Solitude Region – Orvanne Constellation
14 April YC 122
Two weeks of laid-back rustic life in Aeter bored me enough, to say nothing about Aura who, of all systems, preferred Jita. Besides, it was time to start preparations to Signal Cartel’s Tender Games. So in the morning I loaded the loot into Nosuri’s cargo hold, said good-bye to Federation Navy Station and undocked.
“It was good while it lasted but I don’t fancy returning here in future. Ever,” said I throwing the last glance at the station.
“I wouldn’t be so confident,” scoffed Aura. “With your luck you may visit this place more often than you think.”
“Ha! Is it an official route prediction by the navigational AI?”
“No, it’s an observation of an experienced woman who shared this gel-filled blob with you for months!”
While we were bantering like that, I warped to my safe spot, deployed the probes and started scanning the signatures. The idea was to detect a wormhole leading to Anoikis and then find a hi-sec exit to any region except Solitude. The first wormhole I found led to low-sec.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if this hole brought you back to Aeter,” quipped Aura.
“There is only one way to check,” replied I and dived into it.
This time the great cosmic RNG was merciful to me as I found myself in Rilera system which was just one jump away from Khanid hi-sec.
“Aha! Talking about my luck,” exclaimed I gleefully. “I told you it was all balanced.”
“Yeah, sure. Cherry-picking evidence like this, you could become a great scientist,” said Aura sarcastically.
I ignored the sledge and flew to Danera system where I docked and set up a rendezvous point with Yakub. There I was going to give him my exploration loot as a payment for the failed starbase deal, and also for the delivery of a specially-fitted Buzzard which I planned to use during Tender Games.
Khanid Region – Arniri Constellation
Danera System – Planet III, Moon 3
Khanid Transport Storage Station
16 April YC 122
Yakub was not in a hurry to collect the payment which he so vigorously tried to decline. Or maybe he was less than thrilled at the prospect of transporting yet another Buzzard through Niarja, and flew around it which would triple the number of jumps he had to make. Whatever it was, it took him two days to get to Danera.
“Long time no see,” I greeted Yakub in his hangar. “What took you so long?”
“Oh, you know, meetings, auctions, trades… There is always an opportunity to make money in Jita,” replied he.
“What, opportunities better than grabbing 70 million kredits worth of loot?” teased I.
Yakub raised his brow, “You’d be surprised.”
“Oh, those posh Jita traders! Anyway, glad to see you, mate. Now, where is my Buzzard?”
“Er… About that. I did buy it with all the fittings but I left it in Kaaputenen.”
“In Kaaputenen? Why Kaaputenen? Oh, I see. Niarja?” smirked I.
Yakub shuddered, “Yeah. So if you don’t mind…”
“That’s fine. As long as it’s not in Jita. How much was it?”
My eyes popped out of my head, “What? Don’t tell me there was a 100% inflation in one month!”
“But you also asked me to buy ten boxes of spirits, so I bought you ten crates of Damius III brandy.”
I swallowed hard, “Are you telling me that you have bought the most expensive brandy in New Eden so that I could leave it as a gift for stranded pilots in rescue caches?”
Yakub made a pause, then looking at me earnestly said, “No,” and guffawed, “You should have seen your face!”
“Silly joke. You nearly gave me a heart attack,” grumbled I but then couldn’t resist chuckling when I imagined my expression.
“In fact, it’s just your regular rice vodka. Don’t think that your rescuees are too picky. All in all it was 95 million. By the way, I noticed that your fitting did not include any analysers. Did you forget to order them or do you have spare ones?”
“No, all I need this Buzzard for is scanning. It’s for Tender Games.”
“Tender games? Who are you going to be tender to and why do you need a scanner for that? Or do those games take place at an illegal pleasure hub which has to be scanned down first?” Yakub nudged me playfully.
I remembered that the Games were a corp-only event and outsiders may have never heard of it, so some explanation was in order.
“You know how Signal Cartel maintains a network of rescue caches in Anoikis? We call it tending. So Tender Games means games between those who tend caches, whether they do it tenderly or not. The objective of the game is to tend the most number of caches in two days. Tending a cache does not require an analyser so I invested in scanning equipment which will allow me to locate new wormholes faster.”
“Hmm… makes sense. And what do you need this for?” Yakub kicked a metal box which was being unloaded from his ship by a droid.
“What’s that?” I asked suspiciously.
“Oh, come on! Don’t tell me you didn’t ask for it!” replied Yakub opening the lid.
I looked inside and gasped, “Wow! Did you pod him yourself?”
“No, I am not a fighting type. If I tried to pod anyone you would see my clone in there.”
“Did you buy it?”
Yakub smirked, “No, buying is for impatient. All I had to do was undock in Jita and wait for the whole three minutes until someone got podded. Anyway, what are you going to do with it?”
“Oh, I have a brilliant idea for Tender Games. Let’s go to the bar. I’ll tell you everything about it.”