Speed might have been essential, but nobody wanted to do the Opti-work. The resettlement agency Ferguis Okoullis Co. quickly put them in contact with Colonists Representative Amborghent Joffs and supplied them both with the massive contracts. Cort began reading it and nearly went cross-eyed as the pages rolled by. He called Clidjitt to help and the insectoid combed through it with microscopic fastidiousness. But the Brev didn’t want to fill in the forms.
Another 44 pages later, and Cort thought he was done. Page 45 made the large rodent hang his head in defeat: insurance.
“Snakespit! What do you mean we don’t have insurance?” demanded Crimson. Her voice sounded blurry through the intercom, as though she’d been sleeping.
Cort had been working at his private console in the Cargo Bay 1; it felt like going to work each cycle, and also got him in the right head space. And he liked the walk through the Green House. So, with another mess of Opti-work looming, he thought coming to the Bridge in person would be good for him. When she wasn’t there, he’d settled into the communications alcove. He would’ve replied to her brusque question too, but the grisly cyborg wasn’t finished, “What the heck am I paying Galactitrust for? I almost had to pawn my other arm and leg to get the policy! I know it covers passengers.”
Cort sighed as he rolled the nav-ball, and brought the summary up in front of him again. “Torzon Galactitrust Co./Coop does insure for passengers under the policy you’ve selected—up to 450 persons, if you want to know. But Ferguis Okoullis’s liability also requires pre-hazard insurance, which our Bekka & Xvhkkttr Pre-Hazard Insurance policy expressly excludes. At least above 18 persons; or over six, for distances over greater than…” he scanned for the figure, “64,000 lightyears. As of last lunar cycle. Coronis System. It could be different by now; previous changes were only two cycles before that.”
“Snake! Spit!” Crimson separated the words to punctuate her emphatic displeasure.
Cort scrubbed his furry knuckles in his eyes, and sighed again. “I mean, I can try and Linkburst Bekka & Xvhkkttr and ask them if we can easily add passenger pre-hazard, and what fees contract modifications incur… Probably take a week or two to get a reply from here. The galactic core ain’t close, if you know what I mean.”
“Di-ablos!” Crimson interrupted.
“I don’t think they’ll sign the contract if we don’t have pre-hazard.”
There was a long, white-noise-ish buzz that was either the intercom, or the sound of Crimson’s Mindframe fuming. Finally she grumped, “What about local pre-hazard companies?”
Cort stared out the alcove into the bleak hallway beyond. “Yeah, I suppose we could find something temporary…”
Even through the intercom Crimson heard his trailing thought. “But…?”
“Can Braevel do it?” he whined.
In a completely overwhelming sort of way Braevel was excited to have guests coming on board. Their infirmary was woefully under stocked for so many people. But the Medical Bay had once been intended to care for the needs of hundreds, so the capacity was there—at least for a team of astronautical scientists and medical professionals. A single triage medic with a zoology degree was not the same. He hummed a whalesong herding melody to himself as he rummaged through the first aid stocks, making notes on his Opti-pad, and throwing away out-of-date disinfectants and burn treatments. They would need a complete medical restock, and up-to-date medical information on all the passengers, and the native physiology. Then would he have work to do!
Braevel blew bubbles out his gill frills, and tried to imagine assimilating all the information that would be necessary to look after yet another formerly unknown species for a number of months. It would be exciting!
The intercom buzzed. Braevel slouched in his water suit for a moment. Normally any interruption was welcome in the boredom of their space hauls. But today he had work to do…!
He sloshed back through the barren pharmaceutical cupboards, past the diagnostic beds to the intercom. “Medical!” His translator’s humanoid, tenor voice always sounded quite pleasant. He liked it.
“Braevel, its Cort,” came the oversized gerbil’s voice. “Crimson says you need to sort out some pre-hazard insurance for the passengers. Something local and short-term.”
“Augh!” Braevel’s translator approximated.