Alexander leaned over the arm of his seat, facing Lieutenant Gross, "We need to make arrangements with the Roesh Free Traders to have our ships refitted. I want you to get a hold of the envoy's captain and see about having a deal arranged."
"Yes, sir," the reply comes. "Are there any particular instructions I should relay?"
"Other than getting us a good deal, I can't think of any in particular. Send the message."
An affirmation came back and a message was sent out. Systems away, a small envoy cruiser docked with a research station received the signal. The communications officer called for the captain and delivered the request. The captain nodded and headed out, moving down corridors until he passed from the cruiser to the research station. Only a few rooms away he knew he could find Batson and Todd working on their project, figuring that the two would be his best chance of making contact with someone of such an authority as to barter a deal. Part way through his journey, he runs across a man heading down the hall towards the same destination. The man takes notice of the yellow star and collar pins identifying him as a commander with captain's authority.
He speaks, "May I help you?"
"I'm not sure. I need to meet with Mr. Roesh or someone capable of arranging a trade of service. I was looking to consult with one of my men on the matter," the captain answers.
"I'm not sure if that's necessary."
"Oh? Would you know how to get a hold of Mr. Roesh?"
"I think I do," he says before extending his hand. "Hello, I'm Roesh."
The captain smiles and takes the man by his hand, giving it a single shake, "Very humorous, sir. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"And you are?"
"I am Junior Captain Shor, commander of the DLCC Envoy."
"DLCC? Not familiar with the designation," Roesh says.
"David's Lions Civilian Cruiser, sir. Not as true in this case, but Envoy and Raloz Cruisers are designated as such," he answers.
"Interesting, I'll have to acquaint myself with your terms."
The captain smiles, "I think you'll want to limit how far you choose to do so. This particular vessel is the Envoy Cruiser Class, DLCC Envoy, EMC 2704 Mk 1. The details simply get more complicated from there."
Roesh laughs, "Yes, I think I'll leave the technical details to one of my men. Now, may I ask what it is that you needed to speak of with me?"
"Please walk with me," the captain says as he turns towards the cruiser. "I recently received a communication from Fleet Admiral Draakjacht that his ships are in need of refitting. He is hoping we can come to an agreement on the price of such services before he begins to rotate out his fleet elements."
The two pass into the cruiser as Roesh replies, "It depends. What exactly are you ready to offer us?"
"You well know of our inability to provide more minerals," the captain begins. "I was not given any details regarding technological trade, but know that we have already offered you a wide variety of civil and defensive advancements."
The two arrive at a door and the captain opens it to reveal a meeting room with an elongated table and several comfortable chairs sitting around it's perimeter. The two enter, the door closing behind them and each taking a seat, not spaced apart in any official capacity, rather simply taking the opportunity to relieve their feet and enjoy the space provided.
Roesh speaks first after sitting, "That leaves us with very few other options regarding a trade. We already have a general agreement regarding mutual defense and with our men providing the bulk of your logistical support, I doubt you could assist very much with my fleet maintenance."
"True. I can't think of any particular path to take, but I have been ordered to secure an agreement. As long as Batson is here working on that weapon system, my orders remain the same, to push for a compromise."
"You could be here a while. The weapon system... hmm," Roesh's sentence falls away to the sound.
Shor turns his head slightly to the side, his eyes looking long ways at the man, "Sir?"
"I just had a thought, "Roesh continues. "What if the David's Lions contribute their ships to my research efforts in trade for the refitting. We have a shortage of supplies and test facilities. With as many experiments as the vessels can support running all at once, we can move ahead in our research by leaps and bounds."
Shor asks, "What types of research are you conducting?"
"Just about everything. Weapons systems, maneuvering engines, anti-matter regeneration, damage control procedures, they're all needing some amount of work."
"I see why the vessels would help, but how would you test weapons systems and damage control procedures? Our men are not going to fire upon one another."
Roesh laughs, "No, the weapons can be tested against floating debris at first. Damage control can be a series of drills. Perhaps once trial runs are complete, we can have men stationed aboard your vessels or equipment in place to record data, to improve based on field performance. No better test than battle itself, right?"
The captain nods, "Certainly true. It is an interesting prospect, but I will have to clear it with the admiral, I'm sure you understand."
"Of course, we can meet again when you have your answer."
"Actually," the captain interrupts, "I should be able to have an answer within minutes if you are willing to wait."
"On that note, I have one other request that was made."
Roesh smiles uncertainly, "What would that be?"
Back aboard the David, a transmission comes in from the Finley System and the details of it are relayed to the admiral. After listening to a thorough description of the proposal, Alexander replies, "Very well, I think we can manage such a deal. We'll have Green Fleet move first to be refitted."
Lieutenant Gross replies, "Yes, sir," before looking over Alexander's shoulders to Lieutenant Commander Frishman, who stares at the communications officer. Gross nods, the gesture being noticed by Alexander who turns in his seat to look at his second in command.
"Is there something I should know about?"
Frishman looks to the admiral, "Sir, your average shift aboard the David has been sixteen hours. Your shortest shift has been twelve hours and your longest has been twenty-seven hours. I've had Roesh arrange for you to take a vacation on Finley I."
Alexander's face straightens out, "It's a nice gesture, but I..."
"Sir," Frishman interrupts, "you are to report to the launch bay in twenty minutes. From there you will head directly to Finley I where you will be given five minutes to leave your transport. If you do not accept, I will have a medical officer deem you unfit for duty and you will be escorted by marines to fulfill the same schedule."
Frishman stares blankly at Alexander, who frowns, "Alright, let me get my things."
"Twenty minutes, sir."
"Right. Senior Captain Levin is in charge until I return," Alexander orders.
"Aw," Frishman replies.
Alexander shakes his head as he rises from his seat, "I don't reward mutiny. Besides, he's next in command."
Alexander retrieves his possessions, a small number of things which all fit within a single duffle bag. He heads towards the docking bay, two unarmed marines meeting him along the way to his chagrin. When almost to hangar bay one, a man emerges from a door which leads into hangar bay two and calls out, "Sir, can I get your help here?"
Alexander looks at the man for a moment before turning to one of the marines, "Is it okay if I do this one thing?"
The marine shrugs and Alexander follows the man, who explains as they walk, "Sir, we found it odd when we got a request for a trade vessel to board, so we did with caution. When it landed, we opened the cargo and... well..."
The two enter the hangar bay two where a transport vessel sits in the center of the hangar, it's cargo doors open and a massive mound of reddish-brown tea leaves spilling forth onto the decking. The nearby crewman look at the spectacle while scratching their heads and giving one another glances. Alexander smiles at the sight and says, "Well, put some water on to boil and keep it warm till I get back."
As he disappears back through the door, the crewman glances back with the same look of confusion that crosses the other men. Alexander continues on to his assigned destination and makes his departure without any incident.