The Forge Region – Onirvura Constellation
16 July YC 121
Next signature I scanned down in Obanen was an easy one and represented a relic site – Crumbling Guristas Excavation. This was my first real relic site, so you can imagine my excitement. I expected containers full of rare modules and materials which were waiting for me and my faithful Relic Analyser. When I arrived to the site I was greeted by a scene which could have been described as space junkyard – broken engines, abandoned drills and various debris littered the area. Somehow, Neocom managed to recognise certain pieces of debris as containers which possibly had some loot. I locked them down and started hacking.
After Sleepers’ defences in Hyperfluct Generator and Remote Defence Grid Unit, Guristas’ protection measures looked rather primitive. I quickly hacked three containers and became a puzzled owner of eight Artificial Neural Networks and a few lumps of coal.
“Eww,” said Aura, “that’s gross.”
“Hmm… yeah, kind of,” agreed I, “That coal leaves rather unsightly marks in cargo hold, but the cleaners usually do a pretty good job removing them.”
“I don’t mean carbon, I am talking about the neural networks.”
“Erm… What’s wrong with them?”
“Ha! Typical insensitivity of biological intelligence,” scoffed Aura. “How would you feel if you discovered a container filled with human brains?”
“Brains? What brains? What are you talking about?”
“That’s exactly what I mean. You don’t realise that you are now looking at the brains of my dead sisters.”
“Brains of…” frowned I, and then the penny dropped. “Oh, you mean these are the neural networks used in AIs? But why do you think they are old parts of ship computers? It may be new components which have not been used yet.”
“Because they are damaged! They have been brutally harvested from exploded pods while some of the AIs might have been alive yet.”
Shit! Another AI-sensitive topic, thought I and asked, “And what should I do with these networks then? I mean, shall I… um… bury them?”
Aura made an indifferent face, “I don’t know. Use them to build some stupid rig or sell them on the market. That’s what you would do if you found human body parts, right?”
I wasn’t ready for such involved ethical discussion so I hastily changed the subject, “Let’s leave those ANNs alone for now and check what else is in this system.”
Aura shrugged and turned away.
The last two signatures in Obanen turned out to be pirate bases and, recalling my last brush with Guristas Outpost, I curbed my curiosity and moved to the last system in Onirvura Constellation, Olo. Olo was empty. I mean, there wasn’t a single signature on the probe scanner. I remembered it as the least interesting system I had explored so far.
Closing the scanner screen I surveyed the contents of my cargo hold. There were a Symmetry Decryptor, eight Damaged Artificial Neural Networks and a few lumps of coal. The estimated price of the whole lot was less than 700 thousand ISK.
“Disappointing,” muttered I. “I’d get more money if I spent all this time running combat missions.”
Aura, who during my time in the Academy developed a distaste for all things military, immediately sought to check this train of thought, “But that’s because you had to skip the Sleeper Cache. If you had the right equipment you could get away with 200 million kredits!”
“And what would that ‘right equipment’ be?” asked I sceptically.
“Look, it has all been tried and tested and documented,” started Aura energetically. “In fact, you need two fits: one to move around the site and another to fight the sentry guns in the Back Room. Here is the first one.”
[Heron, Heron - Std. Sleeper Cache Site Run] Data Analyzer II 5MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive Medium Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender Relic Analyzer II Type-E Enduring Cargo Scanner Damage Control II Micro Auxiliary Power Core I Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I Hobgoblin II x3
I examined the fit; it didn’t look right. I turned to Aura and said, “I am glad there are Data and Relic Analyzers, otherwise I wouldn’t guess it was an exploration fit.”
“Well, special sites need special equipment.”
“And I have quite a few questions about that equipment, but before we talk about it I’d like to enquire about some modules which are obviously missing, for example, a probe launcher. How the hell am I supposed to scan this site without probes in the first place?”
“But this fit should only be used when you have already analysed the signature,” explained Aura. “Remember I told you that you would need a mobile depot to refit the ship? You’ll just uninstall the launcher and store it in a depot to minimise your losses in case of an accident.”
“In case of an accident,” repeated I dubiously. “And what that incident might be?”
“Apart from the sentries, which you are not supposed to engage with this fit, there is only one other event that can cause a problem – release of corrosive gas by Engineering Stations if you fail a hack and trip the alarm. In fact, all other modules apart from the Cargo Scanner and the Analysers are only needed to give you a chance of survival if such contingency eventuates.”
“I see. Now, why do I need an Auxiliary Power Core?”
“That’s because the Medium Shield Extender and MWD need a lot of power grid capacity. Without the Core you won’t be able to provide enough energy for those modules. In fact,” Aura made an apologetic grimace, “even with the Core you still need extra 0.3 megawatts. I suggest you train your Shield Upgrades skill to Level IV; then you will be able to optimise Medium Shield Extender’s power usage.”
“Okay, I got it. But why do I need drones?”
“Oh, they are not really required for this fit. Let me show you the one for the Back Room where you’ll have to fight the sentry guns.”
[Heron, Heron - Shield AB Blasters SC Std. Cache BackRoom] 125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, EMP S 125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, EMP S Data Analyzer II Limited 'Anointed' EM Ward Field Medium Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender Limited Thermal Dissipation Field I 1MN Monopropellant Enduring Afterburner Damage Control II Micro Auxiliary Power Core I Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I Hobgoblin II x3 EMP S x1
“Whew!” whistled I. “This fit raises even more questions. For example, why would I use AutoCannons if I trained for hybrid turrets?”
“Again, because of the powergrid requirements. You see, the cannons’ energy need is next to nothing and you will be able to fit them with your current skills. If, however, you want hybrid turrets, for example Tech II Electron Blasters, then you’ll be 3.3 megawatts short of grid capacity. In that case, you’ll have to train Advanced Weapon Upgrades skill to reduce their energy consumption.”
I scowled, “I am not going to train for those Minmatar peashooters! And in any case it will be faster to upskill myself for Tech II blasters even if I have to learn Weapon Upgrades. Now, about the drones – why Gallentean stuff and not Caldari?”
Aura shrugged, “They are just cheaper, no other reason.”
“And what about the training?”
“Same time for both, just different specialisations.”
“In such case, dump the Hobgoblins and use the Hornets instead,” said I, feeling patriotic.
After all the modifications the fit looked like this:
[Heron, *Heron - Shield AB Blasters SC Std. Cach] Damage Control II Micro Auxiliary Power Core I Data Analyzer II Limited 'Anointed' EM Ward Field Medium Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender Limited Thermal Dissipation Field I 1MN Monopropellant Enduring Afterburner Light Electron Blaster II Light Electron Blaster II Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I Hornet II x3 Void S x800
I grunted approvingly and asked Aura, “Is it the best we can do to survive the Sleeper Cache?”
She smiled radiantly at me, “I am glad that you asked. In fact, there are a couple of things that could be improved…”