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Primal - An "8000 Suns in New Eden" Contest Entry

Vai Tanis
Hedion University
Amarr Empire
#1 - 2012-11-30 16:32:21 UTC
This is my first attempt at writing anything, but I always told myself I'd give it a go and after procrastinating for the last month or so finally decided to risk my fragile self-esteem in the court of public opinion and have a crack at it. Lol So without further ado, and weighing in at 2,300 words, I present Primal. Hope you enjoy it.


They say capsuleers can hear in space. That the interface between pod, pilot and ship inherently translates the myriad signals from it's sensors into forms the pilot is intimately familiar with; touch, sight and hearing.

Captain Marie Delacroix of the mining barge Merryweather Belle was not a capsuleer. As the vast ship slid from it's warp tunnel not thirty kilometres distant all she heard was the raucous blaring of alarms and the panicked shouting of the bridge crew.

In the frantic few seconds before the intruder resolved a target lock, amid the frantic pings of the Belle's sensor system and the scent of sour fear sweat, all she could see was the ominous black shape on the bridge monitor.

In the last moments of her life, as the great tachyon beams brushed aside the Belle's meagre shields and tore into the hull, she felt her ship buckle and twist. The cloud of vapourised metal, ore and flesh from the impact expanded laterally throughout the interior of the barge, incinerating it's crew-members and ripping apart bulkheads.

When the shock wave reached the bridge Captain Marie Delacroix ceased to exist. The roiling cloud of plasma was moving too quickly to hear it coming, or see as it shattered the bulkhead behind her. It reduced her to her component atoms too quickly for her brain to register the sensation, but in the microseconds afterwards, even as her mortal remains were vented through her ship's shattered hull into the void, she finally felt something no capsuleer ever would, oblivion.

Six months later

The ring system of the un-named gas giant was proving to be an extremely rich find. The exhumer Constantin had been on station for nearly three weeks, her strip miners running twenty four hours a day, the contents of her vast ore bay transferred into expandable jet-cans every few hours and anchored behind her as she cruised placidly through the belt, the mottled orange of the gas giant bathing her hull in a warm array of entrancing, shifting colours.

On the ship's bridge the reassuring chatter and hum of smoothly running operations, of men and women working in harmony, was belied by evidence of the tension among the ship's crew. A raised voice here quickly hushed, a sharp glance there all but unnoticed, emotions were beginning to rise beneath the orderly surface.

“Sir, may I have a word with you please?” The Constantin's first officer approached the captain's station and lowered his voice, “about our situation here?”

“Of course Dmitri, what is troubling you?” The captain shut down the screen on his workstation and leant back in his chair, stretching languidly before folding his arms and raising a quizzical eyebrow at his first officer.

“Sir, I'm concerned about the crew. We've been out here with no protection for three weeks now and the mood among them is starting to turn ugly. They think we're pushing our luck.”

“Do you, Dmitri?”

“If I may speak frankly sir, yes, I do. Ships have been disappearing more and more frequently in recent months, tales of a ghost ship from nightmares that devours the souls of spacefarers are everywhere.”

The captain snorted, “Ghost ship? Don't give me that bollocks Dmitri, tales of ghost ships have been doing the rounds since the first primate paddled a log out to sea.”

“Maybe sir” Dmitri smiled slightly, “but it is a fact that many ships have disappeared recently. Whether it's ghost ships, pirates or just a capsuleer on a murder spree the end result for the crew is, I suspect, much the same.”

“Point taken” The captain scratched his stubble for a moment before continuing, “What are you expecting me to do about it though?”

“Sir, we did receive an advisory restricting all non-military ships to convoys or escorted travel”

“NO!” As the bridge crew looked around at the sudden outburst the captain lowered his voice, “This find is mine, ours. We can mine it out and then call a convoy of industrials to come and pick it all up. Every member of the crew has shares, remember. This will makes us all rich, but if I gave out the location to hire escorts or form a mining convoy it would have been picked clean in days.”

“Sir, we've been mining non stop for three weeks now, the last I checked we had nearly two hundred full jet-cans anchored behind us. We could call in the convoy right now and still be as rich as capsuleers.”

The captain sighed, “Just a while longer Dmitri, trust me like you always have.”

“I want to sir, but I can't help but feel you're keeping me in the dark this time out. Why is the jettison system locked down and why is it being run by a separate crew? That's not normal, and why have several of the Constantin's systems been altered without my being informed? As first officer of this vessel I should be informed of all changes to it's systems or crew.”

“Dmitri, the jetcan system has been altered to produce a more robust and secure canister. I don't think anyone would appreciate their hard work being lost to the hazards of space from a normal jetcan, do you? Likewise several of the other systems have been altered to support our extended mining expedition. Unfortunately I had to approach a number of Caldari corporations to acquire these modifications and one of the clauses in the contract was protecting their intellectual property. That means they installed them, their employees run them and we don't poke our noses in, understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Trust me Dmitri” the captain turned back to his workstation, dismissing his first officer, “I know what I'm doing.”
Vai Tanis
Hedion University
Amarr Empire
#2 - 2012-11-30 16:37:05 UTC  |  Edited by: Vai Tanis
It was mid morning of the next day that the alert sounded. Dmitri was already on the bridge working on the duty roster, fights had broken out overnight and with no way to confine the offenders the only option was to separate them onto different shifts. As the warnings sounded he looked at the main bridge monitor and his heart froze within his chest.

A kilometre long battleship, blacker than space, twisted and spiked as though forged from the nightmares of a madman, exited from warp only a few tens of kilometres from the Constantin's defenceless bow. Almost immediately the chimes of an incoming sensor lock began sounding across the bridge.

Dmitri looked to his captain in desperation, in his panic looking for impossible salvation from the man he trusted. What he saw instead chilled him further and made the hairs on the back of his neck rise. Eyes wide and burning with fury, hunched over his workstation, fingers dancing over the controls, the captain of the Constantin was grinning.

A chime from his own console tore Dmitri's horrified gaze from his captain. The battleship had acquired a solid lock on the exhumer. He registered the energy spike as the monstrous vessel powered it's weapons and closed his eyes.

Four great beams of ravening scarlet energy lashed across the void into the Constantin. They burned into it's shields, sending colossal arcs of lightning playing across their surface, enveloping the exhumer in a rippling shroud of dissipating colours, but they held and the Constantin remained.

“Dmitri, target that bastard!”

“DMITRI! Open your goddamn eyes and get me a lock on him or we're all screwed.”

The captain was out of his chair and tearing down the bridge towards the main monitor.

“Sir? I don't understand, how did we survive that?”

“Your mystery modifications” the captain grinned over his shoulder at Dmitri before returning to stare intently at the ship on the monitor, “they were shield hardeners and a shield booster. Now get me a damn lock on him, we've got about three minutes before the booster drains our cap dry and we're meat for this bastard.”

Dmitri turned back to his console, fingers flying over the controls as he worked to get a lock on their aggressor. Even with the mining ship's weak sensor systems the battleship's energy emissions were so huge he managed to establish a target lock within seconds, just as the tachyon beams fired once more.

The Constantin shuddered under this barrage, but the shields still held. Dmitri licked his dry lips and called out the target lock to his captain.

“Nice work, Dmitri. Now broadcast the target lock in a wide band to the entire belt and transmit code alpha-four-seven-omega with it. Quickly, I'm not sure we can weather many more of those even before the cap runs dry.”

Dmitri did as ordered even as another cascade of burning energy hammered into the Constantin, this time the ship bucked violently, pitching several crew members from their feet as the shields collapsed and the residue of the tachyon beams scorched the hull armour.

“Sir, I've got energy readings all over the belt.” Dmitri's eyes widened in surprise as he turned again to his captain, “It's our jet-cans, they're moving!”

The captain's unsettling grin was in place as he watched the unfolding scene on the main monitor, he spoke without tearing his eyes from it, “Scavenged drone parts Dmitri. Rudimentary navigation, drone micro-warp drive, bolted onto a reinforced jetcan, wrapped around twenty seven and a half cubic kilometres of solid ore.”

He watched as the first of the modified jet-cans reached the black battleship and rammed into it's shields, exploding shortly afterwards in a brilliant flash of pure white light.

“With an EMP warhead from a decommissioned missile at the centre."

From all across the belt points of light began to converge on the stricken warship, gathering pace as they neared before ramming into it's shields. The great tachyon beams which had reaped so many souls lashed out again and again, vapourising can after can, but there were too many. Soon the impacts were coming every few seconds, the black hull illuminated by a constant barrage of searing white light. When the shields collapsed the jet-cans rammed directly into it's armour, warping and buckling the plates with the force of impact even before their warheads detonated.
Vai Tanis
Hedion University
Amarr Empire
#3 - 2012-11-30 16:39:22 UTC
On the bridge of the Constantin the cheers, which were raised at every impact on the black ship, had become a deafening roar. Their nemesis was now no longer visible behind the harsh, actinic glare of constant EMP detonations, it's status impossible for the sensors to read through the interference.

Eventually the glare faded, as did the cheering. Incredibly the battleship was still intact, venting atmosphere from dozens of breaches, it's hull shattered and torn, it's spine broken from impact damage, but it's engines sputtered fitfully and even as they watched a lone tachyon beam flickered across the distance between the two ships, narrowly missing the Constantin.

“DMITRI!” The captain roared as he whirled away from the monitor, his face a mask of implacable rage, “do we have any more unaccounted for?”

“No, sir. They're all gone. If we jettison any more that ship will just destroy them as we launch them.”

“No, we're so damn close. What about the mining drones?”

“They're not big enough, they wouldn't put a dent it. We can't even run, that ship has activated a warp disruptor on us.” Dmitri sighed with bitter regret, “It was a good plan sir, but I think we're done.”

The captain of the Constantin glared back at the screen. Hatred and fury pouring from him into the image of the crippled warship.

“Dmitri, signal the crew to begin evacuation. It's time to abandon ship.”

“Sir, even if that thing doesn't shoot down the escape pods, nobody knows where we are. We'd just survive until the life support ran out.”

“Send a message to the navy, give them our location and inform them that I take full responsibility for the situation” The captain put his hand on his first officer's shoulder “Then go, Dmitri. Get my crew out of here and don't forget those in the jettison bay, they all have lost family to this thing and volunteered to hunt it, but they shouldn't have to die with it.”

Dmitri hesitated, not sure that he wanted to know the answer to the question that had haunted him since the black warship appeared, “Sir, how did you know this ship would come here. There are thousands of unarmed vessels working in this sector. It seems a lot of work to put into a gamble.”

For the first time the captain looked unsure of himself, even ashamed. He looked away as he replied, “It wasn't a gamble my friend. I've been transmitting a low power distress call for the last several days. We were irresistible bait and those bastards took it. Now go!”

As escape pods flared away from the bulk of the Constantin the ship's main engines ignited, swinging the bow around on a course straight into the heart of the struggling battleship. Fluttering tachyon beams struck out desperately at the rapidly incoming exhumer, stripping away the remnants of it's shields and boiling the armour from it's hull in plumes of iridescent vapourised metal. The lone soul remaining on board sat at the helm, grinning with hate and a primal lust for vengeance as his ship burned around him, the object of his obsession looming ever larger before him.

In it's last moments the Constantin rolled, giving the sensors and flight recorders on the escape pods a clear view of the name, laboriously painted by one man in a maintenance vehicle, nestled in between view ports so as to be unseen by the crew, emblazoned across the ship's bow.

The name Captain André Delacroix had on his lips when his beloved ship impacted on the midsection of the vessel that had already taken his life six months before, breaking it in half before the engines of the Constantin detonated, consuming them both in a ball of purifying nuclear fire.

Random McNally
Stay Frosty.
A Band Apart.
#4 - 2012-12-01 04:16:38 UTC
Your first attempt? .....damn!

Nice job!

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Tarsis Inc
#5 - 2012-12-01 05:16:41 UTC
Agreed. This was really good.
Sebiestor Tribe
Minmatar Republic
#6 - 2012-12-02 22:30:08 UTC
Wow. That's a hell of a great story. Among some of the best.