Ali had had enough for the day, all of the customers coming through the station didn’t understand why her product was so expensive compared to the stuff they could get from the large store down the precinct. The wine she sold was true, proper wine made from real grapes, grown in real soil, with real sunlight, not the synth rubbish most people thought of as wine.
This upset her in that no one out here really got it. They had the spare money – most of the people living on Altic Station were rich; they were business owners or ship captains, but the majority had never been to earth.
There was a beep on her personal comp, a message from her business partner – who she shared the running of the little empire of 500 transport ships, and numerous outlets across 10 worlds and 50 space stations.
The wine shop on Altic was the current head office for tax reasons.
Being a new station they were offering good incentives to lure people out here, and they had – much to the annoyance of some of the large guilds that ran the other stations.
What Altic hadn’t expected was a large shipping company to uproot and setup it’s hub here. There had been much hand wrangling from station control when the sudden increase in ArjRen Shipping owned ships started docking, and when Ali and John had pretty much bought half the docking ring for their exclusive use there had been much consternation from the then station master. This had further upset the guilds – the move had cost them billions in revenue from docking and maintenance that major shipping supplied.
The message from John would not make the new station master happy. Due to the increase in “piracy” on ArjRen ships, John had gone and hired a merc group to provide security. And by hired he meant – so the message said – purchased – and he was going to move their base of operations to Altic too. His message went on to say that he had intercepted messages that one of the guilds had been hiring mercs.
The guild that was doing this most was the one that ran the station where ArjRen had been based for the last 200 years. Xenum Station was one of the major hubs, but they imposed heavy taxes on all goods transferred through their station – because there had been no alternative. Alric had never meant to be that alternative – it was too out of the way. except an explorer ship had recently found a FTL point in the system that linked it back to Earth, shaving a mere 5 jumps and 3 weeks off the journey. Altic was now better suited to reach the newer systems and stations, the exploration companies were out in droves searching for more points and angles from the system. Looking for other links, and always the potential for intelligent life.
The next call that came to the office was from the station master.
‘Hi Ali – we seem to have 30 of your ships incoming. They are showing as armed – can you confirm the details I’m sending you please?’
She shook her head and opened the attachment that John had sent and compared it to the list the station master sent over. ‘Yes I can confirm they are all our ships. Due to the increase in piracy we have taken the decision to arm some of our ships. The loss of life has become unacceptable.’
The station master agreed to let them dock as long as any weapons were put under seal before the ships came much closer. Ali was not sure she could get them to shut down the weapons but told the station master she would do what she could.
She was cursing John and the little warning she had given – the timing of the warning – if the message had been delayed by an hour what would have happened!
An hour later all of the warning klaxons went off on the station.