The First Test

The 48-hour countdown started as soon as the induction meeting finished. I ran to my room and checked the datapad. I expected to find volumes of new information, probably scientific or engineering, related to capsuleer technology. That would make sense as such info would be useful for those who passed both tests. Instead, I found just one page with pretty simple instructions. The main rule that we had to learn and follow concerned the usage of Napanii language. For the duration of the test the pronunciation of all words changed as follows: Continue reading “The First Test”

Induction

Gerhardt said he was sure I would eventually contact him about the referral. If only he knew what I had to go through before I made up my mind. Anyway, I was grateful for the opportunity and immediately applied for the capsuleer tests on the portal. A reply came surprisingly quickly. One of the government-run capsuleer corporations sent me an invitation and paid for the transfer to their office which was in another system.

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A Miracle

The next six months after the meeting with Gerhardt I spent travelling. The generous bonus would have allowed me to pay off my mortgage, or set up my own business, or make investments that would have provided a decent income for the rest of my life. I thought, to hell with that. I could always earn enough money as a professional, and provide for at least half-decent retirement, but I might never have enough money, or time, or physical ability to travel the world. And that was what I always wanted to do. Before, my excursions did not go farther than the neighbouring Caldari systems, but now the whole New Eden was open to me, and I snatched that chance.

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The VIP

“What’s this?” asked I.

“It’s a recording of a conversation between my passengers.”

“Do you eavesdrop on your clients?” I raised an eyebrow in mock indignation.

“Huh, of course I do!” bristled Ger, “You never know what they are up to. Last year, when I was the only one who offered trips on Victorieux, I was hired for a pleasure cruise through hi-sec. It was a round trip through all eight systems in the constellation Ani. A particular point of interest was Republic University station in Nakugard where at that time Gallente and Caldari held peace talks. That event received a lot of publicity so it didn’t seem strange that the tourists wanted to visit the place. When we started from Hjoramold I switched on an audio feed from the cabin in a background mode, just to ensure that the party wouldn’t get disorderly. The company didn’t sound like your typical holiday-goers; they spoke in hushed tones and their conversation revolved around Nakugard. I increased the volume and bit by bit put together the pieces of their actual plan. Apparently, they were a group of Caldari extremists who did not want the peace talks to succeed and they were ready to sacrifice themselves to stop the negotiations. Specifically, in Nakugard, when we would have been in the vicinity of Republic University, they intended to hijack the yacht and, using the CovOps cloak, approach the station unnoticed and crash the ship into the conference hall.”

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The Escape

I ordered another round of stout, and Gerhardt continued, “The customer had put some thought into the breakout tactics. First of all, I noticed that there was another Victorieux in the fleet; I guess it was supposed to be used as a decoy. Secondly, the fleet was split into two wings with a Victorieux in each one. The other wing jumped through the gate first and engaged the campers on the others side.” Continue reading “The Escape”

The Pickup

“When all preparations were finished I informed the customer and received coordinates of the pick-up point. It was a citadel deep in null-sec. The intelligence I got was that hostile gate camps were set up to intercept ships flying out of that system but not in, so it was rather easy to get there. On my way to the citadel I had an opportunity to inspect the camps, using the cloak, of course. They mostly consisted of frigates and cruisers with an occasional battleship. Each camp had a pair of interceptors which, I bet, were equipped with instalock; that’s where your LCQ coding efforts would pay off. Also, I was amazed at the scale of our opponents’ operation; on my way the camps started three jumps away from the destination, and I guess all other escape routes were covered in a similar manner.”

“If they had such force at their disposal,” wondered I, “why didn’t they attack the citadel?”

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A Special Condition

On September 7th, YC118 I received a call from Gerhardt; he was alive and I was entitled to receive my bonus. To be honest, I wasn’t really concerned about that part of our contract. Yes, one can’t have too much money, but the sum I had already received was more than generous. What I was much more interested in was to make Gerhardt keep his promise about answering my questions. Imagine, I couldn’t even boast to my pals about making the acquaintance of a capsuleer – they wouldn’t believe that after spending a week together on spaceship I hardly knew anything about him.

I invited Gerhardt to meet me on my planet Itamo IV but he declined saying he had an allergy to unfiltered air. I wasn’t that picky; to have an opportunity to talk to a capsuleer now I was ready to go even to null-sec! But it didn’t have to be that extreme this time, and we agreed to meet at Perkone Factory.

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Field Tests

I didn’t know how to use a jetpack, so Gerhardt packed me in a spacesuit, put another one on and towed me to the yacht. That unusual mode of travel was caused by the lack of in-space docking facilities on the little “runabout”. Victorieux, being a luxury yacht, was equipped with a ship-to-ship dock, but it takes two to dance.

Inside, Victorieux was even more impressive than outside. That’s where the saying “to be on velvet” took a literal meaning. All the furniture was upholstered in royal blue velvet, the walls were lined with panels made from rare and precious Corellian birch, soft music and lighting created a relaxing ambiance and a fully-stocked bar with expensive Amarrian crystalware was waiting for the customers. Continue reading “Field Tests”