Some moments passed. The others looked at Hiram; his head was still down, focused on his datapad.
The voice came back, testier this time.
"Approaching vessel! This is Mora Highport traffic control! Please identify and-"
"Hey I heard you the first time, guy!," Hiram snapped. "Could you give me a minute? Jeez!"
Juda shared a look with Max. Max just shook his head and gave a short laugh.
"Oh I'll give you all the minutes you need, buddy! Welcome to the slow lane!" The voice clicked off.
"Oh, my life." Hiram rubbed his temples as the HUD displayed their estimated time to dock.
Captain Hank shook his head. He wasn't about to wait 3 hours. He motioned for Juda to let him have the Comms station. A couple minutes, a name drop, and a few choice words later he had them in the expedited lane, and had lined up an audience with the Duchess as a bonus. They would be docking in about 20 minutes. He stood up.
"Gentlemen, we'll meet back at the ship in a few hours. I'm off to see Her Grace."
On his way to the lift he stopped by the equipment locker and asked for Charlie to join him; a nominal escort would be appropriate for one of his station. In a few minutes the ship's boat was detached and they were off to the surface.
Mora Highport was essentially a metropolis to itself. The crew of the Penguin had not seen such a place since...well since leaving Capital, and it was no real wonder. Mora was the Gateway to the Marches in every sense that mattered. It was the first system in the sector to be colonized by the Imperium, almost a thousand years ago. Most trade goods going to or from the Marches eventually passed through Mora, and it was spectacularly busy...and spectacularly wealthy.
The ship eased into the docking bay under the gentle guidance of the traffic control auto-pilot, and soon they heard the sound of the docking clamp and the airlock seal. Hiram powered down the engines, and they all went about their respective businesses; Hiram to find a buyer, Juda and Max to scout out the local low-lives, all of them to keep an ear to the ground for extra work.
They left Dave asleep in his quarters; he was nothing but a huge pain if awakened prematurely, and he probably needed the rest.