Sunday, 4 August 2013
Caught in the Trap (Part III)
Continuation of "Caught in the Trap"
Upon my return Oskold is buried deep in projected displays from the station command console, multiple scan screens showing visible, near and far infra red, cosmic ray emission plots hunting for the first signs of our salvation's arrival. "Wouldn't it just be simpler to lock a scope onto each stargate?"
He pauses in his search, "When was the last time you saw a pirate registered ship use a stargate? CONCORD would be onto it in seconds. We have to use alternative methods of travel, not as convenient as using the network of course so we tend not to travel alone. Although with bounty hungry capsuleers so prevalent these days maybe that's all for the better ehh?" His jibe although intended as lighthearted revealed a much darker backstory, so I chose not to pursue it, not whilst the good will of this man was my only way out of here in one piece.
As time passed and Oskold remained immersed in his readouts my mind began to wander so I sat gazing into the infinite beauty hovering silently just outside the ceiling height plate windows encircling the command bridge. I find my eyes drawn to a particular light blue star, gazing idly at it I wonder how close it is, perhaps within the New Eden cluster, perhaps I have visited it even, just as I am making a mental note to check it in the directory when I next get chance I seem to feel it getting closer...
Surely not, stars don't do that, it twinkles, the feint blue light now flashing in and out of existence, vanishing for a second it returns in a blaze of colour gaining size and intensity at an astonishing rate. "Haatomo! ..." my call is interrupted by his own excited cry, "They're here!!"
"But, its not possible, this is Empire space you can't light a cyno here!"
"Who says you can't? his grin suggests he knows both my answer and his response to it"
"Well CONCORD, and there are systems to prevent it... aren't there?"
"What is the first rule of being a pirate??... Don't do what CONCORD tells you."
Turning back to the window, the beacon now burning brighter than the distant yellow star, some of the more aggressive of Valiths ships could be seen racing towards it, their engine trails barely pinpricks against the blue glare. The intense light seems to wobble, turning itself inside out, then it flickers at least a dozen more times, I had started to count the jumps, but my attention is diverted by the ship that had just forced itself back into reality. Classical Caldari lines, if she wasn't my salvation I would have called her ugly, but on this day that slab sided monstrosity was the most beautiful ship I had ever seen.
"A Chimera... in highsec... a Gurista Capital ship, in the Minmatar home systems, its just ... not possible!!"
By now other more regular sized support ships had emerged, a cloud of drones began darting about among the assorted Rattlesnakes, Gilas, and Worms engaging the beleaguered defenders.
Even though the battle between Valith's patrol squadron and the Gurista fleet was raging I wasn't really watching too closely, happy to be saved I had yet to consider if my next predicament would be better or worse. What was it they said about the word of a pirate? I could only hope that these pirates would honour our arrangement.
Valith's squad fought bravely, even suicidally against a force they couldn't hope to beat, one by one the cruisers and smaller vessels burst open under the relentless Guristas fire, Valiths own Typhoon flagship wallowed spilling flames into the void as it aligned for an escape that was not to be.
"Time to go, Miss Incarn8, they are expecting you, fly your pod over to the carrier there will be a berth designated for you, they are sending over a ship for me, I will see you aboard."
Back into my cocoon, even if only for a few minutes. I undock and immediately Aura is screaming threat warnings about pirate vessels in close proximity, silencing them I plot a course directly towards the largest threat. It had looked large from within the relative safety of the station, but now as I drifted up towards the enormous docking bay, the walls of camouflaged plating stretched up and down as far as my camera drones could pan... camouflage in space though, seriously? what were they thinking? Give me my red and gold anyday.
The carrier was not equipped to house a non-piloting capsule, so it was stored in the cargo hold, cracking open the casing shock fluid spilt out across the plating depositing me onto the floor still coughing up the last fluid. A crewman, evidently enjoying himself, takes it upon himself to clean both me and the floor at the same time with a jet of cold water from a hose.
The hospitality improved however after this, given a towel I was led to my own cabin where clothing and food had been laid out, but best of all, hot water in the shower!!
After a quick bite to eat, I had however taken the opportunity to take nutrients from my pod during the transfer, and dressed in combat fatigues designating me as a Gurista Captain I head out to explore my new situation, or I would have done if the door wasn't locked from the outside.
Returning to my bunk I lay down just as the world shimmers and twists around me, smiling at the irony I realise that I have just made my first cyno jump, not even in my pod, but lay on my back deep within a Gurista Chimera. A few jumps later and the deep red of Matari space outside my window is replaced by the warm browns of the Amarrian border regions, no sooner had I relaxed back on the bunk satisfied that they were going to be true to their word, my door slides open. Sitting up with a start, "Ohh Oskold, or should I say, Commander Haatomo! I am glad to see you again"
"As am I Miss Incarn8, or should I say, Captain.. however much I should like to stay and chat alas time is against us. We shall soon be jumping into a high security Amarrian system and will not be able to linger long, you will need to depart with due haste. In the meantime however I have a little task I should like for you to take on our behalf.. walk with me please" And with that he turned on his heel and walked out.
Following Haatomo through corridors that were both Caldari yet also not, tailed by a pair of guards in full combat gear, I realise we are headed back down towards the cargo holds. Stopping just outside a large pair of cargo doors he turns to face me.
"A lady in a profession as varied as yours must be well used to somewhat unusual dealings. We have on our hands at the moment something of a problem, when I disappeared the fleet immediately started gathering intelligence in order to launch a rescue, this involved the taking of captives. Most of these have now been dealt with, however one remains that we cannot eliminate in the usual manor. We should like you, in your capacity as a slaver, to take over control of this specimen."
"What is so special about this one that the Guristas can't deal with a single captive? and if he is so much trouble for you, I am sure you would rather keep him close where you can monitor him"
"The demise of a captive is usually no problem, however with this specimen, we would rather that she remains alive, or at least in her current body.." Haatomo dropped his bombshell with a grace far in excess of that which I expected.
"She? is a clone then? you want me to take on an asset that knows full well that its death will secure escape? I am surprised it is alive even now, if it were I then without a doubt ending myself would be the highest priority."
"Yes, we were prepared for the difficulties in capturing a capsuleer and even containing, however it appears that we did not have a sufficient plan for dealing with her afterwards. We would like you to take her as one of your own, try to learn the locations of her clone contracts and eliminate them, then you can safely eliminate her, or keep her, just so long as our secrets never see the light of day."
The great cargo bay doors begin to slide open revealing the large virtually empty interior, lit by only a circle of floodlights around what looks like some kind of futuristic altar, on top of which a young Sebestor is chained down with a fully combat ready guard stood at either side of her.
Haatomo leads me in towards her, "We have had to restrain her for her, and our own, safety, she has tried many times to manually clone herself. As well as trying to get her guards to kill her, as such we have to change guards regularly, she has quite the venomous tongue."
Approaching the table I can see that she is securely restrained with comically oversized chains to each quarter as well as neck, waist and knee restraints. She appears calm and she is carefully regulating her breathing through clenched teeth. Her nose is quite obviously broken, dried blood still stains her lips and cheek, other cuts on her forehead and around her eyebrow appear to have received medical attention yet still look very fresh.
"I thought the Gurista would have been above such treatment of a prisoner? you always seem to promote yourselves as mercenaries rather than barbarians"
"We have treated her well, the injuries you see are all self inflicted, as I said she has been attempting to manually clone at every opportunity. Our Chief medical officer, who was tending her wounds, is currently receiving stitches to his face after she took a bite out of him. It may not look it, but we [I]are[/I] trying to treat her well, she however is making it very difficult."
I wasn't entirely sure but I thought I saw the edge of her mouth clench restraining a wry smile at that. "She is sedated? can she hear us?"
"She is not, however she has shown little interest in communicating beyond attempting to goad anyone she can into killing her."
Stepping into the circle of light I look down upon her face, her mask of defiance and pure hatred is held strongly in place, yet her eye tracks across to look at me, and somewhere deep in her eye I spot the spark of fear.
"You see me Matari, You know what I am, You know what I can do to you and your type. You belong to me now, you will do and believe as I say, no more, no less. Your life, all of them, are mine you will serve for me the prescribed 10 generations of labour as set down in scripture by her Majesty Empress Jamyl, serve me well and your children's children will walk free, as better people."
Her voice croaks, gravelly and hoarse from hours of screaming at her captors, "Rot in hell slaver scum, I burn people like you, freedom or death, long live the Republic! These Guristas have failed, and you will fail also, I shall die and be reborn faraway in freedom to hunt you down until the end of time."
I cannot help but smile, "Ahh yes, the hypocrisy of a fervent believer, 'let me be free to live my way so that I may stop you living the way you choose.' You see my little Matari, at the end of the day these Gurista are businessmen, they may use combat as their style, but its all about money for them. Me, however, I am a people person, I have devoted my life to the raising of sub-humans such as yourself, into civilised and productive members of society. So believe me when I say that I know you better than you ever will, I have seen hundreds like you, some even as rabid and vicious as you, but never have I encountered a Matari that was not improved through proper training."
I was half expecting another monologue, but apparently the first outburst had sapped her strength, clenching her teeth together she returned to glaring at the distant ceiling.
Walking back towards the hanger doors I muse for a few moments before nodding "Ok Haatomo, I will take her on, she will be quite the handful but oddly enough I see a little of myself in her, and I do love a challenge, breaking her will be fun."
"Excellent" grinning more in relief than actual joy Haatomo fires off a pre-written message from his datapad. "We shall be jumping into Arshat, a remote high security system in the Domain region, within the next 30minutes, you will be provided with a shuttle to transport you wherever you desire. Our only condition is that word of this little adventure never leaks from you or your cargo."
Returning briefly to my cabin I change into a set of civilian clothes, as much as I like to make an impact with the way I dress, walking out in an Amarrian station dressed in a Gurista Captains uniform is probably a little much. I arrive back into the main hanger in time to see the Gurista technicians swarming over a plain Caldari shuttle, sealing the exterior hatches around my capsule. Whilst a separate procession advances from the far wall, fully eight combat fitted soldiers escort four technicians who had decided it was easier to remover the legs from the table and transport the prisoner in-situ than risk releasing her. I follow them up into the shuttle and watch as my newest acquisition is chained, tabletop and all, to the floor of the cargo hold.
Passing the last few minutes exchanging pleasantries with Haatomo technicians vacate the hanger as a five minute warning is sounded. Running final pre-flight checks I dredge up long unused memories on non-capsule flight procedures, finally satisfied I am ready I send my final farewell to Haatomo as the Chimera jumps into Arshat.
The hanger doors are opening almost as soon as we hit reality, lifting off the deck I slip out as soon as a shuttle sized opening is achieved. Aligning to the nearest planet I spin around for one last view, a Gurista Chimera with an escorting fleet madly pumping energy in to recharge the jumpdrive before the Imperial Navy arrives... I still cannot quite believe it.
Auras Caldari accent grates on my ears as she announces our escape, the mad vision is left behind as we accelerate away, bouncing off a few planets I perform a thorough scrub of the shuttles memory before daring to access a stargate and start the long trip home.
Thanks for sticking with me through this story .. it certainly hasn't been the fastest release, but I hope you have enjoyed it.