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The Money Reform Party

Star Woes

Chapter 26

They received a suitably royal welcome by the authorities on Corelfornia. The Global President could not have been more effusive and, to a large extent, given the widespread sympathy for the survivors of Aldershott, it was genuine.

Only when they where alone and out of the media spotlight, did he reveal his concerns.

"You are truly welcome here, Your Grace, but you find a planet that is in dire straits. Money is short. The planetary government owes money to the Empire as part of our share of the Galactic Debt. We owe money to our own lenders as do many of our corporations. Too many young Corelfornians are unable to find employment, and yet they are very well educated, most of them, and their frustration boils over into restless talk... dangerous talk..."

"Fear not, Mr President, I did not come here with a begging bowl, but with money, cash, to hire many of your people, for I have work for them."

"Cash, Your Grace?"

"Aldershott shillings are still legal tender in the Empire, are they not?"

"Indeed, Your Grace, in memory of... past events."

"You would accept Aldershott shillings?"

"Certainly. They can be used to pay off our debts. They are legal tender so they cannot be denied. Yes, indeed. How many employees did you have in mind?"

"Several thousand, I should think, and we need a HoloNet system, and software and high quality entertainment material, and reporters, researchers, technicians, and a suitable headquarters... and starships, a hyperspace-capable headquarters starship and a number of freighters, and ancillary staff to service these facilities These you can provide?"

"If you have the money, Your Grace, but not the starships. We do not have such a facility on or around Corelfornia."

"We have the money, Mr President. My authority is unlimited in that respect," Tamara assured him.

"As regards a suitable headquarters starship, Your Grace, how big did you have in mind?"

Tamara looked at her brother.

"As big as a Star-cruiser, I should think," suggested Mark.

"Ah! I have heard, Highness, as one does, that Harlooff may have something that would meet your needs. Certainly, like us, they could use the money."

"And has there been dangerous talk on Harlooff, as well, Mr President?" asked Mark.

The Corelfornian President pursed his lips.

"There has been dangerous talk throughout much of the Empire, Highness. Many planetary governments as well as individuals have reached the point of desperation."

"Then," decided Tamara, "let us eradicate that desperation."

The colonel was left to supervise the new Aldershott Media Corporation, with a large proportion of the Aldershott shillings and written authority to create more. The Jubilee Endeavour left Corelfornia for Harlooff, or more accurately for the large constructor station that orbited it and which, in the good times, provided it with much of its income.

The best times on Harlooff were war-times, when large numbers of starships, both military and civilian were required. Investment reached a peak during war-time, to a level that could not be sustained by the lower levels of work of peace-time. The authorities on Harlooff had welcomed the ‘dangerous talk against the Empire'. Whether they formally joined in the ‘dangerous talk', or merely supplied starships as indifferent businessmen, it seemed to offer them their only hope.

So Harloof Construction had very much welcomed the order for some Star-cruisers that it had received months before, even though that order had not come from the Imperial Government. It did not welcome, but was required to obey, the instruction to end the construction of these cruisers.

The reception for Tamara, Mark and their followers was scrupulously correct, as befitting the head of state of a fellow planet within the Empire, although the welcome lacked the open warmth of Corelfornia.

The First Minister of Harlooff welcomed the Queen of Aldershott with careful words. The Queen of Aldershott was equally cautious. The atmosphere changed entirely, however, once the nature of her Grace's visit was known.

"You wish to buy one of our uncompleted Star-cruisers?" asked an amazed but delighted First Minister.

"Yes."

"You have the money?"

"Are Aldershotti shillings acceptable?"

"They are legal tender, certainly, but we have been denied authority to construct military vessels, Highness."

"We do not want a military vessel. We want it fitted out as a media and communications centre. You can do that?"

"Of course."

"And we will want some freighters, as well."

"Some?"

"Let's say four, to begin with."

"All this you can afford?"

"If cash is acceptable?"

"Of course. Please, Highness, all this? Does it have Imperial authority?"

"It has not been prohibited, and our intentions are entirely commercial. No Imperial authority is required, I think you'll find."

"Indeed, Highness. You require the vessels as quickly as possible, of course?"

"Of course, but we can give you the cash up front. And once you have completed the headquarters ship and the freighters, we want you to start building for us an orbital night-cloak."

"A night-cloak, Highness? To be used against whom?"

"To be used against no one, but to be used for planets that need one," replied Mark. "Again, it will be for purely commercial purposes."

The joy was too much for the First Minister. He wanted to laugh and shout and dance and sing. He wanted to roll on the floor and weep with the sheer ecstasy of the moment, but First Ministers don't do that sort of thing, not in public at least. Instead he gazed deeply into the eyes of Tamara, then Mark.

"Thank you, Your Grace, Highness. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you..."

Similar visits were conducted to other planets to hire star-freighter crews and more technicians and media types, to order uniforms for their staff and costumes for their presenters, to create catering and housing facilities and to buy fuel elements for all the different communications and transportation systems that Aldershott Media and Aldershott Starships would need to employ.

Soon throughout many planets of the Empire, the despondency and hopelessness that had created dangerous talk these past few years had begun to fade. Many planets began to have their dire financial problems eased, and in turn had begun to spend their new found money-wealth with those other planets with whom they were wont to trade in times of plenty.

Next: Chapter 27

Previous: Chapter 25

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