The Exam, Part 2

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

2 June YC 121

Having returned to Uitra, I warped to the mission location. About 75 km before the warp bubble collapse I received a message from Ijumachi.

Scanners are picking up 3 hostiles moving into their ships now, looks like they’ve noticed you. Good luck.

“Thank you, mate,” muttered I even though he couldn’t hear me. Then, turning to Aura, I said, “Let’s see how good your glamorous modules are.”

Aura leaned to me and whispered confidentially, “They are absolutely fabulous.”

At that moment we exited the warp and found ourselves about 30 klicks away from three hostile ships which immediately targeted me and started moving in my direction.

Pleasure Hub
Pleasure Hub

“Okay, the plan was to keep our distance from these guys and snipe at them,” said I. “So… let’s turn away and run!”

“Good idea. Don’t forget to activate your defence modules.”

“Yep, yep,” replied I turning on the fields and pulsing the MWD.

By the time I finished all these manoeuvres the terrorist managed to get into the firing distance and peppered me with his artillery. The shield semicircle on my dashboard started to redden with a frightening speed.

“Ouch! That hurts!” exclaimed I.

“No wonder,” sniggered Aura. “It’s mostly thermal damage and you haven’t activated your Thermal Dissipation Field.”

“Haven’t I?”

I checked the dashboard and discovered that Aura was right. That was strange as I clearly remembered willing to turn on both kinetic and thermal fields. Anyway, there was no time for introspection and I quickly corrected my mistake. I can’t say how much that helped as by that time my speed, boosted by the MWD, exceeded 1000 m/s and I went out of the pirate’s gun range. That gave me time to take a closer look at him.

“What the hell!” was my first observation. “It’s a bloody Dramiel! What are the Angels doing here? As if we didn’t have enough trouble with Guristas.”

Terrorist Lead's Dramiel
Terrorist Lead’s Dramiel

Aura’s reaction was totally different, “Wow, a Dramiel. Looks really cool! Can we also get one?”

“Ha! I am not paying 45 million for a frigate.”

“But it’s one of the best frigates ever made! It’s worth every kredit you pay for it.”

I raised my brow, “You think so? Then watch this.”

Having acquired the target lock on the Dramiel, I concentrated the fire of all my seven turrets on it. Those Prototype Gauss Guns were indeed fabulous – the guy didn’t stand a chance. In less than a minute a menacing sharp-tusked pirate ship was converted to a nondescript heap of smoking debris.

“So,” smirked I, “what is it worth now?”

Aura who didn’t say a word during the carnage, narrowed her eyes and said, “You are a vandal! You have just destroyed the most beautiful ship I’ve ever seen.”

I was taken aback, “And what would you have me do? Warp out? Or let him put me on his killboard showing the whole New Eden what a glitzy set of meta modules I failed to put to good use?”

Aura pouted her lips and turned away.

“Hey, don’t sulk,” said I. “That wasn’t the last Dramiel in existence. Besides, we still have a job to do – there are a couple of trainees that the terrorist brought with him.”

“Why do you care about those trainees?” asked Aura. “They are no threat to anyone.”

“And I want them to stay that way. If I don’t terminate them now then, before you know it, they will be back in Cynabals.”

“As you wish, Captain,” shrugged Aura, still tetchy after the Dramiel kill.

As expected, the Mercenary Trainees flew much crunchier ships than the terrorist, and a couple of guns per each were quite sufficient to put an early end to their nascent careers.

Mercenary Trainee
Mercenary Trainee

After returning to the base I reported to Ijumachi’s office.

“All good?” asked the agent with a smile.

“Yep. All targets are destroyed. By the way, forgot to ask you before the mission: did that guy go to the pleasure hub to have a blowjob or to blow it up?”

Ijumachi chuckled, “Maybe both. Whatever it was, he didn’t get much pleasure out of that visit. Next time he will think twice before coming to Uitra.”

“Next time?”

“Yeah. That bastard is a capsuleer. Didn’t you know?”

“Shit, no!” exclaimed I. “So he may still return?”

“Possibly. But the way I see it, pilots like him give our students good training opportunities.”

“Let me know if he comes back. If he is a capsuleer, he must have sensory feedback from the shields, and next time I’ll roast him slow to make sure that the lesson sticks.”

Ijumachi whistled, “Whew! I never suspected a tendency for cruelty in you, Mr Korff.”

“Well, it’s not like I am going to put him in chains and torture. He can always self-destruct.”

“Ha-ha. That’s true,” admitted the agent, “Anyway, if he returns there will be others to take care of him. I believe you are now ready for greater endeavours. First of all, congratulations, Mr Korff, on successful completion of the advanced military training. Your certificate has already been sent to you.”

“Thank you, Mr Vuonolailen,” replied I, feeling a strange mix of emotions, both a relief and a bit of sadness. “I have very much enjoyed your course.”

Ijumachi nodded with a smile and continued, “Secondly, I’ve arranged to have your standings with Caldari State increased. This bump in your reputation will help you to enlist in Factional Warfare, where you can fight alongside your own people against Gallente aggressors. There are many battles being fought over the occupancy of strategic systems, and every ship makes a difference.”

Uh-oh, thought I. Joining State Protectorate Militia was uncomfortably close to enlisting in a regular Navy which I didn’t fancy. Besides, taking one side of the conflict would complicate my travel and exploration arrangements in the enemy Empire space. Call me unpatriotic, but I valued my freedom more than an opportunity to kick a few Gallente’s asses.

Aloud I said, “Much appreciated, Mr Vuonolailen. I can assure you that the skills I acquired in the Academy under your tutelage will be put to good use.”

Finishing the conversation on this upbeat but totally non-committal note, I shook Ijumachi’s hand a left his office. Finally, after months of training I was a free capsuleer who had no guidance, no curriculum and no obligations. Now I could choose my own path. What will it be?

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