Friday, February 26, 2016

The Worker - Part 2

Fiction Friday - Escape pod here!

The Worker - Part 2

The main hangar was chaos. Many crews were preparing their ships for launch. Others seemed hesitant probably hoping to ride out the incursion in the outpost. Ragnar strode purposely towards his own ship, the two women following close behind. He saw the others from his crew standing outside the ship near the personnel hatch which was hanging open. They all turned to face him as he approached. It was funny, he thought the next time he had to face them he'd have a dozen angry men and women. All unhappy about the pay for the last trip. Instead he saw twelve faces etched with fear. Falling victim to Sansha's Nation being a more pressing matter than the size of the last pay packet.

"Captain. What we going to do?" Ergrad asked as they neared.

Ergrad was his chief engineer, a fellow Matari and resident miracle worker on the aging Noctis industrial.

"We're making a run for it. Its risky and if anyone wants off the crew that's up to you. However we're going to make for the gate and try and get clear."

"Make a run for it? In THAT?" Linger said pointing her thumb at the ship over her shoulder. Linger was their science officer and worked closely with Ergrad. The Captain believed they worked very closely in fact.

"Its what we've got. You can stay here, the Nation might leave this outpost alone but I think that's unlikely. Making a run for it is our only chance."

"It's not a chance Captain. Its suicide." Ergrad protested. "If we had a frigate or a 'ceptor we might have a chance. A Leopard could make it even. But in that? It turns only slightly faster than a Charon!"

"Normally I'd agree with you but we've got a little bit of help on our side. Oh and if you decide to board you should also know we're about to piss off the Serpentis Syndicate at the same time, so we'll have them on our tail as well."

"You're kidding? The Nation and the Serps? Wait, who's the skirt? Looks like a high-class hooker!" Linger remarked looking around the Captain at Fanason.

"Her? She's a high-class hooker and the reason the Serps will be after us."

Fanason put her hands on her hips and glared at Ragnar.

"Well you are!" he offered in way of apology, shrugging. "Look, that's the situation. Stay here and cross your fingers or risk it on our manually-capsuleer-piloted flying scrapyard. I don't care! I'm leaving." the Captain said turning towards the open hatch.

"Wait? What did you say? Capsuleer piloted? Who's the capsuleer?" Ergrad asked.

"Her." the Captain said pointing at Fanason as he entered the ship.


Ragnar read the message on his datapad as he watched Fanason prep for launch.

Dear Captain.
This is an automated message. The scanners on the outpost have detected you have a woman on board. She is Gallente, 5'8", black hair, appears to be 26 years old. She is of interest to the Syndicate. She has either sneaked aboard your ship as a stowaway or negotiated passage by deception. Two squadrons of Serpentis warships will have been put on high alert simply because she is inside your docked ship. If you undock with her on board you will be hunted down and destroyed. An enforcement team will also be tasked with tracking down your immediate family. At this point we do not know if you have a wife and children, siblings or other close family. However if you undock we will find them and they will suffer for your actions.

The sender's address was hidden and there was no way to reply. Ragnar's parents were dead and he had no siblings. They would have no family to go after. Just him and his crew.

"How many did we loose?" he asked.

"Most of them. Only Ergrad and Linger are onboard. Rest are taking their chance on the outpost." Mairanard replied

"Can we do this with just the five of us?" Ragnar asked Fanason.

There was no answer. He looked over and she was at the main console, sat with her hands on the metal casing and her eyes closed. She looked so out of place, still wearing the clothes from last night where he'd met her in the bar. Dressed to seduce. Finally she opened her eyes and pressed the button for the intercom.

"Ergrad. Warp-drive calibration is off point two three negative. Reactor is also suboptimal. Increase temperature 45.7 kelvin and increase polarization by 6.6 hertz."

"Captain?" Ergrad's unsure voice replied.

"Do it." Ragnar commanded.

It was twenty more agonising minutes before they undocked. Ragnar had been telling Ergrad what changes to make and now she was finally happy. The Captain looked at his terminal in disbelief. The power output was higher than he'd ever seen. The engine efficiency was through the roof and his shields were 30% stronger than before. All she did was rest her hands on the hull and she was able to do more than their own AI diagnostics tools. Capsuleers were not natural he concluded.

By the time they undocked the outside of the station was quiet. Everyone had already run. The Noctis slowly aligned to the distant stargate as the Captain's datapad vibrated. Another message.

Dear Captain.
It would appear that you have not heeded our last message. Serpentis warships have been dispatched to intercept you. I would advise you redock and throw the trash from your ship. Trust us. Your family will thank you for it.

The ship shuddered as it entered warp. The Captain hoping the incursion will put off any Serpentis fleet. The journey to the stargate took less time than it had done when they had first arrived two weeks ago. The warp drive now operating at peak efficiency. Ragnar heard Mairanard gasp as the warp tunnel collapsed. There in front of them was the huge stargate, buzzing around were several Nation warships. The menacing spikes making them look almost medieval.

"Distance to gate?" the Captain asked.

"5k" Fanason replied.

"Wow!" he exclaimed. Usually they dropped out of warp some 15km from the gate. The navicom unable to safely drop from warp any closer. He knew capsuleers could drop their ships out of warp less than 2000 metres from an active stargate. Fanason was not in a pod though. However she was still able to do better than any normal captain he'd ever heard of. Threat indicators sounded as the Sansha ships locked them up but it was too late. Within seconds they were close enough and the gate activated, opening a tear in space-time. A wormhole that swallowed the Noctis and deposited them in a solar system several light years away.

"Oh shit!" Mairanard exclaimed as the systems reactivated after the jump and the viewscreen revealed the space outside. The incursion was also covering this system and a number of Nation ships laid in wait. "Well, thats us dead!"

"Fanason?" the Captain asked worriedly, agreeing very much with his second-in-commands assessment. Even with Fanason at the helm there was no way they'd escape.

"Cloak will hold for 50 more seconds thats all we need." she replied looking intently at the console.

When jumping through a stargate, the receiving stargate projected a temporary cloaking field on the ship. This allowed for all ship systems to be online after the jump and give the crew a fighting chance if there was trouble waiting for them. The Captain glanced at the timer. 20 seconds. He didn't know what Fanason was planning but they were almost out of time.

Suddenly there were five flashes. Ships dropping out of warp. He looked at the scanner readout. Serpentis! Likely the squad dispatched to intercept them. They were slightly late, obviously not expecting the speed at which they could travel with Fanason at the helm. There was a few seconds pause before all hell broke lose as the Sansha ships engaged the pirates. Space lit up with focused laser fire and missiles.

"Eject a few escape pods!" Fanason ordered as the cloak dropped and she aligned the ship, banking hard.

The Captain didn't question and jettisoned half the pods. With only five crew they didn't need all of them. They slipped into warp as the Sansha ships decimated the larger Serpentis force.


The Captain gazed out of the window. Space appeared tinged with green. They were floating 100km from an asteroid belt. A small structure floated next to them. The bridge was in darkness with the ship running in low-power mode. Even if someone arrived at the asteroid belt, there was a low chance they'd be spotted unless they were a capsuleer or running active scans. In a system under incursion it was highly unlikely.

"So that thing out there is blocking scans?" Mairanard asked as she looked out along side the Captain.

"Yes." Fanason replied. "Its a capsuleer mobile scan disruptor. There was probably also a mobile warp disruptor structure here as well when the trap was manned. They would sit in here hidden from scanners. Miners would scan the system, assume space was empty and warp to the asteroid field. Only they'd get caught in a warp disruption bubble and land here into an ambush. I noticed the Serpentis were enroute and also there was this 'hole' in the scan when we jumped in. Its the best location to hide out for now. We got lucky last time, I don't think we'll have a Serpentis gang to distract the Sansha and rescue us next time".

"So we just wait?"

"Captain. Even if we escape the Serpentis will try to hunt us down. Our best bet is to hide away until the Sisters arrive and pronounce us dead."

"What?" Mairanard asked in shock. The Captain laughed.

"That's why you told me to eject the pods. After the incursion finishes the Sisters of Eve will arrive to provide humanitarian aid. The gates will be full of the remnants of ships. The Sisters will find our pods, assume we are one of the remnants of the wrecks and log us as lost. The Serpentis will see this, check the logs and find no one was recovered and assume we died when the ship was lost or were taken by the Sansha. Brilliant!"

They opened some bottles of beer and sat on the floor in the middle of the bridge. Mairanard asked how Fanason had gotten here. She recounted the story she had told the Captain the night before.
"Wow. What a bitch!" Mairanard muttered after she'd finished.

"I was sleeping with her man. I suppose it was an over-reaction, but she cannot be blamed for all of it."

"So who were your worst clients?" Mairanard asked drawing a moan from the Captain. Fanason laughed.

"Its OK Captain, I don't mind talking about it. Veldspar miners were the worst. Usually they couldn't afford me but once in awhile they'd strike a rich roid and come up to the Bumped Titan with a fistful of credits. I'd double my fee and even then, urrrghhhh!"

The Captain and Mairanard laughed.

"Best Clients?"

"Caldari businessmen. Not only do they have the cash to splash, they also feel they have something to prove. The old Caldari-Gallente animosity means they want this Gallente woman to know they make better lovers. Therefore they really work for it. I rarely get off when working, but these guys are more interested in my 'O' than theirs most the time."

"Most surprising Client?"

"The station owner's daughter."

"WHAT?" Mairanard said spitting drink.

"Don't look at me like that!" Fanason laughed "She was a grown woman in her 20's!"

"How did that happen?" Mairanard asked interested.

"Well I was at the Bumped Titan and about to call it a night when I saw her enter. She was dressed up so I thought she was meeting a guy. She came to the bar, had one drink, paid and went to leave. As she walked past she slipped me a bit of paper. It had a room number on it. I'd never spoken to her even though I knew who she was. I thought she might have overheard something and wanted to tip me off. You know, the Serps were bored keeping tabs on me and had decided they wanted me killed in an accident or something. Anyway I get to the room and she's there. She gives me a wad of money and says she was back on mid-term break. The weekend before there'd been a party near the university she goes to. A group of drunk college dudes had dared her and her friend to kiss. They were drunk so did it. She enjoyed it a bit too much and was worried. Confused even. So she wanted to know."

"Wow!" Mairanard remarked. "So you're bisexual?"

"No. I'm buy-sexual. If you are paying for my time then I'll be whatever you want me to be! I prefer men, but woman are welcome."

Mairanard laughed again. "So did you confirm anything for her?"

"Next morning she thanked me for a good time and that she really enjoyed herself, but it was definatly men she liked and left. I always smile when I hear Hronn in the Bumped Titan talking about his little princess away at university. If only he knew she'd spent most the night with her head between my thighs comparing sex with me to college-jock-cock!"

"Enough!" said the Captain "I'm going to have enough trouble sleeping tonight as it is!"

The two girls fell about laughing as he stood up, trying not to show how the stories had been affecting him.

"Ergrad. What's the situation back there?" Ragnar asked into the the comms unit. There was a few seconds of silence.

"All good Capt. Reactor is sleeping soundly but I can have it to 75% power in twenty seconds. 90 within a minute. With such a low output we shouldn't be seen unless someone nearly bumps into us."

"Good. Just make sure you are ready if the time comes. I'm on first watch up here, one of you get some sleep."

The Captain turned back to Mairanard and Fanason and suggested that they grab some mattresses and blankets from the quarters. With such a limited crew they would need to sleep on the bridge. Mairanard also said she'd bring up some food from the galley. In about half an hour they had a small camp site set up in the corner of the bridge.

"I'll take first watch. Then Mairanard then you Fanason. Four hours each. We'll then look at making a run for it. OK?"

"You OK for first watch Captain? The effects of story-time mean you are still alert?" Mairanard giggled making Fanason laugh. The Captain just glared at her through half opened eyes.

"Get some sleep! I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be fun!" the Captain sighed returning to the console.


"What is it?" the Captain asked.

"Its a capsuleer fleet I think. Probably here for the incursion." Fanson replied looking at the scanner. She had moved the ship just outside the mobile scan inhibitors range and was scanning towards the stargate.

"What's the plan?" Mairanard asked.

"Its safe to assume if there were any Sansha warships either side of the gate the eggers have destroyed them. Look, they are warping away. I'll plot a course for the gate." Fanson replied.

"No!" said the Captain "Plot a course for that!" He pointed at the screen.

"You cannot be serious?" Fanason sighed.

"Can you tell me 100% the Serpentis are going to fall for the escape pod trick?"

Fanason shook her head.

"So we go there and get what we need. Remember its not just the Sansha we are running from!"

Fanason shrugged her shoulders and adjusted the course. The ship shuddered as it entered warp.

"You know if Sansha reinforcements or more capsuleers show up we'll likely die in a fire."

The Captain nodded as the warp tunnel on the main viewer collapsed and the stargate loomed in the distance.

"You're kidding me!" Mairanard groaned.

"Stop moaning and activate the damn salvager!"

To be concluded....

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