StarPort Nuribis

in Shoppers' Boulevard

blue stairs shoppersblvd 2
In 2460, The Organisation for Interstellar Peace celebrated the construction of Starport Nuribis, a neutral base at the gates of the Architect home world. Starport Nuribis was the second of a series of starports created by the Organisation for Interstellar Peace. The starport's mission was from the onset to be an area of free-trade, where taxation and tariffs were non-existent. It was believed (rightly, it turned out) that these ports could become commercial safe havens for the entrepreneurs of the galaxy. Within five years, Nuribis grew to become an important trading port as well as serving as the primary defence base for the Architect homeworld. Under the joint administration of the O.I.P peacekeeping force and the Architect defence force, Starport Nuribis has rarely refused access to its many services whatever those may be. The starport falls under the laws of the O.I.P, laws that are reputedly some of the most lax in the entire galaxy. 

Starport Nuribis is in fact three facilities in one; a commercial starbase, a military starbase, and a repair and maintenance port. The starbase which houses the commercial decks and shopping centres of the starport is the busiest and largest of the three. Amongst the highlights of the commercial decks including a discothque by the name of the Black Hole, a famous bar: Tealfox's Bar, and a massive shopping center in the heart of it all counting some 230 stores; restaurants, and cafes. This commercial facility is linked via regular shuttle transports to its other two facilities. In a nearby asteroid field some 200 meters away is a series of defence installations that are imbedded into the asteroids. The laser cannons and missile launch bays are some of the best that military hardware can offer, making Starport Nuribis one of the best defended neutral post there ever was. It is this military hardware that has kept the Architect homeworld and the sectors in and around Nuribis safe from the collateral damage of the Terran-Gohorn war. 

The third facility is a docking port that is capable of handling approximately 40 starships, ranging from the smallest to the largest battleship. Often, there is three time the number of ships in the system, holding position close to the docking port while awaiting to gain access to one of the prized ports. Special multi-species docking ports were constructed specifically for the Starport so that it can also handle one of the largest starship diversity in the galaxy. Its docking ports are certainly capable of docking with the major powers ships and any vessel compatible of docking with the star bases of these powers. It is capable of providing repairs for all ships, but it does so at a fee. It is estimated that twenty percent of the revenue produced by the starport comes from these types of repairs. 

Starport Nuribis is as much renowned for its wealth, prosperity and high commercial traffic as it is for its criminal underground. In the darker seedier red-light district of the Starport gang related crime is on the rise as funds from the O.I.P to maintain security has also gone down. On the commercial decks, the shopkeepers have elected to fund a private security that protects the main shopping areas of the starport. The result is a vast fault line within the starport, with some levels being ridiculously opulent and others drab and in need of a facelift. The starport also tends to have regular visit from starships on official tours to the O.I.P home world, this has meant that there is always a large military presence on the Starport. It is not uncommon here to find Gohorn enlisted personnel heatedly debating with Rosebourg enlisted personnel, for Terran officers exchanging prized goods with L.M.C personnel. 

It is a lively place, a place that knows no rest, a massive facility that at any particular point welcomes within its decks some 25.000 customers. Starships have become accustomed with the greeting that is unique to Nuribis. 

"Welcome to Starport Nuribis, this is Lieutenant Sajak, I will be your flight control officer for this shift. Please identify yourself, transmit registration codes and certifications and prepare to receive docking instructions with the Starport. We apologize for any delays which may take place today, there is a Conference on Human Telepaths taking place at the Starport and we have been asked to give Terran starships docking priority."
The reciever of the transmition hesitantly transmitted his identification code. It wasn't because he would be afraid of the starport's security, but because of the various gangs that were housed in it as well. There were definately going to be hate groups there and if one of them would be a bit more informed he could find himself one head short perhaps even as he exited the transport. A response which gave him little comfort came in return: 

"Thank you for clearing with Starport Nuribis, Jean Tarka. Relaying coordinates for landing pad 1210. Have a nice day." 

"Yeah, as nice as a telepath can have..." he said out loud to himself. His wife put her hand on his shoulder in order to try and relax him a bit, if that was at all possible considering his nature. 

"Don't worry okay,  Starport Nuribis is a neutral meeting point so your paranoia really doesn't have much to grow from here." 

"Is that so? Do you know what happens in those red-light districts down there? Christ, all it takes is one quick bomberman at our conference and so much for our whole organization. I should've spent more credits on security." 

His wife shook her head. Apparently Jean Tarka's history was imbedded very deeply inside him, which is not too surprising considering the life that he had had. The transport slowly began to descend, led by its automatic pilot, down onto the landing platform and Jean's anxiety made him sigh as he proceeded down the exit ramp that was lowering slowly and leading him to Starport Nuribis. 
The two vessels had been launched from their docking ports by Starport Nuribis control centre. The Starport's operations managers had identified a vessel operating within O.I.P. space whose identification protocols were suspicious. The Starport had mobilized its patrolling starships to intercept the vessel and to identify and confirm the shipment it was carrying. The vessel identified itself as an Ymyllian transport craft carrying luxury goods to the Providian belt worlds. The transport craft was a massive civilian craft, 1.2 kilometers long, all devoted to cargo  though it did pack quite an extensive weapons package that could make most civilian crafts a pile of dust. The operations managers weren't content with leaving such a potentially dangerous craft unchecked. 

The O.I.P. destroyer Gendrevine and the frigate Ompek Lencha thus headed towards the vessel at high thrusters speeds. If they weren't quick, the transport craft would leave the system and O.I.P. jurisdiction. Once out of O.I.P. jurisdiction, it would fall upon another, often less cautious star systems government to make sure the vessel was stopped and checked to make sure it conformed with O.I.P. registration regulations that had become universal throughout the galaxy save the former territories of the Natashan Nation. No one dared ventured in there, even the O.I.P. committees on space exploration had to contend that it would take a significant resource base to permit an extensive space exploration mission and enough crazy men to dare try it. No major power had come forward with the necessary funds. 

The O.I.P. destroyer and frigate were starships on loan to the O.I.P. PeaceForce, the military organisation designated to protect O.I.P. neutral space, as well as complete the various peacekeeping missions that still remained afloat despite the war having been declared between the major powers. It was a miracle that the O.I.P. still had starships from these major powers to call upon for maintaining the security of these dubbed neutral territories. Were the major governments still unwilling to call the grand experiment of Peace a failure? The medias barely dared ask themselves the question. But the fact that this Gohorn frigate and this Rosebourg destroyer were flying together on a mission was mere symbolism. Indeed, as soon as they would be released from their O.I.P. rotation, one could be certain that they'd see each other on the various fronts that had been popping up as the result of the Rosebourg entry into the conflict. 

The PeaceForce vessels approached the transport craft that was still refusing their transmissions. Lieutenant Commander Yxix, an Avran who had had the honor of serving on a Gohorn-Rosebourg officer exchange some three years before the war had been declared, was glad to have the Gohorn company. His hairs stood straight up, as his feline instincts were telling him they were sailing towards a ship that didn't want to be messed with. The communications officer attempted again and again to make a link to no avail. They were right on the heels transport craft, but it maintained its heading away from O.I.P. space stubbornly, attempting to ignore the fact that two heavily armed warships were now telling it to comply with Starport Nuribis orders. 

"Sir, we're still not receiving a response,  The communications officer replied, Gohorn frigate's wondering if we should open fire?"
"Inform them to stand by,"  Yxix ordered, "Tell 'em we'll get these bastards one way or another, I promise.? 

"Aye, aye," The communications officer nodded and switched channels to chat with the Gohorns, "Ompek Lencha this is Gendrevine, stand by on that weapons fire request, we might still be able to find a peaceful solution that will please the Ambassadors."

"Helm", Yxix glanced, "Overtake and put us right on their flight path." 

The Gendrevine was one of the fastest warships in the galaxy. Its thrusters engines re-activated, the pulling the agile vessel forward and past the transport craft. The Gendrevine then spun on its access, its forward guns pointing straight at the transport craft that was immediately forced to halt its advance away from O.I.P. space. The Rosebourg starship's bold strategic move had gotten the attention of the transport craft. 

"How many times do we have to tell you, PeaceForce gabrikis that we're a Ymyllian transport craft carrying luxury goods to the Providian belt worlds!  You are endangering the timeliness of the delivery of these highly prized goods!?  The angered Captain's voice sounded through the speakers of the Gendrevine's CONN. 

"Ymyllian vessel, as per the Interstellar Travel Acts of 2432, governing entities of territorial space are authorized to order any vessel to submit to a registration check should the governing entities find any suspicion of irregularities of starship registration."

?I do not care, our registration papers are fine! Let us through!? 

"Ymillian vessel, if you do not comply with our orders, you will be forcibly escorted to the nearest O.I.P. facility. Stand down, and prepare to be boarded."

"CONN, TCAC. Reading a weapon's spike!?" 

"A weapons spike??,"  Yxix looked at the Navigations officer with puzzlement as he saw on his screen a green light. 

The transport craft's laser slammed on the starboard section of the Gendrevine as part of its hull plates were shredded from the main hull. The vessel trembled as it listed to starboard. Within the ship, the lights changed immediately to signal that the ship had entered battle conditions. The Ompek Lencha immediately reacted, its lasers targeting the weapons array of the transport vessel. 

"Damage report!?" Yxix stood up from the ground after having been tossed from his chair. 

"Secondary hull's been hit, no hull breach detected!?"

"The Ompek Lencha's knocked the weapons systems of the transport craft offline." 

?Target their engines and open fire!? 

The transport craft stood defenceless as the main weapons of the Gendrevine slammed onto the thrusters and vortex engines. The directed laser hits were enough to bring the systems down very rapidly. 

"Their engines are offline."

"How many people are on that transport craft?"  Yxix asked, as he began thinking about whether it'd be better to board the vessel here or at Starport Nuribis. 

"Twenty five, sir." 

"All right, inform Ompek Lencha, we'll tractor this bitch back to Nuribis,"  Yxix paused, "And thank them for their timely intervention."
"This is Spirit Musicant, registration code is Gamma-4-2-Echo-Omega-9-0-1-7, certification is being transmitted as I speak."  Spirit wasn't his real name, rather a name that he'd chosen. His vessel the Mary Jane entered Light Vessel Space Lane 3. The Mary Jane is a Vortex capable heavy fighter, well at least it was classed as a heavy fighter in its day. He?d had spent months and a hell of a lot of credits in refitting the vessel, the old weapons and tactical defence systems had been replaced with more modern tactical systems. The computer systems had been replaced with a newer model that he?d salvaged from a wrecked Xaxier class freighter that had not only cut costs but also meant he got some military grade computer systems, and they unlike their civilian cousins were much, much better. The sensor systems were easy enough, unlike the Vortex drive. Finding and buying the spare parts for a Vortex drive was hard enough, fitting them and getting the drive tested and declared space worthy was hard enough, but he wasn't going to risk having his ship and himself ripped apart by using a Vortex drive bought off the black market.

"Registration and certification codes have been received and have been cleared, uploading updated flight plan, you are cleared for docking pad 34, thank you for docking at Starbase Nuribis and we hope you have a nice day."

"Thank you Starbase Nuribis." Thank god for those telepaths, at least Terran vessels were getting priority, last time he'd came to dock it had taken two hours before he'd been cleared for docking. Closing the channel he brought the ship in towards the docking port. "Hello?" He looked at his sensor display, red lights indicating what appeared to be weapons fire. "Looks like some one's gotten a little frisky."  He chuckled and carried on towards into the docking bay, opening the thrusters he brought the Mary Jane to a standstill above the docking pad before finally making contact with pad, the locking clamps securing the small vessel into place. "And another beautiful landing.' He unclipped the belt and got up, he shutdown the systems and opened the canopy. Reaching into the cockpit of his small vessel he pulled out a belt, on it was laser pistol he wrapped it around his waist and buckled it in place. 

"Spirit Musicant?"  Said a familiar voice from behind. "Hell! I thought those crimson pirates had strung you up!"

Spirit turned around, Fred Chombs stood there grinning as he usually did. "Hey how was I supposed to know that those Laser rifles I'd supplied to them were faulty? And as you can see, they scratched the paintwork but other than that," He paused and looked at his watch. "Hey how about we meet in the Topaz,  Say in about an hour?"  The Topaz was a small bar that was successful enough to of achieved a good image and quite a reasonable profit, but often it was quite enough to make it a decent enough place to get drinks and have a conversation without having to deal with a throng of people.

Chomb's nodded. "Sounds like a plan, I?ll see you there." Chomb's then tipped his cap at Spirit and strode off to the main exit of the docking bay. 

Chuckling to himself Spirit opened up the cargo space behind the cockpit, and then pulling two boxes out he walked out of the bay with box boxes under his arm. Thank god security here is so bloody lax, Christ if I'd tried this on any other station I'd of had my ass arrested. 

"Excuse me sir, can I see what's in the box?" Asked a security officer at the door. 

Great, when you really don't need a security officer looking through your stuff you end up with a security officer looking through your stuff. Putting his best poker face on he walked over to the table and opened the box under his right arm and showed him the contents of it. "Rodesium Diamond's from what I gather they're pure as they come."  He smiled at the officer. "I'm delivering them to a jewellers store, you want one or two?"  He offered the officer, they were worth around 500 credits each, but due to the nature of the shipments it was often expected that one or two would go astray?

The officer hesitated for a moment. "Okay," he took two from the box and pocketed them. "Keep your weapon on safe mode in the public area's please, good day." 

Musicant exited the bay and got onto the main corridor, thank God he hadn't checked the boxes properly, at the bottom of the one in his right arm he would have found some optronic components innocent looking enough. In the other one if the officer had cleared enough of the diamonds away he would of found enough Tetrazine Fulyuraphimate  explosives and there optronic detonation switches. 

Was the drink moving? Surely it wasn't moving, since his hand was still attached to the glass and his hand definetly wasn't moving. So was the room spinning?  But that was impossible, if the room was spinning then he would be being thrown all over the place. But how could he deny that *something* was spinning?  Such were the musings of Raymond Wells after his fifteenth shot of something especially potent. He was off-duty, but when the room stopped spinning it meant that Raymond was sober, and when that happened it meant returning to his job. 

Chief of Station Nuribis Security Raymond Wells. "The Chief Joke." Raymond has been assigned to Starport Nuribis six years previously as part of an "officer donation" program from Mars. Wells had loved it on Mars, but was ready for the challenge of a bigger jurisdiction and so gladly took the job. For the first four years he'd been successful in what he did. Crime levels went down, parts of the station began to clean up their act and Wells was popular even with the fringe criminals. At that time, things were working. At that time, there had been intergalactic peace. Such a thing was of the past, now, as were lower crime rates, the disappearance of some of the galaxy's worst scum and the decline of racial tensions. 

Wells was only allowed an hour of peace a day between sleep and work; and it was time that he spent at the closest bar. Drinking. Forgetting. Hoping that the next day would be better than the last but doubting it very much. Four petty thieves, eighteen rioting Gohorns and Terrans and a Dealer of Optus (an hallicinagnic drug, yet highly dangerous to both the user and those in room for the next forty minutes because of residual traces. Optus was banned across most of the galaxy, except in the pirate dens where everyone sucked up the stuff.) 

"Yo, Chief!" 

"God Damn it, Charlie. I'm not on duty..." 

"No, you're not. You're getting yourself pissed. Again." 

"I don't have to..." 

"Oh yes you do, my friend. Come on, Ray. You've got to pull yourself out of this. And if you can't, then you should go back to Mars. Hell, you loved it there. If this place is getting you down then just leave. Turn away and don't come back. Mary and I have decided we're going back to Earth. There's nothing here for us anymore now that the O.I.P is more of a joke than Gohorn peace. We're leaving Ray, you should come with us," Charlie McIntire had been a life-long friend of Raymond's, always telling him the right thing when he needed it. 

"Security to Wells! COS, we've got a problem down here!" Raymond's comm-unit barked at him. Reaching in to the top pocket of his uniform he withdrew it then tried to rub the clouds from his eyes. 

"Security, this is Wells. I'm off duty." 

"I know, COS, but this is big. Get down to Deck Fourteen right away, a group of Gohorns is attempting to discourage a Terran businessman from making a speech." 

"Bah! It's always something...on my way," Wells sighed. The incident wasn't really "big" at all, the security agent who had spoken to him was probably green and still idealistic. Some security were, Raymond wished he still was. The rest of security were easily bought, and it was that side of running the station that let the team down. Very often the bad parts could easily overwhelm the better parts. Was Raymond seeing everything through the rose-tinted glasses of depression? Were things really as bad as his alcohol clouded mind told him they were? Deep down inside, he doubted it. But the thoughts lingered. 

Standing up and dropping a few credit chips on the table, Raymond bolted for the door to sort out the *next* riot.
Dressed in his finest suit, which doesn't say much, Marcus Trent looked like little more than a comment merchant with a bad hair day. "All good bought and sold!" was his usual shout to the passerby of his small trading shop. By today was different, he had woken up in a dark corridor of the star port. The bruises that he received from his loan shark were hurting a lot more than the hole in his pocket where his wallet was missing. 

"Not again, they need to just throw me out of the airlock and be done with it. How do they expect me to pay back the 10,000 credits I owe?" 

Slowly he got up and brushed himself off, his finest suit was mangled beyond his minor ability as a part-time tailor. Slowly he walked to the docks where his ship was being careful not to upset his tender leg. He took a few more steps on it he heard a crack.? 

With a slight scream of pain he fell down again. "Today isn't my day is it?" As he tried to move his foot it didn't respond corrected and the hurt caused him to decide that it was squarely broken. Using the banisters on the side of the corridor he pulled himself out to the opening of the docks. 

Before looking for his ship he spotted a piece of metal tubing that would suffice as a 5-foot walking stick. With his only current possession being his impromptu staff he made his was to gate 23 were his ship was suppose to be stationed.  Only it wasn't. 

"Tell me good sir, when did this vessel depart?" He asked a passing by merchant who, after giving him quick look, told him to shove off. "Good day to you too sir," was all Trent responded. 

Marcus promptly checks the logs on the Gates console. It had left an hour ago, and was probably well within it?s vortex drive sprint. "I'll never see that ship again, eh it was good while it lasted. Now to see about acquiring a new ship."  And with the flick of his wrist his deck of marked gambling cards came out. He gave them a quick count to make sure they were all there, and moved to the local drinking establishment.
"You know,  Yxix glanced over his drink, a Gohorn Warrior wine he had taken the habit of ordering whenever he came into TealFox's bar."

"What?" His Gohorn companion replied, as he finished his own in one gulp. A satisfied exhale ensued. 

"That's another thing I like about you Gohorns," Yxix was eyeing the drink strangely, his eyes following the circular motion that he was aiding the drinks content to take. Aiding, by moving his hand the exact same way. 

"Can you tell me what that bloody thing is?" 

"You guys don't get drunk?  Yxix laugh,  And you guys certainly don't do politics." 

"Ah,?"His Gohorn companion nodded, looking back at his drink. 

"You're quite the silent one tonight."

"Yeah, I guess so." 

"Come on, old friend,"  Yxix placed his cup down on the ground, as he plopped himself back on his chair, nearly sending himself flying backwards  body and chair included,  "Tell me what's bothering you." 

"My ship's received new deployment orders.? "

"You mean??, "  Yxix knew exactly what it meant. 

"Yeah,?"  the soldier turned to Yxix, "We're being withdrawn from our PeaceForce rotation.? "

"Gohorn Military Command doesn't see any utility in keeping you guys here?"

"No,? " The soldier sighed, "And they're right, we've got the most experience working with the Terran's. There are few warriors that know the Terran mannerisms better than we do.?"

"Your rotation here at Peace Force certainly has been the longest."

"Can't say we haven't worked well together," The soldier looked at Yxix, "My friend."

Yxix shook his head, unbelieving what he was hearing but knowing the futility in not accepting the fact that the war was involving progressively more and more lives, "When do you and the others depart?"

"We've been ordered to depart the first day following the next full moon,
So soon?" 

"Aye, my friend." 

"I will miss you sorely," Yxix sighed. 

"And I will miss you, The Gohorn extend his hand, For I know few greater warrior-diplomats than you."

"Tender!"  Yxix shouted, calling for Trunks. 

"Yeah, Kix, what do you want?" Trunks replied, calling Yxix was the nickname he had picked up during his tour of duty on Nuribis. 

"A keg of Warrior Wine. We've got mourning to do." 

"Coming right up, lads.?"
On the way down to Deck 14, the words of Raymond's friend kept swirling round and round inside his head, mixing and merging with the alcohol-induced fogginess. He reached inside a small pouch on his belt, and took out a pill which he quickly popped in to his mouth. It would remove the effects of alcohol very quickly, and already Wells felt his head begin to clear and Charlie's words begin to crystallise.

Long before he even got to the nearest turbolift, his laser pistol was out in his hand and raised to the guard position. Charlie's right...I'm out of here. Before the bottle eats me up and spits me out. He checked the safety on the pistol, and then stepped in to the beckoning lift.

"Deck 14. Security emergency, code Wells Pi-Upsilon-Three," Wells ordered the lift, whose doors shut immediately and would head to Deck 14 at 50% faster than normal speed without stops. Wells remembered to hang on to the lift hand-rail just in time before the faster descent began.

The lift thundered to ahalt and the doors opened. Immediately, Wells was outside. His ears were assaulted with a barrage of noise coming from up the corridor. He knew from experience that this part of the business area had a large open space just around the corner. That would be where all this was going on.

"All right, hit me. What's going on here?" Wells asked, stepping up to one of his security officers.

"The usual. Terran businessman got up on his soap-box to declare to the whole business forecourt how crap the Gohorns were at everything, how the Terrans were going to kick their ass and their homeworld would burn for a thousand years, yadda, yadda, yadda. Typical Terran not knowing when to shut up," the officer, a Byzanite, sneered slightly.

"Tell me about it," Wells sighed. Sometimes his own people had the greatest aroogance of anyone he'd ever met.

"Well, I believe up until this point the Gohorns had the upper-hand on the riot starting. Looks like Officer Mazar will win his 20 credits afterall," Wells said. "I take it those Gohorns standing around him are the ones about to cause the trouble..."

"No punches yet."

"All the same, we don't want another beating case on our hands. Make sure we get some riots (riot police) down here in full armour to take on those Greens if things get messy. Okay...let's go..." 
"'Ten hut!" The Rosebourg Monarchy's soldiers snapped to, their rifles shone and reflected off of the artificial lighting of the corridor. 

"On behalf of our crew," the Captain offered a Rosebourg designed sniper rifle to the Captain of the Gohorn ship, "Make your kills be honourable, Ompek Len'cha 

"We will be sure to do you proud, Captain," The Gohorn replied as he grabbed the rifle firmly, "Thank you." 

"Better go, Captain, your ride is waiting," The two had shared many a-nights saying their goodbyes to one another - this seemed more like a formality than anything else, albeit a unique one for a Rosebourg crew to give to a Gohorn one departing to shoot at their allies. 

"Aye," The Gohorn hesitated. He walked towards his ship and as he hesitated again one could tell that in his mind he was thinking oh, hell. He turned around once more, "Warrior diplomat." 

"Captain departing!" The Rosebourg Captain replied, his heart screaming along with it. The Captain went into a crisp and perfectly performed salute as the Gohorn entered his ship, the airlock slamming shut right afterwords. 

"Honor guard!" Yxix turned to face the airlock, "Dismissed!" 

As the crewmembers began leaving, the executive officer headed towards his Captain. He nodded to him, receiving the same nod back from Yxix. 

"I doubt we will ever see as a good a partner as that." 

"The Terrans better watch out," The Captain agreed, "The best is about to be sent out to get them." 

"Aye, aye." 

On the side viewports, the Gohorn ship armed to the teeth began sailing away from the Starport's docking port. This was her last voyage out... it would be months before the Starport would receive a visit from this ship again. Even this symbol of peace was being affected by the growing conflict. Her patrols drawing thinner than ever. 
Montgomery Walker---

Monty looked across the table to the lean, maybe even gaunt terran nursing an overpriced rum and coke shaking his head at the other terran,

"Monty, you are only going to keep at the most 40 the rest are on their way to Dominion. Karvell has gutted your executive staff." 

The Terran looked back not the least non-plussed

"Not a problem Karl, I would have canned their asses anyway. I need about 16 to 20 for the Executive Office and if there are any more worth keeping, transfer them to Production Divisions."

Karl Tennebaum smiled at his boss. " Monty, you've cut almost 30% from the payroll and closed 4 Divisions, are looking to fund two new Divisions Entertainment and News Media. That the Board will let you get away with no problem, but the Trip/Tour? And to hire a personal assistant from outside the Corporation? Are you nuts or just want the record for the shortest tenure as CEO anywhere in history?"

Monty Walker returned a toothy grin to his co-conspirator. "Karl you know me better than that I have the votes on the Board right now, of course I had to eat my pride a little and take some second and third choices for some of the postions, to keep certain parties pliable. The Trip/Tour is a done deal and if they refuse the external hire, well, then I will live with that."

Right then, a buzz sounded at the table and Monty picked up his PersComm. "Hello... Terri! Well it's about damned time... Your bloody new receptionist seems to think you are never available... Just a second, I have Karl here, let me put it on broadcast."

Monty flipped a switch and Karl did like wise and then all three were realative privacy.

The three men looked close enough to be brothers and in a way, all three were. All were "retired" fighter piiots and all 3 displayed a pin showing an Ace of Spades with a Green "G" emblazoned in the center. All three belonged to a very small club of pilots that had recorded at least 9 confirmed Gohorn kills in combat. Monty Walker, newly appointed to be Chief executive Officer of Terran Publishing Inc. Karl Tennebaum, soon to be retired from Terran Publishing Inc and Terri Grisham the newest partner in Kornen, Hill, Avalon and Spencer, Attys at Law. Terri started first.

"Monty are you sure? This is kind of sensitive."

" Go for it Terri, we're at the Topaz."

" Ok, it's just like you called it, DNA confirmed that it wasn't you. So, I went ahead and called her attorney and made the pitch, which they took. The adoption will take place Tuesday and Angela will be on her way to Earth 3 days later. I still don't understand Monty..."

" Fair's, fair Terri. Angela is Goeffy's little girl and I will be damned if that... woman will screw his daughter's life up, like she has her own. The family will pony up the hush money, so just make sure that nothing goes wrong OK?"

Terri replied, "For the retainer your paying, consider it done."
Monty, took a deep breath, "Thanks Terri and I don't know how you kept it out of the press, but you should see something extra, I am sure it wasn't cheap."

There was an awkward silence, Karl as always breaks through, "So, Monty you have 4 weeks banked, where are you going to spend it?"

"You won't believe me if I tell you, I am going to catch up on my reading and get 4 chapters done on me latest and greatest."

"Hell, Monty i would think you might get out and do something more adventurous than your apartment and the bars on Nuribis, but it's your life. I will talk to you later and I will message you when the arrangements are completed. Keep the bay in sight, boys."

With that the connection went dead. Monty looked at Karl and said "Ok Karl, what was so damned important that I had to spend my hard earned cash on rock gut liquor in this dive."

Karl shoved a vidviewer over to Walker, Monty picked it up and watched the image flicker at him. The terran watched engrossed in the scenes unfolding before him. He watched as a frigate attempted to ram a Gorhon warship aand was torn apart and then he watched the rest of the battle unfold.

Monty looked up the shock still evident in his eyes. "Where?..." And realized the stupidity of the question. " How much?"

Karl spoke with an edge in his voice. "150,000."

"Give him 500,000 and inform him that it no longer exists. And take it out of my account, no company money, and Karl tell him I want the exclusive market on this and that is not negotiable."

"OK Karl get back to your family and leave this with me." the lanky terran got up and quickly exited the bar. Monty rewound the viewer and began to watch the battle again. 

Montgomery Walker--

Montgomery Walker sat smiling at the young girl sitting next to him in the back of the limousine. He had no idea how in 3 short days his heart could be so thouroghly given up. Now, his heart was torn apart. What he was doing though was what had to be done, 

"Father?" The tow headed girl looked up to the large man. "Can't I please stay, I don't want go to Earth. I want to be with you." 
"Angie, we have been over this, I would give anything to be able to keep you here with me, but there is a war and I do not trust the war not to come here. I need to know you are safe, child." With that he gathered her next to him, mostly so that she would not see his misty eyes. 

The 5 year old girl was certainly a Walker, the only real contribution to her looks from her mother was her blonde hair and blue eyes. Everthing else about her was from her father Geoffery II. The carriage, the face, her general bearing just screamed Walker. 

Monty had picked her up from the attorney's office 3 days ago. 
As he walked in the little girl looked up saw Monty with wide eyes and said, "Are you my father?" 
Monty was totally caught off guard, the best he could manage was, "Yes, Angie I am your father." 
With that, she escaped the secretary's grasp, ran over to Monty and jumped up into his arms and snuggled in. If she had been a cat, Monty was sure she would be purring. Nothing more was said, other than for her to say goodbye to the office staff and they returned to her new room in Monty's apartment. 

Monty wished he had never demanded the DNA test. He would have been satisfied to live his life out as Angie's natural father, as it was he was forced to be satisfied to be the adopted father. 

The vehicle turned into the drive for the private entrance, pulled up to the doors and stopped. Monty steeled himself for what was to come next. "We're here Angie." he said simply. With that, he carefully unbuckled the child from her seat, lifted her out of the car and carried her to the check-in counter. Karl, as always, was making sure everything was going corrrectly. As Monty squatted to be at Angie's level, he heard a familiar voice: 

"Monty is that you?" The voice belonged to Monty's sister Sarah. 
"Sarah?, Good Lord girl, it is you!" Monty stood, covered the distance in two strides and gave the woman a bear hug. Her suprise was palpatable, this was not like Monty at all. Then Monty motioned to his daughter who walked slowly and shyly to the couple. Monty squatted again and pointed up to Sara and said, "Angie, this is your Aunt Sarah who came all the way from Earth to take you home." 

The young girl looked at the woman noded and said "Hello Aunt Sarah." 
Sara smiled warmly, momentarily, her eyes widened, and she looked to Monty, who nodded. " She is Geoffy's little girl all right, she even has that knack of knowing everything that goes on around her, she reminds me of you a lot in that way too. ." 

The mechanical voice sounded indicating that it was time to board the Passenger Ship "Cape Horn". Karl showed up with the paper work, there was only time for one last tearful hug and Monty didn't particularly give a damn who saw it. And then Angie and Sarah were gone, swallowed into the maw of the terminal. 

Later, at the observation deck, Karl and Monty watched the huge ship release locks and glide into the middle of the "support fleet" which was a polite way of saying convoy. Not only were there cargo ships flying in the formation, but 2 frigates and 2 destroyers compliments of the Terrans. There was a war and this was not really a time to leave pirates easy pickings. 

"Karl, I think I will go to Sol before I start the Tour. I need to see her once more, there is too bloody much going on and too many chances I have to take. Karl, I never would have guessed that I would ever feel like this." 

Karl smiled, " Monty, you make a helluva a father, you know that? Welcome to the club." 

With that the two men drifted back to the entrance to return to the world as it is.