Sunday, 7 February 2010

Templar, An Amarrian Fightercraft used by Students.

Another short tale from my 3rd Year at Imperial Acadamy Deepari.


The stars twinkled, I'm not sure why, they said something about it in astronamy class they shouldn't twinkle but something in our mind remained from our evolution planetside that made them twinkle. Occasionally they were occulded by the large bulks of rock slowly tumbling through the void. I could watch this spectacle for days, indeed I would spend hours alone in one of the Acadamies observation rooms just staring into the nothingness. However, now was not the time for it, I dragged my eyes back to the control panel before me, a simple short range scanner, comns equipment and the fire control panel, far simpler than even a frigates controls, it was a Templar, A fightercraft usually used by the Imperial Amarrian carriers, it was a joy to fly, a single pilot could warp around a system, a handful for any frigate in a dogfight, although it could not access the gate travel network and was too small to fit a pod system. These aspects however made it a perfect training craft for new, not as of yet pod capable, pilots.

In the last few weeks since the survival exam, I had been floating high on my own fortunes, we had begun real flight training, although we still visited the VR decks for larger ship training, the physical feel of being in command of a ship was a rush. On top of this, Markus and I had still been going steady since our little escapade, evading detection from the Abbots and other students, catching brief moments together, shocking ourselves with the outlandish places we would meetup for little more than a moment in each others arms. Even my academic situation had improved, the subjects covered this year had suited me, reduced emphasis on theological guidance, we were assumed to be pure of mind by now, heh heh.

So here I lay, commanding a wing of 3 Templars, peering into my scanner scope for the first ping registering the immenant arrival of hostiles. A crakle of static preceded the voice of one of my wingmen, "I got a hazy contact coming in hot high on bearing 035", "good spot Markus, Flight, up to speed, bearing 035 high, spread to delta formation" we had somehow managed to wrangle ourselves onto the same flight, a feat helped by the fact that we worked well together.

A new twinkle appeared in the darkness, slowly, then more rapidly it grew, split into 4, then became a streak of colour, my scanner flashing up its assessments of ship class, expected arnaments, and possible stratagies. Blood Raiders, my very skin crawled at the mention of the name, if the Acadamy's lectures on the subject hadn't been enough the tales I had been told as a child back home, and the very real threat they posed to outlying planets were sufficiant to the task. A destroyer escorted by 3 frigates, it was a larger contingant than we were expecting, but it should be possible.

"Burners, dont fly at them, keep your angles high, lock and orbit the dessie, it is primary," rolling my templar I doubled back on my previous tack, the 2 other templars in their own weaving paths avoiding the murderous beams of energy flashing across the void. The 3 Blood frigates begin their own charge towards us in an attempt to keep us from closing on the destroyer. Still at range from the flagship, the two squads crossed, twisting in my harness I saw stasis webs reach out, entangling one of the templars in strands of energy stopping it dead in the water, energy neutralisers swiftly followed by the sharp crack of pulse lasers. "Arggh, I'm primary, shields dropping fast" squealed the voice of my second wingman, Kalos, an older Amarrian had excelled in the classroom, but paniced easially in combat, as he was now. "Calm down, your strength is in armour, Markus peel off take care of those frigs, I will take the dessie, catch me if you can."

Markus flipped his ship end over end, a blast of burners killing off his velocity and sending him back towards the immobile templar, already re-calibrating his systems and taking longrange potshots at the orbiting Bloodships, I rolled again, and continued accelerating into another tack racing against the destroyers tracking system. Entering the destroyers optimal range, I tightened my turns, cutting it closer and closer, the onboard computer blaring danger alarms at me, beams of energy flashing beneith my wings, the odd one striking a shield and prisming off into a miryad of colours, harmlessly absorbed. "Got a fire solution .... lining it up ... boom, scratch one leach" the chirpy voice of Markus goading me with his early success, "I'm dead in the water, my ship has shut down, no cap, shields going, get them off meeee," "Kalos you are fine, Markus is clearing them, stop disrupting the comns, I have almost reached the dessie"

Clearing thoughts of the battle behind me, I concentrated back on the destroyer, A tough target, if I could get a tight enough orbit I shouldn't have to worry about incoming too much, its just whether I could get enough hits to overcome its defences. Pulling in close enough to see the mottled red, what I hoped was camoflage, I set my pulse lasers to eating away at its shielding. Flashes of pure white reflecting off both hulls, the rippling effect of the energy absorbing into the shield mear centimeters above the armour plating. I feel at times I can see through the narrow viewports, into the bridge of the vessel to see scuttling crewmembers, dressed as barbarians from an ancient time, of course I cannot, the blast screens would have been closed up long ago, relying solely on sensor readings, watching the thin electromagnitic defences thin under my constant fire.

"Boom, there goes number two" Markus seemed to be getting all the fun this time, "the third is disengaging, headed back up to you Evil, watch your back", "Roger Markus, persue and dispatch at your lesure, Kalos, how are your systems?", "still empty, but recharging, I will be back with you soon", "Roger flight, destroyer recieving armour damage, theres only one way this is going now."

The once smooth hull of the destroyer now showed deep gashes, glowing ruby red against the cold backdrop, small volcanos of atmosphere or crystals of flash frozen fluids erupt from unprotected compartments. Shimmering greenish clouds of nanite bots flow across the hull, trying ineffectually to keep up with each new barrage of fire raining down, the ship is slowling giving up its grip on life.

My computer detects a weakening in the armour around one of the engine pods, I quickly focus the next volly onto the area. The thinning plates put up an initial resistance then buckle, unable to standup to the assault thin metal boiling and tears admitting the beams into the interior, atmosphere instantly vaporising and erupting into the void in a jet of plasma, the pod buckles, then bursts open spilling the engines radioactive fire and debris into space. "Shes going down, Markus you got a few seconds if you want in on this one, get your arse moving"

Almost as soon as I had spoken, the fight changed. I noticed the signals from the destroyer had changed, I was no longer its primary concern, all its turrets lined up, aiming back down towards the other two templars, a flash of deep orange light, 8 seperate beams of energy converged some tens of kilometers behind me, twisting in my seat, I strained to see back over my shoulder.

The point of light had struck the templar at the base of its port wing stub, and passed straight through, it had been accelerating hard in persuit of the final blood frigate, its transversal to the destroyer dropped to almost zero, the larger vessel had taken advantage of this error. The templar flipped over, the wing stub tore free, folding across the hull and slamming into the engine bays when the second volley struck home, a crackle of static issued through the comns, but no voice broke through as the templar split open, plumes of atmosphere, crystalised fluids and debris flung themselves into the void.

"Markus is down, I'm in persuit of the frigate", Kalos' voice broke into my thoughts, shook me back to a reality that I didnt want to face. The destroyer finally tore itself apart before me, but I hardly saw it, I had retreated into my own head, safe from, or at least ignoring the facts I didnt want to be true.

The final frigate warped out when it realised it was alone, Kalos attempted to communicate with me again, then summoned the fleet. I remember little of the next few days I slowly came out of it over the next week, although the pain of loss has never left me.

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