The Concord registry clerk shuffled the last stack of papers from the previous applicant into a folder and looked to the lineup. “Next?” An eyebrow raised slightly as a slender woman jumped the queue; but as she turned to sidle past an obese tramp hauler captain, a glint of metal from the base of the skull just below the bleached-white mowhawk. A small camera-remote bobbled along behind the capsuleer, undoubtedly feeding into the pod-pilot’s implants wirelessly, as she had her eyes casually closed.
“Ahhm, yes; how can I help you, Captain…?”
“Cerebus.” Fingers fumbled a moment with the tab on a vest pocket before withdrawing a sheaf of clumsily-folded papers. “Vessel registry; private ownership. Rhea-class Jump Freighter.”
“Certainly; certainly. Let’s just see here…” The printing was clumsily scrawled, where it’d been filled in at all. “Hmm, seem to be a few boxes overlooked… System of origin?”
“Ahhh. I see. And your corporate affiliation?”
That brought the clerk up short. His job may have been as anachronistic as chemical rocketry, but he was still a Concord official. “Independent? And you’re registering a Jump Freighter? Ma’am, those aren’t exactly inexpensive little runabouts. Can I ask the source of your funds?”
“Now see here…” He immediately regretted his choice of words as milky white eyes snapped open, blindly staring.
“Write it down, file it; don’t ask any questions, clerk. I’m going from here directly to Epsilon Dock Control to supervise some final loading. When that’s complete, I will be spooling up the jump engines for an immediate departure. File your paperwork, clerk; or I’ll do it from inside the station. And no, you don’t get to know my cargo or my destination, either.”
*** Farstar lounge, Epsilon sector docks***
“You really need to relax more. I’d always heard that Achura were supposed to be all quiet and contemplative types.” Kyreana pulled me closer in the booth, snuggling against my side. The initially professional relationship we’d begun when I joined the Praxis Initiative had gotten… closer since. A Black Ops pilot has to trust their Scout/Cyno implicitly. I’d taught her the tricks and tweaks I used to optimize my own torpedo systems; she’d taught me to fly Amarrian frigates; and we’d gotten… complicated.
“It’s just so frustrating having to fill out paperwork. Even Pend Insurance lets you E-file; and you know how few questions they ask of Capsuleers. I’m a warship; I don’t like waiting in lineups.” I took a long pull of the synthetic orange juice I’d ordered. The little mynx of a Minmatar may be doing her best to ‘socialize’ me; but I still see no reason to poison myself. Her fourth beer of the night was nearly empty; she defined being ‘sociable’ differently.
“Well love, pretty soon you’re going to be a freighter, not a warship. Think you can handle that?”
“I’ve run cargo before…” I thought back to my first Kestrel hull and the trash-hauling that any new pilot gets assigned to.
“Not like this though. I mean, over a klick and a half long? Three hundred thousand cubic, give or take some change? How’re we ever gonna fill that?
I actually laughed and put my arm around her shoulders, squeezing gently “You really should try learning something bigger than tin cans hun. Yeah, it sounds like a lot; but once we get five battleships and a couple battlecruisers inside, it’s not nearly so much as you think. Toss in my Blockade Runner, a couple planetary command centers, and, what, a dozen frigates between the two of us? I’ll be fuller than that time you dragged me to that Gallente buffet.”
“You sure you want to haul all those big boys? You could save some cubage if you swapped a pair of drakes for the ‘snake; more room for adding tin cans.”
“Hmmm… It’s a good thing we aren’t going anywhere for a while, this’ll take some hefty optimization.”