2952-06-19 – Tales from the Service: The Courier’s Profits 

This account was presented to me a few months ago, but for what will, I think, become obvious reasons, we were told by both the submitter and Naval Intelligence to sit on it for a while to ensure that we were not releasing sensitive information. 

Our submitter here is none other than the outgoing director of the Alien Sapience Welfare Authority for the entire region, who has served in that capacity for about three years. This account will span at least three of our weekly episodes, and I would expect it represents the most interesting thing to happen during his tenure. 

In this first section, we see why one should never try to strong-arm a government agency. It never ends well, no matter how innocuous the agency. 

The spacer woman across Ris Bleier’s desk glared at him as he read the data slate she had just passed him. She clearly wanted to be done with the errand that had brought her as quickly as possible, but he did his best to focus on the text and not to take offense; spacers were always itching to get back out into the black, whoever and whatever else they were supposed to be doing.  

Fortunately, the first few sentences grabbed Ris’s interest, and he soon stopped glancing up at the slate’s courier. If what he was seeing was true, that would explain why someone had paid this woman to hand-deliver a data slate directly to a director of the Alien Sapience Welfare Authority, when it would have been free to send the same data over the HyperCast network. “Can you verify any of this?” He asked, tapping the screen. 

“Some guy paid me to put this in your hands, I don’t even know his name.” The woman crossed her arms. “I’ll be honest, Director Bleier, I haven’t read anything more than the first couple words, and that told me not to go any farther. Reachers never do us any harm, but if we start skulking around their dead, they just might.” 

Ris set the slate down and met her gaze evenly, wondering whether to believe this assertion. A particularly foolhardy spacer could make a lot of money with the information she’d been carrying. As she had pointed out, that spacer could also potentially kick off a whole new era of conflict in the process. “I think I know who gave you this.” He drummed his fingers on the slate. “How much did he promise I would pay you?” 

The woman grinned and stuck out her chin. “Thirty thousand. And we both know it’s worth a lot more than that.” 

“It’s worth a lot more than that as long as it stays quiet.” Ris shrugged. “And a lot less if half the spacers in Sagittarius know about it. How do I know you won’t be selling copies of this information to every rogue and adventurer on The Sprawl?” 

The woman arched one eyebrow. “I do delivery, not exclusivity. But it’s only good business to give your people a head start, eh?” 

Ris narrowed his eyes and smiled. “Indeed it is. I am prepared to pay your thirty thousand for, say, one week of exclusivity. Half up front, half at the end of the week.” 

“Fair trade.” The spacer shrugged. “I'll take my fifteen thousand in small chits, please. Got some shopping to do, if you know what I mean.” 

“There is a process.” Ris held up his hands. “Allow me to fill out the correct forms so you can collect from my treasurer.” He pushed the slate to one side, woke up the holo-display in his desk, and began calling up forms. Most of them were numbered lists of fields with cryptic names, so he didn’t even bother to hide the fact that the first few forms he filled out had nothing to do with a payment release. Only the last one did, and he made a show of typing “pay in hard currency” into the notes field. 

For her part, the spacer quickly lost interest in the paperwork, barely glancing up when he turned the final form around in the hologram for her inspection. She grunted at the note authorizing the payment in chits, then stood. “Good doing business with you, Director Bleier.” 

Ris stood in turn, smiling again. “Maybe we’ll do business again soon.” He arched one eyebrow. “The treasurer’s office is to the left, down a few doors. He should have you paid in a few minutes.” 

The spacer smiled, anticipating the sudden influx of credits, then hurried out of the office. Ris waited for the door to close, then commed the port controller’s office. It was time to requisition a ship to go investigate the report on the slate. One of the nice things about Ris’s position was that, in times of great need, he had the power to commandeer civilian ships to accomplish his errands; he had the perfect ship in mind for the task, and its commander would be momentarily too busy to do anything about it.