TLF LOGISTIC SUPPORT
It had made sense when I retired from the militia to just continue leasing the hangar I had made use of during my time of service. It was one of the perks offered when honourably discharged, and it was a lot easier than moving my stuff.
The only problem I hadn’t forseen was that I would no longer have use of the militia support staff…
I had just enjoyed a very relaxing weekend, having spent the evenings with not one, but three lovely ladies; and that was just Saturday. Stress release, stress relief, whatever you want to call it, I was a content, smiling man.
I opened the door to my hangar.
“I’m telling you it doesn’t go there!”
“I’m telling you you’re an idiot!”
My chief mechanic has needed to take time off unexpectedly due to family emergency, which was understandable. I told her to take all the time she needed; I’d make do. As a result, I’d had to hire several contractors, none of them knowing my ships as intimately as my full time crew, each of them paid by the hour so not really caring how long it took to get the ships in running order. Of course, none of them wanted the gravy train to end so would constantly argue with my fulltime staff in a game of seniority, trying to mark their territory with the greater perceived knowledge.
It had been testing my patience severely.
I stormed across the deck, ascertaining the situation as I went. I grabbed the part, yelling at both of them, “This part revision doesn’t even fit on this frigate! Did either of you even think to check before ordering?” I threw it to the floor. “One hour”. I barked. “I want a full status in one hour.”
I headed for my office, my euphoric weekend already forgotten.
I synced my NeoCom; over 650 messages. Lovely. Some of them were various agent offers; wanting too much risk for too little reward. Some was various local spam which for the life of me I could never completely filter out. A few here and there caught my interest, radio interviews, fans wanting swag, etc, etc. One in particular held my gaze:
I have an offer for you that I think you’ll find quite attractive. I will pay 160 million isk, double the standard amount for this type of work. Please message me so we can meet in person to discuss.
It was an odd for an agent to want to meet in person, and immediately I suspected a setup. Most work was done via terminal for obvious reasons, the least of which being the security of the capsuleer. In our pods we were gods, commanding behemoth machines capable of incerating cities, but out of our pods most of us were frail and weak excuses of the human condition. I tried to overcome the obstacles of my sedintary life with an intense physical regime, and I liked to think it had worked out well. I’m sure the ladies would agree.
Still, 160 million isk for what looked like a routine job was a lot of money, and I would’ve been a fool to turn down the opportunity at least. I messaged her back.
Exquisite, in D9, 1200 hours sharp. Roc.
A few moments later I received a confirmation from her. I was impressed with her response time. It was always good to have an agent that was on top of their game; always made my life easier.
I walked over to my well-used Jaguar, which had nearly half of the hull plates scattered around the deck. I noticed one of the contractors rewiring the main afterburner coolant assemblies, incorrectly.
“You’ve not worked on capsuleer ships before have you?” I asked politely, trying to take a moment to mentor the younger man. He had been likeable, though lacking in talent. I had hoped for the rate I was paying him that he would be more proficient, but that could come with time. He possessed a strong work ethic and that alone made him valuable, but that only worked to a point; eventually the skill set was needed.
“Not really sir, no.” he replied, a slight tremble in his voice and hands. I leaned in and took a long look at what he had done.
“Well son, the way you have it rigged now, I’d basically boil in my pod the second I fired the afterburner. You’ve got the exhaust routed through the pod life support module. Thanks for that.”
He didn’t know how to reply. I sighed.
“Look, why don’t you run a level 1 diagnostic on the Aura unit’s integration matrices and I’ll take care of this, ok?”
“Yessir.” he said, thankful for the opportunity to hide his rising embarassment.
Contractors. They just weren’t what they used to be. I chuckled at that. Maybe that’s why so many corporations employed pod pilots nowadays, which was good for me.
“I will put my boot so far up your ass you’ll be coughing up leather the rest of this week!” I screamed. I couldn’t take anymore. Every damned thing these guys touched that should’ve taken only a few minutes, was taking hours; and then I had to spend a few more hours fixing what they had damaged or screwed up in the process! I would’ve been better off having done it all myself, but there just weren’t enough hours in a day. I needed a clone of myself. Hmmm, I do have clones of myself. I shook that idea out of my head right away. Concord would never allow it.
My Neocom rang again for the thousandth time. “Hello!” I yelled more than asked, and received a surprised pause on the other end. It was an agent. I was late on an urgent ask. “I know, I know, I’m having ship trouble. Yeah, I know it’s not an excuse. Look, can you delay them a bit? I’ll get it done. Fine, fine, no bonus. I get it.”
I hung up in frustration. This day had just kept getting worse and worse.
“Does that even look like autocannon ammo? Seriously, if that looks like the correct ammo to you, you are not touching another bloody thing here. Those are artillery shells. Really not that hard to see the difference. Just stop and think about what you’re doing. Stop. Think. Do. Is it really that hard?”
I was really going to lose my cool soon. I was hungry, irritated, hadn’t been to the gym, and was starting to feel a little grumpy. Not to mention I had just realized I had no idea what Nikole looked like. I sent her a quick message:
No idea what you look like. What are you wearing?
A few seconds later, a reply:
Blonde, wearing a pink frilly blouse today. See you soon.
Of course she was blonde. Couldn’t be a cute little brunette now could she. That would’ve been too easy.
“I’m going to meet an agent and have a bite. Get this shit cleaned up and put back together the right way!” I bellowed, at my wit’s end. What an entire waste of a day this had been so far. I had seen lab animals smarter than these contractors. Why was it so hard to find good help?
She was late. I had no patience for people that couldn’t respect the time of others. I looked down at my NeoCom, contemplating if I should just cancel, if this was truly a setup, if I was in any danger. Looking up, I decided to give her a few more minutes. Down the promenade, in the distance beyond focus, I saw a blonde approaching, wearing a pink frilly blouse. I waved.
As she got closer I realized it had indeed been a mistake to meet with her. For one, she had a beard. Secondly, we all know what else that entails.
“Hey there.” he said. I cringed.
“Nikole?” I asked sheepishly.
“If you want me to be.” he replied.
“Yeah, there ain’t enough isk.” I said without thinking. It quickly became apparent that I hurt his feelings, as his eyes watered up and he turned away, storming off in a huff. Geez, women.
I messaged Nikole to let her know I was leaving, and probably having a nice hot steam shower. Before I could finish the message, a shorter, cuter, more feminine version waved hello. She was blonde, wearing a pink ruffled blouse, and looked to have all the right lady parts. I was quite relieved.
She apologized for being late, and over an enjoyable lunch explained her offer, which was indeed appealing.
Where once I ran a proud and efficient hangar now lay a junkyard of parts overseen by a pack of feces flinging animals. Things had never been in such disarray. To say I lost my temper would be the understatement of the decade.
There was nothing more to be done. No productive work completed at all. I couldn’t stay late as I had dinner plans with a very special lady and work would always be there, or it wouldn’t, but it was important to have priorities in life, and I knew mine.
I put a few of the more critical parts into my military pack, strapped it to my shoulders, and headed out to wait for the next mag train.
“You’re wasting your time.” fake Nikole said in a far too friendly manner, already having forgotten our earlier encounter. “They’re doing construction nearby. You’re going to have to catch the train three blocks east.”
Well, that was annoying. I was supposed to meet my date at 1730 hours and I didn’t have much time to spare. I cinched the straps on my pack tighter and covered the distance with a brisk jog.
“If you had stopped, I wouldn’t have had to step in front of the train then, would I!” I tried to explain to the conductor. “It’s bad enough you don’t have any notification signs around to tell your customers about the construction, but then when you clearly see me running for the train, shouting at the top of my lungs to stop, and instead just look away like I wasn’t even there, what kind of customer service is that?!”
“Stepping in front of a moving train is not only dangerous, but it’s illegal. We’re not going anywhere until you remove yourself from the train, sir.” he said with disdain.
“Tell you what, give me the customer service line, I’ll call them up ‘badge 1412’, and we’ll see what they have to say about it. In the meantime, get this train moving.”
The crowd on the train agreed with me, which was a refreshing change. The conductor finally conceded and got the train moving while we both called customer service. He got through first.
“Yes. Yes, that’s right. Uh huh. I undestand. Thank you, sir.” the conductor said. I started to smile at my imminent victory. Sometimes being a jackass paid off.
The conductor pulled the microphone to his mouth for an announcement. “This train will be short turning in three blocks. We apologize for the inconvenience, but need to maintain a schedule. Once again, this train will be short turning in three blocks.”
The other passengers turned on me faster than you could blink an eye. Suddenly, I was the bad guy. I managed to find out from some passerby where the nearest train station was: five blocks east.
Cinching my pack tightly to my back once again, I set off at a brisk jogging pace.
“I’m sorry, sir. It just left less than a minute ago. Next one is in half an hour.” the station attendant said politely. I was covered in sweat, my shirt starting to soak through. This pack must’ve weighted a good twenty pounds and wasn’t getting any lighter. I looked at my NeoCom. I didn’t have 30 minutes to wait. I called the lovely lady that would be waiting for me. No answer.
“How far is it to D9A?” I asked.
His eyes widened a little. “It would be quite the walk, sir; at least an hour.”
I always did like challenges.
“Ok, thanks. Have a good evening.” I said, and set off jogging.
I arrived at the restaurant over an hour late. My knees hurt. My feet hurt. My back hurt. I was thoroughly saturated through and through with my own bodily fluids. My head glistened. Sweat poured freely into my eyes, stinging with every moment. My breathing was rapid and shallow. I felt alive.
I walked into the restaurant.
“I’m sorry, sir, but we have a dress code here.” I was stopped at the door. Couldn’t blame them really, though I had to forcefully check my temper, so far gone was my mood. I looked like hell. I could see they had Noble Exchange neo-military style shirts for sale. The fact that anyone could wear something resembling standard issue military garb infuriated me, but I wasn’t going to go into that tyrade.
“How much for a shirt?” I asked.
He told me the price. I cringed once again.
“Fine. Give me a black one, 48 chest. And a towel.”
After paying for the shirt, I grabbed the shirt and the towel and headed straight for my waiting lady. I couldn’t believe she was still there honestly.
“Sir! Sir! You can’t go in! We have a dress code.”
I ignored him completely.
I saw her waiting for me, a puzzled look on her face. Part of me was angry that she hadn’t even answered her phone, but a bigger part of me just wanted to spend the evening with her, and the night if I played my cards right.
I put my pack down on the floor, and kicked it under the table. I tore my shirt off, standing bare chested in the fine dining establishment. I then proceeded to towel down and put on the new shirt. It felt good to be dry and warm again.
The rest of the evening, and the entire night, made me completely forget about the rest of that lousy, yet typical, day.
I regaled her with my heroic tale, the great lengths I went to just to be a part of her life, if only for a while.
“Why didn’t you just take a taxi?”