Monday, 13 May 2013

Caught in the trap (Part II)



The welcoming thud as the docking clamps grip my capsule.

Loss of control, the world twists sickeningly as the cybernetic connections release and I am dropped bewildered back into reality. I feel a current in the pod fluid around my ankles the thick syrup that had been nurturing and protecting me whilst in flight was being drained out by the stations maintenance systems. Coughing out my breathing tube I inhale deeply, regretting it almost immediately as I expel a lungful of the oxygenated shock fluid. The pod casing cracks open, light floods in, my eyes sting, it has been near on 6 days since I last used them. Behold the immortal pod pilot, weak, struggling to breathe, confused and nearly blind, I hardly feel like a demi-god.

Gripping the railing weakly I head for the pilot prep room. Where was I? it would be a few minutes before my biological brain was up to speed sorting itself out from the cyberneticly enhanced cocoon it had been hooked up to. But, what I could see was not promising, this place looked rough, and I'm not talking bad neighbourhood rough, this place looked rough even by Minmatar standards.

Lukewarm water, but at least the shower worked, I peel off my flight suit letting the water wash away the reminants of pod fluid. My memories are beginning to return as I discover my wardrobe has not been delivered from my ship, I dress in my "blending in" outfit from the emergency kit I keep stored in my pod, simple working trousers and shirt, the coarse fabric rubs on my skin. I know where I am now, I know why I am here, today is not going well already, and it is only going to get worse.

A trap, Republic Security had somehow blocked my access to the jumpgate, and destroyed my ship, they blew up my beautiful fucking ship! Leaving me in this God-forsaken rusting shithole junkheap of a station stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

No doubt the RSS would be infesting the place by now, some jumped up wannabe officer would be waiting to greet me, a shit eating grin spread across his face. Well, I had news for them, I am a capsuleer and as stipulated by CONCORD law, I am untouchable within the walls of this station.

A plan, well fairly simple, escape. I need a ship, an opportunity and a whole heap of luck, but first I need a drink. My fucking ship! I loved that damn ship, how very dare they.

At least one thing was in my favour, this was a Matari station, therefore getting a drink should be very easy so long as I wanted something strong enough to make a Fedo pause for thought before consuming it.
Attempting a bold, confident exit from the capsuleer restricted section of the station was halted in its tracks by a shuddering automatic door that would only open halfway before showering the passerby in sparks.

Upon entering the common areas of the station a cool yet musky breeze wafted down the seemingly long abandoned  corridors, only seemingly as you could never tell with Matari technology, which often came out of the factory looking centuries old.

A metallic whir and clank of ill fitting plating caused me to spin about suddenly, only holding at the last second from drawing my concealed laser pistol. One of the small Godsends of this stations decrepit infrastructure, its weapons sensors had been inoperative, due to the multiple bullet holes in the console no doubt.

The small droid carefully aimed itself at a point a good meter to my left and introduced itself, "Welcome to Hek, Captain, May I ask of your name for our official visitor log?"

"My name, droid, is none of your concern, I do not intend on staying long"

"Thankyou, Miss Concern, I hope you will enjoy your stay however long you intend it to be."

Miss Concern. I allow myself an indulgent grin, some might call it a rarity for me, but you gotta love a stubbornly polite droid, at least it was better than that Gallente service bot that had followed me around for 3 days believing my name was "Miss Off".

Tuning back from the fading memories to the real world I realise that the droid is still talking to an imaginary point just off my left shoulder;

"Core Complextions apologises for the lack of a formal greeting at this time, as the stations official welcoming committee is currently otherwise engaged...."

"What that bucket of rust means is that what is left of them is busy orbiting that planet out there. along with just about every other person who lived here"

Spinning around suddenly I drop into a crouch and this time I do draw my pistol, levelling it at where the gravelly voice had originated from. I see the shadowy outline of a man emerging from behind what was probably once a delicatessen.

"Who the hell are you?"

"This," interjected the droid, "is Mr Dawson, he is currently one of our security consultants on temporary assignment from the Caldari State Protectorate."

"I didn't ask you droid, I asked him"

"It is correct though, technically. That was the cover story we arrived under and like a good little machine this scrapyard still believes it. You can put the pistol away, as you can see I am unarmed and to be honest you probably couldn't kill me with that pretty little thing anyway."

Huffing indignantly I reluctantly re holster my pistol, it had been the only weapon available. One of a pair of ornamental duelling pulse pistols I carry in the 'Oh Shit' cabinet in my pod, along with a few necessities that a pilot recently deprived of a ship may require. Mainly though for sentimental reasons it was a gift from my father as a peace offering when he had finally forgiven me for leaving home to become a capsuleer.

Returning upright to as much of an imposing stance as I could muster I address the man "I am in no mood for riddles, talk straight and talk fast, today is not a good day and you are low on my priority list"

"Republic University should like to remind you Miss Concern, that the carrying of personal firearms is prohibited on all interior areas of the station, I should warn you that campus security has been summoned to escort you from the premises immediately."

The old man grinned, "Ignore that bucket of bolts, as I said just now, you and I are the only living occupants of this station. I can imagine you have many questions to ask, and I'm the only one here capable of answering them, I would also advise you that I am a much more err, elaborate talker when I have a drink or two inside me"

"Actually no, I have only one question and its more of a demand to be truthful, I need a ship, I have to leave as soon as possible"

Stopping dead in his tracks the old man turns to me, "You don't have a ship? what is the point in you then huh? A mighty powerful capsuleer without a ship, that's just great" the pain in his eyes belays it as sadness rather than anger.

"I had a ship, not 2 hours ago I had a ship, but out there and soon to be in here is the reason I no longer have a ship. That is why I need to get out of here, because for some reason they are not playing by the rules, and I don't like that, its not right."

The old man stood rooted to the spot, "Sansha is back? why would he come back? there is nothing left for him here, he already took everything he wanted, I can't face them again, I cant, not those things ...."

"Not Sansha, RSS, they have a small fleet out there still, they got my Pilgrim and they damn near got me too. Somehow they shut down the gate, and that shouldn't even be possible. Sure there was that thing with the Caldari guy a year or so back but that was just a cheap holovid, you can't shutdown a Stargate, outside of the Jove, it's just not possible."

The old man seemed to have mostly recovered from his panic and we started off again along the deserted corridors. Thinly veiled but ultimately empty threats from the enraged greetings droid echoing off the walls dwindling into the background as we move further from its operation zone.

"Why would RSS bother to set such an elaborate trap just for you? other than being a capsuleer you ain't anything special are ya?"

"Ohh I don't think this is just business, I crossed paths with an RSS Captain on my last visit to the Republic a month or so ago. I was careless that time and I lost a ship, but he seemed to take it badly. Apparently he has some kind of little vendetta against me, quite cute actually, but I wasn't expecting him to be able to pull anything quite like this"

We arrived at an open doorway in the interior wall, the area around it had been roughly swept clear, this though marked it out against the decrepit backdrop. A solitary chair stood upright alongside a single table atop which stood a half empty bottle of clear liquid. The neatness and precision with which it stood there in contrast to everything else told me this was where the man had been living.

Dragging a second chair from a tangle by the wall he tips it upright and motions for me to take the other at the table.

Halfway through his first glass he turns to me, "So do you know much about your captain then? why he took a liking to you maybe?"

"He is not my captain, don't say it like that, I have never even met the man"

"Well, I think that is about to change" he nods back down the hallway the way we had come, I saw a stocky man in full dress uniform with a brace of guards in escort headed our way.

"Ohh merciful Lord, have you ever seen so much omelet on a single uniform before? what does he think he looks like?"

After a stifled chuckle the old man nods, "True, it is an impressive breakfast but nothing compared to the Caldari Navy, they all go for double portions."

Valith halts abruptly two paces short of the table, flicking his eyes from me to the old man and back again he withdraws a compact datapad from his breast pocket. Drawing a breath, "Pilot 815430912, Graduate of Imperial Academy 10/12 YC107 Callsign Evil Incarn8, I am Captain Valith, Commander of the 351st Republic Security Service Heimatar Patrol Wing.
It is my duty to inform you that under the dictates of the Minmatar Republic and under the appropriate guidelines of CONCORD enforcement I am here to arrest you on charges of multiple counts of Abduction and human trafficking, proliferation of prohibited substances. multiple counts of aggression and violent conduct towards officers of Minmatar security and police forces, Non-consensual combat against Minmatar registered starships, theft and pillage of Minmatar Republic strategic resources and Planetary Genocide."

As Valith pauses to catch his breath the old man turns to me, "He should probably get that done as a recording, would be so much easier that way."

Chuckling lightly I agree, turning back to Valith, "Planetary Genocide though? I would think I would have remembered that one"

Valiths eyes glow slightly as a sly grin appears on his lips, "The burning of Starkmanir Prime, as an Amarrian slaver we hold...."

"I am Khanid, not Amarrian"

"Close enough, as I was saying, we hold all Amarrians, and their associates, responsible for this atrocity, it is a small compensation for the damage your people caused"

Rolling my eyes I blow my cheeks out in a drawn out breath, "Fine whatever, so much for letting the past sleep. Well now Mr Valith, as you so eloquently listed my crimes just now I can assume you are familiar with the laws regarding capsuleers, namely, you can't touch me whilst I'm in here."

"Yes, quite true, but you see I don't need to, my ships guard your only escape and we expect Sansha's minions to return to this station before too long. You are more than welcome to explain your capsuleer protected status to them if you like.
Speaking of which," Valith turns bodily towards the old man, "Oskold Haatomo, well, well I thought I had seen the last of you when we evacuated last week, but no I might have guessed a Gurista would have a hidy-hole somewhere. Either way, Sansha will deal with the pair of you quite nicely, less paper work for me is a bonus" Valith grins before turning on his heel and with guards in tow accelerates back towards the docking bays.

We sit in silence until Valith has disappeared from view, "Haatomo, not Dawson then and a Gurista too huh" raising an eyebrow to indicate curiosity, "bit out of your jurisdiction though aren't you?"

Oskold smiled, "Yeah, Valith caught me passing through, but as he hasn't reported it command don't know where I am or I would be long gone by now. Fortunately, if you can call it that, Valith assumes I am just a regular agent. I am something a little more than that though, if only I could get a message to command they would send a rescue for me, but Sansha's raid fried the stations equipment before I could hack into it."

Tapping my fingers lightly on the table I look up at him before laying out an idea. "If I could get a message out for you, would you be able to put in a word and get me out as well?"

Flicking his eyes intently at me seemingly looking for the doublecross, "A loyal 'Khanid' pilot willing to work with nasty outlaw pirates? when needs must I suppose it draws together strange bedfellows"

"Caught between RSS and Sansha, I'll take a Gurista on a white horse anyday" I let out a soft chuckle.

"Well then, far be it for me to be Devil's advocate but beggars cannot be choosers, if you can get my message into the Guristas commanders then I will be able to ensure you are escorted to a place of safety. However, unless you have some serious electronics hidden under that shirt of yours then we are both out of luck, Sanshas zombies really went to town on the communications system."

"Maybe not up my shirt, but in the docking bay my pod contains a Quantum Entanglement Array, do you think that would suffice?" Barely able to stifle my grin I watch as Oskold joins in, initially hesitant then a wide toothy smile spreads across his face.

"Yes, yes of course that will suffice." Downing the remains of his drink, he scribbles a quick message for me to send. "Get that sent off to this address and then meet me in the command bridge, you will want to see this"

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