The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station
23 February YC 121
For two days after my encounter with Tahamar I tried to contact Tarumo but he was not taking the calls. The recorded out-of-office message informed me that Mr Ranta Tarumo was away on official business until further notice. Without him my military career training stalled and I was left to my own devices.
On Saturday I was browsing news when a particular heading caught my eye and made me jump and run to the docks. On my way there I called Aura and yelled, “It’s on!”
Aura made a show of yawning and stretching and then asked, “Where is the fire?”
“In Jita! Burn Jita is on!”
Here eyes lit with interest, “So there is a fire? Not fake news like the last time?”
“Don’t think so, it’s a respectable news outlet. The event started on Friday, so we still have time to watch it.”
“Cool, what are we flying?”
I slowed down, “I didn’t really think about it. What do you suggest?”
A mischievous expression appeared on Aura’s face, “So we expect there will be a lot of blown up ships?”
I changed the pace from a jog to a walk and said, “Yes. What are you up to?”
“Their wrecks will be full of loot. Let’s take the Heron and plunder them!”
“Aura!” I was shocked. “It’s a criminal offence to loot wrecks which belong to other people.”
“Yes, but in CONCORD’s books you will be just a suspect, not a criminal, so you’ll have a chance to escape.”
“You mean, thief is not the one who steals, but the one that is caught?”
“Exactly,” Aura nodded happily, delighted that I finally got her idea.
I took a deep breath, “Aura, I’ll say it only once and there will be no argument about it – stealing is not just criminal, it’s also immoral and unethical. I am not going to engage in such activity regardless of my prospects of being caught. Is it understood?”
Aura frowned and pouted her lips, “I thought it would be fun.”
I repeated my question, “Do you understand what I’ve said?”
Aura sighed and muttered, “I do.” Then she brightened up, “What about salvaging?”
I stopped to think. Salvaging was not a crime. I knew that, traditionally, pirate hunters had the right of first refusal to salvage the pirate ships that they had killed. In case of Burn Jita event the attackers were themselves pirates so I didn’t think that the tradition extended to them. Also, apart from innocent victims there would be a lot of pirate ships destroyed by CONCORD, and CONCORD never laid any claim to the wrecks.
“Well,” I said hesitantly, “we might try.”
“Yeah!” cheered Aura and clapped her hands. “Let’s go shopping!”
“What for? I have a Salvager.”
“Ha! With your salvaging skills it will take ages to extract anything out of a wreck. We need two more salvagers to increase your chances.”
That made sense, so we loaded the capsule into Haikarat and flew to Jita. Approaching Jita gate in Perimeter I looked around with curiosity but could not see anything spectacular; the same scene awaited me on the other side of the gate. It seemed to be business as usual but then I noticed a strange cloud formation in the distance. Zooming in I discovered that it was a blob of CONCORD ships which were circling a Coercer wreck.
The Forge Region – Kimotoro Constellation
At Jita trade hub I bought and installed two more salvagers and went out to watch the show and do a bit of scavenging. After five minutes of waiting on the undock spot of the station Aura asked me, “So, where is that giant-slaying spectacle?”
“No idea,” shrugged I. “Doesn’t have to be the trade hub though. Let’s check the gates.”
After visiting all star gates I found that the Perimeter connection was the centre of activity. On my overview I discovered a few wrecks which might have contained salvageable electronic parts. I targeted one of them but as soon as I approached it, the wreck suddenly started moving! Taking a closer look I found that it was dragged by a beam emanating from a Mobile Tractor Unit. I tried to chase it but it was too fast. Even with the afterburner my max velocity was 877 m/s while the tractor beam moved the scraps at a speed of one kilometre per second. Aura laughed at my lame wreck-catching attempt, but it didn’t discourage me because eventually it should come to rest near that MTU where I should be able to salvage it in peace.
When the wreck stopped I was still some distance away from it. Before I could get into the Salvager working range that bloody pile of junk started flying in a different direction. Apparently, as soon as the tractor unit had released the wreck, another unit, anchored nearby, picked it up and started dragging it to itself. There was a brief moment when I was within 5 km radius of the wreck and turned on my Salvagers, but then it whizzed out of the range. Aura laughed even harder.
Clenching my teeth I returned to the trade hub and installed three Small Auxiliary Thruster rigs which increased my max speed to 990 m/s. Back at the Perimeter gate I discovered that the rigs didn’t really improve my chances to catch wrecks – if I was even one metre out of the Salvager range, and I usually was, the distance to the wreck just kept growing by 10 metres per second. Aura was hysterical.
Cursing the tractors, I once more went to the trade hub and installed a 5MN Microwarpdrive instead of the Afterburner. The fitting program indicated that with the MWD and three Salvagers activated I would run out of capacitor in 20 seconds. That was not good enough, so I installed two Small Cap Batteries which gave me almost 2 minutes of capacitor usage, but I couldn’t activate them because my power grid output was too low. To compensate for that I replaced one of the Inertial Stabilizers with Micro Auxiliary Power Core. After all these manipulations I ended up with a bastard fit which was good only for chasing and salvaging wrecks that hurtled across the battlefield at a supersonic speed.
At last properly equipped, I returned to space only to discover that all wrecks were gone. I checked the trade hub and all gates twice and could not find a single heap of metal scraps. At that point Aura collapsed on a table in convulsions. I watched her for a few moments, then said “Fuck it all!” and flew my incredibly fast but absolutely useless Heron back to the Academy. There I spent the rest of the day in a corner of a bar from which I could not see the ubiquitous news screens with a rolling coverage of Burn Jita event.