2700— Pollux System, Above Morganite Colony ‘Morgan Antimatter’ on Pollux C (Aristophanes, after the CEO's favorite comic playwright...)
Security Captain Samuel Putnam was thoroughly uninterested in economics, capitalism, and everything else that a truly good Morganite is actually supposed to be interested in. His interest really lay in such high-minded things as fighting, war, the history of war, weaponry, that sort of thing. This, as it happens, is why his family sent him off to Sparta for training in the first place. He’d been born into the wrong faction, he always felt. The Morganites were all right, when they weren’t behaving like a bunch of degraded, decadent, capitalist pigs, but Putnam’s major complaint was their lack of enthusiasm in battle. Pacifists! Not like the Spartans, nor even the Pirates (who were themselves still a bunch of sneaky cowards in Putnam’s opinion). When a good chance of getting into a war arose, the Morganites could never just jump right in; they had to remain neutral until attacked. Poor old Putnam was getting downright sick of it.
“There’s never a good chance to die gloriously in battle anymore these days!” he had been saying to his comrades at the mess tables that morning. “How can one achieve martial glory when one has to sit around all day watching over business transactions? You don’t usually have the opportunity to set fire to mindworms or blow up Recon Rovers in the Stock Market! How’s one to achieve battlefield glory when working for CEO Morgan, eh?” Much to Sam’s disgust, there was no hint of an adequate reply from any of his fellow security guards.
These shadowy martial images were the sorts of thoughts that meandered through Sam Putnam’s mind as he watched the second ship emerge from the blackness of space for the vital link up with the Morgan Trade convoy that Putnam helped to guard. The second ship, the one approaching the larger Morganite vessel Namibian Queen , belonged to Interplanetary Enterprises Incorporated (InEn for short), which was very much a rival business to Morgan Interstellar. Though InEn was mostly confined to the very same Sol System that had been abandoned so many years before by the UNS Unity for the Alpha Centauri system, from the very first meeting of the two companies several hundred years earlier there had been intense rivalry between them (despite the obvious superiority, so Putnam thought to himself, of Morgan products) . In a way, Sam was extremely surprised by the InEn offer to start trading with the Morganites.
However, Samuel Putnam had no doubt in his mind as to how exciting the trading would be, and if he was right then he was hardly interested in what was to happen. Before his duties were to catch up with him, he decided to actually enjoy his last few free minutes before what would undoubtedly seem to be endless hours of boredom. The only fellows excited with this thing would be CEO Morgan himself and his obese cronies. Putnam walked back into the employee’s lounge to sit down and watch some 3DMorganLinkTV before the trading began. He was not alone. There also was the major, as well as most of the other security guards. The news had not yet begun - there was another hour yet - but he wished to see it as scenes of the business transaction were expected to be shown, and Sam hoped that he would be able to spot himself waving to his mother. He sat down to see the last few minutes of the major motion picture from MGM (Morgan Goldstar Movies), Sahara (on the Sahara Burst Wars back on Earth 700 years earlier). After that film ended, some incredibly stupid 30-minute sitcom about drones began.
As this insipid bit of garbage went on, however, the ships began to come into link-up position. As always in link-ups, there was a slight jar as the ships came together. The jar was a bit more powerful than usual, however, and shook the ship a little. Sam was at first a bit concerned about it, but then set his mind at ease. He well knew that no Morganite ship had ever before made a link-up with an InEn ship, and so there was bound to be something new to encounter. And yet, when one of the workers ran in dragging behind him a horribly scarred technician, Sam began to wonder how much more of this would be so "new", and rather hoped that this would end reasonably soon.
“They have taken a shot at us, Dobbs!” called the worker to one of the security men. This started off a shout of something totally unrepeatable as Sam rushed over to the viewing screen. It was nearly impossible for him to see the image as so much smoke was belching from a wound in their own ship. When the smoke cleared a bit, Sam could see the dark-hauled InEn ship. There had been no link-up at all, and there were large black wounds in the side of the InEn ship as well as the Morgan ship. The two ships were now exchanging shots at each other, and there was absolutely no way to tell who it was who had fired first as far as Sam could see. The Morganite ship was, of course, lightly armored and lightly armed - all supply ships had been equipped with a few exter