Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Change of Plans

According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans.

The ammo business is gaining momentum, and my brokers are reporting that I'm in danger of having one of my market orders expire due to insufficient goods. I seem to have underestimated the market demand, but I won't let my loyal customers suffer due to my oversight. I spend the rest of the evening enjoying the station's amenities, but my mind is busy evaluating different options. One of my associates casually mentions that there's a loophole in safety regulations that allows any ship in a carrier-mounted ship maintenance array to contain ammunition. Naturally, this loophole was intended for deploying combat ships prepared for extended skirmishes, but it has other uses as well. I'm probably not the first to think of this, but I won't be the last, either.

After making sure that I've passed the safety limit for consecutive clone jumps, I head to the cloning station and jump back to Republic space. I buy an used Mammoth at a bargain and have it stripped down to the bare minimum, maximizing cargo space. It's now basically a few engines and a cockpit strapped to several cargoholds. Perfect Minmatar design. All it needs to do is to hold together until I reach the drop-off point.

The pickups go without incident, but now I'm on an approach vector to the last stargate before the drop-off point in low-security space. Miss Ashley reports that there is one friendly contact on the overview, leaving the system and several neutrals in the system according to the gate logs. I send the activation codes, and me, my ship and my highly combustible cargo are pulled through the gate.

"I'm here. Prepare the web."
"Standing by."

As soon as I deactivate the cloak, I hear the familiar locking alert and Miss Ashley's Buzzard appears next to me. The stasis web engulfs my ship and the engines rev up in a futile attempt to compensate.

"Engine output at 75%. Ready for warp.", I hear AURA's voice chime in. I send the command.
"Warp Drive Active."

The arrival to the station is uneventful. The dock crew unloads an unmarked crate from the Mammoth while I detach my pod and make the proper arrangements. I approve the contracts. The Mammoth is towed away to an another hangar to wait for pickup. The crate is wheeled away. A few minutes later, the Silent Whisper arrives to my hangar. While's it's sleek by Minmatar standards and can rival some of the cheaper interceptors in speed and maneuverability, it's also a relatively rate sight and thus would have attracted undue attention. After all, when someone uses a blockade runner, they usually have a good reason to expect trouble. I maneuver my pod towards the ship and open the pod bay door. The pod slides down and locks into place, and my viewpoint changes to the ship's camera drones. I start the pre-flight checks.

"How's the vicinity of the station?"
"No contacts on scanner, all clear."
I notify the traffic control and get clearance for departure. The vicinity of the station is indeed clear, so I set my destination and warp towards the gate.
"Is that all? I thought that.."
"Yes, that is all."
"What about the ship?"
"That was the ship. The Gambler's Compulsion will be transported at a later date. I humbly suggest that you use the time productively."
"I still don't like the idea."
"Duly noted. Just go through the textbooks and you'll know how to go through the diagnostics yourself. Contact me when you're done."
"Activating the gate. I suggest you do the same, the natives are getting restless."

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