The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station
31 January YC 121
Next course I planned to take was Business. Strangely but conveniently, State War Academy also hosted a Business career agent, Hakkaras Ihora. I expected to see a besuited sleek businessman but instead I was greeted by a dour, athletic fellow dressed in a flight jacket.
“Welcome to the Academy, Mr Korff. The business of New Eden is devilishly complicated and you’ve made the right decision to undergo the training before investing your time and money in some doubtful enterprise. Have you studied economy or finance?”
“Not exactly, but I have a degree in Applied Mathematics,” replied I.
“That’s good enough. To run a successful business means doing lots and lots of spreadsheets, and a person like you, with a background in ‘rithmetic, will have no trouble mastering them.”
“Mathematics,” said I.
“I have a background in Applied Mathematics, not arithmetic.”
“Sure, that’s what I meant,” handwaved my remark Hakkaras. “Now, are you ready for your first mission?”
“Never thought that I would be on a mission to create a spreadsheet but I am ready when you are.”
“Ha-ha, our courses are a bit more hands-on than that. Your first assignment is to deliver data sheets to Spacelane Patrol Logistic Support station in Unpas,” said the agent and then, seeing the expression on my face, added, “Anything wrong?”
I took a deep breath, “Actually, I did such mission during my Industry course with Mr Velen. Can you give me another task?”
“No,” shook his head Hakkaras, “Industry syllabus is completely different and we can’t credit Industry missions toward Business course.”
“Hmm…” I hesitated for a few seconds, then said, “Okay, I’ll take it,” and went to the hangar.
“Hello, my dear businessman,” greeted me Aura. “Have you already founded your mega-corporation?”
“Working on it,” mumbled I. “About to make the first step.”
“How exciting!” exclaimed Aura and clapped her hands. “And what is that step?”
“I was afraid you would ask. Believe it or not, but I have to deliver goods to Unpas.”
“No, it’s completely different this time, according to my supervisor. Last time I had to bring cap boosters to the eleventh moon of the eighth planet, and now I am ferrying data sheets to the fifth moon of the ninth planet. See?”
“I see,” said Aura slowly. “And how is this going to help you with your business skills?”
“Dunno, maybe it’s a kind of a rite of passage for CEOs. I’ve heard that Haatakan Oiritsuu herself started her career as a courier.”
“You keep telling yourself that,” snickered Aura. “And, by the way, what is your mission reward?”
“About 400 thousand kredits.”
“Is this with a time bonus?”
“Yes,” confirmed I.
Aura laughed scornfully, “That explains it. I think your dear supervisor is abusing his power for a bit of personal gain. Have you ever heard of Red Frog corporation?”
“Couriers? Yes, I have.”
“Well, those guys would not accept an urgent contract like this for less than 32 million kredits. But here your agent has an eager student who is keen to run this mission for a fraction of the cost which also comes from the State’s coffers.”
“But why do you think it’s a personal errand?” asked I.
“Can’t say for sure, but even if it’s Academy business it doesn’t smell good. Student exploitation, I’d say.”
“And what do you suggest to do?”
Aura made a grimace, “Just do the mission. If you try to escalate it you may run into a guy who is in cahoots with the agent and who can make your life in Academy really difficult.”
I was astounded, “Aura, how do you know about such things? I don’t expect it was part of your ship AI’s pre-loaded body of knowledge.”
“Erm…You see, I’ve been recently reading Fanny Giroux, and in one of her novels she described exactly the same situation, where a whistleblower got in trouble after reporting illegal activity to the person who in fact organised that crime ring. She barely escaped with her life but in the end it was all good.”
“Aura, I can’t believe it. Are you reading chick lit?”
“Oh,” she blushed a little, “but that’s who I am if you haven’t noticed yet.”
I shook my head and undocked.