Sovereignty of the Caldari State
Black Rise Region - Aokinen Constellation - Onnamon System
Onnamon I - State War Academy - CNS Osprey
Jaster grabbed an Oxygen mask from the attendant as he stepped aboard the ship, feeling more and more down with each passing moment. His only saving grace was the fact that he had enough in his personal account to cover the cost of most of the repairs. The rest however was going to have to consist of calling in old favors to various people he would have rather not associated with. He managed to find the one functioning lift to the bridge, and bypassed the line waiting to use it. When he got there, he was surprised to notice that in spite of his new ship's outward appearance, the bridge was remarkably intact, save from some scorch marks near the forward viewports. He stopped short when he noticed something peculiar. All of the crew stations were intact and functioning, but there were no seats at them, or interfaces of any kind, only status displays. He stopped a passing worker.
"Excuse me, but where is the crew supposed to work if their stations don't exist?"
The technician gave him an odd expression.
"Weren't you told sir? This ship is the prototype for the ACACIA program that's been in development for 5 years now."
Jaster looked at him with a surprised expression of his own as he recalled what he knew about the program.
ACACIA, or Automated Command And Control Interface Assembly, was a great idea, but Jaster had thought it was just that, an idea. It's primary function was to eliminate the human component on ships of war to minimize casualties during conflicts. Now the extensive damage to the exterior of the ship made sense. They were testing the new program, and it didn't function the way they were hoping it would. He went to one of the consoles that still had an interface, and hailed the Commander's office. After a moment her face materialized on the screen.
"I'm a busy person, Commander, make this quick."
"Ma'am I would like to request all the data we have on ACACIA, including the test flights. And also if this ship is automated, what exactly am I to do on it?"
The Commander looked amused.
"Well Mr. Tatsuaki, that didn't take you long. Yes, the ship is automated, but not fully. The first tests were navigation tests, and they were successful. However the combat tests proved to be a little...different. The first broadside we sent at the ship punched right through the shields as if they weren't even there. it seems the system was unable to handle regulation and power allocation. And the system can't handle evasive maneuvering as well as a trained flesh and blood pilot. So basically what we're doing is putting the human component back, in the form of the pilot. Most of the ship will still be automated, but when combat is involved, the pilot has full control. There will still be quarters and stations onboard for a small number of maintenance crew and officers, but that will be all. Now I have a question for you. How long will it take you to have that ship up and running?"
Jaster knew what she was doing. This was a test to see how committed he was to the task.
"Ma'am I can have the ship ready for combat operations inside a week. Anything less would be a suicide run."
The Commander looked satisfied. "Very well, a week it is. I've sent everything on ACACIA to your office. Study it well, otherwise you'll wind up like the last pilot who tried to work with it. Good night."
And with that she clicked off, leaving Jaster with more questions than answers.
The last pilot who tried to work with it? He backed out of the comms array and interfaced with his office. Sure enough the file was there as the Commander had promised, and along with it a few side notes from a high ranking Caldarian medical official. He checked the official program files first, to make sure that everything was indeed there. Then he hesitantly opened the medical notes file and began to read.
Day 1 - Subject 117. Gallente Prisoner 57493-4. Name unknown at time of capture. Physical characteristics unremarkable, however neural activity and potential was above normal, hence why he was chosen for this expiriment. When placed inside a standard capsule after undergoing the implatation process for capsuleering, showed great aptitude for starship piloting and combat proficiency. Moved to second stage of testing involving ACACIA program.
Day 2 - At first all went as planned, but as soon as combat testing began, several spikes in the cerebral cortex were noted, almost as if his brain were fighting the computer for dominance. Testing cut short, but not before severe neural damage was sustained. Subject removed from further testing.
Day 45 - After a few weeks subject was lost due to brain death. Subject's clone activated, however clone also showed signs of neural damage, though not as extensive as the original.
Day 46 - After extensive neural evaluation, subject was deemed fit to resume testing, however the scans did reveal lack of restraint and lowered inhibition. These effects were reduced with medication, but should be noted as possibly problematic. Testing resumed, with modifications to ACACIA program.
Day 48 - Subject continues to show excellent proficiency in combat operations. Have made recommendations for modification of ACACIA program to allow for pilot-only operation during combat scenarios.
Day 75 - Subject removed from testing due to extensive fatigue to nervous system. No other test subjects scheduled. Will send notes on to ACACIA research team.
Dr. Maki Sato
Caldari Medical Board
Jaster finished reading, with mixed emotions. On the one hand it seemed that the last pilot who had undergone training/testing with the program had not initially been a trained pilot. On the other hand the thought of long lasting neural issues had him nervous. He finished reading the rest of the files, mostly long winded evaluations and reports of how the system integrates with the ship and pilot, and what it's supposed capabilities are. He then clicked off the channel, and opened a new one, this time to the dockmaster. Her face materialized on the screen.
"This is dockmaster Jiro, what can I do for you sir?"
Jaster stretched and then spoke.
"I need an evaluation on time needed to conduct repairs on my ship."
The dockmaster punched a few menus up, and then smiled.
"Sir, preliminary repairs to the drive systems and navigation are complete, however the hull damage will require at least 3 days, more if there's damage to the underlying relay systems for the shields. However we can be persuaded to work faster if the price is right..."
Jaster smiled and shook his head. Ah capitalism..
"Very well I'll provide an additional 1 million Kredits, but only if the repairs are done in 2 days."
The dockmaster nodded.
"Alright, 2 days and 1 million. One more question sir. What are your plans for armaments and defensive augmentation?"
Jaster had to admit she was quick.
"Don't worry about those, I have a few more old favors to call in, but for the time being I'll have to rely on my task force for to defend my ship. In the meantime, get started on those repairs."
The dockmaster nodded and clicked off the channel. Jaster went to his personal accounts and transferred the money, albeit a little hesitantly. He only had a savings of 800,000, and getting the other 200,000 before anyone noticed they hadn't been fully paid was going to be tricky. He sighed, then made his way toward the bridge exit, his mind running overtime with everything he would have to do in the week to come.