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Old August 17th, 2019, 10:08 AM
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The Pakkrat The Pakkrat is offline
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054-1107
Firgvaar (Provence 2401) A667987-E Ga Hi Pr VLPr
Day-Who Cares?

The beltstrike was leaked as we were just about to initiate jump to Lair. Seekers came running to the Leading Trojans of Firgvaar LGG-S. Don’t ask me how such news gets leaked, but I’m sure it did when we saw our credits account explode with MCr12.5 each.

“Pathing confirmed, jump on your command,” I heard Uessae say over the intercom.

“Jump. Jump now,” ordered Blacktongue.

“Initiating Jump,” I answered. With a jump after credits in the account, there were no takebacks for Knurrksuerrgikh Mining Interest. That money was ours. We partied during jump transit. Out of the chiller came the drink and I grilled some steak. Yes, real food. With the Cargo Hold pressurized during jump transit, there was both time and room on the Minor Carp to dance to very loud music, exercise, mill about and generate more than just a professional business ethic. But every time we encountered the alien, monadium egg, I saw Uessae stop and regard it with that same stare. Maybe she was simply acknowledging it. She fiddled with her Pocketwatch-4 on a chain about her neck ruff.

061-1107
Lair (Provence 2402) A8859B9-E (or F, depending) Ga Hi Pr Pz Cp (debatable) Cx K [Vargr] VLPr

With the same traffic density as Firgvaar, inbound reservation of an orbital platform Berth is painful as pulling teeth. There are seventeen orbital platforms over mainworld Lair and we still had to wait for a ship to pull from a magnetic docking clamp at Platform-9, at Berth 75. Inbound, I had called into the capital city Aforrarrang Histoical Society about the salvage finds. An appointment was scheduled which seemed to satisfy Lidus. I did not mention the monadium egg on Comms.

We were not off the Minor Carp until a Society adjuster and curator arrived via Shuttle late in the Day. Nodding with disinterest at the starship armor and the Tech-9 grav-jack, the curator was not moved until we sweetened the salvage with the Second Diaspora M-Drive relic.

"If that is all you brought us we can proceed-" said the adjuster before I cut him off.

"One more item for your consideration, sir. It is down in the steerage deck."

"What do you have then and why not up here on your Cargo Hold deck when I arrived?" asked the snobbish Scholar. Did he have a paper to turn in?

"You will understand when you see it," I assured him.

In the deepest deck and in the aft of the steerage was stored the artifact which none of us had dared the descriptor Ancients. Already present were Lidus Ka, Uessae Noedhin and Blacktongue, (leaving out his entire name). The three had their favorite weapons on straps, bandoleer, or holstered at our descent on the cargo elevator. Though disturbed by the show of arms, the curator quickly lost the threat at the sight of the monadium egg.

"And before you call up some obscure law or regulation, know that you aren't leaving this ship until we have an Advocate and the Platform Warden sign the witnessed releases if your Society wants it."

"Ancients!"

"Hmmph, that's what I said when we found it," I added to the reaction.

Lidus piped up with, "Densitometer says it is solid monadium and five tons of it."

Uessae added, "Immune to grav-jacks and grav plates too. Physical labor to load it onto the ship."

I held up a manifest tablet with a locked screen. The device awaited a thumbclaw print signature to unlock. "Yours with a signature is everything we know about it. Not before."

"I-I-I'm no Merchant! This-...this is priceless. You can't buy or sell an Artifact of this magnitude."

"Oh. So, you don't want it?"

"I didn't say that!"

"Then offer us something," I challenged the adjuster.

"I have to comm the Society's special purchases branch for this level of deal."

"Then you do so on our Comm, secure line, and you only get one."

Under strict security at the airlock, the Warden of Platform-9, and over a steak dinner that I personally prepared, the adjuster was allowed to comm his superiors. With a fair witness Advocate standing by in her black robes and me sleaze-haggling like never before, we reached a deal to get that egg safely off the Minor Carp.

I imagined during the negotiations of lines of funds redirecting along channels of Society supporters, a web woven with the artifact at its center. Spreading outward across Aforrarrang and possibly the entire globe of mainworld Lair as we approached a final sum of credits.

"You sir, are tapping out our budget for the fiscal year. We won't have the funds to pay for analyzing this find unless we beg for help from the government."

"That's is not my problem," I said. "Lair is aryu rich and your next Publication and Tenure will be assured. Or we can give this egg to another museum for better numbers."

"You won't make it to 50D, Merchant."

"Is that a threat, Professor?"

"Just a warning. This find may be Ancients."

"I bet even the Navy can't vaporize the thing before it lands on the Palace of Erzikh Dhadh and the throne room of Ulurs."

The Warden spoke then. "Watch it, sir."

And this was the heated nature of negotiations for that evening. But we signed a purchase deal. Time was on our side. The Society was able to scrape together MCr32 for the Artifact, providing all was hushed under a gag order and we stayed at Berth long enough for the Society to remove it. I handed over the tablet after all the print signatures, witnesses and other Admin red tape was settled. The Aforrarrang Historical Society took all of the next day in ship, to EVA, to Shuttle pushing the monadium egg under microgravity. With it went the old hull armor and the grav-Jack-9 as part of the deal. Score another for the Bucket List: sell an Ancients artifact. Five tons of Someone Else's Problem was removed from the Minor Carp. It is likely that the salvage M-Drive was sold secondarily to a restoration hobbyist group to recoup some of the Society's funds.
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