Offspring Ch. 035


The plane taxied and came to a stop some fifty yards from the Pygmalion where there was a lot of activity. Containers were being loaded, presumably the stuff Jack had asked for.

Pedro, Juan and Feng were on the bridge when I arrived. Pedro jumped up, saluted smartly and yelled: "Welcome aboard Colonel Walters from Olympus Colonisation Command."

This was as far as he got before all three of them burst out laughing.

"Cut it out fellows, how the fuck do you know?"

"Your little wreath laying ceremony was on the news last night together with an editorial explaining the project. We were wondering what kind of a scam you were pulling."

"This wasn't my doing. I had no idea this shit would wind up on the news. Still, I suppose it can't hurt."

"Too right it can't hurt. They made us out as real heroes. Doing a joint venture with a notoriously secret and closed empire in the forbidden zone. A major breakthrough in interstellar relations they called it. Chang Corporation shares are going through the roof. The Tai-pan is tickled pink. Feng has recorded the broadcast and sent a copy to his uncle. You can have a look at it later. Incidentally, a senior executive of the Chang Corporation is on his way here. He wants to talk to you."

"Well, it looks like we fluked a good one here," I said and spent the next hour telling the Rodriguez brothers and Feng what had happened at HQ.

"The general is a cagey bastard," I concluded. "He is trying to write the Federation into our project in any way he can. Without saying so he is giving the impression to the world at large that the Federation is already deeply involved. So far he is succeeding admirably. If we play our cards right we might get a lot of help from the Feds by just waving a carrot in front of their faces."

Pedro had become very thoughtful. After a pause he said: "Perhaps now is the time to let the Federation know we might be prepared to sell, if they can make us a tempting enough offer."

"Get a proposal together. I have a direct line to General Taubner. We can bypass all the bureaucracy and go straight to the top of the decision making tree. I take it you know what you want in exchange?"

"Let me make a few calls. We'll talk about it tomorrow."

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