Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chapter 7 Part One "Checkmate"

The man on the monitor seemed to be maintaining his composure like a champ. If it wasn’t for the furrows along his forehead I would have said he wasn’t concerned with me at all. I stood in front of the display, hands on my hips, and a cocky pirate smile on my lips waiting for him to make the first move. He didn’t look like the kind of man that was use to answering to anyone.

Finally, his eye twitched a bit and he said, “Are you the leader of the sheep to be sacrificed?”

“Yeah, I guess you could call me that.” I stared up at the ceiling as though I was thinking really hard about the right answer, “Come to think of it, that is probably one of the nicest things I have been called lately.” Then I pulled my eyes down to his and asked as disrespectfully as possible, “Who the fuck are you?” smile never leaving my face.

Rods words echoed in my head. “You got to piss them off and scare them Lakasha. Get in their heads,” he had said as he poked me on my head with a meaty finger. The battle might be won or lost with one convo. I had to set the mood for the fight to come or everything was already lost. “Battle is about making the enemy believe and see what you want them too. Sometimes you want them angry sometimes you want them calm but you always want to be in control.”

The Amarrian slammed his fist against the table and stood. I could hear the sound of his chair crashing on the metal floor behind him. The camera took a second to realize his face wasn’t there anymore then it slowly tracked up his black flight suit and centered back on target. He stared at the camera, face tight with rage. Yep, not someone use to a lot of disrespect. I would be willing to bet that getting that kind of disrespect from a woman was new to him too. Rod was a smart man picking me for this job.

“I am Omir Sarikusa. What may I call your corpse?”

My eyes responded to his name before I had a chance to hide my shock. This brought a slight smile to his face. I quickly regained my composer but it was too late, I lost points on that one. Omir Sarikusa was one of the most well known Blood Raider leaders in history. He had taken what was already a twisted blood thirsty cult and turned it into something even more terrifying. They believed the blood of clones to be the most pure for their dark rituals. Since his rise, countless lives were lost as his Raiders spread across Amarr space.

Every time I thought this situation couldn’t get more confusing it did. Why would this sect of the Sani Sabik end up raiding a station that for the most part only held civilians? Why expend this kind of resources for a handful of capsuleer sacrifices? Then of course there were the Titans. There was no way a Blood Raider, even this one, had the resources to field a Titan let alone two.

I concentrated on falling back into the nothingness of the pirate inside me before continuing the conversation. “I am Lakasha Nachtexen, leader of the Hellcats and CEO of Hellfleet Alliance.” Smile now gone, I stared at him with cold eyes. I thought about Geklov, Tasha, and all of the people on the station. I let the anger grow and compressed it into a little ball in my chest. “You have made a grave mistake Omir.”

He grabbed the camera, pulling it to his face. “You are already dead!”

“You know Omir it is funny how fast news can travel. You would be amazed at how large of a fleet you can assemble when you let a few of your pirate friends in on the secret location of not one but two Titans. Even alliances that hate you want in on the kill. So, I tell you what Omir, I am going to go get in my ship come out there and drop the biggest fleet ever seen in this part of space on top of your little toys. I am going to kill every one of your people and laugh over local as your Titans are blown to hell. Thanks for all of the extra time you gave me to get my people ready.”

The screen went blank and I turned and headed back toward the main hanger. The last hour had been filled with sporadic fire fights as raiders streamed in from different directions. Harrier had the men piling up Raider bodies as makeshift barricades along with all of the rubble. Even some of the older kids had guns now and were hunkered down at the fire points each with an adult to supervise.

It was getting bad quick. Each of the attacks so far was a small force to test our lines. But we knew there were at least a hundred more raiders that we couldn’t account for. They were no doubt massing for a multi-pronged assault from the lower levels.

The majority of the men, along with Harrier had moved to the lower levels for their part of the plan. He left a few of the more experienced fighters along with a few scientist and the kids to guard the hanger. Hopefully the hanger would be empty before the raiders attacked in force.

I was walking toward my Manicore at the far end of the bay when I noticed a young girl behind a barricade by herself. I changed direction to go and make sure she was okay just as a laser bolt priced the air where I had been standing. I dove to the floor as the room around me erupted into a fire fight. Shots sounded all around, but I stayed low and managed to pull myself over to the barricade and slip behind.

The girl was filthy and held her rifle across her chest like it was the only thing holding her to the ground. The adult laying on the ground next to her had a large pulpy hole in what was left of his head. Who knows how long she had been in the position by herself. She flinched as a blaster bold ricocheted off the barricade but never dropped her gaze from the man lying on the floor.

I slid the blaster from my holster and risked a peek over the metal beams. Raiders were streaming in from two doors near the maintenance area. I ducked as another laser bolt sizzled into the metal barricade two feet from my head. Putting the blaster back in its holster, I reached over and put my hands on the girl’s rifle. She didn’t move but she let go.

I never really cared for rifles. I love my blaster. The main reason is because I am not a great shot. I am fast, really fast, and I do pretty well on the range. But marksmanship has never been my thing. The blaster is a nasty weapon. Up close it can rip a body to shreds. The farther you get away though, the more dispersed the energy. Sure it will hurt anyway, but at a distance it probably won’t kill. Farther away it will just piss someone off.

I leaned up over the barricade and tired to remember all the lessons my training instructors taught me. Hmmm…breath, heart…um lungs?…ahh fuck it. I pointed at the door closest to me and started shooting one bolt after another at the Raiders coming through. It was actually pretty effective at first since they were not expecting fire from my direction. I took out two of them by luck. Then three more opened fire and I was forced to cower behind the barricade.

I realized it might not have been the smartest thing I ever done when they all started concentrating fire on my position. I have never been one to think these situations through too much. I run in headlong and don’t think about the consequences. I tend to lose a lot of ships that way too. Of course, dying in my pod sends me back to my clone. Dying here…

I looked over at the girl and she was staring at me now, eyes open with fright. It was an accusing kind of stare. I shrugged and pulled my blaster back out. I could hear the raider’s yells over the gunfire getting closer. I slid my back against the metal corner of the barricade and motioned with my hand for her to lie flat on the ground.

The first raider stuck his head over the barricade and my blaster caused his head to disappear in an impressive fountain of blood. I stood as I shot the first one and sent a bolt into the chest of two more raiders before they had a chance to react. Sliding back down to my cover I closed my eyes and tried to visualize where the remaining enemies were standing.

There were at least two more. One was toward the pile of rubble to the left and one ducked behind a steel beam to the right. They had to both be waiting for me. I could probably run for cover but I looked down at the girl, crying on the floor in front of me, and my heart sunk a little. I couldn’t leave her.

I have been close to death a few times in my life. Sometimes when I hang out with the boys at the pub we talk about our near death experiences. Some of the guys talk about their life flashing through their head. Not me though, my mind slips into this peaceful state that is hard to explain.

But today it wasn’t like that. Today I had a young girl next to me who would die along with me, if she was lucky. It made me mad. The people she trusted, and should have been there for her, had betrayed her. Geklov was slime for leading his people to their doom for his own profit. Her parents were no better for being greedy enough to follow. Or just being mindless sheep. Either way it didn’t matter.

For a second I thought about killing her before the raiders could get to her. I blushed with the shame of the thought. Sometimes the pirate in me can get a little too practical. It would be easy sometimes to completely give in and make those kinds of decisions. But then I would be no better than people like Geklov.

It was time to act, so I did. I dove over the barricade in the direction of the last raider I saw. Unfortunately, he was closer than I expected and I my head slammed into his chest knocking us both on the floor about three feet from the barricade. Everything went black for a second and my blaster bounced out of my hand as it impacted the floor.

I shook my head as my vision came back and noted two things quickly. One, I was on top of a large and pissed off raider. Two, I was surrounded by way more raiders than I expected. They seemed as shocked as I was because the barrage of laser bolts stopped for a second as they tried to decide what they should do. The decision was made for them though as several of them fell to the floor taken out by laser bolts fired from the other barricades.

As the raiders around me dove for cover the one beneath me reached up with two large hands and started to squeeze my throat. I tucked my chin down on his hands as hard as I could to try and maintain my airway. After years of training it was second nature. Then I slid my knee up and put my full weight on his groin.

He let out a surprised yell and the pressure on my throat lessened enough for me to get a good breath of air. It didn’t last long though as he lifted me off his chest by my throat and twisted, slamming me on the metal plated floor. He climbed on top of me, sitting on my hips, and used his full weight to try and choke the life out of me. I looked up at his face a mask of rage and hate.

I beat at his sides with my fists but they bounced off like a child throwing a tantrum. I could feel the energy draining out of my body. My neck was on fire but everything else seemed to be getting colder as the seconds passed. As my vision blurred, I thought about my blaster laying somewhere near me on the floor. I didn’t know where it was so I reached out with both arms feeling for it.

I found it to my right. My fingertips brushed the metal pushing it completely out of my reach. My hands dropped and I couldn’t move my arms anymore. This was it, and I didn’t feel anything. My life amounted to nothing, it was doubtful anyone would even notice I was gone, and I didn’t care. My mind wasn’t peaceful like all those other times I faced death. Today I felt empty, and for some reason it bothered me. But that feeling didn’t last long. Everything was a distant echo and the air was gone, somehow replaced by fire.

Suddenly the raider above me let go and the fire turned into lava as air poured back into my lungs. I put my hands on my throat, gasping for air and jerking back and forth on the floor. The pain was almost unbearable and I would have screamed if I could. I rolled left and ran into the body of the raider that had been on top of me.

I needed to get back to the barricade but my limbs weren’t responding yet. Through my blurry eyes I could see as far as the surprised dead face looking back at me. I calmed myself, tried to lie still, and waited for everything to come back into focus. As the rest of the room started to appear I looked back to the barricade to see the girl, standing in the middle of the fire fight, riffle in her hands.

I managed to raise my arm and motioned for her to get back down. She nodded and ducked back behind the barrier. The fire fight was intense around me but the raiders that had been around when I dove out were nowhere in sight. I started pulling my way across the floor toward the barrier, taking the time to grab my blaster on the way. My neck was still on fire but my vision had returned and I was managing to find the strength to continue the low crawl to safety.

I was almost back to the barricade when I heard the strangest sound I have ever heard on a space station. The sound started as a low rumble and quickly changed over to a deafening roar. The air around me hummed and the floor shook. All I could think was the station was coming apart around me.

The sound grew louder and I looked up to see a streak of smoke and light fly over my head. I put my hands over my ears and managed to scream, the pain in my throat nothing compared to the compression wave that struck my eardrums. My voice was lost in the roar and then the sudden explosion that followed.

The shockwave of the explosion threw me up and over the barricade, which was the last thing I saw as I tumbled through the air. Heat seared my exposed skin. I slammed into the floor, debris crashing around me, and everything went dark.

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