The Amamake incident

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:

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PART 2:

It didn’t take long for the boarding capsule and its crew to dock with another ship. The acceleration and the tight interior made it almost impossible to move. After a small jolt, the hatch of the capsule opened with a hiss and the ten mercenaries equipped with combat suits pushed the young woman in front of them out towards the hangar.

Komi looked around the small hangar. It looked pretty typical, like a Minmatar ship. She was in an elongated hangar hall of about 40x10 meters. Next to your capsule two more were parked with some more people getting out of the second capsule a few meters away. Finally her arm was released, and she rubbed away the pain. The pirates were in the process of removing their helmets. Hectically, Komi looked for an escape route.

A door nearby maybe two meters away. A datapad in front of it.
Locked? Maybe. Chances to escape… no… even if she somehow managed to escape these people, she was still on an unknown ship and the onboard systems would easily detect her. It was hopeless to escape, but she was still alive and that could only mean that she was not in immediate danger.

She now turned to her attackers and, taking a step back, adopted a defensive posture. She watched as the last of them took off their helmets. One of the men cursed and started to open the top of his suit. Probably an injury. There were 2 Brutor women with imposing statures and ugly facial tattoos among the mercs, and even a rough looking Vherokior female glaring at her out of the corner of her eye. Komi held her gaze until the presumed leader of the group approached her.

“Who are you and where am I?” asked Komi with feigned calm.

"Who are we, honey?" asked the big Thukker pirate with a smug grin. As he stepped closer, “I’d be more interested in why we’re risking our lives for a ■■■■■■■ princess like you, heh?”

Komi took a step back as the tall man stepped uncomfortably closer.

“Tell me, damn it! What’s the point of this ■■■■■■■ action?” Her anger wasn’t just an act.

Her counterpart just grinned and pushed her further back to the wall “Princess, I don’t think you’re in a position to ask questions here.”

Before she knew it, his arm shot forward and tried to grab her. Komi managed to escape his first furious attack, but he didn’t let go and pressed her painfully against the wall behind her while holding her arms. He was now very uncomfortably close and his face had taken on animalistic, predatory features while he cynically said.

“Hey Khor, say as long as she is delivered in one piece the boss is happy, right?”

The man named Khor replied, somewhat annoyed. “Heh, sure.”

“Maybe I should have some fun with her first then.”

“Get your ■■■■■■■ hands off me!” But even Komi’s kindled fighting spirit was unfortunately not enough to completely escape. She struggled and tried to break free with difficulty. The other people in the room didn’t seem to care about this situation. They calmly stowed their equipment and weapons. It was not their problem so nobody would come to her help, while she struggles in vain to get rid of this asshole…

"But but, you don’t want to run away, do you?! Haha " He was just playing a macabre game with her at this point.
Suddenly, the door that Komi had previously written off as a means of escape opened, and four men with hard faces and dark suit jackets entered.

“We’re taking her with us.”

Apparently the Thukker knew this voice and now let go of the desperately struggling woman, annoyed.

“Come on guys, I just need 10 minutes, then you can take her.”

“We’ll take her now. If you have any problems with it, you can complain to the boss.” The slightly shorter elegantly dressed man emotionlessly approached Komi and the pirate.

“Ah ■■■■, you people really can’t take a joke or let me have some fun, huh?!” Grimly, the Merc turned once more to Komi, who had recovered somewhat, and bared his teeth playfully before trotting away slowly and braggingly relaxed.

The more elegantly dressed man now approached Komi, who inhaled deeply.

“Please follow us, Ms. Valentine.”

He reached out a hand presumably to take her arm againn, but Komi pushed it away. She stepped forward. “I can walk on my own.”

After about 10 minutes of walking silently through quite a few twisted corridors, Komi asked. “Whose ship is this? Why am I beeing kidnapped? And what about my ship?”

Monotonously, the leader replied, “We are here on a Blackops battleship, and you will soon have an opportunity to discuss these matters with the captain. We’ll take you to your temporary quarters. It’s not particularly… hospitably furnished, but I’m sure you won’t mind.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to speak of hospitality after such a kidnapping” Komi replied coolly and professionally “Whoever your captain is, I hope he realizes his mistake. It may cost him or her a lot.” Those were the first and last words she would exchange with these people. After she was locked in her hospitable accommodation and the door sealed, she sat down on the narrow, deep bed and stared at the ceiling. She did not miss the small camera in the corner of the room.
Komi closed her eyes and thought…

[ to be continued … ]

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Part 3:

Komi opened her eyes. Absolutely nothing had changed in her surroundings. She massaged her forehead. After the last cyno-jump, which was probably 20 minutes in the past, she felt sluggish and woozy. She had heard there were some large Republic ships that could bend space itself to jump to a target. This required a cyno-generator to be activated at the destination, after which a ship could target this annomaly and use a jump drive to travel a great distance without losing time. But this undesirable method of travel was far more abrupt and painful than she would have liked and this was the first time she felt it herself. The feeling of “going down the drain” as people described it.

She had to pull herself together and focus her thoughts while Komi’s stomach tightened. “Very great hospitality, not even a capsule for jump fatigue” she muttered just before the door opened. In stepped one of the men, her “bodyguard” or jail-guard in a smart suit.

“Ms. Valentine, please follow me. We are docked and the captain is expecting you.”

Komi rose from the cot and with a nod indicated to the man that she would accompany him. After a few minutes they left the ship together into a huge hangar. Behind glass, Komi could see two cruisers and other large battleships docking at adjacent docks. It had to be a large station.

“Where are we?” Komi asked the silent guide.

“At our base,” replied the guide, “Finally, the Keepstar in Amamake.”

Komi gulped. There were legends surrounding this station, and not the kind you wanted to hear to fall asleep. There were those who claimed ships that docked at this station were never seen again. The station was officially a Freeport, but it was mainly used by pirates, as well as military groups of all kinds. The owner was a controversial capsuleer with very far reaching contacts, it was said, and all attacks that were led on this station had failed in vain.

The Vherokior woman pondered as they walked down the seemingly endless corridors, finally stepping into a gravlift. The number indicating the level rose quickly as the lift swept upward along the hangar walls. It seemed like a normal station, just bigger than Komi was used to. She had been to the Jita Tradehub once, and that was the best comparison she could come up with. Not even the Hub in Rens had hangars that big. None of this changed her determination to confront this would-be captain, and she clenched her fists to keep her anger in check.

When the door of the gravlift opened Komi spotted a dizzying floor, behind it was a large conference room. The ceiling was made of glass, and gave a view of the hangar behind, which was rather meant for smaller ships and shuttles. In front of Komi was a long table with chairs on both sides, and at the end of the table she saw a figure she couldn’t place at first.

As she walked closer, Komi noticed the man’s white hair, and the leather jacket that merged into a kind of cybernetic device at the collar. Her companion stayed behind her. She tried to hide her tension. The man at the end of the table turned to her and now she saw his face. It looked familiar, but Komi had trouble identifying it.

Without a gesture, the man and the table told Komi’s “companion” to leave the room. After he was gone, Komi stopped and crossed her arms in front of her chest and put on her best, coldest look.
The unknown man himself had probably expected this and now came towards Komi. She noticed a tattoo that ran from his forehead over his right eye until it disappeared into his beard. But it was by no means a Minmatar, she could see that directly. Federation probably…

“Hello Komi, good to see you” the man said warmly, now spreading his arms. Komi made no move to greet him. “I am glad you are well”

Komi said nothing, she now remembered that face again. It was someone who had helped her in the past in various dangerous ventures. A queasy feeling came over her “What’s all this about, Firebon? What happened to my ship?”

“I’m so glad to see you. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m really glad you made it through and can help me now.”

“What do you mean? That I made it through?” Some anger resonated in Komi’s voice now.

“Hey, calm down first.” Firebon touched the conference table with his left hand, whereupon a glass of clear water went out of the table next to Komi. "I’ll explain it to you. "

Komi ignored the glass, though her throat felt strangely dry. “You think I talk to traitors?”

Firebon laughed out loud now. “Traitors? That’s really funny. Wasn’t it I who bailed you out in Molden Heath? Wasn’t it Me who showed your crew how to operate the Blackbird? Wasn’t it me who saved your life? And you call me a traitor?”

He continued; “You took a big risk with your mining fleet. You are lucky that it was I and not Baltrom who noticed you. Do you understand? I pulled you out of there to save you. Your ship no longer exists, and if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be here now.”

“Baltrom?” These were admittedly good points, but Komi was driven by her anger and quickly approached the man. “You could have warned us! You ■■■■■■■ asshole! We could have left at any time and everyone would still be alive.” She worked herself up into a rage and punched Firebon. The thought of all the people who were on the ship drove her fist on.

The surprised Capsuleer blocked her blow with one arm, and as Komi’s fist tried to dig into his arm, which he raised to defend himself, she suddenly felt a violent blow that spread from her hand to her body to her feet. Komi’s eyes went black for a second and she found herself lying backwards on the floor. She tried to get up, but her right arm refused to work and was now starting to hurt.

“I hope you’ve calmed down now.” Firebon said quietly as he adjusted his jacket, which was fitted with a pulse shocker.

“You asshole. Do you have any idea what you’ve done? I curse you!” Komi said with tears in her eyes while holding her arm. “What do you want now? Do you want to hear how much I struggle?”

“No, No” Firebon said quietly. “I’m sure many of your crew survived.” he paused for a moment. “I saved you and brought you here because I think together we can accomplish a lot. You should be happy to still be alive, just like I am.”

Komi did not answer and slowly stood up again. Why was her old acquaintance acting so strangely.

“I can already imagine that our cooperation will go very well. I think together we can show those pirates.”

“Show them?” wondered Komi in suspicious amazement.

“Exactly, we can prove to Baltrom that I am a real pirate. With your drone technology, we could prove that I have what it takes to fly along them.” Firebon proudly announced his plan. “Scrambler drones, or Hobgoblins with 10x firepower. Well, what do you say to that? Baltrom will be thrilled.”

“You’re crazy, why should I help you with that?”

“Crazy? Nooo.” Firebon paused. “Because I saved your life. I can provide you with everything you need, all equipment no matter the cost, and I will take you home after you help me.”

“You can’t be serious. I don’t owe you anything!” Komi was now standing rock solid again and had almost forgotten the pain in her arm.

“Please Komi, be reasonable.”

“I think our conversation is over, you murderer. Can I go now?”

Firebon sighed in exasperation. “Fine, go for now and think it over. I’m sure it’s hard for a mortal like you to take. I’ve got you a great place to stay, and you’ll want for nothing. You can move freely on your level. And if you change your mind, send me a message. But I must warn you. Some of my friends don’t like me to keep you here for long…”

Proud and indignant, Komi turned away and headed for the elevator.

“See you soon, Komi.”

The elevator opened and as expected Komi’s “bodyguard” was already inside. She didn’t turn around again and strode unerringly into the gravlift.

[ … to be continued ]

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PART4:

The young woman turned around on her comfortable bed. She lay on her side and watched the modern kitchen, where half a glass of alcoholic beverage still stood firm. Her quarters were well heated, but she still didn’t want to come out from under the protective warm field of her blanket. Komi thought about how much time had already passed. It was a month already, and absolutely nothing had changed.

After she moved into this beautiful prison, her daily life had changed a lot. She lacked nothing on the surface, but she clearly felt exhausted. Komi had received a datapad that gave her access to the entire level of the station. Unfortunately, this level was not very large, and there was nothing to explore except for a few boring automated stores. Inhabitants were almost non-existent in this sector, so if you were lucky enough to intercept a technician on his way to work somewhere, it was a good day. But the homesickness made itself more and more noticeable.

At the beginning of her stay, she started each day with a short walk across the level. She got what she needed from one of the store vending machines.

That was all. At first, she thought she might be able to connect to the systems and secretly send a message home. But her pretty prison was also 100% electronically secured and without the right hardware it was hopeless. She spent the rest of the time thinking and consuming cheap holos and the emptiness in her stomach grew bigger the more she started thinking of her family.

Komi sighed and slowly got up from her bed. She slipped on the carelessly wrinkled designer outfit while she was sure that someone was watching her on camera. She smiled falsely. “I guess this kind of paranoia is normal for people who are locked up against their will.”

Firebon could have all those videos stored in his brain implants. She didn’t care. Or at least that’s what she told herself. And while Komi thought about the devil, she had to admit that he had tried penetratingly to persuade her to cooperate. Once he had even appeared in her quarters. At first Komi had been a bit startled and confused, but he just wanted to check up on her and manipulate her a bit into finally working for him.

What I wouldn’t do to wake up at home.

She looked at the half-full glass on the counter and quickly downed the contents. It burned a little in her throat. “What’s all this crap about? Do I want to go on living like this forever as a pet?” She could do without many things, but not her freedom. That was probably in her minmatar genes. And even if everything went well until now, Firebon would eventually lose his patience with her some day.
Granted, the Capsuleer had been civil and kind to her, but that didn’t make his actions undone. And he had promised to release her after she helped him. His goals were fairly simple. He wanted to get his hands on her drone technology, probably to use it for his dubious purposes. She wasn’t an expert, but as the CEO of VDD, she knew the basics of their latest drone technology.

Komi put a packet of “N. Freshfood Instant-Dokkert” in the small microwave oven and made a decision.
She got her datapad and connected to Firebon for the first time since her stay. The capsuleer answered shortly after in a neutral voice.

“Good morning Komi” - as if he knew she had just gotten up.

Komi inhaled and exhaled: “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Firebon’s synthesized voice through the audio channel sounded relieved, possibly a bit too artificial. He could be at breakfast right now, too, or traveling the system in a battleship, Komi couldn’t have told.

“Finally! Wonderful, I’ll send someone over in thirty minutes. My cyborg will back you up. I’m glad you made that decision. I’ll get back to you later with details.”

Then the call was over, as quickly as it had begun.

Komi groaned. She had lost. But what other choice did she have?

“DING.”

Well, there was still time for a good breakfast before she could start working. Maybe that would give her some other ideas and maybe she could be in a shuttle back home in a couple of weeks?

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