Don’t Look Back

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

12 May YC 121

Two or three days after my last meeting with Ijumachi I called him to request a new mission. My call was answered by his secretary who advised that Mr Vuonolailen was on extended emergency deployment and should be back next month. As it turned out, it took him full four weeks to return to the Academy. I was not given a notice and was quite surprised to spot him in a cafe where I had my breakfast.

“Welcome back, Mr Vuonolailen,” said I approaching his table. “Do you mind if I keep you company?”

“Oh, Mr Korff. I am so glad to see you,” beamed Ijumachi. “Please, take a seat.”

“Thank you,” said I moving my breakfast tray to his table. “How was your deployment?”

Ijumachi smiled, “It’s actually classified information but I can tell you a few things; they will soon be in newspapers anyway.” Continue reading “Don’t Look Back”

The Stand, Part 3

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System
Mission Location

14 April YC 121

The base, naturally, was located in a deadspace pocket so the only thing we found at the mission location was an acceleration gate.

I looked at Aura, “Ready?”

She made a deep breath and said firmly, “Yes.”

“Scared?”

Aura smiled shyly, “That too.”

“Okay, let’s not waste time – get us through the gate.”

“Aye-aye,” replied Aura and we jumped.

As soon as we arrived, I checked the overview, and it didn’t look right. There was a deadspace beacon, one ship and nothing else – no base, no structures, no nothing. The ship also looked strange; it wasn’t a pirate, it was some kind of a mercenary frigate.

“Where is the base?” asked I rhetorically. Continue reading “The Stand, Part 3”

The Stand, Part 2

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

13 April YC 121

After the conversation with Ijumachi I spent the rest of the day studying various offensive and defensive modules that could help me in the offered mission. It was the first time I seriously thought about complete fitting of my ship because all previous missions could have been easily completed with half slots empty. I had started my research by checking all modules that could be fitted to a frigate but was quickly overwhelmed by the variety of equipment available on the market. Then I tried various online forums where experienced capsuleers shared their combat experience. To my disappointment, such thing as a perfect Merlin fit did not exist. There were multiple “brawling”, “kiting” and “sniping” doctrines whose proponents were engaged in heated discussions about their relative merits. It seemed that whatever fit one had there were always circumstances in which another fit would be preferable. The situation was complicated by the fact that I had absolutely no idea what to expect from my adversaries. Eventually, I came to a point of information overload and took a break.

A couple of beers refreshed my inflamed brain and reset my train of thought. In the absence of reliable intel I had to make assumptions about the potential strength of defences and fit my ship accordingly. I looked back at my encounters with pirates and tried to extrapolate them to “you will stand no chance” point. Here are my thoughts. Continue reading “The Stand, Part 2”

The Stand, Part 1

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

13 April YC 121

After saving Gerhardt’s Phantom Lady I took a break from my studies and appeared in Ijumachi’s office only ten days later.

“I am so glad to see you, Mr Korff,” greeted me the agent. “In fact, I was about to call you.”

“Anything urgent?” asked I.

“Not exactly, but I’d say I have an assignment which would fit nicely into your training schedule. By the way, it was the success of your previous mission that helped us uncover new intel on the pirates.”

“How is that?”

“A few days ago our intelligence department received datapads found on the bodies of criminals who were killed during an attempt to hijack a civilian ship…” said Ijumachi and looked at me.

“Aha, let me guess – would that ship be a luxury yacht piloted by a Mr Oppenheimer?”

Ijumachi nodded with a smile and continued, “Those datapads contained a location of a pirate base thus far unknown to us.”

“Excuse me, out of interest, how did you manage to hack the pads?” interrupted I. Continue reading “The Stand, Part 1”

Vulnerability Management 101

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

3 April YC 121

Gerhardt produced his datapad and connected it to the big screen on the wall which miraculously survived the carnage. It showed Victorieux’s fitting control centre. Ger walked over to the display and pointed at the rigs and low-energy slots.

“See this? The Phantom Lady is fitted for speed and agility. Although she is a cruiser-sized bird, the inertial stabilisers ensure that its align time is under three seconds. So it’s quite possible that we entered warp at the same moment, and I was never vulnerable to the Plunderers’ attack.”

“Okay, I got it. Still, it doesn’t explain how you got to the station ahead of me,” said I. Continue reading “Vulnerability Management 101”

Engineering Genius

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

3 April YC 121

Gerhardt grabbed the last remaining bottle from the bar, uncorked it and took a swig.

“Ah, that funky Gallente stuff, never liked it,” winced he and returned to his seat.

I took the bottle and tried the liquor. At first, it felt like a regular semi-dry wine but then a thousand tiny ice cubes scattered in my mouth prickling my tongue.

Noting my reaction, Gerhardt chuckled and said, “Good fun when you taste it first but it gets boring pretty soon. Seeing you have never tried it, you can keep the bottle for yourself.”

I thanked Ger and said, “So what about that shield boosting trick?” Continue reading “Engineering Genius”

Space Divers

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

3 April YC 121

“Space divers?” interrupted I.

“Yeah, it’s a kind of tourists who like to explore curious space objects in spacesuits,” explained Gerhardt. “That lot was interested in unusual asteroids.”

I remembered the coral-shaped asteroid near which I found Gerhardt’s yacht and said, “I guess, I’ve got an answer to one of my questions.”

“Yes, they provided specific locations they wanted to visit and Uitra was the second one on the list. The first place was a spiral asteroid in Unpas, and everything was normal there: they put on spacesuits with jetpacks, went to the rock, took selfies and returned to the ship. Then, they said they did not want to undress and go back to the lounge between the first two stops because it was just a quick jump between systems; they preferred to wait near the airlock.

“When we arrived to the coral-shaped ‘roid in this system, I told my passengers that they could go out. They asked me to wait because they needed to fix some equipment. I didn’t care because they paid for the whole day – it was up to them how to spend their time. About half an hour later I called them again and asked if everything was okay. They said that all was fine but one of the spacesuits malfunctioned. I suggested to take one of the suits I kept for guests but they wanted to try and fix their own. The repairs were going on for an hour or so and all the while they were in a corridor where I didn’t have security cameras. I decided to establish a video link and sent a camera drone to the airlock. When I got the picture I didn’t immediately realise what was going on: all three passengers were wearing their spacesuits and one of them had a laptop connected to the ship’s network port. When they saw the drone one of them stood between the camera and the guy with the laptop trying to obstruct the view. ‘What the hell are you doing there?’ asked I and at that moment the main engine switched off and the capacitor got completely drained. Do you understand what it means?” Continue reading “Space Divers”

The Phantom Lady

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

3 April YC 121

My heart skipped a beat but then adrenaline kicked in and I yelled, “Ger! Ger, can you hear me?”

There was no reply.

As Ampuhaukka decelerated and came out of the warp, I desperately cried, “Ger, hold on! I am coming back!”

Suddenly I heard Gerhardt’s voice, “Whoa there cowboy. Just keep calm and dock after me.”

“What?” I looked at my external camera just in time to see Victorieux disappear in the station entrance tunnel. My jaw dropped, “But how?..” Continue reading “The Phantom Lady”

A Friend in Need

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

3 April YC 121

On Wednesday the day didn’t start too well – I got an urgent summons to come to Ijumachi’s office while I was halfway through my breakfast. Regretfully putting the dessert aside, I dressed and hurried to the agent’s place.

“I have an urgent mission for you, Mr Korff,” said Ijumachi, “but before I proceed I’d like to commend you on the way you completed your previous assignment. We haven’t seen that gang ever since you tackled their leader.”

“My pleasure, Mr Vuonolailen,” replied I. “You should have seen the face of the pirate when I told him that it was a training warp disruptor that I ‘tackled’ him with.”

Ijumachi laughed, “Yes, that was a masterstroke. I guess he couldn’t stand the humiliation of having been duped so easily. You can almost say that we tackled him with a power of thought and some light effects. But mind you, don’t try that trick outside the training missions; always fit the real Tech I stuff.”

“Talking about missions, what have you got for me today? I hope it’s gonna be a proper combat assignment this time; my rails are getting rusty,” I winked, “if you know what I mean.”

“Sorry, I have to disappoint you – this mission is not offensive. If it’s any solace,” smiled Ijumachi, “I can arrange a free oil change for your guns at the Academy workshop when you are back.”

I snorted, “Tempting. So what do you want me to do?” Continue reading “A Friend in Need”

Your Undivided Attention

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

25 March YC 121

“How are you?” were the first words Ijumachi said when I came to his office for a debrief, and I saw that he meant it as a question, not as a greeting.

I winced and grumbled, “Getting there.”

“I see,” nodded Ijumachi and patted me on the shoulder. “Losing a ship is the second worst thing that can happen to a capsuleer after losing his clone, but anyone who wants to pursue a military career must be mentally prepared to such loss. That is why the hellburner exercise is a mandatory part of advanced combat training. You’ve done well, Vladimir.”

“Thank you, Mr Vuonolailen. Is there anything urgent you need to discuss with me in regards to this mission? If not, may I ask you to postpone the debrief until tomorrow? I am a bit indisposed today.”

“Of course,” said Ijumachi. “Your video record should be sufficient for the mission report. In fact, I wanted to suggest that you take a few days of R&R before the next mission.”

I gratefully accepted that offer and returned to my apartment. Opening the door I looked around and realised that I couldn’t stand the thought of sitting there alone, not today. I went to a bar located on a busy street and spent the rest of the day drinking, betting on Splinterz, watching people going about their business – pretty much doing anything that could distract me from the thoughts about the last mission. I knew those thoughts would catch up with me later but I hoped I would be in a less fragile state of mind when it happens. Continue reading “Your Undivided Attention”