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The Money Reform Party

Star Woes

Chapter 15

The weeks passed and, sure enough, Tex Stardust was re-elected Governor with an increased majority, despite the rumours that were widespread about his liaison with his intern, Mona Lustbather. Everyone said ‘It's the economy, stupid.' and ignored the Governor's morality. Everyone, or nearly everyone, was better off than they had ever been before, and that was the only thing that mattered.

Tammy was seen less and less around the town. Whatever Tex Stardust had said about caring for her aunt and uncle, Mona Lustbather had seen to it that everyone knew that Tammy Woodsawyer was seriously weird, and in Standardia, the land of independent free-thinkers, being weird was a grave social embarrassment.

So Tammy did not join the excited throng that gathered when an expected shiny speck in the sky resolved itself into an ugly little starship that came to rest in the open space that sported a sign reading: ‘Welcome to Standardia City Interplanetary Spaceport'.

When Greenboi emerged from his craft and walked down the ramp, he was surprised to be greeted by a thoroughly enthusiastic crowd. His business on this planet was simply to collect four hundred of the Standardian dollars that had been lent to them, and then to lend them as much more as they wanted to borrow. He had two thousand crisp new Standardian notes ready and waiting, with the capacity to print off more should he be asked for them.

Given the nature of his business, he had expected indifference at best from the populace as a whole, more likely a mild resentment. This exuberant welcome was somewhat disturbing. Did they know something that he or, more disturbing still, his Master knew nothing about?

There was, he knew, nothing for it but to remain correct, business-like and polite. He walked towards what was evidently the welcoming committee.

"Greetings, people of Standardia, I am Greenboi, here on behalf of my master, Barcla the Hoard."

At the mention of Barcla's name, the crowd went wild. There was hollering and screaming and whistling, and at first Greenboi was seriously alarmed, before the amazing realisation dawned that these garish and unseemly noises were signs of approbation.

Governor Tex Stardust held up a hand for quiet.

"Welcome to Standardia, once again, Mr Greenboi, sir. Both yourself and your master are indeed honoured guests to our humble planet, and I would like to take this opportunity of inviting you to lunch in the Residence of the Governor of the Great Society of Standardia!"

There was more whistling and yelling and cheering, for reasons quite beyond the comprehension of any non-resident of Standardia. Perhaps it was because most folks there didn't get out much.

"Residence of whom?" squawked an uncertain voice from Greenboi's chest translator.

"Me," explained Tex. "I'm the Governor, remember? Would you like to have lunch at my house? And we can conclude our business there as well."

"Very well, " agreed Greenboi. "Will it involve drinking beer?"

"Not if you don't want to, sir. Mind you, we do a very refreshing root beer."

Greenboi's snout wrinkled in anticipation. He liked the sound of root beer.

He liked the taste of root beer, as well, and the food itself was tolerable if not what he was used to. After lunch, a pile of dollar bills, the four hundred dollars that he was expecting, was wheeled out of an office on a small trolley. Expected to count them, he did so and nodded with satisfaction when he found that all was in order.

"Now there is one other thing, Mr Greenboi, sir," murmured the Governor. "But I do not know whether Mr Barcla gave you authority in this matter..."

"You wish to borrow more money?"

"Why, yes sir. You see our economy is booming and we'd like to keep it that way, we've seen the problems when there ain't enough money to keep folks in work and..."

"How much?"

Tex had thought about this matter. Numbers and phrases from a half remembered conversation of a few weeks ago were buzzing around his head. A thousand was too much, he recalled, and the number five hundred, whilst about right, produced a strange uneasiness.

"Six hundred?"

"Agreed. I shall draw up the contract and give you the money when I return to my ship."

"Why, thank you, Mr Greenboi, sir."

Outside on her hillside overlooking Standardia City International Spaceport, Tammy watched the junketing below with indifference. She had long concluded that she had no future on this planet, and there below her was her means of escape. All she had to do was get aboard.

She sauntered down to the starship and did a quick visual check on its hatches. As she expected, they were all closed. There was no sign of the owner and the crowd that had formed to welcome him had largely dispersed. Just a few snotty-nosed kids hung around.

Some of these decided it would be fun to taunt her, so she turned away from them and the starship and walked the short distance home. She packed a bag with a few things that she thought she might need, wrote a brief note saying ‘Goodbye' to her aunt and uncle, and walked down to the ship again.

Out of the Governor's House, came a little party which, it was clear to see, included the little green starship pilot. Tammy was studiously ignored by the other Standardians, rather less so by Greenboi. The new contract had been signed and the new dollars handed over up at the Governor's house. Here, by the starship, it was just a matter of host and guest saying their good-byes. Even so, Mona Lustbather turned upon Tammy.

"Tammy Woodsawyer, you have no business here. Git!"

"I have business with Mr Greenboi, here."

Puzzled, Greenboi turned to her.

"What business?" he asked.

Barcla had told him nothing about this.

"Any chance of a lift?"

"Where to?"

"Anywhere."

Greenboi looked at the other Standardians, they gave various ‘nothing-to-do-with-me' signals and gestures of indifference.

"Is it permitted?" Greenboi finally asked the Governor.

"Fine by me."

"Yes," agreed Greenboi. "Welcome aboard. Don't mind the smell, that was going to be my lunch."

Tammy strapped herself into the one of the few passenger seats behind the pilot's chair. Then with all systems checked, the anti-grav drive shot them into space beyond Standardia's orbit.

"It's very kind of you, Mr Greenboi, giving me a lift like this."

"Not at all," returned the pilot. "My master is looking for another dancing girl. The last one got eaten."

Next: Chapter 16

Previous: Chapter 14

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