Granny brought Roddy to the Captain. They met in Granny’s cabin, which Raleigh had moved into, taking over her top bunk.
Any discomfort Granny may have felt by having a man bunk with her was never evident. She had shared many close quarters with men throughout her piratical career. Few had ever bothered her. The ones who did usually regretted it. But she was not at all worried about the Captain harassing her in any way. Raleigh always remained a perfect gentleman toward the women in the crew.
If anything, she thought, the Captain should be worried about her making a move on him. But she knew that wouldn’t happen either. They’d both keep things professional. Besides, she was almost 40 years older than him . . .
She pulled her mind back to the conversation at hand.
Raleigh said, “You realize this is going to cut into your share of the profits, don’t you?”
“I know, Captain. I’m okay with it.”
“It’s not just that, Roddy. If you want a girlfriend, there are a lot cheaper ways to go about getting one.”
The pilot’s face reddened. He said, “It’s not about that, either. It’s . . . she needs a good bondholder, that’s all. She’s got five years left. She’s had it rough and I want to be the one holding her bond. That’s all.”
The Captain and the Quartermaster shared a glance.
Granny said, “He’s smitten, alright.”
Raleigh returned his attention to Roddy and let out a long sigh.
He said, “I’ll let you have her, Roddy, but you’ve got to realize the responsibility doesn’t end with the transfer of the bond. You’ve got to take care of her until the term is complete. That means you’ve got to feed her, clothe her and everything else. And it adds up. There’s a reason the wealthy keep indents for servants while everybody else uses androids. Androids are a lot cheaper. And I don’t know how you’re going to bring her with you on your next trip. Where would you put her? She can’t bunk with you.”
Roddy said, “I know, I know. I’ve thought about all that, Captain. I still want to go through with it. I want to take care of her until the term expires.”
“Well don’t go getting love struck, because that’s another thing. It’s almost certain she is going to want to go back home when her term is up. No indent sticks around with their old masters. That collar controls their emotions. It keeps them meek and submissive. But once it’s taken off they return to their real personality, and they almost always skedaddle. Because once the collar comes off, they’re rich, remember? Twenty grand, more money than they’ve ever seen in their life. And if they didn’t give away the initial ten grand, they’ve got thirty. Why would they stick around with you when they are suddenly independently wealthy?
“So, you’re going to shower all this love and affection and your own money on this girl in a land of make believe with controlled emotions, and when she takes off that collar you’ll never see her again. That’s just the blunt truth of the matter, Roddy.”
The pilot nodded, but he would not meet Raleigh’s eye. He wore a determined expression on his face.
Raleigh sighed again.
“Nothing I say is going to talk you out of this, will it?”
Roddy shook his head. He said, “No sir. My mind is made up. I’m fully aware of everything you’ve said could happen. I know it probably will happen. I still want to do it.”
“Alright. Well, you can’t say I didn’t try to talk you out of it when she runs off in a few years and leaves your heart in the gutter. We’ll make the transaction and let you go get her at our first stop. You can keep her here while we’re parked, but she has to go back into the hold of the other ship before we get going again. We don’t have any room for more people over here. Not to mention the rest of the crew is going to be extremely jealous.”
Word quickly spread, thanks to Granny, that Roddy had purchased the remaining term of an indent. The crew gave him grief, with almost nonstop razzing until the two ships made their first scheduled stop.
LuteNet ported Raleigh and Roddy over to the Aquamarine’s hold, followed shortly after by Granny. A handful of attractive indents nearby jumped in surprise.
Raleigh said, “Would one of you please go find Raquel and have her come here?”
They immediately nodded and scattered throughout the hold looking for Raquel, hurrying to fulfill their bondholder’s request.
Raleigh glanced up at the ceiling and said, “Lootie, what’s a fair price for this indent’s bond? How much do you estimate she would fetch at auction?”
“Auction estimates are inherently risky, Captain. Many unknown variables are in play. It’s entirely possible for any estimate to be unacceptably inaccurate, either too high or too low.”
“I’m aware of that. Give me an estimate that will result in a fair price for a crewmember to purchase the time remaining on her contract, based on what you know at the moment.”
“Very well. Based on her attractiveness, I estimate she would fetch at least 25,000 credits at auction on Lute. Considering that estimate, that price is a fair one for a crewmember to purchase her bond.”
“Duly noted. Please record this for legal purposes. Quartermaster, in the final tally at port, deduct 25,000 credits from Rodrigo Diego-Rodriguez’s share of the profits.”
Granny said, “Aye, Captain.”
“Pilot Diego-Rodriguez, I hereby grant you the bond of . . . what’s her full name, Lootie?”
“I hereby grant you the bond of the indentured servant named Raquel Kirkland in exchange for a lower payout from this voyage, the sum of 25,000 credits. Lootie please make note of this and assign her bond to him accordingly.”
“Congrats, Roddy. You’ve bought yourself a girlfriend.”
Roddy’s ears reddened. He said, “It’s not . . . Never mind. I don’t think anyone will ever really understand it.”
Granny smirked at this. Raleigh’s attention turned back to the hold. One of the servants he had sent headed toward them with Raquel in tow.
When they arrived, the indent said, “Here she is, Captain. I hope that I have performed my task to your satisfaction.”
“You have. Thank you, you may leave now.”
The indent walked back to the feeding area.
Raquel smiled at Roddy, but looked between Granny and the Captain uncertainly.
Raleigh said, “Roddy here has purchased your bond for the time remaining on it. You belong to him now, until the end of your term or if and when he sells your bond.”
Her face broke into a warm smile and she moved closer to Roddy. He put a protective arm around her shoulders.
He said, “We’ve got less than an hour before we get going again, and the Captain says you have to stay here until we make port. But if you’d like, I can give you a quick tour of the Mule.”
She smiled and nodded.
He said, “Lootie, port us over, please.”
They popped out of existence.
Raleigh frowned at Granny and said, “This is not going to end well. I hope none of the other crew get the same idea.”
“As much grief as they’re giving him,” Granny said, “I doubt anybody would be so bold.”
“Maybe. I didn’t realize she was that attractive when I agreed to this. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an indent that pretty. Once the crew sees her, I don’t think he’s going to be picked on so much.”