Anoikis – Region B-R00005
Constellation B-C00037 – System J150859
16 March YC 122
Sisters Core Scanner Probes combined with Buzzard’s Covert Ops bonuses to the probe strength made scanning a walk in the park. Soon my Probe Window showed the following list of signatures, all green:
- AWS-076 Cosmic Signature – Data Site – Unsecured Perimeter Comms Relay
- CGF-120 Cosmic Signature – Relic Site – Forgotten Perimeter Habitation Coils
- IBA-022 Cosmic Signature – Data Site – Unsecured Perimeter Comms Relay
- KOA-082 Cosmic Signature – Wormhole – Unstable Wormhole
- PQR-195 Cosmic Signature – Wormhole – Unstable Wormhole
- RGO-690 Cosmic Signature – Wormhole – Unstable Wormhole
- SEZ-118 Cosmic Signature – Data Site – Central Angel Sparking Transmitter
- WLS-952 Cosmic Signature – Relic Site – Ruined Serpentis Science Outpost
“Righteo,” I rubbed my hands, “Let’s get hacking,” and willed Nosuri to warp to the first data site in the list.
When Aura realised what I intended to do her eyes widened and she screamed, “Abort! Now!”
Taken aback, I terminated alignment and asked, “What’s the problem?”
She folded her arms and looked at me angrily, “Where do you think you are going, Captain?”
“Well, to signature AWS-076, a data site.”
Aura looked at me incredulously, “Erm… Let me remind you, Captain, that we are not flying a battleship, not even a cruiser. We are flying a bloody frigate, crunchy as popcorn, and still you want to warp to a sleeper site guarded by a dozen ships. Can you please tell me why? Surely, there must be a less expensive way to renew your clone.”
“Hey, what do you mean by ‘guarded’? You’ve told me that there are unguarded sites in C2 systems and this one is clearly marked as ‘unsecured’!”
Aura rolled her eyes, “This ship has ‘Buzzard’ written on it. Does it look like a bird to you?”
“But that’s… just a ship model. It does not reflect its essence. If we intended to do that all ships would be called something like Ishukone Buzzard-class Covert Ops Frigate Serial # 411504. But the name of the site clearly indicates the absence of security.”
“Okay, I may be a bit slow today, but let me just spell it out – Unsecured Perimeter Comms Relay site is in fact guarded by twelve Sleeper combat ships. Right.”
Aura beamed as a teacher who managed to explain that 2+2=4 to an especially thick student and nodded energetically.
I sighed and muttered under my breath, “In such case I dread to think what their secured perimeter sites look like,” and then said in normal voice, “Let’s try Forgotten Perimeter Habitation Coils then.”
“Nooo!” another scream echoed in my skull.
I winced, “What? What’s wrong with this site?”
“This one is even worse,” said Aura. “It has at least thirty patrollers.”
“Okay, okay, I think I am getting it. It is called ‘forgotten’ which means it’s forgotten by everyone except thirty sleeper combat ships. Now, tell me the right answer.”
Aura produced a drum and played a drum roll, “And the answer is… Yes! You are right, Captain. Congratulations! You have just won a yearly supply of Vegemite from your local 7-Eleven store.”
“Yay!” I threw my hands in the air, or rather a pod goo, and nearly broke my wrists when I hit the capsule’s ceiling.
Aura continued, “But seriously, I strongly recommend you learn all known site designations and their defences, if you value your ship. Good news is that there aren’t too many of them.”
“Nah, that’s boring. Besides, I’ve already figured out the naming convention. Let’s take the next type of site from the list for example – Central Angel Sparking Transmitter. One would expect that Angel Cartel had invested heavily in protection of their central communications facility. But if you take a closer look…” I tapped my nose, “you won’t find a single Angel around. Right?”
A strange expression appeared on Aura’s face, a mixture of incredulity and epiphany, and she slowly nodded.
“You see, easy,” continued I. “Apparently all those site monikers were invented by a baseliner who didn’t like capsuleers much and wanted us to get in trouble. I mean, whose side was he on?”
Aura didn’t reply. She was looking through me absentmindedly and her lips were moving as if she was talking to herself. I just let her be and warped to the data site.
The place very much resembled Guristas’ communication bases that I saw in hi-sec but instead of a skull with rabbit ears the structures bore a scarab-like logo of Angel Cartel. And it was bigger. Much bigger. That was kind of expected as all hi-sec sites were classified as local while this was central.
I cautiously looked around, inspected the local channel, checked the overview, checked D-scan – nothing. I was alone.
“Aura,” whispered I, “How do I know there isn’t a cloaked Astero three klicks away? Just waiting for me to decloak and start hacking.”
“Huh?” said Aura jerking herself out of her reverie. “Oh, that. You don’t. There is no way to detect a cloaked ship using D-scan or even combat probes.”
“So how do people get alive and with loot out of these sites? For all I know, this system may be swarming with hunters who saw my scanner probes on D-scan and are now salivating for the tender meat of my Buzzard.”
“Oh, don’t be paranoid. Anoikis is very sparsely populated. Yes, you will lose your ship now and then, but if you are careful you will get enough loot to compensate your losses many times over.”
I scowled. “And what do you mean by ‘being careful’? If someone is waiting for me here they will have enough time to target and scram me before I notice them and warp away. I am not flying an inty, you know.”
“Whoa there. That’s a lot of assumptions that need to be true. Firstly, they need to be cloaked; not all hunters are. But suppose they are cloaked. Then, secondly, to wait for you here they need to scan this signature down first, and do it before you arrive in the system. You see, no one has invented cloaky probes yet, so if they scan while you are here, you’ll notice their probes on D-Scan. And finally, if they decloak there will be a targeting delay during which you have a decent chance to escape. Understand?”
“Yeah,” I said slowly, “kind of. This doesn’t really give me much confidence.”
“Ha! If you wanted confidence, you should have stayed in hi-sec. So, are you going to hack these Comm Towers or you leave them to decay?”
I made a deep breath and uncloaked my Buzzard.