Perse was all charm with the crew. Kaylee was already entranced by his good looks, Simon by his fine Core manners. He and David kept exchanging glances, as if they were making some plan for the handsome bachelor. Hope and Derry were on their best behaviour, as was Jayne, who managed not to make any crude remarks by the simple expedient of not talking at all. Fortunately, there was plenty of food to keep his mouth busy.

River was mostly silent. The young pilot was a bit restless. She was more and more focussed now that she had a steady family around her and a responsible job. But she seemed slightly upset, in spite of the good food and pleasant chat.

Mal was expansive, pleased to have found a new contact who needed a trustworthy shipper. He and Perse spent much time discussing the plans of Perse’ company to expand in the Rim.

“They like me because I’m from the Rim, and know more about the culture out here than their Core-bred employees. They understand that rules can be more like guidelines here. And they see a strong future as the Rim worlds develop and get more prosperous. A strong middle class is what these worlds need, not just rich owners and poor workers.”
“What kind of cargo do they need moved?” asked Mal.
“Well, at the moment, we have a cargo of frozen bull semen for the ranchers on Whitefall, Burgess and Beaumonde. Needs a little TLC, but doesn’t take up much space for the value. Taxes on it are high though.”
Mal ignored Jayne’s guffaw. “Better than an entire herd of beeves. We’ve done that and it took a month to get the stink out of the cargo bay. Jayne, 要小心”
“爸爸,我们说中国” Derry pointed out.
“There’s a couple of worlds where the crops were too good, and they have surplus fruit for sale. Shipping on a big transport would be expensive, price the fruit right out of the market.” continued Perse. “Or I’ve got some glass. Not fancy stuff, but jars and the like for canning plants on some of the agricultural worlds. Bulky and pretty cheap, so the shipping gets to be the expensive part.”
“We could handle most of those cargoes. One thing, we don’t want to deal with slave planets. Those folks have strange ideas about what a contract means. And they don’t just shoot you if you disagree. You can end up working out your days for some卫生纸 在 孩 子 面 前 说话 with a whip. “
“Understood. Our company doesn’t deal with slavekeepers if they can help it.”

“They don’t look for clinics either,” Simon added.”Their people are just worked until they die.”
“Doctor Tam, what sort of services do you offer at these clinics of yours?”
“Not what I was trained to do, which was trauma surgery. But we handle general family care, prenatal care,
Davie gives vaccinations, we do a lot of immunizations and he has a gentle hand with a needle.” Simon stroked the big nurse’ arm. “Give kids their annual exams and actually I do some cosmetic surgery.”
“Cosmetic? Like nose jobs and tummy tucks?”
“Well, I correct for deviated septums and poorly set broken noses. But what we do a lot of comes from burns. Some Rim planets use stoves for heating and there are a lot of burns from careless handling and even house fires.”
“Hydraulic ram pumps!” exclaimed Perse, “Those Rim worlds need small scale hydro plants and ram pumps are perfect for the homestead user. I’ll have to look into getting some in from Boros. Electricity is much safer and cheaper than burning wood or candles.”

“Earth-that-was had petroleum, and they used it for everything. ” Hope interjected.”They could break it down and turn it into stuff they could mould , like glass or ceramic jars, and the like. But they also used it for fuel, just burning it up. They had a rock that burned too, coal. We don’t have those in the ‘Verse because the worlds here didn’t have any life until we terraformed them and petroleum and coal were made from the dead jungles and huge animals that lived there billions of years ago. “
Perse gave his newly met niece a bemused look. “Huge animals?”
“My daddy had a lot of models of them. They were called dinosaurs.”
“Interesting. You should show me more about them, Hope. And Doctor Tam, let me know what worlds are overly dependent on burning solid fuels. I may have a line on some ram pumps that would be in great demand there. ”

Perse is looking for people he can trust. Who better than family?


About femmefan1946

Retired professional writer and editor. Nominated for an Aurora Award for work on CAN-CON 2014, which concentrates on introducing new and aspiring writers and artists to agents, editors and publishers.
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