Chapter 129: Surprisingly Legal
by Ann Broomhead
Gannar and Robbie return via the pantope to the Now, and inform the rest of the crew that Three-Ways seemed to be a reasonable choice of company for us to select. They neglect to mention that they probably started a rumor about chocolate fruit that would now be a week old.
We do a little thinking. The chocolate trees and the Kraslks are actually on New Hierow, but the fruit is allegedly being grown in Ipsylvania, Hellene. We'll move the fruit through a pantope connection, which means we'll have to put down those rugs, and use a hover truck just to be on the safe side. (Tom really didn't like the floor getting scratched.)
We'll make the first trans-shipment to Adonis with the Munch. Later trips will be via a shipper that Cantrel will recommend to us. So, the fruits will have to come out of a legitimate warehouse on Hellene. Therefore, they will have to go into it first. No one will get to see that alleged high-class hydroponics farm in Ipsylvania.
We'll have to have the irradiator to sterilize the fruit on New Hierow; if we did it anywhere else there could be a mistake, and then the fruit is out and growing. We agree that we will have to (a) arrange for a warehouse, (b) arrange for a trans-shipper, as Cantrel recommends, (c) buy (Rent? No, buy.) a self-powered irradiator, and (d) contract with Three-Ways.
We'll have to visit Cantrel. (We go from Adonis through the Munch and the pantope to a bookmark on Hellene.) Not all of us go; some stay behind to "supervise" the building of the cordon around the Munch on Adonis (remember the industrious and under-occupied Rangers and Customs officials?), and sip mixed drinks.
Kate takes us to the ranch, and then forward one day. Somewhere in here we are reminded that we (for some value of "we") own at least one warehouse in Pericles, mostly because it connects to a warehouse in another Pericles.
Dafnord contacts Cantrel, and, after a pause, is directed to the hanger that had held the Munch. There is Cantrel, supervising the repairs to the damage we inflicted. We think he's doing it very pointedly. Dafnord asks if we can use the warehouse. We may. He directs us to John D'Oghe. Dafnord then asks for Cantrel to recommend a discrete shipper. What weight/size of cargo? We figure out that we only need a light freighter. He suggests that we take that up with Dispatch.
We mosey over to John D'Oghe. With a bit of back and forth, we acquire the use of Warehouse B, since we do not need the special property of Warehouse A, since we do not anticipate needing a space larger than that filled by 12 tractor trailers, and since we only need stasis, not refrigeration. He directs us to Mary in Dispatch to fix us up with a shipper.
Mary and Dafnord get right down to business. He describes the size of our potential cargo, and Mary agrees that he only needs a light freighter. Delicately, she inquires if we need a seasoned crew, meaning one that can fight like a pack of angry wolverines, and Dafnord replies that we don't. She then asks about the legality of our cargo. Dafnord assures her that, although it is addictive, it is perfectly legal. Everything will be aboveboard.
Slightly stunned, she asks about our shipping schedule. Dafnord says that we'd like to ship our first cargo in seven days, and monthly thereafter. This sounds reasonable to her. She asks if we would like the shipping done "in house." This sounds cheaper. Dafnord says yes. It really is in house, too! Lastly, he assures her that we will not require any special hangering.
Robbie decides that we need something better than a washed hand for presenting people with a chocolate fruit. He fancies a gold box, nice padding, and a bright ribbon. Well, three actually, for Cantrel, John, and Mary, who have all been helpful. Oh, and more to give away on Adonis. We go to a box maker, intending to order a few dozen boxes, to be labeled "Grower's Choice." Our box maker knows his business. In no time, we've agree to put the owner's name, uh, "Elf Grove Farms" on the box as well, with "Product of Ipsylvania" on the ribbon. The box will be plasticized on the inside, filled with mylar "grass", and with a doily-like paper overwrap, embossed with "Elf Grove Farms". It all sounds very nice and agreeable. Since the primary cost of all this are the set-up charges, we order 1,000, to be delivered to Warehouse B in two weeks, when it will be empty again.
The irradiator is easily ordered; it will be delivered to our warehouse in three weeks. We take notes.
With a little pantope maneuvering, we get the boxes, and move the irradiator to New Hierow. The Kraslks help us unload the irradiator, twenty years earlier. We irradiate one fruit, and test its fertility. We're golden; even Daphne can't coax more than a thin little stem out of it. Since the trees take a few years to reach maturity, we leave Daphne with the Pemnals, the Kraslks, and all those chocolate trees, (She doesn't object.) and pop forward a year.
The crop is a little thin, but we expected that. We take a few pictures of the "happy natives" with baskets of the crop. Then we move the fruit from the baskets, through the irradiator, into boxes, through the pantope, and into Warehouse B. It's only enough to fill one tractor trailer. We select out the best fruit, and make up boxes for Cantrel and his people, the two men from Three-Ways, more for Customs and the Rangers, and one for the box maker. It amuses us that he will get his late, after he has delivered the boxes.
We return to the Now on the Munch. Yes, our folk have indeed continued to mock the people setting up the cordon around our ship. Robbie calls John Hin-Twa, and he drives over. Robbie gets into the car with him, hands him the boxed fruit, and they go off. Hin-Twa asks about methods of preparing our fruit. Robbie explains that we have always just sliced and eaten it, but suggests that the fine chefs of Adonis will doubtless have their own ideas. Hin-Twa takes his point.
He samples. He asks how many will be in our first shipment. (One thousand bushels per trailer, times forty fruit per bushel?) He proposes that Three-Ways gets 2% of 4 Sybilbucks per fruit, and that we keep the volume down. The conversion to Hellene marks tells us that we can buy one field hospital per trailer-load. (!) Hin-Twa is pleased that our first shipment will be arriving in a week and a half. He keeps talking, recommending that we first sell only to the top restaurants, then to the top hotel chains, and then finally we'll sell to the retail market. We confer on the net, and agree.
Next Robbie asks what is to be done about the Rangers. Hin-Twa assures us that when the Munch leaves, they will leave. This strikes us as plausible. Three-Ways will take care of Customs for us, but first they'll need about one hundred fruit. At least that's not the problem it would have been an hour ago. We load gold boxes into the trunk of the limo. The Customs people come over, as does Hin-Twa. They negotiate, and then Chin-Wa drives up as well. He informs Customs that we have been upgraded to permit us to import up to one gross (144) fruit for non-commercial purposes. Customs takes six "for scientific purposes", and we give them one. The limo drives off, unmolested.
We decide that we need to have an office; it would be a secure place to have a pantope door. We call Chin-Wa to express this sudden desire. He directs us to call his office. The receptionist at Three-Ways is flusterable, but she connects us to Edgeway (the third party to make up Three-Ways?). He takes our requirements (a ten-by-twelve foot room, bathroom, opaque door), and promises to take care of everything. Soon, he reports that he's sending over three documents. We wait, slurping drinks, and less than an hour later a messenger on a skycycle brings us the papers. There's the preliminary incorporation of a pre-existing foreign corporation, the rental agreement (but no pictures of office 1C), and the contract with Three-Ways. We sign the first and last documents.
We really feel the need to see the office before signing off on that, so Robbie puts on his (poof!) ectoplastic helmet, and he and the messanger fly off to check out the office. It's on the edge of the warehouse district. The front door is locked, so Robbie lofts to peek through windows on the first floor (which is above the ground floor), and finds one which is empty, and looks like someplace Mike Hammer would fit.
Robbie tries his phone card, then buys a new card, and calls Edgeway. Edgeway unlocks the front door remotely, and Robbie pops up to 1C, turns on the old computer there as instructed, and Edgeway accesses it to give Robbie authorization for the office. Its scanner doesn't work on Robbie. Its retinal scanner doesn't work on Robbie. But the new phone card works on Robbie. Edgeway promises us a new computer tomorrow. Robbie checks out the rest of the office; to wit, a closet and a back room. The bathroom must be (?) down the hall.
Robbie signs the rental agreement, and tips the kid on the skycycle Sb 6 for his efforts to date, and to lead Robbie back to the spaceport.
Robbie tucks away our copies of the agreements, and returns to the office. Kate navigates the pantope after him, frames up the door into the back office, and bookmarks the location. Once back at the spaceport, we gather some more boxes of chocolate fruit, and pass them out to the Rangers. Then we button up the Munch, get our clearances, and launch.
©2001 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.