Junk in the Clouds

The Forge Region – Ruomo Constellation
Itamo System – The mission location

Next day after The Sleeping Menace mission I received another task from Annukka, with another silly name – Hidden in the Clouds. The data that was recovered from the previous site indicated that there was another enclave obscured from scanning by a cloud formation. My objective, as before, was to clear the site of seekers.

When I arrived to the site three Seekers, two Circadians and one Escort, were already waiting for me there. Destruction of the pesky bots felt pretty routine now, so I devoted only part of my brain to the task at hand. Another part was taking in the view which would have been spectacular if not for the thick gauze of gas which covered the area. No wonder that CONCORD could not scan it down before.

Hidden in the Clouds

My shield damage had hardly reached 30% when the first wave of Seekers was annihilated and the second one, identical to the first, arrived. Target, orbit, fire; target, orbit, fire; target, orbit, fire – my mind sent crisp commands to Yatagarasu which obediently executed them. The second wave was down and the third and final one warped in. It had just one Seeker and one Retainer. Three minutes later I heard Aura’s voice.

“Captain, the mission is accomplished. You can return to the station.”

“Wait a moment,” said I, “let me take a closer look at those wrecks.”

What attracted my attention was that the wrecks had different icons on the overview compared to what I saw before. We studied the overview functions and symbols in Navy training and I remembered that that particular icon meant that the wreck contained some items which could be looted. My heart started beating faster. I imagined there were valuable scientific artefacts which could advance our knowledge of Seekers and maybe even allow us to trace their origins and understand their intentions. Containing my excitement just enough to control the Ibis I approached the closest wreck and inspected the items inside. They were metal scraps. Hmm…

I was disappointed but still hopeful. Firstly, because all metals are different and what I picked could be a rare metal. Secondly, what looked like scraps to AI could in fact have huge scientific significance. As the old saw goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Keeping that in mind I searched other wrecks and became a proud owner of seven piles of what Aura continued calling metal scraps. “We’ll see, darling,” thought I and returned to the station. There I found a regional market broker and showed him the hologram of my cargo.

“Do you think anyone would be interested in this?” asked I.

“Definitely,” said the broker, “I have about twenty buy orders.”

“Really? That’s cool. And how much can I get for it?”

“Mmm… Let me check. If you want to sell it here and now then you’ll get about 1120 ISK per pile.”

“What?” exclaimed I. “I got these precious metals from Seeker wrecks. Surely, scientists would be interested in such rare opportunity to examine Seeker technology and should pay decent money for it.”

The broker scoffed, “Sorry to break it to you, pal, but that opportunity was rare a few years ago, when Seekers just appeared. Now every second pile of junk I get is extracted from some kind of a Seeker drone. They all go to reprocessing plants, not to science labs. And those guys don’t care where it came from. For them they are all just metal scraps. So, are you going to sell them?”

“I’ll pass up your generous offer,” I replied sarcastically. “No doubt there are people who know the proper value of these ‘scraps’.”

“Oh, sure. If you don’t mind making a couple of jumps, there is one station where you can sell them for 1153 ISK per pile,” sniggered the arrogant bastard.

I turned my back on him and went to the Navy office. There I showed the hologram to Annukka and complained about the proposed rip-off. To my frustration, Annukka just laughed and confirmed the broker’s words – what I hauled back from the Seeker enclave was pretty ordinary space junk which wasn’t worth more than 10,000 ISK.

“Just sell it for the highest price you can get at the station – it’s not worth jumping around the region to get a marginally better deal,” was her advice. “Alternatively, if you accumulate enough of this stuff you can put a sell order on the market and interest some industrialist in coming here. In such case, they will be ready to pay a small premium for the bulk buy.”

“Strange,” said I, “I always thought that wholesale prices were lower.”

“It’s all about time. Time is money. An industrialist would rather collect all materials in one place than jump for days around New Eden to save a few thousand ISK.”

“Fair enough. I think I’ll keep the scraps for the time being. Now, let’s talk about greener pastures. Have you got anything interesting for me?”

“I surely have,” purred Annukka and sent me another mission brief.

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