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The Block – Chapter 1 Part 1 October 7, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in The Block - Chapter 1.
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Always pay;
for first or last
you must pay
your entire debt.

–  Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Block – Chapter I Part 1:  Old London, Aingland

Debt and Indenture in the Empire of Uppsala

© D. Erick Emert

cards

Bells clanged, buzzers went off and voices were raised to incredible heights.  It was a typical day in the Indenture Service Office, New London in the Rejoinder of Aingland.  Twenty officious looking men sat behind an equal number of polished wood desks.  Some spoke on their Voice Transmission Box, some scribbled intensely, others engaged with quarrelsome clients seated beside their desks.

Jack Ayles rested his head in his weary hands, elbows on his cluttered desk.  Looking up at the regulator he thought, ‘One hour left.  I’ll be so glad when this day is…’ Before he could finish his thought, the V-Box on his desk buzzed.

“Ayles”

“Jack.  William up front.  Client coming back for you.”

“Aye, William.”  He sighed.  “Hope it’s an easy one.”

As Jack shuffled some paperwork, a tall portly man approached the busy ISO Administrator.  The man wore flashy green and white stripped pants, and a chartreuse open collared shirt topped off with a brown bowler hat.  Tan spats covered his black leather shoes and he carried a black brolly in his right hand.  Jack’s heart sank for he knew this man and, as always, he would take up a considerable amount of time.  The man whacked his brolly on Jack’s desk to get his attention.

“I say, Ayles, I have some work for you.”

“Don’t your losers ever pay up, Miklin?”

The unusually dressed man helped himself to a chair to the right of Jack’s desk.  “You know the story, Ayles.  They’re all going to be rich someday.  That day seems never within reach for some strange reason.”

“That reason couldn’t be the rigged games in your gambling den, could it?”

“Why, Ayles!  I’m chuffed!  My house has been scratched, spoiled and broken apart but the Standards people have never found one reason to issue me a citation.”

“And if they ever do find one, Miklin, they’ll shut you down faster than the business end on a mouse trap.  Let’s get this over with.  Name?”

“Farmer, Edsil Farmer.”

“You know his whereabouts?”

“Him and his wife, Remy, own a farm to the east of Lexington.”

“Family?”

“Two kids, at least to my knowledge.  I’ve heard him speak of them but I don’t know their names.  One girl, one boy.  I think they’re both under fifteen.”

“How much?”

“One hundred twenty gold tankers.”

Jack raised an eyebrow and looked up from his three-part form.  “That’s a lot of money, Miklin.  How does a farmer come to lose an amount that steep?

“He was down sixty GT, got what he thought was an unbeatable hand and bet double.  The hand wasn’t unbeatable.”

“Even still.  Sixty GT is an immense amount of money for a small farmer.”

“It was a sum built up over an unlucky summer.  He came in every time with the assumption he’d win back what he lost.  You know the tune to that song.”

“Indeed I do, but the Empire looks upon a debt this huge as a felony.  Someone’s going to have to work over twenty years off The Block to turn this over.  Are you sure you want to do that to this Farmer fellow and his family?”

“Dumb question of the month, Ayles.  Does my heart look like a bloody bleeder?  I just want the debt covered.  What happens to him is not my concern.”

“Harrumph.  You have validated and signed debt receipts, I’m sure.”

“Of course I do.  And I have copies in case you accidentally lose them.”

Miklin handed a small stack of papers to Ayles, who accepted them with a disdainful look.

“Sign and date the complaint, Miklin.  Don’t forget your business address and V-Box contact.  I’ll forward this to the courts for action.  You should hear from them in about a month.”

“How soon will I get my money?”

Jack rolled his eyes.  “Well, there’s notification and a trial.  Then whoever’s going to serve out the debt will travel halfway across Erde to Uppsala where they’ll be auctioned off on The Block.  That’ll take a good amount of time.  Once the auctioning is completed, they’ll wire us and we’ll send you a letter to come pick up your funds.  Whole thing might take a half year.”

Miklin let out a deep sigh as he stood up.  “Damn.  Nothing I can do about it.  I’ll get my money faster this way than waiting for Farmer to come up with it.  Thanks for your time, Ayles.”

Jack didn’t look up at his client, who turned and left abruptly, whacking his left leg with his brolly as he walked.  The interview went quicker than Jack had assumed.  Miklin always took up a considerable amount of his time with his complaints.  Consultations went longer when the sums were low and could be worked out right here in the ISO.  Jack would add a note for the Inquisitor when he sent this complaint to the courthouse.  He’d ask them to do a full investigation before making an arrest.  He did not trust Miklin, owner of a known dishonest house of gambling.  Still, a debt was a debt and he had no right to pass judgment on the complaint’s viability.  He’d leave that to the court.

Jack separated the complaint into three piles, removing the thin blue copy paper from between the pages.  He put one in an envelope marked “Uppsala – The Block” one in an envelope marked “District Court – Indenture,” along with the debt receipts.  He then put the last copy of the complaint in a basket on his desk marked, “File.”  The paperwork being sent to the court would generate action on the complaint.  The Uppsala copy would notify The Block that indenture would be necessary for this complaint.  The Block Administrator would keep in direct contact with the District Court of Aingland concerning who was coming for auction and when.

The regulator bonged the hour.  Jack Ayles picked up all his envelops to be posted, grabbed his hat and jacket from his peg on the front wall and headed out the door.

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