The Forge Region – Kimotoro Constellation
6 August YC 121
From Jita we travelled to Uitra where I needed to pick up some stuff which I left behind after moving the base to Poinen. Having loaded everything into the cargo hold, I asked Aura, “Which constellation shall we explore next?”
Aura looked at the map and said, “Kimotoro?”
“Kimotoro? We’ve just returned from it. And in any case, I expect all signatures in the vicinity of Jita will be swept clean.”
“You never know your luck,” winked Aura. “Besides, we’ll have to explore it sooner or later. Currently, it is the closest unexplored constellation in The Forge, so why not now?”
I didn’t really have any strong objections so we made our way to Urlen. There were two signatures the first of which turned out to be a wormhole.
“Let’s go and take a look at it,” suggested I and jumped to its location.
As always, the sight of a pulsating hole in space had a hypnotic effect on me.
“I wonder what’s on the other side,” I muttered wistfully.
“Don’t even think about it without a CovOps cloak,” warned me Aura. “And even then someone may already be waiting for you on the other side.”
“Oh, come on! There are thousands of wormholes popping up and disappearing all over New Eden every day. What is the chance that someone chose this one for a gate camp? In all likelihood, no one has ever scanned this one down, on this side or another.”
“That’s where you are wrong. Look at the hole type – it’s K162.”
I made a grimace, “Humph! And what does that mean?”
“It means that someone not only scanned it down but also passed through this hole.”
“How is that? How do you know?”
“As I said, by its type,” patiently explained Aura. “You see, K162 designates the wormhole exit…”
“Wait a moment,” interrupted I. “I thought that they were bi-directional.”
“They are, eventually, but when a new wormhole appears it is visible in one system only. That end is called the entry and its designation indicates the destination system type. For the exit to appear in the second system, someone has to jump into the hole though its entry. Only then you get the tail end marked as K162.”
“So… this one has already been used,” mumbled I.
Not that I intended to jump through it but the very thought that someone has already been here and probably bookmarked this point in space made me uncomfortable.
“Okay then, till next time,” said I and jumped back to the safe spot.
The second signature was identified as Rogue Drone Infestation Sprout. I was curious to see what an ‘Infestation Sprout’ looked like but didn’t dare to go there without a cloak.
“Not much,” commented I and started aligning to Kisogo gate.
“Hold on. What’s that?” said Aura pointing at the overview.
What she found was a beacon named ‘Abandoned Caldari Outpost’.
I scowled, “Do you want to go there? What’s so interesting about an old habitation module?”
“What’s so interesting about Crumbling Guristas Excavation?” replied Aura in the same tone.
“Fair point,” admitted I and jumped to the beacon.
When we got out of the warp first thing we saw was a big gas cloud. There was something inside, and to see what it was, I started cautiously approaching it. As we drew closer I realised that the cloud was hiding a monstrous structure.
“What the hell is that?” gasped I. “When you said ‘Outpost’ I expected to see a tin shed like the one we blew up while hunting Tahamar. This is a fortress!”
“Neocom identifies it as ‘Pilfered Guristas Outpost’,” said Aura trying to be helpful.
“Pilfered? What do they mean by that? Who pilfered what from whom?”
Aura raised her hands and made a grimace which meant to indicate “Don’t ask me, I didn’t invent that name.”
I wasn’t satisfied with such response and felt obliged to expound my point of view, “Pilfering is small-time thieving. Does it mean that this station was ‘pilfered’? Or that stuff was pilfered from this station? Any which way you look at it, the sheer scale of this construction simply precludes the use of word ‘pilfer’. Honestly, my home planet has cities smaller than this monster. I’d say the right word here would be ‘sacked’.”
Aura remained unimpressed by my philological thesis and suggested to take a closer look at the station.
“You sure that that cloud is harmless?” I asked suspiciously.
“We’ll see,” said Aura with what I would call an unfounded optimism.
I started crawling towards the outpost, ready to warp out at the first sign of danger. Luckily the gases which surrounded the station were not corrosive and we could continue our approach. Close up the structure was even more impressive than from the distance. It was a majestic and at the same time a sad sight – I had seen larger stations before but I had never encountered a dead one that big; it was floating in space like a killed whale. I could see deep gashes and craters on its surface – the attackers’ weapons were not powerful enough to break it up but it died a death by a thousand cuts.
Space around the outpost was littered with debris and construction elements which broke off during the assault. Some of the pieces were large enough to warrant a separate line in my overview… and attract Aura’s attention.
“Let’s check those bits,” whispered she. “What if there is something valuable inside?”
I rolled my eyes, “Aura, get real. We have hard time extracting things of value from sites which require advanced scanning and hacking skills. What do you expect to find at a place which is marked by a beacon?”
“Something that others have missed. And what do you have to lose anyway?”
I performed a deep theatrical sigh, the one teenagers are so good at, and headed, slowly, as if I was dragging my feet, to the nearest piece of flotsam which was identified by Neocom as Station Battery.
“What do you want me to do?” I asked listlessly when we were within one kilometre of the object.
“Open it,” replied Aura impatiently.
“It’s not a container, it’s a battery.”
“Then try to hack it!”
“If it’s not a container then it won’t be protected,” objected I.
“Not necessarily. Remember the Sleeper Cache – there were all kinds of objects which didn’t contain anything, but Data Analyser could hack them and remove defences in other parts of the site.”
“Okay, if you insist.”
I locked the battery and initiated Data Analyser. Nothing happened. I tried to activate Relic Analyser – same result. All options exhausted, I looked askance at Aura trying to silently convey the phrase “See, I’ve told you.” Unabashed, Aura chivvied me to check every other bit of wreckage – engines, generators, piles of crumpled metal – until even her unbounded enthusiasm fizzled out.
“Any other bright ideas,” I asked sardonically.
“Stupid place,” fumed Aura. “If there is nothing interesting here, why did they bother to mark it with a beacon?”
“Maybe because not all people come to ruins in search for treasures.”
“What else are they good for then?”
I took it as an academic question and said, “I guess, we are done here.”
Aura didn’t reply, maintaining a tragic look of insulted innocence. I shrugged and warped to Kisogo stargate.