“Captain on the bride!”
Captain of the SARS “Hel” strode confidently onto the bride in their regulation uniform, and stopped right in from of the first officer’s chair. He gave the chair a brief glance, and seemed to remember that he had ordered the First Officer to leave the ship two days ago. He shook their head and continued, before abruptly stopping again, and making a full 360 towards the rear of the bridge. The Captain made eye contact with every of the officers sitting in the back.
“Lieutenant Beatrice, that doesn’t look like the appropriate uniform…”
“Sir please… We’ve had this discussion before” said the Lieutenant quietly.
“I’m sure you’re uncomfortable in that, don’t you agree?”. As the captain spoke he raised their head and pointedly made eye contact with others on the ship who weren’t dressing to standards. In common sign of disrespect, the Lieutenant raised their head and spoke directly to the captain, “No sir, I’m quite comfortable”.
The Capitan sighed and turned their head back to their subordinate. “Well Claire, looking at you is making me uncomfortable”.
“Well sir, if you were in your seat and doing your job, you wouldn’t have to look at me”
With a humph befitting a small child, the captain proceeded to walk over to their modified captains chair, and sat down. The chair was just one of many things that bothered Claire. Her captain was eccentric to put it lightly, having named every singe ship he flew “Hel”, and listing them all under a made up navy. She was often asked what “SARS” stood for, and the honest answer was she didn’t have a clue, it simply stood for “SARS”. She had a sneaking suspicion that it stood for “Super Awesome Ratting Ship”, as the captain often described their current “Hel” as such. The Captain stretched across the chair, which if it had been standard would have been impossible, and called for a new destination.
“Sir, shouldn’t we run tests first?” A newer shipman asked.
“We are !”
“But sir, these coordinates are a known pirate outpost”
“Just trust me young man, we’ll be perfectly fine”
“But at zero sir? We’re in a Naga are we not?”
“Not just any Naga, a brand new modular Naga! Like what the capsuleers use!”
Claire sighed, the difference between integrated systems and modular ones was modular systems changed out reliability and efficiency for modularity. A modular ship could be fit in a multitude of ways with special modules designed to be stripped from a hull, even while in space or in a battle. These ships were quite a bit more expensive, and more prone to failures. Pilots could avoid the common failures by shelling out for tech 2 variations, or even factions if they had a cooperation or capsuleer backing them. The captain seemed to have a near infinite well of ISK to draw upon, so cheap modules weren’t the problem. The problem arouse from the captain having the most terrible decision making. Case in point: the uniform Claire got in trouble for wearing was the standard unaligned spacer’s uniform, and the one the Captain insisted everyone wore was a modified dressing gown from the ancient Amarr empire. It was light, fluffy, and soft, but floated in zero-g and was terribly suffocating the heat the Captain preferred.
“Captain, may I review your fitting you’ve chosen?” Claire said in her best please just say yes voice. Ever sense she began dealing with the captain, she had gotten quite good at that specific speech style.
“It’s a surprise!”
“Sir, they’re requesting your undocking code”
The captain paused in their stretch, and quickly pulled out their holographic display. He scrolled through a list of passcodes that contained far too many duplicates, and froze on one. Claire sighed inwardly again, for there was a bright red line through the code.
“It appears I might’ve done something last night that has revoked our docking access!” The captain said with their trademark smile. “If only I could remember what it was…”
“To apologize sir?”
“Of course not! I want to know if it’s worthy of going on my wall ”. The wall in questions was a shared board where the captain posted his latest exploits. It had roughly twenty thousand views monthly, and in a galaxy where the average shared board had twenty hundred thousand from bots alone, it was unthinkably low that the Captain’s only had 20k. Claire assumed that the captain had somehow failed to make their board public, and instead all those 20k hits were from the Captain themselves, reliving their “grand adventures”.
“Sir, how are you planning on getting out of this station then?” Asked their relations Officer, who’s job was nothing more than apologizing for the Captains behavior in a multitude of languages.
“How long is the undock hallway?”
“How long is the undock hallway?”
“About 1km sir”
“Wonderful, give me manual control!”
“Switching to manual and passing controls to the captains chair” spoke their new navigations officer, and Claire knew that the man was quickly beginning to regret their choice.
The ship’s engines began to hum, and the start up sequence was initiated. A few red warnings from the station popped up, and a few seconds later a comm channel was forced open by the residing CONCORD officer.
The officer appeared onscreen in front of the captain, a faceless void with a robotic voice. “Captain” it rasped, “You are in breech of multiple undocking procedures, please power down your ship”
“I don’t wanna”
“Captain, we have a target lock on your ship, and will not hesitate to engage”
The threat was mostly empty, the worst the station could do was to infinite-point the ship’s warp core, and engage energy neutralizes to force a shut down of the core. And Claire knew that the CONCORD Officer didn’t know her captain, otherwise the systems would have already been engaged.
“Well, good luck with that” the captain said as he closed the comm channel. In a few seconds the warp core went offline, and the capacitor readout drained rapidly to zero.
The captain laughed as he shook their head. “Oh no, what shall we do”.
The new officer looked around nervously, and ventured to answer. “Captain, we should shut down and await for boarding, as is stated in a multitude of regulations”.
“That wouldn’t be fun now would it?”
To the newcomer’s surprise, it wasn’t the Captain that spoke, it was Claire.
The Captain smiled as he looked back at Claire. “You’re ready?”
“Of course, I was ready before you even entered the bridge sir”
“Alright then, let’s do this”
Without even a second of hesitation, Claire inverted the shield’s polarity, effectively breaking all locks on the ship, and funneled the energy from the quickly dissipating shields into the capacitor. While she did this, the captain forced a burst from the engines and entered warp, flinging their ship sideways through the warp tunnel, and into the dark abyss of space. There was just one small problem.
“Yes! Glory awaits us my friends!”
“Captain, did we go in parallel to the warp tunnel?”
The captain’s smiled faded from their face as he realized that no, they had not gone into the warp tunnel parallel, but perpendicular. As he opened their mouth the ship’s computer began screaming multiple alarms.
“Brace positions!” Shouted an officer as the lights began to flicker.
The capacitor began to crawl up past 100%, and the ship began to overload it for what was about to come. All power was diverted to the core and shields, and non essential systems like lights flicked off. The captain’s rare fish probably wouldn’t survive this little adventure.
Many people don’t know what happens when you slide into warp. Most people have seen capitals do it, and titans are known for entering warp sideways, but the difference between a capital and their little Naga was the advanced propulsion systems that were able to keep a capital centered in a warp tunnel even if it wasn’t facing the correct direction. Their little battlecruiser on the other hand, had to be facing the correct direction, otherwise it would run straight into the edge of the warp tunnel. This is exactly what happened thirty seconds after entering warp, and suddenly the Naga was sent spinning into open space, moving at .75C. The ship would have been torn in half if the computer hadn’t adjusted the shields in time to bear the impact, and the overcharged capacitor gave just barely enough juice to the grav-feild generators to keep everyone on board from turning into pancakes. In fact, the only way the crew could tell anything was wrong was the fact that outside the window the entire world was nothing but one brown blur, instead of the usual colorful dotted sky of New Eden.
A few minutes later the ship was under control, and all systems had been verified as functioning at acceptable levels. The captain stood up from their chair, bent down to touch their toes, and sat back down.
“Well, wasn’t that exciting my friends? I doubt any of your old captains did that sort of thing now did they?”
Claire was normally going to be the one to point out that most people would have preferred a captain that didn’t almost kill them all, but the recent near death experience had put a damper on her usual chatter. Instead to went over all the systems once again. As she did, the Captain looked towards their navigation officer again and asked “What about the destination? We still have pirates to kill!” The new shipman grimaced as they put the coordinates in. Claire pulled up the coordinates on her own screen, and stifled a groan. A class 3 anomaly wasn’t terrible , but for a brand new ship fit during one of the Captain’s insanity filled nights it would likely prove to be too much, especially right after everyone had their heads rattled from the warp tunnel failure. Claire began ensuring that the emergency pods were ready to go, should the ship enter hull.
Again the ship entered warp, and thankfully the captain let it align this time. Normally this is where the adventures of the night would slow down, but it appears the captain had other plans.
“Requesting control of gunnery systems” Claire said as they began to land on grid with the hostile outpost.
“Calm your droolers Claire, lets see what we’re up against first”
“Doesn’t the database state what we’re up against? All combat anoms are scouted by DED forces before they allow mercenaries in to collect bounties” the poor, unsuspecting new shipman asked.
Claire sighed and explained to the man that their captain sometimes found less reputable sources to find pirate outposts. It didn’t pay out bounties, but it often had faction blueprints, modules, or rare resources that could be harvested. Her explanation was cut short though by an officer.
“Captain, the wreckage has been identified as an Angel drug manufacturing outpost”
“The wreckage ? I was promised an active site ripe for the taking!”
“It is active sir”
“Huh”, the captain looked puzzled for a few seconds, before turning back to their display. He opened up a convo with whoever he had gotten the coordinates from. Claire could imagine it went something like this:
“Hey, there are rogue drones here, no drug outpost”
“Sucks to be you, peace”
And by judging how quickly the convo was over and the Captain’s facial expression, Claire was probably right.
“Well”, the captain began, “lets just leave this one for the exterminators shall we? We can use the smugglers gate near planet 6 to get out of system and start looking for other potential targets”. The navigations officer nodded, and began the warping sequence. \
“Sir, I can’t warp”
“It’s deadspace apparently sir”
“How is that possible?”
“Probably the generator I’m broadcasting on screen now”
The captain leaned into their screen and scrunched their brow up.”Huh, you’re right, I guess we’ll have to blow that up”.
“Requesting un-calming of my droolers sir”
“We don’t have any guns”
“WHAT” shouted Claire, “What do we have?”
“Weird super processors! They’re high power modules!”
Claire paused, she had never heard of those.
“We’ve got 3 hull reps in the mids, 1 drone nav, a tracking link, and a cool experimental MWD that doesn’t have a signature boost, but increases mass significantly much more!”
“The heck … What are our lows?”
“Expanded cargo holds!”
Claire look down at her keyboard, which now displayed the ship’s fitting, at the same time everyone looked up as shield and armor alarms began to sound.
“WHAT WAS THAT” the Captain shouted.
“Drones emerging from the ruins!”
“Sir how do we engage?”
Claire realized with a sinking heart that there would be no escape pods, not if the captain planned to active tank in hull.
“Activate all 3 hull repairs! I’ll prepare our offensive! Navigation, align to the smuggler’s den and get ready to warp when the deadspace generator goes down!”
The captain began to work at their display, while everyone else but navigation sat in silence, watching the drones swarm their ship. Claire, being the main gunner, and never realized how terrifying battle was. She was always busy at the controls, picking off targets and giving orders, and never had time to appreciate the chaos. The noises of the ship being torn to pieces was alarming to say the least, but the sounds were probably amplified by the fact the Captain planned to tank in structure .
Their ship was pummeled into half structure before the three hull repairs managed to activate.
The poor rogue drones outside had so far been having the time of their lives, when suddenly the attack battle cruiser repaired half of its hull. They paused, their internal circuits running overtime trying to diagnose the problem. An order from the hive caused them to continue firing. Do not concern yourselves with this development, spoke the hive mind, they will be destroyed regardless of what tricks they have.
“Ok, offensive systems online!”, beamed the Captain. Claire looked back down at her screen, and saw that the Super Processors were suddenly consuming an alarming amount of the ships power, not enough to shut down the hull repairers keeping them alive, but enough to put them in the red, with only 2 minutes left of cap stability. In addition to their cap issues, she noticed that this entire time their speed had been holding steady at MWD speeds without significant signature bloom, likely keeping their hides from bearing the brunt of the damage from the sentry gun, which had taken out their shields when they first landed. The final thing though, that puzzled her the most, was the cargo rapidly depleting.
“Sir, what did we have in the cargo?”
Claire froze as hundreds (220 to be exact) of light drones began to come online. She hesitated, and then selected everything as a target. Their was a brief pause as the system calculated optimal engagement profiles, and then all calamity broke loose.
RETREAT COMRADES! THEIR NUMBERS ARE SUPERIOR! Shouted the hive mind as the rogue drones turned away from the fleeing ship, taking fire from a multitude of light attack craft. Outside the Naga, it was a rainbow as drones, rogue and controlled, spat out multicolored bullets at each other. Those in the ship stared awestruck as the entire field was cleared within seconds, salvo after salvo from their friendly drones tore everything asunder.
“Sir, think we can salvage anything from that?”
“Looking at my overview, our drones are engaging the wreckage as well, Claire?”
Claire bit the inside of her cheek to hide a grimace. “My fault captain, I just set them loose on everything”.
“Well, better not dead than not poor. Navigation, are we clear to warp?”
“Ready as soon as you are sir”
“Perfect, once our drones get back, get us out of here”
The Captain turned to look back at Claire, and gave another one of his insufferable smiles. “I didn’t do too bad now did I?”
“Just fit something other than a hull tank next time, ok?”
“Will do… was thinking a speed tank would be pretty cool to try”