The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station
22 May YC 121
The captives that I rescued in the previous mission were all well-off businessmen who had been kidnapped and held for ransom. When the doors of their transport container opened and they found themselves in the Academy Station instead of the Guristas prison, the hostages were so elated that they went straight to the bar to celebrate their lucky escape. I found myself in the centre of their carouse as they thought that I was single-handedly responsible for their rescue. I decided not to confuse the escapees with the details of the operation and let them shout drinks for me all night long. The upshot of that revelry was that next day I woke up in the afternoon with a royal hangover. Having glimpsed my mug in the mirror, I shuddered in horror and took the day off.
A day of abstinence did wonders to my cloned body and on Wednesday I felt ready for the next assignment and called Ijumachi to check if he had a new mission ready.
“For you, my friend, there is always something,” replied the agent and invited me to his office.
I rolled my eyes at such blatant exaggeration as I thought back to the time when he was away for several weeks coordinating an operation against Gallente insurgents. Anyway, ten minutes later I settled comfortably in a familiar visitor’s chair by Ijumachi’s desk.
“You acquitted yourself well in the fleet engagement,” said the agent and smiled. “You know, some of the guys you rescued are still toasting your health at The Abyss Bar.”
I remembered Tuesday morning and swallowed hard, “They should have thought of my health when they were nearly force-feeding me with the most expensive alcohol they could find in this station.”
“Well, if you continue your military career, you will often find yourself in the limelight. Sometimes it might burn you,” said Ijumachi philosophically.
I winced, “Thank you for your wisdom, Mr Vuonolailen. Next time I’ll tell the hostages that you have masterminded the whole operation.”
Ijumachi laughed, “I see that you’ve learned more lessons than one in the course of that mission.”
“Talking about missions. You said you had something new for me. I hope that something will be more on the offensive side.”
“Erm… Yes and no. As part of the advanced military training you are supposed to learn how to use various modules which increase your chances of winning a fight. You are already acquainted with a warp disruptor, now it’s time to study stasis webifiers. These mid-slot modules are used to…”
“Excuse me, Mr Vuonolailen,” interrupted I. “I know what they do and I have already used them.”
The agent raised his brow, “When and how?”
“Remember Weapon of Choice mission when I had to destroy a pirate with missiles? To increase damage application I equipped my Condor with two stasis webifiers and used them on the target.”
Ijumachi looked impressed, “A commendable initiative and an apt fitting decision, Mr Korff! I am glad to see that you don’t simply follow the textbook recommendations but do your own research.”
“Thank you, Mr Vuonolailen. Given my experience with the webs, can we move on to another subject?”
The agent drummed his fingers on the table, “I trust you know how to use the webs, Mr Korff, but I can’t give you credit for this assignment without evidence. You see, the Civilian Stasis Webifier we are granting students for Glue mission keeps detailed logs of its usage and its effects on a target. I am sorry, but I need those logs to give you a pass on the webification topic.”
I was annoyed, “I wish the Academy recognised combat experience of its students and tailored the courses accordingly. But as things stand now, I don’t seem to have a choice.” I sighed and continued, “So, Mr Vuonolailen, what do you want me to do with that special webifier of yours?”
“I understand your frustration, Mr Korff, but this assignment will not be a complete waste of your time. Remember a mission when you had to use a warp scrambler?”
“Yeah, that was fun.”
“Glad to hear it. You see, one of the ringleaders who organised kidnapping of your good friends from The Abyss Bar has managed to escape CONCORD. The Academy’s intelligence office has spent two days trying to scan him down and we finally found him in one of the Guristas’ hideaway spots. I want you to go there and do exactly what you did last time – get his undivided attention and persuade the ruffian to take his gang and leave Uitra for good.”
I frowned, “The webifier seems to me a less persuasive argument than a warp disruptor. Should I take both?”
“No, the only tackling module allowed for this assignment is the web. If, however, you feel like your threats fall on deaf ears, you are can add a few shots from your rails. But don’t overdo it – I want that bandit scared but alive.”
“Gunboat diplomacy?” smirked I.
Ijumachi smiled and winked, “With a kind word and a gun you can get much more than with just a kind word.”
“Vlad, what happened after the last mission?” asked Aura when I woke her. “I’ve got a bunch of messages from strangers who are waiting for you in The Abyss Bar.”
I made a grimace, “Don’t ask. Delete the mails and block the senders.”
Aura shrugged, “Done. If we are not going to the bar then what are we doing today?”
“Same thing as two months ago – playing a bogeyman. Apparently, all those anti-crime adverts like ‘We don’t know who you are, we don’t know where you are but we’ll find and kill you’ don’t work anymore. Ijumachi wants me to show the pirates that we know everything about them and give them a taste of near-death experience.”
“Oh yeah, I remember that poor sod who thought that we tackled him. Are we using a disruptor again?”
“No, we have to use a web,” said I.
“Oh, how convenient – you’ve just bought a new stasis webifier.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t use it. Ijumachi didn’t leave me a choice – I have to fit the special version he has provided for this mission.”
Aura narrowed her eyes and said vindictively, “Aha! Now you know how I felt when you went shopping to Jita on your own and came back with a model that you selected without consulting me.”
“Er… Would you choose another model?” asked I.
“No, it was a perfect fit, but it’s a matter of principle.”
I rolled my eyes, “Whatever. Now that we are even, can you please undock us, darling?”
“Sure thing,” replied Aura looking smug.