The Mystery of the Datacore

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

20 June YC 121

I was standing in Haikarat’s cargo hold and inspecting the loot I got from two data sites.

“So which ones are those famous Villard Wheels?” asked I.

Aura who looked through CCTV cameras replied, “It’s those cylindrical things on the top of the pile.”

Indeed, there were four wheel-like objects, about a metre in diameter, which were badly damaged.

I scowled and said sceptically, “Hmm, they look pretty battered. Why would anyone want them?”

“That’s why they are called Shattered Villard Wheels. As to the demand, you will be surprised – in Jita people line up to pay a million kredits apiece.”

I whistled, “Not bad. Yeah, now I remember that Rulie said they were used for Ascendancy Implants manufacturing. If they need million-kredit parts, I can’t imagine how expensive such implants are.”

“No need to strain your imagination,” chuckled Aura. “It’s public info. Today the average price of Mid-Grade Ascendancy Alpha Implant in Jita was 116,898,860 kredits.”

My jaw dropped, “Wow! That’s like money-printing. Let’s go and make some!”

“Don’t get too excited. You need 21 Wheels for one implant, and a bunch of other materials which you can buy for mere 66 million ISK.”

“What? Twenty one wheels take about two cubic metres without any other materials. How does all this fit into a person’s head?”

“Don’t know,” shrugged Aura. “You can consult the blueprint. Oh, by the way, that’s another 8 million.”

I winced, “Is there any profit in it?”

“Yes, 13 million without manufacturing and market fees. And also you will need to compete with other implant vendors, since the buyers who are ready to purchase your implant now will give you only 75 million.”

“Oh no, that sounds like Business Career course all over again,” groaned I. “To hell with manufacturing! I am going to sell this rubbish to the first buyer.”

“Erm… Do you plan to sell just Wheels?” asked Aura.

“No, all of it! All this stuff used for invention and manufacturing. I do not fancy spending hours poring over spreadsheets and calculating profit margins.”

Aura’s expression became tense, “Erm… And when do you plan to sell it?”

“Don’t know. When I need money, I guess.”

“And do you need money now?” continued her interrogation Aura.

I narrowed my eyes, “Aura, what are you driving at?”

She hesitated and then said, “May I ask you not to sell datacores and decryptors that we found in the Backup Server?”

“Why?” I asked suspiciously.

“Um… I’d like to study information stored on them.”

“What’s there to study? It’s your stock-standard Electromagnetic Physics.”

Aura gave me a quizzical look, “I wonder. Do you know how much space is needed to store all our knowledge about physics, electromagnetic or otherwise?”

“No idea.”

“Such storage module would occupy the same volume as your wrist, if not less. Now, this datacore is a sphere with half a metre diameter. So I can’t help wondering why Guristas need such huge amount of storage for a ‘stock-standard’ physics textbook.”

That indeed sounded strange but I tried to find a more or less conventional explanation, “Hmm… I guess, it’s not all storage. There will be redundancy, cooling, protective mechanisms…”

“There are indeed,” agreed Aura. “But even so, its capacity significantly exceeds storage requirements for electromagnetic physics. I know because I connected to the core and checked the data catalogue.”

“And what did you find there?” I asked curiously.

“I found two partitions; one is titled Electromagnetic Physics.”

“And the other?”

“Don’t know,” said Aura. “Its table of contents, including the title, is encrypted.”

“Interesting… And what do you plan to do with this datacore?”

“I am not quite sure. What would help is gathering a sample of such datacores so that I could run quantum analysis on the encryption patterns. So, if you don’t need money that urgently…” said she and gave me a pleading look.

I shrugged, “Don’t see a problem. I didn’t plan to fly to Jita after each data site anyway. Feel free to play with them for now.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” cried Aura and clapped her hands.

“By the way, about selling. How much can we get for the loot?”

“If you flog this stuff in Jita, you’ll get about 10 million kredits, four for loot from the Backup Server, and six for Wheels and Covert Research Tools from the Research Facility.”

“Six million from just one can! I wish Guristas had more such facilities,” chuckled I. “So what you are saying is that the Haikarat’s fitting is almost completely paid off after just two hours of exploring a pretty popular hi-sec constellation. Not too bad!”

“I understand that Covert Research Facilities are pretty rare, so the actual earnings-per-hour figure may be significantly lower,” warned me Aura.

“Maybe yes, maybe not. We simply don’t have the stats.”

“True. Then let’s go and gather them, hopefully, along with some juicy datacores,” said Aura enthusiastically.

“Er… Can we start this tomorrow?” pleaded I. “Today’s expedition was pretty exhausting and I need a break before I am ready for another ghost site.”

“As you say, darling. Have a good night!” purred Aura and switched off.

“You too,” said I automatically, leaving the cargo hold.

I was halfway to the bar when it occurred to me that I didn’t know what having a good night meant for an AI. Do they dream? Or do they just run maintenance processes, like garbage collection and memory defragmentation? Who knows?

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