“You know what you should do while you’re out in that market system?” Gor asks Berke. It’s the next evening, and while Shan, Em, CB, Wil, and a few other Walrus pilots are shooting sleepers in the system next door, I’m scanning that same system for the highsec connection that will get Berke home, and Gor is poking around our tower and doing maths.
“Fill up the ship with tower fuel?” Berke replies. “Yeah, I’m already checking prices. Can you tell me how much I need to get?”
Gor calculates the figures for five weeks’ worth of fuel, and we pass the hat around for ISK to send over to Berke for the essentials. We make most of our tower fuel inside the home system, thanks to robot-run ‘colonies’ we’ve installed on the local planets, but there are a few key ingredients that simply cannot be had inside a wormhole, and they are critical, heavy, and fairly pricey.
“The good news is, I got the fuel,” Berke comments about a half-hour later. “The bad news is, I can’t fit it all in the Orca.”
“Are you sure?” asks Gor (one of the other qualified Orca pilots in our corps), “I was able to get that much back last time.”
“Your fitting’s a bit different than mine,” comments Berke.
“Ahh,” says Gor, “right. Warp Stabilizers.”
There is a long, long pause.
“I suppose,” he mutters, “I could take the stabs off and put on some cargo expanders.”
“You could.” Gor’s voice remains neutral.
“Just for this.”
Another twenty minutes pass.
“Yeah,” he says. “It still won’t fit.”
“I picked up thirty-one Giant Secure Containers,” he adds, “and even packing stuff in there, it won’t all fit.”
“How much have you got left?”
He tells us, and I do a quick calculation. “Leave it for me and I’ll come get it in the Mammoth. Just need to tweak the cargohold.”
I jump into the hauler and jump through the bookmarked wormholes into high security space, waving to the sleeper-shooting fleet as I fly past, heading to the market as Berke starts back in the opposite direction, figuring (correctly) that my there-and-back will take about as long as his single trip, considering how far it is.
Eventually, many many eye-numbing jumps later, we’re ready to jump back into the wormhole and come home.
“System still clear?” I ask.
“Yup,” replies Em. “You’re clear.”
We lumber nimbly through the connections (shut up — you can too), clear the final jump, and warp back to the tower.
Normally, that many jumps would be enough to cash us in for the night, but Berke is determined to get the entire fuel run complete, and that includes unloading all of the thirty-one packing containers, individually, plus the Mammoth, and getting their contents into our fuel storage hangar.
I’m not going to lie to you, Marge: that’s a lot of clicking and dragging.
While we’re doing that, the sleeper-killers start seeing a serious spike in traffic in the wormhole next door, and opt to pull up stakes and come home. Eventually we’re done, our obsessive-compulsive Orca pilot has everything squared away to his satisfaction, I’ve delivered the sundries that we and the Walrus pilots asked us to pick up, and we log for the night, too tired even to put our ship fittings back to normal.