Sitting under the roof of the nearly completed, (stage one), First Inn, Janie Cantarubias looked out of the south facing window, still unglazed, and watched the Galileo’s arrival as she wafted down into her berth at the spaceport on the far end of Liberty City. We had eaten dinner at the Inn, something we hadn’t been doing much lately, due both to lack of time and the desire to save up as much credit as we could for our own place on the point beyond the designated port area. And we were also saving for what would be needed to build the private lumber mill. Kara, through her position on the town council, had been keeping track of the labor hours being earned and traded back and forth and had authored several articles for the Alchibah Electronic News stressing the importance of keeping the ‘money’ in circulation.
Those articles made so much sense that we had started to preorder, making a down payment, or paying for in advance the total price of everything we could afford that we knew we would be needing for both projects. The payments had helped others in getting almost every business in town started, and those start-ups drove other spending and especially purchases of lumber. This market driven economy thing really appeared to work… though Les Reye, among others, was already arguing about taxing and other policies to as they said— “Adjust for the inherent inequalities and lack of humanity in pure capitalism.”
Anyway dinner was delicious, and, we had been able to firm up with J.J. the delivery schedules for the final couple loads which would complete this stage of the Inn’s interior and upper levels before Captain Travis made it from the port and entered the building. He stopped at the door, glanced around, and spotting us, gave a wave and a nod before heading in out direction. The dining area contained just eight tables but six were in use and the Captain paused for a word or two to with most everyone seated as he passed by.
Before he had even reached our table Hanna had bustled over, hands full, with a cup and a pot of steaming coffee. As he seated himself Travis took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and then said, “It might be the ships life-support or maybe the water but even with the same beans nothing I make tastes as good or has the aroma of what you serve here Hanna.”
“Why thank you sir,” Hanna replied, “You can be sure I will quote you on that in the Electronic News tomorrow.”
As Hanna refilled my cup and Janie, putting up a hand, declined. Hanna then told the Captain, in no uncertain terms, that he must have the Fish and Chips Special. “What’s special about it?” he asked.
“What’s special,” Hanna laughed, “is it’s all we are serving tonight except for rations brought down from the ship and I need to use up all the fish brought in today because we just cant keep it fresh two days in a row. Bart here,” she added, “helped Jules make a couple of fish traps so we are serving it fresh a couple of times a week and have even started to smoke some. I’ll give you a sample of that too. It’s darn good tasting and will keep.” With that she headed back to the far side of the room where Jules was watching the stove and the kitchen equipment set up and visible without the dividing wall in place. Only a matter of a few more days for that I thought.
“It’s good to see you Captain,” Janie said. “I hope you brought good news.”
“And good to see you also,” Travis said with a rakish glance that I wasn’t sure I appreciated. “But just call me Glenn when I’m dirt side and not on official business. And yes I did bring a load of good news down with me along with the rest of the Galileo’s cargo. For Bart I’ve brought down most of the hardware for the private lumber mill and the smaller of the two blades; the larger is almost completed, all of us on the Mayflower are going a bit stir crazy and seeing the planet down below, and it looking back at us so invitingly, we can hardly wait to get our building down here started and usable. But more to the point I think, as far as you’re concerned Janie; the news is we’ve got one of the lifeboats finished and retrofitted as a shuttle. The others should be complete in a couple more weeks. So if you and Bart can spare the time to come up to the Mayflower with me when I return tomorrow morning, we can get Bart up to speed on the changes and start you running sims and getting trained on all of their operational considerations.” And with an evil grin. “Plan on three of the hardest most demanding days you‘ve ever spent”
Janie’s smile lit up like a nova, “Thank you ever so much, you can’t possibly imagine how I’ve been wanting to hear that!” I was basking in her radiance when she turned to me and said, “Drink up Bart, I hate to leave the good Captain so abruptly but we both have a lot of things to do tonight if we are going to be ready in the morning, and that’s one trip I am not going to miss out on.” With that, and after I had gulped down the rest of my coffee, Janie once more assured Captain Travis that we would be aboard at first light, we left the Inn.”
Captain Travis let me handle the Galileo’s docking into the Mayflower, and as I watched it near, I reflected on the four years I had spent on board her while most all of the other colonists slept the time away. I had never expected to feel like this, but in some fashion or another, it was almost like coming home and as the ship latched into place Janie piped up loudly, “So what are we waiting for? Let‘s get started!”