Tender Games: Motionless Picture Award

Region D-R00022 – Constellation D-C00213
System J110915

17 April YC 122

You might wonder why I went to all that trouble with obtaining a corpse and then carrying it to Anoikis. As I said before, I wanted to participate in another Tender Games competition, Motionless Picture Award. The prize in that category would be given to

The most beautiful, funny, surprising or simply relaxing picture…

Now, that was a real challenge. Beautiful sites in New Eden are a dime a dozen, and even cheaper in Anoikis. Put an elegant Astero on the front and you are a winner. My problem started with the fact that I didn’t have an Astero. And I didn’t want to buy an Astero just for a photo op. Even if I had an Astero, it wouldn’t guarantee that I would be noticed among the swarm of other Asteros buzzing around J-space and making selfies. There are probably more Astero owners in our corp than Astero-less folks; it’s Signal Cartel after all.

Feeling that getting a prize for the most beautiful shot was pretty chancy, I moved on to ‘funny’ and ‘surprising’. Don’t ask me how I came up with that plan, I don’t know myself, but I thought that placing a corpse next to one of our rescue caches was a brilliant idea. At the same time, I realised that a simple shot of a lifeless body floating in space near a big metal box would not be enough. It could raise some eyebrows but more in a sense ‘what the hell is this?’ rather than ‘Wow!’ That’s when my involuntary art education paid off. Erm… Having written this, I realised that it would take some explanation.

The aforementioned art education consisted of a lot of museum visits. Not that I am a great fan of museums, most of them were too static to my taste, but once I had a girlfriend who was. Tagging along, I familiarised myself with art forms of all empires, including even some pirate factions. While my girlfriend was excitedly discussing the details of style and technique with a curator, I made an honest effort to understand what I was actually looking at. Quite soon I realised that I was not very good at it but then, for people like me, there were wall labels. Those labels gave me exact information about the title, the background and the subject of the picture and even the drugs that the artist had been taking during the creation of the masterpiece in question. And you know what, some of those labels were in fact larger than the art piece. Having put two and two together, I came up with my own theory of how any kindergarten-level doodles could be elevated to the status of chef-d’œuvre by a piece of clever writing. Unfortunately, or in hindsight fortunately, I made a mistake of sharing that hypothesis with my girlfriend which resulted in our swift parting our ways on the ground of cultural incompatibility.

Anyway, long story short, I pinned my hopes on inventing a funny inscription for what I realised was a rather morbid picture. That particular part proved to be challenging so I thought that it would be easier to make something up if I had the actual image before my eyes.

When we returned to the rescue cache I jettisoned the corpse and started playing with the camera drones to find the best angle. After five minutes I gave up. If I focused the camera on the body then the container looked the size of a lady’s bag. If, instead, I zoomed in onto the cache then the corpse pretty much disappeared in the distance.

“You need to place them close together,” noted Aura, trying to be helpful.

“And how do you propose to do that?” snapped I. “I was within 5 metres from the cache when I jettisoned this piece of biomass, and it ended up one and a half kilometres away.”

“It’s obvious then – you have to be 1.5 klicks away from the can when you eject it.”

There was some logic to it but I also felt there was something wrong. Not wanting to debate this point while I was uncloaked in lawless space, I picked the corpse and willed the Buzzard to keep at 1500-metre range from the cache. As soon as the desired distance was established, I jettisoned the corpse again. This time it ended up even further from the cache.

“Any other bright ideas?” I asked sarcastically.

“You aren’t doing it right,” scoffed Aura. “You have to position the ship so that the jettison duct opening points at the can. It’s like a cannon – it shoots where you point it.”

That made sense, so I collected the cadaver and tried to eject it again, pointing the cargo chute at the cache. All I achieved was an appearance of an error message:

A new cargo container is being moved into jettison duct. It will be ready in 1 minute 17 seconds.

I groaned, “What’s this?”

“Sorry, Captain. It’s an intentional design restriction imposed by CONCORD. They are trying to control the amount of space rubbish by limiting jettisons to one every three minutes,” explained Aura.

I rolled my eyes, moved away from the can and cloaked up. 1 minute 17 seconds later I was back in the position and, aiming carefully at the container, jettisoned the body. When it appeared on the overview, its distance from the can was still 1500 metres. Apparently, instead of flying directly towards the can, it deviated from the intended trajectory by 60 degrees. I looked at Aura, silently.

She shifted uncomfortably and mumbled, “I dunno. Maybe your duct is broken. Or maybe it’s by design that it ejects the cargo in a random direction.”

I snickered, “Sounds like this buzzard needs to see a urologist.”

Aura looked confused, “What do you mean?”

“Nevermind, we aren’t going to find a vet here.”

Having run out of smart ideas, we had to rely on Bob’s benevolence. That’s when Aura’s theory of the great cosmic RNG being biased against me got thoroughly substantiated. Whatever I did, however I turned, my photo model ended up 1000 to 3000 metres away from the cache. As every attempt was separated by CONCORD-mandated 3-minute pause, I got more and more frustrated until I finally exploded.

“This is ridiculous! I have never spent so much time in J-space without a cloak. Anyone who wants to shoot this frigate doesn’t even need to use combat probes – they had plenty of time to track me down with D-scan and ‘bounce’ method. For all I know, there is now a cloaked Astero sitting 2001 metres away from me.”

Aura giggled, “And I know why it’s not attacking.”

“Why?” I asked suspiciously.

“Look at it from the Astero pilot’s perspective. He has found a prey which moves erratically around a small secure container and every three minutes kicks out a corpse and then picks it up again. He is probably torn between asking you what all this is about, and warping away in case this is some kind of a novelty bait.”

Imagining this scene, I couldn’t help laughing.

“So you think we are safe here?” asked I.

Aura shook her head, “Nah, don’t think so. But if this ship gets blown up, then at least you can say that we were killed in the line of duty, tending Signal Cartel rescue caches.”

“Huh, it’s not like we have a choice,” said I and continued playing ‘place the corpse near the can’ lottery.

After 15 minutes or so, I finally got a half-decent shot of two objects together.

“That will do,” I muttered, exhausted. “After all, it’s not the kind of picture that many would like to examine in detail. All that remains to be done is finding a good line to go with it.”

“How about ‘He tried to steal from Signal Cartel rescue cache’?” suggested Aura.

“No way! I’ll get kicked out of the corp. Podding is expressly prohibited by the Credo.”

“Then we can turn it other way round – ‘This is what happens to stranded pilots who do not contact Signal Cartel’.”

I hesitated, “This sounds better, a kind of an advertisement, but it still has a menacing ring to it.”

“I don’t know then. It’s not much we can do with this corpse, especially at such distance. All I can suggest is blow yourself up near the can, I’ll take a photo and we’ll call it ‘The Last Tend’.”

My jaw, slightly delayed by the pod goo’s viscosity, dropped, “Aura, you are a genius!”

“Am I?” brightened up Aura.

“You are! We can make it a sort of a corp propaganda if we present this corpse as a Signaleer. I actually have a good line in mind. All we need is a name.”

“A name? Let’s take a closer look,” Aura zoomed cameras onto the corpse. “Hmm… Looks like a brutal alpha-male. Conan?”

“No, we need something funny… goofy… Wait a second. Did you say alpha-male? That’s brilliant! We’ll call him Alphie.”

All in all, an hour of effort, including Yakub’s three minutes on Jita undock, resulted in this piece of graphic design.

Aura looked at it sceptically, “Do you think it’s funny?”

“Not for Alphie,” smirked I and posted the photo to the corp forums.

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