The line sluggishly moved forward by one.
“Here…” James said handing over his identidisc.
The caseworker snatched it out of James’ hand and quickly swiped it through his machine.
“Not much available you’re qualified for” the case worker muttered.
“I don’t need a lot of money, I just need enough to pay for a shuttle ride down to the surface.”
“Good luck” the caseworker snorted “Only jobs I have available today are on capsuleer ships. Pay is good on those, if you survive to collect of course, but there’s no guarantee when or even if one of those will ever come back here. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a local job for you.”
“Please, I can’t afford tomorrow’s air ration. Do you have any jobs that will allow me to stay here?”
“Sorry, best I’ve got for you is an opening for an ammo monitor on an Incursus class frigate. Never any guarantees of course but the capsuleer who owns it docks here quite frequently so it’s probably a round-trip. Also the pilot generally does work clearing out pirates which is as safe as it gets on an egger ship.”
“It’s either that or working as a cargo lifter on a Wreathe owned by a pilot who’s name I don’t recognize, which means he doesn’t come here that often and you’ll probably end up further away. The third option of course is you don’t pay for your air ration tomorrow…” the case worker said with a hint of warning. “Either way hurry up, there’s over a dozen people behind you also looking for work. You going to take any of these jobs or not?”
“Yeah, sign me up for the ammo monitor position.”
James knew he should have gone with the hauler shortly after undocking. Visiting in the communal area it was obvious that the entire crew, not just himself, was new. While there weren’t a lot of people on board, there never were on capsuleer ships of this size, the only people that knew each other were teams that had worked together on other ships. No one had even been transferred from another vessel, that meant their pilots previous ship had most likely been destroyed with all hands lost. It was too late to back out now, already the ship was making its first jump to wherever it was headed. James hoped their pilot was planning on doing jobs to recoup losses and not looking for revenge against another capsuleer. His heart sank on hearing Aura’s voice over the intercom.
“Attention: We will be entering the Gallente-Caldari war zone in a few minutes. All combat crew report to your ready stations.”
The rest of the crew’s faces looked ashen as they hurried to their position. Everyone knew their best chance of survival was to do their job as well as they could. A failure by anyone on the ship would drastically increase the likelihood they would be destroyed if they went into combat. He took his position and tried to settle his nerves. He kept telling himself this was just a precaution in a dangerous part of space, that they were just passing through the warzone rather then trying to pick a fight. Deep down though he knew he was lying to himself. His hopes were dashed with hearing Aura’s voice over the intercom.
“Turret 3: Ammo check”
“Turret 3 full ammo” he replied.
That was his job, manual verification of the ammo in the turret. It wasn’t hard, just needed to be able to count quickly and efficiently. Something even someone like him was qualified for. The ship was fully capable of automatically tracking the amount of ammo in it’s turrets of course, but in the middle of battle computers and sensors could be damaged and having a human on hand to double-check numbers could prevent having to reload at the wrong moment. Outside of combat, Aura would only have him verify the ammo if there was a suspected problem with the sensors, or combat was imminent. With a ship this new there was no reason to suspect the ammo sensors, that meant combat.
He had no way of knowing what was going on outside the ship, his work station didn’t even have a window. He could tell they were still at warp from whine of the warp drive and the vibrations in the deck but that was it. He felt the ship come out of warp and braced himself. It wasn’t long before the deck began vibrating again, but without any noise from the engine.
Warp without engines meant an acceleration gate, if they were using one to reach a deadspace pocket then they were probably hitting pirates.
“Please be pirates, please be pirates” he silently prayed. The vibrations lessened as the ship dropped out of warp. He focused intensely on the ammo to count how many shots were fired. He never even felt the ship get hit as it exploded into plasma.
Aillel squinted in the glare of lights as her clone decanted. New eyes always took a few minutes to get used to the lights. She had expected to lose her ship but was surprised to have been one shotted by the other frigate like that. She didn’t think she’d even managed to get off a single shot of her own before her ship was destroyed. She was going to have to completely rethink her build. The clone technicians guided her to her new capsule and inserted her into it. As soon as she was connected Aillel submerged her consciousness into the infonet doing research on effective frigate builds. She could easily afford to replace lost frigates and this was good practice. Anticipating her needs, Aura automatically began posting job offers to hire a new crew.