Rushing through the maze of corridors in the bowels of PTS, I wondered what I had done to be summoned to the Mining Office. Had I mined someone elses claim… don’t think so. Run my hauler during times of war…definitely not. As I came to the bulkhead, i squared my shoulders and said to myself, “Whatever you did, be contrite, pay your fine, and get out of there in one piece.” Knocking on the hatch, one word emitted: “COME!” uh-oh…
The scene was astonishing. I had been in the mining office only once before, and while it wasn’t as fancy as the the station bridge, it was neat and organized. But not this time. Where the Mining Director’s desk SHOULD have been was wild piles of papers, with tiny wisps of smoke wafting from behind it…drawers were open all over the office, and papers were skewed and half pulled out everywhere. What the H…
“Secure that hatch…and have a seat.”
Secure hatch, Aye…sit…aye…
Suddenly the piles of papers slid off the side of the desk and into the waste basket, and Zralltori’s dejected face became visible across from me. He seemed unfocused, almost…deranged.
“Don’t ever take a manager’s job if you can help it. One second you’re running the Aldrat-Hek pipe with a bay full of rocks…and now…this!” He waved his hand around the room. “Cost reports…Loaner requisions…mineral surveys… It’s enough to drive a man crazy!”
I weakly cleared my throat. “Gorl Abris, reporting as ordered…”
He stared at me…but for some reason, it felt like he was staring through me…”Abris…Abris…” finally he seemed to focus in on my face, and his features brightened. “Gorl Abris! just the man I wanted to see.” He spun in his chair, and as he went around, he grabbed a paper from a stack behind him. He studied the report a minute, then looked me directly in the eye.
“Well, son, you have been busy lately…” Oh man, was I in for it now. I quickly tried to run the past week back in my head, trying to figure out what I had done to cross the Mining Manager of one of the biggest and best teaching institutions in all of New Eden…
“I see here you’ve been in on 5 mining ops this week alone…impressive.” He looked me up and down, like he was trying to decide on something.
“I assume you’ve heard of …The Curse.” The Curse, who hadn’t…Every time an Official mining op was planned, a rival corporation would declare war on the university JUST before the op went active…It was the one reason for spike in mineral prices in the region.
“Well, I’ve been manager for exactly one week, and my first order of business, well AFTER organizing…this,” he waved his arm around the room, “is to crush this curse once, and FOR ALL!” With the wild smile on his face, i wondered if I had not done something wrong, but something too right.
“And with your experience and contacts, you are gonna help me do it.” While it was true I knew most of the rockhounds on the station, mostly by buying them drinks after successful endevours, I wondered what I could do to help him…
“But sir, how can I …”
“Don’t say another word, boy, and let me let you in on the details. Now I know, only the mining manager can call an “Official” mining op…but my plan is perfection in it’s simplicity…We’re not gonna have an “Official” mining op this week. We are going to have an “UNoffical/official” mining op, and by the time our rivals get wind of it…We’ll have our cargo bays full and be drinking at the bar! HA!”
“But sir, where do I come in?”
“As I said, only I can call for an official mining op, but if i do then it’s…official. What I want you to do is spread the word to all the regulars; Thinkerbolt, LeighClements, Zed, Westgate, Kivena, Raven, Orielly, every rockhound you’ve ever bought a beer for, and get them organized for a MASSIVE op…I’m talking multiple belts cleared, son… And whatever you do, keep it to just the miners…we’ll keep everyone else on a need to know basis. I trust all our miners, but someone has been leaking our plans to our enemies, and I want this to HAPPEN…and I want it to be EPIC!”
I was floored. Zralltori was trusting me with organizing and running an epic mining op for him? “But sir, I certainly couldn’t run such a huge operation…”
“Oh, you won’t be RUNNING the op, son. I just need you to spread the word, and seeing as you spend ALMOST as much time in the bar as you do your cockpit, I figured you would be perfect to get the word to all the regulars. No, you’re much too inexperienced to run an operation of this proportion…No, I’LL be running this shindig! It’ll give me some time away from my…office, and out where my heart still lies, in the belts!”
To Be Continued…