No Free Ride

Derelik Region – Oraron Constellation
Jarizza System

25 March YC 122

Triglavians… A mysterious race with a predilection for triangles and indiscriminate slaughter. They were causing quite a stir recently but I was still catching up on the latest happenings after five months in solitary confinement. Never thought that I would become their target, at least not in a quiet hi-sec system.

I turned to Aura, “Hey, how come there was no system invasion banner from CONCORD?”

She shrugged, “Dunno. There is anecdotal evidence that Trigs also appear in systems with an emerging conduit. Their lighter ships, like Damavik, may be able to pass through before it is fully formed.”

“And is there such conduit in Jarizza?”

“Can’t say. Our probe scanner window filtered out anomalies. If you want to check we’ll have to undock.”

“That we will, but first,” I made a finger gun and pretended that I was shooting at the overview settings checkbox labelled ‘Invading Precursor Entities’.

“Are you gonna fight them?” asked Aura, astonished.

“Nah, just want to put them on the overview,” replied I and ticked the box. “Besides, we need some kind of ship to salvage the wreck.”

I knocked on the capsule’s silicate glass wall attracting the attention of the technician.

He turned to me, smirked and mouthed, “Another one?”

I smiled apologetically in response.

Five minutes later, in a new Ibis, I warped back to the Sansha Outpost all the way peering at the overview window. There was no trace of any precursor entities, invading or not.

“Where are they?” I asked Aura anxiously. “Are you sure it’s the right setting?”

“Wanna read the manual yourself?” she snapped back. “If they are not here, consider yourself lucky. You should have just enough time to salvage Nosuri.”

“True, true…” mumbled I and flew to the wreck.

It contained quite a lot of stuff, volume-wise, and it took me three round-trips to bring it all back to the station. At no point I saw those enigmatic Triglavians on my overview. Although I would probably end up in a capsule again, at least I could use my camera drones to take a good look at their ships. So far, the only evidence of my encounter with Trigs was the battle log, and it wasn’t the kind of reading that I would care to peruse twice.

Having taken stock of the salvage, I found that I recouped about half the price of Nosuri. Some of it was exploration loot and some – surviving ship modules.

Kicking a dented but functional microwarpdrive I said, “Right, I don’t think that we have enough parts to assemble a new Buzzard, or even a Heron.”

Aura’s eyes gleamed, “Let’s go shopping! Jita or Amarr?”

“We aren’t going anywhere. Trigs at least left me a pod. Our good friends from Hell Dawn will not be so generous. So the only form of shopping available to us is online.”

Aura made a grimace, “Well, better than nothing.”

“Please fetch the latest Nosuri fit, compare it to the salvage and give me a list of missing modules. And don’t forget the hull!”

Aura rolled her eyes at my last remark and in a second I got a shopping list on my screen. It did include the Buzzard hull.

“So how and where do you propose to buy all this stuff?” asked she.

“Which place has the cheapest Sell price?”

“Jita, as always, but to buy anything there you have to be in The Forge region which is, lemme see… 28 jumps away.”

“Oh, bummer!” I scratched my chin, “Is there a safe way to get to The Forge without getting killed en route by war targets?”

“Oh yes, there is!” exclaimed Aura.

“Really? What is it? Tell me.”

“Leave the corp!” said Aura brightly.

I sighed, “Any other bright ideas?”

Aura shrugged, “Get someone else to buy it.”

“Who would do it for me?”

“What about your new corp mates?”

I shook my head, “Nah, they are in the same position as I – valid targets in hi-sec. Hmm…”

It looked like a stalemate but then I had a light-bulb moment.

“Aura, you know what, I’ve got an idea!” said I and dialled a number on the commlink. “Hey, Yakub. How are you doing?.. That’s great… Me? I am fine, fine. Listen, man, are you anywhere near The Forge?.. Oh, you are in Jita? Brilliant! Can you do me a favour?.. Thanks mate. Much appreciated. I am already transferring funds into your account. Cheers!”

Five minutes later I had all the missing parts, including the Buzzard hull, delivered to my hangar in Jita.

“Good to have friends, huh?” I beamed at Aura.

She looked sceptical, “And? What’s next? How are you going to assemble a Buzzard from a hull in Jita and an MWD in Jarizza?”

“Don’t be silly. We’ll just arrange a delivery from Jita to us. Haven’t you heard of courier contracts? What’s that famous delivery company? Green Toad?”

Aura gave me a chilly look, “It’s called Red Frog.”

“Yeah, that’s the one. I knew it was some kind of an amphibian. Can you get a quote from them?”

Aura’s face froze for a few moments while she was accessing the vendor’s order system, and then she displayed the sum on the HUD.

I baulked at the figure, “That’s the price of a fully fitted Buzzard! It’s a rip-off! I am not going to pay double!”

“It is what it is. Take it or leave it,” said Aura.

“Tell them to go to hell!” fumed I.

“Unfortunately, there is no such command in their API, Captain,” replied Aura, smirking.

I looked furiously at the figure, “No way I am going to pay that price!”

“So what do we do?”

“Obviously, I have only one choice,” said I, “get me the drink menus in all bars in Jarizza systems, in space and planetside.”

Aura looked at me incredulously, “Excuse me, are you proposing to get pissed until Hell Dawn drops the wardec?”

“You know, this didn’t occur to me but now that you’ve mentioned it…”

Aura’s eyes widened and she covered her mouth with a hand.

I smirked, “Relax, this isn’t the idea. Just get me those bars.”

Aura silently complied and for the next few minutes I was busy studying the long lists of inebriating potions.

“Aha, this one will do. How much money do we have, darling?” asked I.

“Not enough to buy Gallentean sparkling,” said Aura gloomily. “If you remember, the whole idea of hacking that hi-sec site was to earn enough money to afford it…”

“Yeah, but can we sell some of the mission loot?”

“Dunno, you decided to keep it so, I guess, you actually needed it.”

“We-ell, I might have some use for it some day, but here is the paradox – I won’t see that day if I don’t sell it now. Look at this crap in Itamo – 2,400 large Dread Guristas Uranium hybrid charges. I can’t fly a cruiser to say nothing about a battleship. Why do I need it now?”

“Your stuff, your choice,” said Aura indifferently.

“Good. Now that we’ve found some pocket money…” I ordered commlink to call the last number, “Hi mate! It’s me again. Thanks heaps for buying the Buzzard parts… What do you mean ‘don’t mention it’? I really, really appreciate what you’ve done for me, and as a small token of my gratitude I’d like to invite you to drinks. I am shouting rounds until you drop dead. Or more likely I drop dead. Have you ever heard of Ammatar brandy called Damius III?.. No, it’s not history. Here in Jarizza I’ve found a place which still serves it. Probably the last bottle in whole New Eden so you have to hurry. How soon can you be here? In 30 minutes? Great. Oh by the way, since you are in Jita, can you grab the stuff you bought for me and bring it here?.. Will take longer in Nereus?.. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll go to the bar straight away and buy the remaining Damius III stock… Cheers, mate. See you soon.”

When I finished talking I turned to Aura and found her staring at me with an open mouth.

“What’s wrong?” asked I.

“Vlad,” said Aura, “you keep surprising me. You have just managed to get a free courier for your Buzzard from Jita to Jarizza!”

“That was the plan,” admitted I with a smile, “but don’t expect a free ride. If you’ve seen the price of that damn brandy and if you know how much Yakub can drink… you better prepare a sell contract for those Dread Guristas charges.”

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