The Forge Region – Ruomo Constellation
28 December YC 120
After selling ‘Absolute’ Injection Augmentor I spent a whole day studying Caldari frigates catalogue and comparing their specs and bonuses. It was hard to choose one because I didn’t know what I actually needed. I realised that I simply wanted a new shiny ship, a new toy which was cooler than my corvette. At the same time, I didn’t really need one because when it came to bashing Seeker drones Yatagarasu was doing a commendable job. After much toing and froing, I decided to put the matter on ice until I actually had some requirements.
Then I got a call from Annukka.
“Hello, love,” she started in her familiar tone (which I didn’t really object to), “I know you are fond of missions with cool names. What do you say about one called Ancient Mysteries?”
“Shut up and take my money, of course. Where is the escape room?”
“You’ll be surprised but it’s here, in Itamo. CONCORD discovered a very old Seeker site which they believe contains some ancient relics. They need someone to disinfect it before they send in a salvage crew. And they are so keen to get it done that they will even sponsor your trip there. So, hon, are you game?”
“Always. Send the coordinates to Aura and I’ll buy some rat poison in the meantime.”
When I arrived to the site I was greeted by a team of five Seekers – one Eluder, two Circadians, and two Upholders. The latter were classified as battleships. I decided to focus on crunchier drones first and leave Upholders for dessert. It was the first time I faced five adversaries at once and I was glad that the Navy had foresight to send me Target Management skill injector which increased the number of targets I could lock exactly to five. But when I targeted three drones and tried to lock the fourth one, I got an error message saying that Ibis could lock only three targets. Heck, I was pushing the boundaries of my corvette’s abilities! Anyway, it was not critical; I could deal with it.
Five drones, as expected, caused more shield damage than three, but I stood my ground. I was a bit surprised at “battleship” classification of Upholders – they were only marginally tougher than Circadians. In the end, my railgun converted each one of them into a heap of space junk.
“Wow,” said Aura, “you are getting popular among drones. Next time I expect they send more, but today it’s game over for them.”
I smiled remembering how annoyed I was at the boilerplate “mission accomplished” announcements made by the previous incarnation of Aura. At that time NEOCOM notified me that a reward for Ancient Mysteries mission was transferred to my account. Ancient mysteries, hmm… Let’s see if I can find any before CONCORD arrives. Firstly, I inspected he Seeker wrecks; they were empty. Next, I looked at the structures. There were three new drone hangars, and I didn’t expect to find anything interesting there. I guess, the main attraction in that area was a shattered tower; it looked old enough to warrant the mission name. The tower was enveloped in a cloud of dust whose swirling caused a buildup of static electricity which now and then produced spectacular lightnings. I cautiously entered the dust cloud and approached the structure. Before I could come close enough to scan its contents I was hit by an electric discharge which stripped 20% of my shield! I panicked, made a U-turn and powered away using the afterburner. In the hindsight, it was clearly a stupid idea to get anywhere near the lightning storm in a shield-tanked ship. Shields were particularly vulnerable to electromagnetic damage, and even Ibis’s 8% bonus to all shield resistances didn’t do much to alleviate that weakness.
“Aura,” said I, “are you all right?”
“Kind of,” said Aura in a feeble voice, “but let’s never do it again.”
“Agree. Please let CONCORD know that they better bring armour-tanked ships to explore this tower.”
After the unnerving finale of Ancient Mysteries mission all I wanted was fly home and relax in a bar with a glass of ice-cold beer. Ha! A dreamer – Annukka had different plans for me as I immediately found out from her call.
“Hi, darl,” she said cheerfully, “five drones, whew! Good job. I hope you didn’t completely demolish the site. CONCORD researchers are salivating at the thought of artefacts they expect to find there.”
“If they are after the drones, they can stay in their labs – there is nothing salvageable. But the tower is intact. Next time I’ll bring a dreadnought just to blow the thing up and check what’s inside.”
“Good boy,” murmured Annukka. “Now, are you up to another mission today?”
“No way. I am going home.”
“What? Any ship damage?” asked Annukka in a concerned voice.
“No, not really. Only shield, and it has almost restored. Aura and I just want to have a bit of R&R.”
“Mmm… I see. What if I told you that the mission I have in mind is pretty easy? It’s also very urgent and you are the only capsuleer who is close enough to get there in time. CONCORD has discovered some kind of rift in space and they are afraid that it can close soon. Unfortunately, the area of interest is guarded by a Seeker and they can’t send an exploration ship there. They ask you to clear the place.”
I didn’t really feel like doing another mission but, honestly, I didn’t have a good reason not to. Half-heartedly I tried to wiggle out of that offer.
“How many Seekers are there?” asked I.
“Oh, just one and a small specimen, for that matter, judging by its signature radius. And one more thing, sorry, forgot to mention, CONCORD is paying a high premium on this mission, and the Navy will give you a special reward if you complete it in the next two hours.”
“Er… I can’t tell you now but trust me, you’ll like it.”
“Trust you?” teased I.
Annukka made round eyes, “Have I ever let you down?”
“Apart from sending me to dangerous places filled with murderous machines which were intent on killing me? No, never. Okay, where is that hooligan?”