will come too, along with Din Strata, who’s being wasted on one of our ice runners.”

“Din’s a great gumshoe, but we probably need a heavier hitter if Cara’s on the run down there.”

“Yes, well.  You remember that lass from the Bureau who was trying to pin arming the GLA on me?”

“Sure, Lady Sherlock.  She had you in a panic.  What was her name?”

“Triggs.  Well, the Bureau recently cut her loose for speaking truth to power.  Harvey’s having dinner with her right now on Eriksson.”

You do the mental math.  “If you add Cara, Roland, and maybe a few stray Marines to that, you’ve got a helluva crew for a free trader.  Couldn’t ask for better.”

Jack smiles over his drink.  “You’re tired of being in a lab anyway, aren’t you?”

“To be honest, I really am.”  A wave of melancholy comes over you and you can’t help but sigh at your friend of nearly thirty years.  “Wish we could do it together.”

“Me too…but I…I simply cannot fly anymore.  The doctor…”

“Yeah, Jack.  I know.  I’m a lot smarter than your quack doctor.”

You sit in silence for a few minutes while your server clears the table and deposits a carafe of coffee and two small mugs.  After you’ve poured the coffee, and after Jack adds bourbon to it from his flask, you try to get to the point.

“You don’t need seventy million to make Hamster profitable.”

Jack leans back in his chair and grins. “No, I do not.”


“A different venture.  A leap of faith.  What IBI was really put together for.”  He taps a few buttons on his slate and swipes a document over to yours.  You’re expecting to see a business plan, but instead it’s just a simple pro-forma for what appears to be an operating carrier.  Moderate cargo hauling and some VIP staterooms.  Good flexibility from a sales standpoint but very high operating maintenance costs.

You laugh at the joke.  “You shouldn’t do this stuff yourself, Jack, that’s why you have Harvey.  You’ll never get these sorts of rates.  These are ‘with escort’-grade security rates.  Hamster doesn’t have those kinds of teeth for escorting a converted hauler.  And speaking of…there’s no mortgage.  My kitty plus everything you own can barely pay for the shuttle for this thing, much less the spaceframe. You inheriting a freighter from a rich auntie?  Getting back together with Charity?”

He grins and shakes his head.  “This is the part I need the leap of faith on.  But the numbers are correct.”

“You’re not going to tell me?”

“Not yet, no.  I have a secret, and it will remain as such until it doesn’t need to be a secret anymore.  And if anything happens to me between now and then, it’ll be your secret, as my partner in the endeavor.”

“You’re serious?”

He nods.

“Who are the other investors?”

“Most of the money is coming from you and I.  I expect some of your crew to want to invest.  And I intend to gift Cara, Dirk, and Tomoe half-shares as part of their contract.  That should be enough.”

“No debt?”

“Not if everything goes to plan.”

“You’re really not going to tell me?”

“Nope.  Want another drink?”


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