The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station
4 February YC 121
This morning, when I walked into Hakkaras’s office, he met me with a look of concern.
“Trouble?” asked I.
“Not really, more like an annoyance,” replied the agent. “That data chip that you brought yesterday, it has a bloody strong code.”
“Maybe I can try to hack it?”
“Oh, no. There are no active defences like firewalls, it’s just pure encryption. Look, I have a friend in Saisio system; he works for SuVee and has specialised hardware for this sort of thing. Would you mind bringing this chip to him? He is our best hope.”
“Let me guess,” smirked I. “This is not part of the curriculum but it can be credited toward the course because transportation can be a really lucrative business if you do it right. Right?”
Hakkaras winked and clicked his tongue, “You are getting a hang of it. We may still make a businessman out of you. So, are you in?”
“Send that chip to my hangar, and tell your friend to start walking toward the docks.”
“Thanks a lot, Vladimir. By the way, I can give you an overdrive injector system to speed your ship up.”
“Why would I need it? It’s not like I am going to slowboat all those AUs between gates,” frowned I.
“It’s up to you. You can keep it anyway.”
I saluted and left the office.
Having loaded the chip into Ampuhaukka, I undocked and woke up Aura, “Sorry to bother you, Sleeping Beauty. We have a mission but it’s gonna be real boring, unless we take a scenic route through J-space.”
“Whadawedo?” asked Aura pretending to yawn.
“The war academics tried to crack the chip we brought yesterday, but the code turned out to be too strong for them. We are ferrying this tough nut to a whiz kid in Saisio who eats those chips for breakfast.”
Aura suddenly looked interested, “May I try to crack it?”
“Er… I don’t see why not? If that information is classified, it’s not by State, only by Guristas, and I can’t care less for their classifications. But how will you get information out of it? I am not going to walk, dripping and slipping, all the way to the cargo hold in order to connect the cables to the chip.”
“That’s not a problem. The chip has a wireless interface. So may I?”
“Go for it,” said I and jumped to Unpas.
“Hmm…” said Aura a few seconds later. “This encoding looks hellishly complicated. The capsule computer does not have enough power to crack it. May I use Ampuhaukka’s CPU?”
I checked my fitting and said, “You can use 167.2 teraflops if you need them. Hope this helps.”
“Thank you,” exclaimed Aura and went silent.
I jumped through Shihuken and Tuuriainas systems into Geras and was on my way Nomaa gate, when I glanced at the HUD. What I saw there made my skin crawl – all my railguns were offline. I tried to put them back online but got an error message informing me that there was not enough CPU power.
“Aura,” I cried, “how much computing capacity did you take from Ampuhaukka?”
“Oh, about that – I found out that it had 225 teraflops, so I used them all. It’s actually very helpful, now we have a non-zero probability of cracking the code in the next 12 months.”
“Idiot!” moaned I. “Do you realise what you have done? You have off-lined all our guns so we are now flying completely unprotected. If a pirate gang blows us up, you will lose your memory because of your own stupidity, but the worst thing is that you will not remember it and will probably do it again. Now, release all Ampuhaukka’s computers immediately!”
Aura looked at me sheepishly, “May I still use those 167.2 teraflops?”
“All of it, I said. Now!” snapped I.
“Done,” whispered Aura and sniffed.
I looked at her for a few moments and sighed, “What should I do with you, Aura? First, you stuff up, then you make me feel guilty because I yelled at you.”
Aura looked down, “Don’t shout at me. And don’t call me names. It upsets me.”
I made a pause while I was onlining the railguns and then jumping to Nomaa. Turning my attention back to Aura I saw that she was still not looking at me. I felt a knot forming in my stomach and said, “Um… Aura, I am sorry for shouting at you and calling you an idiot.”
Aura looked at me sullenly and said, “I… I am sorry that I offlined the guns.”
We stared at each other for a few seconds, then started smiling, and then laughing. By the time we arrived to SuVee station we made our best effort to leave that incident behind. As we were docking, I thought to myself that even if I didn’t know what I should do with Aura, I knew for sure that I couldn’t do without her.