The Exam, Part 1

The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station

2 June YC 121

I am glad that I am finishing my military training, and it’s for more reasons than one. Sure, there is a sense of accomplishment, but I am also happy to leave behind that artificial environment where make-work activities are valued higher than real-life problem solving. Take my last mission, for example – it was an abject failure. I was expected to scare the shit out of a pirate and persuade him to move his gang elsewhere, but when I left the mission area the bastard was dead and his gang is still in Uitra “under new management”. Nevertheless, the mission was considered accomplished because for the whole three seconds I managed to brush the hostile ship with a civilian stasis webifier. What a great achievement!

Having completed nine missions I was ready for a final exam. As it turned out, the exam was not ready for me – Ijumachi told me that he needed some time to organise a proper engagement that would test my fighting skills. Besides, the delay gave me an opportunity to study Caldari Destroyer skill. Why? Because for my final mission I was granted a Cormorant-class destroyer! As you can imagine, I was excited beyond words and spent the last ten days researching Cormorant fittings and tactics. On the eleventh day, still engrossed in forums, battle reports and dashcam videos, I was jerked into reality by Ijumachi’s call.

“Mr Korff, I request your immediate presence in my office,” he said brusquely and hung up.

Just by the tone of his voice I knew that today was the day and fifteen minutes later I was listening to the mission brief.

“Our patrol has spotted a small group of suspicious vehicles. After checking their IDs we found that one of them was a fake identity of a known terrorist responsible for dozens of station bombings. He doesn’t know that that ID is compromised so this is our chance to catch him unawares. Normally, to deal with a criminal of such calibre I would request CONCORD’s assistance but,” Ijumachi winced, “you understand that after your last mission I am not predisposed to such solution.”

I felt, welling up inside me, that warm sensation which you get when someone puts his faith in you. Overcome with emotion, I swallowed hard and said, “Thank you for your trust, Mr Vuonolailen. You won’t be disappointed.”

“Don’t thank me – I am not giving you any advances,” replied Ijumachi. “The trust is well-earned.”

I wished I had the same confidence but maybe the exam was not all that difficult.

“What should I expect?” asked I.

“The exact hostile fleet composition and fitting is not known but, based on the previous encounters, there will be two to five frigate-class ships, and the leader will be equipped with a warp disruptor and a stasis webifier.”

“Warp disruptor?” exclaimed I feeling shivers running down my spine. Even the fleet of Gallente terrorists didn’t use anti-warp modules.

“Yes, a dsiruptor,” confirmed Ijumachi. “I suggest that you avoid close contact and snipe the hostiles from the distance. As I said before, you will be provided with a Cormorant-class destroyer which has significant optimal range bonuses for hybrid weapons. How is your training, by the way?”

“Level four. But look, to keep the distance I need to outrun frigates. How can I do it in a destroyer? Even an afterburner will not be sufficient, given the Cormorant’s base speed.”

“Use a microwarpdrive; it will give you a solid 500% speed boost – enough to get away from any frigate.”

“And what if the frigates have microwarpdrives?”

Ijumachi chuckled, “You worry too much – those guys do not fly interceptors.”

That didn’t sound very convincing; one didn’t have to fly a ‘ceptor in order to fit an MWD. But the agent was right – there was no point in worrying about every detail – for all I knew, they could arrive in a Rattlesnake and alpha me off the grid. So I turned to more practical questions.

“And what is the exact mission objective? Kill ’em all?” asked I.

“Just the terrorist,” replied Ijumachi. “It’s up to you whether you want to spend time on his retinue. Are you ready?”

“Er… Just need to buy some modules for the Cormorant. A quick trip to Jita and back.”

“That should be fine. You have six hours to complete the mission, Mr Korff. Good luck!”

“Thank you, Mr Vunolailen,” said I and went to the docks.

Merimetso, my new destroyer, was not as fast and agile as the frigates I had piloted before, but with eight weapon mounts it was a formidable fighter ship. For the first time since my capsuleer training days I felt a full complement of high slots connected to my brain and the long unused neural pathways were tingling in anticipation.

I woke Aura and introduced her to the new ship, “Aura, please meet Merimetso. Merimetso, this is Aura.”

“Right, let’s see what we’ve got here,” said Aura. “Ooh, a Cormorant. I didn’t know you could fly destroyers.”

“Spent the last ten days learning how to. Now we are going to Jita to buy a fitting for this bird.”

“Yay!” cheered Aura. “May I choose the modules?”

“You may, as long as you choose them from here,” replied I and produced my shopping list.

Aura quickly checked it and said, “Wait a moment! Why are you using only Meta Zero modules?”

“What’s wrong with them? They do the job.”

“They aren’t sexy! Do you really want to appear on the killboard equipped with a stock standard railgun and a microwarpdrive?”

I made round eyes, “I don’t have any plans to appear on a killboard!”

“Me neither, and if you buy a Prototype Gauss Gun it may give us just enough extra firepower to avoid that unwanted cameo.”

“But it costs a fortune!” objected I.

And so we argued all the way to Jita. By the time we arrived there, we agreed on the following fitting which cost twice as much as my original configuration while providing only marginal improvements in DPS and speed.

[Cormorant, The Exam]
Damage Control I
Vortex Compact Magnetic Field Stabilizer

5MN Cold-Gas Enduring Microwarpdrive
Kinetic Deflection Field I
Thermal Dissipation Field I

125mm Prototype Gauss Gun
125mm Prototype Gauss Gun
125mm Prototype Gauss Gun
125mm Prototype Gauss Gun
125mm Prototype Gauss Gun
125mm Prototype Gauss Gun
125mm Prototype Gauss Gun

Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
Small Hybrid Collision Accelerator I

Iron Charge S x560

“Not Tech II, but will do for starters,” murmured Aura in a satisfied tone when I finished fitting Merimetso. “Let’s go and kick some asses!”

Merimetso, Cormorant-class Destroyer
Merimetso, Cormorant-class Destroyer

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