The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station
28 February YC 121
After my escape from the stone cage surrounding the illegal gate I took a day off to calm my nerves. Today I planned to talk to Tarumo regarding the next mission but he contacted me first asking to come to his office.
I greeted the agent and then asked the question which was at the back of my mind for some time, “Mr Tarumo, why do you always ask me to come to your office? Can’t you give me assignments over the commlink?”
“Information about your deployments is confidential. By briefing you in the office I can ensure that no one else can intercept it,” explained Tarumo.
“But what’s so secret about these missions?”
“It’s part of standard OPSEC procedures. Each assignment does not represent a lot of value for our adversaries; it is just a little piece of a puzzle. If, however, someone can gather a few of those pieces then he can get a glimpse of a bigger picture.”
“And what is that picture?” asked I.
Tarumo gave me a long, piercing look and then said, “I understand you are new to military operations, Mr Korff. It will serve you well to remember that such questions immediately add a red flag to your dossier. I’ll put this incident down to your inexperience but any recurrence may severely limit the range of operations you have access to.”
That rebuke sent shivers down my spine – the last thing I needed was an accusation of spying, so I hurried to explain myself, “I am sorry, Mr Tarumo. That was simple curiosity but now I realise that it was misplaced.”
“That’s understood,” said Tarumo curtly indicating that the subject was closed. “Now, let’s talk about the next piece of the puzzle – Tahamar.”
“You’ve found him?” I asked impatiently.
A wry smile briefly appeared on the agent’s face, “I wish we did, but just like with the miner, the pirates are one step ahead of us. Tahamar has contacted us himself; he wants to meet you one-on-one at a small repair outpost.”
“Did he say why?”
“No. And the objective of your mission will be to find that out.”
“You mean, you just want me to go there and talk to him?”
“This is the main objective,” confirmed Tarumo. “But…” he made a pause, “this pirate has assassinated some good people I knew, so his death will not be any great loss.”
“Understood,” I nodded with a smile.
“And in case your conversation turns… hmm… physical, you will benefit from fitting a Civilian Kinetic Deflection Field granted to you by the Academy for this mission.”
“Yes, that’s the primary type of damage dealt by Guristas missiles,” said Tarumo.
I thanked the agent and went out.
“Remember Tahamar?” I asked Aura.
“Of course, I do!” exclaimed she. “That’s exactly the type of person I warned you against – rude and arrogant. I don’t want to meet him or his kind again!”
“Regardless of your wishes, we’ll have to. He wants to talk to me.”
“So what? It takes two to talk. Why would you want to see him?”
I sighed, “Two reasons. Firstly, it’s a mission. Tarumo is so interested to know what Tahamar wants to discuss with me that he will pay a reward for it. Secondly, that Tahamar is infamous not only for his potty mouth; he is also an assassin. And this mission gives us an opportunity to improve the universe by removing that asshole from it.”
“Now we are talking!” said Aura excitedly and rubbed her hands.
The repair outpost was a group of structures enveloped in a cloud of waste gases. The structures were surrounded by eight big antennas which were constantly scanning the space. I wondered why a repair shop would need such advanced surveillance capabilities, but my train of thought was interrupted by an incoming transmission from Tahamar. He congratulated me on surviving my previous encounters with the pirates and escaping the stargate trap and then – you won’t believe it – he offered me to join Guristas! I was so shocked that I was at loss for words. All I could say was “You, motherfucker!” after which I engaged the pirate.
Tahamar was flying Pithi Wrecker which looked very much like my Merlin. This time I decided not to push my luck with the short-range blasters and orbited the pirate at 14 klicks – an optimal range for rails with iron charges. The deflection shield provided by the Academy was totally superfluous as the afterburner easily kept me out of the range of Tahamar’s missiles. His ship, though, was taking steady damage from my two railguns. This fight did not end as quickly as my previous ones since Pithi Wrecker was equipped with a good shield booster. Still, his shield restoration rate was lower than my DPS and, given that I was out of his weapon range, there could be only one outcome. When the Wrecker exploded, Aura and I greeted the fireworks with loud cheers which turned into a disappointed whine as a capsule emerged from the debris. Before warping out, Tahamar managed to send one last message promising, or threatening, to meet me again.