Madame Olatana, Warbut Astrologer, страница 18
“The team shares twenty percent of the profits, sir, after the direct expenses have been covered. It may take several years of sales before any profits are realized, and those team members are getting their regular salary every week while they wait,” the Sergeant answered.
“So the fewer members on the team, the larger the cut for the remaining team members?”
“Yes, sir. That occurred to me, too. Like a tontine. Only somebody is not waiting for natural deaths,” the Sergeant speculated.
“So somebody might be expecting large expenses in a few years, such as those involved with educating large numbers of children,” the Duke said, remembering his own struggles when his four children were matriculated at the university in Warbut’s capital.
“Or traveling to the resorts on Farnoll, sir. It doesn’t need to be something we can see. It could be a dream, and a hope to realize that dream.”
The Duke of Swemor appeared again without notice at Madame Olatana’s office just two days after Frak Fallgan’s funeral. This time, though, he was rested and neatly attired.
“We are down to two, Madame,” the Duke told the astrologer. “We have verified the alibis of all but two of the suspects you identified. Now, though, I need to have you give me an idea of which suspect might be attached to each murder.”
“What was it all about, your grace?” Madame Olatana asked.
“It was about money, Madame. The energy company set up a profit distribution scheme for Frak Fallgan’s project team that rewarded those who lived the longest. A tontine scheme.”
“What is that, your grace?”
“It worked very simply, Madame. As profits from the sales of the product came in, those profits were divided among the team members who were living at the time of the distribution. So, in order to maximize receipts, a team member had to eliminate other team members,” the Duke told the astrologer.
“They couldn’t name heirs?”
“No, not according to the rules the energy company set up, Madame. The project was essentially complete, ready for marketing, so the work of the team was over,” the Duke went on.
“I see. And you want me to assign the remaining two to their particular crimes, your grace?” Madame Olatana asked.
“If you are able to do it, Madame. We will complete the police work based on your recommendations.”
“With these two, your grace, it is quite simple. I’ll just show you the progressions, and you can see for yourself.”
A small ceremony was held two days later in the courtyard of the police headquarters.
“These arrests are the result of tireless police work,” King Hutarfe said. His majesty had flown in from his activities on an island he was making ready for immigrants from Octula, a planet where the star was close to its death.
“Yes, Your Majesty, we have extended our full crew and our budget to crack this case,” the Captain returned. “We have removed all police escorts from other energy company employees now that this danger is over.”
“And we have a commendation to present,” King Hutarfe continued. “Sergeant Iwan, please step forward and accept the thanks of your fellow Warbutians for your excellent work on this case. We have a beautiful certificate here for you, suitable for framing.”
8 Lucilla Seaten
On the date the Earthlings on Warbut called September 30, 2241, Willa Seaten asked her daughter, “Why do you go over there every six months? You have to take the bus to New London, and then you have to take that puddle jumper airplane to the planet’s capital. Finally, you have to take an autotaxi to that woman’s office.”
“Yes, Mother, I know how long a trip it is, but I want to see her. It’s not the same, calling over the Universal Message Service, you know,” Lucilla Seaten answered.
“They say it’s all the same, really they do,” Willa Seaten said. “Them advertisements for that Universal Message Service say you can see the face plain as day. And the cost! Just pennies, nothing to compare to the amount you are spending for this trip twice a year!”
“I like to see her and to see the movements of her hands while she talks to me,” Lucilla Seaten answered.
“But every six months! You could spend that money on clothes or something useful.”
“You see the priest every week, Mother, and she talks about needing money for the roof or the organ, and you always write a check. And Elissa sees that psychiatrist twice a week, at three hundred an hour. And my friend Rachel is always running to the rabbi. Everybody has an advisor, and I’m sticking with mine,” Lucilla Seaten went on.
“Seems like a real waste to me,” Willa Seaten concluded.
Modi slipped into Madame Olatana’s consulting room. “It’s Miss Lucilla Seaten, for her appointment, early as usual,” the receptionist said.
“Bring her right in, Modi,” Madame Olatana ordered. “Has she had her coffee?”
“Yes, Madame, I prepared it the minute I saw her come in the door. She’s been to the restroom, too, so she ought to be good for an hour,” the young Warbutian woman answered.
Within a minute Lucilla Seaten was seated in the best of the clients’ chairs and was looking carefully at Madame Olatana’s face.
“We have an update today, looking ahead for the next six or seven months,” Madame Olatana said. “Are there any specific problems you want to discuss, Miss Seaten?”
“The same as usual, Madame,” Lucilla Seaten said. “Money and love.”
“Let’s take a look,” Madame Olatana replied. “Money looks adequate for this period, I will tell you. So many clients are having difficulties right now, with Stecon in retrograde for the first time in several years, but you have a nice Nuslen trine to your natal Stecon. Lump sums. I see lump sums, perhaps from royalties or bonuses.”
“Yes! I have a little bonus due in one month from a project we completed earlier this year, and I hope it will clear away some of my debts,” Lucilla Seaten enthusiastically answered.
“I don’t see all debts being cleared, but you will be in a much better financial position by the end of this six months,” Madame Olatana assured the Earthling. “I think you will be able to rest more easily. And your mother will also be in a better financial position in six months.”
The Earthling pressed Madame Olatana for more information about other sources of possible windfalls, and the astrologer made several suggestions for investments and expenditures.
“And now I will look at the love aspects,” Madame Olatana said. “I think this is a time of preparation.”
“You said that six months ago,” Lucilla Seaten pouted.
“The aspects need to be just right for an enduring relationship, as I don’t need to remind you,” Madame Olatana said. “You don’t want to get caught up in something that would be just temporary, do you? You want to prepare for the big passion. Remember that men are not happy to know about flirtations and inconsequential entanglements that have happened in the past. They want to believe that you have been waiting patiently for them.”
“I’m nearly thirty,” Lucilla Seaten said, forgetting for a moment the astrologer had her birth date displayed prominently on several computers during the consultation.
“We need to be looking at men who are about twenty, and those men are still at university. In two years we will be under better aspects, with suitable men in a better position to make commitments,” Madame Olatana said.
“What should I do in the meantime?”
“Young Earthling women usually spend this time learning how to operate their household robots,” the astrologer said. “And how to repair them. A husband appreciates a wife who is an efficient manager.”
“Very well,” Lucilla Seaten sighed. “And are there any other problems that you see in the near future, Madame?”
“Just one, Lucille Seaten. You need to avoid underground mechanical devices, perhaps such as trains or autotaxies that
“Yes, like the subway that takes people from the outer regions of the capital city to the shops and theaters in the center of town,” Madame Olatana explained.
“We have no trains on Telluric Island,” Lucille Seaten said.
“Or busses that go underground. Anything that would be below the ground level,” Madame Olatana went on.
“I can’t think of how I could get involved with anything like that, Madame.”
“Very good. These aspects will last for just a month or two, but you can’t be too careful,” Madame Olatana advised.
Four months after Lucilla Seaten’s last reading, Modi ran into Madame Olatana’s consulting room, crying, “Madame, look at the news from Telluric Island. Lucilla Seaten is dead!”
“The story is on the front page, Madame. She was repairing a robot in her basement when a lightening bolt ripped through the entire electrical infrastructure of the house!” the Warbutian woman told Madame Olatana.
“Dead! I never saw it,” the astrologer said, shaken.
“And her mother was visiting the priest when it happened, giving the priest a portion of a large settlement Lucilla Seaten had received for a minor injury in an autotaxi,” Modi said, pointing to the Universal Message Service’s article.
“Why was she in an autotaxi?”
“Her mother said she had been afraid of the Telluric Island bus because it went into an underground terminal,” Modi replied as she read the article.
9 Wizzent Gerbyal
On the date the Earthlings on Warbut called November 4, 2241, Raek entered the consultation room.
“Madame, where is Clarkl?” Raek asked.
The astrologer looked at the young Warbutian woman who had been her receptionist for just two weeks.
“It’s out there somewhere, Raek,” Madame Olatana answered, waiving a large hand toward the door.
“Can you read for this entity from Clarkl?”
“Of course, but try to get a deposit. Those Clarkl natives never have enough money to pay for a reading, and they try to put it on a Universal Gold charge account but it comes back as insufficient funds. Is this a Monarch, by any chance?” the astrologer asked.
“Monarch, Madame? This entity didn’t give me a royal title. Just said it was Wizzent Gerbyal,” Raek replied.
“No, no, Raek, the Monarchs are just one of the seven sexes on Clarkl,” Madame Olatana started to explain.
“Well, seven types of entities might be more accurate,” Madame Olatana went on. “Some of them are fertile and some of them are not.”
“Fertile? How can there be more of them if they are not fertile?”
“It’s odd, Raek. Two mismatched fertile entities mate to make one of the infertile entities. Say a Monarch mates with a Wolpter. That might give you a Monarch, or it might give you something else. When a Wolpter mates with a Carrier, the offspring is always a Drone, one of the sterile types. All of these Clarklians are androgynous, too,” Madame Olatana said.
“So I should find out what type of Clarklian this Wizzent Gerbyal is?” Raek asked.
“We need the birth certificate,” Madame Olatana said. “That will give us the type of entity. There is no need to press this client for information that may embarrass it.”
“Yes, Raek, some of these types on Clarkl are considered as lower class. The Drones, for example, are at the bottom of the pecking order. The Batwigs, always with one Monarch parent, are close to the top, even though they are sterile. Very smart, these Batwigs, and the Monarchs depend upon them for most of the planet’s management. The Batwigs can be snooty, though, so I hope our client is not a Batwig.”
“So I am to get the birth certificate and the deposit. How long will it take you to study for the reading?” Raek asked her employer.
“About an hour. I have read for six other Clarklians, so I am aware of the various effects of the many other planets in that star system,” Madame Olatana said.
“Are the other planets inhabited with these weirdoes?” Raek asked.
“No, they are mostly uninhabited. The two or three others that have intelligent entities are linked to the voyages from Octula that populated many planets, including Warbut and Earth,” Madame Olatana said. “They have sexual divisions, as we do. I think this Clarkl civilization grew fairly recently from seeds germinated on Clarkl.”
“So these entities are rather wild?”
“Quite wild, Raek. The pictures you can see on the Universal Message Service will show all seven types of entities, and you can see they look nothing like anybody here on Warbut, even those ugly Earthlings who came a number of years ago,” Madame Olatana said.
“Even uglier than the Earthlings?”
“Much uglier. There is no comparison,” Madame Olatana concluded.
Yasg Gerbyal, the Clarklian Seeker who was the partner of Wizzent Gerbyal, called its mother to complain.
“Wizzent is distant ever since it returned from Farnoll, Mama,” Yasg Gerbyal insisted.
“It’s the seven-year itch,” Yasg’s mother firmly stated.
“But Mama, we’ve been partners for over ten years,” Yasg Gerbyal reminded its parent.
“Nevertheless, partners drift apart after a number of years,” Yasg’s mother said. “This is the nature of our species, and you can’t get around it. It’s Wizzent’s Monarch heritage. We told you when you started to run around with Wizzent that any offspring of a Monarch would be flaky.”
“But what can I do?”
“You can keep your children from all knowledge of this,” Yasg’s mother advised. “You, as a Seeker, were obliged to bear two Seeker children, and you have complied with that directive. You could have another Seeker child or you could take a correspondence course in art appreciation. It’s up to you.”
“I meant to ask what can I do to change Wizzent’s behavior. That’s my question, Mama,” Yasg said.
“Let your father take care of this,” Yasg’s mother suggested. “I’ll talk to it tonight. There is a great deal of money still to be paid to Wizzent, according to your partnership contract, and your father will remind Wizzent of the fidelity clause of that contract. It can’t have an affair and collect your dowry, too.”
“Wizzent Gerbyal is on the Universal Message Service, Madame,” Raek said over the intercom. “Should it wait?”
“I am ready now, Raek. Put it through.”
In another minute the face of the Clarklian Batwig appeared on the picturephone. Since the planet of Clarkl was not wealthy enough to subscribe to the full Universal Message Service, only a single image of that entity was shown throughout the conversation.
“Greetings from the planet of Warbut, Wizzent Gerbyal,” Madame Olatana said. “We have your full birth information here, and I also have a complete ephemeris for the star system to which Clarkl is attached.”
“You need all that?” Wizzent Gerbyal asked.
“It is essential for my work,” Madame Olatana answered. “I make predictions based on the placement of the twenty-three planets in your star system, as they were positioned at the moment of your birth and as they are positioned today.”
“It sounds like nonsense,” Wizzent Gerbyal said. “I just need good advice, and two people at a conference I attended on Farnoll said you would be able to help me.”
“I will do my best, according to my profession, Wizzent Gerbyal,” Madame Olatana replied. “What is the problem?”
“It all started at this conference on Farnoll. You know Farnoll?”
“Not personally, but certainly by reputation. Farnoll is the Universe’s vacation spot, filled with elegant hotels, a pristine white beach, and casinos,” Madame Olatana said.
“It’s also a spot for technical and professional
“I was not aware of conferences,” Madame Olatana confessed.
“Oh, yes, if the organizers of universal conferences and training seminars want to attract the biggest crowds and the best speakers, they set something up for Farnoll. The longer the better on Farnoll. Costs an arm and a leg, of course, and only the top companies can pay. That’s even more of an incentive for entities to attend,” Wizzent Gerbyal added.