Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jita

Jita. It's the center of the empire. Everything comes through here at some point but not everything leaves.
They call me Bizz. It fits well enough. Its easier to be named then to name yourself. Everyone knows it and remembers it.

What business? The ones that makes all the ISK. Minerals, ships, dancers I don't care. Whatever makes me the money is worth the money. Like my looks. I'm ridiculously good looking. Women throw themselves on me. Men to. I have to scrape them off. It's like a dance. Scraping them against the tables as I walk by. Shedding the useless weight while looking for what's worth it. Because that's what I do. I find what's worth it to find and then I sell it again.

When I entered this game I was all bright eyed and eager. I was soft. Immortality? Looks? It was worth it. But the real call was the money. I could hear the kredits sing when they rubbed together as a deal came through. I started at the Science and Trade Institute. I've fought my pirate gangs and supported the Caldari State. Now, Jita 4-4 is my home. I have no reason to leave and every reason to stay.

The first time I came to Jita was the last. I've never left. My corporation? I left them behind. The bar I was at overlooked 4-4's dock. Freighters stream off into the distance. The tugs can never keep up. Somewhere out there a flash of blue caused the view screens to darken for a moment. It wasn't safe out there. Between the corporation wars and the pirates the space around the station was a death trap. But the bait was so sweet that the possibilities were worth the risk.

Everything moved through Jita in the end. And I'd be here to make ISK off of it.

This contact was Amarr. He settled down at the table and didn't say anything. Is it an Amarr thing that they look like they smelt so many bad things all at once? Considering that someone that takes the pod life can look like anything they want, why they choose to look like they smelt something bad is beyond me. Maybe that's why they were so obsessed with hoods. If I looked like that I'd wear one as well. Instead, as I said, I chose to be devilishly handsome.

His hood pointed in my general direction. I wasn't going to start the conversation. He was the one that had asked for the meeting. Instead, I pulled out some rolled sweetleaf and lit up. My quafe arrived, spiced with a bit of synthetic mindflood. It did absolutely nothing for me in station but I'd acquired a taste for it.

I love sweetleaf. My first contact with it had been a shoddy contact decision on my part. I thought I could flip some random commodities for an exotics buyer. Turns out I got grabbed by some unfillable requests. The price of youth and all. I had wound up with a few tons of sweetleaf I couldn't flip. So I tried it out. Best decision I've made in a while. Sometimes things work out but you can't assume that it well. Those golden children? The ones that think that everything they do will succeed? They are the ones that you see heading out to new opportunities or screaming to the officials about new trade sanctions needed for idiots that don't read before they buy.

The Amarr pulled back his hood and glared at my smoke. He even had a head plate. I know fashion didn't matter to those that spent all of their time in their pods but this guy said he was a trader. Maybe he was. I'd never seen him before but that didn't mean much. The station is a big place with millions of residents. Even an immortal doesn't know all of them. Most aren't even worth knowing.

His glare didn't extinguish the sweetleaf. I took a few deep drags and ignored him to watch the light show on the undock. When I didn't say anything he finally pried his lips apart and asked, "You are Bizz?"

It was a dumb question. The type of dumb question that I expect but always wind up disappointed to hear. He had sent the request. He had named the time and place. Sure, I could be someone else but that would be irrelevant at this point. It was just so unoriginal. "Yes."

"I've been watching your sell orders."

"Uh huh."

"I don't get you. You are undercutting huge percentages."

"Yeah. I have stock to move."

"It's stupid. If you drop it by .01 ISK it keeps the margins up for everyone and it still sells. You are giving away ISK."

"Am I?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"They will pay. The isogen market is already insane right now. Miners have no idea how to make money. They dump to buy orders and bring it here where it is vanishing faster than anyone can see. People keep low balling and I just snatch them up and flip them. My entire stock cleared out the other day and I repurchased and sold again above what I had. I made two billion on six transitions. You are wasting money under cutting." He had a deep voice. It rumbled a bit and his hand gripped the table as he stared at me. I wished that he'd blink. His eyes looked dry.

I leaned back and blew smoke. “I'll explain something for you. While you are wallowing around in your .01 ISK wars fighting to drag yourself through the pits of the market I will walk in and slit your margins throat leaving you bleeding out with over cost merchandise while I off load mine, pocket another hundred billion and walk away as you starve in the streets. If you want to play trade games play trade games but if you think I’m going to quiver in fear over your three percent margin that you .01 ISK away you've never met real money. Well real money says ‘Hello’.”

I guess no one had ever talked back to him. I'm sure that he was known to be super rich. People had a terrible habit of kissing up to those that had money. As if the money is going to just rub off on them. It doesn't. "I try to be friendly and you insult me?"

"Friendly is not telling someone what to do with their own orders. You are trying to get everyone to play your little special game. I'm not playing. You are so obsessed with .01 ISK that you haven't even noticed that I've owned the market for months. You have been doing nothing but buying from me and selling back to me. Giving me your ISK as well as my own back. There are twenty traders on the market right now for Isogen and sixteen of them are me. The other four are buying from me or selling to me."

He paled. I finished my smoke and cleared my mouth with a drink. I did love the burn of mindflood. It's not meant to be consumed in a glass. Did I care? No. What was the worst that could happen? I hop into a new clone body when this one's digestive tract gave out? Across the table my drink date was still trying to process everything I had told him. I sighed and helped him out. "I don't play your little .01 ISK battles. I don't have to. You may make millions. Not bad. Good job. I make tens of billions. You don't interest me."
I left without paying the bill. He could consider it payment for the time he had wasted.

***

I am a creature of habit. I have my hangouts. Some people think that you want quiet spots to do business. Privacy screens, closed doors, all that stuff you read about makes no sense. Its only easier to find out what you are doing. Plus you look suspicious.

Sitting out in the open admiring the view in the heart of noise is a better screen than anything else can be. Plus, I like it. Peace and quiet is for the dead. Still, when an earnest kid dropped into the chair across from me and leaned forward to tell me that his name was, "Lorand Seimus Issal," I had to admit I hadn't expected the encounter. "I hear that you own most of the Quafe Zero around here."

He was direct. He was either an idiot or skilled. From the flush of his cheeks and the way he twitched at every sound I was going to go with idiot. "I have some." I had a lot if I was honest. I had cornered that market a long time ago and then left it to sit right about the time that the idiots blew up the only lab that had the facilities to make the stuff.

"I need to buy."

"I didn't mention having any for sale." I could sell the quafe zero. Everyone wanted it. However, I had found that it worked better as a lubricant. It was amazing what the gift of one can of the stuff could do to someones wallet and better business sense.

"I need to buy."

I looked at him then. Really looked at him and I know I didn't look friendly. "Pushy people get hurt."
He leaned forward and stared at me with bright eyes. "Going to come kill me?" I reassessed him to being a bit insane.

“I don’t kill people. The people I hire to kill people kill people. I’m non violent.” I squinted at him through my smoke. He was such an earnest one. All righteous anger and pouty lips. He hadn't liked my answer. That was not my problem. Angry Gallente were so adorable. Like confused, kicked puppies.

"My alliance, Organic Understanding supports the Gallente Federation." Oh. A patriot. He was definitely insane. I blocked the kid out. His sob story was one that I had heard before. It almost always came with begging. Financing. Cheap prices. Investment opportunities. Whatever. I had more interesting things on my plate.

There is a special list of names that I keep close to my heart. Contracts are public. I keep track of what is selling and who is buying it. A sample here and there pays for itself in the intel about who is hip deep in what market. Sometimes when someone is around you can offer them a deal. Convince was worth savings more often than not. And sometimes they had what I wanted.

Like now.

I hadn't seen Casiase's name pop up in a long time. I almost thought he was dead. His orders had flat lined. His transactions had stopped. I had pegged all of his alt corporations years ago. Only one stayed active. That one purchased three things. Ammunition. Spaceships. Minerals. It sold one thing. Moon Products. Those four simple things told me everything I needed to know about Casiase. He had, for some reason, moved out to sovereign null security space.

In the background the kid was winding down on his passionate speech. My body was on auto pilot. I smoked and I nodded. It was enough for him. He kept passionately talking. He wanted me to do something for his cause. Something that didn't involve making me money. Therefore, whatever it was that I was ignoring was not of interest.

I heard him say, "Everyone needs friends." He was so earnest. I wanted to pet him. But he was in my way and I had business to take care of. "People to keep you safe. Station trader or not. You anger people they will destroy you."

“No. Not a thing will happen to me. This is my station. You? You're just a transient. Enjoy losing your spaceship. I’ll have another one to sell you after you've dried your eyes.”

“If I’m transient what does that make you?”

“Me? I’m a trader. Your loss is my gain. Your gain is my gain. It's called Return on Investment. You are ISK to me.”

That made him angry. His eyes lit up and his nostrils flared. He bit his lower lip. Actually bit it before he took a deep breath. "I don't let my emotions get in my way. I'll buy the quafe anyway. I wanted to know if you were reasonable. You are not."

I built the contract. He was angry and tried not to show it. His eyes shone wet with tears he didn't want to let fall. Good thing for him that tears are not a tradable commodity. I'd have harvested a pretty penny from him. Instead, I sent him the contract. "I'll sell you your quafe."

His eyes widened. He accepted it fast. I wonder if he thought I'd cancel it before he could accept. A cruel joke. "Thanks." He walked off at that point. Too bad tears are not harvestable. It was only ten steps before he froze and turned back towards me. He'd probably have attacked if he could have. If there was anything that he could have done. Anyway that he could admit he wasn't ready for the level of game he was trying to play.

It really is hard sometimes. Reading. For some people at least. The contract gleamed bright green. Accepted. I hoped the kid enjoyed his quafe. It was what he had asked for after all. No one sold quafe zero at those prices. Not even for glorious cleansing of Caldari and pirate infested space. Maybe he would learn that predators were everywhere. Not just in space. I saluted him and walked off. I had more things to do. The market didn't sleep and I didn't see why I should either.

***

It took me two days to hunt down Casiase. I retreated to my quarters and my world became about account activity. He was moving through several accounts that he had reactivated. I spent billions doing sample purchases until I figured out what he was looking for. There was a randomness to the nature and at times the ties back were tenuous. But when I stepped back out of my quarters I was pleased.

Casiase was losing a war. He was broke. He was selling all of his assets. He was desperate.

It took two hundred and twenty six buy and sell orders to make his life a complete disaster. As I walked I emptied the market of everything he needed. And then I hoarded it all. In minutes the market spiked. Prices shot up. I thinned stock on the high turnover items and I held the rest. The news feeds started to explode as speculation went rampant. It was messy and it was far from delicate but I didn't care. I had a deal to make.
I'd never met Casiase. We'd traded in the same station for years but with no need to meet each other. I was surprised at how young he looked. Technically at least. In truth he looked like hell and twice as worn out. He also looked surprised. I guess I was the last delivery they expected at their corporate offices.

I never knew why people kept offices in Jita. It was expensive. Private trade contracts were fast and saved money. My corporations traded between themselves in heart beats. I guess for such a big group it had a point. Their corporation offices stretched on and on. Racks of unassembled ships and gear filled floor to ceiling. It was a hive of activity. Activity that meant opportunity.

Casiase's office was easy to find. It was at the center of everything. I settled down into a chair across from him and watched the action. Busy, busy, busy. "What do you want?" he finally asked me. "I want your Chimera." I could be blunt to when I wanted.

"You want what?" He looked up at me then and frowned.

"Your. Chimera." I said it slowly for him. In case he was stupid because he was tired and not because he was being stupid.

"What the hell is this, Bizz?"

It was kind of exciting that he knew me. I didn't want to admit it but Casiase had been something of an idol to me when he first started. Then he got obsessed with wasting all of his money in null sec so that people could stress him out all day long. I didn't get him at all. But he had what I wanted and he hadn't even thought about selling it until sixty seconds ago. "You need money. I am made out of money. I want your ship."

"You want my ship?" This time I could tell that he was rolling it around in his head. He didn't sound against it.  No pitch change. No shocked automatic refusal. I wondered if he even remembered he had it. Drowning in carriers out there and all one lonely one parked in Jita gathering dust could lose meaning to a guy like
Casiase.

"Yes." I then named a number that made his flunkies gasp a little bit. I didn't want them to know that I had spent more than that just to create this situation.

He thought about it. "It's not worth that," he finally said. I could see the gears flip on in his head. His trader side had resurfaced. He wanted to know what my game was. That was the best part. I had laid my game out and it was so clear that he couldn't see it. I had him trapped. All those people around him had heard my offer. If he turned me down he was turning hope down for all of them. I had removed the decision from him and handed it to the people that relied on him. It was beautiful.

"It's worth it in station." We both knew it. Carriers were no longer allowed in high security space. Even undocking them could be a disaster. I wanted it for nothing more than the fact that I wanted it. He had all the carriers flying around that he could handle down in null sec. I could only hope that that fact had dulled him to the rarity of the situation.

His jaw tensed. His little group hovered around me. I tilted back in my chair. The intimidation was adorable. It wasn't going to help them a bit. I had what they needed. He had what I wanted. It was as fair a trade as I'd ever made. "I don't trust you."

I loved when they didn't say no. "I don't blame you. I'd not trust me either. Sadly, I have to live with me so I'm kind of neutral about it. How about we do a little trust test?"

"Oh? Like?"

"I've currently tied up the market in tritanium, Abaddon's, Armageddons, Scimitars, Guardians, Blockade Units, and jump fuel to name a few. I own the market right now and I stand to make about six trillion before people realize I've dumped all the stocks that were there back there." His jaw tightened. He knew that I knew what he needed. Good. "Then you write a contract and get what you need to do what you need to do."

"Why?"

"I want it."

"You are wasting all that money on a useless ship. You could buy a dozen of them."

"None of them would be here. If I want one here I play the game."

His eyes bored into me. I dropped my chair back down and stared back. "You wouldn't."

Contract sent. I read the contract six times before I accepted. Green contract. "Thanks." I stood. "Good luck and all."

"Thanks."

I left him there spending my money. My path was straighter than normal. I had a certain hanger that I needed to visit.

Sunrise Sunset found me later that day. She and I get along. I was hanging over the edge of the cat walk smoking. She took a drag and joined me to admire the view. "I don't want to know how you got this."

"Would you believe me if I said it was a fair deal?"

"No."

I shrugged. It was Jita 4-4. It was the heart of the galaxy. I sucked down the smoke of the sweetleaf.
 Nothing was really fair here. That was okay by me.

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