It was a day like any other. Komi walked around a bit bored on the bridge of her mining command ship while the mining drones brought ores into the mining bays. Thousands of cubic meters. They were stored in huge hangars and compressed by drones to be transportable at all.
The vherokior woman had inspected the hangars once with her mining foreman. It was an unreal environment full of dirt, dust and stacked crystalline ores that rose towards the high ceiling like skyscrapers or the ziggurats of Quathah.
She much preferred the cozy command bridge of the ship. The Porpoise class vessel was a whole ecosystem, a small city. The workers and their families had quarters there, besides cafés, shops and even a school module. Sometimes an expedition took weeks or months, but everything was taken care of. Komi smiled as she remembered that about 20 hours ago, she had offered an ice cream to a little girl who was watching a small store near a park. The sebbie girl had politely thanked her before running off into some rusty corridor probably back to her family quarters.
Thinking back to her humble beginnings, it was unimaginable that Komi had been able to call this ship - a flying town- her own. It was old and used, and there were certainly many systems that needed updating with the new ORE firmwares, but it had been serving its purpose for two years now without a hitch and had satisfied all investors two and ten times over. For many crewmembers, it was more than just a ship. It was a home. Like it was for Komi. She had visited the most distant asteroid colonies and the busiest planets of the Minmatar Republic and her qualified crew never failed her to this day.
Their fleet included many mining ships, and the Porpoise was the centerpiece. Even the capsuleer-piloted barges that sucked in entire asteroids were less effective without the compression technology of the Porpoise and its fleet of drones. Cohesion was important in this pirate-infected system called Olfeim. Six scanners saw more than one, and thanks to their good connections and an array of sensor-probes all around the system, they hadn’t had an incident with the Cartel in over 34 hours.
The intelligence officers scanned the system every second for new signatures of ships that might be too close to their operation or that did not have a valid transponder code. A sign of pirates. Friendly ships had a transponder code issued by their alliance. There were some of these ships in the system, but no sign of any pirates. Therefore, the following events happened quite unexpectedly. Shortly after a new friendly ship entered the system.
She remembered the exact moment. The bridge was full of bored people. Some were looking at holo’s, others were getting some exotic caffeinated drink every 10 minutes. Only a very small number were actually busy up here in the demanding part of the ship. But suddenly a certain panic broke out, as it always does when something unexpected happens.
“BZZ BZZ, proximity alarm.”
A loud thud, a vibration like an earthquake ran through the groaning ship. Some were knocked off their feet, but Komi was able to brace herself against a navigation module in time. After the initial one, another blast came from very far away, like an echo of the first one. Red warning messages flared up everywhere.
“What happened? Status?!”
Komi fretted about the discipline of her crew. They were good people, but how could the pilots and navigators not notice an asteroid or whatever they had just rammed?
“We have a hull breach in the stern. Something has hit. Damage control is already closing the hull, minimal pressure loss. Something else hit just behind the bridge. Killed a few systems.”
“One of the fleet ships has locked on to us and is disrupting our warp core. What is goin—”
That’s as far as the officer got, as he literally lost his breath. Komi felt the pressure drop in her ears. A hull breach? It was a brief but powerful second before they realized what was really happening.
Directly in front of the entrance to the bridge, sparks were flowing from the ceiling. Molten metal, flowing in great streams from above, ate through the soft synth carpet of the deck, creating billows of dark smoke. Shortly thereafter, just outside the entrance to the command room, a round, burning ceiling segment detached itself and fell violently to the floor. Smoke and fumes obscured the view, but the next surprise was not long in coming.
Out of the fog ran figures in red and black battle suits, their weapons with red flaming laser sights at the ready. Two, five, ten, It all happened so fast that no one realized the situation, and those who did were too shocked to react. Even the sparse security, who were in charge of safety, did not go into action, which in retrospect was probably the right decision for their well-being.
A boarding-commando. how was that possible? it was…
"We are looking for commander. Woman." sounded a rough filtered voice with clear molden heath dialect of one of the visitors. To give some emphasis to his decree, he fired a volley of his weapon fairly close to the head of Ghiji, the ever-smiling navigator, with no regard for the young man’s health, or the armor-piercing effect of his bullets, which could have easily penetrated the hull and sucked them all into space.
The target of this attack was understandably too shocked to say anything, but he tilted his head more in reflex than with any thoughts in Komi’s direction. The vherokior woman saw the pirate’s gaze follow and he slowly raised his weapon. Thoughts exploded in Komi’s head. Reality slowed down, everything seemed to expand to infinity. She could see what happened next, and for a brief moment she wished to be with her family before this unknown person raised his gun and killed her…
But her worst fear did not materialize.
Immediately, several of the unwanted visitors were next to her and grabbed her, while others secured the room. A cold, metal-rubber hand held her head, and reflexively she tried to escape, but in vain. She was in such a state of shock that she didn’t even notice her iris being scanned, and the supposed leader, with his Molden Heath dialect, nodded to his comrades to let them know they had found the right person.
“To the capsule, quickly!. We have little time!”
“A cyno field has opened right next to our ship” Komi heard from somewhere and it brought her back to reality. Somewhere, the confused communication of the rest of the fleet could be faintly heard, apparently very agitated about something on comms.
“What do you want from me?” left Komi’s mouth.
“Ask boss, but now go!”
She was shoved roughly across the bridge. There was no way to resist these kidnappers with their reinforced battle suits. A gun was pointed at her, and many other weapons changed targets among the rest of the crew who just witnessed the events in horror. A shot was fired and one person sank to the ground. This was one of the three pilots who had been trying to reach some control panel.
Komi saw his body simply collapse as if the off switch of a cyborg had been pressed, before she was heartlessly pushed on, having no time to mourn this loss.
“Faster, no time!!”
Did she detect fear in this pirate’s words? No doubt, they were cartel members. Angels probably, maybe Brutors or Krusuals?. With that accent, anyone who watches the wickedly bad SpaceEnforcer™©-series on Rens-TV would have noticed. But yeah… something was making these mercs nervous and it wasn’t the crew or herself… it was something else.
They weren’t typical pirates either… In that case, they wouldn’t have been in a hurry at all and probably would have kept the crew lining up for hours, dividing the humans among themselves as booty. Komi gulped as she was transported to the place where metal had flowed from the ceiling a few seconds ago. She looked into a large hole with shimmering red edges, and behind it was what looked like the dim cavern of a monster.
As the gravity lift brought her and her captors, whose iron grip made all escape attempts futile, into the claustrophobic boarding capsule, she dared to ask.
“What’s going on?” but the only answer she got was an ever tightening, painful grip on her forearm before the floor hatch of the escape pod closed. The small windowless room was dimly lit in red, and the strong acceleration of the pod now pressed all occupants hard against the floor as it rose from the hole left in the ship by it’s laser cutters, presumably sealing the fate of everyone on the bridge. Even if the nanobots of the damage control were working at full speed… a hole with the diameter of 4 meters was simply too big to close in seconds, which would lead to a compulsively lethal decompression of the bridge.
All of this went through Komi’s mind as she breathed in the scorched air, trapped between her captors, waiting to see what would happen next…
[ to be continued… ]
attached files: camera drone footage of the incident: