CHAPTER 16: The Spoils of War
Charlotte removed her hands from over her eyes at the sound of Frank’s rhythmic exclaim. She knew that Frank had taken her to a location on the promenade of the Starship Berenberg, the transport pod announced it just before opening the door. What she did not know was where on the promenade deck he had taken her. Frank guided her out of the transport pod while she held her hands over her eyes. During their minute-long walk, she peeked out several times but saw nothing to explain this adventure that Frank was taking her on. It was at the end of their walk when Frank urged her to take down her hands.
“What’s this?” Charlotte questioned as she gawked at the estate in front of her.
“It’s our new home,” Frank declared in an excited voice. “What do you think?”
“We’re going to live here?” Charlotte questioned with a heavy emphasis of surprise.
“Yeah,” Frank exclaimed with an expression of excitement. “What do you think?”
Charlotte was amazed near to the point of being speechless. A house on the promenade deck on any starship was immensely expensive, and this was doubly true on the Berenberg. Promenade decks existed as places for parks and large-scale entertainment facilities. Promenades were spacious by design. Their primary purpose was to impress upon starship inhabitants the sensation of vastness. In rare instances, there were some small structures that could be found dotted along the promenade decks of starships. These were always a scattered number of high-end restaurants, shops, boutiques and emporiums with very expensive merchandise. In less rare instances, stand-alone manors of the excessively rich could be found on the promenade decks of starships. Within the starcorps, owning a home that is a stand-alone structure and is situated on the floor of the promenade deck is the ultimate display of wealth.
The estate that Frank had just recently purchased was a 2-story, 5-bedroom 5,000 square foot house situated on 12,000 square feet of walled property. Complete with the property is an external pool and tennis court, an exercise room, a game room and a 20-seat home theater. The purchase price of the estate was beyond what Frank had in liquid assets, but the bank assessed his near future income at a thousand times more than its value and extended comparable credit.
“Frank, this is amazing,” Charlotte cheered with glee. “When can we move in,” she continued with excitement.
“Today. Right now,” Frank returned with a large smile.
Charlotte grinned with excitement as she jumped into Frank’s arms. They kissed and then hugged as he spun her around off the floor.
Over the 18 months that followed this home purchase, Frank and Charlotte hosted more than a dozen lavish parties. The guests for these affairs were, invariably, the ultra rich who were living in or visiting BX01. Over this same time period, Frank and Charlotte adorned their home with the most expensive furnishings and art that they could find. Most of these purchases were made by or were at the direction of Charlotte with Frank’s money. By the end of this same period, Frank had purchased a generous quantity of expensive jewelry for Charlotte and himself. In addition to these purchases, he bought the Spaceship Star Dancer for his own personal use. Star Dancer was the most expensive personal item on his shopping list by far. Its singular purpose as a transport vehicle prohibited it from producing income to pay for upkeep, taxes, parking fees and the payroll for its crew. All the money for these expenses was coming from Frank, and most of that money was credited to him by the bank. Frank’s estimated future worth was the impetus for BX01′s generosity, and the money they leant to this date was only the tip of what the bank was prepared to make available to Frank Weaver.
The purchase of a private spaceship became the vehicle for more spending extravagances. Frank and Charlotte spent 13 of the past 18 months away from BX01 and the star system where it was located. During these travels Frank invested a substantial portion of his line of credit into numerous business ventures. Despite the sum of these investments dwarfing the cost of Star Dancer, these investments were only minor distractions for Frank. The entire starcorp community became a shopping mall that he and Charlotte could peruse through at will. With his new spaceship, spectacular theatrical shows, sporting events, festivals, expensive stores, the best hotels and restaurants throughout the starcorps were just a time-jump away. They were visiting Starcorp IPLF02 for just one of these occasions when the course of Frank’s financial growth made a turn for the worst.
“They can’t do this!” Frank exclaimed to himself.
Frank was seated inside the Starship Messina Grand Arena watching its annual Equestrian Competition when an interstellar message from Abel Cobb, his lawyer, buzzed in on his com-link. The message he received was his first hearing of a legal challenge to WDF02’s contract with the Sol System Union. Charlotte and several people seated around them were startled by Frank’s outburst.
“What’s wrong?” Charlotte questioned from behind a look of surprise.
“The Tellurian Resistance has made a legal challenge to my contract with the Sol System Union,” Frank explained with a look of astonishment.
Charlotte noted the concern in Frank’s expression and decided to match it with her own intonation of disbelief.
“Can they do that?” Charlotte queried with a confused hesitation.
“They claim to have their own contract with a handful of starcorp investors,” Frank returned with a flare of anger.
Charlotte was not sure about what she had just heard, but it sounded like the same business venture that Frank had been jabbering about for the past two years.
“Isn’t that what you’ve got?” Charlotte tentatively questioned.
“Yes!” Frank insisted with an inflection of disbelief that he had to say it. “They’re trying to bust up my deal.”
Charlotte had no response. She could see that Frank was upset, but she had no idea what to say to alleviate his distress. While in the middle of deliberating what she should say, Frank spoke up with a decision that he was firmly committed to.
“We’ve got to go.”
Frank hurried out of the arena with Charlotte in hand behind him. Charlotte gave no protest to being pulled along by Frank. She could see that the message he received had him very upset. Five hours after leaving the Grand Arena, Frank and Charlotte were aboard the Star Dancer thrusting away from IPLF02. Their destination was BX01. Frank advised Charlotte that a local court referred the suit to the Starcorp League Supreme Court and that the case was scheduled to be adjudicated there in another month. At maximum speed, it took Star Dancer 27 days to arrive outside of the Starship Berenberg.
“The Tellurian Resistance is claiming that they were disenfranchised when WDF02 made this deal with the Free Earth Resistance and the Rebel Warriors Army,” Abel Cobb explained in earnest. “It’s not impossible that the Supreme Court will validate their grievance.”
Eight days had passed since Star Dancer’s arrival outside of the BX01 cluster of starships. Frank was sitting in the court where the lawsuit by the Tellurian Resistance and the group of starcorp investors was about to be heard by a group of seven Supreme Court Justices. The court was still in the process of filling up with participants and spectators. Abel was seated next to Frank at the rear of the room.
“What do they want?” Frank questioned with an exaggerated expression of disbelief. “They had nothing before we took over. If the court sides with them, it won’t change anything.”
Abel gave the question a quick thought before commencing with his elucidation on the plaintiff’s expectation.
“In the lawsuit, the Tellurian Resistance is claiming that they have the right to make separate contractual agreements with starcorp investors. If the court agrees with them, then they’ll be free to pursue a separate contract with starcorp investors.”
“The Sol System has a new government,” Frank challenged with a confused shake of his head. “The Tellurian Resistance can’t do anything without their okay. They’ll be breaking Sol System Union law.”
“True,” Abel affirmed with a deliberative nod of his head. “But if the court rules in their favor then the Tellurian Resistance will be within their rights by starcorp law to challenge the authority of the Sol System Union.”
“And what’s that going to look like?” Frank disputed with an abrupt gesture of his hands.
“Well, I suppose it will mean that they’ll be within their rights here to hire a war-machine to displace the Sol System Union,” Abel suggested with a shrug.
An instant after hearing this, Frank came to an understanding about why a starcorp group of investors were supporting this lawsuit. He turned to Abel with a startled expression as he pondered his options if the court ruled for the Tellurian Resistance.
“Who are these investors?” Frank questioned with an angry glare.
“I don’t have any names,” Abel returned as he followed the entry of a new group of people into the court with his eyes. “But I believe one of them may have just walked into court.”
With a nod of his head, Abel directed Frank’s attention toward a group of people walking toward the front of the courtroom. Frank recognized Elijah Cromwell the instant his eyes fixed on to him. The Tellurian Resistance Representative was flanked on both sides by seven other individuals. Frank assumed that several of these individuals were lawyers, but there was one among them who was too familiar to be mistaken as part of Elijah’s legal representation.
“That’s Ryan DeWitt,” Frank spoke with surprise in his voice.
Frank had never met Ryan, but he saw images and videos of him on numerous occasions when he was raising venture capital for WDF02. The cherubic man with the passive indifference in the videos was unmistakable despite his real-life burly stature and the severe demeanor he was displaying at present. Frank fixed his gaze on Ryan to the exclusion of all others. He watched as Ryan and the others with him talked in a huddle. Shortly into their discussion, they began to sort themselves out into nearby seating. Ryan had just reached the front of the chair where he would be sitting when his look strayed out across the courtroom and found Frank looking back at him. Ryan locked his gaze onto Frank and adjusted his expression into a menacing glare. He and Frank kept their stares fixed on each other for several seconds, and then Ryan DeWitt took his seat.