“Okay, the new ship fittings are up in the Corporate Database,” I say, trying not to roll my eyes at the grandiose name for what amounts to a shared spreadsheet only CB and I — the entire ‘corporation’ — can access. “Can you see em now?”
“No.” CB’s answer comes too quickly, so I wait for a full ten-count. “Yes. Now I can.”
“Outstanding. That’s the fitting for all the frigs, DDs, and cruisers we’re likely to need.”
“What the shit is a ‘Grumpypants’?”
“A bellicose fitting I’m playing around wi — wait, why is that up there? That shouldn’t…” I start poking at the file settings.
I shrug. “It’s a bellicose.”
“You named it Grumpypants.”
“It’s a bellicose.”
His sigh is the sort of thing people usually reserve for Jita scammers and telemarketers. “What are we doing?”
“Dunno.” I sweep the vHUD fitting screens to the side and look past my balcony to the hangar. “Take some plexes back from Empress Jan-jan?”
“Sure. Flying what?”
“Grab your Incursus.”
“That… is a lot of lasers.” CBs voice is tense which, given the number of ships currently trying to melt our tiny frigates into slag, I can understand.
“Doesn’t matter if they can’t track us,” I reply, then clear my throat for the familiar mantra. “Armor is fleeting…”
“Very fleeting, if they ever hit us,” he mutters.
“… speed is life,” I finish. “Besides, we could lose both these ships at this point and the TLF will compensate us, and then some.”
“The money’s… not terrible,” CB admits. It’s been several hours, and we’ve spent the time roaming from the Essence region, into The Citadel, then back to Sinq Laison and into the The Bleak Lands, trying to get a sense of both the Amarr-Minmatar and Caldari-Gallente warzones. Technically, only one of them was our problem, but as Gallente and Matar are each allies in the other’s conflict, we must effectively face both enemies, and want to understand the territory as well as we can. In that time, we’d recaptured several Caldari and Amarr minor complexes and both chased and been chased around completely unfamiliar areas of New Eden.
By our definition, a pretty good time.
Our comms chime with another message from the TLF, confirming uplink from the now-captured complex the two of us were just leaving.
“I think I’m going to get some rack time,” CB says.
“Sounds good,” I reply, though I’ve no intention of sleeping just yet. “Back home?”
“Just going to hit a deep orbit out here and sleep in the pod.”
“Don’t get blown up.”
I kill the comms and head back for our high-sec “corporate office” in Sinq Laison — another grand name for a somewhat less than impressive reality — station residential quarters with the bed taken out, replaced with a desk, and our corp logo stenciled on the door. The balcony decant followed by a hot shower is as much ritual as hygiene, and I drop behind the desk and check my to-do list feeling relaxed, if not rested.
“Blue prints,” I mutter to Aura, who responds with a wide vHUD inventory of recently-arrived ship designs, optimized in ways I can barely follow. Someone had been busy out in the wormhole lab.
“Thanks, Bre,” I murmur.
“Command not recognized.”
“Wasn’t talking to you,” I grunt. “Queue manufacturing jobs.” I tap the open air, lighting up three of the schematics. “Merlin. Thrasher. Ten each. Arbitrator on-deck for tomorrow.”
“Confirmed. First project will complete in five hours, seventeen minutes.”
“That’ll do.” I push my seat back, pull a jacket over me like a blanket, and prop my feet up on the desk. “Wake me when they’re done cooking.”