The Forge Region – Ruomo Constellation
30 December YC 120
Today, next thing after breakfast I went to Annukka’s office with a hope of getting a mission. I was eager to try out my new ship in a battle.
“Hello, sweetheart,” Annukka greeted me. “Did you like your last mission reward?”
“It’s awesome. Thanks heaps! I called it Ampuhaukka.”
“Ooh, cute. My gramps used to hunt with one of those!”
“Did he? I thought the art of falconry was long lost, but there you go. By the way, talking about hunting, the bird’s got a name but it needs proper baptism by fire, if you know what I mean,” winked I.
“Ah, fair enough. Let me see what I’ve got,” said Annukka and looked at the monitor. “Here, this should be a good one to ease your new frigate into the military career – a mission called Radiation Hazard. There are no ships, just an abandoned Seeker enclave that you need to blow up.”
“I tried that before; those things are way too tough for small-calibre guns.”
“You shouldn’t have a problem with this one. The enclave is severely damaged, and its reactor is exposed and emits dangerous radiation. All you need to do is to shoot at that reactor and speed up its inevitable explosion.”
“What kind of radiation?” I asked suspiciously, remembering how a lightning blasted Yatagarasu’s shield during Ancient Mysteries mission.
“Er… I don’t know. CONCORD didn’t provide more details,” shrugged Annukka.
I remembered Aura’s words “If everyone did their job properly…”
“Annukka, you said you knew Caldari frigates. If that is true then you know that their shields have different resistances to different types of damage. It is extremely important for me to know what kind of damage is expected during the mission so that I can fit my ship appropriately, if I accept that mission at all. Next time you offer me a mission please make sure that all relevant details are provided. Imagine that you are sending your brother to the war zone.”
“I hate my brother, but I know what you mean,” replied Annukka stiffly. “Give me five minutes.”
She was obviously unhappy that I implied she was negligent in preparing the mission brief, but she was a professional and admitted the fairness of my request.
Some time later she said, “CONCORD detected intense infrared emissions, so the expected damage is thermal.”
That wasn’t too bad; with all the bonuses thermal resistance of my shield was 33%, twice higher than EM resistance.
“Sounds good,” said I, “but I really hoped for some combat action, not just structure bashing.”
“Don’t have anything else at the moment, but something might turn up while you are wrecking the enclave,” replied Annukka and turned to the monitor indicating that the conversation was over.
“Okay, I’ll take this one,” sighed I and headed to the hangar.
I warped in at 50 kilometres range from the enclave and immediately started taking damage. Not much but the clock was ticking. I turned on the afterburner, targeted the enclave and zoomed towards it.
With the new railgun and iron charges my fall-off distance was 21 kilometres, so I started pounding the structure well before I reached it. Apparently, the reactor was teetering on the brink of meltdown, as it only took a few volleys to trigger the explosion. It was a spectacular and eerily silent display of raw, uncontained power. Ampuhaukka was rocked by the shock-wave, but the pod goo buffered it well.
“Cool,” drawled Aura, “I wish there was something else to blow up but unfortunately this mission is over.”
Three railguns indeed made the missions shorter.
I called Annukka, “Hello, Vlad’s here. The mission is done. It felt like the blooming thing was sitting there half-dead and waiting for a coup de grâce. I understand that I didn’t give you much time but have you found anything else for me?”
“Oh, a long time ago,” curtly replied Annukka. “We have a situation at a mining colony.”
“What? Similar to Trouble at the Mine mission?”
“No, this time the Seekers are not trying to kill anyone, but they are stealing veldspar.”
“Fucking bastards!” exclaimed I. “As if miners didn’t have enough trouble with pirates.” Selling ore was almost the only source of income for mining colonies. Smaller ones eked out just enough profit to keep them afloat from transport to transport; they had no savings. If someone, or something, stole their veldspar the whole colony would go broke and probably starve to death.
There was no time to waste, so I fired a volley of questions at Annukka, “Where is the colony? How many Seekers are there? What type?”
This time Annukka was ready, “The colony is in Itamo; Aura already has the coordinates. Three drones, all Circadian Seekers. Anything else you need?”
“No, that’s pretty comprehensive. Good job,” said I, showing my appreciation of a thoroughly prepared mission brief.
“Thanks,” Annukka flashed a brief smile, “and good luck.”
I nodded and signed off.
“Aura, get us to that colony,” said I.
“Aye, aye, Captain,” replied Aura and we warped to the mission location.
When we arrived I saw three Seekers which immediately targeted Ampuhaukka and started firing missiles at us.
“Vlad, it doesn’t look like they are going to fight to the end,” warned me Aura. “Their heat signatures indicate that they are warming up their warp drives. They use an outdated model which takes about five minutes to form a warp bubble, but if we don’t put them down earlier then they will escape with the stolen veldspar.”
“Got it,” I answered brusquely and turned on the afterburner.
Fighting in a Merlin was pure pleasure. Starting from the distance of 50 klicks it took me less than a minute to get into my fall-off range. Once I was there, two-three volleys from 125-mm railgun was enough to blow each Circadian Seeker. The whole mission was finished in less than two minutes.
This time I refrained from kicking the drone corpses. Firstly, I didn’t want to pulverise hard-earned veldspar which was still in their cargo bays. Secondly, unlike Civilian Gatling Railgun which generated its own ammunition from space particles, the military-grade turret required proper ammo which I had to pay for. I wasn’t going to waste it on dead drones.
After a short exchange with the colony management, I confirmed that they didn’t need more assistance and warped back to my station. It was time to take a break and enjoy Yoiul festivities. No more missions this year!