The Kindness of Strangers

Khanid Region – Arniri Constellation
Danera System – Planet III, Moon 3
Khanid Transport Storage Station

16 April YC 122

Yakub and I exchanged the latest news and left the bar around 6 pm. He was keen to continue exploration of the local joints but I had to pass up that tempting opportunity because I planned to take part in Tender Games on the weekend. If our previous escapades were any guide, it was quite possible that the next time I checked my watch I would discover that it was Monday.

Having said good-bye to Yakub, I boarded Nosuri II and asked Aura to plot a route to Kaaputenen.

“Why Kaaputenen?” asked Aura.

“That’s where Yakub dropped off a Buzzard for Tender Games,” explained I. “Look here”, I pointed at the penultimate system on our route.

“Oh, he left it just before Niarja,” smiled Aura and nodded knowingly. “That’s why we have to make 13 jumps instead of boarding the new frigate here, in Danera.” Then her eyes lit up, “I have an idea: next time you drop off loot for him, leave it in Niarja!”

I laughed, “You are a little scamp! I guess, Yakub will hire Red Frog to ferry it just one jump to the next system.”

On my way to Kaaputenen I noticed a capsuleer with a funny name – Mimimishka Mishkin – and transferred one million ISK to him.

“Why did you do that?” asked Aura. “Do you owe him anything?”

“No, it’s just a funny name. I liked it.”

“Why is it funny?”

I opened my mouth. I closed my mouth. How do you explain why something is funny to you?

“I… I don’t know what to say,” I felt annoyed, “Look, I don’t have to prove that what I think is funny is actually funny, do I?”

“Of course you don’t. Laugh your head off, if you want. But, pray, tell me why you had to give him kredits?”

“Well, it was kind of a payment for the entertainment I had.”

Aura made a sceptical grimace, “Given that you went from amused to irate in five seconds, this was probably the most expensive entertainment in New Eden. That guy must have a real talent.”

As I was thinking about a smart repartee I received a message from Mimimishka Mishkin who also wanted to know what it was all about. And then I had to explain myself one more time. After that I made a solemn oath that I would never, ever give money to a stranger – the pleasure of charity was not worth the hassle of justification.

The Citadel Region – Suon Constellation
Kaaputenen System – Planet VII, Moon 4
Joint Harvesting Plantation Station

As soon as I docked in Kaaputenen I asked the mechanics to assemble and fit my new Buzzard. As Yakub noted before, the ship would not have any analysers but its scan strength would increase from 118 to 142. I hoped it would give me a fighting chance in the competition.

While the frigate was being assembled, I opened one of the crates with spirits and took out a bottle. It was a cleanskin.

“Bloody cheapskate,” muttered I, meaning Yakub, unscrewed the cap and took a sip.

You know, I always wondered how people managed to spray liquid from their mouths as a fountain of fine mist. The best I ever managed was more like a stream. Now I understand that it requires the right type of liquid. Having tasted what Yakub called “rice vodka”, I absolutely naturally, without a conscious thought, expelled it from my mouth diffusing it evenly over the wall of my new Buzzard. A technician looked at me reproachfully and started wiping the liquid from the wall, removing some paint in the process.

“Sorry,” croaked I, still feeling the burn in my throat.

If I leave this shit as a ‘hug’ in rescue caches, thought I, then not only Signal Cartel’s reputation will be ruined but we can also be sued for forced re-cloning. I produced a commlink and called my co-pilot.

“Aura, darling, can you please organise an urgent order of adhesive bottle labels with ‘Disinfectant, Hospital Grade’ printed on them?.. Don’t ask… No, I am not fencing anything. Just do it, be a lamb. Thank you.”

“At least I’ll give them a fair warning,” I told myself, trying to convince an imaginary opponent that medical supplies were essential and appropriate things to be stored in rescue caches.

17 April YC 122

Next morning I went to the docks where my new Buzzard was waiting for me. I named the frigate Tender Nosuri, loaded my capsule into it and undocked. Then I cursed myself, docked, loaded the metal box from the Nosuri II into the cargo hold and undocked again.

Aura noticed the change in the cargo manifest and asked squeamishly, “What’s that? Are the exploration pickings so slim that we are now moonlighting as a hearse?”

“Relax, babe. I need it just for Tender Games,” replied I.

“You aren’t going to leave that in a cache as a…” Aura swallowed hard and continued, “as a ‘hug’, are you?”

“Bob forbid! Of course, not. In fact, I have a brilliant idea. I’ll tell you everything about it while we are looking for an entry to Anoikis.”

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