The Forge Region – Onirvura Constellation
Poinen System – Planet IV, Moon 13
Nugoeihuvi Corporation Development Studio
1 March YC 122
“You are now what?” asked Aura, confused.
“A Signaleer,” proudly repeated I.
“A ‘signaleer’? What’s ‘signaleer’? There is no such word in Napanii or any other language I know. And trust me, I know a lot.”
“It is an endonym for members of Signal Cartel,” explained I.
Yes, it so happened that a week after meeting Null Flare I applied for a membership in a capsuleer-owned corporation and three days later my application was approved. At this point you might be thinking that I decided to become a professional pyrotechnic but, in fact, that line that Null fed me about fireworks was just a bait. Admittedly, those guys did some silly things like forming a fleet armed only with firework launchers and ‘attacked’ their war targets (well, maybe not so silly as they also equipped ECM jammers and made sure they could not be targeted). But that was just for fun. The core of their activity was exploration with a special focus on wormholes. Believe me or not, they even provided a free service to the whole New Eden, rescuing capsuleers stranded in wormholes!
The corporation seemed to be a good fit for me but it took me a lot of reading and thinking before I finally made up my mind and decided to become a part of a group with mutual obligations. You see, being a freelancer had its advantages but that incident with the clone jump shed light on the emptiness that was growing inside me ever since I finished all missions given by career agents. I could do whatever I wanted but I had no purpose; I didn’t care about anyone but no one cared about me. Eventually, I realised that I was ready to give up some of my freedom in exchange for companionship and meaningful existence.
As it turned out, it wasn’t a huge sacrifice. Signal Cartel had a very laissez-faire attitude towards its members; there weren’t a lot of requirements.
Firstly, you had to be an active explorer; and that I was.
Secondly, you had to treat everyone with respect and never initiate aggression. That one, initially, took me aback. In my travels I met some pirates who did not deserve a polite conversation, to say nothing about respect. That demand, however, had a curious qualification which made it more palatable – you only had to be nice to other capsuleers. It kind of made sense – if you think about it, being rude to a pirate capsuleer was a sure way to undergo an enforced clone jump (caused by destruction of you current clone, of course). And even if I didn’t feel like being polite I could simply ignore them by pretending I was asleep.
Finally, there was a long list of things that members were not supposed to do which was easily achieved by doing nothing. Well, at least nothing but exploration (see point one).
“Right,” said Aura. “So what do we do now?”
“I’d like to sow or tend some ESR caches in Anoikis but for that I need a Buzzard,” replied I.
Aura stared at me blankly for a while, then shook her head, “You know, Vlad, ever since you joined that corp I feel like you are speaking a foreign language. Do you yourself understand what you have just said? What are ‘ESR caches’ and how do you ‘sow’ or ‘tend’ them?”
Poor girl was so overwhelmed with the news that even the prospect of shopping for a Buzzard did not excite her.
“ESR stands for Eve-Scout Rescue – that’s a division within the corp which is responsible for placing, or sowing, caches in Anoikis. A cache is a small secure container which contains a core probe launcher and eight probes. If a capsuleer gets stranded in a wormhole space he may request help and will be given the coordinates of and the password for the cache. Then he or she can use the probes to scan his way out.”
“Hmm…” mused Aura, “this may be a viable business model. How much do they charge for that service?”
“Nothing. It’s free.”
“Free? Then why do they do it?”
I shrugged, “Because they like to help others, I guess.”
“And how do they make sure that people are really stranded? You know, one can jump through a wormhole, pretend to be lost and then get the launcher and the probes for free.”
“Nah, it’s not worth it. You see, caches are located near planets but they aren’t on their grid. To reach a cache you have to bounce several times between planets making bookmarks until you get close enough to the container so that you can slowboat to it. You can use this time to make better money elsewhere. Besides, you can repeat this trick only so many times before rescue operators suspect fraud.”
Aura looked pensive.
“Aura, what are you thinking about?” I asked suspiciously.
“Er… What? Oh, never mind,” replied she glancing around furtively and then quickly changed the subject, “By the way, did you say Buzzard?”
I decided not to press my question and said, “I did. You know, I am not jumping through a wormhole without a CovOps cloak.”
“Then let’s go shopping!” exclaimed Aura with what I felt was a tad exaggerated enthusiasm. “The route to Jita is planned. Shall we undock?”
“Not so quick, darling. Let me check something.”
I loaded GateCheck site and entered the proposed route to Jita.
“Yes, as I thought, there was PIRAT activity in Jita in the last hour,” said I after reviewing the results of my query.
“And why should that bother us?”
“Why? Because we are at war with PIRAT and they can engage us in hi-sec space as a valid war target.”
Aura scowled, “Then let’s buy a battleship and blow them to smithereens!”
“Whoa there!” exclaimed I. “Firstly, I cannot attack them because of the Cartel’s Credo…”
“But you can attack and kill them in self-defence, right?” interrupted me Aura.
“That’s correct, but secondly, and most importantly, I don’t have money to purchase and fit a good battleship and skills to fly it…”
I saw Aura open her mouth to object and hurried to finish my argument, “And if that wasn’t a problem then we would have to fly to Jita to buy that battleship anyway. So you see, it’s catch 22.”
Aura closed her mouth. After a while she asked glumly, “So how do we get our Buzzard?”
“Well, to simply buy it we don’t have to be in Jita; we can do it remotely. As to the delivery, I have an idea.”
I produced commlink and dialled a number.
“Hey, Yakub! Long time no see! Can you do me a favour?..”