Felicia Winters Territory
NLTT 21088 Bridge Network
The once soothing voice of the ships A.I had become irritated in its attempts to get its Commander’s attention for the last five minutes; it was obvious to the A.I that the Commander was registering her attempts on the barest peripheral of his consciousness as its words faded into the background; far behind the sounds of heavy guitar riffs, pounding double kick blast beats and heavy bass licks, all accompanied by a screaming lead soloist, along with the thick sickly sweet smell of a healthy plant which the Commander himself had a personal hand in cultivating, filled the cockpit of RETRO ELECTRO – the Cobra Mk III which rested on landing pad 42.
“Commander Corvinus,” S.I.A.H repeated again, the A.I’s voice containing hints of a slight southern ‘twang which could be heard in her voice, along with a fair bit of annoyance at the moment. There had been something about the old Earth Southeastern U.S accents of women which he found one of the most pleasing to his ear; a distant memory of his mother as she had a similar accented voice – though, he never knew her, only stories about her.
Commander Corvinus relaxed in his comfortable custom Verrix skinned pilot couch with it leaned far back as possible, gray highlighted black mag-boots resting on the console, and a thick joint resting between his lips; inhaling and taking in a deep hit, he held it for a brief moment, blowing out a large cloud of smoke a few seconds later, the smoke swirled about his head creating a semi dense cloud which hung near his face.
“This. . .this, this is by far the best strain I’ve managed to put together.” Six months – three of which this particular plants scent was so pungent the air scrubbers had to be changed three times each month for the last two, and for which at the moment he was trying to come up with a name, had been growing in the secondary hold of his LAKON SPACEWAYS T7 located in CONEY GATEWAY – the ‘SLEEPING DRAGON’.
“NYXX,” the A.I repeated, this time by her count this would be the tenth instance, and as such this wasn’t something new to the A.I, the almost constant need to grab its Commander’s attention, as he could often be off on a myriad of thought tangents at once; every detail of any current mission parameters, the exact contents and hardpoints of each of his current ships, the names of any targets he’d hired to hunt, etc.
“Commander Nyxx Corvinus,” impatience seeping into its voice; on a previous occasion when the A.I had before been unable to grab his attention with the first five attempts she had considered setting the red alert sirens to go off in an attempt to get his attention, then thought better as she recalled his reaction the last time she knocked him out of reverie with the same tactic, this time the A.I repeated his name louder, and with more emphasis, “Captain, you have a communique marked urgent.”
Thick shoulder length gray dreadlocks covered the Commanders head, falling into his face as the change of the seat into its upright position caused him to sit up like a shot, dropping his black mag-booted feet onto the lateral thruster control pads with a dull thud.
“Alright, alright mom,” the Commander’s tone calm, cool his voice hushed above a whisper. His voice had always been characterized as “having an accent by not having one,” as it seemed he would on occasion switch accents in mid-sentence, and for the most part he was unaware , as if the Commander may have been an entertainer, an actor or even some sort of musician, previous to becoming the now Deadly ranked mercenary pilot he was. As such, it had taken almost an entire year before the A.I he’d first installed was able to understand him to the point where it was functional, and that was at the barest of minimum of functionality.
Now, they were thick as thieves.
“Cool your jets,” snorting and brushing the hair from his face, Nyxx took another long drag from the joint; blood shot eyes stared at the bluish white glow of the augmented reality console as it hung in the hair. He flicked a switch several times before he found what he was looking for, eying the message which was blinking ‘URGENT’, his voice a low rasp as puffs of smoke slipped out with each word as he spoke, “Would you then?” making a counter clockwise gesture with his left.
The music lowered to a barely audible level, “Now, from who -” he began to say as she cut him off.
“Not from whom, but from where, Commander,” her voice seethed with the impatience of a woman who isn’t into having her time wasted, “you do remember, the surveillance systems which you had that Patocudan technician Augustan a great deal to have set up around the stations within the system? Well, at this very moment they happen to be sending some interesting live feed. Especially those located around Pato 5 – within CONEY. I’d thought it better you take a look at this live rather than a recording considering,” her voice trailed off.
A long sigh escaped the Commanders lips, “You’d better hope this little interruption of yours is worth disturbing me while I’m in the middle of work,” Nyxx’s voice still above a whisper, “cause you know, sometimes you do have this tendency to over exaggerate a situation.” Since the day he’d had the Systemwide Integrated Artificial Humanoid – S.I.A.H – installed, she’d seemed at times to be more attached to him than other systems he’d used on previous ships; shed especially complained the day Nyxx had purchased EDEN and EDDI, two A.I programs to help with logistics and trade data.
“First of all. . .would you,” she paused, frustration creeping into it’s voice, “you do know,” the A.I’s tone finally exasperated, “at times – you can be more mechanical than I. It’s, off-putting, to say the least.”
“Now, suddenly I should worry about your feelings?” he chuckled, “put it on screen.” As the low res video began to come into focus his eyes widened at the scene unfolding before him; small light fighters, Vipers and Sidewinders poured through the the docking bay at full speed, only to be turned to scrap moments later by the station’s defensive turrets, far explosions from somewhere deep inside the station rocked the cameras causing some of them to flicker, though muffled could be heard over the feed, though at the moment Nyxx awed at what he was witnessing to register the sound of the explosions.
In mere moments the stations laser batteries, after so effectively cutting through the initial vessels, began to lose their punch as more ships slipped through the docking port and managed to avoid the now decreased turret fire, some of them able to take landing ports.
“They hit the power core!?” He ground out the lit end of the joint into the palm of his hand. “Get me Adamantium, Furieux, Wally. . .patch me through to anyone.”
“It appears communications to CONEY STATION have been completely severed.”
At last, an ominous midnight black Anaconda slipped in through the docking slot, pushing it’s way with east through the debris from the ships and pilots which had given their lives to take CONEY STATION; an immense skull spider logo emblazoned on the front letting anyone who viewed it know who this ship belonged to; it was flagship of the pirate King, Archon Delaine.
Hitting the comm button in the console, at the same time powering up the ships systems, “O.T.C this is RETRO ELECTRO I.D November Yankee X-ray requesting clearance for take off.” He pulled the straps across his body securing him tightly to the pilot couch. Whether they gave him permission, Commander Corvinus was prepared to take flight. The fine would be negligible when stacked next to his Zaonce account. He would deal with it later.
The Dragons needed him now.
“FAULCON DeLACY November Yankee X-Ray, you are clear for immediate departure. Please make sure to keep a sharp eye out for larger vessels on your way out, fly on the side of caution and give them right of way.”
“Of course O.T.C, and as always. . .it’s been a pleasure.”
“You are definitely welcome back anytime, Commander Corvinus.”
The flat wide wedge shaped ship rose from landing pad 42 gracefully until it reached level with the entry/exit port into the station.
“Look like we’ll have to put our little T9 hunt on hold,” Commander Corvinus made a note of the name of the T9 he’d been stalking for the last three hours. “Scan ‘er as we pass, and plot us course home.”
“Commander, I do not think heading to Dread is the -“
“Sometimes,” squinting as he imagined what he would have done to her if she had been flesh instead of a purely digital construct, “ya know what’s meant.”
“Aye,” she chuckled in response, her voice suddenly light. After a few moments, “Scan complete Commander. The mark’s carrying a full load of Low Temp Diamonds alright, you were right – this time.” S.I.A.H chuckled after her last comment, as it had taken him three days of hunting around the High Resource extraction point located within the rings of PLANET #?; three days of dodging SysSec, bounty hunters, and others who were of similar mind.
No one ever said piracy was easy, especially for one who’s hunting in a High Sec system, but it sure was profitable when the right whale came along.
“I’ve got my eye on you,” Nyxx muttered as he rolled RETRO over passing above the stark white T9 docked below them. The name ‘CAVALIER SANS TÊTE’ etched along it’s side with a slight Imperial flourish.
“Commander, be advised the T9 you have been tracking is also making pre-flight preparations for lift off.”
“Acknowledged, and ya know, the timing here couldn’t be better,” he smiled. “Let’s test our newest acquisition.” It had taken the Commander sometime; hunting through various starports, listening to some of the most boring stories in the galaxy in a myriad of dark smoky bars and seedy taverns, eventually coming into contact with an reputable Engineer was able to lay his hands on the diagram which allows him to contract what were limpets which specialized in the art of adhering as well as being able to track whatever they attached to over 400ly.
“As you wish commander,” she replied. The moment the Cobra Mk III slipped out of the dock her hardpoints activated.
“Commander,” a deep, stern voice of the O.T.C Commander crackled over the comm, “this is a no fire zone. You WILL obey the law or you WILL face the consequences.”
“Of course O.T.C. . .it’s, just a slight weapons malfunction. I’ll get it sorted before I get clear for my jump.”
“See that you do November Yankee X-Ray, see that you do. O.T.C over and out.”
Commander Corvinus pulled back on the throttle cutting it back to 15% and patiently waited for CAVALIER SANS TÊTE to pass underneath then pull in front. RETRO ELECTRO slipped just over the top of the massive T9, then matched is speed as they made their way beyond the mass of the station in preparation to make the jump into hyperspace.
“Go dark,” he muttered.
“Aye,” the A.I replied. The vents located along the top outside of the Mk III quickly closed, trapping the heat with the ship – masking it’s signature from anyone nearby. Now, the only way to spot the bright orange ship, was to actually spot the bright orange ship.
The Commander lightly tapped the vertical thruster control until the two ships shields were almost close enough to touch, “Now.”
The instant the Commander gave the order a tiny slot in the Mk III’s undercarriage slid open and a small black drone popped out. and with speed the specialized tracking limpet dropped down through the T9’s shields, it’s magnetic feet gripping tightly onto it’s hull.
A small elbowed arm with a diamond tipped drill at its end unfolded from the bottom of the limpet and began to drill a small hole in the titanium hull of the T9, inserting a small blackish green blinking device; the arm swiveled producing a a two pronged tip which immediately lit – fusing the hole. To the naked eye it would have appeared as if was simply damage from passing debris.
Lights on the limpet began to blink rapidly for a few moments, then went dark as it fell off of the side of the T9.
“Commander, we are now reaching upwards of 85% heat. We’re beginning to become a glowing dot on the surrounding scanners.”
“H-Sink,” he replied pulling back on the stick causing the ship angle away from the T9 in a steep climb relative to the other ships position, a hard twist to the right and they were facing the first system in a series of six; the road to an old home which he hadn’t seen in almost a year, this time straight into the fire. Sliding the throttle forward to 100% he clicked the boost; the Mk III’s engine glowed a bright purple sending the ship streaking away from the now tracked CAVALIER SANS TÊTE as well as WEBER TERMINAL at over 500+kms.
“As you command. Heat sink deployed in five.”
Nyxx clicked a switch on the throttle and glanced at his star map.
“Six jumps,” he sighed, taking a long pull on the last of the joint, blowing out the hit blanketing the cockpit in a cloud, “you do it,” he finished, “I need to prepare,” he said reaching beneath his seat, withdrawing a metallic box from the beneath pilots couch.