The coffee shop was in an affluent neighbourhood of Doualé, the capital city of Cameroon. She met with Pierrot Ekangaki, a slippery business acquaintance that had made a career from harvesting money from small investors. He was sincere, at the very least. But dressed like a bore. Diane told him that she wanted to get the license for his Hero-class free trader because it was good time for her to literally get off the face of Terra. Pierrot was hesitant, but promised her the license if she could secure a competent slate of operators.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Terra; March 12 2170 AD -- Anika and Jane left the UWO low-security compound of the Rio campus as free women. Mistake were made and crimes atoned for. It was high time to feel the tingle of gravitic fields once more. With a credit account full from her work in the penal system, they caught a flight bound to Cameroon. Their objective: meet with an airhead looking to assemble "a bunch of sparkling assholes" to crew an old Hero-class.
Doualé, Cameroon, Terra; March 13 2170 AD -- The meeting took place in a coffee shop where the sun shines bright and the coffee price ignores the laws of supply and demand. When Diane arrived, two ex-marines were already there. Tom Anders and Aeryn Lorien we're exactly material for the next cardboard band: quiet and reasonable. Tom boasted his freight handling credentials as if the 3rd Interstellar war was still on. Aeryn had served as a nurse onboard a medical relief ship for the last two years. To the merry crew, a pair of ex-convict joined shortly later. Anika may have never smiled in the last ten years and seemed to struggle with words a bit as she spoke. Jaiying, or Jane, rapidly took over the agenda of the meeting. "Who can do what here? Or will I have to do everything by myself?" They found common ground and determined that they could be working together in a cramped space for 16 months.
Diane ran a search for an engineer on the usual right spots. Within the next day, they had Molly Pepper on video conference. She was just what they were looking for: a versatile engineer and a pleasant personality to work with. Conscious of their fixed cost, they offered her a partnership rather than a contract position.
Doualé, Cameroon, Terra; March 16 2170 AD -- The bunch of merry gals (and Tom) finally met with Ekangaki to get the paperwork sorted out. Ekangaki took a lot more care examining each operator's credentials, often interupting the meeting to look things up online. It even looked like someone at the other ends was performing some kind of fact checking.
Ekangaki explained that the ship and the capital was an important investment strategy for up to 2000 middle-class investors. He impressed on them how important the venture of Charter 22 was not only for them, but for hundreds of college kids, pensioners and single mothers.
The contract read as follow (exerpt only):
The chairman of the DOUALE CONSORTIUM has approved Charter 22 under the following terms. In this document, the signatory of Charter 22 are referred to as OPERATORS. All OPERATORS are equally liable and legally bound by the terms of Charter 22. DOUALE CONSORTIUM entrusts the operations of the following assets:
1.1 - TCIV CAMEROON, hero-class private merchant, Registration TER-F454AC-6.
1.2 - Operating Fund: 1.1 MCr
1.3 - 100T of hydrogen fuel
1.4 - Capital investment funds: 1.0 MCr
2. DURATION AND CONDITIONS
The OPERATOR are granted full operational control of TCIV CAMEROON from MAR.15.2170 to AUG.15.2171. Possession is to be taken and returned at TSS MERKEL, terran staging yard. The ship must be returned with the same level of readiness as when checked out (including a fully operational Jump-2 drive). Operations are granted under the following conditions:
2.1 - No warrant be issued against any of the OPERATORS of TCIV CAMEROON.
2.2 - Inventory and operating fund doesn’t get under 0.65 MCr upon reporting.
2.3 - Quarterly dividend meets (0.2 MCr). Exception can be granted for single quarter reporting.
2.4 - the Jump MkII drive renewal project isn't complete after 100 days.
Upon violation of these terms, the OPERATORS are legally required to return the ship to berth in the best possible times.
3. JUMP DRIVE RENEWAL PROJECT
The OPERATORS are to acquire a Jump drive MkII with the special capital fund, install and bring to operational status within the first 100 days of Charter 22. A MKII was located at the AHMED LLC scrapyard on Calisto as candidate replacement part.
It was agreed that the crew would set out ASAP for Calisto to purchase the new MKII Jumpdrive. The crew broke after the meeting to make last minute preparation and plan the first haul for Charter 22 of the venerable TCIV CAMEROON. Aeryn fetched her biotech gears, Tom went for another beer. Anika looked up deck plans for the Hero-class, Jane started to troll the tramp freight future market while Diane took a picture of her biscuit, but fell short of sharing with her friends since dead people usually don't do that kind of stuff.