The Forge Region – Ruomo Constellation
26 December YC 120
Today Annukka contacted me and said that CONCORD thought the seekers were building new complexes in the Caldari State space. They scanned down a suspicious site and wanted me to investigate it. The mission was called Measuring the Threat.
“What, just go there, take a look and get back?” I asked sarcastically.
“I told you not to pay attention to the mission names; they are silly. CONCORD doesn’t pay for leisure trips. Take your railgun with you,” replied Annukka.
I followed her advice and wasn’t disappointed. The site was guarded by a couple of Seekers – in addition to my old friend Circadian there was also a new type of drone identified as Seeker Eluder. The last one was quite nimble and my guns had hard time tracking it, but it was also pretty fragile and it took just a few hits to eliminate the pesky bot.
After dispatching the guards I confirmed that the Seekers were indeed trying to get a foothold in Itamo system. They managed to construct an engineering complex which, no doubt, was intended to build more drones and stations. I reported my findings back to Annukka. She congratulated me on the discovery and informed me that the mission reward was non-monetary, just as in case of Fortress in the Rocks. Instead, I was getting a skill injector for Level III Target Management which increased the number of targets I could track by one. Currently, I could lock up to four targets, but I never encountered more than three hostiles at once. I took the fact that the Navy decided to improve that skill as a sign of times to come.
Later that day Annukka asked me to scout out a cloud formation where CONCORD detected strange emissions. They thought there was a secret Seekers laboratory. Annukka told me to be careful as Seeker signals were also detected there. While I was undocking, Aura loaded the mission details.
“Hmm…” she said, “I think CONCORD didn’t tell us the whole story. In fact, there are several Seeker signatures detected in the area.”
“Didn’t they say there were Seeker signals?”
“They did but it’s not the same as signatures. Signals are any kind of Seeker communications which may be emitted by a lab, a station, or even by a retranslator. A signature, though, is a ship footprint. So they knew there were ships in the area but didn’t tell us.”
I scowled, “I wonder why.”
“Probably a simple human error – someone just forgot to mention that in the mission brief.”
“Wait a moment. If it wasn’t in the brief how did you know about it?”
“Er…” Aura looked embarrassed, “I just read through CONCORD scanning reports.”
“And how did you get those? I believe they are classified.”
“I just persuaded the Navy AI to persuade CONCORD AI to provide those reports to us.”
“Look me in the eye, Aura. Is it legal?”
“Oh, well, it’s not exactly illegal,” said Aura defiantly, “If everyone did their job properly there would be no need for that. You see, according to our contract with the Navy, they must provide all relevant information about that mission. Same condition is in the agreement between the Navy and CONCORD. In theory, the Navy can request further details about the mission from CONCORD, but they didn’t because they sub-contracted us and they don’t give a damn if we get blown up.”
“Aha, and because we are not in the Navy, we cannot request that info ourselves.”
“Exactly, but since we are running this mission on behalf of the Navy, in a certain legal sense we are the Navy representatives. It’s a very weak association but I managed to stretch it far enough to tip the Navy AI’s fuzzy logic into accepting our status. Then, on my request it made enquiries with CONCORD AI, got all those reports and passed them to me.”
I was impressed.
“Smart girl!” said I, and Aura made a spectacle showing she was blushing, even though her hologram was in blue monochrome. “Now, warp us to that cloud.”
When we arrived, I noticed three hostiles about 10-15 klicks away. Before I could mutter “WTF”, one of them closed the distance and started harassing my shields with rockets. The thing was called Seeker Elite Interceptor and it was blinding fast and agile. I targeted all three drones and started the fight with the interceptor. I soon found that it was just like the Eluder from the previous mission – nimble but crunchy. After finishing it off I switched to two other drones which were Seeker Retainers. They tried to pull away from me, but had no chance after I activated my afterburner. Soon, the only reminder of hostilities that took place there were three wrecks none of which, to my deep satisfaction, was mine.
I looked around and said, “Can’t see any lab here; only Sleeper Drone Hangar which appears to be empty.”
“While you were whacking those brain-dead Seekers, I think I noticed something near that asteroid,” said Aura. “Can you fly around it?”
Having circled the asteroid, I found that it was U-shaped and that, nestled neatly between the two walls, there was a structure.
“A pretty clever choice of location for brain-dead,” I teased Aura.
“I am not sure it belongs to Seekers,” she replied. “Look at its classification.”
I checked my overview and whistled – the structure was identified as Cartel Research Outpost. I didn’t know what to make of it. Was it an Angel Cartel outpost captured by Seekers? Were the Angels cooperating with the drones? Or were the Seekers, in fact, manufactured by the Angels? I had no idea and decided to leave it to the eggheads in CONCORD research teams. My job was done here.