Max had spent the previous day arranging, checking, buying and delivering the computer and sensor relays to the Duchess Selene.
On the day of boarding, the party members are in no rush to vacate the hotel, as they don’t need to board until 11.00 and so they have a final leisurely breakfast at their hotel before checking out and making their way to the dock.
The Duchess Selene is operated by McClellan Factors, the biggest operator on Collace, having their own section of the highport for their own ships.
The ship is a 600-ton liner of a design unique to McClellan Factors, differing from a standard Type-M due to having 36 staterooms at the expense of cargo capacity. She looks to be in pretty good shape even though she’s far from being a new ship. The crew are well-dressed and seem to be professional and well-trained as the stewards assist all of the high passengers onboard.
As is the case with all professional shipping lines, everyone is searched for weapons, which are then deposited in the ship’s locker. Each of the party members has a ton of baggage allowance and so they are able to place all of the bulky items that they are now carrying around with them in the hold.
Everyone settles into their staterooms and then head for the dining room in order to watch the ship departing from its dock and to meet with their fellow passengers. Unfortunately, they have rather a longer wait than they expected. The Captain apologizes for the delay, but tells them that Collace is seeing a lot of traffic to the moment and so their launch slot has been put back.
Eventually, they are finally able to depart a little after 15.00, much to the relief of the other passengers, many of whom are starting to get frustrated, despite the attention of the stewards, who make sure that everyone’s glasses are quickly refilled.
The party members spend the rest of the afternoon chatting among themselves and then enjoy a very good dinner and a few drinks afterwards.
“So Jie,” says Max in passing, “You never told us what you got up to during our little holiday from one another. So what did you get up to?”
“Well, I believed a little alone time from the group was a good idea,” Jie replies. “About five weeks was fine. I’d seen this kind of flare up happen among friends in the Corp. as a combination of questionable missions and being too close. Let’s face it, I’ve always been a strong loner type and the experience of watching Grim’s horse get mauled by the Wahroo pack leader shook her spirit to the core (also seeing Grim break down and cry like a school girl didn’t help either.) I needed time to focus… on shooting things.”
“I hooked up with a division of Imperial Marines here on Collace pulling guard duty for the Ambassador. They were just about to go on training maneuvers up north near the polar cap and I begged to be taken along as a civilian participant and paid 5,000 cr for the privilege to train with my Laser Carbine, eat food rations and crap in a hole. All went pretty well and after five weeks of harsh environment war games I think my reflexes have been honed fairly well.”
“That’s not to say I was incommunicado during that time. Collace has a wonderful Communications grid and I spent most of her free time on her Phone-pad talking financial things over with the Tezzic and Hughes Investment and Export Firm. I grew up dirt poor on a Tech4 world and has never felt comfortable with cybernetic augmentations although I realize the boon they give. Also the amount of cash she had in the bank was making her edgy. So the T.H.I.E. Firm will follow my instructions and dump most of my cash – 150k – into the volatile Iridium Commodities Exchange. I (on a hunch) believe that a lot of Iridium will be flowing from Pavibid though here on its way to the Imperium (who will pay top price for it in order to curry favor with Collace) and her investments now, before everyone else knows what’s going on, will at the least be made into double profits.”
“Towards the end of the ‘Winter Games’ I was surprised to find that she misses the gang. Quirky and opinionated as you may all be, I have grown accustomed to your ways.”
Max looks at Jie in alarm as she tells him of her investments:
“Doll, you’re about as good an investor as I am a marksman!”
“The reason that iridium is so expensive is that demand is high and supply is low. Once these new deposits come online, supply will rise while demand will initially stay the same. As a result, prices for iridium are likely to go down not up.”
“If you want to make money from the situation, you need to short prices of iridium, which is basically a gamble that the price will go down rather than up, or else you are almost sure to lose money.”
He shakes his head.
“Good job someone here passed his basic Social Sciences (Economics) exam.”
“You better get your money out before we leave Collace or else you could lose a lot once the deal is announced.”
“Awww Holy Crap!!” Jie furiously punches her Phone-pad and connects with T.H.I.E.F. with only minutes till jump. She demands to see Jagger Tezzic the front (man?) of the Firm and eventually his sharp Vargr face is on the screen. “My I help you?” he asked slowly with his tounge lolling out.
“Sell all Iridium stock!! Do it now damn your furry hide!! I want all the cash put into Iridium mining equipment and transport vessles.” Jie literally screams at the screen.
Just then the Captain’s voice comes over the inter comm stateing that Jump will be a little early.
“OK let me get this straight…” says Tizzic "You want- " Then the comm goes dead and the faint humm of the Jump drive begines to get louder.
“Aggggghh” Jie throws her new Phone-pad into the bulk head.
The ship safely slips into hyperspace around 21.30. They then spend a while longer drinking before they head for their own staterooms and to bed.