Drone Integration

Drone Integration – Part 1: The Mechanic

I don’t often loose combat drones. Some would chalk it up to luck. But I knew it was really due to the efforts of one man, Hubert, an extraordinarily gifted maintenance engineer on my crew.

Hubert had a real passion for engineering and maintenance of machines – drones in particular. I once asked him about it. He answered that as a child robotics and drones fascinated him. But in his usual quiet manner he did not elaborate any further. He seldom spoke and had a wise dignified aura about him.

His gift for engineering was something amazing to behold. He would operate certain functions of a drone and then hold his hand on the drone, or run it over its surface. Sometime he would lean close to the drone and listen very carefully. Others would playfully tease him about it and say that the drones were his pets and that he was petting and caressing them.

However, there was method to his actions. He knew exactly how each system of a drone should sound and feel when it is busy operating. Using the tactile sense of his hands and the auditory sense of his ears he could tell which systems were faulty, needed maintenance, tuning or re-calibration.

After he worked on a drone it was guaranteed to be perfectly finetuned and perform optimally. In all the years he worked as part of the crew the drones were always in top condition and well maintained. Any breakdowns were taken care of very fast and efficiently and the drones would be up and running again in no time, as good as new.


Drone Integration – Part 2: The Tea and The Horse

The faint smell of mint tracing its way through the ship’s ventilation system would announce to everyone when Hubert took tea breaks. It was a calming and soothing aroma. He loved his mint tea and made sure there was always a supply onboard.

To prevent anyone else from taking his precious mint tea leaves he would hide them behind spare parts in one cupboard in the maintenance bay, which he thought no-one knew about. Of course everyone actually knew. The love of mint tea never spread to the other crew so his tea leaves remained quite safe.

Hubert was well respected amongst the crew and myself, and it was not only because of his engineering abilities. He would make sure to greet everyone he passed on the ship. And we never even once saw him lose his temper or shout. He always seemed calm, dignified and composed.

In fact I can only recall 2 occasions where he lost his composure.

Many years ago there was a party to thank the crew for their hard work. The party was held in the maintenance bay because it had plenty of space and was empty except for one powered down drone that was due for repairs.

Everyone had a good time and Hubert tried a few drinks he had never had before. The next thing I knew he was sitting on top of the large drone and yelling “I’m on a dragon flying through the sky! Yee-haw! Breathe fire! I’m unstoppable!”

This carried on for a few minutes. Then he started stripping. A few people that also had a little too much to drink shouted, “Do it! Do it!” egging him on. I heard a few giggles and shrieks from ladies that were part of the crew.

I was able to stop him just before he pulled down his underpants. Somehow I managed to calm him down and got him to dismount “his dragon.” Myself and two other crew members took him to the crew’s quarters and had him sleep it off. We did not ever talk about the incident, but I still silently giggle whenever I picture him riding the drone like horse.

The only other time he lost his composure I was busy with a market trade and was not present myself when it happened. I only know what I heard from other crew. But let’s just say what happens in Jita stays in Jita.


Drone Integration – Part 3: The Hammer

Hubert was never one for long conversations and did not seem to want to talk about himself. About the only thing anyone knew about his interests and hobbies was that he liked animals and enjoyed reading.

No-one knew much about Hubert’s personal life away from the ship. We knew he was married and met his wife on a few occasions and parties. She seemed like a nice lady and they both seemed very much in love. She was luckily not present for the ‘dragon’ incident.

One day Hubert came to me privately and asked if he could stay on the ship for a few days. It was the first and only time he ever asked for anything.

I told him it was OK. He had become a trusted and valued member of the crew during the prior years and I saw no reason to refuse his request.

Naturally I was curious about the reason. All he said was “I’m having a disagreement with the wife.” I did not ask for more details.

The next 4 days he worked and slept on the ship, without stepping foot outside.

However, his maintenance work during that time was a bit more ‘intense’ than normal. A few of the crew came to me and reported that there was more noise coming from the maintenance bay than was usual. They said that when they went to look they found him banging on things with a hammer – a lot harder, and a lot more than what was needed.

Over those 4 days the hammer was his favorite tool. In fact, sometimes it almost sounded as if it was the only tool he used.

I kept what he had said about having a disagreement confidential, and simply told any crew that complained to cut him a bit of slack and please give him some extra space for a while. I thought it best not to interfere with him, and let him work out what he needs to by himself.

By the 4th day of hammering I was getting close to throwing the hammer out of the airlock, and banning all hammers from the ship, forever.

Luckily for me the noise stopped on that day. He received a call from his wife. They had a long discussion on a private communications line, after which he left the ship and went home.

The next day he came to work on the ship with a huge silly smile on his face. I did not need to ask what happened. It was obvious that he and the wife had made up, and the disagreement was solved.


Drone Integration – Part 4: The New Job

Somehow I had gotten a lead on a promising new job offer. However, instead of simply sending the details for the job via standard interstellar communication the client wanted a face to face meeting.

A meeting was always a sign that a job would be complicated in some way. Usually it meant that either the job would be illegal, or that there was something confidential and sensitive about it. Since the client was connected to Concord I assumed it was the latter and therefore agreed to meet.

The meeting would happen on a planet that I had not been to before. There was a large and famous drone research and manufacturing facility in the same city. I thought Hubert would be interested in seeing the place and therefore invited him along. It seemed like a good enough way to kill a bit of time before the meeting.

Hubert agreed immediately.

It took a few hours for the ship to travel to the right star system and warp to the planet. Hubert kept visiting the bridge and looking at the navigation map. Even though he said nothing, “Are we there yet” was clearly written all over his face.

Finally we arrived at the planet and docked with the station orbiting it

Hubert and myself disembarked the spaceship while other crew and the station dock personnel commenced refuelling. We took a planetary shuttle down and landed safely at the spaceport on the surface.

We ran into a slight snag at the custom’s checkpoint. Hubert had brought a small component from a drone with him that he wanted to take to the drone factory. He wanted to ask the technicians there to examine it and give him extra information about it.

However the scanner at the spaceport’s checkpoint had flagged it is as something unknown. The security staff did not know what it was and we had to wait in a holding area until they could verify it was safe.

The component Hubert brought was in box and I had not seen it. I was curious to know what caused the commotion so after we left the spaceport I asked him to show it to me. The component looked weird and freaky. If I was a security officer I would have also been worried if I had seem someone transporting something looking like this.

Hubert explained it was part of the engine directional thrust control. He sounded half annoyed as if he expected everybody to know something this ‘obvious’ already.


Drone Integration – Part 5: The Funny Fish

I hired a vehicle and we headed to the drone research and manufacturing facility. The vehicle’s automatic navigation system meant I simply had to input the destination and then sit back and wait until we arrived.

From the outside the facility looked incredibly impressive. It was huge. Its architectural design gave off this ‘high tech with more money than what they knew what to with’ vibe.

After the vehicle parked we went to the reception area. We did not have an appointment with anyone, so we had to wait a while until one of their technicians had some free time to come to the lobby and speak to us.

Once the technician arrived I basically became background scenery. They got completely immersed in their discussion of anything and everything drone related. I might as well not have existed as far as the technician and Hubert were concerned.

I did not understand most of what they were talking about. There was nothing I could do to contribute to the conversation. All I could do was to stand there pretending I understood what was being said.

Eventually I started yawning and my boredom started to get irritating. I looked around to try and find something to keep myself busy with.

I spotted a massive fish tank in the far side of the lobby, so I walked over to it.

It took me about 4 minutes to walk to the fish tank because of the size of the lobby! And this was just the lobby! I could not imagine how long it would take to walk or move around the rest of the building.

The fish tank itself was also a marvel to me. I thought it was big enough that they could have had whales in there if they had wanted. However they only seemed to have small and medium sized fish in there.

I must have stared at the fish swimming back and forth for maybe half an hour. Then I spotted a weird looking fish with big googley eyes. Watching it swim around with its big funny eyes kept me amused for a while.

But even this was getting boring. I started tapping the glass lightly with my fingers to chase the fish around. After a few minutes a receptionist arrived and told me to stop doing it. So I went back to just staring at the funny looking fish.

A while later I walked back to where Hubert was. He was still very busy with his conversation. I decided to give him a bit more time because this was a rare opportunity for him to talk to a technician at a facility like this.

Back to the fish tank I went again. I found the funny looking fish and continued watching it. Yes, it was as boring as it sounds.

I was relieved when the time for the meeting finally got close and we had to leave. I had a good reason to pull Hubert away that he could not refuse.


Drone Integration – Part 6: The Funny Noise

As we climbed into the vehicle Hubert realized because of all the talking he had completely forgotten to get the drone component examined. He wanted to go back.

I told him ‘no’. We did not have enough time and I did not want to run late for the meeting. I was happy to have a good excuse for not going back because I did not want to stare at the fish tank any longer.

I asked if he had the contact information for his new friend, the technician. He nodded yes.

I suggested that he could do his own scans of the component and mail the data to the technician. I explained if the technician had all the data and results I thought it was possible he could analyze the data and give Hubert the information he wanted just as easily as if he had examined the component himself.

Hubert grumbled something about it not being the same. But he realized we did not have time to go back now.

After that, as usual, Hubert did not say much. There was mostly silence as the vehicle navigated by itself and took us towards the destination for the meeting.

About halfway to the meeting place there was a strange ‘clank’ sound from somewhere on the vehicle.

Promptly a big red message appeared on the screen warning us that an engine malfunction was detected and that the vehicle would attempt to stop for our safety. The vehicle parked itself immediately with a few more ‘clank’ sounds during the process. It then powered down.

A few seconds later one screen lit up and informed us that the vehicle’s rental agency was aware of the breakdown and confirmed that they were sending us a replacement.

I figured it would take a few minutes to arrive. Out of curiosity I asked Hubert if he had any idea what went wrong. He looked at me with a frown and said that he knew nothing about planetary vehicles.

For me it was one of those “What the actual…!!!” moments. I kept my thoughts to myself, but I was very tempted to ask him how he could work on sophisticated drone and spacecraft systems and not know anything about simpler planetary vehicles.

We sat in silence waiting for the other vehicle to arrive.

About 10 minutes later the replacement vehicle arrived. It allowed us to board after scanning my identification and took us the rest of the way to our destination.

I decided to remember what happened and in future use it tease Hubert about not knowing how to work on vehicles.


Drone Integration – Part 7: The Client and the Tea Tea

Fortunately there were no problems with traffic or any other delays the rest of the route. We arrived at the meeting place a few minutes ahead of the arranged time. I would have hated to make a new client wait.

The meeting place itself was a generic looking restaurant that looked like it catered for lower cost meals. Looking through the windows I noticed there were only a few patrons inside, which was to be expected at this time of the day.

We walked in. Looking around I noticed a man sitting at a table in the back corner waving at us. I assumed it was the client and we approached.

When we got close to the table he stood up, greeted us and introduced himself as Magnus Crusher.

In response I greeted him back and introduced myself. Hubert did the same.

Magnus invited us to sit down and motioned for a waitron.

Hubert is quite courteous and will normally let others find their seats first. But this time he seemed unusually quick about picking the seat closest to the wall.

I took the remaining seat further away from the wall. The moment I sat down I instantly knew why Hubert had chosen his chair. I sat down in ‘something’. I was not sure what it was yet, but it was most likely something a previous customer had messed from their plate and the staff had missed it while cleaning after that person left.

This whole trip was quickly moving to the top of my list of most annoying things ever, that I never wanted to repeat again.

However, I wanted to maintain a professional disposition in front of the new client and pretended everything was fine.

The waitron arrived shortly and Magnus offered to buy us something to drink if we were thirsty. Magnus himself asked for a refill for his coffee. It seemed that he had arrived very early for the meeting.

I let Hubert go first. He of course asked the waitron for a mint tea and explained exactly how he would like it prepared.

The waitron apologized and replied that they did not have mint tea. Hubert paused for a second and then picked another fancy sounding tea. Again the waitron apologized and said that they did not have that either.

Hubert asked what types of teas they have.

“Sir, we have coffee and tea.” The waitron replied.

“Yes, but what type of tea do you have?” Hubert asked.

“Sir, it is just tea tea. You know just normal tea with nothing extra. Just tea tea.”

Hubert looked confused and as if the wind had just been knocked out of him. I think he did not even know how to respond to that. It took him a few seconds just staring at the waitron before he said “Ok, I’ll have your tea tea.”

I had a feeling I knew what would happen if the tea did not taste the way he wanted. He would probably lecture the poor waitron for forever, and then spend twice as long lecturing the manager about the tea and the lack of selection.

I gave him a look that said “You better drink your tea and pretend to like it.” I think he understood that I did not want to make a scene while the client was there, so he gave a small, almost imperceptible, nod.

The waitron looked at me next, and I said “I will have the coffee please.”


Drone Integration – Part 8: The Mission

While we were waiting for the tea and coffee to arrive Magnus explained that he worked as part of an independent group tasked by Concord to do very specific research. He did not elaborate on what type of research it is exactly.

We knew this information already from our first contact with him when we arranged this meeting. He was possibly repeating the information to be polite since we are now speaking face to face for the first time.

We had of course verified his credentials before coming here, and as best as we could determine it was all true.

I asked him if he needed any references from me.

He declined and said that he already knew everything he needed to.

I was not surprised because I am sure it is easy for someone with ties to Concord to get any information they want. Provided they have the right security clearance of course. I had no idea what level of security access he has though.

The coffees and tea arrived.

I noticed it was a completely different waitron. The original waitron must have experience in reading people and identified Hubert as a possible difficult customer. And thus we were quickly pushed onto another poor waitron who was probably newer, and who would now have to deal with any problems if any arises.

After the new waitron left Magnus started telling us about the mission.

Magnus explained that various agencies and organizations had detected many new rogue drone structure being constructed in known space.

Hubert’s ears picked up the mention of drones.

Concord was very concerned. They wanted the drones and structures completely eliminated. But they also wanted to know the purpose for the new structures and why the drones were acting in this way.

Many capsuleers were already assisting Concord and other security forces in clearing the drones and structures.

However, so far very little useful information could be gained from the drone’s wrecks after the battles. It appeared as if there was a type of self-destruct mechanism of some sorts in these drones that destroyed their central processing units and important systems.

And this is where we came into the picture.

Our task would be to attack one of the new rogue drone sites in a quieter star system. We would be provided with extra equipment that we would use to carefully scan and analyze the drones and the structures during the battle. To get enough scan data it meant we would have to prolong our battle. It would make our tactics more complicated.

Magnus told us that his group would be monitoring our progress and all scan data would be transmitted to them continuously throughout the battle.

He said that Concord wanted as mush data as possible. The way he spoke made it clear that there was something confidential that he was not telling us. Something was different about these drones that clearly had Concord worried.


Drone Integration – Part 9: The Mission Details

So far the mission sounded like it would be relatively straightforward. It would be challenging, but not impossible.

The payout was substantial. There was a fee for completing the mission, additionally Concord would pay a bounty for each rogue drone destroyed, and we could keep any items and salvage we recovered. It definitely seemed like a good deal.

There was an exception and Magnus, the client, was very clear about this point. If we happened to find any unknown items or sealed containers inside the drone wrecks we were not allowed to keep it. And we were not allowed to open or scan it in any way. The items had to be handed over to him or to Concord. However, it was not really a loss for us because apparently Concord would reward us handsomely for any such special items we handed over.

I wondered just what we might find out there. This was definitely one of the areas where he knew more than he was telling us.

Hubert had been listening intently to the discussion because it involved drones – rogue drones were still drones and piqued his curiosity. I noticed he had not had any of his tea and I was sure he was deliberately avoiding it, hoping no-one would notice. It gave me a chance for a bit of mischief.

“Hubert, why don’t you have your tea before it gets cold”, I said to him.

His facial expression was priceless as he looked at the tea and then slowly, very slowly, started sipping it. I kept my best neutral looking poker face, but inside I was giggling.

I wanted to know more about the special scanning equipment Magnus wanted us to use. I needed to know how we had to connect it to the ships power grid, how we would operate it, and if there would be any affect on the ship’s other systems.

Magnus explained, “Most of it will be upgrades added to your existing scanners and sensor arrays. The upgrades will have no negative impact on other systems.”

In the corner of my eye I could see Hubert continuing to very slowly sip his tea. Every once in a while a soft slurping sound could be heard from him.

Meanwhile, Magnus continued, “There is one piece of equipment that has to be mounted externally on a high power slot. You can think of it as a ‘utility module’ that will use some of the ship’s capacitor energy while it is active. It has to be directed at a specific target.”

“Our engineers will fit and calibrate all the equipment ourselves,” Magnus explained. “Information regarding the equipment is restricted. All I can give you are the cpu, power grid and capacitor requirements, so that you can ensure your ship is able to support and power all of it.”

“All the equipment must be returned to us. Therefore our engineers will remove all the equipment after the mission. No exceptions.”

Magnus maintained a friendly polite expression throughout his entire explanation. Yet at the same time you could easily tell that he was completely serious and was not to be trifled with. I was sure the last part was meant as a warning to anyone who might think of running off with the equipment.


Drone Integration – Part 10: The Condition

I informed Magnus that based on everything he had told me, I could see that I would need to hire an information specialist for this mission. My crew had previously done standard scanning and exploration, but nothing as complicated as the scanning and data processing that this mission would require.

Magnus agreed and surprised me by saying “I’m aware you do not have anyone with the relevant skills on your crew currently. To help you complete the mission successfully I found someone who would be suitable. I will give you their contact information.”

I should actually not have been surprised because Magnus has ties to Concord. He probably knew everything about me, my crew, our history add our ship. It was still a little disconcerting to have someone else know that much about you.

I thought to myself that he probably knew what I had for breakfast. I bet he even knew the colour of my underpants. For a second I actually wondered if I should ask him about the colour of my underpants.

But then I decided against it. I was trying to act professionally in front of this prospective client, and professionals don’t ask about underpants. Besides, I did not want to creep out a new client with such a strange question. And worst of all, if he actually knew the colour, I would be even more creeped out myself! This question was best left unspoken.

I noticed Hubert had finally finished his tea tea.

I told Magnus that I was fine with the conditions and the parameters for the mission.

I did however have one condition of my own. I explained that my crew’s safety is extremely important. I am responsible for making sure they return safely to their homes and families at the end of every mission.

For that very important reason I would not blindly take new unknown equipment into a mission. We needed to test the equipment and get familiar with its operation beforehand. And we had to formulate and adapt our tactics accordingly.

Otherwise I would flatly refuse the mission.

Magnus replied that my request was reasonable and acceptable. He said that we were allowed to operate and test the equipment before the mission as much as we needed.

I formally accepted the contract for the mission.

Magnus transferred the data we needed for the mission to my tablet. He sent the location of the station where his engineers would refit our ship with the new equipment. He also sent the details and information for the information specialist he had mentioned earlier.


Drone Integration – Part 11: The Extracted Codes

The meeting was concluded and Magnus, our new client, wished us a safe and successful mission.

Myself and Hubert thanked him and climbed into the rented vehicle. We headed back to the rental agency to hire a different type of vehicle. We would need something faster and with a far greater range.

Our goal was to make contact with the information specialist that Magnus had referred us to. It was a lady and her name was Cassey.

Magnus had provided us with her current location which meant we did not have to search for her, and thankfully she was on the same planet.

However, making contact would not be a simple task because she was working and staying in an area outside of the planet’s standard communication network. We would have to fly where she is.

Included in the information Magnus had transferred to us was some very recent background information on Cassey. I was starting to get used to the fact that Magnus seemed to know everything.

Apparently someone had hacked into the data of a mining corporation and obtained various high level security codes. The security codes were used to forcefully take over control of all the corporation’s extractors on this planet and shut them all down completely. Extractors are huge planetary mining facilities that drill and harvest resources.

The mining corporation was effectively locked out of all its own extractors. Their security and technicians were unsuccessful in trying to regain control and they were also unable to find which system was hacked.

Each day that passed with no resources being harvested meant the corporation was losing a huge amount of money. They were getting increasingly desperate. Their last resort would be to replace all the control and information systems in every single extractor across the planet. It would be prohibitively expensive and it would take months to complete before harvesting could be started back up again.

The corporation heard about Cassey and decided to ask for assistance. It seems that on this planet she is a well know specialist in networking, information and data. The corporation offered her a big amount of money as an incentive. They hoped she could help them solve their problem without having to replace all the systems as their last resort.

Cassey lived up to her reputation. One by one she was able to break through the hacker’s codes on each extractor and take back control.

Within a few days the corporation now had control over all its extractors again. New security measures and protocols were put in place and resource harvesting was resumed.

The corporation was exceptionally grateful and paid Cassey a bonus. They also promised to give her a stellar reference if she ever needed it for future clients.


Drone Integration – Part 12: The Other Extractor

The information Magnus, our client, supplied indicated that afterwards the mining corporation asked Cassey if she would also be willing to help them to find out where the data was hacked or leaked. They would pay her extra for this additional assistance.

Cassey took this job too.

There were only a few places in the corporation that normally held high level access codes and other confidential data. Yet after two weeks of deep analysis she still could not find the location in the company where the cyber intrusion occurred.

Then she stumbled onto something, purely by accident.

There was another extractor located in a remote area on the other side of the planet. It was only operational for a few months, many years ago. It had poor harvesting yield. Very soon it became unprofitable to run the extractor and to transport the resources from so far away to processing and refining plants.

As a result it was shut down and supposedly all the valuable equipment was removed. For tax refund purposes it was declared as a capital loss and removed from the company books and records. And everyone basically forgot about the extractor because it was abandoned so long ago.

When Cassey had previously analyzed the corporation’s hacked data she found some parts that oddly had an older format and was not quite identical to the current databases used. Now that she knew about the extractor that was abandoned years ago it suddenly made perfect sense.

The systems in the abandoned extractor were very old and therefore used an older format for the data. It was now easy to deduce that the hack must have happened at that that particular extractor. It seemed that a hacker somehow must have found out about the abandoned extractor, travelled to it, and found data that was accidentally left behind when the extractor was decommissioned.

The reason why the hacker could use the old data to take control of the other extractors was because the highest level access codes in the corporation had not been changed for years. So once the hacker had the old codes he could easily get in anywhere.

The corporation was again grateful that Cassey had solved this problem too, and they paid her for her services.

In fact, they were so happy with her work that they requested that she do one more job for them. They asked if she would consider traveling to the abandoned extractor and to delete all the data there. They wanted to make sure it was deleted properly and completely unrecoverable. It would be a long distance trip and therefore they would pay her enough to make it worth her while.

She agreed to do this job as well.

That is why she is currently located at the distant extractor on the other side of the planet. She is busy deleting the information. Since there is no communication with that area we would have to travel there to make contact with her.

That is where the information from Magnus ended.

However, there was a footnote from Magnus that made me worry: “PS. Please keep your eyes open. Something feels off.”


Drone Integration – Part 13: The Hyperjet

The easiest and quickest option to reach the abandoned extractor on the other side of the planet would be to rent a different type of high speed planetary vehicle capable of traversing the long distance. It would not be cheap though.

Hubert and myself arrived at the vehicle rental agency. We disembarked and I instructed the vehicle to return to its designated bay. The vehicle happily drove off by itself and I lost sight of it as it went around a corner behind buildings.

About one minute later I assume the vehicle must have reached its parking bay because I received an automated message from the vehicle agency. The message informed me that the rental contract was now complete and thanked me for making use of their services. I also noticed the money for renting the vehicle was automatically deducted from my wallet at the same time. The amount was based on the distance travelled and the duration of rental. I was pleasantly surprised because it was a very reasonable amount.

I walked into the rental agency’s offices to find out what types of vehicles they had that would be suitable for the long trip.

While I was busy talking to an agent, Hubert suddenly realized that he had accidentally left his drone part in the vehicle that we returned already. He did not want to lose it, so he immediately talked to someone at another desk and was referred to a customer service agent. So off Hubert went by himself to another area to try and see how he could get the drone part back.

That same drone part had caused problems getting through customs when we initially landed on the planet – and that reminded me that we were probably going to have the same problems at customs again when eventually we went through the spaceport a second time to return our spaceship. I did not want to go through all of that again. I secretly hoped the part had disappeared, forever.

Meanwhile I continued finding out about a vehicle we could use.

I was shown information and pictures of a vehicle called a hyperjet. It was capable of long distance flights. Exactly what we needed.

Near inhabited areas it was restricted to subsonic speeds due to airspace restrictions and safety regulations. However, once we were far enough away from the inhabited areas the craft could reach supersonic speeds.

The particular model of hyperjet was called a Hummingbird, possibly because it had the ability to do vertical take offs, vertical landings and could hover. This feature was very important because there might be limited landing areas at our destination.

The rental cost was very high however. When I saw the figures I cringed slightly. But we needed the craft and had no real other choice, so I signed the rental agreement.

Hubert was not back yet and I decided to sit in the reception while waiting for him. They provided complimentary coffee for their customers and I took advantage of the offer. While I was enjoying my coffee the rental agent told me that the hyperjet had been moved out of its hangar and was being re-fuelled for us.

Eventually Hubert returned with a small box in his hands, looking happy and content. He had his drone part back.

I told the rental agent we were ready to board the hyperjet. He showed us to the area where the craft was already waiting for us. It was quite a large flat concrete area away from other buildings, perfect for a take-off and landing.


Drone Integration – Part 14: The Hiccups

The hyperjet had a sleek design with wings that angled slightly forwards. To me it looked really cool and really fast. A green line ran along the length of the craft.

The hyperjet was a relatively small craft that had a maximum capacity of 4 people. Its navigation and flight systems were completely automated. No piloting knowledge was required for standard flights. All we had to do was give it a destination and tell it to go.

We boarded the hyperjet and I thought to myself that this would be a new experience for me because I had never flown in one before.

We strapped ourselves in and I input the coordinates that Magnus had provided.

I pressed the ‘Go’ button.

I could feel the craft vibrate as the engines started up. The vibration became stronger. Even though the interior was almost completely soundproof I could very faintly hear the rumble of the engines.

I felt a small jolt and looking though the window I saw that we were lifting off vertically in the air. We continued ascending until we reached a high enough altitude.

While hovering in the same spot the craft slowly pivoted until it was facing the correct direction.

The engine sound changed and suddenly the craft started accelerating forward very quickly and angled slightly upwards. We were ‘pushed’ back into our chairs by the acceleration.

I watched the numbers on the speed indicator running up rapidly. Looking out the window I saw the city’s buildings going by faster and faster. A few minutes later we had left the city behind.

Once we were far enough away from the city the craft started accelerating again. The craft started shuddering noticeably as we approached the sound barrier and and then broke through it. The shuddering went away and the flight was extremely smooth.

It would take us over 4 hours to reach our destination. There was not much to do except watch the scenery on the ground far below.

After a while I noticed something odd. Every few minutes two of the hyperjet’s main display screens looked like they experience a ‘hiccup’. They would rapidly blink on and off for three or four seconds. Then they were fine again until the next ‘hiccup’ happened.

Every time this happened I held my breath briefly and held onto the chair a little bit tighter. I only hoped this glitch was not dangerous.

Eventually after it happened a few times Hubert also noticed it.

He started pressing various buttons on the displays. I assumed he was trying to fix the problem. He did this for a few minutes.

His efforts did not seem to help, because a few minutes later the displays had a ‘hiccup’ again. This time instead of pressing button, Hubert tapped one display lightly with his fingers.

A few minutes went by and again the displays had a ‘hiccup’. Now Hubert hit the side of the display a few times harder with his palm.

Another few minutes later the displays started having their almost predictable ‘hiccup’. I saw Hubert getting ready to hit it a lot harder.

“Stop hitting it! Please leave the thing alone Hubert” I quickly stopped him. “I don’t want to risk the problem getting worse. If something goes wrong we will hit the ground like a missile.”

Hubert seemed annoyed and grumbled something that sounded like “OK”.