Fiction Friday! Escape pod here. Also Pod and Planet results are out. I got second place in the comedy category and an honourable mention for my entry in the lore category. Happy bunny this morning give the stiff competition entered! Congratulations to all the winners!
I went for a roam in the week and had a fight. This story is loosely based on that.
Katusen entered the bar. On the 14th deck it was one of the more higher class ones on the station, and in the Caldari State the money always flowed upwards. It was early and the bar was quiet. 17:00 New Eden Standard Time meant that most of the workers would be doing just that, working. He'd left early after a pretty lousy day. He spied her immediately. She was sat at the bar with an empty glass. Attractive, around late 20's the same as him, wearing some sort of uniform he didn't recognise. An empty glass in front of her. An opportunity!
As he started to walk over he saw the barman approach her with a bottle. Caldari Prime Rice Spirit. A potent drink. The barman poured a good measure into her glass and left. Damn it! So much for the good old "Can I buy you a drink?" line. He then watched as she lifted the glass and downed the drink in one. He reached the bar a couple of stools down, a respectable distance, and waved the barman over.
"Hard day?" he asked her casually.
She twisted in her seat and blatantly looked him up and down which made him feel somewhat uneasy.
"You could say that." she replied cautiously.
"Yeah me too. Markets have been in turmoil with this ORE-Serpentis thing. We lost several million by mid-morning in trades. Pulled it back to even by late afternoon. That's when I came down here after saving so many of my coworkers." Katusen boasted.
The woman looked at him. A strange expression on her face.
"Sounds terrible. My day was nothing like that. I escaped an exploding ship by a couple of seconds but my crewmates weren't so lucky. Killed in the resulting decompression and explosions. Leaving me the sole survivor."
Katusen looked at her in shock.
"Oh...." is all he could murmur staring at his drink. They sat in silence for a few minutes after that.
"Want to talk about it?" he asked finally.
"Might as well." she replies. "We were in Ishomilken defending a State complex from the Frogs....."
"XO, we've got a ping. That Daredevil is back. Within 1 AU so will be outside on the acceleration gate." Sawara stated from the scanning console on the bridge.
"Roger. It appears our Captain is well aware." Satoras replied nodding to the front view screen. Satoras was the XO on the ship. As a capsuleer ship he sat in the Captain's chair whilst the egger was encased in his hydrostatic capsule.
The starfield moved as the Kestrel class frigate aligned towards a distant destination. It was aligning to a gravity well that the warp drive could lock onto.
"CONTACT! Daredevil class frigate dropping out of warp right behind us!"
The star field blurred as the Kestrel's warp drive engaged. They were no match for such a ship. The Daredevil was worth ten times what their Kestrel was and could easily beat it in most fights.
"Our egger's not going to engage then?" Riteima the weapons officer asked.
The XO pressed a few buttons on his console and the external view on the large screen was replaced by a CONCORD ship destruction site.
"Our Capt been reading up on him. He's normally kite fit and with those boosted webifier systems on that ship we'd stand no chance. Its the right call to avoid that guy whilst we're flying this. Besides it appears our egger is too busy being social."
Satoras pressed a few more buttons and the local channel logs appeared.
"Who the hell is Joffy Aulx-Gao and what is Stay Frosty?" Sawara asked.
"Pirate and pirate corp. Our Captain knows their CEO apparently. Met him at the Yulai Convention on Emerging Threats this year."
The Kestrel class frigate continued to bounce between Caldari State plex however the Daredevil continued to pursue them. Finally they warped back to the State Protectorate Station followed by the other ship.
"Our Captain's requested docking permission. Think he's giving up? Aibi asked. He was the navigation officer although mostly he was back-up as the Capsuleer did most of that.
The bridge went silent as there was a flash of light and the Daredevil dropped out of warp firing its weapons almost immediately.
"Shields at 20%. That thing hits hard!"
"Relax. We're armour tanked and we're docking!"
The Kestrel was towed into the massive station by the powerful tractor beams.
"What now?" Sawara asked.
"Undocking permission has already been requested. I have no idea what our Capsuleer is planning. He's stopped talking in the local channel though."
The Kestrel undocked and immediately entered warp. The Daredevil positioned outside the undock didn't have time to scramble the warp drive. After dropping out of warp near a stargate the Kestrel returned to one of the Caldari State complexes. Within seconds the capsuleer had used the acceleration gate to enter the deadspace pocket.
"He's setting up in a defensive position from the warp-in." Aibi exclaimed as they watched their ship start a tight orbit around the beacon that indicated the warp-in position. "Surely he's not going to fight that Daredevil?"
"I wouldn't have thought so." replied the XO "This ship and its loadout are no match for that thing. It would take two of us to....." His voice trailed off.
"What?" asked Sawara .
"Riteima. Whats the status of the thermal cut-offs on the weapons?" the XO asked quickly.
There was a moment's pause. "They are all off! The capsuleer has set them all to overheat!"
The XO twisted in his seat. The other three all saw him look to the hatch behind them. The escape pod door had a red light above it meaning it was sealed. The Capsuleers always ensured the escape pods only opened when all was lost. They didn't want critical crew abandoning the ship too early.
"Sawara. What's in 1AU?"
Another pause. "That Daredevil has just popped up."
"And in 5AU?"
"New contact sir. A Tristan class frigate."
"Shit! That's their plan. We're going to double-team this Daredevil and we're the sacrificial bait!" the XO cursed. The other crew members looked at him in horror.
"What? You mean he's going to destroy the ship?" Riteima gasped?
"Effectively. That Daredevil will rip us apart but I'm guessing that Tristan pilot is probably that Joffy guy and he will be on hand to finish the Daredevil off after we've softened him up. Frack! Damn these fracking eggers!"
There was a flash of light as the Daredevil dropped out of warp. Alarms sounded as a tactical lock was detected and their own targeting subsystems locked the opposing frigate. Nobody wsa sure who fired first. The hybrid rounds from the railguns of the Daredevil and the rockets fired from the Kestrel passed each other in the void of space slamming into their respective targets. The two ships circled each other slowly. The Kestrel slowed by the enhanced webifier of the Daredevil and the Daredevil itself slowed by the dual webs of the Kestrel.
"Armour at 35%" Aibi called. Everyone glanced at the escape pod hatch. It was still red.
"Frack me he's leaving this late. Aibi see if you can squeeze more from the engines. His guns will have a harder time tracking us. Sawara any sign of our back-up?" the XO called.
"Tristan is on 500k scan. He's either at the acceleration gate or already in wrap."
The structural damage alarm sounded as consoles and lights started to blow out. Smoke billowed through the air vents and conduits came crashing down.
"Tristan on field!" Sawara shouted. He's landed 6km from the Daredevil!"
There was a distinct 'bing' sound and the escape pod door hissed open. All four crew were instantly on their feet running. A pair of Hybrid rounds slammed into the Kestrel knocking them off their feet. Suddenly there was a massive roar of rushing air. Sawara jumped for the hatch and caught on with her fingers as the atmosphere started to vent. She was pulled almost vertically in the wind. Looking back she saw Satoras and Aibi holding onto consoles for dear life. Aibi looked directly into her eyes, she was terrified. She lost his grip and was sucked screaming down the corridor leading out of the bridge. Sawara pulled herself into the escape pod as the doors started to close automatically detecting the pressure drop. She looked back. The XO was too far. She could see the resigned look on his face. Just before the hatch closed he willingly let go. Sawara screamed as she watched him tumble away into the blackness. The hatch sealed and she felt the pod launch. She stayed at the door window watching the Kestrel explode in a massive fireball.
"Frack me!" Katusen muttered.
"Yeah, pretty shitty day!" Sawara replied downing another drink.
"So did the plan work or was it all for nothing?" he asked guardedly.
"Yeah." she sighed. "The Daredevil was destroyed by the Tristan. It was exactly how Satoras said. We were the bait sacrificing our lives so the capsuleer could have a 85 mil' kill against an 8 mil' loss. Our lives exchanged for points on a leadership board. If defies belief the little these capsuleers give regard to human life."
Katusen was working on an exit strategy. He'd come out looking for a good time, thought he'd got lucky finding an attractive woman alone at the bar and then this. The only survivor of a disaster. He needed a good way to escape.
"Well are you ready?" she asked sliding off her bar stool and standing.
"Ready for what?" he asked confused standing too.
"To frack me. That's why you approached me right. You didn't just see me at the bar and think 'She looks and interesting person to have a conversation with' did you? You came over hoping to score."
"Well..... I....." Katusen didn't know how to respond. She smiled and her right hand grabbed his crotch. His eyes went wide in shock.
"Yeah, that'll do. Look let's cut the bullshit. We've both had bad days and I need something to take my mind of things and relax. We both want the same thing so lets go." she said throwing a 20 cred-note on the bar and walking to the exit.
Katusen quickly fumbled with his wallet and threw some money on the bar and chased after her still a little shell-shocked.