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[micro story] A Good Death

Horza Tareem
Paranoia Overload
Rejection Of Sovereignty
#1 - 2017-04-05 09:41:27 UTC
The plan was set in motion on a quiet Friday night, the golden rays of the never-setting sun at the center of the Raven’s Roost system filtering idly through the shimmering force field surrounding the tower.

Karix lingered around the corporate hangar array, idly browsing yesterday operation’s outcome, but his mind was elsewhere. Tomorrow, at this hour, the conclusion of a month-long plan will finally mark this system as belonging to his corporation.

The corporation’s effort to build and deploy an Astrahus-class citadel - an effort that cost an inordinate amount of ISK and bled the local planets dry - was finally coming to term. The incoming wormholes were closed one by one, the system’s anomalies whittled down, the citadel’s kit had been carefully taken out of the hangar, deployed at its designated location and the on-lining process had been started a few hours ago.

It was indeed time to rest.


I woke up, like I do every day in the cramped confines of my ship. Poured myself the remains of yesterday’s Quafe in the cleanest mug I could find in the gantry and really considered cleaning up a bit, probably next week.

I do a quick check of the ship, although I know very well that I am in the safe space around our tower, then I fire up the main console. In an effort to postpone getting in my command pod, I decide to check the idly blinking mail notification.

Within seconds of reading the first message I am sweating cold, full awake with a feeling of impending doom building in my stomach.

The message, coming from Ivan, our battle commander, directly, was addressed to everyone - and, even more important, it was a last minute update to the announcement of our ongoing deployment on a citadel in our system. It read, dryly: “Please check comms for an update - we need to roll PKY quietly.”.

I had to filter a bit through the comms data before I’ve found the interesting part. The situation was as dire as it felt like. During my absence a new wormhole had spawned into our system. It led to another, higher class system that was inhabited by a corporation ten times our number and probably much more our skills. They had scouted and, apparently, decided to destroy our on-lining Astrahus in the short, 15 minutes vulnerability period right before it powers up to its full strength.

I checked the public information of the said corporation. Lot of trophies to their name, lots of expensive, powerful ships regularly fielded during their operations. This was looking worse by the minute.

I decided to act on it as quickly as possible, disregarding the requirement of operating “quietly”.
I let the pod’s command systems embrace me, felt the well known rush of expanding consciousness. Then I was the ship.

Carefully I approached the ship maintenance array. Protocols started up and I quickly switched from my stealthy Rapier to the RBS Furious Anger - a Tempest-class battleship fitted in such a way that will ensure survival in hostile space and, at the same time, has sufficient mass that will collapse a wormhole connection in just a few passes.

I stretched out my directional scan to the maximum, finding out that it very well covers the intruding wormhole. The scan pulse came out empty. I let go all precautions and aligned myself to the bookmark, doing a cursory pre-flight check on my systems while warping there. I arrived on point, switched on my 500MN micro warp drive and felt my 200 million ton mass suddenly raise to 300 accompanied by creaks of protest from every structural joint. I then touched the wormhole marker and jumped in.

Reality warped and twisted around me, an all too familiar sensation by now, and, after a few seconds, the space time continuum started aligning into place on the other side. The entrance was not polarized, which meant I could immediately find my way back. The downside: well - with the Higgs anchor rig the ship moves at a whooping 150 meters per second even with the micro warp drive on and the wormhole was 11 kilometers away. That is six thousand full meters that I need to safely overcome in order to get into activation range of the wormhole. That means 40 long and dangerous seconds at full speed, in hostile space.

I refrained from every action that would break the limited stealth you get from ripping through space-time and decide to let go a scanner pulse. Sky is clear, yet again. Maybe I started this solo endeavor on a good timing. I’m firing up my propulsion and align towards the closest planet, deciding it’s faster to warp there and back again then spending 40 seconds trawling through a dead zone. The last glimmer of cover has not yet disappeared from me when suddenly the overview blips to life and, at the same time, my heart sinks to my feet.

A Flycatcher-class interdictor is slowly de-cloaking 5 kilometers from me while, at the same time, launching an interdictor probe. A shining, spherical field quickly expands around me, making my warp drive stutter and die. As this happens and I frantically fire up every defensive measures I have, the scanner tells me there are 4 more ships inbound. The overview starts listing my threats as they are coming on-grid: Stratios, Stratios, Svipul, Eagle. I sort them out by range, start locking them and launching my ECM drones. My fate is sealed.