4,011 / 50,000
"Seems like it's been a busy day, huh?" Peter asked as he finally got around to taking his shoes off.
"You have no idea. Andrew's been fussy all day, and Ryan's been restless. I'm worried he may not be able to handle another season on the ship - though the Pallas Athena should at least be big enough to give him some running-around room, right?" Michelle lifted up her shirt and unfastened her bra as Andrew stretched a tiny hand towards her breast.
Peter started to respond, then paused for a second, lost in thought.
"Speaking of the Pallas, how'd the meeting with Julian go? How's he doing?" Michelle rocked Andrew gently as he suckled.
"Julian's doing well. Seems like the military isn't going to disassemble into the police forces again. There's some talk about keeping it as a permanent institution," Peter explained, trying to think of the best way to broach the subject of his debt on the Pallas Athena.
"Why would they do that? We fought the robotic fleet off... are they expecting more?"
"That could be it. It could also just be politics and power struggles." Peter rolled his eyes. "But this is where the issues with the Pallas come in."
"I got a number from Jules, Michelle. One and a half million."
Michelle started. "They expect us to pay that off?"
"Julian explained it from an economic perspective. Trading Ariadne up for the Pallas Athena is worth probably twice that. Theoretically, we're getting a good deal." Peter ran his hand through the hair on the back of his head, formulating another sentence.
"But we don't have the money for that! Why can't we get a smaller ship, like the Ariadne was?"
"There aren't any more small ships for sale, Michelle. The Unity shipyards aren't putting out anything smaller than Zephyrs, and the privately-owned small ships are in short supply for this very reason - a lot of them were destroyed in the war, and their owners usually don't want to upgrade. The war has been costly enough as it is."
Michelle switched Andrew to her other breast, readjusting her bra. "So how are we supposed to pay that off? We'd be in debt for twenty years, at least."
Peter sighed. "I can't put off saying it any longer. They want me back in the military, Michelle. Julian's worked out a deal for me."
"Peter..." Michelle began.
"Hear me out, Michelle. I'm still not sure about it, but I promised Julian I'd at least talk to you about it, and the more I think about it the more I realize it's our best way out of this."
"Alright. Go on, Peter."
"They want me for a single assignment. Julian promised me it'd be limited to a year and a half. I'd get my regular captain's pay, they'd pay for ship maintenance and crew like they did in the war, and after a year and a half or upon completion of the assignment, the debt would be forgiven and the ship would be completely ours." Peter exhaled slowly as he watched Michelle's eyes shifting back and forth, thinking.
"That's... wow, that's a fantastic deal, Peter. At least money-wise..."
"Yeah. You were organizing our accounts today, right? Can we live on two fifty-three a year until fall next year?"
Michelle paused for a second to add the numbers up in her head. "With a bit of our savings and that salary, we should be fine. I can take on jobs watching other children too, if I need. I mean, I assume you're not taking me with you."
Peter nodded. "We went through this at the beginning of the war. It should be far less dangerous, but all the same, it's no place for the kids."
"That I agree with. But all the same, Peter - are you sure you'll be okay? I know the war's over, but all the same, the military is there to take the danger off the rest of us. A brand new ship isn't going to do us any good if you're killed trying to earn it!" Michelle handed a contented Andrew to Peter, refastening her bra and smoothing out her shirt.
"Michelle, you know what the Pallas is best at. Same kind of work as the Ariadne - scouting and reconnaissance. I get the impression they'll be sending her out alone - they wouldn't send a lone scout ship into a combat situation. I really do think I'll be fine." Peter sat back on the couch and pulled Michelle against him. She laid her head on his shoulder and gently stroked Andrew's wispy baby hair.
Current pace: 60165
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