The Forge Region – Onirvura Constellation
15 July YC 121
The first signature that I started scanning in Obanen, to my relief, did not immediately disappear, but neither did it yield to my analysis. I began with the usual 8-AU constellation of probes and worked all the way down to 1 AU but all I got from the scanner was an indication that it was some kind of a data site.
“Is it one of those ghost sites again?” I asked, frustrated.
“No, don’t think so,” replied Aura. “If it was a covert research facility you would have identified it by now. Keep scanning and I’ll see what I can find about it in GalNet.”
I reduced the constellation size to 0.5 AU – no result. There was only one standard size remaining – 0.25 AU. I willed the probes into the tightest formation a-a-and… Bingo! I’ve got the name – it was called Standard Sleeper Cache.
“And what the hell is Standard Sleeper Cache?” muttered I looking incredulously at the signature. The thing is, although I got the name, I was still far from getting the coordinates – the signal strength was barely over 80%.
“Ah! That’s what it is!” exclaimed Aura. “He-he, good luck with scanning that down. I think I have plenty of time to read up on this type of sites.”
She was right – it took many more attempts to pinpoint the location of the Cache. You see, after you’ve got all the way down to 0.25-AU there are no more preset sizes. I had to switch to manual control of individual probes, moving them ever so slightly towards the centre. The signal strength was growing but slowly, so slowly – 90%… 95%… 98.7%… 99.6%… And finally, I heard a melodic sound which indicated that the signal was 100% and the signature location was calculated.
“Wow!” cheered Aura and clapped her hands. “Congratulations, Captain! This is one of the most difficult signatures you can find in hi-sec and successfully analysing it is an achievement in itself.”
“Thank you,” grumbled I, “Now tell me what’s inside. I hope all my efforts were worth it.”
Aura put reading glasses on her nose and produced a book from which she read the following: “Sleeper caches are hidden warehouses built by Sleeper faction. They are well camouflaged and require advanced scanning equipment and skills to analyse. A pilot who has managed to locate and hack a sleeper cache will be rewarded with manufacturing materials, higher meta level modules and blueprints of polarised weapons.”
I made a grimace and waved my hands impatiently, “Higher meta, polarised weapons… it all sounds nice, but how much will I get, I mean, in ISK terms?”
Aura closed the book with a thump and threw it away. Looking me in the eye she drawled, “Well… according to one source a Standard Sleeper Cache may contain up to 220 million ISK worth of loot.”
“What? Two hundred and twenty million kredits? In the middle of hi-sec? What are we waiting for?” cried I. Then, looking at Aura’s smiling face, I checked myself, “No, that’s too good to be true. Tell me, it’s not just a sad collection of abandoned containers floating in space, is it?”
Aura chuckled, “No, it’s not. The place is protected.”
“Right,” relaxed I. “Let me guess, there is probably an army of Sleeper cruisers patrolling the perimeter, similar to what we saw at Guristas Outpost. So, how big a fleet do we need to take them on?”
“The Cache does have active defences but their nature is a bit different,” said Aura enigmatically. “As to the size of the fleet, I have good news and bad news. Which one do you want to hear first?”
“Let’s start with the good news and then I’ll decide if I want to hear the bad one.”
“The good news is that you can raid the site in a Heron.”
That again sounded too good to be true so I had to ask, “And the bad news?”
Aura made an apologetic grimace, “Not in this Heron. You see, there are sentry guns which sooner or later will start kicking your ass. You can’t survive this expedition until you are properly tanked.”
“Tanked? Well, I can put a couple of armour plates in my vacant low slots.”
“That won’t be enough. It is recommended to have three shield modules in your mids, preferably Tech II, plus two shield rigs plus a couple of turrets since you can’t simply tank the sentry guns forever. You’ll also need an afterburner and some drones.”
I paused to digest this information and then said, “Okay, I can add two turrets to my highs, but I don’t have any spare space in the mids. Don’t see how I can fit Haikarat with all the required scan, hack, tank and prop modules at the same time.”
“That’s why you’ll need a mobile depot.”
“Hmm…” mused I. “That can work but I don’t have one, and I don’t think I have good shield modules and skills to fit them.” I scowled, “It is painful to think that such treasure is just one warp away and I can’t get it.”
“I understand,” said Aura soothingly, “but it will be wise to leave this Cache alone. Trust me, you want to be very well prepared before entering this site.”
I was still hesitant to go, struggling not so much with greed as with curiosity. Then I remembered something Aura mentioned about the defences.
“Aura, you said that the sentries would sooner or later start kicking my ass. Did you mean that they wouldn’t attack me immediately?”
I could see she was reluctant to answer my question but eventually she conceded that I was right.
I felt a rush of excitement, “Brilliant! Even if we can’t get the loot, at least we can have a look at the place. Let’s go!”
Aura winced, “Vlad, I strongly recommend against entering this site but if you insist, please promise me one thing – you won’t touch anything, okay?”
“Sure, sure,” readily agreed I, “we’ll just take a gander.”
Aura sighed and shook her head, “I can’t believe I am saying this, but ‘Warp Drive Active’.”