A lot has happened in the last few months. We've been pretty hectic at ElderRook LLC. I'm still waiting on the insurance money from the Remander. I've had our lawyer draft a letter informing them that we're going to start charging them for interest if we don't receive a voucher soon. I'm prepared to take my business elsewhere, which is a significant amount of credits.
I ended up doing something else entirely for a mining ship in the meantime. I've had the Ordinator refitted for mining. It's nothing like I had planned, but it turned out better than I expected. Old Jaspar pentioned out after that near miss with the Remander. I think a part of him died along with that battered old Python and he just wanted out. So I promoted his second who had some ideas to run by me. I've never been one to ignore someone who has more experience than I do, so I gave the green light to his idea.
Instead of trying deep core mining, he wanted to try bulk mining instead. I didn't see how this could possibly be more profitable, but he was determined to make a go at it. Bulk mining doesn't require the same specialized equipment that deep core mining does. The process is really quite simple. Aim towards an asteroid and release a Prospector Drone, then fire a pair of mining lasers where it tells you the minerals are located while the Collector Drones pick it up and feed it into the refinery.
Instead of spending hours searching for so-called 'motherlode ' asteroids, you hit almost every floating rock you find. The trick is speed. You need to keep moving for this to work. The old Collector Drone rig just wasn't enough. Instead of a single class three unit, I equipped the Ordinator with a pair of top of the line class five units. That means three times as many active drones as before. They can bring it in as fast as the refinery can process it.
In fact, on our first trip we learned that it was better to have the drones screen out the less valuable materials and focus on the rarer ores. Halfway through out run, we had to start dumping low value refined material. Never in my life did I think that I'd willingly just dump several tons of refined silver!
Suffice to say, the trip was a success. I'm going to allow the Ordinator to continue as a mining ship. With luck, maybe I can replace it with a new Anaconda-class ship from the profits. Until then, I've lost my favorite ship as well as my partner. Stacey Collins will be stationed aboard the Ordinator. Between her fighter drones and five hardpoints still dedicated to offensive weaponry, I don't expect to lose another mining ship to raiders.
In other news, my Federal Navy Civilian Reserve Corps promotion came through. I'm now a lieutenant commander. While I realize that a civilian rank isn't as significant as an actual military rank, there are some perks that are noteworthy. It's certainly helped me with cutting through red tape. My service to the Federation seems more appreciated than that of the Empire. It's certainly been more personally rewarding. It may sound silly but it feels like I'm making a difference here.
Which brings me to the third major faction within the bubble; the Alliance of Independent Worlds, or simply 'the Alliance'. I won't go into a history lesson here, but suffice it to say that the Alliance has a long history of butting heads with both the Federation and the Empire, yet it's not only managed to survive but to thrive. Circumstances have led me to attempt to curry favor with the Alliance, which is why I find myself docked at bay seventeen of the Townshend Hub in the Alliance system of 78 Ursae Majoris.
I'm still working my way through the various members of the Engineers. The most recent individual is a thoroughly unpleasant fellow by the name of Bill Turner. He's rumored to be the founder of Metadrive. He certainly knows his way around Plasma Accellerators. He's also one of the most evasive asshats I've ever had the displeasure of meeting. I've been trying (and failing) to meet with him for weeks.
Like many of the other Engineers, he requires some type of tribute in order to meet with him. In his case, he wants fifty tons of bromellite. Simple, right? The trouble is that he wants you to deliver it to him in person at his base of operation, Turner Metallics, in the Alioth system. Alioth, of course, is a restricted system. In order to earn a permit to fly there, you need to be on good terms with both the Alliance as well as a political group known as the Alioth Independents.
I've spent the last two months working for various factions within the Alliance, and trying my best to get some work from the Alioth Independents. They sure aren't making it easy. The jobs they offer aren't my usual style, and I've been selective as to which I'll accept. Many of them are wartime work since they seem to be fighting with almost everyone around them. Rescuing escape pods from planetary surfaces, illegal retrieval of 'black boxes', quite a few infiltrations of surface sites, even the occasional political assassination, I've certainly been busy. If I didn't know better, I'd think that someone was trying to waylay my efforts.
I'm realizing that I need something big to really draw their attention to me. I'm trying to decide on one of two particular ventures. The first is passenger transportation service. It's proven to be a good way to earn respect in the past, maybe it could work here as well. That Beluga Liner I keep dreaming about would sure be handy.
Otherwise, I could set out on another exploration run. Selling the data to the Alioth Independents at a discount rate would provide me with just what I need. One of my personal ships, the Leif Erikson, was already set up for exploration, which meant I wouldn't need to spend any more credits on the venture.
- - - -
Vesalius City, Kunggi system
"It's not working. He just won't give up." said the man seated at a cafe table overlooking the agricultural ring.
Across from him, his companion chuckled. "I told you he was persistent. You're just going to have to deal with him sooner or later."
" Oh, I'll deal with him, all right. " the first man threatened.
" Names! " came the sharp reply.
"Right. I forgot. I'm not used to meeting with you without the others present." he said. " But, really. I don't think the situation calls for such drastic action. He really hasn't taken sides yet. "
"He's been sleeping with that Federation slut." retorted 'Bill' heatedly.
"My point," said his companion , "is he could still be of value to us. He's proven himself more than capable. Let us see where his loyalty lies. If he turns out to choose the opposition..."
Bill smiled. "Then it's open season".