Thursday, October 20, 2011

16 Months

“no no No No No NO NO!”

A calculator flew threw the air in our common room, impacting the wall right next to the door I just entered through, shattering into dozens of pieces.

I sighed - only one person could get angry enough to violence a harmless piece of corporate machinery...

“Ok, Sis - spit it out.”

“The Oxy-Tope market!”, she bellowed, waving a bundle of spreadsheets at me. I couldn’t read any of the writing from this distance, but the diagrams were visible enough: colorful curves of averages and channels, and all pointing upwards. “Might as well not bother reacting anything,” continued Eta, “by the time it’s done, I can be lucky to just break even. Damn Goons!”

Suddenly I had a strong feeling of deja-vu.

“One sec, before you go any further.” I walked over to her, pulled up a chair and sat down next to her. “You are not, by any chance, considering joining Hellfleet again?”

She looked puzzled. “No, why would I? Why do you ask?”

“Nothing,” I waved dismissively, “just checking. Besides I think they closed doors. Anyway, talk to me.”

She leaned back. “You remember the Goon’s new campaign - Goonswarm Shrugged - targetting the Gallente ice miners?”

“Yep. I noticed the Oxy-Tope price wobble somewhat precariously...” - something clicked in my mind - “...oh, that’s the stuff you use.”

“Right. My fuel cost almost doubled - and if the Goons continue their campaign, it may climb even further. Right now there are a few things I can react for profit - but who knows what happens in two months?”

I rubbed my face tiredly. I had just finished a hauling trip to our local market hub, and was actually longing for a shower and my bed. But this took priority.

“Well, how about you switch to a tower using different isotopes?”

“I thought of that.” She tapped onto her console, and a number of tower configurations started flickering over the screen.

“For my purposes, pretty much only the Caldari are suitable - the others don’t have enough CPU.”

I nodded - our corp tower Next Door had the same limitation.

“However,” she continued, “if I go with a plain Caldari, the fuel cost is about the same as my current one. Plus I wouldn’t have the powergrid to anchor proper guns - I’d have to make it a Dick Star and hope for the best.”

She interrupted herself. “Actually, that might not be a bad idea in general.” She made a note to herself, then continued her thought.

“A faction Caldari would reduce the cost, but I’m not sure it would pay itself off in time.”

“I see - so what are you going to do?”

She sighed. “I’ll keep my current towers, maybe try the Dick Star configuration - and wait what happens in two, three months. Besides - did you read this?”

I took the printout she held out, and glanced over it. Then I read it again, and whistled through my teeth.

“Nasty. Capsuleer-Owned Custom Offices - that’ll throw the fuel market into a frenzy.” Possibilities ran through my mind. “We’ll have to reconsider our research POS. Try to pre-produce the gantry materials, and hope that the BPCs get onto the market quickly. And I don’t even want to think about our WH operation...”

“Precisely.” Eta snagged the printout back, crunched it up into a ball and threw it violently into a corner of the room. “We might make some money playing the market at first - but long term?”

“Great.” I slumped into my chair. “Anything else?”

“Well, since you ask...”

I tried to stop her, but she had already entered more commands into her console. The display flickered briefly, and the system started playing a recorded message. According to the time stamp displayed, it had been received just five hours ago, originating from our WH operation. No visual, so it had been sent directly from a ship.

A bad feeling came over me.

A hiss of static, then Lance’ voice became recognizable.

“Hello folks. Unfortunately I have some bad news.
About three hours ago the POS ran out of fuel - right in the middle of our rest period. The reason why we didn’t refuel it in time is because the indicators malfunctioned: we didn’t see anything amiss when we called it a night. But that is only half of it.
One hour ago, a Stealth Bomber and a Battlecruiser attacked the then-offline POS. While they couldn’t break the tower itself, they destroyed both hangars. Our ships are lost, but worse: so are all materials we collected in the last months. Luckily we had made it a habit of sleeping in our ships, otherwise we would have taken the pod express home.
Anyway. We have enough fuel left to power the tower for an hour or two - but I don’t think that’s very useful at this point. So for now we’re just going to hold station, until we hear from you.
Lance out.”

I leaned back, let my head flop over the back of the chair, and closed my eyes. While we had pondered closing down our WH operation before, the loss of the goods had not been part of the plan.

And we had just managed to make back the ISK we lost in the two wars this year!

Eventually Eta softly cleared her throat. “I hear the Tuskers are recruiting?”

I straightened up and looked at her sternly. “Don’t toy with me, Sis! Besides, we both know that I don’t have the right stuff for that!”

“Well, in that case...”, she handed me a calculator, “I suggest that you throw this. It relieves immensely.”

And she was right.

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