"Explore the galaxy?" Tinker gave a little chuckle, "Cost my dear, purely cost."
"Cost?" Maddox asked.
"Yes captain, do you have any idea what missions like that cost a company like mine? Sure the technology is possible. We've even developed it to the point of being a viable technology... but the cost of training the crew, building and fueling the ships and so forth. It got to the point where we couldn't even sell ad space on the launches. My network only has SO MUCH of a budget to throw at that sort of endeavor."
"How interesting." Captain Maddox muttered almost to himself, "So your space program is driven by ad sales and viewer numbers as well?"
"Now you're starting to get it captain." Tinker looked almost pleased that the crew of the Endurance was beginning to understand.
"For the time being, our space program has been limited to the launching and maintenance of our network of orbital broadcast satellites." Tinker said, then noticing the look on Maddox's face he added, "But things have developed that I believe will change all that."
"Mr. Tinker?" came his secretary's voice over the intercom unit on his desk.
"Virginia, I told you we were not to be disturbed." Tinker scolded as he thumbed the activation key.
"Yes sir, I'm sorry, but I have Lenny on the line... there's a problem at Studio 47."
"What is it?" Tinker demanded turning to look at his great wall of screens.
"They're missing one of their actors for the 'Family Business' program. It's Cameron, the 'goofy older brother'." Virginia answered.
Tinker adjusted a few buttons and in a moment he had all screens showing Studio 47. Each screen showed the view from a different camera trained on different areas of a set that looked like the interior of a modern home. Tinker scanned the screens.
"Is there a problem Mr. Tinker?" Maddox asked.
"'Family Business' is one of our programs that goes out to the public live. One of the actors has gone missing and from the looks of it, he's not on set."
"And that's bad?"
"Yes captain, that live broadcast is about to break down in the middle of a live planet-wide program. Cameron is one of the main characters! Virginia!" Tinker shouted into the intercom, "Get all available security down to Studio 47 and comb the area. Find that boy!"
"Yes sir!" Virginia closed the line.
"I'm very sorry captain, this isn't a normal day here at PBN. I really ought to get down there and help out." Tinker stood and grabbed his jacket as he made for the door.
"I understand Mr. Tinker," Maddox stood, "Perhaps we could be of some assistance?"
"Maybe so Captain, follow me then."