I was lounging in Alison City station listening to to the Lauren Laverne show when the call came in. I say “when the call came in” to give you the image of a space rat in his natural habitat, feet up on the sensor monitor, drinking spiced wine and flicking the dust off the thruster in boredom until his screen lights up with “INCOMING MESSAGE” and he dives for the comms panel. What I really mean is: “when the bulletin board lit up”. The bulletin board marks all the jobs in Elite’s many space stations. My eyes fell from one job to the other – dead, fed-up eyes – then faltered and stopped as they saw a plain-looking advert marked “Light cargo transports required”.
I slouched closer to the screen, utilising the powerful hunch that would inevitably give me repetitive strain injury. This can’t be right, I thought. 174,000 credits for one job? That’s crazy. I’d be lucky to get 20,000 for a single gig. I clicked on the ad. The orders: take 18 tonnes of gold to Foucault Landing. Good lord, is that all? I instantly accepted the job and smiled an obnoxious, greedy smile. Then I looked at my mission screen. That’s where I saw the catch.
I had 14 minutes to get there.