"Doesn't matter, I'll get run over by a car anyway." -- Suicidal Tendencies
“Come on, I want you to meet someone.“, she had said.
While my first impulse had been one of overwhelming dread, of being set up with a blind date, reality quickly re-established a mental beach head and conquered my mind from there.
It was only her boyfriend which she had kept in the shadows for so long.
“Call me Sean”, he had said, which was a near-certain giveaway that that wasn’t his actual name. But since Eta looked willing to go along with it, I didn’t pressure the issue any further. And luckily for her (not that I’d ever actually do that!), he wasn’t my type either. Nice physique, for sure, but long hair which was already turning grey in parts? Call me picky, but… No.
But he was a pleasant enough guy - former combat pilot, now semi-retired flying for a freight company - and he seemed to really work well with Eta, so I just gave him the benefit of the doubt and simply enjoyed the evening. Of course, the Arcturian Mega-Port may have helped as well.
And while the foods were consumed, the conversation drifted around many topics during dinner, with a longer stay at the immediate building project Eta had in the wings.
Which she wasn’t fully happy about.
Just a few months ago her alliance had decided to establish a foothold in Catch as ‘preferred guests’. Eta herself, not being interested in ratting or mining at all, had decided to build a Jump Freighter for herself, to supply the local 0.0 market, figuring that she could write off most of the production costs from her ongoing moon goo reactions, while eventually being able to participate in her alliance’s operations for once, even if indirectly.
Except that a few weeks later her alliance decided to pull out of Catch because of an impending .-A-. invasion.
She tried, but she couldn’t fool me - that decision had hurt her, especially since she had learned about it only second-hand. She had decided to nonetheless go ahead with her Jump Freighter project, somehow, but her enthusiasm was notably dampened. Knowing this, her recent emotional outburst became a bit more understandable.
On the bright side, the T2 materials she was producing finally started moving on the market again, providing a much needed cash influx for her wallet - some of her lots had been on sale for a good two months now. Not for the first time I was glad that it was her playing the market, not me.
And somehow, talk came around to skill plans - which in the last days had been a problem in the back of my mind.
“You see,” I said, “I am running out of sensible skills to train. I can either start pushing more skills to V for the sake of it, or start training for ships I won’t have opportunity to fly, or which I can’t afford to fly.”
“Speaking of which,” interrupted Eta, “Jaana has your Legion ready back home - whenever you have time to pick it up.”
“Well, think of what you’re doing right now.”, said Sean, clearly used by now to Eta’s flights of mind. “What are you currently flying?”
“A Pilgrim, which by common opinion apparently is ‘shit’.” I replied. “And I recently I … uhm … came across a gift package holding a Tengu and its subsystems, alas, all my relevant skills are at I only.”
“I think your short term plan should be clear then - train Recon to V,” suggested Sean, “Recon’s in general benefit from it anyway, and if the Pilgrim is indeed shit, I presume you can fly all the others as well?”
I nodded confirmation.
“There you are.” Eta took up the topic. “And since you now happen to have this Tengu, might as well get at least competent in it before you do anything.”
“Good points.” I took some notes. “But what long-term?”
“Well…”, Eta pondered, “considering that you hardly ever fly even Battleships, I don’t think capitals are your alley. Even if it would be handy at times.” She winked. “But you like to be sneaky, right?”
“Guilty as charged.” I admitted, remembering the friendly ribbing I sometimes received for my preference.
“So how about…”, she exchanged a look with Sean. “… Black Ops? Battleships, yes, but sneaky ones.”
I pulled out my data pad and started making up a plan.
“Hmm…”, I said again, talking to myself. “I’ll need Jump Drive operations for this one, which essentially means JDC V, or else I’d be useless. And Jump Portal Generation of course. And thinking of the tactical situations…” I grumbled to myself and added Cyno V to the plan as well. Some more support skills, and I had the result.
“380 days!” I proclaimed with dread in my voice.
“Well, let’s take a look at it. May I?”, Sean asked, and after a moment’s hesitation, I handed him my skill plan. He hemmed and hawed a bit, and then asked: “How many neural remaps can you stand?”
“That makes it so much easier.” He smiled, and worked for a few minutes before handing me the pad back. “There. That’s how I’d do it.” He winked at me. “I took the liberty of adding High Energy Physics IV as well… you’re going to need it.”
I looked at the plan - it was still long, but by grouping the skills by attributes and setting up remap points, he had cut out over a month of my total training time. Which meant…
With a bit of futzing, I managed to add a number of ‘would be nice’ skills to the plan without blowing the original estimate - in particular HAC V, a ship class I actually could see myself flying once I ran out of Recons.
Looking up at Sean, I raised my glass. “Thanks!”
“You’re welcome!… Ouch!” The latter was the result of Eta demanding his attention with a quick elbow jab.
“Well, Mr. Smartypants,” she said teasingly, pushing a data pad of her own to him. “Tell me what I should train!”
“Well…”, he picked up the pad and studied it for a while, before looking up again. “You realize that in a month’s time, between you two, you could fly almost all ships in New Eden?”
I almost dropped my glass. “You’re kidding?!”
“I’m serious. You,” he looked at me, “can fly almost every sub-cap - except non-Amarr Marauders and all of the Black-Ops. Ok, and T2 Haulers. And Miss Radiation Hazard here,” - Eta just showed him her tongue - “is only a week away from flying all carriers and super-carriers. Add another month, and she’ll be able to ferry all Dreadnoughts. All the other capitals she has down already. Except, of course, Titans.” He checked something. “Add another month and a half to fly all the other T2 industrials.” He leaned back, a smile on his face.
“But…”, Eta was surprised as well. “I could never afford to even learn all the capitals - that’s Billions in skill books!”
“I think I know what he’s after…”, I said slowly. “He doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to learn the capitals themselves right away - only that you could learn them within an hours time. So next time one of us comes across an abandoned wormhole POS, with a hangar full of neglected ships…”
Sean just grinned at me.
Eta looked between the two of us, then snuggled up to her honey, blowing a soft kiss on his cheek.
“Hello, handsome,” she stage-whispered, “Tell me more.”