Friday, March 13, 2015

Its All About the Money

Fiction Friday. No escape pod as I drafted this mid-week!

Last one for a couple of weeks.Obviously the next two weeks will be all about Fanfest 2015. As this story posts Friday morning, I should be just about back in the UK. A few days with my family and UK friends (who I haven't seen since Fanfest 2014) then off to Iceland! I am sure during my time back in Europe I'll be asked about a certain type of low-paid employee over here. From what you read in the papers back in the west with the headlines about low wages, you do not get the full story. In fact, the guys here are a bit like capsuleer crews in New Eden.....

Its All About the Money

Reuvo stared out of the huge window into space. The shopping mall's big feature was the massive viewport looking out over the stations docking area. The green and gold of the Duvolle Laboratories reminded her where she was. Starships of various shapes and sizes were going about their business. She just watched for a while, wondering where they were going and what they were doing. The massive freighters ferrying thousands of tons of cargo. The heavily armed battleships leaving to combat the Serpentis crime syndicate. Reuvo sighed wearily. Would she ever get out of here? She was 24 and stuck in a rut that appeared to be inescapable. A flash of light out in space indicated a large vessel was dropping out of warp. She glanced down at her shopping bag. A few items she needed for work tonight. Unless she did well, she'd have no way to pay her apartments rent for the month. She turned away and headed for the shopping malls exit. She never really saw the Caldari Navy Issue Raven that had dropped out of warp. The ship that was going to change her life.


Reuvo arrived to the club slightly early. She keyed her passcode at the employees entrance and headed to the ladies changing rooms. The Crokite Club was hardly the most upscale joint on the station but it was nowhere near the worst. Located on deck 18 it was in the top third of the station. Named after an asteroid it catered for ship captains and officers more than the low-down 'roid miner crews. Those crewers tended to stick to the lower deck bars and clubs where the booze was cheap and the women cheaper. She had worked a week down there as a waitress and couldn't stand it. She wasn't happy where she was but it was 100 times better than the bottom decks. She was a qualified, if somewhat inexperienced, accountant. Her over-friendly boss in her first job had made her quit, but she had no idea he was so pally with the other members of the Fricoure Accountants Group. After she'd spurn his advanced and finally kneed him between the legs when nothing else stopped him, he'd made sure that no accountancy firm on the station would give her a job. She needed to get off the station and out of the solar system. For that she needed cash.

"Hey you!" Megnyve smiled warmly as Reuvo took her dressing table.

"Hi Megnyve. You are looking good tonight." Reuvo commented with a bit of envy.

"Yeah, its rent week isn't it. Time to pull the stops out as I think I have drunk most of my rent this month already." she laughed.

Reuvo smiled and opened her bag. She looked at the articles she'd bought earlier in the day with a bit of distaste.

"I have a degree in Federation Accountancy" she thought sadly as she pulled her skimpy outfit out.


Linead entered the club alone. It was a bit early but he needed a drink and some company. He took a seat against the wall and a tall blonde waitress came over to take his drinks order. He ordered a triple. He deserved it he thought.

Given the early hour there was no stage show yet and only a few other customers in the club. Most had a scantily clad girl with them. He looked up and saw a door behind the stage open. Two girls walked out. He watched them scan the club, both looking at him as they walked up the side of the stage. The golden pole set in the center would be unoccupied for at least a couple more hours. He watched the first girl head to his left. He glanced over and saw a suited guy in a booth. A waitress was just placing his first drink down, he must have arrived just before Linead. The second girl started over his way. She sat down next to him.

"Hi, I'm Amme." she said with a beaming smile and held out her hand.

"Of course you are." Linead said with a smile. "I really am Linead."

"Nice to meet you Linead. First time here?"

"Yes. I've been to some of the other clubs here but I changed jobs recently. I was crewing on a mining barge for a norm."

Reuvo heart sank a little. A 'roid miner wasn't going to be splashing the cash like she needed. She would need to find someone else. If only she'd been first out the door then she'd have got the suit. She discreetly glanced across at Megnyve who was flirting horribly with the suited guy.

"So what you doing now?" she asked.

"Still crewing. I'm an engineer so always a call for us on any ship."

A lowly engineer, not even an officer. If only she'd been first out of that door.

"Anyway we lost a few good crew today in a big engagement. I needed to get out and forget about today so I came here after a few friends said it was a good place to forget."

"It certainly is. Wait, you are crewing on a combat ship?" she asked surprised.

"Yes. I crew on a capsuleer Raven."

"Are you mad?" she asked in all seriousness. Her accountancy training taking over. "Why would you do that? The risks are...."

"Compensated for." he interrupted. "You are going to tell me the risks I'm taking with my life. You'll probably quote those often bandied about statistics of life expectancy of a capsuleer crewer aren't you? Well Amme, I know only too well and saw it today. I'd rather not talk about it."

Reuvo went quiet.

"Look I'm sorry. Its been a bad day." Linead said downing his drink.

Reuvo patted his knee and smiled. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Megnyve walking to the back rooms with the suit hand in hand. She was going to give him a private dance. If only she'd been first out she could be making the money now.

"Are you having another drink?" Reuvo asked looking around for the waitress.

"You have VIP rooms here right?" he said.

Reuvo looked at him surprised. The VIP rooms where expensive and required the patron to buy a bottle as well as the room hire. All the dancers wanted to get the customers to opt for the VIP room. They got a healthy cut of the room fee and some from the bottle cost. An hours 'VIP' was more money than they would usually make just giving dances for an hour and a lot less work.

"Yes we do. Want to go? They are a bit expensive and you have to buy a whole bottle of something."

Linead nodded. Reuvo rose and held out her hand. Linead stood and she led him to a window in the wall near the bar. An older woman was sat behind.

"This gentlemen wants to go VIP." Reuvo informed the woman and stepped back.

"Its 500 creds for the first hour and 250 for subsequent hours. You also must buy a bottle. We have Gallente champagne starting for 50 creds." the woman stated.

Linead pulled his wallet out and counted some notes. Reuvo held her breath. She'd had one VIP for one hour in the last two weeks. Business had not been good.

"There is fifteen hundred for the rest of the night and I saw on the table menu you had Quafe Platinum Vodka by the bottle for five hundred. So thats two grand in total."

Reuvo's eyes nearly popped out of her head. She watched as her boss took the money and gave Linead a card. As they moved towards the stairs Reuvo saw her boss smile and nod. She was happy.


The VIP room was small but well furnished. A large sofa dominated the room and Linead sat down as Reuvo pour them drinks. The bottle of vodka was being kept cool in an oversized ice bucket.

"Do you want a dance now?" Reuvo asked as she passed him her drink.

"Not yet. Please sit down."

Reuvo smiled and sat.

"I wanted to explain why I am crewing for a capsuleer."

"You don't need to explain anything." Reuvo replied.

"Yes I do. When I said I crewed for a pod jockey I saw your face. You were horrified. You couldn't understand why someone would like like that. Cramped in small quarters, working eighteen hour days with rarely a day off. Stuck in a ship and having to be ready for action at a moments notice, and most of all, the knowledge that sooner or later the ship you are on will likely get blown to pieces. The thought is always with you. When that time comes will you make it in time to an escape pod? Or will you stumble, fall and die in the freezing vacuum of space or be vaporised by a ruptured plasma conduit."

"So why do you do it?" she asked.

"For the same reason you do what you do."

"Me?" she asked shocked.

"You are here, flirting with this pretty unattractive man whilst dressed in lingerie and high heels. When I ask you'll dance for me. You cannot say this is the life you imagined for yourself?"

"You are very good looking actually...."

Linead laughed. "Come on. Give me some credit. If I was I'd be out in a dance club picking up someone. I can engage the willing suspension of disbelief. However what I said is true. We both do what we do for the money."

"I'm unlikely to die of explosive decompression in my job." she smiled.

"Do you know what the average wage for a crew member is on a ship piloted by a normal captain? Twenty to thirty 'K' a year. Not a bad wage. On an egger ship that jumps to over two hundred thousand."

Reuvo nearly spilled her drink. "You're kidding!"

"Everyone, the media especially, makes a big deal about capsuleer crews. The bad, cramped conditions we work and live in, the high risks our lives are in. If things are so bad, why do you think there is no shortage of us queuing for the opportunity? Its the money. Pure and simple. Last five years in the job and save carefully and you can quit with the equivalent of fifty years average wages in your pocket. Of course you get days like this. A wing of Serpentis managed to get our shields down. The capsuleer was distracted and the armour took a pounding. He managed to get the shield booster running but we had a conduit blow out in engineering. Three of my crew were killed and two others horrifically burnt right before my eyes. However they are already replaced on the roster. Eager new crew ready to serve our angel of destruction for a fist full of cash. Its true you know, it is all about the money."

Reuvo nodded. She did understand.

"So we have four and a half hours and a large bottle of vodka. I also have another two and a half large in my wallet. I may only be a crewer but thanks to being a capsuleer crewer I can drop five grand in here tonight simply because I want to. The spare two and a half is for tips. Its yours if you can make me forget about what happened today on the ship for the remainder of her time together."

She stood and moved between his legs. She slid the straps off her shoulders and let the short nightdress fall down her body. She stood there in only her heels, stockings and thong.

"I'll make you forget." she said as she started to sway in time to the music.


One month later....

Reuvo finished typing the report and sent it electronically to her boss. Business was good and she'd been able to offset some additional tax against company expenditure. Her life working on the Astral Mining Inc station in Vylade was a lifetime away from back in Fricoure.

She'd left that existence the morning after meeting Linead. She'd left the Crokite Club that night with twelve hundred credits in her pay packet and two and a half grand in tips. More than enough to grab an Interbus shuttle far away from the reach of the Fricoure Accountants Group. She'd decided on the system of Vylade and landed a job as a junior accountant. No more lap dancing, no more flirting for tips.

She looked at the small novelty holoprojector on her desk. The five words span slowly in mid-air. Her colleagues thought it was an accountancy in-joke. Not knowing it referred to the crews throughout New Eden who risked their lives day in, day out for the quick win.

Its all about the money.


  1. Second to last paragraph, replace "Reuvo" in the first sentence with "Linead" Good read, and thanks for posting.