Hot damn. My ‘buddy’ – you know, the dough brain that got me in all that trouble, the Varati deal, the uber-nasty pirates all that jazz – yeah, him – he actually came through.
If you’ll recall, he’s deep into the Navy’s req. department, can get hold of just about anything – at a price, natch – and if you don’t mind not asking too many questions, you’re golden.
And poorer. But…
It turns out the Navy’s got this secret ‘warehouse’ sorta deal going on some uncatalogued planet or other and they mothball ships there. Among other things. Of course, I asked ‘what other things’, but he wouldn’t say. What he DID say though…
Seems they have all these T-9s. Not only that, but they’re so keen for them to sort of not exist, there ain’t no paperwork on any of ’em. Including no count! So obviously you can guess where this is going, but don’t worry. I told him no deal. I mean seriously? How can the Navy NOT miss something as big as a T-9 – with or without paperwork. Except that he was way ahead of me – light-years in fact.
He’s already knocked off this particular ship, had her hidden out in the boonies for the last – get this – six months! Does in-system scrap runs. According to him, once the transponder’s changed the only way the cops’d figure her for an ex-navy ship would be to tear her apart, and seeing he’s got all the right paper, why would they?
‘Course there’s a catch. I said she’s being doing in system stuff right? Well that’s the catch. She can’t hi-wake. The drive’s okay, it’s the hull that’s shot. Well I say shot.
Let me introduce you to one Tadhg (just call me Tige – like the tiger) Tsvetayev. Don’t know what a tiger is, but what this guy doesn’t know about ships isn’t worth knowing.
I can believe it. He looks like he’s been around a while if you know what I mean.
So according to Tige this kinda damage is exactly like the stuff the guys who’ve been shipping those UAs’ve been getting, only much worse. This particular ship, most of her cargo modules were gone anyway when I first saw her, but once we got inside – well – you can see where whatever it was took them out went right through to the frames. Scary right? Tige says no. Tige says, replace the frames, bulkheads, bit of outer plating here and there, put in hull reinforcement modules where necessary (which’ll ‘only’ cost us about 100 tons in capacity), and Voila! I know, an Irish Russian who speaks French right?…
I haven’t time to explain more right now, but the short story is he’s looking to ship with someone along for a change, and I’m it. Now if I can trust ol’ buddy-boy (and the jury’s out on that right about now), seems we could be good to go.
He’s back there doing the work right now. Meantime, I have about three weeks to go on the CQC thing before the Navy’ll fix me up with a ‘remote package’. Some deal where you get most of the sim as a standalone that’ll interface with most on-board ship computers but with smaller arena sizes, fewer ships, loadouts that sort of thing – they say that as long as I meet the upcheck requirements (which shouldn’t amount to more’n a couple hours a week) after that I’ll be a (almost) free agent. ‘Course I’ve never flown a T-9 before, but Tige says it’s no sweat – just like falling off a log. I did that once way back in kindergarten. Hurt like hell…
Anyway, seems I’m now the – well I was going to say ‘proud owner’ – but to be honest what I am now is the slightly dubious and not a little scared owner of a very second hand T-9. Tige says he’ll jump her alone and fully freighted if it’ll put my mind to rest. Trouble is while he doesn’t look mad, he often sounds it. Ah well. If it works, I’m looking at some serious creds. After all whoever got themselves a (almost) free T-9?
If we survive that first hop, I’ll look you up.