The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station
12 January YC 121
After finishing my part in Seeker Investigation I was given a choice of four career agents: Business, Exploration, Industry and Military. I planned to try them all but started with Exploration because it had a hint of mystery and also because Gerhardt once told me it would suit my programming background. The career agent called Chigas Ovoken was located in Uitra system which was five jumps away from Itamo. Although Uitro was a hi-sec system I decided to fly there in a fully-fitted Merlin, you know, just in case.
Chigas had a serious look and a constant frown on his face which, as I soon found out, concealed an amicable nature.
“So you want to learn about Exploration? Then you are in the right place,” he shook my hand. “Although I can’t say the same about myself. I don’t know why someone thought it was a bright idea to organise Exploration courses in War Academy; we have no Exploration specialists here. Last time I mentioned a Core Probe Launcher to a flight instructor, he asked me what type of missile it was firing,” here Chigas rolled his eyes.
“The staff situation is so bad,” continued he, “that we have to hire contractors from Sisters of Eve. In all honesty, the Exploration training module should be taught by your Science and Trade Institute. Would save you a trip,” Chigas gave me a wink.
“Oh, that’s not a problem at all,” said I. “I’ve spent all my life in Itamo. It’s nice, once in a while, to get out and see the world.”
“You’ll like it in Uitro. It’s a quiet cul-de-sac; nothing happens here which can disrupt you studies. Speaking of which, when do you want to begin?”
“Mmm… I don’t know. How long does the course take? Should I look for long-term accommodation?”
“No, no, no. Exploration is what we call a ‘short course’. Some bright pilots actually finished it in a day, but I recommend to allow at least 2-3 days so that you have time to properly absorb the material.”
“Right, so it’s not something one can learn through a skillbook?”
Chigas laughed, “Luckily, not. Otherwise, I would be out of business. Still, there are some skillbooks that will help you with exploration activities, but you don’t need them straight away.”
“Well,” said I, “if it’s just 3 days I can stay in the hotel room that I’ve booked. Which means I am ready to start training now.”
“Excellent,” said Chigas, “then I can give you your first mission.”
“Mission?” frowned I.
“Yes, sorry, forgot to mention. The whole course is structured as a sequence of missions. As with any mission, you will have a time limit, a reward for successful completion and a standing increase.”
“Did I hear it right? A reward? You provide tuition and you pay me for learning?”
“Yes, it’s a State-sponsored education programme, and the mission rewards are a form of scholarship.”
I shook my head in disbelief, “Amazing. On such conditions, I’ll be an eternal student here.”
Chigas guffawed and slapped my back, “If I could spend my life learning new things and someone paid for it, I would sign up myself, but they are not fools, the government. There is a limited number of missions and you can take each one only once. Even if you could repeat them you’d probably get bored pretty soon.”
“I guess, I would,” admitted I, “but I am not yet. So, what have you got for me?”
“The first mission is pretty simple,” said Chigas. “Undock, find Anomaly Training Site and warp there. You’ll find a container with a document called Proof of Discovery. Retrieve it and bring it back to me.”
“And how will I find that site?”
“If your sensor overlay is on, you’ll see it on your HUD. Alternatively, go to Probe Scanner and it will show you a neat list of all cosmic anomalies and signatures in the system. By the way, the site will be classified as combat but don’t worry about it – we have cleared the area.”
“Sounds simple enough,” said I.
And it was. Initially, I tried to locate the site on my HUD but it was a tiresome process. I then called the Probe Scanner interface and immediately found several such sites in the list. The area contained a nondescript container with one datacore labelled “Proof of Discovery”. I collected it and returned to the station. For this “mission” I received 101,000 ISK as a reward and 95,000 ISK as a bonus for completing the task within 6 hours. It probably took more time to print that amount of kredits than to earn them! On top of that, my standing with Chigas increased by 0.918, and with State War Academy by 0.08.
“That was easy,” I told Chigas. “If all missions are like this one, then indeed, I can finish them in a day. Or could, if I arrived earlier.”
“No, the first mission is really basic. Others will be either more difficult, or more time-consuming. Want another one?”
“Yeah, why not? I need some entertainment to pass the time before dinner.”
“Entertainment, you said? That’s exactly what I have for you. The second mission is mostly sightseeing – you will visit data, relic and gas sites, so that you’ll have an idea what to look for during real expeditions. And by the way, leave your Merlin in the dock – we’ll give you some specialised equipment, including a Bantam-class frigate.”
“Bantam?” I was surprised. “But it’s a logistics ship! If you are to give away a frigate for exploration, it should be Heron.”
Chigas raised his hands, “I agree wholeheartedly. Instead of budgeting for ridiculously high mission bonuses, they should have used that money to procure appropriate equipment. On the other hand, after finishing the first two missions you will earn enough kredits to buy a Heron yourself.”
“Fair enough, I can fly a Bantam for now. Send me the mission brief.”
“Oh, there isn’t much. All information will be provided during the mission by SOE instructor Rulie Isoryn,” he then did something on his datapad, “and I’ve sent the mission location to your Aura. See you later.”
I saluted and went to the docks.