Aaah, traderoutes. I've attempted to bring combateers around to the idea of some trading to allow them to afford beefier ships. The trouble with combateers is that they generally have the business sense of a concussed stoat. Before I was asked to command the Academy, I ran a part-time combat course. To try and embue my students with some business wit so that they could equip themselves decently, I sent them to the Alioth School of Economics. A good friend of mine was a lecturer there. We were talking about teaching after an article in the Universal Scientist had discussed the attempts to teach language to primates. I remarked that the difference between humans and animals was that humans could communicate effectively about abstract subjects. He lamented sadly that the difference between animals and the students I sent to him was that my students weren't afraid of the vacuum cleaner! It turns out that my student groups behaved consistently like a family who had just eaten a large turkey dinner.
The sad fact of the matter is of course that bounty hunting pays very badly. You need good equipment to do it, and good equipment costs money. Most would-be bounty hunters (and pirates) try and start out with a Saker and 1MW Pulse Laser and end adding to that statistic I mentioned earlier about most combateers not even making it as far as "Poor". As Rafe Zetter would say, they ended up as dog-food in orbit around Isveve. In this section, I won't concentrate on the easy traderoutes - these are well covered elsewhere (the Sol-Barnard's Star route is one of the best safe routes there is). Instead, I'll discuss the trade routes that can keep you going once you do have a reasonable ship. These will pay for good upgrades and repairs of course!
My favorite trading area for combateers is the one illustrated here. I call it the Riedquat Triangle, since the combat aspect revolves around the anarchy of Riedquat. My usual trip was to start at Riedquat and load up with Narcotics. The next step is to go to Diso. This cargo is quite highly prized there...but it's an illegal import. The system is surprisingly pirate infested too, so you'll get met by the local welcoming committee of pirates as you try and deliver your cargo. Expect to get fined since Narcotics are illegal, but the police are quite corrupt. A bribe of CR250 usually sees them on their way. You should be able to make a good profit. Go to the Bulletin Board, not the stock market. There are usually a few independent traders ("Interesting goods or otherwise"). It's often worth doing some research - sometimes, the BBS advertisments aren't always what they make out - it's sometimes an undercover cop. You can root these guys out quite easily though - the real traders are there trip after trip, but the cops come and go quite quickly because they get found out! At Diso, load up with something boring. You'll have to, Diso is trying to become more civilized and "interesting" goods are seldom available at a good price, so you might be stuck with loading up with Fruit and Veg.
Next move on to Leesti. Forget illegal goods here - the cops can't be
corrupted, and you'll get fined a lot. However, not a lot is illegal - only
Nerve Gas. Narcotics are easily available though, so you can trade these
back to Diso if you wish. Usually, I return to Riedquat with a load of
Robots or Computers. The pirates will flock, and you'll boost your Elite
rating as you go to the station to increase your credit account.
Now a little about the systems you'll be trading in to make life easier.
At Riedquat, nothing at all is illegal. I've even accidentally fired my weapons in the vicinity of a space station, and I didn't even get the customary fine. This does mean you have to be wary at all times and quite accomplished in combat to succeed in this system. Traders there are often a fairly hard-nosed type, and are usually well armed. Haggling over the price is a past time the locals take great pleasure in - don't let them rip you off!
It's a good idea to get out of your ship after you dock at La Soeur du
Dan Ham (who *is* Dan Ham anyway?) and visit either the Fighting Cock or
World's End pubs based at the station. The local brews are very good.
Just remember the 8 hour
bottle to throttle rule before you depart off into the void once more!
Generally, the locals are friendly despite the anarchistic nature of the
system. It's certainly a much nicer place to hang out than Veliaze where
only the vicious survived (until the Veliaze crisis), and my home world
of Nirvana in the Phekda system where several mob groups were and (still
are) locked in permanent fighting. I think the locals are just too laid back
to try and enforce any type of law and order in Reidquat system space -
I've never met anyone from this system who bears any malice. The pirates
all come from surrounding systems.
The now rare Python and Coriolis space station
Diso is a system where you'll see a fair bit of combat, but unless you're going there to trade, it's not worth bothering with. The local population is puritanical to say the least. Anything fun gets an almost instant ban, and I really don't understand it. Notwithstanding, the locals seem content with the state of affairs and are unwilling to change this. I seldom bother leaving the ship when I go to Diso.
For some reason, the authorities at Leesti seem to have a permanent sense of humour failure. If you can get past that, and the fact that the space port authorities own EVERYTHING on the station, it's actually not such a bad place to get a beer or two. The port authority bar is actually quite good, and they import serious quantites of Riedquatian beers, in addition to the local fine wines. I also made quite a few friends in this system during my travels. Leesti was founded by a group of people in the early days of interstellar travel. These people were known as the French. The Leesti have apparently inherited many attributes of the original settlers; authorities who like to make rules, and a population who generally likes to resist rules. Don't be surprised if you arrive at Leesti to only be unable to get clearance to dock because no one is answering - the controllers have probably gone on strike. You'll be stranded for a couple of weeks unless you have fuel to go somewhere else! The Leesti population has also got a reputation of being rude and unwelcoming to those not from Leesti, but if you get to know them, they are actually alright. You can earn extra brownie points by learning their quirky language, but at a pinch, the good 'ol translator works fine. Leesti does for wine what Riedquat does for beer.