Friday, May 15, 2015

The Flames of Malkalen

Fiction Friday. Escape pod here.

The idea for this post came roughly from the Hydrostatic Podcast. In the latest episode they had a correction to make regarding a reference to Admiral Noir in the previous episode. This got me thinking about the untold victims of that incident/disaster/catastrophe.

I started this as a skeleton story. A paragraph here and there outlining the story. However I think it sort of works as a single piece. Very much "machine-gun fiction". Short bursts making up 2300 words where I aim for a maximum of 2500 for one entry normally. Does it work? Mmmmmmmm.....

The Flames of Malkalen

Six Years Ago.......

Saun slid his stun-baton into his belt and checked himself in the mirror. He looked smart in his crisp uniform. He still hadn't tired of looking at himself. An trainee officer in the Ishukone Security Service. Having graduated from University he had applied to the mega-corporations security wing. The mega-corps of the Caldari State each had their own police force. He had always wanted to be a Commander in the Watch.

There was no fast-track to command. He had to complete their training which included gaining experience in all the various wings of the force. He was currently on a three month assignment to the prison facility on the station in Malkalen. It wasn't a large facility, more of a waystation. Most of the population were those who had committed crimes on the station or within the solar system and were awaiting trail or sentencing hearings. Those receiving hefty sentences would be shipped out to one of the many asteroid penal colonies. Those with short sentences may serve them here, but generally it was rare.

He tugged on his jacket once more, sent a message on his datapad and left the changing room to begin his shift.


Isida smiled as she picked up her datapad and saw the message. She blushed slightly as she recalled what he was referring to.

"OK people, big day and I really do not want any frack ups." the watch officer called out as he entered.

Isida turned her seat around and looked up from 'the pit'. She was one of a dozen docking control technicians who worked on the station. They worked a console each below the watch officer who sat on an elevated platform looking down on them.

"The Gallente delegation are due to arrive in thirty minutes. They are bringing a Nyx class supercarrier as well as the escort fleet. Its going to get very busy, very quickly out there. Provide a travel advisory to all craft recommending they seek alternative stations if possible. As always priority docking goes to the Capsuleers. Lets do this people!"

Isida span back around to her console. The Watch Officer always made their jobs sound like the most important on the station. She noted three incoming requests and tried to forget about the VIPs on their way.


"Morning Tamela." Saun announced cheerfully was he entered her cell. The Intaki woman stretched out.

"Do you ever knock?" she sighed.

"No. Don't want you forewarned of my imminent arrival in case you are doing something illegal." he laughed.

"What like? Escape is pretty impossible? Hoping to catch me and Oguken in a compromising situation?"

Saun looked over to the mass of white flesh snoring in the other bed. Tamela's cell mate was a lot of woman.

"Please don't. I've not had my breakfast." he complained.

The two smiled at each other. Tamela had embezzled two hundred thousand credits from the insurance firm where she had worked. Her sentencing hearing was in a week and she fully expected to spend the next couple of years somewhere less pleasant. Her young son had been sick and the medicine that he needed wasn't covered by the medical insurance. She had saved her son but would spend a long time in prison for doing so.

Saun opened his mouth to say something when the station evacuation alarm sounded. The two looked at each other in horror.


"Vector is 160 mark 225. He's coming straight for us." one of the others cried out from their console. The evacuation alarm had been silenced in docking control and only the pulsing red light remained as a reminder that they were all in terrible danger.

"Auto reject all docking requests.Prioritize undocking by manifest numbers. Get the more populated ships out first. Set the eggers on auto-grant. They can fend for themselves." the Watch Officer commanded.

Isida's eyes quickly scanned over her screens. Dozens and dozens of undocking requests were coming through and she was trying to process them all as quickly as she could.

"Impact in three minutes" the Watch Commander shouted.

Isida glanced up at the main screen in horror at the massive Nyx slowly making its way towards the station.


The evacuation plan for the prison was a two and a half hour process. Saun looked at his communicator. Two minutes forty. Tamela was sat on the edge of the bed looking worried. Oguken had woken up finally and was trying to stand up. Saun was conflicted. If he left everyone in their cells they might die. If he released them dozens of dangerous criminals would escape or worse take advantage of the chaos. Murderers and rapists roaming free in a station effected by a disaster?

"You two, come on. We're heading out."

Decision made. Save two.


"Isida! Come on!" the voice cried from the door way. She glanced back. Her friend waved frantically. She was the last one. Every one else had fled to the escape pods. Impact was in under a minute. It was a twenty second sprint to the escape pods in the corridor. On her screen the undocking requests were slowly being confirmed. She looked down the list. The forth one was a Charon class freighter. Twenty thousand people had flooded onto that ship. The confirmation button flashed up again and she hit it. The Charon moved up to third. The button flashed again, the Charon was now second. 40 seconds. The next one was a badger class industrial. She hit the button and another 400 people were clear. She wouldn't let herself look below the Charon. That was the last one. 30 seconds. Time seemed to slow. She glanced at the door. She was alone. The red button turned green. She hit it and span around, sprinting for the door. She'd saved over twenty five thousand people staying at her console.

She was five metres from the last pod when she was knocked off her feet. The station shook like an angry baby was using it as a rattle.


Saun picked himself up. The corridor was dark. All power was down, even the emergency lighting. He grabbed the small torch from his utility belt. The air was smoky and the beam cut a feint light through the ruined corridor. 

He saw Tamela laying face down in front of him. He bent down with one hand on his baton. She might be unconscious or... he heard a slight groan as he shook her shoulder. He glanced around for Oguken using his torch as a search light. He found her body sticking out from under a pile of metal beams where the roof had collapsed. She was very dead.

He helped Tamela to her feet. "Come on, we need to get out of here." he said, almost carrying her down the corridor.


Isida slowly bounced off the corridor walls. The artificial gravity had failed in this section and it was making movement difficult as she passed along the rows of escape pod hatches. Her communicator bleeped.

"What are you still doing on station?" Saun snapped.

"I could say the same to you!" she replied "There was a freighter evacuating people. I couldn't leave it. What's your excuse?"

"I was trying to get some prisoners out. Just too slow. Where are you and are there any pods you know of?"

Isida glanced at the screen by one of the hatches.

"Most have ejected. I'm seeing a couple that haven't but they are red lighted. Appears the launch tubes have buckled. Deck 18 appears fracked and we don't have gravity. I'll head to you, where are you?"

"Deck 20 but there are fires near we need to go up. Meet deck 19? Sector G4?"

Isida saw she was near D3 so should be able to easily get there.

"Roger. How many cons have you got with you?" she asked nervously.

"Just the one." he replied solemnly.


The first thing Isida noticed about the approaching woman was the resemblance to herself. They could have been sisters.

Saun  noticed Isida's body language as they approached. There was still some artificial gravity on deck 19 but it was low.

"Wait here a sec." Saun turned to Tamela who stopped. He went over to Saun.

"I see that look. Don't give me any shit. I was in her cell when the alarm sounded. I was escorting her and her cell mate."

"Oh, you just happened to be in the cell of a woman who looks just like me eh? Well I should be glad, you obvious like my type."

"Seriously? The frog bastards just rammed a supercarrier into our station and you're busting my balls that the one person I am able to rescue looks a bit like you?"

"Sorry." Isida whispered. "But you've got to admit its a bit of a coincidence!"

Saun rolled his eyes and waved to Tamela to join them. "Come on, I have an idea."


The three stood at the top of the corridor. 'Mangled' was perhaps the best way to describe it. Gun metal grey beams twisted through the ruptured walls. Fires raged from broken conduits. Electricity sparked from hanging wires.

"Seriously?" Tamela asked as they stood there looking down.

"There is a small shuttle at the other end. Its used for covert prisoner transfers. High risk suspects likes Serpentis we need to quietly move because any official transport ship is likely to be ambushed. Fits us all and has its own docking computer so we can undock without official permission and central computer authorization. We just need to get through that!"

The three stood in silence for a moment. Tamela started bouncing on the spot. The other two looked at her.

"What? The gravity is low. Don't you feel it? I wonder....."

Her voice trailed off as she looked forward. She shrugged and sprinted forward jumping through a gap in the twisted metal and fire. She flew like a torpedo and vanished.

"I'm not doing...." Isida was interrupted by a huge explosion that rocked the station. Obviously some large part of the Nyx just went up. Saun and Isida looked at each other in horror as they felt it together. A pressure in their ears and sinuses. Isida started to run towards the flames closely followed by Saun. An alarm sounded as they jumped for the gap. They didn't need to hear it, their bodies had already told them. The air pressure was dropping.


They found Tamela stood at the open blast door her hand on the override. Blastdoors on stations were all programmed to close in the event of hull breaches. They also had an override so that a person could prevent one from closing to allow people to escape. However once the door was closed it could not be opened again and the person had to keep their palm on the button. This way if oxygen levels did drop the person holding the door open would pass out and the door would slam shut. After incidents of allowing the AI to make these decisions and many deaths, it was decided that only humans with empathy could make the right choice.

Saun and Isida sprinted for the door as a series of small explosions shook the station.

"Come on!" she screamed.

They both passed into the hanger as a massive explosion rocked the station, knocking them from there feet. A scream made Saun twist his head.

"NO!" he cried.

Isida had fallen backwards and the rapidly closing blastdoor had slammed into her pelvis. She looked at Saun in horror with an outstretched hand. He scrambled over to her.

"You're going to be alright! I can fix this!" he sobbed.

Tamela looked down at the couple. She was no medical expert but knew it was a lie. The door had crushed her pelvis. If some way they could reopen the door she would bleed out in seconds. In fact the door itself was keeping her alive. The station rocked again. A whistle of air could be heard from the small gap under the door where Isida 's crushed body was preventing it from sealing properly.

"We have to do go." Tamela whispered.

"No. I'm not leaving her!" 

"We cannot...." Tamela decided it was best not to say the rest as Saun broke down.

He pulled away and reached into Isida's pocket. He held out something for Tamela. "Take these" he muttered. She took the items.

"The ship is through that door. The autopilot has a big green button marked emergency in the centre of the cockpit. It was designed in case of problems on board and the pilot being disabled and nobody on board being able to fly. Hit it and it will seal the ship, undock and fly immediately to the Funds Unlimited station using the AI."

"Thank you" Tamela said slowly stepping backwards. Another explosion made her turn and ran towards the awaiting ship.


Overall hundreds of thousands of people died that day. Countless more in the war it started. The Ishukone official report into the disaster squarely blamed the pilot of The Wandering Saint, Admiral Noir, for the deaths.

The official report covered 180,000 known citizens to be involved in the disaster....

Saltanela, Isida
Docking Coordinator First Class
Employee Reference X5-3893566
DECEASED. Body found in deck 19, hanger 42 after being crushed by closing blastdoor. Records show she delayed her own evacuation to ensure the Charon Class Freighter, The Kamano, was able to evacuate in the process saving 25,000 citizens. Awarded the Gariushi Memorial Star in recognition of her sacrifice.

Aureslen, Saun
Officer Trainee, Rank 3
Employee Reference O2-9734567
Survivor. Found unconscious sealed in maintenance conduit in deck 19, hanger 42 by Ishukone Search and Rescue. Currently assigned as acting Executive Officer on Watch Scorpion Class Battleship The Yakatoma.

Ono, Tamela
Prisoner Reference IS5556712
Unknown. Believed to have escaped and have stolen ID card of similar looking Ishukone employee. Records show employee X5-3893566 was a survivor registered arriving at the emergency receiving centre at Caldari Funds Unlimited Station at planet 4 in the system following the catastrophe. However X5-3893566's body was recovered from the Malkenen station and confirmed by DNA analysis. Facial recognition points to only one possibility that may have been able to use her photo ID, Prisoner IS5556712. The subjects son, who was fostered by his grandparents, has gone missing and they claim not to know where he is. Trailing the ID hits and withdrawal of funds from X5-389356's account we believe IS5556712 returned to collect her son and left the State via Yashunen system and was heading to Joleveir in Federation Space. Databases have been update to arrest IS5556712 or anyone claiming to be X5-3893566 should they ever return.

The End


  1. Nice little short story. Couple little duplicate names like "Isida started to run towards the flames closely followed by Isida ." was a little rythem breaking