The Forge Region – Okkelen Constellation
10 September YC 121
Finally, my fitting skills allowed me to mount and activate all modules required to explore a Standard Sleeper Cache. Feeling enthusiastic, I set out to explore another constellation in The Forge, Okkelen. The start was unremarkable; the first five systems I visited – Ishisomo, Airmia, Sakkikainen, Vahunomi and Friggi – each had one or two signatures which turned out to be either a wormhole, a pirate base or a gas site. As I was not equipped to visit any such sites, my frustration was growing with each scan. It reached the boiling point in Otitoh – the system contained 8 signatures and each bloody one was a pirate base.
Disgusted with the scale of pirate infestation, I muttered, “I wish I had my Cormorant with me. I would clean out that scum.”
“Hehe,” chuckled Aura. “It doesn’t fit into the cargo hold, does it?”
That made me think, “Are there industrial ships which can carry a Cormorant?”
“Yes, there are,” replied Aura. “A Tayra can fit both a Cormorant and a Heron but you’ll have to package them up.”
“Hmm… And how much is it?”
“Pretty cheap – about one and a half million kredits?”
“Interesting…” murmured I. “So if I load a destroyer and a frigate into the Tayra, I can move them between constellations, unload at a temporary base and then use whatever ship I need.”
“If you want to both fight and hack, why don’t you simply use a Stratios?”
“Stratios is a cruiser, and not all pirate acceleration gates would let a cruiser through.”
“But then not all of them would let a destroyer through,” pointed out Aura. “You’ll need to carry a combat frigate with you.”
“And will it fit into the Tayra?”
“No, but that’s not all. For wormholes you’ll need a Buzzard. And if you want to mine gas sites then don’t forget your Venture.”
“Shit, I didn’t think about that! What kind of ship does one need to ferry around this whole fleet?” asked I.
“A freighter would do. Got a spare billion to buy a Charon?”
Astonished, I gulped pod goo, “What? Is it really a choice between a 1.5 million-kredit Tayra and a billion-kredit Charon? Isn’t there something in between?”
Aura smirked, “Well, there is. You can buy a Bustard with 50,000-cubic metre fleet hangar which can even carry a packaged Caracal together with all the assorted frigates and destroyers. It will set you back only 280 million kredits.”
Aura stopped smiling, “Wait a minute. You can’t be serious. You don’t plan to fly around in that metal coffin, do you? Exploring in a Bustard – we will be the laughing stock of all hi-sec!”
At first, I just wanted to tease Aura, but then I had to admit that the idea possessed a certain attraction. Hi-sec contained a variety of cosmic signatures but, in a Heron, I could only explore data and relic sites. It really pained me to leave behind gas sites brimming with valuable materials, and pirate bases in need of extermination. I thought about moving the ships individually from constellation to constellation but given the size of the fleet it would become a full time job. If, however, I could load them into an industrial ship and transport them all at once…
Anyway, the Bustard’s price was rather steep for me and I still had to build my fleet first. Putting this idea aside for future consideration, I asked Aura, “What’s the next system?”
“We are done here. Otitoh is the last one in Okkelen,” replied she.
I frowned, “Can’t be. This constellation has eight systems but we explored only six.”
“That’s true, but the problem is, the eighth system is separated from us by the seventh which is low-sec.”
“Oh,” I stopped dead in my tracks. As you know, I had visited low- and even null-sec before but that was in a free corvette and without expensive implants in my head. Still, it was a shame to miss that Otomainen pocket. Being an enclave, it shouldn’t be frequented by hi-sec explorers and did not present much interest to low-sec ones, so it had to contain some pristine cosmic sites.
“Aura, can you load Dotlan page about Ihakana?”
“Hey!” protested she. “I feel like you are going to do something stupid.”
“If I was stupid I would jump there straight away. Instead, I want to check some intel first.” Without waiting for Aura I loaded Dotlan and found the latest stats. “See,” I pointed my finger at a couple of zeroes on the screen, “in the last hour there were no ship or pod kills. It’s safe.”
“Yeah, safe as a grave! For all I know, there is a monstrous gate camp on the other side which didn’t kill anyone because no one was dumb enough to jump through that gate. Think about it – it’s the first system which leads to low-sec territory; that’s where all gate camps are.”
“Ha, ‘low-sec territory’! That sounds impressive, but if you look at the map, that territory of yours consists of 6 low-sec systems each one of which is connected to high-sec. I don’t see why campers would choose, of all things, this particular gate.”
Aura folded her arms and said in a defiant tone, “You are the captain and may do as you wish, but don’t ask me to navigate a ship without CovOps Cloak through that lawless space. If you want to kill us all you’ll have to do it with your own hands.”
Smiling, I showed her my palms, “Look, ma, no hands!” and then willed Haikarat to jump to Ihakana.