Friday, August 14, 2015

The Other Side of the Pits

Friday Fiction. Escape pod here.

One of my favorite official Chronicles is "In the Pits". A pirate attack on an asteroid mining base. That was told from the point of view of Adek, a miner. How about the other side? Bit of a rush job this as I'm away this weekend. Hope I didn't herpa derp!

The Other Side of the Pits

The frigate slowly circled the asteroid. Hadako and his fellow pirates listened to the sound of the makeshift missiles being launched. Each one contained an incendiary device behind a warhead designed to punch through rock and tritanium. Whilst their intel said this mining facility was running on a skeleton crew, they were still outnumbered. Apparent capsuleer activity had made most the miners run back to hi-sec space. However, forty or fifty still remained. The pirates were well armed and experienced raiders, but they could be still overwhelmed. The missiles would decompress areas of the facility and those where the damage controls sealed the breaches would have their oxygen sucked out of them my the burning incendiary device. Most of the miners would be blown into space, burned alive or suffer a slow death from asphyxiation.

"One more pass and then we breach! Lock and load!" Sistran the leader growled.

Hadako checked his weapon. The golden laser pistol was almost brand new. They had raided an industrial vessel a few weeks ago and found it was containing a shipment of Amarrian weaponry. The solid-state lasers were ideal for this kind of raid. Anti-personnel weapons that fired a scorching beam of energy. Stray shots had little chance of breaching starship hulls or windows and were unlikely to damage the loot. They were also scary. The light they emitted was one thing, but the knowledge of what a solid-state laser did to the human body. Most people fled rather than fought.

The sound of the missile launches stopped, they were out. Now it was time to breach the colony. There would be some resistance but they didn't know how much.

"Wonder if there'll be any fun to be had on board?" Egbilolf next to him roared with a laugh. Hadako nodded and smiled although he never went in for that. He was there for the money and if anyone got in his way they were dead. Some of the crew like Egbilolf liked playing with their victims. Hadako had always thought of that as sadistic. He was a pirate and would happily put shot between the eyes of an unarmed civilian but he'd not make them suffer.

The frigate landed with a bump and the squad lined up by the door. It slowly opened and the two lead pirates glanced around the frame.

"Clear!" announced the first one.

"Clear!" confirmed the second.

The 12 pirates casually filed out into the empty hanger and headed to the big blast doors leading into the colony proper. The lead pirate looked through the tiny window.

"Got about a dozen 'bears' through there behind makeshift barricades. Mostly old-school Matari weapons, spray and pray."

Sistran considered the situation. He'd led this group of thugs on more than a hundred raids. Whilst they certainly taken losses, it was lower than other groups in the organisation. Even civilians would be able to get some lucky shots if they fired enough bullets, and Matari weapons certainly fired a lot of bullets.

The miners on the other side looked on in fear. Trembling hands held the older Minmatar machine pistols which had not been fired in years. A few more joined their ranks. They had almost 20 there now. Would that be enough each of them thought. A hissing noise made several of them jump. A bright orange spot appeared in the centre of the blast-door. Molten metal started dripping down, sizzling as it dripped onto the cold deck plate. As the hole widened to the size of a football the heat stopped. The miners held their breath. Five silver balls dropped through. Too far from the barricade to be grenades. The frightened men watched in terror as the balls sprouted legs and started running towards them. The noise of the gunfire was deafening as the miners fired at the rapidly approaching drones. The drones were too fast and manoeuvrable and the miners too unskilled with fire arms. The drones spread out and leaped over the barricade. As they reached their maximum height, they detonated. The shrapnel ripped the defending miners to pieces. It was seconds later that the pirates opened the door and were walking unchallenged into the colony.

"Hadako stay here. Make sure nobody doubles back!" Sistran ordered.

Hadako nodded trying not to show any relief. The rear-guard wasn't 100% safe, but it was safer than working through the installation and killing anyone they found. A full cut of the loot for significantly less work and danger.

Comms discipline was generally relaxed once they had taken out the initial resistance. Hadako just stood guard at the now wrecked barricade and listened as his crewmates swept through the installation reporting on kills as they went.

"Woah! Krotting just got a heart shot!" someone exclaimed. A heart shot with a solid-state laser was a sight to behold. The incredible heat would flash-boil the victims blood. This resulted in parts of the body almost exploding. Typically the wrists, eyes, thighs and neck would suddenly open up and spray steaming blood everywhere due to the immense pressure.

More chatter about good kills or close calls. Hadako was getting bored. When Egbilolf's voice came through the comms his blood ran cold.

"Whey hey! I got a live one!" he shouted. A female scream could be heard in the background. The comms chatter filled up with cheers and people desperate to know where he was so they could join in the 'fun'.

"AHHHHHH!" he screamed in pain a moment later "Frackin' bitch bit me!".

There was the sound of a laser pistol discharging, a shrill scream and then silence.

"For the best." Hadako muttered knowing that the now dead woman had been lucky.

Thankfully for the next ten minutes nothing else but routine chatter was broadcast though comms. Apparently the missiles has done well in starving the crew of oxygen. The crew finally reached the central chamber. That's where they'd find the good stuff. That is where the colony mined the valuable ore out. A hollow cavern in the heart of the asteroid. Hadako heard a claxon or something in the background.

"What the frack?" Sistran's voice growled over the comms. "Who triggered that alarm? The doors just dropped and are sealed."

Hadako could hear the claxons sounding a lot louder over the comms.

"Hadako! One of these bears thinks it is funny to lock us in the core. Get your ass down here and let us out. Oh and nuke the hilariously funny bear if you see him!"

Hadako started to head down the corridor to the sounds of a dozen whining pirates in his ear. Suddenly the mood changed.

"That MTAC is moving!"
"Don't worry, it's got no pilot. Remote control! He's in here somewhere."
"I don't see him. Where is he?"
"Check over there!"
"Where is that thing going?"
"To the edge of the pit? Woah! It fell in!"

There was laughter.

"It landed in the safety net"
"Wait, its still active. Its cutting through. The net."
"There it goes. That's a long drop."
"Its lit its mining torch. Its still going and moving to a hatch. What, you don't think.... oh shit!"

The sound of multiple laser fire made Hadako speed up. They were obviously firing at something. Suddenly the firing stopped.

"Its inside the cave now! I cannot see it!"

"Krotting climb down there! Stop that thing before we are all fracked!" Sistran's voice sounded.

"Hadako  if you don't get these doors open now, we're dead!" he followed up.

Hadako was sprinting now. He saw the blast door ahead and the face of one of the pirates pressed up against the tiny viewport. The raiders wore simple breather-masks that made sure they weren't affected by the low oxygen environment that the missiles caused in areas all over the colony.

"Its Hadako! I see him, he's here. He's......"

A mighty roar drowned out whatever was being said. Hadako skidded to a halt as the face disappeared from the viewport. The solid red light above the door signifying it was locked began to blink. Anyone who has ever stepped foot on a spacecraft or station knew the significance of a flashing red light above a door. Pressure differential.

The roar in his ear dropped in volume which allowed him to hear the desperate cries of his crew. They were choking and screaming hoarsely for help. Hadako approached the door but knew there was nothing he could do. The core was being depressurized and it would be impossible to open the doors. Even the emergency airlock next to the blast-door was in lockdown. Soon the comms were eerily quiet. Everyone was dead.

He was the last man but he wasn't going to let a miner kill his friends without punishment. He took a spacesuit from the rack lined up by the door and slowly put it on, waiting for the core to completely vent.

As soon as he could, he entered the core via the emergency airlock. Now the depressurizing had been complete the airlock was usable again. His was breathing sounded heavy in the enclosed helmet. He looked around. A few of his ship mates had been able to lasso on railings and MTACs but had only lasted a few moments longer than those who had been blown out to space. His suit sensors showed he was in a total vacuum.

Hadako looked around and spotted what must be the control room high above the pits. He stormed towards it, his knuckles turning white inside the gloves of his suit as he tightly gripped the pistol. He burst into the room sweeping the gun in case the bastard was still there. The room was empty. Hadako saw the movement sensor on one of the large screens. There was something in the large hanger directly off the pits. It was a dead-end. The bear was trapped. Hadako was about to head there when scrolling text caught his eye. He went to the communications console and looked.

"Attention Capsuleers. This is Mining Outpost Gamma 426. We have been attacked by pirates. The crew are all dead. I am the last survivor and won't last much longer!"

Hadako nearly laughed. If he thought one of the Gods of Destruction would give a shit about him and rescue him he was mad. Capsuleers didn't even care about their own starship crews. They certainly didn't care for a stranger. Also the bit about him not lasting much longer was very, very true he thought.

"Engage and destroy the outpost and retrieve the valuable cargo before the pirates."

The blood rushed out of Hadako's face. Eggers however did care very much for anything described as valuable! He brought up the gun and fired. The anti-personnel shot scorched the console doing minor damage. He fired repeatedly whilst screaming and cursing. Finally the screen went dead. Had the Eggers seen it? Did they care? Hadako  rushed from the control room and down the corridor until he came upon the storage hanger. It was huge and filled with metal containers. Some the size of a man, others the size of a building. He was here somewhere. Hadako wandered through the maze of stacked containers with his gun raised. Ahead on one of the larger containers he saw that the seal on its personnel door had been broken.

"Gotchya" Hadako grinned. He took a step forward and wobbled. A rumble vibrated through the outpost. He froze wondering what was going on. Suddenly seven massive explosions rocked the hanger knocking him from his feet. Stacks of containers toppled as the explosions continued, crashing noisily to the floor. Hadako scrambled to his feet. His only hope to get back to the ship. He turned and ran but never got close to the door as the external hanger door failed. He was catapulted into the air by the force of the explsive decompression and flew at speed into space along with hundreds of crates. As he sped past he marvelled at the awesome sight of the Raven class battleship raining missiles down on the outpost. Within minutes both the ship and the colony nothing but a speck in the distance. The occasional bright flash indicating the Capsuleer was not done yet.

Hadako checked the suits status. 34 hours of life support remaining. He started to wonder if the capsuleers were here, were also the Sisters of Eve? Would they detect the emergency beacon that would pulse for the next 34 hours. It would shut off once he was dead. The engineers who designed the suit had thought there was no point wasting rescuer's time if there was no point. He pondered that decision as he span deeper into the cold black.

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