Sometimes you just have to slow down, sip a cup of coffee or a glass of whiskey and appreciate the work being done.
Keep fucking with people, keep backing them against a wall, keep pushing the issue. Don’t be surprised when they tear your throat out.
“Just because you can pick on some miners, and other pilots that can’t shoot back doesn’t make you hard. It makes you a bitch, and if you’re going to act like a bitch, you’re going to die like a bitch.”
ALAL SOLAR SYSTEM
I had gotten word that Xvisha Mirkash had lost a Vagabond-class Heavy Assault Cruiser in the Bordan solar system. Agrond had informed me also that he was on his way back and was in Alal in a Typhoon-class battleship. I loaded up Draugr, my Phantasm-class cruiser, and made my way over there. Xvisha was orbiting the gate, and was trying to bait an engagement. Nick and Sol had also made their way into Alal in Stratios-class and Thorax-class cruisers. Stephanie was already near the gate in a Moa-class cruiser. Nick jumped into the Assez solar system, and quickly revealed that Tefkros was on the other side of the gate in a Claymore-class Command Ship. Tefkros engaged Nick, who quickly jumped back into Alal. I jumped into Assez to see if anymore enemies were amassing on the other side, only to find Tefkros alone, still in the Claymore, and still unable to jump to do an engagement timer.
I smirked, and turned toward the gate, activating my afterburner as he began engaging me. Agrond called that he was receiving fire from the Typhoon on the other side of the gate, so I jumped, leaving Tefkros stuck with another timer.
As I jumped back into Alal, I engaged my afterburner and burned toward the Typhoon, only to engage my warp disruptor, stasis webifier and afterburner. I began utilizing my drones to kill the heavier drones on field before opening fire with my pulse lasers. As the Typhoon entered low structure, Tefkros jumped into system, at which point I called for the pilots engaging the Typhoon to overload their weapons, which caused it to detonate. The Claymore was already tackled, and I smirked, “Burn it the fuck down.”
All fire shifted to the Command Ship, which prevented him from burning back toward the gate due to the electronic warfare being applied. I smiled as the Claymore began to roll to port and as the armor plating bowed outward before rupturing, the hull being blown apart by the reactor going critical. Vicky Shadow arrived just in time to see his cohorts die, only to end up having to fly home in a capsule as well.
At the end of the morning, approximately 966 billion ISK had been removed from their inventory forcibly, and approximately 160 million of that was made available for ship replacement funds due to the deadspace pirate modules that were looted from the wreckage. All in all, it had been a good morning.
Sometimes you have to look at a fucked up situation and show everyone that enough is fucking enough.
“Sometimes there is a light in the abyss. But be careful not to look too closely as it may just be more Hell fire.”
NISUWA SOLAR SYSTEM
BLACK RISE REGION
“Jack, we’re on approach,” Ferris called across internal comms of Iron Claw, a Manticore-class Stealth bomber, “I’ll be docking with that derelict ship maintenance array in about forty seconds.” I looked around the cargo hold, and huddled between the racks of torpedoes that were fitted to automatic loaders was a group of seven other men. Mercenaries that Ferris had hired for just this occasion. I knew very well the type of ilk he associated with, so I knew that I would have to watch my back. However, at the same time, I knew I would be okay, as the whole operation was hinging on me getting The Devil’s Luck out of the system in one piece.
My hair stood on end as the electromagnets that allowed for the small, nimble vessel to utilize its cloaking device to bend light around it disengaged. I hefted my plasma rifle and checked the charge on it before dropping it to its slung position, only to then check my flechette pistol. “Well ladies, looks like its show time,” I said with a cigarette clenched between my teeth. The men nodded and moved toward the loading ramp. “Life support seems to be operational based on what my sensors are picking up. Good luck Jack. I’ve got a cyno pilot waiting for you in Kubinen should you fuckers pull this off,” Ferris said with a smirk. I laughed, “Always the optimist. But shit, could you pick a worse location? I mean, whatever pilot you hire to take it from there is going to have to take it out through Sivala.” “Not my problem at that point, this is a salvage operation,” Ferris replied.
Servos whirred to life as the loading ramp lowered, a familiar foul stench wafting in from the hangar of the ship maintenance array. “Ferris, just so you know, it smells like death in here. I mean like a lot of something died here and then rotted,” I said over comms.
I shook my head, and stepped off of the ramp, my boot immediately being coated with an acrid-smelling, sticky substance. I looked down and realized it was a mass of blood and putrified flesh which appeared to have once been human. “Shit,” I whispered.
I took another step, flanked by the seven mercenaries, each training their weapon a separate direction, covering high and low as we started to slowly cross the hangar toward the Anshar hull which was across the bay. One of the men called out, “Movement, right side high.” “Spread out, and look for cover in case this goes to shit,” I replied coldly. This was my element, infiltrating a potentially hostile environment and having to rely on my wits, tactics, training, and the man to my right and left.
“Carrigan, you’re going to want to see this,” another one of the men said quietly. He motioned with his weapon light toward a dark silhouette near a stack of shipping containers. I turned, only to see a partially decomposed human corpse wearing a tattered Federation Navy officer’s uniform. The reality set in when I noticed there were chunks of flesh that appeared to have been bitten from it. “Ferris, these guys aren’t rogue, they’ve gone feral. It’s evident they ran out of food and resorted to cannibalism,” I said over comms, shouldering my rifle as I heard a sound from one of the overhead gantries. I heard the whine of the Manticore’s engines as it maneuvered to leave the hangar, “Copy that. Reports said that ship was running a partial crew, so maybe ten at most. And if what you say is true, then you’re looking at likely half that. I’m going to set up to blow this place once you clear it to prevent any from escaping.” “Yeah yeah fucker. I know you’re running. Don’t bullshit me,” I said angrily as a crack rang out from overhead. Automatic plasma fire erupted around me as the detachment of mercenaries opened up at the source of the shot, only to have a body fall from the gantry and land on the deck below, riddled with burns.
“Well boys, only one way out now,” I said, pointing at the Anshar, “Let’s clear it and get the fuck out of here.”
I approached the vessel which we had come for, only to make my way toward the cargo hold access panel. I ripped the panel open, broke out my multi-tool and began cutting wires. The seven stood as a defensive barrier around me. I crossed several wires, only to hear hydraulics whine as the bay doors opened. I was the first in.
The Devil’s Luck smelled worse inside than the hangar in which she rested. I moved forward through one of the crew access hatches and into the corridor which led to the bridge. Clearing the narrow corridors was made simple as we had a strong base of fire to the front as well as the rear as we pressed forward. It seemed as if the majority of the crew who had not died had taken up residence in the maintenance array itself. As we reached the bridge, I stepped through the hatch, only to have to immediately duck. A man wearing the ragged remains of a Federation Navy Security Forces uniform swung a fire bottle in an attempt to hit me in the head with it, likely in hopes of making me his next meal. A plasma bolt lanced past me, striking him in the throat, rendering him incapable of continuing his assault. A secondary shot struck him in the head, killing him.
“Alright, we made it. Hold security here while I power this thing up. Try to jam or barricade the hatch if you can,” I said calmly, making my way toward the capsule which was already locked into place to interface with the ship.
Moments later, the capsule sealed me into the warm, dark embrace of amniotic fluid as the interface cables were connected. I exerted my will on the vessel, causing a dull hum to be heard throughout as the central reactor came to life. All interior lighting blazed to life, revealing macabre evidence of what had transpired. There was blood spatter, smears and drag marks throughout the hull. It was evident that a few crew members retained their sanity and were not willing participants in the cannibalistic tendencies of those whom hunger had driven mad. Claw marks from where crew mates attempted to cling to the deck to avoid being dragged away were visible in several places.
The vessel listed slightly to the left as I rerouted power to the engines. The Devil’s Luck slowly maneuvered out from the ship maintenance array’s hangar. I engaged the comms, “Ferris, get that cyno lit. This ship gives me the fucking creeps.” “Just relayed your message. Cyno is up, I’m taking this fucker out before I leave,” he replied. I watched a trio of torpedoes fly past as I engaged the vessel’s jump drive.
SPACELANE PATROL ASSEMBLY PLANT
KUBINEN SOLAR SYSTEM
THE CITADEL REGION
I was walking toward the capsuleer hangars to pick up the shuttle I had just purchased when Ferris sent me a message:
To: Jack Carrigan
From: Ferris Lex
Subject: The Devil’s Luck
Mate, that ship was more fucked up than you thought. There were at least fifteen bodies recovered from the fuel bay. Crew men sealed themselves in there to try to avoid being eaten. Poor bastards starved to death. Anyway, if you check your wallet, you’ll notice that your cut has arrived.
I performed a quick check of my wallet, and smirked when I saw a tidy sum had been deposited. I smirked, “I love when a plan comes together.”
“Sometimes people make life-altering decisions. Most times, people make life-ending decisions.”
ANSASOS SOLAR SYSTEM
“Jack, you may want to take a look at this,” one of my corpmates said across comms as I was working on ridding local space of a few Rogue Drones. A readout of local telemetry relayed that a local pain in the ass had showed up in system again. A sneer crossed my lips as the last of the drone-commandeered vessels detonated into a small debris field, “Really? I can’t believe that Daniel Lightfoot didn’t learn his lesson last time.” A quick check of my directional scan revealed that there was a Brutix-class battlecruiser within 14.2 AU of my present location. I began attempting to narrow down the location when I noticed it through my exterior camera drones. Local comms chatter came to life, “Uh, hi.” I responded by attempting a tactical lock of his vessel. I had a flight of Curator II-class sentry drones deployed from Rasa, my Ishtar-class Heavy Assault Cruiser. I remained silent on comms, and then Daniel again spoke, “I’ll be going now.”
He entered warp, and began to start looking for other pilots to harass.
One of the other pilots within my alliance came across local communications, “I think you may be lost kid. Maybe you should find somewhere else to be.” Daniel replied, “I think maybe you should eat my ass. I don’t have to listen to you.”
I aligned to the station which I based my operations out of, and engaged the warp drive on Rasa. A moment later, my docking request was accepted. The other pilot came across alliance comms, “Are we going to take that?” As I disengaged my capsule from Rasa and had my crew bring up Feikinstafir, my Curse-class Combat Reconnaissance Cruiser I replied, “not even once. Get a couple of the coalition guys spun up. We’re going hunting.”
It didn’t take long to get a couple of pilots from the coalition into the system, and seconds after local became increasingly hostile, local telemetry feeds showed that Daniel had departed the system. “Well shit,” one of my alliance mates said with a sigh. I laughed as I received clearance to undock, “Don’t give up that easily. Go check Iderion, we already know he’s not here, and not in Bordan. So if he isn’t there, that leaves one alternative.”
Another alliance pilot came across comms, “Well, I can tell you for a fact that he’s not in Iderion.” “Everyone set up on the Dehrokh gate and hold. We’ll give Jack an opportunity to work his magic, and with a little bit of luck, that kid ain’t going to be living through this,” one of our coalition pilots said with a sadistic smirk.
I willed Feikinstafir toward the Dehrokh stargate, and called down to engineering, “how are systems looking?” “Everything is operating within normal parameters, commander,” was the reply I received. “Outstanding,” I said, willing the vessel’s sublight engines to power down, causing a brief shudder through the hull of the ship as the warp drive spooled up and engaged. The visual of my vessel in warp is one that I could always count on to allow me a moment to focus. I closed my eyes momentarily, and when I opened them, the Dehrokh stargate appeared projected across my retinas from my exterior camera drones.
DEHROKH SOLAR SYSTEM
My ship remained cloaked as I had just jumped into the system. Not like it would really matter, as the beautiful thing about Feikinstafir is that it would not appear on directional scan, even if it wasn’t cloaked. The Combat Reconnaissance Cruiser was one of those ships that was ideal for its designated role for just that reason. A quick scan of the area surrounding my vessel revealed that the Brutix-class battlecruiser was nearby. By narrowing down the angular scope of the scan, I was able to determine that Daniel Lightfoot was in one of the spatial anomalies, likely attempting to kill some of the local Blood Raiders for CONCORD bounties. I chuckled knowing that he had no way of knowing that I was coming. I willed the vessel into alignment with the anomaly, and engaged the warp drive.
As I came out of warp, I began to attain a tactical lock on the Brutix-class Battlecruiser, and engaged my vessel’s warp disruptor, as well as both neutralizers and nosferatus. I called down to engineering, “He’s launching drones, reroute power to shielding, and give me a readout on his capacitor.” I then switched over to coalition comms, “Jump and warp to me, I’ve got him.”
It wasn’t long before the second Curse, a Stork-class Command Destroyer and an Ishtar-class Heavy Assault Cruiser landed in the anomaly as well. Daniel came over local comms, “So that’s how it’s going to be is it?” “Talk shit, get hit,” I replied calmly. A pang of panic crossed his voice as he shouted, “I didn’t talk shit.”
Engineering called up, “Enemy ship capacitor at critical, disengaging neutralizer number two to stabilize our capacitor.” “Thank you,” I replied as I watched the armor plating of the proud Gallente ship began to be sheared off by the onslaught of incoming drones and rockets. Local communications went quiet as Daniel’s drones stopped attacking me, most of them damaged to the point of inoperability. I was just about to call to hold the vessel, as it was essentially dead in space between the two Curse-class Combat Reconnaissance Cruisers, but then the reactor went critical. A bright flash was followed by a twisting of I-beams and blossom of plates rupturing outward. The ejected capsule was all that remained, and I ensured that it did just that by engaging the warp disruptor on it. “Enjoy the ride home asshole,” I said with a smirk.
I scooped Daniel’s corpse into my cargohold, and prepared to transport it, and all of the items that he had worked for from his cargo to my home station. It was just another trophy that would go into a station container that was set up for cold storage. Another macabre reminder that even in death there was no permanence.
I turned and set a course for home, as I had many other things to attend to, including getting some lunch. Upon my return, another coalition pilot advised me that Daniel had come back seeking revenge, and lost a Thorax-class Cruiser, and then again later, which cost him a Myrmidon-class Battlecruiser.
Personally, despite the fact we were trying to send him a message that his presence wasn’t wanted in our space, if he wanted to continue to lose ships to our pilots, I wasn’t going to be too upset about the situation.
“Sometimes you have bad shit happen, other times you have the devil’s luck.”
ANSASOS SOLAR SYSTEM
Security teams moved into fighting positions within the sprawling hangar of Barataria Bay, my corporation’s Fortizar-class citadel. I stood in the doorway that led to the corporation offices waiting for the lone Thorax-class cruiser that had been granted access to dock despite normally strict docking restrictions. I held a plasma rifle in a low ready position as the vessel moved into its final position before powering down. I held my hand up signalling the security teams to “hold” as I stepped forward into the hangar. The crew access hatch opened, and a man with a similar build to myself with long hair and wearing a black duster stepped out from the vessel. I lowered my rifle and let my hand rest down by my side. “Ferris fucking Lex,” I said with a smirk, “How the fuck have you been?” He looked around, knowing that if he had been a hostile entity, the hostilities wouldn’t have ended well, “Not too bad for an honest pilot. Looks like piracy has been treating you well.” I chuckled and motioned for Ferris to follow, “Well, piracy is treating me well enough. But the honest work of a lot of my alliance pilots is what brought this dream to fruition.”
I guided Ferris to an office door bearing the logo of Order of the Shadow and stepped inside, motioning for him to have a seat, “So, what brings you out to the ass end of the empire?” “Never one for small talk,” Ferris said with a broad grin, “Well, I have a score that you might be interested in.” I reached over to my desk, and pulled the pack of cigarettes from the top drawer, only to pull one from the pack with my teeth and set the pack down before lighting the cigarette that now hung loosely from my lips, “I’m listening.” “Well, if you remember well enough, that freighter of yours had a sister ship,” Ferris said, reaching into his coat, only to retrieve a small data chip and then place it onto the reader on my desk. I was skeptical, as I had heard the distress call that The Devil’s Luck had sent out the night she was lost. The reader displayed a holographic image of a badly damaged Obelisk-class Freighter and a set of coordinates. From the look of it, the ship was sitting in the hangar of a derelict station, “There is no fucking way this is real. I heard that ship fall under attack, and the distress calls didn’t sound too promising.” “Well, apparently there was a passing Federation patrol that didn’t take too kindly to their pilots being attacked, even if they were pretty far into enemy territory. A report got generated, and then was summarily destroyed, the entire incident being purged from the in-flight recorders of those ships,” Ferris continued. I looked at the coordinates, “That thing is stuck in the Black Rise region on the far side of Tama. That entire area is a war zone,” I said, rubbing the stubble on my chin. Ferris snickered, “Well mate, if you think you can’t get in there and figure out the fate of the ship, I guess I could hire someone else. But I know you always managed to get me out of some tight spots back in the day.” I considered the ramifications of the proposal, “What’s the angle?”
Ferris laughed, “I was hoping you would ask that. The original superstructure of the ship was pretty much slag, and there are a lot of disgruntled personnel that have been stuck out there for quite some time. On the up side, the ship has been retrofitted, and they almost have the jump drive online. So it’s been converted to an Anshar-class. The problem is, they don’t have anyone that can pilot one, and they only want someone that they can trust.” “So we’re basing this on my reputation, and they’re operating on an assumption,” I replied, rapping my knuckles against the side of my desk. “Exactly,” Ferris replied, “However, most of these guys are rogues, so there’s no telling what the hell they’d do to someone coming to help them. So I’d recommend taking a small task force out, and then board the ship with an armed boarding party, clear out anyone who plans on putting up resistance, and then taking the ship.” “You want the ship for yourself,” I inquired, “Don’t you?” “Absolutely. However, I’m more interested in the cargo, as there is some pretty decent hardware in there that could fetch a nice price on the market, or increase effectiveness of capsuleer vessels in the right hands,” he replied, “and I’m willing to split the cut with you, just like the old days.” “You’re going to have to make me a better offer than that, as your idea of splitting the cut cost me repairs on multiple ships, and several good men,” I retorted. “Fifty percent, equipment provided, crew provided,” Ferris said flatly.
“I’m in,” I replied.
TO BE CONTINUED