"Look, I'm sorry, but there's no payout on this one."
"What do you mean, no payout?"
Tern had rehearsed this all in her head, but things too often didn't go to plan when talking to people. Computers and numbers were so much easier to work with. "An independent candidate won the election. Odds were negligible, she didn't even make it into my book."
"If somebody had asked, what would you have offered?"
"Maybe two hundred to one."
"Two hun-- that would have..."
"Yes, that would have squared your bid."
"Look, just give me my refund and we'll call it square."
"No. You gave your print, you knew the risks. OPB doesn't give refunds and neither do I."
"Then I'll take it from you."
"No, you won't. I'm neutral; always have been, always will be. I don't bet against my own book. You'll have to fight everyone who backs my book, everyone who has won a cent off me. That's a long list and there's some people who are a lot more scary than you are. They accept my book and don't get refunds; you get the same deal."
"No." Tern hung up the line. Her voice was steady and her mind was clear, but her hands were shaking. Sometimes she hated this business, but every word she said was true.
"Why don't you just take it out of the box?"
"Sure, Fleetli, they could do that, but then it would be an open secret of what was in it, and clearly it's something important or valuable."
"How do you know?"
Vilea huffed and rolled her eyes, not needing a hand to help her follow the chain of logic: low-grav, lots of burly guys, large box missing identifying labels. "It couldn't be more obvious.'
"Oh." Fleetli shrugged, still not getting it, but not caring enough to press the point.
Rive was late, and he hated being late. Those idiots tried to take his package straight through the mess of the Greater Cave, and it had gotten stuck. The best method for getting it unstuck was taking his delivery out of the package, but then everybody would know what it was and would want a piece of his pie.
Well, that is, if they didn't want the finder's fee for returning it to it's rightful owner. If they ever found out, he was a dead man. It was a hot item, and that spoiled tourist was promising to make him rich.
"Soria, it's Tern."
"What have you found?"
"Sisyphus's R&D department is selling something I haven't found on the black market that's doing really well for reasons I don't really want to know. I'm sorry, but that's all I've got, and it took pulling a lot of strings to get that much."
"That's alright, you've done more than enough. How much of my portfolio is on them?"
"About a third."
"Sell some of it off. If they're dealing something under the table, I don't want to be there when they fall."
"Smart move. There's a new start-up doing some remarkable things with 3-D printers selling way low right now that's selling voting interest in."
"How do you feel about it?"
"Good enough to pick up a couple percent of their stock on my own."
"That's enough recommendation for me. If I sold all except for, say one hundred shares of Sisyphus and bought into this new start-up, how much would I be looking at?"
Tern whistled. "Just a moment, let me run the numbers." The line was silent for a few minutes. "Ten percent controlling interest."
The line was quiet for a few seconds more, and then "It's done. You now have a ten percent voting interest in Fifth-Dimensional Thinking, Inc, ten percent of their shares, and an honorary position on their board of directors. You're also down to a mere one hundred shared of Sisyphus Medical which is less than five percent of your portfolio.'
"You're most welcome."
There was a waiting list. Why was there always a bloody waiting list? D was going to have to wait in line to get another one, and they were keeping his deposit. His only recourse was filing a complaint with United Shipping, and it was hard enough just talking to a real person these days... It was like finidng a needle in a needlestack.
He called in the insurance claim and gave it up as a lost cause.
Characters: Diana Tunvert | Fleetli Yanke | Nameless tourist | Rive Wiventestle | Soria Bathorn | Tern Mevit | Vilea Rattang
Series: Tales of Vidar
Location: Cups system | Vidar moon