The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station
2 February YC 121
On Saturday I took a break from educational activities. Didn’t have any special plans except visiting a restaurant recommended by Hakkaras. He warned me it was pricey but the food was excellent. I was getting tired of the bland grub served in the Academy canteen and welcomed an opportunity to try local haute cuisine. The restaurant was called Kōdo and proudly claimed that it sourced all produce exclusively from Uitra. Its menu was not extensive but featured exotic plants and animals, such as a particular species of crayfish found only in polar regions of the fourth planet which was completely covered by the ocean.
The agent was right about the food – it was delicious and immaculately presented. I didn’t mind the price – the whole bill could have been paid for by one minute of veldspar mining – but when I left the place I couldn’t say I felt full. Going back and asking for a second helping would probably constitute mauvais ton, so instead I went to the street cafe which I visited when I was doing Exploration course, and ordered a hearty Three-Cup Kana.
3 February YC 121
Refreshed after a day off, I came to Hakkaras’s office and requested a new mission.
“How opportune!” exclaimed the agent. “I urgently need 333 units of tritanium but I didn’t expect anyone to turn up on Sunday. Take a Civilian Miner, courtesy of Academy, mine some veldspar and refine it into tritanium. There might be pirates in the area but, as our forefathers said, forewarned is forearmed.”
I read somewhere that “Caldari schools had a very formal curriculum that focused primarily on the practical side of education”, which “resulted in a very dull and tedious learning process, but one that was remarkably efficient.” I didn’t thought my education was dull when I studied Math in Science and Trade Institute, but now I started seeing the truth of that description. Taking a deep breath, I made a desperate attempt to optimise my learning path and said, “Er… Mr Ihora, if you remember, I’ve told you that I have already attended Industry course where I studied mining extensively. Can we just skip this part and focus on something different?”
“Mr Korff,” replied Hakkaras mimicking my tone, “if you remember, I’ve already told you that Industry missions cannot be credited toward Business course. Who was your instructor in the Industry?”
“Mr Kokseri Velen.”
“Ha! Kokseri! What does he know about mining? He is a former fighter pilot who has found a cushy sinecure before retirement. What did he tell you about reprocessing?”
“Well, that during reprocessing ore is converted into minerals,” confidently said I. “And I’ve done it many times.”
“Very well. What did you reprocess?”
“Veldspar and scordite.”
“That’s all,” shrugged I.
“Aha. What do you do with scraps?”
“Metal scraps that you find in wrecks,” explained Hakkaras.
“Oh, those scraps. I have a few piles from Seeker drones but they don’t seem to be too valuable. Their market price is pretty low.”
“Why do you think people would buy them at all?”
“Honestly, no idea,” admitted I. “I hoped they would represent some scientific interest but people treat them as junk.”
“That junk, Mr Korff, can actually be reprocessed into minerals using pretty much the same method as for ore. Did you know that?”
“First time I hear about it.”
“You see,” said Hakkaras triumphantly, “there are huge gaps in your education. I simply can’t sign off on your mining and reprocessing assignment until I am satisfied that you know what you are doing.”
There was some truth in his words so reluctantly I accepted another ‘roid-drilling mission.
“Hello, magnate,” greeted me Aura when I boarded the capsule. “What are we doing today to expand your business empire?”
“Don’t ask,” I replied gloomily.
“Let me guess. Hey, wait, why are you loading the pod into Mole? Don’t tell me we are doing another mining mission.”
“I won’t; you said it yourself.”
“But why?” cried Aura.
“Apparently, my Industry education is not up to scratch. Hakkaras wants me to show him that I can reprocess veldspar and metal scraps.”
“Metal scraps? Why would one reprocess them?”
“Yeah, I didn’t know that too, but apparently you can extract minerals from them.”
“Hmm…” frowned Aura. “And where will we get those scraps?”
“Hakkaras promised to organise the presence of criminal elements in the area, so I am taking a scrap-making module with me.”
“Ooh, a new module. What is it called?”
“A railgun,” replied I and undocked.
The designated mission area was foggy and almost empty. The only objects that livened it up were a veldspar ‘roid, an old mining drill and some kind of a circular structure which looked suspiciously new.
I went into an orbit around the asteroid and activated my Miner. I didn’t take the civilian version provided by Hakkaras as I had a military-grade module from Industry course. The Miner ran a couple of mining cycles before a hooligan turned up. It was again a Guristas rookie that flew a Bantam-class frigate. He made a couple of circles, then targeted me and then… nothing happened. I expected the pirate to open fire but he just kept circling my Venture as if he put me on notice and expected me to flee in panic.
I waited for a while then targeted the Guristas in response. There was no reaction. I waited for another mining cycle and then, without stopping the industrial activity, activated my scrap-maker. A few rounds later the pirate ship was ready for reprocessing.
Having inspected the wreck I experienced mixed feelings of disappointment and excitement. On the one hand, the wreck did not have metal scraps that I’d like to reprocess; on the other hand, it had a box of small antimatter charges which could be fired by my railgun. So far, I only used iron charges which did a marvellous job when it came to Seeker drones and small-time thugs. I knew there was a range of charge types that could be used with a railgun but never had a chance to compare them. Here is what I found after loading the antimatter rounds:
- The optimal range reduced 3 times from 15 to 5 km.
- The falloff range decreased 2 times from 21 to 10 km.
- The damage rate increased almost 2.5 times from 6.2 to 14.8 dps.
It was perfect ammo for a front line brawler but for now I decided to keep my distance from uncouth elements and reloaded the gun with iron charges.
“So, where are the scraps?” asked Aura.
“Dunno. Maybe I should use a Salvager on that wreck.”
“What are we waiting for, then?”
“Er… I haven’t fitted a Salvager for this mission.”
Aura did a facepalm, “Why? It’s not like we are saving on fuel.”
“I have already had the Miner and the Railgun in high slots; there wasn’t space for a Salvager.”
“But you have three high-energy slots in a Venture!” exclaimed Aura.
“But there are only two turret hardpoints!” I raised my voice in annoyance.
“But a Salvager is not a turret; it does not require a hardpoint!” yelled Aura.
I was startled, “It doesn’t?”
“No, stupid! Sorry, I meant Captain Stupid.”
“Hmm…” murmured I taking time to cool down. “Anyway, we have to return to the station to fit that Salvager.”
Aura kept fraught silence all the way to the Academy and back. Finally, I surrendered and said, “Come on. You were right and I was wrong. Mistakes happen. Do you want to use the Salvager on that wreck?”
“Oh, may I?” lightened up Aura. “Lemme see. So, let’s target that pile of junk first. And activate the Salvager next. Yay!” she clapped her hands. “It’s working, it’s working!”
I smiled, “Of course, it is. You did everything right. Now let’s wait until it extracts something.”
After intense ten seconds I saw a message on the HUD: “The salvaging attempt has failed.”
“Why did it fail? What did I do wrong?” panicked Aura.
“Don’t worry. It’s normal. For one thing, we have just a civilian version of the Salvager and it has a very low rate of success. Also, we don’t possess any specialised salvaging skills. Let’s just be patient.”
We waited for another cycle and this time we were rewarded with a shiny heap of fresh metal scraps. The success of the operation was met by loud cheering from Aura and me.
“Now, let’s go back to the station and see what we can extract out of this junk,” said I and warped to Academy.
The scraps yielded 75% of the required tritanium which I complemented with the mineral refined from veldspar, and sent it to Hakkaras. As a reward, I got Reprocessing skillbook which I injected just in case; I didn’t really plan to get into smelting any time soon.