The Forge Region – Onirvura Constellation
14 July YC 121
Good people of NOH corporation fixed up my armour for mere 7,680 ISK. As I was authorising the payment, I thought that it would have been a significant sum to pay for curiosity during my baseliner days, but now it was just pocket money. The single Symmetry Decryptor that I extracted from Guristas Virus Test Site was enough to pay for three Heron hulls, to say nothing about its armour.
When the repairs were finished we headed to the next system in Onirvura Constellation – Otela. It was very populated and very busy. While I was scanning the skies, the number of pilots in the system fluctuated wildly, sometimes rising and falling by one or two hundred people within a minute. I guess those were organised fleets making their way to or from Jita which was just three jumps away.
The probes revealed that the only cosmic signature in the system was a gas site.
I looked at Aura and asked, “Do you want to visit this quiet place devoid of pirates but full of natural beauty? It probably has a romantic name too, something like Shiny Nebula.”
Aura was unimpressed and replied tetchily, “Shiny Nebulae occur only in Tenal. If this one is not another,” she spitted the word, “Sunspark, then it will be Diablo. I am not interested in either. Next system, please.”
“You shouldn’t deride gas sites, Aura. If we ever need a steady income then we may find ourselves spending a lot of time in those clouds. While Haikarat was being repaired I checked the Sunspark Nebula mining yield and prices on Amber Mykoserocin. It turned out that if we had had a Venture handy then in ten minutes we could have harvested five million ISK worth of gas. And I can’t help noticing that our hacking pursuits have so far yielded only a decryptor and a pile of coal – that’s less than a million.”
“The fact that proceeds from the gas sites are higher does not make them any more aesthetically appealing,” said Aura haughtily.
“I am glad you think so,” I said with a smile which made Aura look at me suspiciously.
While she was trying to guess what was the catch, I warped to the stargate and jumped to Josameto. First thing that attracted my attention on the system map was a beacon named Nugoeihuvi Information Centre.
“What’s that?” asked Aura curiously.
“The label says Information Centre. I remember we had information centres planetside. They were established to inform travellers of the local attractions and services.”
“That’s what we need – attractions. Let’s go there and enquire!”
“Why not?” agreed I and activated the warp drive.
On my planet an information centre was usually a billboard, standalone or part of a small shed where a couple of elderly volunteers spruiked local museums, shops and events. This one also had a billboard, in fact three, attached to… a humongous cone-shaped space station. To my disappointment, the boards displayed the same advertisements as all other stations.
“Maybe we need to go inside to get information,” mumbled I. “Aura, request docking permission, please.”
“Docking permission requested,” said Aura in monotone voice and then immediately added, “Docking request rejected.”
“What the hell? Why? Patch me through to the dispatcher.”
A picture of a middle-aged woman in NOH uniform appeared on my HUD.
“Please state your business,” said she.
“I’d like to dock and get some information,” replied I.
“What kind of information?”
“Well, I don’t know, about attractions in Josameto or Onirvura…”
The woman looked confused, “Attractions?”
“You are the information centre, right?”
“We are but we don’t store or, for that matter, provide such information to general public.”
Now it was my time to be confused, “What do you do then in that big station of yours?”
“It is NOH corporation data centre. We process and store information relevant to our business activities. Some of it may be available for purchase but,” she smirked, “‘attractions’, I regret to say, is not something we offer.”
“Can we at least dock at your station?”
“Without an appointment or an approved courier mission, I am afraid, not. I don’t think there is anything else I can help you with, Mr Korff. Have a good day,” said the dispatcher with a polite smile and moved her hand to terminate the connection.
“Wait a second,” cried I, “can you please…”
At this moment I was interrupted by a male voice whose owner joined our video conference.
“Any trouble, Yoshie,” he asked the woman.
“No, Kichirou, all good,” replied she. “Mr Korff was about to leave.”
“Hey, who are you?” asked I, annoyed by the intrusion.
“My name is Kichirou,” said the man pleasantly. “I am the captain of NOH-SC-254.”
“What is NOH-SC-254?”
“Just look back and you’ll see her.”
So I did. Not literally, of course, but using the rear camera. At first I didn’t see anything, not even space, but when I zoomed out I discovered an enormous ship which was so close that it completely blocked my rear view. While I was talking, this Scorpion-class battleship crept up on me from behind and continued moving in my direction. My heart skipped a beat and I unconsciously willed Haikarat to go full throttle which made her jump forward as if she was given a mighty kick.
“Bwahaha,” guffawed Kichirou. “Please send my regards to Oralari. Tell him he is doing a good job and we need more students like you, with good reflexes. Although you might put a bit more emphasis on training your situational awareness.” Still laughing, he left the video-conference.
“Good-bye, Mr Korff,” said Yoshie, trying to hide a smile, and also disconnected.
“What an unpleasant company,” said Aura indignantly. “If I knew what they were like before, I would never choose their station as our base.”
“It’s not too late to relocate,” suggested I. “We still have just one load of cargo to move.”
Aura looked conflicted for a moment but then rejected my idea, “Nah, it’s not Vesa’s fault that NOH is the only Caldari corporation that produces decent holo shows. Still, I feel like we need to make them pay for their arrogance.”
It was fascinating to watch Aura’s face as all her thoughts were vividly reflected on it. It went through several stages, including pensiveness, mischief and a light-bulb moment, after which she exclaimed, “Got it! They call it an information centre. Do you think they have datacores inside?”
I groaned, “Aura, no. Don’t even think about it.”
“Why not? You have a data analyser which you have already successfully used on pirates’ containers. If it worked there it should also work on NOH’s station. I don’t believe there is significant difference in data storage techniques.”
“The difference is that here we’ll be doing it in full view of Nugoeihuvi’s battle fleet. If you haven’t noticed yet, that NOH-SC-254 monster is still following us.”
Aura was taken aback, “Is it?” She checked the rear view camera and quickly changed her mind. “Good point, good point. Hmm, I guess, we’ll let it slide this time. Now, why don’t we find a less crowded place and scan down a signature or two, eh?”
I shook my head, “I think I’ve had enough adventures for today. What I want right now is a drink and eight hours in bed. Be a lamb, get us back to the base, please.”
Aura again glanced at the menacing shape of Scorpion in the rear-view camera and said, “With pleasure, Captain.”