Chapter Five: Titan Issues

Soudavanh Phoumsavanh is not a rich woman without reason. Unlike Jabe, she’s made her own System-wide reputation, and a lot of money from it. She’s risked, she’s made mistakes, and she’s learned how to recover from them. It turns out we’re very lucky to have her on our side. While we were battling with Neptune, she’s been dueling with Jabe Kalanov on Titan. There are several messages waiting for us when we get to the orbiter.

The first says, “To the Albumasar.

“Jabe has been arrested for criminal neglect, along with a doctor. Kuarahy has been moved to TC1 General Hospital. It appears that he did visit Casa Vicente with Jabe, and did have a climbing accident serious enough to send him to hospital. Once there, Jabe’s accomplice drugged him deeply and Jabe sent you his message. Now that Kuarahy’s getting reasonable treatment, he should recover quickly.

“The prosecutor is on the case.

“Phoumsavanh, out.”

The next says, “I’ve continued the negotiations that Jabe Kalanov started with REI. I believe you’ll like the solution we’ve initialed: A joint venture owned 50-50 with REI called REI Titan. For supplying REI with 50 percent of the Rubyzin it acquires, blue or otherwise, REI Titan will get 50 percent of the gross of those sales. The other half it can sell as it pleases. REI Titan can acquire Rubyzin from anyone, and from any place but Jupiter. From what you’ve said in previous messages, this is a win-win for all sides of the Rubyzin problem.”

“Wow! It sure is!” says Janos, and we all agree.

But Phoumsavanh is continuing, “His share of the joint venture should even let Jabe pay his lawyers in the criminal case and settle out of court for Kuarahy’s care and the rest of the civil damages. Although buying him out of REI Titan so we never have to associate with him again strikes me as an attractive alternative.” She gives us that unsettling grin again.

“Phoumsavanh, out.”

There’s a third message, to Janos: “ I’ve asked my lawyers to help out on the patent applications you’ve filed on the propulsion system. I think it’s very important that you get those claimed. In the long run, those will be your ticket to fame and fortune, just as much as any Ruby you fellows bring out. You’ll be remembered much longer as the pioneers of the Bacta Crawlers than as discoverers of Rubyzin on Neptune.

“We can hope that when REI understands the increased efficiency possible, they’ll license your vessel design for use on Jupiter.

“Phoumsavanh, out.”

When we’ve listened to all the messages, I say, “She’s been good to have on our side” and we all applaud.

“Now, a big question and a little question. The little question is, do we still make a stop at the Hurtado-Domicó Comet? And the big question is: Now that we’re multi-billionaires for sure, what’s for dinner?”

Everybody cheers as we head for the mess hall.