It was the year YC 11X, and the sloppiest independent exterminator in the Kalevalla Expanse was on night duty.
The Thanatos fell out of warp 100 kilometers away from the asteroid formation that the Guristas were using as a haven with a thump. He knew what it felt like when a battleship landed next to him, a jarring pressure change and another sensation, but was cradled in his little egg with the yolk to protect him. He wondered what it felt like to all these nice Caldari Navy Deserters who were about to die.
The Gallante Carrier quickly shifted sublight drives up and turning hard to port, and he could swear he saw rocks and trash floating outside the crude colony bobbing from his splashdown. Probably just too much Exile at the club baseling it at the Krabstar, he thought. His camera drone reached it’s vantage point between Barbatos, the carrier, and the nest of rats.
Rats. He wondered when he’d started hating that term.
When he’d first left the federation to hunt space pirates, it was different. He’d pursued the hardest marks he could hear of, the challenges and rewards growing with every kill. 100 meters from his foes slinging anti-matter, both jockeying for the vector that would end the dance, the thrill of combat had just seemed so… right? Pure? His notoriety grew, and he found himself being the target instead, which only served to entrench his sense of vindication. This, though? This was… slaughter. A voice in his head said war crime.
The Firbolgs poured out of the fighter bay on the Thanatos in a single formation towards the colony, 27 little green muscle cars jockeying for lead. They were hungry like he used to be. Unlike him, most of them wouldn’t live to outgrow that feeling.
90, 80, the murderball tumbled towards Sodom with no movement from the defenders.
70, 60, he cracked his knuckles inside the pod and raised his hands, somewhere between orchestral director and loose guard. His left hand moved and a song started playing, the gesture and the tension triggering the macro, just tools to direct his thoughts down the wire.
50, 40, he checked his broadcast levels to his pilots. Their vitals, their visuals, his orders, his set, the control loop felt right just as the first salvos of missiles flew from around the rocks. Right on time.
30, and he ordered the the three squads to separate, a thought of a spin given to each on their approach and the synth line began. One squad up, and one squad down, the third veered right hugging the curve of the fortification.
The bulk of missiles hit the edge of their flight range where the murder ball had been and detonated, with a few overachievers attempting to pursue for another kilometer or two before exhausting and blowing harmlessly, percussion cues as the instrumental swells.
The Capsuleer is glad they decided to play along instead of sleeping through the performance.


The Federation supplied pilots for training hours, to help clear Guristas outposts outside of their reach, and to keep an eye on both Pandemic and the Commander, or is that the Exile talking?
The First Squadron consisted of his Ace Pilot candidates. They were all prima donnas, over-achievers, narcissists, top of their class at Academy on their planet, each a genius in their own right. Once the initial threads of the order had been woven, they’d take point over cleanup and save the Commander’s mental bandwidth.
Each Firbolg had two pilots in separate cockpits aligned along the spine and front of the ship. Both pilots had full control of the vessel in theory, but in practice a division of coms, navigation, power management, shield management, gunnery and more became the most efficient choice. The two pilots in the lead unit of the first squadron were the Commander’s pet projects. Both were 80% able to pilot the Firbolg alone, and this infuriated them. They didn’t need a partner, the worst performers in all three squads would get taken apart by either one of them solo. They were also incredibly inconsistent performers, and somehow managed to stay on an opposite schedule. They constantly bickered, fought, and spent hundreds of hours in the simulator fighting and cursing. The Commander had quickly reassigned them to the same fighter once he saw their dynamic begin to play out between deployments.
The Forward Pilot was the one with the juice today, handling both navigation and gunnery, with the Rear Pilot handling all other functions. The Commander’s thread curved along the asteroids out of sight, while his live composition acted as tempo control for the roller coaster.
The Buildup was ending, he could tell it was almost time to start shooting…

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