Genesis Region – Mih Constellation
Zoohen System – Planet III
Theology Council Tribunal
8 June YC 122
After my lucky escape I spent two days attending to my tending and avoiding more exciting activity like hacking relics in an uncloaked Buzzard in the middle of J-Space. While I was calming my nerves by methodically opening small secure containers, I suddenly received an urgent invitation to a corporate meeting in Zoohen. Wondering what it was all about I found a hi-sec exit and made my way to the corp base at Theology Council Tribunal Station.
I wasn’t sure what the dress code was but decided it would be a good opportunity to wear my Polar Aurora Exploration Suit. Having washed off the pod goo in a shower I headed straight to my item hangar where I still kept all prizes from Tender Games. Passing a young female mechanic I noticed that she gave me a strange look. She then turned to her teammate and surreptitiously, or so she thought, pointed at me. Her companion shrugged, muttered “Capsuleers” and impassively turned away. At first I thought that the girl somehow noticed the neural interface slots on my body but then I realised that it was the body itself that attracted her attention. It was naked!
Can’t say I was embarrassed – I was never shy about my skin – but I was shocked to discover how twisted my mind became. While I carefully planned what I was going to wear at the corporate meeting, I didn’t give any thought to putting anything on in order to walk a hundred metres to my item hangar through public space. Was it a result of spending too much time floating nude in a capsule? Was I developing that infamous capsuleer’s disregard for baseliners? I don’t know. I just pretended that everything was perfectly normal, made a snooty face and walked past the dock crew. If I had to choose between looking like a snob and looking like an idiot… well, the choice was obvious. The rest of the way I walked with a straight back, eyes looking above other people’s heads. Having reached the hangar I closed the door and hastily put my new suit on. Feeling myself much more comfortable, I headed to the Signal Cartel office.
The conference hall was full and buzzing; people were talking to each other and didn’t pay any attention to the newcomer. I looked around and realised that I hardly knew anyone in the audience. Well, I could put names to faces since I saw photos in forums but I never met those people in person. It was an awkward situation – I knew that I knew them but I didn’t know if they knew me. Suddenly, I heard someone calling my name. Having turned in the direction of the voice I saw Maxwell Kurvora wave his hand at me.
“Hey, Vlad. Come here, we have a free seat.”
Maxwell was one of the corp members who would definitely know me as he was a reader of this very blog. Grateful for the invitation I squeezed myself past other Signaleers and dropped into the chair.
Max shook my hand and then, nodding at his neighbour on the other side, asked, “By the way, have you, guys, met before?”
I looked at the blonde lady with a cybernetic arm who sat next to Maxwell and said, rather formally, “I don’t think I had the pleasure, but I know who you are, Ms Tamayo.”
“I can say the same about you Vladimir,” replied Tamayo and shook my hand. I noticed that the artificial arm had a strong but measured grip and wondered whether it was power-capped or Tamayo had such fine control of her prosthetic appendage – those things were strong enough to crack coconuts.
“And please no honorifics,” added Tamayo, “in Signal Cartel we call each other just by name regardless of a person’s position.”
“Works for me,” smiled I, “in fact I thought about addressing you by your full title but couldn’t decide whether it should be Recruiter Tamayo or Anoikis Division Manager Tamayo.”
Tamayo frowned, “That would be quite a mouthful, huh? By the way, would you be interested in joining Anoikis Division? We always look for new members. You seem to spend a lot of time in J-space so this may be a good choice for you.”
“I thought about joining AD but it requires a C2 title, and I don’t even have C1. And to be honest, I am not sure if I am eligible for it. One needs to show participation in corp programs and I don’t know what kind of proof is required.”
“Maybe this man can help you with that,” said Tamayo with a faint smile, nodding at a person who was talking to Thrice Hapus, our CEO.
That person was Igaze, Eve-Scout Rescue Director, who oversaw Eve-Scout Rescue Cache and Search and Rescue operations.
“What do you mean…” I started asking but was interrupted by a loud clap.
That was Thrice Hapus clapping his hands to attract attention of the audience. The room went quiet and everyone looked at him.
“Dear Signaleers, thank you for finding time to attend our corporate meeting. As you know, we have a full agenda, but first we need to deal with some very serious matters. I’ll let Igaze explain.”
Igaze took the stage and looked sternly at the assembly.
“It has happened again,” said he in a grave voice. “In fact, with the recent influx of new corp members, we’ve noticed an uptick in such activity. Signal Cartel management quickly responded to this development and dealt with it accordingly. We are not making a secret of it and we would like all Signaleers to know about the consequences that their actions may have.”
Igaze made a pause to let his words sink in, looked around and suddenly stopped his eyes on me.
“Signaleer Vladimir Korff, would you please make your way to the front?”
My heart sank. Was it about that ill-fated starbase theft? But I returned the bloody thing to the owners! Maybe that was not enough. Maybe management didn’t want me to get off that easy. With all those thoughts racing through my mind, I stood up and walked on wooden legs past the fellow corp members who stared at me coldly.
When I approached Igaze, he gave me a quick look and turned to the audience, “Everyone, look at this man. This is Vladimir Korff and I want every Signaleer to know what he has done. And, as our surveillance showed, done not once, not twice, but a hundred times!”
I was totally bewildered. That couldn’t be about the starbase, I stole only one!
Igaze continued, “This could not go on unnoticed anymore, and today on behalf of Signal Cartel management I announce that Vladimir Korff…”
“…has become our newest SuperCacher! He has sown and tended one hundred caches! Please congratulate him on this significant achievement.”
Suddenly everyone was smiling and clapping and cheering. With an idiotic smile I watched Igaze attach a medal to my suit, shook his hand and returned to my seat.
“Congratulations, Vladimir,” said Max. “I must say you handled it really well. Some people actually fainted when they got their first medal in such manner.”
I had a lot to say about that ‘manner’ but that required some coherence which I was badly lacking at the moment. All I could manage to croak through my constricted throat was “Thanks, Max. I think I need a drink.”
“Oh, there will be plenty of drinks after the meeting. And don’t worry, it won’t take long. Despite what Thrice said, we actually aren’t big on management reporting. As you should’ve guessed by now, we are big on fun!”