Monday, August 29, 2016

Into Null!

My new toon is now a week old. Nearly 800k SP and somewhere I never thought they'd be at this stage. Null-sec.

I has "happily" grinding level ones for the Fed Navy in a rail Catalyst and nearing the level two agents. 10m ISK in the bank and a week of skills queued. Going OK. I log on and see the mail icon blinking. Now I'm suspicious! Why would this week old toon be getting an Eve Mail? Nobody knows who they are, not even the few friends that haven't quit the game. I was seeing how I got back into things before I started getting people to add the toon to contact lists. Who the smeg is mailing me? A scammer? A beggar? Who???


To my surprise, it was a recruitment mail. My first question was how do they know about me? I left the starter systems days ago and now in (relatively) normal space? Wondering if there is some way to search, find new toons and then you can mail them? Would make sense that CCP would make this possible. Anyway, however they did it, they did.

The pitch letter was good. Offer of skill books, ships, training, active corp, fleets. When I started this new toon in the hopes of getting back into Eve, null-sec certainly wasn't on the horizon. However, I decided what the hell. It cannot hurt. So I put my application in which was promptly accepted. Suddenly I'm a null-bear! Hear me growl!

First job was to get out there. In a frigate or destroyer? Dozens of jumps through null? Nope!

I used the once-a-year "move your medical clone" and the "terminate clone" option in the medical station tab. Zapppp! I'm suddenly in deepest, darkest 0.0 and inside a Keepstar citadel!


Next job was sorting out the support stuff. Forums, Mumble (always used TS in the past so that was new), IRC (wow not used IRC since the 90s) and stuff like that. Was very easy with the SSO stuff CCP implemented. So much easier than that bloody API crap you used to have to do. I was also gifted a newbie starter pack which contained a ton of skill books (which matched the recommended training plan on the forums) and a selection of fitted ships. These included tackle, scanning and ratting aimed at new-bros.

Suddenly I'm belt ratting in null-sec! That 10m it took me a week to make starts to look poor as I'm making a million every fifteen minutes in the belts here. My skill queue is maxed out at 50 skills and looking forward to getting some fleet action soon.

Oh yes and found my first capital rat! We didn't get on :(



Monday, August 22, 2016

Starting over.

It's been pretty obvious I'm in a huge Eve lull right now. Just look back at the complete lack of Eve posts over the last few months. I cannot remember the last time I logged into TQ before this weekend. I never really recovered from Fanfest to be honest. Add it a combination of my crap timezone plus the summer lull and low-sec PvP not getting any CCP lurvin' in the foreseeable future has meant I've just not bothered last month or two.


At the weekend I thought I'd try something to reinvigorate me. I started a brand new toon. I thought I'd run through the NPE to see what has changed in eight and a bit years since I did it last. No help from my other toons. No transferring cash, ships or modules. Try and relive those difficult and challenging times I recall from back when I first started in 2008.

One of my vivid recollections of that time was my first Caracal. I started Drackarn off as Caldari and been soloing for some time. I don't remember what frigates I was using but I do remember upgrading to my first Cormorant. Obviously they tear through level one missions like a hot knife through butter. However, I had my eyes on that lovely cruiser. I loved the look of the Caracal. I was desperate to get one. However ISK was always a problem at that time in my early 'Eve life'. The big memory that I have of that time was the massive disappointment of buying the hull, then remembering I needed the skill only to find I didn't have enough cash left! I had spent it all on my dream cruiser that I actually couldn't fly. Doh! So I had to go grind more missions to buy the damn book whilst my awesome new Caracal sat in my hanger collecting dust. Is it still like that?


There were no career agents as I recall back in my day, just the simple tutorial missions. Now you have your hand held a bit more. However, more than that, they give you free stuffz. A lot of stuffz. I was given an Atron, a Tristan, an Incursus (although that got blown up in a mission you are supposed to die in to teach you losing a ship is no big deal) and finally a Catalyst. The missions would be useful to a new player. They introduce you to concepts of webbing, tackling and taking orders from an FC. There is even one that has you doing some remote repping. However, they cannot teach you all you need to know. For example that webbing a ship may slow it down but also that if its not pointed it will align and warp away faster.

The big difference for me was the money. Eight years is a long time, but as I recall money was really tight for me as a new player. I recall all the the cool stuff in the game, but not having the ISK to buy it. Three hours running the initial Aura tutorial then onto the military and advanced military career agents this weekend and I had 5m ISK in cash plus four ships and a shed load of civilian modules as well as my loot collection. I did lose two ships. However I had to in order to complete the respective mission. One is where you fly an Atron packed with boom-boom stuffz into a Serpentis base. The other was the one I mentioned earlier where you are provided an Incursus for a suicide mission. The rest of the time my Gallente armour-tanked noobship and T1 frigates generally didn't get below half shield.


This was not the challenging times I remember. Am I remembering wrong? Was Eve this easy back then? Is it me? Is there that much of a difference between me as a total noob in 2008 and me now as a bit of a noob in 2016? Or have things changed? The "Eve is Hard! Are you up for the challenge?" campaign didn't last long. Is it less HTFU these days and more "Here, have some easy ISK and a handful of ships"?

I've moved onto level 1 missions and flying through them. Warping into "Gone Beserk" yesterday I just sat at the warp in and blapped everyone. I had to push my nose against the screen to see if the shields on my Catalyst had been touched. Not sure they had. This is easy Eve. Am I invested in the experience? Mmmmm.....


Friday, August 19, 2016

Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 10

Fiction Friday. Escape pod here!


Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 10


Thanan started from a window in the elevated office block down toward the distant smoking docking bay. Whatever the missile was, it hadn't exploded, but had smashed the wing of the transport. There was no way it would be able fly. His crew were evacuating the ship, inflatable slides had been deployed on the other side of the craft and people were running from the crash scene.

He watched as two figures emerged from the wreckage. From this distance he couldn't make them out but they were not wearing his uniforms and both appeared to be carrying guns. It wasn't a missile, it was some kind of drop-pod.

"We need to get back to the transports. What is the quickest way?" he growled.

One of his men took out a datapad and quickly checked.

"There are access tunnels that run underground. B1 is directly below us and would take us within a hundred metres of the docking bay where the two transports are. Its a 15 minute jog and we have 21 minutes sir."

Thanan knew that might not be the case but didn't say anything. Everything about the Blue Nova Crystal was theoretical. One hour was the estimated time to the reaction going critical but it could be longer, or shorter. Thanan had made billions in his time. His analytical mind was always weighing the options. They had two options. Steal another vessel, a closer one and get off world now or go back to the transports and take the one without the device. Whilst for his own personal safety option 1 was better he also watched the two men leaving the crash site and running in the direction of the transports. It was highly unlikely they could stop the reaction but why were they heading that way if they didn't know of a solution.

"Lets go!" Thanan growled.

-o0o-

"Shields holding but we're burning capacitor quickly!" Aki called out.

Another wave of rockets slammed into the Katsu Maru from the attacking fighters. The lights flickered and the sparks flew as a power conduit ruptured.

"Sensor status?" Sosa called out.

"Swamped. I cannot see us breaking through even with the backup arrays."

Sosa swore under his breath. ECM was a Caldari invention and was being used very effectively against them.

"So we have no idea how that Falcon is doing?"

"No sir. Our drones have engaged but it's possible he has some of those jammed too. He could be a tin can setup sir. No tank, just jams and amps. In that case we might have a chance. If he's got any sort of tank on there we're in trouble!"

A tin can Falcon was one whose loadout was fully aimed at getting the highest possible jamming strength. They had poor shields and armour meaning they would not last long in a firefight, but if your foe couldn't target you, then there was no firefight.

"Riku, we're in the shit up here. What's your status?" Sosa spoke into his comm unit.

"3 minutes until we reach the ship sir. Their exit transport was disabled and we're not encountering any resistance. I think everyone was ready to leave and now are desperately looking for another way offworld!"

"Good. Rescue our girls and get that device off planet!"

"Yes sir!"

Sosa looked at the viewscreen at the Thanatos class carrier. They needed a miracle and needed it soon.

-o0o-


Adab crossed the open plan office looking at his notes. The chief was surely going to ask a lot of questions, questions which Adab had no answers. In his 20 years of law enforcement in the Amarr Throne Worlds he'd never encountered such an odd enquiry. Reaching the Chief's door he knocked three times, waited a few seconds and then entered.

"Adab. What can I do for you?" the Chief asked. 

"Sir. A few years ago I worked on the security for a Caldari delegation who visited this station."

The Chief nodded.

"Yes I remember. It was heightened security as Heth was kicking off and we didn't want Caldari Executive Panel members bumped off by the Frogs under our watch."

"We'll I got to know one of the panel, she just called me direct and asked me three questions about an active investigation that was far as I know has no ties with anything Caldari."

The Chief leaned forward interested.

"Which case?"

"Detective Aleira's case sir." 

Adab's boss raised an eyebrow.

"She wanted to know if Detective Aleira had gone to Gallente space, if she was investigating the theft of six molecular lasers and if she had gone missing. I didn't see the harm in confirming this. However she shut down the link very abruptly before I could question her how she knew these things and what it had to do with the Caldari Executive Council."

The Chief leaned back in his chair and stroked his golden beard.

"This damn case case trickier with each passing hour!" he said wonder what the connection could be. The last they'd heard from here was when she left to investigate the Gallente University who had tried to buy six molecular lasers a few months ago. With her disappearance it clearly wasn't a coincidence, but how were the Caldari government involved?

"Try to call her back. Find out how she knows these things."

"I did sir. She won't answer so I tried another contact I made from the visit. Her security advisor said she knew nothing about what I was talking about and that there was an ongoing emergency in Caldari space and that they'd contact me once things had settled down to explain."

Both men stood in silence think what this all could mean.

-o0o-

Riku and Ingvar paused at the entrance to the docking bay. It was a huge circular structure where the two transports sat on the pad. One was still idling and had its power online. The other appeared to be offline. This was exactly as Aki had said they'd find them. To start the reaction in the crystal the ship had to have zero vibration so the reactor would need to be in sleep mode before they could activate the molecular lasers.

Riku looked around the perimeter walkway. He didn't see anything. However the concrete columns could be hiding any number of men.

"Plan?" Ingvar asked sweeping his Ishukone assault rifle around and looking through the thermal imaging scope making sure there were no guards or snipers.

"One of us goes and grabs the girls whilst the other engages the startup sequence and gets the craft offworld before that shit goes critical."

"Fantastic! So one of us the hero who rescues two hot women, figuratively and literally as my scope is showing that the hull of that ship is damn hot in the cargo bay area, and the other is the hero who gets vapourised to save 5 billion people?" Ingvar stated.

"Blaster, pulse laser, HAM?" Riku laughed referring to their version of rock, paper, scissors. The communicator crackled into life.

"Riku its Sosa. Looks like you're going to have company! We're still tracking the bug on Thanan. It changed direction and then the signal slowly got weaker and then died. Aki is almost certain he's gone into the service tunnels under the port. One of them leads to you. Expect him and his men on you in approximately six minutes. We're not sure how much longer we can provide assistance to you guys down there. Good luck."

Riku and Ingvar looked at each other and smiled, both having the same idea.

-o0o-

"Capacitor at 13% sir and booster is almost dry." Yoshi called out as the Katsu Maru was rocked by another volley.

"Sosa looked at the tactical readout. It was hopeless. They were unable to get a tactical lock due to the Falcon's ECM and even in a normal fight they'd be no match for a Thanatos class carrier. It had been a lucky escape when they last met in the Black Rise region. They'd only got away after the Captain of the Thanatos had made a grave tactical error and concentrated on the offline battleship rather than taking down the Katsu Maru first.

He glanced at the countdown. 11 minutes remained until the crystal would go critical and explode. He hated this feeling of helplessness. They were in the worst situation he'd ever experienced.

"Capacitor is empty! Shield booster offline!" Yoshi called.

Sosa looked around the bridge with a resigned look.

"She was a good ship." he muttered as he tapped away on the terminal and activated the escape pod system.

As he was doing this he noticed the water in his drinking glass start to move. It was as if the glass had been tilted but it was still upright.

"Has the anti-gravity been damaged?" he ask knowing that the shields, whilst now weak, hadn't been penetrated yet."

Aki's fingers danced over his console.

"No sir, but we've got some huge gravimetric disturbance in the vicinity. I have no idea what it is. It's not the carrier, its something else. Something bigger."

An alarm blared. The shields had failed. There was a huge explosion and the lights on the bridge went out. A second later the emergency lighting came on. Smoke lingered in the bridge. The viewscreen flickered back into life.

"One of the backup reactors just took a hit. We've got hull breaches on decks 12 to 21 on the port side!" Yoshi called out. "Sealing blast doors."

Sosa reached to activate the abandon ship alarm. Without their shields the fighters would destroy them in a less than a minute.

"Oh... so that's what was affecting the artificial gravity." Aki mumbled making Sosa pause and look up.

A Leviathan class titan dropped out of warp some distance behind the Thanatos. The 16km long ship was a marvel of Caldari engineering. The largest and deadliest ship in their fleet.

"Its Admiral Vikkito's flagship sir. The fleet that engaged our taskforce at the gate." Yoshi said.

The bridge crew looked as the Thanatos slowly turned. The fighters that were engaging them broke away from their attack run and started burning back towards their carrier.

-o0o-

"Lieutenant. Please remind me of the stipulations of the rights-of-passage for Black Sun Securities capital vessels in Caldari space." Admiral Vikkito said rather theatrically on the bridge of the Leviathan.

"Sir? Well the license allows them as a security firm to move capital class ships through Caldari high-security space. However no more than two capital class vessels are allowed in the same system at the same time. They also must not be capsuleer vessels as this would also conflict with CONCORD laws. Finally they must keep all fighters and drones docked in carriers and offline any fitted weapons on dreadnought class ships whilst in Caldari high-security space."

"Excellent." Admiral Vikkito stated. "Do you concur that Black Sun Securities have broken the agreement of the rights-of-passage for non-capsuleer corporations?"

Lieutenant Tenanochi turned to the view screen. The Mammoth class industrial had taken a beating and the fighters that had been engaging it were rushing back to the carrier. It was obvious the carrier was aligning to warp away, not wishing to go toe-to-toe with a Titan.

"Yes I do sir. We are required by law to order them to stand down and impound the ship at the nearest navy stardock."

The Admiral smiled and nodded as he tapped away on this keypad.

"Correct again Lieutenant. However, what if this ship was part of an attack on New Caldari with the aim of killing five billion men, women and children? What should be our action then?"

The Lieutenant went to answer but stuttered. Not knowing how to respond.

"Well the correct answer is this." he leaned over and spoke into the communicator that set into the arm of his chair. "Fire control, you have authorisation to engage."

Back on the Katsu Maru the bridge crew watched as the energy field developed directly in front of the Leviathan.

"Yoshi, please tell me our shields are back online!" Sosa asked.

"Yes sir. Only at 8% but it'll be enough to deflect flying debris."

Sosa nodded and smiled as he watched the viewscreen intently. The energy field glowed a bright blue and tiny puffs of smoke appeared from the titan, dozens of missiles were being launched as the doomsday weapon fired. As the missiles followed the energy field and slammed into the doomed carrier they all could see why it was named 'Oblivion".

-o0o-

Thanan stopped behind a concrete column. The two ships were still there. One idealing, one in sleep mode just as he'd left them. His two men had their guns drawn and were two steps behind him. He saw movement from the ship that contained the device. The two men he'd seen emerge from the wreckage of the transport's wing ran down the cargo ramp each carried one of the women. He couldn't tell if they were dead or unconscious. They ran to the opposite side of the docking bay.

"Lets go!" Thanan ordered and jogged towards the ship. As they reached the ramp he paused.

"Stay here and keep them two pinned down."

As Thanan sprinted inside the ship his two men opened fire. Riku and Ingvar quickly moved behind a large concrete column. From this distance the pistols the two bodyguards of Thanan were using were wildly inaccurate.

"Not the best of shots are they?" Riku stated as he cocked his rifle.

"Shall we show them how its done?" Ignvar smiled.

The two bodyguards dived onto the ramp as 8mm charged rounds peppered the area from the Mordu's men's rifles. Ingvar and Riku slowly started to advance using what cover they could find between firing accurate bursts to keep the bodyguards pinned down.

Back in the cockpit Thanan ensured the ship was fully powered before activating the weapons system. The Viator had a single weapon. A 75mm railgun mounted on a hardpoint along the ventral line along the top of the vessel. Looking at the external cameras he saw the unknown Caldari and Matari men advancing. He wanted to fire on them. The 75mm antimatter round wouldn't need a direct hit. The weapon was designed to shoot down frigates, hit roughly close to a human would be enough. However his watch said two minutes and he needed to make sure that his plan was completed. The railgun spun to face the other transport. Thanan carefully aimed and fired a single round. Riku and Ingvar dropped to the ground as they heard the doom of starship weapon fire.

"Shit! He's bringing out the big guns!" Riku snarled into his communicator.

"Yeah but we're both still here, so what on Pator is he shooting at?"

The roar of the engines drowned out any further communications as the Viator lifted off. The two men watched as the transport lifted clear of the docking bay and fired its engines. As it left Ingvar's question was answered. There was a smoking hole almost 5m wide in the starboard engine of the other transport. Without its power offline its shields and armour hardeners were offline.

"So, we won't be flying that thing anywhere!" Riku said as Gian and Aleira walked over. Both women's skin was red and blotchy where the heat from the crystal had burnt them.

"So that's it then? It's all over?" Gian asked looking at the gaping hole in the transport.

"It would appear so." Riku replied glancing at his watch. One minute and twelve seconds remained on the countdown.

-o0o-


As soon as he was clear of the atmosphere Thanan activated the cloaking device and warp drive. The journey was short, a few seconds. He didn't want a great distance between him and the planet. He needed to be close enough to watch it burn, but also far enough away to ensure his ship wasn't compromised.

He was shocked to see the Katsu Maru warp in a few seconds later. Hurriedly he checked the cloaking device and was relieved to find it still working. The Mordu's Legion ship was some 300km away, however it cannot be a coincidence that they were so close. In astrological terms they were sat on top of him.

"Looking for revenge Captain? Serve your idea of justice for what is about to happen." Thanan spoke on a short range broadcast. He knew with enough time they'd be able to pinpoint his location however they'd be too late.

"No, I'm just doing the same as you Thanan. I'm here for a good view of the fireworks." Sosa replied.

This put Thanan off guard. Was the Captain who had been doing everything he could to stop him, wanting to watch the planet burn? It made no sense.

"I find that hard to believe. I think your two men are frantically trying to get the crystal off-world. I think they, along with the good doctor and our Amarrian detective are about to join billions of your race in a fiery death!"

"Nope." the reply came.

Thanan was now worried by the casual reply. No pleading for him to do the right thing. No threats of what they'd do to him when they caught him. He quickly ran a diagnostic of the ship. Something was up. They knew something he didn't. Three red lines on the diagnostic caught his eye. A number of systems in cargo bay one were offline. Sensors, fire suppression, cameras. A feeling of dread crept over him. He lept from the chair and sprinted out of the cockpit. Taking the stairs two at a time he ran towards cargo bay one. He turned the corner in the corridor and skidded to a stop. The heat blasted him in the face. Ahead the door to cargo bay one glowed a bright orange. The metal was melting. Without dissecting how, Thanan turned and ran. The door at the end of the corridor was marked "Escape Pod". He didn't slow and crashed into the door slamming the open control. Nothing happened. He slammed it several more times. Something akin to a clap of thunder sounded. He looked down the long corridor as the door to cargo bay one turned bright white.

On the Katsu Maru they watched as the Viator appeared. Its cloaking device failing.

"Good calcs Aki. I was a bit worried we'd get too close."

"It was easy Captain. This close to the planet the bug in the book was pinging off a dozen satellites in orbit. Easy to get an accurate position."

The Viator was suddenly swallowed by a bright white ball that expanded and then vanished.

"That was it?" Yoshi asked. "I was hoping for a big bang!"

"That's all we get." Aki replied "Small but deadly. Readings are it was indeed hot enough to ignite an atmosphere. Small on bang, big on power!"

"Right. Let's get our people back." Sosa announced looking into the vast empty space on the viewscreen.

Epilogue next week....

Friday, August 12, 2016

Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 9

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!


Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 9

Commander Meuldia looked at the tactical view from his elevated chair on the bridge. The situation was bad. The Caldari Navy had destroyed most of the Legion's support ships and were now hitting the larger vessels. He'd ordered all ships to fallback to the stargate and the majority of his faster ships were already in a tight orbit around the structure. They needed to be within two and a half kilometres from the vast structure to be able to activate it and jump out.The Barghest class battleship he was commanding was nowhere near that. Interceptors from the Navy had them webbed and scrammed. The micro-warpdrive was offline and the gaviton weapons they were using had increased the ships mass so much that a titan moved quicker. There was no way they'd make it back to gate, not with a wing of Raven class battleships on short-range scan.

"Time for those Ravens?" he called out.

"Under 20 seconds sir."

His fingers danced over his console. He punched in his command codes and the large red button marked 'Abandon Ship' filled the touch screen. He left it there knowing he'd need it in less than a minute. The torpedo volleys from six Raven's would make short work of his ship. He'd not trigger the command early, there was always hope, but he wouldn't leave it to the last minute either. They were not capsuleers or cloned soldiers. Death was permanent and something he really wanted to avoid. He opened a fleet-wide broadcast.

"All ships, this is Commander Meuldia. Set a course for the HQ in 5ZXX-K and burn for it. Get there and dock up. The Old Man will have to sort this mess out himself. Jump! Jump! Jump!" he ordered. The Old Man was a reference to Muryia Mordu, the leader of the corporation.

One by one the Legion vessels under fire by the Caldari Navy activated the massive stargate. Bright flashes pulsed as each was swallowed by an artificial wormhole and flung light-years across space. Three ships were left once all those within range of the gate had jumped.

"What about us sir?" Ensign Tarartault asked worriedly.

"Lets just hope when they scoop our escape pods they don't take us to New Caldari!" he replied as the viewscreen showed six Raven's dropping out of warp 30km from their starboard bow.


At the same time, several AU away on a Naval station in orbit around New Caldari Medical Technician Second Class Eratsaka tapped a command into the datapad he was holding. The coffin-sized unit in front of him hissed as the double doors opened just a crack. The condensation that was misting the glass doors started to clear as the cooler air from the medi-bay mixed with that inside the damp clone revival unit. The doors started to open quicker and the naked, hairless man who lay inside opened his eyes.

"Careful fly-boy, that's a brand new body. You know the drill, stay still whilst we run the tests."

The man blinked confused, his eyes stung even in the subdued lighting.

"What happened?" he croaked, using the vocal chords for the first time.

"You died I guess. Welcome to the afterlife and all that." the Medical Technician joked. "The brain-state transfer was confirmed at 100%, don't worry it'll all come flooding back in a few minutes. I see from your med-file this is your first combat related death and only your second clone after the termination required to graduate from Capsuleer training so take it easy. These clones aren't cheap."

"Combat death?" Eagle Five repeated slowly. "Oh shit!" he gasped. "I need to contact Admiral Vikkito now!" he said trying to stand. His new legs, never used before, gave way and he fell to the floor.

Eratsaka rolled is eyes as if to say 'every fracking time!' and moved to help the pilot off the floor.

-o0o-

The two Viator class transports settled onto the landing pad almost in unison. Whilst normally a deep-space transport ship, Thanan had spent a fortune retro-fitting them to allow atmospheric flight. As the XO started the shutdown procedures Thanan first stopped off at his quarters and retrieved a briefcase. He then left his room and went down a flight of stairs to the main cargo bay. The six molecular lasers were there pointing at the blue crystal sat on the white pedestal. He looked over to the main cargo doors that were open slightly allowing the bright sunshine in. Two of his men roughly pushed Gian and Aleira in at gunpoint.

Thanan watch as his two men fastened their wrists to chains dangling from the ceiling and left.

"Ladies. I've had you brought from the other ship as I thought after all your efforts you should be the first people in history to see a Blue Nova crystal go critical." he said with a smile.

His chief weapons building, Haakamon, entered the room holding a datapad.

"Is it ready?" Thanan asked.

"Yes sir. The reactor is offline and the vibrations are zero."

"Do it!"

Haakamon keyed some commands into his datapad. The six lasers hummed into life, their barrel's glowing red almost instantly. Clicks and whirrs filled the cargo hold as each one made minute adjustments in its alignment. Haakamon approached Thanan and passed the datapad over.

"If you would like the honour sir?"

Thanan smiled. This was it. His wife and children would be avenged. This wasn't Amarrian justice. An eye for an eye. A life for a life. He was going to repay the Caldari with interest. The pain and grief he had suffered over the last decade justified to him to the death of billions he was about to cause. He pressed the button and the six lasers fired a short burst. The room fell quiet.

"Did it work?" he asked excitedly.

Haakamon retrieved the datapad and looked at the readings.

"Yes sir. Just as expected. It has started!"

Thanan smiled and moved over to Aleira and Doctor Gian.

"Ladies, I'm afraid you and your Legion friends have failed. The cascade reaction has started. It cannot be stopped. That crystal will heat up over the next hour. Slowly at first but gaining in speed. I'm afraid you won't witness the actual moment it goes critical and sets off a chain reaction that destroys all life on this planet. You'll have been burnt to death before then by the heat of the slow reaction. I think its fitting. We used to burn traitors at the stake in ancient times. I'm just upholding Gallente traditions." he laughed and turned to leave.

"They'll get you. The Legion are going to find you and kill you." Gian said menacingly.

Thanan stopped a second, he didn't turn, just paused. After a moment he started walking again and left with Haakamon hot on his heels.

-o0o-

"30 seconds to the New Caldari gate Captain" Yoshi called out.

"Aki, you sure he went this way?"

"Yes sir. The bug in the book is still pinging. When in space it bounces off the nearest stargate so we only know if he's in system and which is the nearest stargate. This was the one the final ping came from before the signal was lost as they jumped."

Sosa nodded. The situation was tense. They had not been able to reach Commander Meuldia or the taskforce in New Caldari. As the Katsu Maru dropped out of warp once they neared the stargate Sora realised why. Part of the task force was this side of the gate, locked in a deadly battle with Caldari forces."

"Captain?" Yoshi asked.

"Hold fire. We cannot help them. If we get flagged for aggression we cannot jump. Thanan is in New Caldari now, every second we lose is to his advantage. We have no choice, jump!"

Reluctantly Yoshi activated the stargate. Leaving their comrades like this stung, but she knew the Captain was right. Billions of lives were at risk right now on New Caldari, at least the Legion crews had a fighting chance in their ships unlike those on the planet of New Caldari.

In a flash of light the Katsu Maru vanished and re-emerged from the artificial wormhole into a war-zone.

"Any chance we can catch a break here?" Sora sighed viewing the battle going on this side of the gate too. Several million kilometres away he was about to. 


Commodore Gakoho span round as he heard commotion behind him in the combat command and control centre. Supposedly one of the most secure locations on the space-station had a man in a hospital gown wrestling the two MPs that were stationed at the door. He glanced down at the tactical view. The Legion were defeated. Admiral Gakoho could mop up now. He marched over to the disturbance.

"WHAT THE BLAZERS IS GOING ON HERE?" he yelled.

The three men snapped to attention.

"WHO ARE YOU?" he screamed addressing Lieutenant Yuatakkeimo.

"Lieutenant Yuatakkeimo sir! Callsign Eagle Five attached to the third combat wing under Admiral Vikkito sir!"

"AND WHY THE HELL ARE YOU OUT OF UNIFORM AND FIGHTING MY SECURITY LIEUTENANT?"

"Sir! There has been a mistake. My Crow malfunctioned. I was not engaged by the Legion, I crashed into them!"

The Commodore stared at the man sternly for a moment.

"Stay there!" he muttered and walked briskly over to a woman at a large console.

"Bring up the logs for Eagle Five."

The woman's fingers danced over the screen.

Last few entries sir show some course corrections, MWD activation... sir, there are error reports from stabiliser assembly control, serious malfunction warnings and then notification of fire in engine compartment. Sir, there is no target acquisition, no hostile fire detected. Eagle Five suffered some catastrophic engine failure."

One of the most senior officers in the Caldari Navy looked at the screen and the only response he could come up with was a single word.

"Shit!"

-o0o-

Thanan walked in Waskisen's office with two of his men. Waskisen stood with a huge smile on his face.

"Mr Eratsaka! A pleasure to see you again." he said extending his arm to Thanan.

Thanan shook the mans hand and noted Waskisen was not looking at him, but the case he carried. He placed the case on the desk and opened it before spinning it around.

"One million credits as agreed. You need do nothing. Just ensure my ships are left alone on the pad for ninety minutes. One of my associates will arrive at that time and fly them away."

Waskisen just nodded as he pulled the case towards him.

"Yeah, its all arranged. Pad 4 is off-limits to all staff. The personnel transport you requested is on pad 14, fuelled and waiting."

Thanan keyed a quick message on his datapad ordering the crew of both of his ships to leave and get to the shuttle on pad 14.

"Hey! These are Ishukone Credits. We agreed on Caldari Funds Unlimited currency." Waskisen said angrily.

"We had an issue securing that amount of cred-notes in CFU currency back in the Federation. Ishukone is the next best thing I hear." Thanan replied.

"Not good enough." Waskisen said back confidently. "Whatever contraband you have in those transports is worth a lot I'm betting. I want a cut. I'm risking too much for a million in fracking Ishukone creds!"

Thanan sighed.

"I'll make this quick. You have two options and I will lay them out very carefully for you." Thanan started in a weary tone "Firstly you can take the money in front of you and live a long and happy life. The other option is that one of my men here will shoot you in the face and hide you body under this desk." he tapped the desk for effect "Then as we leave we'll do the same to that hot secretary you have outside the door. I'm sure you hired her for her typing skills. Anyone who comes looking for you in the next 90 minutes will probably believe you are in some cheap hotel, balls-deep in that Caldari slut and won't bother making a fuss. By the time someone realises something is wrong and you body is found everything will be finished regarding my dealings here, I'll be halfway back to the Federation and I won't care. So which option?"

Waskisen looked at the man he knew as Eratsaka in a new light. He'd misjudged the seemingly weak businessman. He stuttered his reply.

"Actually I prefer option 2!" Thanan said interrupting him.

Waskisen went to scream but Thanan's bodyguard already had his gun out. The compact rail-pistol snapped as the sub-sonic charge left the barrel and struck Waskisen in the face. The lead alloy round was designed not to penetrate far so could be used on a starship. The front of Waskisen's face caved in and blood and brains dripped from the hole, but there was no splatter on the wall behind. The bodyguard pulled the body from the chair and pushed it into the desks foot-well. He then moved the chair in front looking like the desk was vacant. The sub-sonic nature of the round and the electro-magnetic delivery system also meant it was almost silent. Nobody would come running. Thanan looked around and was satisfied anyone looking in the office would not see anything wrong. He nodded and the three men left the office. The secretary smiled as the men approached. Her expression turned to one of horror as one of the men pulled his gun and fired. The slug hit her in the centre of the chest killing her instantly. The other man hid the body under the reception desk and were leaving when one of the bodyguards spoke.

"Sir, what about the million credits?"

Thanan didn't stop.

"Leave it. In a few hours the value of Caldari credits will be worthless. Their currency will free-fall so much people will be thinking Republic Credits are a sound investment!"


-o0o-

The Katsu Maru was in warp to New Caldari. Sosa was speaking to Commander Meuldia on a secure link.

"We saw it. We had just jumped in to the battlefield when suddenly the firing stopped. What happened?"

"One of their flyboys had an engine malfunction. He slammed his frigate into one of our cruisers and when his ship went down they assumed we'd engaged. Took a few minutes for him to get out of the pot the other end and straighten it out. Shit Sosa, we lost a lot of good men today thanks to a fracking stabiliser breakdown!"

Sosa nodded.

"You are sure Thanan got through?" Sosa asked.

"Yes. The logs show two Viators decloaking after jumping in and then recloaking. Sorry Sosa but we were in a fire fight. Half of our fast-tackle were down and the other half jammed by those damn Caldari Griffins."

"There was nothing you could have done." Sosa replied "Cannot tackle a cloaking transport in the middle of a fire-fight."

Meuldia nodded.

"We're heading to Orbital 42. We cannot help evacuating Legion staff from the surface but the station is getting crowded so we're taking on personnel and moving them back to base. Do you think you can stop him?"

Sosa paused.

"We're going to give it everything! God speed" he replied before disconnecting the comm link.

Sosa walked over to Aki's station.

"We have him sir. He still has the book and is planet side. He's docked at a port near a large city. Both ships are there. I'm hacked into the New Caldari Net. I have satellite coverage too."

Sosa pointed to a big red countdown that read 52 minutes.

"That what I think it is?"

"Yes sir I'm afraid. I'm in the port's network and the ship's status is all logged when docked. From what we know, the lasers need a vibration free environment to work. Even the tiny vibrations from a starship reactor would be enough to misaligned the lasers so they would not break the molecular bond and cause the fission. Given that it will take one hour from firing to the crystal going critical, that's the worst case scenario. The reactor of the ships went down into sleep-mode eight minutes ago. If they fired the lasers immediately we have 52 minutes before it goes critical."

Sosa nodded. Unlike those modified transports, the Katsu Maru could not enter the atmosphere. It would drop like a stone.

"Ingvar, Riku. Tool up and get into the torp. Its down to you two."

The two men rose and left quickly. The "torp" was basically a simple shuttle designed for orbital insertions. It was fired like a weapon and could place two men planet-side in less than four minutes. Whilst it contained the latest in inertial dampening technology, it still wasn't a nice ride for the two occupants.

Sosa counted the minutes. Both Ingvar and Riku were his best fire-operatives and would be ready quicker than anyone else, but as the seconds ticked on he grew more nervous. Yoshi had confirmed they were in position. Finally the two men jumped into the craft and hit the release. Sosa glanced at the clock. 36 minutes.

"Sir, I've done checked the security feed." Aki announced "Looks like the crew of the two ships have transferred to an orbital shuttle that is waiting on one of the pads. I've got a good ping on the bug. its moving from the offices at the far end of the port towards the shuttle."

"Thanan! How long until he gets there?"

"A good ten minutes sir. Its a long way"

"OK, I have an idea."

-o0o-

Thanan walked across the skybridge from the office block. He could just see the tops of his two transports in the distance on their pad. He glanced at his watch. The crystal should be in the hundreds of degrees Celsius by now. He guessed the air temperature in the hold must be nearing sixty Celsius. Those two meddling women should be very uncomfortable be thought with a smile. Another fifteen minutes and they'll be burning he thought with a smile. He glanced over to the shuttle that was closer. It was an elegantly curved white craft with wide fixed wings. Designed for both fast flight between cities and orbital installations. The plan was to join his crew and rendezvous with in orbit with his support vessel. They'd then watch New Caldari burn from a safe distance. Something high above caught his eye. At first he thought it was a bird. The black speck in the bright sky started to grow. Moving too fast for a craft, the small object was plummeting towards the starport. He thought for a moment it might have been a weapon launched by the Navy or the Legion. They were going to destroy the starport in the hope of preventing the crystal going critical. He knew that it was unlikely. If they did know about the plan then they should know that once the fission was started it couldn't be stopped. An orbital strike would be counter-productive as it would prevent them moving the crystal off-world. The only way to stop it.

The object appeared to slow. Thanan looked closely. It looked a little bit like a capsuleer's pod but had metallic petals extended from the rear. Air brakes? He watched it a few seconds more before realising where it was heading.

"NO!" he screamed as the object impacted into the wing of the shuttle. There was a plume of smoke and sections of the wing flew in all directions.

Back on the Katsu Maru there were smiles as they watched through a hacked security camera.

"Riku. Ingvar? You guys OK?" the Captain spoke into the comms.

"Bit of a bumpy landing sir but we're fine. I assume the shuttle isn't going anywhere?"

"Affirmative. You'll see when you get out but that bird is dead on the ground. Ignore the crew. Now get the girls and find that weapon!" Sosa ordered.

"CONTACT!" Yoshi suddenly called out. "Falcon decloaking 20km, he's locking!"

"Launch the drones and set to aggressive. If he jams us they'll engage." Sosa ordered.

"We're jammed, warp drive is offline, he's got a disruptor on us. Second contact! Thanatos class carrier dropping out of warp!"

Sosa looked up at the big screen. The Black Sun Security vessel loomed large. The Katsu Maru was no match for a carrier normally. Jammed and with their warp-drive offline, they didn't stand a chance.


"Riku, Ingvar. You're on your own. We've just run into the ship I assume Thanan was about to meet up with at a guess and we've got big problems! Get the girls and stop that device!" Sosa ordered as he watch the first wing of fighters launch towards them from the carrier.

To be concluded.....

Friday, August 5, 2016

Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 8

Friday fiction! Escape pod here!


Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 8

"Sorry Sosa, no dice. They won't act."

The hologram of Muryia Mordu looked tired. Well known for his eccentric dress, he was wearing a Gallente Black Eagles uniform with a bright pink bobble hat. Sosa smiled thinking if he had addressed the Caldari leadership council looking like that they wouldn't have taken him seriously. However he knew the Old Man would have been running his usual morphing software when he spoke to them which would have superimposed more sensible dress for the head of New Eden's largest mercenary corporation.

"Not even with the possibility New Caldari could become a fireball in a matter of hours?"

"I expected it. Look at it from their viewpoint. A well respected businessman has built a bomb from a theoretical material that nobody has ever seen and isn't even proven to exist and plans to burn an entire planet. Even coming from us, it sounds a bit far fetched. Are they still in system?"

As soon as Thanan's people had detected the hack, the six transport ships had undocked quickly. The Viator class transport ship was optimized for cloaking and they had quickly vanished into space before the Katsu Maru could catch them.

"Thanan's ship is, the bug we placed inside the old Caldari book is still pinging. However, we have no idea about the other five. They could have slipped through one of the stargates, or they might be waiting it out. Its unlikely they've left as we have probes out and they'd have to decloak to jump through a gate. We also don't know if the device is on Thanan's own ship or one of the others. It wasn't on the one Aleira and Gian infiltrated."

"I'm guessing no word from either of them?" Mordu asked solemnly.

"No. Thanan's people have them. I'm sorry, this op has gone south very quickly."

"I've read the reports. Not your fault. This Thanan guy has spent a decade planning this. Aki said in his update that he believes that there were technicians physically monitoring the network, that's how they saw your hack. Now that is paranoia on a different scale. He's gone to great lengths to achieve his goals. I'm diverting a taskforce to New Caldari. The Council don't like it but tough. We'll do what we can to stop them there."

Sosa nodded and disconnected the link.


-o0o-

Admiral Vikkito looked at the message again. The threat had been dismissed by the Council however once of the CEO's who sat on the board had sent him the details. It sounded like something out of a bad action movie. A bomb capable of turning an entire planet into a fireball in a matter of hours. The build up of Legion ships in New Caldari was another cause for concern. Whilst originally a Caldari corporation, the mercenaries were like any other. They worked for whoever was paying. The threat to New Caldari could be a smoke screen, the Legion could be the actual threat hired by god-knows-who. However, what if they were telling the truth he wondered. Was it worth risking an entire planet?

He rose from his desk and walked over to the huge window. In the distance the planet of New Caldari was bathed in sunlight from his angle. The Leviathan class titan couldn't go any nearer. The 16km long ship had enough mass to affect the gravity on a planet so needed to stay a safe distance from habitable worlds.

"What if they are right?" he muttered to himself.

A shrill beep sounded.

"Come." he said loudly and the door opened. Lieutenant Tenanochi entered the room and stood to attention.

"Lieutenant. The Legion claim they are responding to a potential threat against New Caldari. However our political masters are not taking that threat seriously. A theoretical weapon, a mineral nobody has ever seen, a mercenary corporation putting themselves in danger for no profit. It doesn't feel right."

"I detect there is a 'but' there sir?"

"Yes there is. A huge one. But what if they are right. What if a Caldari-hating business magnet has developed a weapon that could consume an entire planet in fire. What if the Legion has discovered this plot and are trying to save billions of lives of our people whilst we just watch from afar."

The Lieutenant stood silently as the Admiral turned back to the window.

"Sir, its been a while since we have run an Operation Tsunami exercise. May be its a good opertunity give we have no active orders currently."

The Admiral smiled. Operation Tsunami was a tactical scenario involving a direct assault on the system of New Caldari by one of the other Empires. Generally the enemy were taken to be the Gallente but they had also practiced for Amarrian or even Matari forces. Whether the threat was real or not, it would put his forces in the best position if trouble did start.

"Yes, I believe that would be a good idea. Lieutenant, make the arrangements please. I'll inform the Legion taskforce commander about our training 'exercise' in the area and that they need to be aware."
-o0o-

Thanan entered the small cargo bay. Two of his men stood by the door, as he passed he nodded towards the door and they left. Another man entered carrying a small camera. Thanan approached the three in the centre of the room, all hanging by their wrists from chains suspended from high above. Captain Bique's eyes went wide in terror as he watched his boss approach. Doctor Gian and Detective Aleira looked at him in disdain.

"Sir.... I didn't know. It was a trap! It's not my fault..." Bique started to cry.

Thanan moved over to a crate and picked up a tarnished grey cylinder. Moving back into the light they could all see it was a handheld plasma torch.

"No! No! No! Please!" the Captain begged as Thanan ignited the torch. The flame roared into life.

"Ladies. Excuse me a moment, I'll be with you two as soon as I show Captain Bique here the errors of his way." Thanan addressed Gian and Aleira.

Thanan moved in front of the begging man.

"You'll not do this again will you?"

"No! I'm sorry! I'll never do it again! I'm sorry!" cried Bique hoping he was just using scare tactics to teach him a lesson.

"That is so true. You won't!" Thanan growled and quickly placed the torch in front of the Captain's trousers. The scream was shrill and almost inhuman. The Captain thrashed as the flame burnt through his uniform and blackened his flesh. The smell of burnt skin rose and Gian and Aleira gagged. After thirty seconds the Captain passed out. Thanan turned off the torch and dropped it on the floor with a resounding clang.

"So now ladies. Good to see you again Detective and Dr Gian it is a pleasure to finally meet you." he said turning to them. The Doctor glanced across at Captain Bique. Thanan had been right, Bique would never disobey orders again chasing skirt if he survived. There was very little left of him to identify him as a man.

"It is clear you both know far too much about me and my plans. At this point it's incidental. The Legion and Navy gate-camp in New Caldari gives me a pretty good idea who has been the spanner in the works all this time and they know where we're heading."

Thanan went back to the crate and retrieved two items. He returned to stand before Aleira.

"Detective. I enjoyed our short time at the university, I hope you won't take offence if I have some fun with the good Doctor."

He walked over to Gian.

"You are Gallente. Why are you helping this Amarrian? A Caldari-sympathiser, trying stop me from destroying our enemies once and for all?"

"Because you're a fracking lunatic!" Gian spat.

Thanan smiled. He took the small silver disk and placed it on her chest. The deep V of her dress allowing him access to her skin. The device stuck to her with a slight hum. As he did he stoked the shining green satin material. Gian was cursing her choice of outfit. The incredibly thin material did nothing to protect her from his touch.  She'd picked it to seduce Captain Bique, she hadn't envisaged being chained up in a cargo hold with a psychopath.

"The device will monitor your heart and can save your life by administering an AED pulse if needed so don't worry about that thing" Thanan spoke. "This however, is why you need that device, this you do need to worry about."

He rose a baton in front of her face. The two metallic prongs on the end reflected the harsh lighting of the cargo bay.

"I'm sure you are aware what a terrible toll electricity has on the human body. The heart is the biggest problem. Too much and it fibrillates. It's all about the bloodstream you see. The veins and arteries, they are the path of least resistance for the current. It doesn't matter if I shock you here..." he ran the baton slowly over her chest, deliberately running over her nipple that was erect with fear causing her to flinch "..or here..." he continued down and ran the end of the batten along her inner thigh, circling around under her short satin dress. She flinched at every touch expecting a shock. He pressed the prongs into her flesh but the shock did not come. "The heart is still going to take punishment where ever the point of contact is. Its the way our bodies are built I'm afraid."

"Leave her alone you animal!" Aleira screamed.

Thanan ignored her. He lifted the baton in front of Gian's face. Her eyes focused on the prongs and she jumped as he pressed a button causing the electricity to arc between the two with a crackle.

"So Doctor Gian. Are you ready to scream for the camera?"

-o0o-

"Well this is going to turn into a shit-storm very quickly."

Commander Meuldia looked at the screen. Around the stargate a dozen of the Legion's ships maintained a 15km orbit. Closer to the stargate a dozen Caldari Navy interceptors had taken up positions.

"You think the training exercise is BS?" Ensign Tarartault asked.

"I'd bet the ship on it. Admiral Vikkito is no fool. Whether he believes the threat from Thanan is real or not, we being here has got him twitchy. By calling this exercise he can position his ships ready if anything kicks off. The irony is, putting these Caldari flyboys in our backyard increases the chance of things kicking off!"

The Ensign just nodded. They had reports from several ships of the Navy buzzing them and even a few bumps where they were so close the two ships shields had touched.

"Should we fall back?"

"Negative. We need to be in range of scrambling the warp drives of those transports if Thanan comes this way. In order to do that we have to stop them cloaking up. Actually the Caldari forces are helping in that, but with so much hardware in such a small area its a lot of risk."

The Commander went back to looking at the screen. One little incident could set of a chain reaction.


-o0o-

"Incoming transmission Captain. Its from Thanan."

Sosa looked up from the screen he was reviewing.

"Seriously? He's opening comms? Can we track him?"

"Negative Captain. Its not live. It's a video recording being bounced off a stargate's fluid router."

"Play it." the Captain ordered.

The main view screen on the bridge flickered and the starfield was replaced by a scene of the cargo bay from the ship Gian and Aleira had infiltrated. The Doctors screams echo'd through the speakers as Thanan repeatedly shocked her with the baton. Aleira screamed for him to stop in the background. Thanan asked no questions, he just stood in silence as he used the stun baton.

"That bastard." Ingvar growled. "I'm going to tear him apart."

The Captain watched emotionless for a few more seconds before ordering Aki to turn it off.

"Thanan is trying to provoke us. Make us angry and desperate. To prioritise finding that ship over the one with the weapon. Everyone take a breath. We cannot let him goad us into making a mistake."

"We won't Captain, but he has." Riku stated rising from his seat and walking over to Aki.

"Thanan wasn't on the same ship as them when he undocked but he is now. We've not had any of those ships show up on scans so he's not docked and he's not linked up with the other ship otherwise the cloak on both ships would have dropped and we would have scanned him with the probes. Therefore there must be a reason he's not shown up of scans."

"System is too small for a deep-safe." Aki replied. "Our probes are pinging several times a second and cover twice the radius of this system. If one of those transports comes within two and a half clicks of anything we'll pick them up."

"Reset the probes. Forget transports, look for any active MSI's." Sosa ordered.

-o0o-

Thanan placed the baton down. The Gallente woman had passed out again. He struggled to understand why she was working against him. He was going to cripple the Caldari. Couldn't she, as a Gallente, see that was for the best. He picked up his datapad. It was time. He needed to move now before the Caldari shored up defenses in their home system. He hoped the video they had sent would have enraged the crew working with the doctor and the Amarrian detective that they would fall for his new plan. He turned to the cameraman and removed his own jacket and the signet ring he wore.

"Put my jacket and ring on. Once I'm back on my own ship this vessel will warp to an asteroid belt. Once there start again on her but ensure the camera only captures that whore's screaming face and your arm wearing my jacket and ring. Make it look good, point-of-view stuff. I need them to think I'm still here and she is suffering badly. Dose her with the exile if she passes out again to keep her awake. Live-stream it to draw them out. Keep going and don't stop even when they board. If she dies, start on the Amarrian." Thanan whispered. "Once they start hacking through the blast door flush the jacket, ring and baton in the waste disposal and kill them. Say I ran out of the service door and you were just following orders."

The camera man nodded and took the items.

Thanan left the cargo hold and walked up to the bridge. The Captain stood as he entered.

"Sir!"

"You understand the plan Captain?"

"Yes sir. Do not try to escape, let them board and deny everything. When they have found the cargo bay act shocked and let them take them all including our man. Co-operate with any search but if we can slow them down without them realising do it."

"Good. You have plausible deniability as do all the crew. They'll spend hours tearing this ship apart looking for me. By that time I'll be in New Caldari and it'll be all over."

The Captain smiled and nodded. It had taken years for Thanan to assembled these teams. Gallente patriots who hated the Caldari. All would lay down their lives in order to strike this killing blow to their old enemy. The Captain was the former XO who had taken over from Captain Bique after he brought Gian and Aleira on board. The XO had lost his new wife when the Caldari, led by Tibus Heth, had invaded Caldari Prime several years ago. Everyone one of his ship's crews had reason to hate the Caldari.

"Contact sir! It's a Matari industrial dropping on top of us!" one of the crewmen called out as Thanan was finishing with the newly promoted Captain.

"What? NO!" Thanan shouted shocked.

The Katsu Maru dropped from warp less than 10km from the six transport ships huddled by the satellite. The mobile scan inhibitor hid anything within 30km from the device. However it could not hide itself. The electromagnetic field was easily scannable if you were looking for it.


Sorsa smiled as the Katsu Maru decelerated into range.

"Flag the ship Gian and Aleira are on. Get it scrammed. The others, guns are free." Sosa growled as the warp tunnel fully collapsed and the six transports appeared large on the screen.

A Mammoth class industrial was not considered a threat in New Eden. It was designed for hauling not fighting. However nothing about the Katsu Maru was normal. It was a shell, disguising one of the most advanced ships outside of CONCORD and the mysterious Drifters in the known universe. For close range fighting it was equipped with a number of medium autocannons hidden behind plates that looked like emergency hull repairs. A range of missile launchers were hidden along the top and bottom of the ship. As well as warp core scramblers and disruptors it also carried stasis webifiers that slowed smaller maneuverable ships to a crawl. Finally advanced electronics allowed a significant number of unmanned combat drones.

Thanan looked on in horror as the Katsu Maru approached at speed. He barged the Captain out of the way and slammed his hand on the communicator on the Captain's chair.

"Execute Plan E now!" he screamed.

Back on the Katsu Maru the crew were at red alert.

"Got the ship with the girls on Captain, locking it up. I've also ID'd Thanan's ship but we don't know which one he's on right now. Wait. The other four ships, they are moving at us!"

Sosa watched in surprise as four of the transports quickly swung around and placed themselves between the Katsu Maru and their two targets.

"Go through them!" Sosa ordered.

The darkness of deep space was lit up as the Katsu Maru unleashed its terrifying arsenal. The autocannons along its flank tore through the first ship with the second exploding seconds later as a volley of missiles struck its hull.

"Two down Captain but no L.O.S. to the targets yet. I cannot get a scram on them."

The next two transports went down as quickly. The Republic Fleet phased plasma rounds cutting through the shields and hulls of the ships with a combination of thermal and kinetic power. As the last ship in the way exploded they saw the other two slip into warp. A flash of light in the distance signaling their prey had gone FTL.

"So we know that the device is on that other ship. Lets get after them and inform Commander Meuldia to be ready. We'll herd the target direct to him."

-o0o-

In New Caldari the situation around the stargate was tense. Commander Meuldia read Sosa's message and had called Admiral Vikkito. Even with the possibility the weapon was on its way he wasn't phased nor would pull his ships back and allow the Legion Taskforce to do its work. He called up the tactical view outside. The Barghest battleship was surrounded by support ships and the Caldari Navy were buzzing in and out.

"This is going to go badly" he muttered "I can feel it".

In space, his premonition was about to come true. Lieutenant Yuatakkeimo of the Caldari Navy was bringing his Crow class interceptor around in a wide arc. As a Navy capsuleer he had no fear of death. Consulting his tactical view he focused on a Legion Orthrus class cruiser. In less than a second, the meld of man and machine had calculated a simulated attack run. Yuatakkeimo had even reduced the safety margins to make it look more impressive.

"Hey Eagle Five, watch this!" he boasted to his wingman and activated his micro-warp drive accelerating quickly to over 7000 metres a second.

What Yuatakkeimo didn't know was that one man's wife's indiscretion was about to kill this particular clone, start a major incident and put his entire planet at risk.

Earlier that day....

Technician First Class Ashata slammed the access panel on the Crow and took the auto-ratchet to secure the bolts.

'How could she?' he thought fighting back the tears. He wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his overalls.

He picked up the small mobile terminal from his tool box and keyed the access codes to open the port engine cowling. There was a whine as the heavy armour plates opened up exposing the Lia Dia engine components.

She had whispered things to him during their love making in the past but he'd thought that was just dirty talk. Never for a moment realised it was anything more than silly fantasy. Just a bit of fun.

He visually inspected the engine on that side of the ship. The conduits looked good and there was no sign of damage. He ran the stabilizer diagnostic. The various sections of the engine moved and hissed as they were dry tested. Stabilizing thrusters rotated smoothly in all directions. Satisfied all was well he tapped the command to close the cowling. As he moved around the starship he thought back to the previous day. Whilst trying to break off some carbon scoring on a Harpy class assault frigate his hand had slipped and he'd taken a chunk out of his other hand with the tool. He'd been sent to the infirmary, patched up and then ordered to rest for the rest of the day. 

He reached the starboard side of the ship with tears in his eyes. As he waited for the cowlings to open and expose the engine he recalled approaching his quarters. He knew his wife would be off-duty so might be home. He entered their quarters and froze. The sounds coming from their bedroom hit him like a slap in the face. Was she watching a movie? One of those Gallente skin-flicks? Is this what she did when he was on duty? With his heart racing he slowly moved towards the bedroom door. What he saw was not like a slap in the face, it hit him in the gut like a railgun. He felt sick. His wife was laid on her back on the bed, naked. She gripped handfuls the sheets tightly as she arched her back and moaned in pleasure. He looked down her body in horror. His wife opened her eyes and looked at him shock, clearly not expecting to see her husband of ten years stood in the doorway. Her lover noted her change, looked up to see what was wrong and then slowly turned their head towards the door where she was staring in horror. Ashata stood there opened mouthed. Technician Third Class, Roki, the new girl, fresh out of university and basic training, the girl he was training up and had brought to his home for a meal last week, stared at him in shock from between his wife's thighs.

Ashata snapped back to the present and quickly tapped the commands to close the cowling and quickly moved out of sight behind a stack of inferno light missiles and began to cry. He slumped to the floor hugging his knees and sobbing uncontrollably. He never ran the stabilizer diagnostic that would have clearly shown the major malfunction with one of the starboard thruster modules on the ship.

Now...

"Eagle Two you are crazy!" Eagle Five laughed as he watched his wing man race towards the Legion cruiser at high velocity.

"Watch this!" Yuatakkeimo replied as he calculated the manoeuvre and initiated the commands.

The first sign something was wrong was the ship took a micro-second longer to respond than it should have. To a normal pilot it would have not been noticed but to a capsuleer like him it was blatantly obvious and felt that it took an eternity. Yuatakkeimo could feel the ship fighting him. It started to pull to the port side and as he struggled to correct the drift there was a sudden jolt. The starboard primary stabilizer thruster that was jammed and not rotating snapped under the immense pressure of the high-speed maneuver. It sent hardened tritanium alloy fragments ripping into the engine which was running at max power. The Crow entered a spin with fire spewing from its rear starboard side. 


Out of control, it slammed into the Legion cruiser at speed, blasting through the shields and crippling the ship as it exploded against its aft section.

"WE'VE BEEN ENGAGED! EAGLE TWO IS DOWN. GUNS FREE. ENGAGE THE LEGION FORCES!" the Caldari Navy squadron commander shouted down the comms.

Eagle Five stared in shock, still not understanding what had happened and far too late to correct the commander even if he did realise what had happened. As the first Caldari ships fired on the Legion Taskforce they returned fire and the entire area erupted into a battle. The light flares from the numerous missiles and railguns reflecting off the massive stargate. That light was drowned out a few seconds later as the stargate fired, signaling an incoming wormhole connection.

To be continued....

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sorry Guys

Yeah, no Friday Fiction I'm afraid. I was not happy with the draft and it's been a shit of a week. I WILL have part 8 next Friday. I promise on my Moros' hull!


Friday, July 22, 2016

Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 7

Friday fiction! Escape pod here.


Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 7

Thanan leant back in the seat and looked at his datapad. The GalNet news site showed numerous Police cruisers outside the Esalion university building. The story stated that there had been gun fire and a kidnapping. He had wanted to call Deuverin to find out what had happened but he didn't want to risk it. All the man had to do was to put a bullet in that cops head and evacuate. Had he really messed that up? If he had, it wasn't a complete disaster. The most they'd know is that he was behind it, although they'd not know what 'it' was. Given time they could put the clues together. However it would be a miracle if they were able to work his plans out for the information they could get from Deuverin and the university. He stood and walked out of the passenger cabin and down the corridor. At the end he descended a flight of steps and entered the cargo hold. In the centre of the hold was the device. It was rigged up like some kind of musician's stage. Metal lattice beams made up a box where the six molecular lasers were attached. All pointing to a plinth in the centre of the frame where the crystal was sat.

"Is it ready?" he asked as he approached.

"Yes sir. Obviously there is no way to test it but it is finished. Once activated, fusion should occur within the hour. Although all the calculations on this are theoretical. I would advise we are on the other ship and breaking orbit before you start the process. The scientists say one hour, I wouldn't give it sixty seconds. Nobody has done this before, we have no idea what will happen."

Thanan nodded. Everything about the mineral including its very existence was theoretical until he had found it in the uncharted system.

"And the back up plan?"

"It is complete. Cargo bay 2 is stocked with sufficient material. Once the process is active, should anyone enter and try and stop it, they will set it off."

Thanan smiled. He had no guarantee that his main plan would work. The scientists could be wrong about the mineral. It might not meltdown and start a cascade reaction in the planets atmosphere. Whilst not as effective, the backup plan was to fill the other cargo bay with dangerous waste and build a more traditional explosive. If the blue crystal did not work as intended, when the authorities investigated the abandoned ship it would detonate on sensing the intruders. Destroying the evidence in the process and casting a toxic cloud over the most populous city on New Caldari Prime. Millions would still die. Not the billions he hoped for, but a small consolation prize.

"Good work. Ensure everything is ready. We are taking the long way round so there is time. We'll be leaving Federation space in two hours."

Thanan left the workers to ensure the molecular lasers were set and returned to the cabin.

He picked up his datapad and navigated to a secure folder. A dozen video clips were located there. He picked one in the middle. His wife appeared, chained to a wall. The masked man in front of her ignited a plasma torch as she screamed. Thanan's fingers gripped the arm rest of the chair turning his knuckles white, a tear welled up in his eye as he watched. The rage returned. The rage that was driving him to destroy a planet.


-o0o-

"Six starships?" Riku exclaimed.

"Yes. They broke off in three pairs but are going in the same direction. All Viator class Gallente transports." Yoshi showed the blips on the main screen.

"Course?" the Captain asked.

"They left via the Algogille stargate. At a guess they are heading to Caldari space taking the hi-sec route. That'll swing them around the Uedema pipe. When they reach Perimeter it will depend if they are heading to Jita or New Caldari."

The bridge crew fell silent. Either target would be a crushing blow for the State. Jita 4-4 was the primary trade hub for the capsuleers, the destruction of that station would cripple the Caldari economy which was already relying on Amarrian aid to prop it up. However that would pale into insignificance against the destruction of New Caldari Prime and the billions of lost lives.

"We could alert the authorities." Yoshi suggested.

"Risky. We're not sure this isn't a decoy. Currently Thanan doesn't know we are on to him and know about the blue crystal. He might have already deployed it on the planet and a simple call could detonate it. How is the tracker we slipped into the book Aki?"

"It wasn't designed for space Captain. It works great on stations and planetside like at the university but difficult to pinpoint in the big black. The book is on one of the transports, we just do not know which one."

Sosa studied the starchart and rubbed his chin. He flicked through various filters showing the status of each gate such as the number of jumps and how many capsuleer ships had been destroyed.

"Looks like the Serpentis are busy. That gives me an idea. Yoshi put a call into command, the Legion is currently assisting in that area supporting the customs service. Get them to put a customs blockage on the Sivalka system. Let it be known they are searching all cargo vessels due to a Serpentis plot."

"Won't that spook Thanan?" Riku asked "If the bomb is already set up he might detonate?"

"Yes and no. Its happened several times in the last month, someone like Thanan will have factored that into his plans. I'm guessing he's got eyes on the gates, someone flying ahead in another ship. He'll have the option of doubling back but I don't think he'll take it. I'm betting he'll head here." the Captain tapped on the map "He'll wait it out. He wants to see the state burn in person so he's not going to rush. He'll go here and that's where we're heading."

"Awfully big gamble Captain."

Sosa nodded. Riku was right. If Thanan detoured he'd get so far ahead they might not be able to catch him. In that case it would mean a call to the Caldari Navy and hope the device was aboard one of those transports.

"Let's do it and hope Lady Luck is smiling on us."

The Captain left his bridge crew to carry out his orders and walked down to the recreation deck. The Katsu Maru may have looked like a rusting hauler on the outside and in the publically accessible decks. However the hidden levels matched the most luxurious private yachts. He found Doctor Gian and Detective Aleira having lunch. He grabbed a ready prepared meal from the serving area and sat down with them.

"Ladies, I need to ask your help again." he said.

"Anything." Doctor Gian said before Aleira could respond. She just nodded in agreement.

"Wait until I finish, you might not like it."

"To help save an entire planet, it's going to have to me something to put me off." Gian said with a smile.

"Well, we're seriously lacking on non-Caldari crew and we have to assume that Thanan's inner circle share the same views as him. The computer security on his ships is military-grade and we cannot hack in from range. We need to get into those computer systems and that's where you two come in!"

"Us? How can we possibly help the Legion hack starship computer systems?" Gian asked.

"I need you to go clubbing."

The two women looked at him quizzically.

-o0o-


Bique entered the Captain's Club on deck 14. The music was low and the lights bright. It was early and the bar was mostly empty. The orders were to stay on the ship and await instructions but he was bored. He could be back on the bridge in less than ten minutes, a lot less time than it would take to get the ship powered up and have undocking permission. They were not capsuleer ships, it took half an hour minimum to leave a station. Also his boss was clearly up to something illegal. All this cloak and dagger was leaving him in need of a drink and some relaxation. Plus Thanan wasn't going to kick off on him if he was doing something dodgy.

He walked to the bar and grabbed a Rust Rinse. He prefered the strong Matari ale and certainly needed something to take the edge off things. He glanced about, none of the usual bar-girls that frequented places like this were about. Wrong time of day. He guessed that was for the best. Didn't want to get caught with his trousers down, literally. However he really needed some company. He moved over to a booth and sat down.

Bique wasn't halfway through the bottle when he heard the clip of high heels on the deck plates. He crained his neck to see who it was and let out a low whistle to himself. The first one was Amarrian. She wore a sparkingling gold mini-dress and heels that looked like they could be used as an offensive weapon. Her friend was Gallente. Dark, dusky and wearing a metallic green dress that clung to every curve. They were laughing and joking as they approached the bar.

Back on the Katsu Maru the senior staff were gathered around a monitor. The grainy security camera feed from the bar was displayed on the screen.

"Seriously Riku. You couldn't have toned it down just a tad?" Yoshi sighed.

"Hey it wasn't me!" Riku protested "I showed them the costume store and they made their own choices. Blame the Captain!"

Sosa laughed! "Don't look at me either. I told them what we needed, this is their plan! Actually if you want to blame anyone you can blame Aki. We'd not need to do this if he could have hacked the ship's security remotely."

"Hey!" Aki protested "They are using a Esalion v4 algorithm on those ships. If it was military-grade I'd be in there now. That security is a whole different level. Makes military-grade look like the security on this bar's camera systems!"

Sosa laughed. "Don't worry. I know Thanan has taken extra precautions. We don't have the time for a bruteforce hack. The ladies will get us in."

"We'll I'm not happy with it." the XO grumbled "One might be a cop but she's not military and the other is just an egghead, a scientist. We're putting them both in a lot of danger!"

Sosa nodded. "They know the risks. They wanted to do this. We needed non-Caldari for this to work."

The officers fell quiet and looked back at the screen. It appeared the bait was working.

"Can I buy you girls a drink?" Bique asked as he approached the two women from behind.

The two women turned slightly and smiled.

"Depends what you expect in return." the Amarian purred.

"We're not cheap." the Gallente one he was more interested followed up.

Bique told the bar man to get them whatever they wanted and Gian replied with Gallente Champagne. The three moved over to the booth whilst the barman prepared the drinks.

"You girls looking to party?"

"Depends what we get out of it?"

"What do you usually get out of it?" Bique asked.

"Fifteen hundred each and we only work together." 

"Three 'K'? That's steep." he complained.

"Oh, we're very worth it. Say, as you are in here I assume you're a Captain. If you are going anywhere near the Throne worlds or Caldari hi-sec we could keep you company on your run for a reduced rate?" Gian purred.

Bique fell quiet for a moment.

"I might be heading to The Forge." he finally said.

"Well for five hundred each and a ride to any of the stations there we'll make it the best trip you've ever taken."

"I'm not docking at a station, going planetside."

"Does it look like we work with dropship pilots? We work with starship Captain, we need to be in a station."

"I dunno. Let me think."

Back on the Katsu Maru the atmosphere was tense.

"So the target must be Caldari Prime unless the bomb is being stored on a planet. It's possible the device is on one of the ships but we cannot be sure. We need to get inside one of them." Riku stated.

The Captain nodded and pressed the communicator in his ear.

"You are doing fantastic, but we need you to get on his ship." Sosa whispered.

Back in the bar Aleira heard the Captains message from the tiny device in her own ear. Pretending to fiddle with an earring she tapped twice to signal she had heard.

"Look. We really need to get out of Federation space. Things are dull here. I mean look at this place!"

Bique looked around. It was seriously dead. What he didn't know was the patrons and girls had been paid off to leave before he arrived. The Katsu Maru crew had been watching all the ships and had people ready to go in each bar they may need to take over. He was still considering the risks when he felt a stocking-clad foot snake up his inner thigh and bury itself in his crotch.

The Amarrian had bare legs he remembered so it must be the Gallente.

"Come on big boy. You're not going to leave us to take care of ourselves are you?" the Amarrain asked with pouty lips.

"What do you mean take....?" Bique started before his jaw dropped as the Amarrian took the Gallente womans head in her hands and kissed her deeply.

Bique craned his neck around the booth towards the bar.

"Check please!" he croaked in a strained voice.

-o0o-

"We're in!" Aki announced. His fingers danced over the keyboard.

"Find them!" Yoshi said quickly. She had been fretting over the two civilians since they had watched them vanish inside the Viator with Bique almost twenty minutes ago.

The screen flicked between security feeds. It settled on a large room. The two women were sat on the bed casually chatting. Bique appeared to be laying on the floor surrounded by the remnants of a shattered bottle.

"Comms back up!" Aki stated.

"Ladies. Looks like quite a party." Sosa spoke.

"Oh its been a bit of a flop. I take it we did good?" Aleira.

"Brilliant. You plugged it into the Captain's terminal. Couldn't have got me further along."

"What happened to the Captain?" Yoshi asked.

"He got a bit fruity. I don't know what sort of girls he thinks we are!" Gian laughed.

Aki worked quickly. By installing a hardware link directly into the ship he was able to circumnavigate most of the security.

"Is the bomb on one of the ships?" the Captain asked impatiently.

"Time Captain. They still have heavy security between the various ships. Its not on that one."

"One down, five to go." Riku.

"Nearly broken through to the next ship.... oh." Aki froze.

"Oh?" the Captain asked. Suddenly they saw the women spring up from the bed as alarms sounded.

"Shit! They've spotted the hack! I'm being locked out. They are going for emergency undocks!"

Yoshi rushed over to another station.

"Confirmed Captain. Docking control just broadcast unauthorised undocks in progress and all traffic to remain where they are."

The crew watched as each of the monitors went dead as they were locked out of the systems. The last monitor showed Bique's room. A group of uniformed men ran in and started struggling with Gian and Aleira before the connection was fully severed and the screen went black.

To be continued...