Monday, November 10, 2008


"So you've found him?"
"Yes. Get my fee ready."
"It's ready. What's your ETA?"
"Half an hour."
"I'll be waiting."

The hologram flickers off and I lean back on my chair. That was faster than expected. His effectiveness is certainly at par with his reputation. Still.. Better safe than sorry. I reopen NeoCom.

"Hey! How's business?"
"Decent. Say.. Would you happen to have any associates in Sasta who would be interesed in a bit of income?
"Certainly. Expecting trouble?"
"I'm expecting a delivery. The contract is straightforward enough.. but I like to keep my options open."
"A babysitting job?"
"Nothing of that sort. They don't even need to accompany me. If all goes well, your associates will get paid for sitting in one of the local establishments. But I expect them to be able to reach my office within two minutes."
"Done and done."
"Thank you."

With the protection sorted out, there's still time to kill before the meeting. The blueprints have returned from replication, but the distance to the factory is small enough to be done personally. The existing manufacturing jobs are on schedule.. and the previous batch is selling quite well. It seems that I'll recoup my initial investment sooner than expected. There's still the issue of sorting out the next shipment for my associates..
"One Jonathan Parker, safe and sound."
"Hi boss!", he quips. I would have expected him to be grumpy or at least hung over.
"Mr. Parker, you're uncharacteristically cheery for the occasion. Could you wait at the antechamber, please?"
"Sure! What's my next assignment?"
"We'll discuss that later."

I could recognize those symptoms anytime. I release the deadman's switch I set up in NeoCom..

"I'm surprised by your abilities. Not only did you bring him back, but he seems motivated as well."
"All in the service, now, about my fee.."
"It's ready. But first the merchandise needs to be checked. Is there anything I should know about?
"I did replenish his Vitoc dose and.."
"He was not under the influence of Vitoc before."
"Oh. Consider it a bonus, then."
"Unfortunately, your contract stipulated that he be returned safely and unharmed. "
"Talk to your Holder. I'm sure he'll understand."
"Your Holder. I'm sure he's put you under the influence of Vitoc as well."
"I did not make that contract on behalf of anyone."

The door opens and my associates step in.

"Gentlemen, would you be so kind and demonstrate why forcibly infecting someone with Vitoc is a bad idea.."
"Wait! I can supply you with Vitoc! I was doing you a favor!", he yells while trying to hold on to the door frame.
"That won't be necessary. Good day."

Of course, he was right. I open NeoCom.

"Miss Ashley, do you still have the items recovered from that mission last week?"
 "The vials? Yes, I have those."
"I have found a buyer."

Naturally, that small supply confiscated from an Amarrian transport won't sustain him forever. But now I won't have to bear the externalities from his lifestyle.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Maintaining the Chain

The initial test run has been a success, and I'm now getting a steady stream of income. It's not much, but the demand is decent. The next batch of blueprints is ready, but my Gallentean associate's been focusing his efforts on discovering all of the hidden Ammatar nightclubs instead of asteroid belts, so I'm forced to rely on other suppliers for now. Getting the Nocxium, Pyerite and Mexallon for the next production batch was not a problem, but Tritanium.. the market's as bad as I expected. The only reasonable sources with sufficient volume are around the Barvigrard constellation. I know the place well, which is exactly why I don't want to go there. The prices are cheap for a reason. The dead-end constellations that are easily defensible due to limited routes, which makes it a potential deathtrap. I made my first billion running those routes, and some of the locals might still remember me. Still.. if I want to maintain the ROI I need to go there. I set the course and fire up Silent Whisper's engines. I open NeoCom.

"Miss Ashley."
"Yes sir?"
"It's time to fulfill your contractual obligations. Meet me in these coordinates."
"You're going to stir the hornet's nest?"
"Your task will be to notify me if these.. hornets come out of hibernation."
"Rules of Engagement?"
"No engagement. Observation only. You owe me enough already."
"Observation only. I'll brief you when you get here. Bring something discreet."

While AURA's flying the Whisper I prepare the buy order, but I don't complete it yet. Some of the locals tend to use lucrative sell orders as bait, and there's no need to give them a heads-up too soon. Eventually, I arrive at the staging area.

"Present as ordered."
"You'll enter before me, and assess the situation. If everything looks clear, I'll follow and retrieve the cargo. You are to provide me with advance warning if necessary. This will take several trips, so I need to know when I start to attract attention."
"Got it."


"A Rupture pilot. He his vector puts him in activation range in ten seconds. The Dominix and the Falcon on scanner are inert.. The Rupture pilot is activating the gate."

The first few batches go through without incident.

"A fleet of three Iteron Vs at the gate."

"A Probe and.. a Tempest."

Apparently the locals seem disinterested, because not even more vulnerable targets are engaged.

"Solo Mammoth."

"A Stabber."

"A Wreathe.. just sitting at the gate."


"That's the last batch. You're relieved, but I expect to see those bounties you've been collecting on my account within the hour."
"You're awfully testy today."
"Good day, miss Ashley."

I deliver the first batch to the factory and board the Middleman to haul the rest from the staging area. The long trip give me plenty of time to ponder. Of course, Miss Ashley was right. This operation was nowhere the highest risk I've taken, and even if it had gone bad I've absorbed larger losses before. I took the proper precautions. So why am I so agitated?

It was a risk that should have never been taken. I open NeoCom and call my contact at the Justice Department.
"I need someone found."