THE FORGE REGION – RUOMO CONSTELLATION
ITAMO SYSTEM – PLANET VI, MOON 6
Science and Trade Institute School Station
It was a morning after. After I had drinks with Gerhardt. Even my newly cloned body complained about the amount of ale I consumed. I was sitting in a cafe, drinking my second cup of coffee and trying to remember how to live. First thing I remembered was that I was supposed to feed myself regularly. I’d ordered proper breakfast, wolfed down bacon and eggs, and asked for another coffee. Having restored my faculty of memory, recollections of my conversation with Ger started popping up in my head. Eventually, my mind latched onto the recommendation to get a frigate. I took out a datapad and searched for Caldari frigates. Here is what I’d found.
Bantam. Good for mining and trading. Large cargo bay.
Merlin. Slow but formidable. Can fit three turrets but no missile launchers.
Condor. Fast and agile fighter. Has bonuses for rockets with kinetic damage.
Kestrel. A missile ship. Can fit four missile launchers.
Griffin. Electronic Warfare frigate. Probably useless for solo operations unless one wants to become known as bloody nuisance.
Herron. An exploration ship. Fast and has a bonus to scan probe strength.
All nice, capable ships. And all had one trait in common – they required Caldari Frigate skill which I didn’t have. I checked the regional market for skillbook prices and found that I’d have to fork out 40,000 ISK for the one I wanted. That was all money I had.
While I was thinking whether I should blow the lot on upskilling, I received a message from Annukka. First of all, she informed me that Caldari Navy was impressed with my combat performance against the Seekers, given I was flying a corvette with civilian-grade weapons, and as a bonus I was given two skillbooks – Caldari Frigate and Small Hybrid Turret. Talk about coincidences! The total cost of books was twice as much as what I received as bounty prizes for killing seekers. Not bad, thought I.
Next, Annukka wrote that the Navy wanted to expedite my development and provided a skill injector for 35,000 skill points. I remembered we had been given some information on such injectors during training. They were based on very sophisticated and very expensive technology which allowed a person to dramatically speed up learning new skills. Instead of hours and days, a skill injector allowed to absorb new knowledge in minutes, or even seconds. Although it was an impressive gadget I was never interested in getting one, mostly because of a high price. Now that I’ve got one, I was curious to check how high, so I searched The Forge market. What I found stunned me – if I could sell such injector (which wasn’t an option according to the letter), I could get 50 million ISK! You see, so far, I had no idea how much the government invested in capsuleer recruitment and development programme – no one, of course, provided financial reports to me. But now, looking at the market quote for the injector, I realised how desperate was the State to build a cadre of experienced capsuleers. Indeed, we had privileges.
And finally, Annukka’s message said that CONCORD appreciated my assistance in Seeker Investigation and they wanted to secure my services for the duration of the research programme. Needless to say, I grabbed that offer with both hands. For a new capsuleer like me it was a heaven-sent opportunity to gain experience and reputation.
Half an hour later I walked into Annukka’s office. She looked up from her datapad and immediately made an awe-stricken grimace, “Wow! Look who graced my humble office with their heavenly presence. A destroyer of Seekers, a man who impressed even the mighty CONCORD.”
I accepted the game and replied, “Where else such a celebrated pilot would go if not to the office of the best mission agent in New Eden.”
She laughed, appreciating the riposte, and then said, “Seriously, it’s not often that CONCORD requests personal capsuleer services. If you don’t stuff up, this Seeker Investigation Programme will look very good on your CV.”
“Speaking of which,” I said pointedly.
“Right, silly me,” smirked Annukka, “you haven’t come here just for a small talk. First of all, let us finalise your last mission.”
She typed something into her datapad after which a section of wall that looked absolutely solid detached and revealed a safe. Annukka took out a package labelled “Vladimir Korff” and handed it to me.
I opened the package and found there two skillbooks and a thingy which I guessed was a skill injector. I took the injector out and inspected it. The gadget had the same interface as skillbooks but was a bit larger. There was just one label with a number of skillpoints.
“Do I need to sign anything?” asked I. “I understand you have just handed over a fortune.”
“Don’t worry, everything that happens in this office is recorded. Do you know how to use it?” she nodded at the injector.
“No idea,” admitted I.
“Pretty simple. Start learning a new skill normally, then attach the injector to the slot at the base of your skull, the same you use for skillbooks, and the training will speed up immediately. It will finish when the current skill level is completed. If the injector runs out of skill points before that, then your learning process will revert to the normal speed.”
“Hmm. Can I try it now?”
“Of course. In fact, you are only allowed to use the injector here, so that you don’t get any stupid ideas about selling it. But don’t waste the charge. What skill do you want to learn as quickly as possible?”
I remembered the pictures of the frigates, took Caldari Frigate skillbook and injected it.
“Good choice,” said Annukka, “but unless you want to fly only Kestrels you’ll also need turrets.”
“Thank you for the advice. I see you know your frigates.”
“I might not be the best mission agent in the universe,” snorted Annukka, “but I am a Caldari Navy agent. So yes, I know my frigates.”
The injector worked exactly as Annukka described and a couple of minutes later I knew how to fly all T1 Caldari frigates and use blasters and railguns. Immediately, I wanted to apply the new skills, but I didn’t have money to buy a frigate. I turned to Annukka and said wistfully, “Given the price of the injector, surely, the Navy could throw in a T1 frigate.”
Annukka took the package from my hands, looked inside, turned it upside down and gave it a shake. Nothing came out.
“Sorry,” said she, “no frigates here,” and then laughed seeing my disappointed expression. “Don’t fret. You’ll be able to buy one very soon. Just keep up the good work, speaking of which, I’ve got a new mission from CONCORD for you. The code name is The Sleeping Menace.”
I gasped, “Is it dangerous?”
“Mmm… Not really. Those monikers are invented by our analysts. Making up silly mission names is the only fun they have. You can imagine how bored they are.”
“Ahh,” said I, trying to understand whether I was disappointed or relieved. “So what is it about?”
“Same thing – shooting Seekers,” replied Annukka.