Engine Room of the Anvil, Hek, Metropolis
In another bid to find a cheap upgrade (if you can call over 4 million ISK cheap), Rhavas had gone far out of his way to pick up the new ship. While he didn’t enjoy flying the naked hull back across Metropolis, even in high-sec space, the trip had been uneventful.
While his corpmates talked a good game about frigate combat, he found that in order to do much with a small group, particularly on the agent-assigned missions that some of the veterans liked to run, bigger ships were required. The frigates were for roaming wolfpacks, gang combat, and FC training. So he started working on the next class up – cruisers. He had been studying the Rupture-class vessels for weeks, and finally had scraped together enough money to get one.
For a Matari pilot, the Rupture was an odd bird. It was slow compared to most Minmatar ships. It was built to favor heavy armor, rather than shields. While it would require a whole different style of flight, that was part of its appeal. Among Minmatar cruisers, it was less the irresistable force than the immovable object, and so he had named it the Anvil.
His Trade Manager had been unable to stifle a loud bark of laughter when Rhavas passed him the rigging schematic he had downloaded from advanced fleet design specs. “With all due respect, sir, you can’t afford this stuff if you want a prayer of getting that Cheetah, it’s cloak, and a cloak for the Percheron like you keep saying. And the Chief Engineer you have on staff won’t know what the hell to do with it.”
“Just do the best you can,” Rhavas had told him. “I want that 1600mm armor.” The Trade Manager chewed his lip a moment, thought better of what he was going to say, and nodded.
Now, a few days later, Rhavas could see the man had been right. He had, however, come through with the armor, even though it wasn’t the tungsten variety Rhavas had really wanted.
The engine room looked like it had been patched together out of spare parts. There was only one gun wiring harness connected, and yet the armor could not hold power regardless of where or how Rhavas connected it. The Chief Engineer had regaled Rhavas with how long he’d spent with schematics trying to troubleshoot it and not yet been successful, and then had proceeded to disappear for two days. Rhavas himself had been studying the flight manual incessantly. Surely it couldn’t be this bad. People bought and fitted cruisers every day, right?
“That wire’s too thick. Her gun emplacement’s wrong.” The voice was gravelly, a rasp of sandpaper over burlap.
Rhavas rolled himself out from under the wiring rack. The man standing there was in his late 50s, with deep-set eyes and great slabs of hands. Short, stoutly built and powerful despite his years.
“Who are you?” Rhavas asked.
“Crane Operator. Hephast Gehrt.”
“Very well, Mr. Gehrt. What exactly are you talking about?”
“That wire.” Gehrt pointed to a large connector with a thick wire routing up into a conduit that ran up through the ship to the gunmounts. “If you want to fit 1600mm armor, you can’t have guns as big as that. Now, that’s assuming your man isn’t stupid enough to have run heavy wire for a smaller autocannon. But we’ll give him a little bit of credit.”
As Rhavas looked at the wire he had reached around a hundred times that day as if for the first time, he realized the man was right. The gauge was far too heavy for the guns he had instructed the crew to install. He reached out to a nearby wall panel, laid his hand flat on it long enough for the ship’s security to recognize his touch, and then reached into the small opening that appeared. He pulled out a jack on another wire and plugged it with one deft motion into the back of his skull.
He pulled up the schematic of the ship, and followed the wire. Up, up, and out to starboard. Damn it. The gun that was there was not the right gun.
Rhavas disconnected from the ship, and with a jerk yanked the offending gun wire’s plug lead from its socket, connecting the armor’s power cable in its place. With a deep thrum he could feel in his bones, the ship’s power armor hummed to life.
Rhavas put the control wire back in the wall, calmly closed the hatch over it, and stalked off the ship.
He found his Cargo Manager in the hangar. “Get me the Chief Engineer. Now.” Unlike many capsuleers, he rarely was blunt with the senior crew members – he was sensitive to the instinctive Matari cultural reaction to being treated like a slave, and he needed their active assistance, loyalty and creativity, not just obedience. The Cargo Manager nodded and ran off.
Gehrt stood waiting on the ship’s gangway. “I’ll pull that gun off the hull if you’d like, before I start passing up the others?” Rhavas nodded.
He watched Gehrt operate the hangar crane. The man clearly knew what he was doing. The massive lifter moved like an extension of the stout man’s arm, lifting, moving, loading things into holding brackets so they could be secured. Three of the 220mm Vulcan autocannons (the right gun) were mounted, and the fourth on the way up, when he heard the Cargo Manager clear his throat behind him.
Rhavas turned, and saw the Chief Engineer. The technician clearly hadn’t showered or shaved in the two days he had been gone, and was slobbering drunk. For Rhavas, now used to being isolated in pod fluid almost constantly, the man’s stench hit him like a wall.
“The gun you mounted was too big for the generator,” Rhavas said.
The Chief Engineer shrugged. “Sorry.” He didn’t sound terribly contrite. “I’ll be back tomorrow when I feel a bit better, and we’ll get it done. Sir.”
Rhavas smiled coldly. “No, no you won’t. Get out before I put you out the airlock. And don’t come back.” The engineer looked surprised, as if the fog of his stupor had suddenly lifted and he realized that he was talking to someone who not only could, but would do exactly that. He turned and shambled off as quickly as he could.
Gehrt lifted the last missile launcher into place, and Rhavas waved for him to climb down from the cab of the crane.
“What is it?” Gehrt asked. “Something not to your liking?”
Rhavas shook his head. “No. Indeed, things are looking up.”
“How much did you say you get paid by the Republic to run that crane?”