Now, normally, I wouldn't hesitate to give out some advice. I think it's fair to say I'm generally a pretty helpful guy, but there are few -- just a few -- things about this particular situation that give me pause.
1. I don't know the guy asking, and he's not in my corporation. This isn't a real deal-breaker, honestly, but it's first in a series.
2. He's asking in the /local channel. This is basically like standing in the middle of a park on a Saturday afternoon and speaking in that 'not quite shouting, but too loud to be ignored' tone of voice that you most often hear used by the homeless guy arguing with an otherwise innocuous looking lamppost. Again, this is not (strictly speaking) a deal-breaker, until you consider...
3. This is all happening inside our home wormhole system. DING DING DING DING. We have a winner!
That's right: someone wandered into our wormhole system from high-sec known space, took a look around, decided things looked promising, and started making plans to set up planetary interaction colonies on OUR planets. Then, realizing they knew little about the process, started asking for advice in the /local channel for the wormhole -- a channel which is NEVER* used for any* reason, because it gives away your presence. (Unlike known space, the local channel does not populate with the names of the pilots in the system unless they say something, so if you don't use it and remain stealthy, no one will even know you're there.)
I didn't respond immediately.
My first reaction was to try to figure out where the interloper was located. I was already cloaked up and sitting at an out of the way spot in the system, so I spent the next few minutes warping from one corner of the system to the other, checking all points between, and generally scouring the place, looking for my target.
"Hello?" Came the voice again.
"There's a guy talking in /local," I said to CB, who was running errands outside the system.
"I thought you were in the wormhole," he replied.
"What?" CB began, almost interrupting himself with "Kill him."
"I would, but I can't find him. He's cloaked up somewhere."
"Where are you?"
"Cloaked up somewhere."
"Well... what's he want?"
"He wants advice on where he should set up P.I. on our planets, so that he will make enough money to pay for his monthly account."
There's a moment of silence at this.
"You're shitting me."
"I am not," I reply.
CB suggests a couple possible options -- some get a bit too complicated to sum up here, but I really do believe a picture can be worth a thousand words.
"Nevermind," says the pilot. "I need to get going. Talk to you later!"
I blink as my watchlist flashes red.
"He just logged off."
"He just -- in the wormhole?" CB asks.
I rub at my temple, sure that this is going to be the start of a long week. "Yeah."
Those of you coming directly to random-average to check up on our misadventures will have noticed that there's a new image on the left side of the page. That's the image for my new book, Hidden Things, which is hitting the shelves in September, thanks to the fine folks at Harper Collins.
Anyway, it seems to me that if you happen to like the stuff I put up here, you might enjoy a book full of words I wrote, even if it doesn't have any spaceships in it (and only a few mentions of aliens). If you'd like to know more, check out my other web site, where I talk about it some more, gush about how cool I think the cover is, and explain how to win a copy before it's even released.
Now, with that out of the way, tune in tomorrow to for more adventures of Idiot P.I. Guy!