Friday, January 31, 2014

The Butcher's Bill

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here to a B-R battle report from a Nulli pilot.

You may have heard, there was a little fight going on in Eve early this week. 75 Titans, 16 super capitals and just under 500 dreadnoughts and carriers assploded in B-R after someone in PL forgot to pay a sov bill.

That is a lot of death! But we need to consider the other casualties. No, not the sub capitals. No, not the 14 TQ server hamsters that gave their lives in the epic 12 hour fight.

The crews of those ships!

The Butcher's Bill

The thick smoke was choking him as he ran down the corridor. The tram system was offline. The last strike against the ship had damaged the power-grid. All power was being diverted into the energised armour plating and repair systems. His eyes watered and stung, but still Vari raced on. The red emergency lighting gave the corridor a ominous glow. Coupled with the smoke, Vari felt he was running into the mouth of hell.

He had one task, one priority. His standing orders had been abandoned. If he survived and there was an inquiry he might well be executed for abandoning his post during battle. However, he didn't care. Right now surviving the next ten minutes was unlikely. The armour was failing, the enemy fleet was too strong. The ship was going down.

He glanced at a sign on the wall stating the deck, district and zone. He was still a kilometre away. How could it had all gone so badly wrong.

Vari was a science officer on an capsuleer piloted Avatar class Titan. The prestigious posting was his life's goal. He had served in the Amarr Navy for 10 years before leaving and starting to crew for Capsuleers. Working for the Empyreans was a dangerous career, life expectancy for their crew was much lower than for normal ship crew. The capsuleers did not fear death and cared little for mortals. They took risks normal captains would never take. Hence the crews pay was exceptionally good.

For five years Vari worked hard, starting on battlecruisers given his previous experience. He worked his way up and gained a good reputation. Within a few years he was a bridge officer on an Archon class carrier. However, he didn't like that posting. His speciality was faster-than-light travel and the jump drive on an Archon was just boring to him. Two years ago he'd got his dream job. Science officer on an Avatar class Titan. These space-fairing behemoths were 13km long and over 100,000 people lived on them. As well as being able to jump light-years in an instant, they could also open up jump portals for other craft. This was Vari's favourite area of work. Creating these wormholes.

Over the previous few years his family had lived on stations. Capsuleer crewing was far too dangerous for family to accompany the crew. However, on super-capital class vessels it was much more common to move the crew members family onto the ship. These flying cities were extremely powerful and during any fight, there was plenty of time for the families to abandon ship. Well, that was usually the case.

Vari sprinted past people on autopilot. Everyone was running somewhere and each in their own little world. Survival instincts had kicked in. It was every man for themselves. No eye contact was made, no acknowledgement of their fellow human. To do so would be to invite a plea for help and risk their own safety and that of their loved ones.

Another explosion rocked the ship. Alarms were sounding, the armour was failing, it wouldn't be long now. He charged ahead. His legs felt like jelly and his heart as if was about to burst through his chest.

A few minutes later he burst into his quarters. His wife and son were holding each other on the bed crying. He didn't say any words of comfort, no embrace, no hesitation. He grabbed his wife by the arm and yanked her forcibly to the door as his son clung to her neck. Without a word they burst into the corridor. The structural damage alarms were sounding now. Vari knew hull breaches would be a significant danger.

They sprinted into a short corridor lined with doors. Vari looked in dismay. Above each door were three lights. Red indicated the door was locked. Green was ready and available. Flashing amber meant the escape pod had been jettisoned. The three gazed down at the two rows of flashing amber lights. Right at the end was one green light and outside the door a family was stood. The man was furiously tapping away at the control panel.

"WAIT!" screamed Vari as he raced down the corridor. A thunderous explosion rocked the ship knocking them off their feet. A ear-splitting rush of air followed.

"PLEASE!" Vari shouted. The man at the end of the corridor just shook his head with a sad look on his face and pushed his own family past the door and disappeared himself. Vari let out a sob as he saw the green light above the door vanish and in turn the amber light started to flash.

The flow of air was detectable now and was increasing. Vari left his wife and son sobbing on the floor and ran back down the corridor. It was like being planet-side now in a strong wind. Vari remembered wind from his childhood. He'd not felt a breeze like this since he was 17 and left his homeworld for the Imperial Academy.

He reached the start of the corridor and accessed a panel at the side of the door. A second later a heavy steel blast door slammed down sealing the corridor. They were trapped in one of the escape pod corridors with no remaining escape pods. But he knew they had had a better chance trapped in there than in the rapidly decompressing corridor the other side.

He returned back to his wife and son and knelt down on the floor with them. They all embraced as a massive explosion rocked the ship.

"I'm so sorry." sobbed Vari.

There was a larger explosion and the artificial gravity failed and the lights flicked. The three hugged tighter as the ship seemed to groan.

Another explosion, and then there was nothing but blackness.


Ishemi slammed the datapad on Santimona Sarpati's desk. The head of the Sisters of Eve looked up at him through narrow eyes. He stood there with a look of fury on his face.

"I'll take a wild guess that those are the latest casualty figures from B-R?"

Ishemi nodded sternly without a word.

Santimona picked the data pad up and glanced over it.

"I wouldn't bother going into two much detail. The fighting is dying down so we are not expecting a massive increase, but they will go up. The numbers lose their shock value when you pass the first five million."

Santimona went white and looked up at Ishemi.


Ishemi shook his head.

"Well no, actually its seven point three million dead so far. That is just capital and super-capital by the way. Titans, super-carriers and the carriers and dreadnoughts. We expect that number to rise when we get the sub-capital figures in. Obviously the crew numbers on the subs are much lower in terms of numbers, but survival rates from those ships are also much lower. On average fifty percent of titan crew made it to escape pods. The battleships, well we estimate it'll be the lower end. Probably 25%. Not much time to evacuate when five-dozen dreadnoughts primary you."

Santimona stopped reading the report and dropped the pad on the desk. "I take it there is nothing in there to cheer me up?"

"Well there are a few stories I'm sure our PR guys will pounce on. About thirty minutes ago one of our new Nestor class ships scanned something down in a small floating section of Avatar wreckage. They recovered a family. Father, mother and young son. They'd got to an escape pod bay but all the pods had gone. They sealed themselves in and survived the explosion that destroyed the titan. Lucky escape, if it had been 15 more minutes they'd have froze to death. There are a couple of 'good news' stories like that. But compared to the death toll, they are few and far between."

"Dare I ask what the capsuleers are saying about this massacre?"

Ishemi looked her in the eye.

"They said it was... fun!"


  1. Thats a very good, and very sobering piece Drackarn.

  2. An observation not lost on all Capsuleers.

    Also, the price and scarcity of "crew" must be hindering reshipping ... at least for those falling toward zero (or less) in the +/- kill category.

  3. Perhaps salvaging on Capital ships could also include Crew/Personnel as well as the other salvagable goods

  4. yes the friday fiction is out! thank for the heads up :)

  5. So tell me, how do we convince CCP to hire you on as a freelancer?