20:07  That’s what the chrono flashed on my desk…Most of the day has been spent surfing the galnet news for anything of interest, waiting for some pilot in dire need of cash come calling.

1.8M/1.8M available flashed the little blinker on her market log.  She glared at it, stretched and prepared to shut down for the evening.

Standing, stretching, Aziza felt her joints creak.  She felt like a fat tub of gelatin.  A couple of deep breaths, “A snack, some sleep, things will work out in the morning…” she thought.

BEEP-BEEP.  Frack.  It was Mr. D’s line.  She glances in the mirror, wiped the shine off her forehead and straightend her hair and flipped the channel on.

“Did I wake you?” her employer asks.  She shakes her head, her short hair tossing back and forth with a frazzled bobble.  “Nah, just finishing up here, in fact.”

“Great, go get the Grasshoppah and meet me in Illinfrik..  Got a job for you.”

“Roger that, Aziza out…” she said to the comm and shut it off before adding a couple of footstamps and “FRACK! FRACK! FRACK!'”  She just remembered the mechanic she was supposed to be taking out for drinks, in hopes of getting to know him, and his companies needs a little better.  But she had missed her chance to say she was on her way to another meeting, and now D would expect her there or he would totally chew her ass and make her feel three inches tall.

“FRACK!”  One last good shout to get it out.  She dictated a voice message to forward to the mechanic, asking him sweetly as she could manage if she could reschedule for the next night.  She reviewed it as he headed toward the hanger bay, and called ahead, letting the docking crew know which ship she’d be needing.

Her implant forwarded the message and in a calculated manuever, she edited into it a little breathy almost kiss sound at the end.  Satisfied, she strode into the hanger.  “Grasshoppa” was her pride, and her bane.  She got her christening by fire while working for Boundless Creations, mostly hauling contracts, but the occasional battle had made him a special ship in Aziza’s eyes.

But her current duties…. those left a lot to be desired.  She slide into the pilot’s harness, her datajack and her’s alone encoded to initiate the ship’s AI.  Grasshoppa sprang to life, true to his name.  She knew some people thought it bad luck to name  a ship after a guy, but the Thorax was a guy.  He was simple, and fast and packed a heavy punch.  Not too complicated, Grasshoppa.

The board was green, and she leapt into space. “Good morning Grasshopper,” she said to the A.I.  Grasshoppa, who sounded like an eager ten year old chirped “Good Morning Aziza, what are we doing today?”

She eyes the instrument panel and says, “Two tractors fitted and three salvagers, Grasshoppa, what does that add up to?”

“Salvage!” squealed the happy little A.I.  “Salvage,” Aziza agrees, grimly.  Her lovely combat ship, fitted like a shitty little vaccuum.  She took a deep breath and warped to Illinfrik, ignoring the chatter of the local space monkeys and donkeys filthing up the comms with thier own stupidity and crassness.

A few minutes later and she was nosing into position, Mr. D was in his Maelstrom, flying from wreck to wreck, clearly searching for something specific, cause the wrecks weren’t getting any emptier, or any of them disappearing.   Not effecient, but dogged.  “Clear up the rest of these wrecks… let me know if you find anything with a biohazard symbol.”

Biohazard?  What in the name of the Gorram allmighty was he doing out here?  “Uh roger that.”  “If you spot it, don’t get it on your ship, just tow the wreck over… I don’t want you any closer to that stuff than… Aha! Here it is.” With that, a distant cargo container vanished from my overview and Mr. D. was off like a shot, with a “Meet you back at base, unless something comes up…”

The wrecks were strewn across approximately 100km and about 40km across in a giant suspended field, and there were only about thirty.  Sometimes there were more, many, many more.  Those were not good day.  She set to work with a will, cursing Mr. D. with every outward breath.

Nearly an hour and a half later, she checks her cargo manifest to find that the hold is only about a quarter full. She curses her luck.  Just like that for the boss to ruin a quasi-date for a quarter of a cargo hold of salvage with little of note or import found in it.  Most likely all designated for the furnace already.  She sighes audibly as she manuevers into dock and instructs the cargo handlers to get everything dumped into ‘general salvage’ to be sorted tomorrow.

She nods wearily at the deck crew before heading to her rack, a solo berth rated to her by her captain’s status and a hefty bribe to the logistics director.  She looks longingly at the shower pod in the corner but opts for more shuteye and begins to strip for bed, her clothes damp with persperation.  Salvaging always made her nervous, and today was no execption.  Down to her cotton briefs and an old tank top, she made her way to her rack.

22:18 BEEP-BEEP…  BEEP-BEEP…BEEP-BEEP…  “Aziza, you’re awake?  Good, get back to Illinfrik and you might wanna take some stims, this is a big one…”

My boss is a gorram slave driver.

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Late night comms…

January 19, 2009

Aziza Minz leans back in her chair, currently swiveled way, way back almost reclining as an ocean of holo-screens flicker around her.  She rubs her eyes blearily with the back of a hand and looks at the chrono.  21:52 it stares at her balefully.  She knuckles her temple harsly, trying to prevent the eyestrain headache she knows is brewing.  She’s been at this since 08:15.  She closes her eyes and prices start to float in front her her eyelids.  Pilot’s implants can do many, many data related tasks and this was one that Aziza had running 23/7.

She was finally beginning to get a feel for the region’s price variations.  And she knew that Trit was more valuable in this neighborhood than just about any  other.   She knew she shouldn’t check… She wanted to check, but she Oh, to hell with it. She looked.  0 out of 1,800,000 orders filled.  She checked her price again, then counter checked against the nearby region.  There were some big orders out there competing.  If she didn’t get this order filled soon, her client, the mysterious Mr. D, would surely have words with her or worse, withdraw his patronage.

She thought back to the heady and care-free days of University, back on Pator.   Learning, parties, cram sessions.  She recalled chatting with a friend and speculating what it would be like to be a pod-pilot, lives filled with fortune and adventure, war and honor.  Aziza recalled her own dreams and aspirations, of coming up with new technology, cutting edge.  But her teachers steered her in a different direction once she reached her advanced studies and she had been tapped for business.

“Priority Message” chirruped the comms channel.  Her left eyebrow quirked.  This was never good.  The message was short.  “Aquire 150,000 rounds of EMP, Fusion, Phased Plasma and Titanium Sabot rounds, and deliver to hanger D57 by 05:00.  D.”  A five hour deadline?  Usually this sort of thing was an A.S.A.P. thing, something she was able to scrape together on her regular (yeah, right) rounds.

“Something’s up, that’s for sure…” and commanded that her Iteron V, “Big Blue” be warmed up and ready for flight, as her market data polls churned.  No surprise, best price was in Rens, like going for coffee, but there was plenty of Fusion and EMP on station, just a little higher priced than in Rens.  She ordered the purchase and automated delivery to hanger D57.  Why Mr. D. never did this simple task himself wasn’t a question that came to mind often, but it sure did then.  Finding the rest of the supplies she needs, she orders  purchase and heads down to the docking bay.  Her Iteron V is prepped and the board is green.  Automated pre-flight check initiated… and passed and BAM!  Open Space!

Well it would be if it weren’t for the Maelstrom and the Raven that had undocked right in front of her, streaming steadily away from the station.  Aziza pops a diet quafe to quaff while she sets her nav comp to the Rens star-gate.  A blip from Traffic control indicates that some corridors in wild space have shut down due to war traffic.  Another missed opportunity for someone, she thought, chugging down the sweet, caffinated beverage.  Not too chemical tasting either, not like that last batch.  She should have checked the order manifest on those… she’d taken a huge loss on that one.

“All that time at a desk and I hardly ever get to feel free in space….” she thinks to herself.  “That’s something that needs to change,” she decides.  She drops out of warp almost directly on top of a Probe, dwarfing the sturdy Minmatar frigate.  “Huh.. I hear there’s good money in probing…”   She adds a bunch of components and a list of skill modules to be downloaded into her pilots implant.

Within 20 seconds of materializing in Rens, she’s blown nearly seventy million isk on skill modules, probes and other equipment.  She ponders for a moment how she’s going to hide this particular piece of embezzlement and then considers how much attention her employer pays to his finances.  Namely zero.  “Just a footnote in the quarterly budget under education, and the probes under ammuntion or possibly research,” she decides as she slides into dock at the Brutor Treasure in Rens.    The station computers chirps a tinny “Welcome back, Pilot Minz” as the tractor beams guided her vessel into the hanger bay.

“It’s good to be back..” she comments as she heads out into her day.