CHAPTER 15: Win, Win
“Sorry, Babe, I have to take this,” Frank exclaimed with a glance toward Charlotte.
An instant after saying this, Frank Weaver turned his attention to his com-link wand. It was blinking red while emitting a soft beep. In response to the flashing, he unwound the wand from his wrist. Using his fingers, Frank pinched pressure points on either side of the wand’s middle. The wand reacted by shaping itself into a semicircle that went a quarter of the way around. In appearance it had a narrow crescent moon look. In effect, it was a cellphone. A mouthpiece and earpiece were situated at both ends. The mouthpiece was voice activated, the earpiece at that end was deactivated by same, and this had the opposite effect at the opposite end. Frank tapped a blinking light on the wand with his finger to connect the incoming call, and then he positioned the wand so that one end was close to his ear and the other end was near to his mouth.
“Talk to me,” Frank instructed with eagerness in his voice.
When this call came in, Frank was strolling along the promenade of the Berenberg Starship hand-in-hand with Charlotte. These jaunts had become frequent outings for them. The main reason for these walks was the launch of War-Machine WDF02. Now that his freelance space force was constructed and deployed out to perform its mission, Frank had nothing to do but wait. To fill in this empty time, he and Charlotte would take walks through the parks in the promenades before and after dinning in one of the dozens of restaurants within the BX01 cluster of starships. Shopping at one of the many clothing stores within the cluster was a frequent request by Charlotte and an infrequent accommodation by Frank. Theatrical, musical and sporting events were distractions that they attended on multiple occasions during this time. When they were at home, and not engaged with mingling sexual arousals and love play, finding a new amusement was the thinking that started their day.
“We won? We won?” Frank repeatedly queried into his cellphone with a voice that was heavily laced with astonishment.
Frank listened to his caller for several seconds more before speaking again.
“They did it!” Frank exclaimed toward Charlotte with an amazed expression. “We won. Sol is ours.”
Charlotte grinned and cheered with more enthusiasm then she felt for the success of Frank’s business venture. Her happiness was for Frank, and this she displayed in her smile.
“Yeah. Thanks. I’m going to look at it right now,” Frank informed his caller in a hurry. “Bye.”
After disconnecting the call, Frank took Charlotte by the arm and led her to a nearby park bench.
“Babe,” Frank spoke as he sat down on the bench and while ushering her down beside him. “I need to see this. It’ll only take a few minutes,” he finished while flagging his com-link wand out in front of him.
“What is it?” Charlotte questioned with a shrug.
“It’s the video message from Admiral Lazaro,” Frank declared with excitement. “Do you want to see?”
Charlotte knew that Frank was offering to link her in on the viewing by touching their wands, but she had no interest in hearing the details of a space battle. She waved off the offer with a shake of her head and a, “No thanks. You go ahead.” Frank accepted her answer with a smile and then quickly turned his attention to his wand. He took the com-link into both hands and pinched pressure points on either end with his fingers. The wand responded by shaping itself into a thin pair of communication goggles. In appearance the goggles shared a resemblance with tanning goggles. In effect, the wand was a computer capable of receiving, displaying and resonating incoming data and transmitting outgoing data. Frank placed the goggles over his eyes and the tops of his ears and then tapped the side of the wand with his finger to connect with the internet.
Frank deftly negotiated his way to the message he was looking for by using his hands to manipulate the sensor field the goggles were generating in front of his face. The sensor field could only be seen by the person wearing the goggles. After several seconds of hand gestures to manipulate the invisible keyboard and touch screen in front of his face, Frank sat back and watched ADM Lazaro’s 10-minute-long video message. In the video he outlined the events that led up to the United Earth Federation’s surrender and the disposition of the Free Earth Legion, Rebel Warriors Army and the Sol System in general. At the end of the message, ADM Lazaro advised that the CEO of Starcorp WDF02 and its Board of Directors should come to Sol to finalize their agreement.
“We’re going to Sol,” Frank excitedly declared as he removed the wand from over his eyes. “We need to go home and pack.”
Charlotte was surprised by this sudden change in their agenda, but she was agreeable with it. This was Frank’s supreme moment. The last thing Charlotte wanted to do was drag her feet as he raced toward it. They hurried back to their home and spent the next 7 hours preparing for an interstellar flight that was scheduled to launch another 5 hours later. The Spaceship Ogden was chartered to take the Directors and Executive Officers of WDF02, and their posse of lawyers, to the Sol System. It was close to an hour before main engines start when Frank and Charlotte climbed into his acceleration pod. For the next 17 hours, they laid there while the Ogden accelerated to jump speed. They spent the next 3 days in the habitat of the spaceship while it fell through null-space. They got back into the acceleration pod just before the spaceship’s reentry into real-space and stayed there for 7 hours as it decelerated to cruising speed. Five days later, they climbed back into Frank’s acceleration pod when the spaceship commenced its deceleration into parking orbit around Earth. This took another seven hours to complete. In experience, Frank and Charlotte spent 10 days inside Spaceship Ogden; in effect, they traversed through 77 days of real time before reaching their destination. Seventy of these days were spent in null-space.
“It’s done,” Ronald Dreyer grinned at Frank. “How does it feel to be filthy rich?”
Frank returned Ronald’s grin with a large smile and extended his hand toward him as he spoke.
“You tell me.”
Ronald took Frank’s hand and gave it an enthusiastic shake as they both laughed. The event encouraging this celebratory mood was the meeting of the War-Machine WDF02 Directors and Officers and the newly vested Prime Minister of Sol and his government. Ian Jakub, the leader of the now defunct Rebel Warriors Army, was given the position of Prime Minister. He was given this position because of the size of his resistance movement. It was much larger than Yuri Sardan’s Free Earth Legion, and they were the only two Earth Resistance Leaders who were signatories to Frank’s contract.
The official signing of numerous specific agreements between the newly formed Government of the Sol System Union and the recently incorporated Starcorp WDF02 took on a ceremonial veneer. The event took place inside the Federal Palace of Switzerland and was televised around the world. Frank and Ronald took part in this with gleeful enthusiasm. The event lasted for 2 hours. Much of this time was filled with ceremonies and speeches. By the end of it all War-Machine WDF02 had a contractual lock on all trade between Sol and the starcorps. WDF02 was the official middleman of the starcorps and Sol. And as such, it was in position to profit from all financial transactions between the two for the next 100 years.
Frank, Ronald and all the other Directors and Officers of WDF02, along with their consorts, spent the day politely participating in ceremonies and social events that transpired. On the morning of the next day, their entire contingent went up to Earth orbit and the Spaceship Ogden where they spent the day rejoicing in their success. Over the next 7 days they worked out the details of the WDF02’s continued presence in Sol Space. ADM Lazaro opted to resign from his commission, collect his fee and bonus, and return to the starcorp that he identified as home, JJL02. To replace him, Commander Craig Chaffin was promoted to Admiral and given the task of developing and managing the Sol System Union’s space force.
On the 9th day out from the ceremony at the Federal Palace of Switzerland, Frank, Charlotte, Nathan Lazaro, the WDF02 Board of Directors, Officers, lawyers and the consorts of all were thrusting away from Earth aboard the Spaceship Ogden. They were three hours into their acceleration toward jump speed when Charlotte began her segue to a topic that she had been thinking about since before they left BX01.
“So, it’s official. You’re rich?” Charlotte queried as though she was leading Frank to the answer she was expecting.
“Yeah, well I was doing okay before the signing,” Frank answered nonchalantly and with only a portion of his attention on the question.
The majority of Frank’s mind was busy reading through an analysis of Sol’s assets, worth and potential. His mind was busy entertaining ways and areas where he could invest and leverage his newfound wealth.
“I mean,” Charlotte started correcting with an intonation of delicacy. “You’re one of the richest people in the starcorps now.”
“Yeah, I am,” Frank affirmed with a smile as he continued to read.
“It’s what you’ve always wanted, right?” Charlotte questioned in a pleasing tone.
Frank looked away from the monitor embedded in the pod and gave Charlotte a wide smile just before speaking his response.
“Babe, this is light years beyond my favorite fantasy,” Frank explained while constraining himself from grinning.
Charlotte turned so that her full face was directed at Frank, and she gave him a supportive smile. Frank noted that Charlotte was not done speaking on this subject and held his attention on her.
“I’m happy for you, Frank. I really am,” Charlotte assured with an enthusiastic nod.
At this point, Frank was convinced that something was motivating these questions and remarks from Charlotte. After a moment of thought, he considered the possibility that Charlotte was worried he would drop her contract when it expired, and he contrived a response that he hoped would settle her fears.
“Thanks, Babe,” Frank spoke with a smile and with a soft caress of his finger across her cheek. “You know, you’re my fantasy, too.”
“I am?” Charlotte questioned with an excited smile.
“Charlotte,” Frank spoke with a soft sincerity in his voice. “You’re the only woman for me.”
Charlotte feigned a blush response along with a smile, and then she nudged in a little closer just before speaking her next words with all the accentuation of sweet innocence that she could produce.
“Well, I’m glad to hear you say that. Because, I’ve been thinking about our contract.”
“What about our contract?” Frank softly asked with a mixture of surprise and concern in his expression.
“I want to renegotiate it,” Charlotte answered with a hint of haughty defiance.
Frank was stunned by this declaration and intoned it clearly in his return.
Generally, social contracts were extended, renegotiated or allowed to expire at the end of their terms, and in most cases, they were either extended or allowed to expire. The split between these two actions was 50% with a 4% deviation in any given month. Renegotiating a contract at anytime was a rare occurrence and was almost never done halfway through its term. But when they were done, the instigator of the renegotiation was almost always the buyer. The term limit on Frank and Charlotte’s contract was another year and a half away.
“Do I look like I’m kidding?” Charlotte challenged with a smile.
“I’m already paying you twice as much as anyone I know—twice as much as anyone one you know.”
Frank spoke these words with uproarious insistence. Charlotte brushed this aside with a look of naïve surprise and spoke her response with equivalent articulation.
“What difference does that make?”
“It’s… It’s… This isn’t normal—This isn’t right, Charlotte,” Frank fumbled out in disbelief.
“Are you saying I’m not worth any more?” Charlotte disputed with feigned indignation.
Frank was caught off guard by the question. He stopped himself from saying the first thought that came to mind out of fear that Charlotte might take offense. After giving his situation a moment more of thought, he formulated a reply he believed to be his safest way forward.
“Okay, I’ll go up a half more,” Frank conceded with resigned reluctance.
“I want three times what you’re paying me now,” Charlotte sharply countered in a bold voice.
“Charlotte!” Frank exclaimed with a mixture of shock and bewilderment. “Nobody pays that much.”
“So, I’m nobody to you?” Charlotte questioned with an inflection of astonishment.
“No. I mean yes, you’re somebody—You’re important,” Frank corrected defensively. “It’s just that we’re talking about a lot of money.”
“And you’re one of the richest persons in the starcorps,” Charlotte added with a lighthearted flare. “And according to you, I’m the woman of your dreams.”
Frank paused to think about what was happening. His fear was that Charlotte would continue to ask for more if he gave in to her demand.
“Okay, I’ll double what I’m paying,” with a hint of stern finality.
“Triple!” Charlotte returned with resolution.
Frank paused again and gave the request a long thought.
“I don’t know,” Frank mumbled out with a confused shake of his head. “This isn’t right.”
Charlotte knew that Frank was referring to the fact that the seller was almost never able to make exorbitant demands. But it was her suspicion and her gamble that Frank’s reticence was motivated by propriety and not by an unwillingness to part with the money.
“Maybe I should leave so you can think about it,” Charlotte playfully spoke as she started to pull herself up toward the opening of the pod.
“No,” Frank called out as he wrapped his arms around Charlotte’s waist and held her down. “You don’t need to go.”
“I don’t know, Frank,” Charlotte returned as she held on to the door frame of the pod. “It seems like you have a lot to think over,” she continued with a pretend scowl.
Frank gave the question a moment more of thought before Shaking his head in resignation.
“Okay. Triple,” Frank declared with exaggerated reluctance.
“Thank you,” Charlotte returned as she pushed back into pod and snuggled up to Frank with a wide smile.
Frank took a second to note the near grin on Charlotte’s face before returning her expression with a scowl and a frustrated shake of his head.
“You’re wicked,” Frank announced with an intonation of surprise in his voice.
“I’m whatever you want me to be, Frank,” Charlotte countered with an impish smile as she nuzzled her nose against his cheek.
After speaking these words, Charlotte snuggled on top of Frank, wrapped her arms about his neck and embraced into a passionate kiss on his lips. Frank was quick to return the ardor.