Making Mountains of Molehills

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

18 January YC 121

My next course was Industry so it was time to say good-bye to the War Academy. I boarded the capsule and gave the station crew a command to load it to my new Heron.

“Aura, darling,” said I, “get us to the nearest Industry Career Agent.”

“Autopilot disabled. Waypoint reached,” answered Aura imitating autopilot’s voice.

“What do you mean, ‘waypoint reached’?”

“Congratulations, Captain. You have safely arrived to the location of Industry Career Agent Kokseri Velen.”

“But… but why is he here, in the War Academy?” I asked a question which meant to be rhetoric.

“Dunno. Maybe he is training combat Venture pilots. Why don’t you ask him yourself?”

I called the station crew and told them to unload my capsule. Cursing and dripping I scrambled out of the pod. The crane operator gave me a funny look.

“Sorry,” I smiled apologetically, “a change of plans.”

The operator shrugged and joined a group of his mates. I heard one of them ask, “What? Forgot to take a piss?”

Another guy replied, “It never stopped them,” and the whole company guffawed.

I pretended not to have heard anything.

Kokseri Velen
Kokseri Velen

Kokseri Velen had a no-nonsense demeanour of a person who was used to giving orders. He greeted me by crushing my hand in his grip and saying, “Welcome to the War Academy, Vladimir. Our State needs more miners and manufacturers and we’ll make one of yourself in no time.”

“Thank you, Kokseri, but it’s actually not my first time at the Academy. I have just finished Exploration course.”

“Ah, scanning-shmanning; that’s all child’s play. Here you will learn how to do honest work. We need to build ships, Vladimir, and ships need tritanium, and tritanium is produced from veldspar. Them explorers are not going to bring us veldspar, but miners will. So when you are going to choose your career, Vladimir, make sure that you’ve got your priorities right.”

“Er… Yes. Sure. So, when can we start?” asked I trying to finish this uncomfortable conversation.

“Ready when you are, Vladimir.”

“Well, I am ready now.”

“Very good,” boomed Kokseri. “Here is your first mission. Fit a Miner to your ship – we’ll give you one – go to the specified location and mine a hundred cubic metres of veldspar. Questions?”

“No questions!” replied I almost adding ‘Sir’ at the end.

“Off you go then.”

When I came back to the docks the Miner was already waiting for me in my items hangar. I decided to fit it to my new Heron, not because it was more suitable for mining than Merlin or Bantam, but because I wanted to try it out. The same crane operator before loading my pod into the frigate made a pause, as if giving me time to make up my mind, then snorted and proceeded with the operation.

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station – Mission Location

The Heron handled pretty well; it was not as fast as Bantam, but was more agile. I called it Haikarat.

Haikarat, Heron-class Frigate
Haikarat, Heron-class Frigate

After warping to the provided location I saw a lone veldspar asteroid.

“So, what do I do now?” I asked Aura.

“According to the Miner instruction manual, you need to target the asteroid first,” replied she.

“Target the asteroid? Right. I hope it won’t think I am aggressing it. Done. What’s next?”

Miner I
Miner I

“Now you need to move within 10 klicks of the asteroid and fire the Miner at it.”

“Fire a Miner? Is it going to blow the ‘roid apart?” I said sarcastically, finding the notion of firing at asteroids pretty silly.

“Don’t get smart with me,” Aura rolled her eyes, “just activate the bloody thing.”

“As you say, darling,” replied I and fired the Miner.

Nothing really dramatic happened. The Miner emitted a laser beam which started evaporating the surface of the asteroid. At the same time, a tractor beam sucked the veldspar debris into my cargo hold.

Mining a Veldspar Asteroid
Mining a Veldspar Asteroid

“And now what?” wondered I.

“Just wait until the Miner extracts enough ore.”

“Do I need to control it?”


“Can I do anything to make the process faster?”


“So what, I just have to sit and watch?” asked I irritably.

“We-ell,” drawled Aura, “you can entertain me with a pleasant conversation.”

“Entertain you?” snorted I. “It’s me who is bored and is in need of entertainment.”

“Okay, lemme check my repertoire. Oh, hold on, you’ve got enough ore already. Turn the Miner off!”

I complied and then asked, “What? We already have a hundred cubic metres?”

“We’ve got more – one hundred and four,” replied Aura.

“What do we do with those extra four cubic metres?”

“Dunno,” shrugged Aura. “Smelt them and make a tritanium bathtub.”

I shook my head and warped to the station.

Kokseri inspected my mining ledger and slapped my back, “Well done, Vladimir. You’ve finished your assignment within six hours so you are entitled to a bonus. Are you ready for a new mission?”

“Er… Give me an hour, Kokseri. I haven’t had my lunch yet.”

“As you wish. I’ll be expecting you here at 1200 EST,” said Kokseri and turned to his monitor.

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