Box Opening as Community Service

Anoikis – Region B-R00005
Constellation B-C00037 – System J150859

16 March YC 122

“Okay, so you’ve seen Anoikis. What do we do now?” asked Aura.

“Explore it, of course!” exclaimed I.

“Meaning exactly what?”

“Oh, for one thing, it’s full of treasures. Remember you told me about all those unguarded sites that we can hack?”

“Ah, yes, the relic sites!” perked up Aura, “Let’s find them.”

“Yes, let’s do it… oh, wait, I completely forgot about caches.”

“Caches? What caches?”

“I’ve told you about rescue caches that my Corp keeps in J-space to help stranded capsuleers,” explained I. “It’s a duty of every Signaleer to sow and tend those caches whenever they travel through Anoikis.”

“And where do we find those caches?”

“That’s why we need Allison. Hey, why is she shut down? I remember she was on before we jumped through the wormhole.”

Aura made an innocent face, “Um… Dunno. Maybe you accidentally flipped the switch?”

I raised my brow, “Do you see any manual controls around?”

“Well, I mean ‘mentally’. Like… ‘mentally accidentally’.”


She looked at me askance, chewed her lip for a while and exploded, “Okay! Fine! I did it. I just didn’t want her to interfere while we were talking.”

Then she folded her hands and looked at me defiantly.

For a few seconds I gave Aura silent treatment and then put on the best pretence of a responsible adult and said in a slightly tired voice, “Aura, you are a good girl, aren’t you? Why would you do something like this? Allison provides important, and sometimes vital, information to Signal Cartel pilots. She has to be always on. Please don’t do it again. Okay?”

Aura scowled and looked away without saying a word.

“I am now going to turn Allison on and she has to stay that way all the time. Do you understand?”

There was heavy breathing but no reply. I thought I did all I could and gave a mental command to activate Allison.

After some clicking and hissing I heard, “Captain, good evening. Please fly carefully as war has been declared against Signal Cartel. Also, the Search and Rescue Division has asked me to update you with the current list of lost pilots. Please review that. There is a rescue cache in this system that needs to be tended. This is a Class Two system. Next item – weather. Nitrogen snowstorm is possible on outer planets; in shattered systems molten iron rain is likely.”

“Very useful information. Especially the last bit about weather,” grumbled Aura.

I ignored that remark and opened an ESRC (Eve-Scout Rescue Cache) window on the HUD. There was a history of sowers and tenders and I could see that last time the cache had been tended 13 days ago, so it was almost halfway through its lifetime.

Aura examined the screen and asked, “Remind me, what kind of container holds that cache?”

“A small secure container.”

“Ha,” snorted Aura. “Good luck finding that. You know that those containers can’t be scanned down even by combat probes, don’t you?”

“I don’t need to scan it. You see, while I was waiting for auditors in that clone bay, the capsule manufacturers updated the firmware and now it allows to share bookmarks.”

I onlined a corp folder and immediately saw a new entry in the Local Bookmarks window.

Making what I thought was an elegant hand gesture, I said, “Voila, as Gallenteans say.”

“Huh,” muttered Aura, looking unimpressed.

I willed Nosuri to warp to zero to the bookmark and soon my viewport was filled with a slowly spinning box.

Eve-Scout Rescue Cache
Eve-Scout Rescue Cache

I gave a command to open it and entered a password provided by Allison. A cargo window popped up and showed that the cache contained one probe launcher, eight probes and… a melted snowball. I chuckled and closed the container.

“Done,” declared I, satisfied with my first act of community service.

“Excuse me, can you explain what has just happened?” asked Aura. “All I saw was that you found a box filled with goods, opened it, closed it and now, for some reason, you look as pleased as Punch.”

“Don’t you understand? I’ve just tended my first cache!”

“What? By opening and closing it?”

“Exactly!” beamed I.

“And what good did that do?”

“If no one uses a cache it can stay in space only for thirty days. But if you open it, the self-destruction timer is reset and it can stay in space for another month.”

Aura looked at me strangely, “Can’t you, you know, disable the timer?”

“Nah, if containers could stay in space forever then the manufacturers would soon be out of business. They do provide a warranty for a minimum of 30 days after deployment or last use but if you read the fine print then you’ll see that it states that 30 days is also the maximum.”

“Bastards,” said Aura gloomily. “So now your days will be filled with opening and closing small secure containers?”

“No, I wouldn’t say ‘filled’. This one took longer because it was my first cache and I wanted to take time to enjoy the moment. Actually, I feel like celebrating. Do we have Gallentean sparkling wine in the cargo hold? I wouldn’t mind opening a bottle for such occasion, whatever it costs.”

“No, we don’t. But there are some melted snowballs. You can shake them with pod goo if you like,” replied Aura sarcastically.

“Oh well, you can’t have everything. I’ll wait until we return to k-space. Then I’ll go to Abyss Bar, call Yakub and we’ll…” I started saying dreamily but Aura interrupted me.

“Please stop. For one thing, I am not interested to hear about your pissfest plans. If you need another reason, then you haven’t earned enough to afford that sparkling yet. If I remember correctly, your community service is free, right?”

“Er… yes.”

“Then move your ass to the safe spot and launch the probes! Those relic sites will not scan themselves.”

I made a stony-faced grimace and barked, “Aye, aye, Ma’am! Warp drive active.”

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