17 April YC 122
“Are we done with your Tinder Games now?” asked Aura.
“What are you talking about? They’ve just started! And they are called Tender Games,” said I.
“Whatever. So what now, more photos?”
“Hmm… If there was a contest for a photo or a video of the cheekiest AI we would definitely be the winners,” I teased Aura who stuck her tongue at me in response. “But alas, we have to do it the hard way. The only other category in which I can possibly win a prize is The All-Star Grand Prix, which is awarded to a capsuleer who has tended the largest number of caches during this weekend.”
“And how do you propose to win that prize?”
“I have a pretty straightforward approach – by scanning and tending.”
“That sounds boring,” yawned Aura. “By the way, how will the judges know how many caches you’ve tended?”
“They’ll just check Allison’s logs.”
Aura suddenly looked alert, “Allison’s logs, you said?”
“Don’t even think about it!” I warned her.
She made an innocent face, “I just wanted to help. But if you prefer to spend the time of your life doing honest work…”
Well, the honest work wasn’t easy. My usual chance of finding an untended cache was 50/50 but now that Signal Cartel pilots were out there in force, the odds dropped even lower. The typical routine that I went through for every system was like this: scan a signature, discover it’s a gas, relic or data site, curse, and repeat until I find a wormhole; find a wormhole, warp to it, discover it’s going to k-space, curse, and repeat until I find a wormhole leading to J-space; find a wormhole leading to J-space, jump through it, find myself in a system with a recently tended cache, curse, and repeat until I find a system with a cache that needs to be tended, tend the cache, check the tally, curse, and repeat everything from the beginning.
After watching me for several hours Aura shook her head and said, “I don’t think you are doing it right.”
“What do you mean?” asked I.
“Each time you jump into a new system with a recently tended cache you just plough ahead and start looking for a new wormhole. Now, if you think about it, if the system was recently visited by another capsuleer, there is a good chance that he or she also visited two other Anoikis systems connected to the current one. This immediately reduces your chances of finding an untended system.”
“But what can I do?”
“What you need to do is to jump back to the last system with a cache tended by you and scan signatures there. Since you were the last one to visit it, it’s more likely that the connected systems were not visited by anyone else.”
“Hmm…” frowned I. “This makes sense. Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“Well, you did say that you preferred a straightforward approach…”
“Then if you knew what I preferred why did you suddenly decide to tell me about a smarter way?”
Aura smiled, “Because I thought you were kidding yourself.”
18 April YC 122
Aura’s method worked better than mine but the number of tended caches still grew pretty slowly. Aura turned herself off after 20 caches muttering “Wake me up when something interesting happens, like continental drift.” I persevered as long as I could and eventually accrued about 40 caches both tended and sown. There were still 7 hours remaining until the end of the Games but I was so tired and bored that I just gave up. Parking Tender Nosuri in a safe spot I immediately fell asleep.
19 April YC 122
I woke up 10 hours later and the first thing I did was check the cache tending stats. They were disappointing but not surprising – I didn’t make even the top 10 which started with 60 caches. To win a prize one had to tend and sow at least 143 caches, while the Grand Prix was awarded to Qifara Raholan who tended a whopping 288 caches.
“I don’t think I even visited that many systems during the Games. Any idea how I could possibly beat her record?” I asked Aura.
She scoffed, “Just sleep less and scan faster.”
“I thought you weren’t a proponent of straightforward methods.”
Aura shrugged, “There is only so much that intelligence, even artificial, can do to improve your chances. As you said yourself, you didn’t even manage to scan down that many systems. Maybe you should have invested in RSS Core Scanner Probes after all.”
“I didn’t want to invest in them, I hoped to win those probes – they are awarded for the second place. Buying a set of probes in order to win another one kind of diminishes the joy of winning a prize; instead of being a treasured possession it becomes just an addition to the existing set of charges. Anyway, I still hope that my submissions to two other contests will win at least some prize.”
“You mean your diptych ‘A stiff and a pod’ with a big metal box in the background?” sniggered Aura. “Good luck with that!”