Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chapter 1 Botched Ambush

I watched Tyler jump from the top belt to the second about twenty times in the last twenty minutes. He got impatient about 10 minutes into the little dance and started spewing out expletives on the local comm frequency. I was sitting at a safe at the sun working on corp business while I watched his little show.

I didn't really have time to teach him a lesson. But he was starting to really annoy me. He couldn't have been out of capsuleer school any more than six months. He had been in and out of system for the last week trying to make himself famous, I guess.

I picked him out on D-scan as soon as he came into the system. Warping to 0 at each belt looking for me. I don't think he really got pissed until he hit every belt and couldn't find me. It was obvious he spent most of his precious few months as a pilot in high sec. Probably running missions for dirty backstabbing agents while he honed his ├╝ber battle skills. I have seen his kind a million times down here.

He was in the usual, a Rifter. Probably the finest Minmatar ship ever built. Many of my friends fly Rifters and they are devastating in a fight. Flip side of that is you can take a new capsuleer, put him in a Rifter with a point and unleash a ridiculous amount of havoc with very little training time. It really makes me a little sick to think about it.

I generally stick to Caldari ships myself. Mostly, because people underestimate them but also because it takes quite a bit of skill to fly them. Ship snob? Maybe, but there is nothing like engaging a target and tanking twice the damage they expect you to while melting their armor around their pod. Sure, I lose ships to some of the more experienced pilots because I am so stubborn about what I fly, but I get a whole lot of satisfaction out of sending anyone to the clone vat in a ship they never expected to stand a chance.

I paid off the last of the corp bills and decided to teach young Tyler a lesson. I relaxed and let all of the data the pod was feeding my mind come to the front of my consciousness. Many people can't pilot a pod. First, you have to get use to being in a confined space and plugged into a machine that takes over. Second, you have to be able to keep your sanity and sense of self. After all of that, you have to be able to enforce your own will on the machines while absorbing all of the information that is streaming through your head.

I could feel the ship around me. Each component sang out waiting for me to command it to function. I concentrated on the sensors and I could see in my mind the the entire system. The pod is an amazing invention. It can make you feel like a god. Which has been the end of many a hopeful pilot candidate. I had a friend manage to figure out a way to fly himself into a sun during pilot training. Sure, the systems shouldn't let you do that, but there is still much we don't understand about this gift from the Jovians. Apparently, clone technology has not evolved to the point where data can be retrieved from a pod lost in the middle of the sun.

I waited for the Rifter to warp from the top belt to the next. I concentrated on the top belt and engaged my warp drive. I could feel the capacitor's power slam into the large warp engines just as though it was slamming into me. The ship shuddered in anticipation as it accelerated to warp velocity. God, it felt good.

I came out of warp at zero and started looking for an asteroid I could use as a trap. He was averaging about one minute at each belt so I had about forty seconds before he would be back. I found one off the port side and sent the command through the pod to the afterburners. The capacitor kicked in again sending a low pulsating stream of energy to the Cold-Gas Arcjets, or maybe it was into me I couldn't tell anymore. My heart rate and my breath became uneven as I maneuvered the ship around the back side of the asteroid waiting for the Rifter to return to the belt.

I was one with my ship and with the space around me. The thrill of the hunt and power of the ship washed over me in waves. I was just waiting for the combat to push me over the edge, like it always did.

I waited, adrenalin pumping, 20 seconds. Then I noticed a convo request that the pod had placed somewhere in the back of our mind. It was waiting with all the other irrelevant data at the time. I normally would ignore a convo at a time like this, but the request came from Tasha, a close friend from pilot training. She rarely made it a point to get in touch with me. If she did it was important. 10 seconds.

“Hey, Tasha, kind of busy at the moment,” I said while trying to calm my breath a little.

“Laka, I need your help.”

That really didn't surprise me. I loved her to death, but she was needy and only really came to me when she wanted something.

“Laka I am in big trouble..”

Right then the asteroid vaporized around me as three linked auto cannons tore through it. The shipped yawed to the left as it was pushed away from the rock by the impact. Alarms screamed in my head as damage reports came flying in. I engaged the thrusters trying to bank the ship back toward the Rifter to get it in blaster range. The Merlin auto target cycle finished just as I accelerated out of the debris field. I pulled the ship hard, looping around to bring my guns on the Rifter while I scrammed his warp drive and hit him with a web.

The navigation systems told me that they could no longer be used to jump into warp as Tyler pointed me. Then the web. All I can say about being webbed while in a pod controlled ship is it is disturbing. The ship shakes and it feels like you are going to be crushed by the energy coursing around you. If you are a bit claustrophobic there is no chance you are going to keep your mind.

I engaged the afterburner tying to overcome the effect of the web. I could feel his auto cannons picking away my shields. I tried several angles but I couldn't get range on my blasters. All I could do was let loose the rockets and hope to at least hurt him a little while I manually flew trying to get an edge. The tech-two launchers lit up the space around me sending little arrows of pain into the Rifter's shields. I knew that there was no way he had the maneuvering skills that I had. It was a matter of time before I worked myself into range.

Then a Wolf jumped into the belt. He must have come into system after Tyler engaged me. I cursed Tasha in my head and turned the Merlin to get distance from the Rifter. Now it was just a matter of who the Wolf pilot decided to engage. Of course, it was me.

As much as I hated it, all I could do was run. I engaged the aft thrusters and pointed toward planet one. As I maneuvered I overloaded the afterburners. The extra energy burned into the Cold-gas Arc Jets doubling the heat that the mechanical shielding normally absorbed. I could feel the burners heating up and the components start to singe.

The Wolf locked me and his cannons tore into my shields as I got painfully close to the 10 kilometers I figured I needed bring the navigation computer back online and warp. I hit 10 kilometers and engaged the warp drive seconds before the Wolf was in his own scram range.

While I was in warp I looked for the nearest celestial that was in line with planet one. You see, the easiest thing the navigation computer can do is warp to zero. It takes at least another second to change your coordinates to stop short of the planets gravitation field. I didn't figure Tyler knew this, but I was betting the Wolf pilot did. As soon as I came out of warp he would be behind me. If I didn't warp again fast he would lock me and this game would start again--minus one burned out afterburner.

I found an asteroid belt that was 30 degrees off the planet and waited to come out of warp. As I did I engaged the thrusters and pointed toward the belt. The Wolf came out of warp on top of me, just like I knew he would. I took one more second to figure out an approach path to the the belt that would bring me 70 kilometers short and hit the warp drive again. I could hear the target tone lock as I jumped into warp again.

This time when I came out of warp I pointed the ship toward my home station and engaged the drive again. The Wolf came out of warp at zero giving me time to turn the ship and accelerate to warp velocity. I warped back to the station with a very bruised ego and a burned out afterburner that was worth more than the ship I was flying. Tasha had really be in a shit-ton of trouble or I was going to be pissed.

Stupid fucking Rifters.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely brilliant! I knew it would be long before you succumbed to the lure of telling your tale to the rest of New Eden. And you tell it sooooo well! Can't wait for more.