CHAPTER 9: Old Business
Seven days after the posting of the minimum funding necessary to commence with the development of Frank Weaver’s war-machine, plus 18%, a Board of Directors was formed. Frank was assigned the position of Chairman of the Board. An additional 17 investors were assigned to the Board with him. Representing the Terran Group was Ronald Dryer. Counting the Terran Group as a single block, there was a total of 74 investors. Three days later, the ticker symbol WDF02 was registered with BX01. It took another 52 days for the executive leadership positions of War-Machine WDF02 to be filled.
Immediately after the deal was signed into motion, Frank was wealthier then he had ever been in his life. Twenty-three days after WDF02′s Executive Leadership was established, Frank took possession of a center column deluxe apartment inside Starship Rothschild. Before this deal went into motion, he had his doubts that it ever would. Now that it was in motion, he had trouble believing his good fortune. His mind struggled with the realization that an enterprise he started was working to create wealth for him a thousand times greater than what he was realizing now. The only thing standing in the way of this bonanza was the UEF’s dominion over the Sol System. His war-machine would have to physically dislodge the UEF from power, and no one was sure that this could be done.
The WDF02 was a true business enterprise unlike the RG01 War Machine that was constructed 56 years earlier in the Sol System. RG01’s ticker symbol was a subterfuge to conceal the fact that the starcorp community was building a war machine. The ticker symbol, WDF02, represented a wholly owned private enterprise that was being run by its investors and a contract workforce for the profit of all. But WDF02 was not by definition a starcorp. The workforce had no ownership of the war-machine. There were no elected government officials or judiciary. This was a private business venture that was external to the starcorps.
The construction of War-Machine WDF02 was expected to be completed within 1 to 2 years. The speed of this construction when compared to the construction of RG01 60 years earlier had everything to do with the difference between the starcorp community of then and now. When the starcorps were wholly located in the Sol System, they were the dominant power for most of their time there. Earth was an insignificant threat, and the starcorp community had no hostile feelings toward each other. Subsequently, the starcorps had no need for a ready space force of any significance, and the capital expenditure to create and maintain one made such a force an unnecessary expense. It was only after Earth became a military threat that the starcorps directed their industrial might to the task of making weapons of war, and this effort began from scratch. The research into a new weapon system that was designed solely for use in space took several years to complete. The secrecy employed in the retooling of the factories and the building of the systems cost the manufacturing process twice the length of time that it normally would. All these problems that existed in the past did not exist in this moment.
When the starcorp community divided out into 23 separate star systems a feeling of insecurity went with them. The war-machine RG01 was the collective property of the starcorp community, but it could not be everywhere at the same time. And the threat of retaliation from Earth was just a short star drive hop away. Because of this concern, the starcorps began investing significant portions of their wealth into the maintenance of a space force. This addition to the infrastructure of starcorps nurtured the research and development of weapons of war and the factories to build them. By this time, making weapons of war was no longer a fledgling endeavor for the starcorp community. Factories for the development of space-based weapons of war existed in all 23 starcorps. Mass producing these weapons in large quantities was a simple matter of money.
With regards to the development of his war-machine project, Frank’s work was done, for the most part. All the big decisions regarding WDF02 had already been debated and voted on by its Board of Directors, and the small decisions did not require his presence. The construction of the war-machine and the development of its fighting force was in the hands of its Project Manager, ADM Nathan Lazaro. He was also the most likely candidate to become War-Machine WDF02′s Commanding Officer when its construction was completed. WDF02′s Board of Directors had little more to do than wait for the final product. Frank chose this time to turn his attention to old business.
“What are you doing here?” Charlotte nearly shouted.
Charlotte’s astonishment was quickly smothered by Frank’s rush across the threshold of her apartment door and the abrupt hug that followed.
“I’m here for you, don’t you remember?” Frank questioned before moving a step back from Charlotte while beaming an excited expression.
Frank spent the last three weeks and four days traveling from BX01 to HL02. His eagerness to see Charlotte motivated him to acquire passage aboard a transport spaceship that was making a direct jump to the star system where HL02 was located. His expenditure of time away from WDF02 was not a concern of any significance, but Frank’s eagerness to see Charlotte did have him in a hurry. When his shuttle parked inside Starship Berlin, he sent his bags to the hotel, and he set off for Charlotte’s apartment. He counted on Charlotte keeping to the schedule he was accustomed to. And he wanted to surprise her.
“But you’re supposed to be in BX01 putting your war-machine together.”
“Yeah, it’s going great. Can you believe it?”
“Yes, everybody is talking about it,” Charlotte agreed with a confused shake of her head.
This acknowledgement was not without corroboration. WDF02 was the biggest news story airing throughout the starcorp community. During Frank’s time away from HL02 he grew from a neighborhood entrepreneur to the most renowned businessperson throughout the starcorps. There were few places he could go and not be recognized.
“So, what do you think?” Frank asked with a burst of excitement in his voice.
Charlotte was still confused by Frank’s sudden appearance. She was not sure how to react to his exuberance for his new business venture. Her mind was too busy pondering his reason for being there. After a moment of thought she began to stutter out a reply.
“It’s, it’s great.”
Frank seconded that opinion by suddenly grasping Charlotte’s waist between his hands, lifting her off the floor and doing a 360-degree spin while grinning out, “Yes, it is. I’m rich.”
“Frank, put me down,” Charlotte complained halfheartedly.
Frank was already in the process of returning Charlotte to her feet when she spoke. He took a step back with a big smile and began to speak again.
“It’s really happening,” Frank declared with an amazed expression. “This is going to be huge.”
Charlotte shook off her confusion by the time Frank finished this remark. She gave Frank a stern look and then began to speak what was really on her mind.
“Why are you here, Frank?”
Charlotte’s first thought was that Frank was here on business. This was the only reason that made sense of Frank coming back to HL02. Sacrificing several weeks just to see her made no sense in her mind. And the thought of him coming to HL02 to renew his old contract with her seemed even further away from plausibility. She had no doubt that Frank was wealthy enough to afford a dozen consorts. And she had no illusion that she was prettier than all the women living inside BX01. Most of the wealthiest people in the starcorps had promenade floor homes inside Starship Rothschild, and a lot of very attractive professional consorts also had residences there.
“I’m here for you.”
Frank took a moment to rethink that statement and spoke it again with a correction.
“I’m here for us.”
Charlotte was stunned by what she just heard. It seemed clear to Charlotte that Frank wanted to renew their contract, but in her mind, this made no sense. By her thinking, Frank would be a fool to sign her to a social contract now that he was living and working in a whole new star system. Charlotte took a moment to ponder the absurdity of that idea before electing to give a sarcastic reply.
“Okay, Mr. Moneybags, if you want another social contract with me then I want 4 times what you were paying before.”
“What?” Frank suddenly questioned with a look of astonishment.
The suddenness of this response supported Charlotte’s belief that Frank was not serious about entering into a new social contract with her. This thought endured for the duration of a pause, and then Frank began to speak some more.
“That’s nothing,” Frank asserted enthusiastically. “I will match what all of your other SCU’s are paying. I’m talking about an exclusive contract. Just you and me, Baby.”
For several seconds, Charlotte was speechless. She assessed that the stipend Frank was talking about would be more than six times what Frank had been paying her in the past. For the first time, Charlotte’s mind began to entertain the thought that Frank wanted to take her back to BX01 with him.
“What are you saying, Frank?” Charlotte fumbled out with a blank stare. “Are you suggesting that I—I drop my other SCU’s and move?”
Frank was amused by Charlotte’s response. He could see that his proposal came as a shock to her. This made him want to shock her even more, and he quickly spoke up to do just that.
“What?” Frank vociferously questioned. “That’s not enough?”
Frank hesitated to give Charlotte a mixed expression of surprise and terror.
“Okay then, double it,” Frank blurted out with vehemence. “This is our time. It’s you and me, Baby. I’m on my way up,” Frank leaned to say with insistence. “I came here for you, Charlotte,” Frank expressed with soft sincerity as he moved still closer. “Come with me?” Frank pleaded at a whisper from inches away.
Charlotte was overwhelmed with surprise by Frank’s earnest entreaty. She paused to ponder how to reply, but this was driven by her amazement with what she was being offered. She knew that Frank’s offer would uproot the life she had lived for the past 17 years. The suddenness and the extremity of the change was causing her to balk at a response, but this had little sway on the lean of her thinking. She could not come up with a rational for saying no, and she did not want to. This was an extraordinary offer. This was wealth and comfort and excitement on a scale that she had never experienced before. And what made this even more enticing, it was Frank.
“Okay, Frank,” Charlotte softly agreed after a several seconds of thought.
Charlotte inched forward after speaking these words. She slid her arms up over Frank’s shoulders and around his neck. She gleamed out a roguish smile and then continued to speak.
“I’m all yours,” Charlotte affirmed through a near grin.
A second later, Frank and Charlotte were kissing. This continued for several minutes. After that, they spent the next half hour terminating Charlotte’s three social contract unions. This they did with the help of an online lawyer. It took another 20 minutes to setup a new social contract between them. When this was completed, they spent the next 5 hours commemorating the signing of that contract.