The Forge Region – Ruomo Constellation
Itamo System – Planet VI, Moon 6
Science and Trade Institute School Station
While I was getting back to the Navy office I got a message from Gerhardt who congratulated me on becoming a capsuleer. He had some business in The Forge next day and suggested to have a catch-up in the evening. I gladly agreed as again I had a lot of questions for him.
This time the agent, her name was Annukka, didn’t have objections; apparently my vandalism was either unnoticed or, more likely, totally inconsequential. Yatagarasu was now owned exclusively by me, without any restrictions. I felt like celebrating but decided to wait until Gerhardt’s arrival tomorrow.
Before I left the office, Annukka asked, “Have you already found a place to stay?”
“Err… not really,” replied I. “With all those missions I didn’t even have time to think about it.”
She gave me a business card, “This place has nice serviced apartments. If you show them this card, you’ll get a discount, and I,” she winked, “will get a nice little cut for referral.”
“Is it expensive?” asked I suspiciously. Although I lived on stations for more than a year I had no idea what was the cost of accommodation; it was all paid for by the State.
“Not really. About 6000 ISK a week.”
My eyes bulged, “What? You call it inexpensive? I had to work 3 months to get such money planetside!”
Annukka laughed, “Forget your planetside job. You are a capsuleer now. Have you checked your account lately?”
I haven’t, so I produced my datapad and opened the transaction log. There I found a couple of credit transactions for the total amount of 40,000 ISK. The transfer purpose was “Vladimir Korff got bounty prizes for killing pirates in Itamo”.
I showed the log to the agent, “What are those transfers? What pirates?”
“Ah, it may be confusing but CONCORD classifies Seekers as pirates. It’s your bounty for destroying them.”
“You mean 10,000 ISK per Circadian Seeker?” I asked incredulously. “That sounds like a lot for a five-minute job.”
“Think about this way: firstly, how many people can actually do this job, and secondly, how much money you saved by preventing those drones from destroying other ships?”
I remembered the blown-up CONCORD research ship; it was probably worth tens of millions. If I saved at least one such ship by killing the seekers during my last mission, then the payment was totally reasonable.
“Hmm… Makes sense,” admitted I. “OK, I’ll check out that place. If it’s not a fleabag you’ll get your cut. And if it’s really good then I’ll shout you a drink.”
“Sounds tempting,” purred Annukka, ” but I don’t think my boyfriend will appreciate such attention.”
“Don’t see a problem with that,” chuckled I, “I’ll shout him a drink too.”
The apartments were kind of average: clean but not shining, tidy but a bit tired. I decided they would do for the time being, but Annukka needed to try harder to earn her drink. Besides, I felt drained after running my first two missions in one day and didn’t feel like socialising. I had an early dinner alone, then dropped on my bed and slept for 12 hours straight without dreaming.
Next day I met Gerhardt. I was waiting in a bar and waved to him when he appeared in the doorway. Gerhardt approached me and then suddenly stopped a couple steps away as if he was thunderstruck.
“I’ll be damned! You look younger than when I saw you last time. Are you using anti-ageing cream?”
“Sure thing. I have a lifetime supply,” retorted I, and we laughed and hugged each other.
After exchanging the latest news, I asked Gerhardt, “Ger, is our deal still in force?”
“The one in which you answer my questions as long as I keep your glass full.”
“Of course. You know I can’t resist a pint of good Amarrian Imperial Stout.”
“Err… They don’t have Amarrian here, but there is local Fujimoto Strong Dark Ale which is almost as good,” I made an apologetic grimace.
“Oh, well. I can try anything once, especially at your expense,” quipped Gerhardt.
After the ale was ordered, tasted and approved I broached the subject that was on my mind since my first skillbook injection, “Ger, what skills should I learn?”
“Hmm, that depends on what you want to do as a capsuleer.”
“I don’t know yet. So far I have completed a couple of missions, you know, shot a few Seekers. Although I thoroughly enjoyed destroying the pesky bots, I am not sure I could do it if they were piloted by humans. Don’t think I want a military career.”
Gerhardt smiled, “Don’t burn your bridges. You might change your mind when your ship gets blown up by a fellow homo sapiens. Also, combat engagements are one of the most lucrative in New Eden. Even if you are averse to spilling blood, there are enough Sleeper drones whose destruction pays handsomely. But you’ll need to train a lot and invest in a good ship for that. Anyway, there are other non-violent means of making kredits: mining, trade, manufacturing, logistics, exploration… By the way, I think exploration would suit you, given your programming background.”
“What does charting new systems have to do with software development?”
“It’s not that kind of exploration. New Eden is full of abandoned sites which contain valuable information and artefacts. They are usually found in containers which will explode if you try to pry the lock. On the other hand, the security software which protects the locks can be hacked by specialised equipment.”
“And how much do those artefacts cost?” asked I.
“Depends on the security zone. The ones found in null-sec and w-space are most expensive. But even in high-sec one can find rare and dangerous but extremely lucrative Ghost sites. A friend of mine told me he once managed to get away from such site with 26 million ISK worth of loot.”
I gasped, “Twenty six million kredits? You are set for life with such fortune!”
“Not if you are a capsuleer,” smirked Ger. “We live to fly and for that we need ships. And ships cost a lot of money. To put it in perspective, that sum was just enough to buy a T2 exploration ship.”
“Well, exploration sounds interesting, but I don’t know if it suits me. Is there any way I can try it?”
“Sure, just talk to career agents.”
“Yeah, they provide advanced training opportunities for new capsuleers,” Gerhardt produced his datapad and searched something on it. “Look here, your own Science and Trade Institute has a school near Jouvulen III in Lonetrek region. In addition to exploration they also offer business, industrial and military training.”
“Thanks for the reference, I’ll certainly have a chat with them. But is there any skill that I can train before I decide on my career path?”
“Oh yes, there are certain skills which will be helpful no matter which specialisation you will pursue in the end. They are called Magic 14. Let me check my notes,” said Ger and opened his datapad.
“What? You don’t remember them? Are they really that important then?” I asked sarcastically.
“Oh, I knew those skills by heart when I was training them but it was so long ago,” replied Gerhardt, unperturbed by my teasing. “Here you go. The skills are:
Power Grid Management,
Capacitor Systems Operation,
Long Range Targeting,
Warp Drive Operation, and
“Hmm, that’s a lot. To which level should I train them?”
“To the highest,” said Gerhardt firmly. “And one more thing, learn to fly some frigates. You need to get out of your Ibis as soon as possible.”
“Hey, I’ve just started enjoying it and you want me to sell my Yatagarasu?”
“No one is talking about selling it.”
“But I don’t think I’ll be able to afford a frigate without selling the Ibis.”
“Trust me, you will. Before you know it, you’ll have enough money for a T1 frigate and you can keep Yatagarasu as a pet. And in a year’s time the value of your corvette will be purely sentimental.”
I had already thought about having my own frigate… maybe some time, when I would save enough money, and get tired of Yatagarasu… but according to Ger, I should be able to afford it in near future. I didn’t know what to say. So I raised my glass and made a toast, “To my first frigate!”
Gerhardt said, “Cheers!” and downed the rest of his beer.
“Another pint?” asked I.
“Another question?” Ger raised a brow.
“You bet,” said I and went to the bar.