1600: Cadet 2nd Class Morgan Agrivar (Docking Bay 772 with Lt. Radeller)
I stared at that line for what seemed to be hours. I was about to embark on my first mission in a capsuleer pod within a Reaper, the whole reason why I endured the painful surgery that allowed me to be immortal. I have flown many simulation flights up to this point but this was the real thing. I was actually going to enter a pod and connect to it in more ways than one. I was about to become one with a real Minmatar space vessel. Granted, it was only a Reaper, but to me it was the most beautiful ship I have ever seen up close. The one my brother owned was so heavily modified that it actually did not resemble the brand new Reapers that sat all lined up in rows past the windows to my left. I couldn’t wait to actually fly one.
As a capsuleer, death would be nothing but an annoyance, a minor distraction and a miniscule financial setback to those who are well established. I was not established though, being in my third year at the Republic Military School located at Evettullur VI. The surgery was mandatory for completing the school but seeing if the surgery worked was left up to the cadets themselves. Some chose to be euthanized in order to see if they were immortal. It didn’t work for some of them. At this point, we had lost two cadets whose surgery did not take. Most decided to leave it up to chance and see if real death would come for them or if they were immortal like the Gods the Amarr seem to worship so reverently. I had also decided against the euthanization that would determine if the implants and technology worked. I was hoping that it would work but the basic fear of death kept me from actually asking to be killed in order to determine if the surgery was successful.
I glanced down at my burgundy-colored military uniform, with the silver Cadet Second Class pin sitting on my left lapel, just below my cropped blonde hair. I sighed inwardly, missing the long luxurious mane of golden blonde hair I had when I got to this school. I was allowed to keep it for the first year of school but I decided that keeping it shorter would be helpful in some of my self-defense classes where some students used my hair against me in combat.
“Cutting it close, aren’t you Agrivar?” I heard a feminine voice behind me. Turning my gaze from the Reapers, I looked to my right to see one of my classmates, Cadet 2nd Class Regina Harper. My eyes narrowed at her with a withering glare. I hated this woman with a passion. If I was able to strangle her to death and not get in trouble, I would not hesitate one second. She walked up to the board and looked at the screen that I was looking at, then turned a sinister grin towards me.
"What are you talking about? I still have…" I started to say as I waved my hand towards the clock on the wall when I noticed the time.
It took a couple of seconds for my brain to compute the fact that I had eight minutes to get to the docking bay, which was a fifteen minute walk from my current location. Throwing her a glare, I took off running towards my destination, her laughter filling the hall behind me.
As I was running through the large halls, dodging people and equipment along the way, I started to get nervous. How long was I standing there, lost within my own mind and dreams? How did that much time pass without me realizing it? What is that doing there? I managed to jump over a box that was sitting in the middle of the hall, apparently being moved by a crane operator who was standing next to the machine. He looked startled as I apologized for my action while still running down the hall. I turned the corner to my destination, Docking Bay 772. I glanced up at the clock on the wall.
15:58. Nailed it , I thought while giving myself a mental congratulations.
As I came up to Docking Bay 772, I could see a slim man in the Republic Military uniform standing there impatiently, glaring at me as I came to a stop in front of him. I straightened myself and ran my hands down my uniform to quickly straighten it before coming to a stop in front of him. I took my right arm and gave a salute to the lieutenant.
"Cadet Second Class Morgan Agrivar, reporting as ordered sir!" I barked out, winded from my run through the halls. He gave me a very disapproving look as he crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at me for a few moments before speaking.
"I expected more out of one of the top students in their third year of school, Cadet." The lieutenant said, narrowing his eyes at me. "What is your reason for this unexcused tardiness?" He raised an eyebrow as I took a deep breath to get my breathing and nervousness under control.
"I was over by Processing area looking at the new Reapers, sir. I honestly lost track of time." I replied, keeping my chin up and keeping his disapproving gaze locked with mine. I deserved it, knowing that I should have been here fifteen minutes early for training mission briefs. I knew I was going to be written up for this and a part of me was expecting him to cancel this training due to my negligence. He turned and started heading for a doorway.
"Follow, we need to start the training mission immediately." The doors opened as we started down the hall. I barely was able to contain my excitement as we passed by several doors on each side until we reached the end of the hallway, with a large window showing more Reapers sitting there, shining brightly with the lights positioned around them.
“Enter that door, remove your clothes and sit in the pod. Only activate it on my command, understood?” Lt. Radeller said, pointing to the door on the left. I nodded as I turned and entered the room when the door opened for me. I took a couple of steps into the room, only to notice that it was not a room but an open area in the docking bay. There was a short bench to the left against the wall and a staircase that went to my right and down towards a capsuleer pod. I smiled broadly, realizing that my dreams was about to come true. I started walking towards the pod when the lieutenant’s words in my head brought me back to reality.
I had to get completely undressed.
My smile faded as I looked around, seeing that there was no changing room, or any privacy for that matter. It seemed to be expected that I should just completely undress right here, leave my clothes on this bench and walk down those stairs and into that pod.
“How do capsuleers do this and not be bothered by it?” I mumbled to myself, my left arm instinctively covering my ample chest. “I don’t think I will ever get used to this part…but I have to.” I sighed heavily as I started to remove the uniform, occasionally glancing around to hopefully see no one watching. With my uniform and accessories sitting on the bench after a couple of minutes, I started going down the cold stairs and approached the pod. I ran my hand slowly over the outside of the capsuleer pod, admiring this marvel of technology and ingenuity that changed everything for all of mankind. I cocked my head as I continued to run my hand along the sides as I moved towards the open entrance to the pod. With a girlish giggle, I stepped inside.
I turned and sat down in the capsuleer pod, grimacing when my bare bottom sat down on the cold steel chair. I frowned, realizing that this chair is very uncomfortable. I lifted my bare feet from the floor, realizing that it was also cold to the touch. They could at least have warmed this a bit beforehand , I thought to myself as I tried to get comfortable in the metal chair.
“Cadet Agrivar, prepare for departure. Activate your pod by pressing the red button to your left.” The lieutenant’s voice said on the loudspeaker above me. I looked around for a moment out of the pod at the immense area around me. I felt exposed, sitting here naked out in front of everything, but I knew that this is how capsuleers flew in their pods and ships. I needed to get used to it since I am one of them now. Frowning, I reached over and pressed a large red button to my left. Immediately, alarms started to go off as I saw the lid of the pod start to come down.
"Lean back onto the chair and relax." I heard the lieutenant say on the overhead speaker. I looked over my shoulder at the back of the chair, which had two plates going from a high point in the pod down to the seat but with a strip of metal missing in the middle of the back. I knew that the ports along my spine needed to be sitting in that open area for the pod controls to connect to my nervous system. I leaned back and placed myself where I needed to be positioned.
I gasped in shock as the first connection attached to the base of my neck. A surge of energy ran through my body, causing it to stiffen. I couldn’t breathe as I felt more hoses and connections attach to every available spot along my spine. My mind started to race as the pod completely closed and hissed as the seals activated. As my body started to relax, I felt something warm start to flow around me. I opened my eyes to see the pod start to flood with the liquid that capsuleers called ‘space goo’. I knew this was part of the process and that one of the tubes would provide life support for my body and take over providing oxygen while inside the goo-filled pod. After a few moments, I could feel myself completely submerged in it.
I should have felt panic and despair in being completely submerged in this liquid…but I was not. It was serene, calm and peaceful. I am not sure but I think I was smiling as a voice came inside my head.
"Cadet Agrivar, activate pod propulsion and maneuver to Reaper 8483E. Await instructions after arrival." I noticed that his voice sounded a bit softer than it was earlier while being scolded. Concentrating in my head, I could feel the pod shudder and start to move as the HUD came up in my head . I knew my eyes were closed but I could see outside the pod as it started to move away from its docking area and out into the immense docking area. Running a quick security scan, I was able to locate Reaper 8483E and start the ascent towards the ship, which was about 2100 meters above me and slightly to the left. I turned my head to see a second pod moving towards another Reaper below me and more towards the right. I was pretty sure that was Lt. Radeller. After a minute or two, my pod came to rest in front of Reaper 8483E.
“Cadet Agrivar in position, sir.” I ‘spoke’ in my head over comms. It felt weird to talk to someone through my thoughts but that is how this wonderful technology worked.
"Acknowledged, Cadet." Lt. Radeller responded in turn. "Enter activation code number 2333482 into your security logs to have the pod enter the Reaper." I watched his pod turn around and start to back up towards the Reaper as three panels opened up at the top of the Reaper to allow the pod to enter. I watched it disappear into the ship and the panels close behind him. In my mind, I then accessed the security log and entered in the access number. My pod turned around as a hatch opened up from the Reaper in front of me. After a few moments, I could feel the pod shudder as the docking clamps locked me into this beautiful Corvette class ship.
"Activate your ship and follow me to docking ring at five percent velocity." The lieutenant said as his engines started to whine and the ship started to pull forward from the docking clamps. I nodded inside the goo-filled pod and mentally commanded my ship to release the docking clamps and engage the propulsion system, propelling my ship forward at three percent velocity while my superior officer passed by below me. I pushed the propulsion system to five percent and began a slow descent towards his ship to fall into formation to the right of his position. I made sure to keep close to him but just far enough away to not run into him if he decided to make a sudden stop or turn.
"You are doing fine, Cadet." He said to me. "Increase propulsion to ten percent and maintain formation. We are almost at the exit." My heart skipped a beat when I realized that very, very soon I will be flying out in space. I could barely contain my excitement at the fact that in a few moments, I will be flying a space ship solo as an actual capsuleer.
"Increasing propulsion to ten percent." I replied, looking at my heads up display in my head.
"Check and activate weapons and defense systems." He commanded, turning his Reaper slightly to the left towards a massively large door. I quickly looked over the status of my two civilian auto cannons and ensuring that my defensive shields were ready if they were needed. After ensuring that my damage control module was online, I sent a message to him informing him that my ship was ready.
"All systems online and ready, sir." I said, also turning my ship towards the massive door that opened up to the infinite space beyond.
"Control, this is Reaper 4492B, requesting departure on training mission with Reaper 8483E. Authorization code XM33908." The lieutenant announced over comms. "Please acknowledge." I held my breath for no reason except the nervousness entering my stomach as I awaited permission to actually take this Reaper out into space.
"Acknowledged, Reaper 4492B. You have permission to depart." Control tower responded with a feminine voice, somewhat pleasant compared to all the males she had to deal with in simulation missions directing her. "Door is opening. Good luck, Cadet." I smiled at the last part of the transmission.
“Thank you, Control.” I responded back. “Reaper 8483E departing on training mission.” The massive doors started to open, revealing the beautiful blackness of space, littered with pinpoints of light from distant stars and nebulas. We increased our propulsion to fifty percent as we passed through the doors out into space. He began to climb a bit so I increased the rate of climb to match him. He turned his ship about sixty degrees to his left and leveled off as I executed the same maneuver.
“Prepare to warp, Cadet. Course has already been laid into your computer.” The lieutenant said as I could see his engines start to spool up for warp. “Wait ten seconds after I warp and then initialize warp to pre-determined location.”
“Understood, sir.” I said, watching his engines light up in front of me and then half a second later he was gone, engulfed by the warp bubble. I looked around for the few seconds, enjoying the view before I commanded my warp engines to engage.
I was not ready for it. The view and the lack of feeling the force of the warp surprised me. It was absolutely beautiful flying through the warp bubble towards my destination. After several moments, I could see the end of the warp bubble as I came out of warp and landed at the destination, coming to a slow stop.
“CADET, GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!” The lieutenant’s voice screamed into my head, startling me. I sat there for a moment in confusion as I started to look around. I saw the lieutenant’s Reaper to my left and slightly ahead of me being fired upon by two Slashers that I did not recognize. I could see three more ahead of both of us, coming in fast. At that point, I realized something was wrong.
“Control, this is Reaper 8483E, we are under attack.” I said, while engaging my propulsion system to its limit. I turned my ship towards the lieutenant’s ship as he started to fire volleys of auto cannon fire at one of the Slashers. “I repeat, 4492B and I are under attack!”
“Angel Cartel pirates are here, Control. My defenses are being overwhelmed.” The lieutenant added, turning his ship away from the pirates and engaging his afterburners on the Reaper. “Cadet, you are ordered to disengage and return to the station immediately.” I could see one of the Slashers activate their warp disruption beam upon the lieutenant as he tried to pull away. I turned my Reaper in the same direction as I started to hear alarms going off. At that point, I realized that the other three ships were trying to target my Reaper.
“WARNING! WARNING! WARP DISRUPTION DETECTED!” My ship’s computer warned as I tried to activate my warp drive but the beam was disrupting the spooling process to launch myself out of danger.
“Sir, I am caught in the warp disruption!” I said, trying to keep my composure. It quickly became apparent that I might learn real soon if the surgery and implantations actually worked. After a moment, I realized that if I was going to lose the ship and find out if I was truly immortal, I was going to take some of these damn pirates with me. “Screw this, I am engaging. Reaper 8483E is engaging hostile targets!”
“Understood, 8483E engaging hostiles.” Control responded back to us. “You have permission to fire upon hostiles and defensive ships are being launched and directed to your location.”
I turned the Reaper around a full 180 degrees and activated my afterburners, aiming my Reaper towards the three pirate ships. Calming my ‘breathing’ down, I began to approach them with the corkscrew method so the enemy ships could not get a straight, clean shot on me. I could see auto cannon fire flying at and around me as I got closer to them. Activating my targeting computers, I then quickly locked up the three pirate ships flying towards me.
I then banked hard to the right, putting distance between myself and the farthest pirate to my left and a bit of breathing room from the middle one. I concentrated on the one to my right and came in fast. I disengaged my afterburner when I was about twelve kilometers from him. I continued to make my right turn and as I saw that when he came within nine kilometers, I activated my civilian webifier, which slowed the pirate ship down quite a bit. The pirate seemed to notice that he was slowing down so he started to bank to the right himself, away from me.
That is what I wanted the bastard to do. As he presented a larger target for my auto cannons, I started to unload my ammo at his ship in rapid succession. The ship shuddered as each volley left my guns and hurled through space. For a split second, I realized that I am now engaging in space combat with a smile on my actual face. The thrill of this surged through my body like nothing else ever has. It was intoxicating, exciting…even seductive. I was surprised that I was getting somewhat aroused while fighting for my life out here in a dead space pocket. I decided not to worry about why it was happening, except for the fact that the lieutenant and I are trying not to die here. I saw the other two pirate ships that I had locked up turn to their right also. It only took a moment to realize that they were heading over to the other two that the lieutenant was fighting to help them.
“Sir, two of them are disengaging me and heading to you!” I warned, keeping my left turn and moved myself to get a better angle on the Slasher that I was engaging. As my angle of attack improved and the webifier doing its job, I watched the shields of the pirate drop rapidly. I turned the ship slightly to the right and down a bit as his shields disappeared and watched the shots hit his ship hard. I could see his armor drop and some damage bleed into the hull of his ship. I looked over and saw that the shields of the lieutenant’s ship was dangerously low. He needed my help badly.
I was startled when a bright light flashed in front of me. It took a second for me to realize that the pirate I was fighting was scattered all over the area as his ship detonated. Seeing that the lieutenant has just lost shields and was dropping into his armor, I reactivated the afterburners and started in his direction. I noticed that the two other pirates that I had locked up seemed to have ignored me so I moved my ship and angle to a perfect spot while quickly approaching them from behind. When I got within webifier range with the slower one, I disengaged the afterburner and activated the webifier while unloading my ammunition at his backside.
I was shocked to see his shield and armor drop so fast as I got really good hits on his ship. He started to turn to the left and I just slightly matched his turn as his armor disappeared. Watching plasma start to vent from his engines, I made a turn back to the right to engage the other while the last volley of auto cannon fire caused his engines to overload and explode, followed by the rest of the ship.
“Where is our backup, Control?” I heard the lieutenant say over comms. “I have lost shields and about to lose my armor. I don’t even know where my Cadet is.” I could see his badly damaged Reaper trying to maneuver out of the deadly fire that the other two pirates ships were bombarding him with. I knew I had to get in there and help him. Maybe I could distract those two pirates and it would give him enough time to escape.
“This is 8483E, sir.” I replied over comms. “I am twenty five kilometers from your position. I am on my way to engage the two on you. Standby.” I engaged my afterburners and disabled the safety protocol of that module, pushing the velocity of it higher than is safe to operate. Alarms started going off as I maneuvered around the ship that was in front of me. It looked like he was turning around to engage me when I flew past him at a high rate of speed. Within seven seconds, I was on top of the two pirates that had the lieutenant pinned down. He was at half hull strength and I could see plasma ejecting into space from several damaged areas of his Reaper.
“Cadet, get out of he…” Lt. Radeller said before his communications was cut off when a devasting hit tore through his Reaper, causing it to explode. In the flash, I could see the pod eject with a lot of force to clear it from the explosion. Capsuleer pods have no offense or defense, so I knew that he was completely helpless until he could turn the pod and warp off to safety. I quickly locked the two pirates up and threw a webifier on one of them. I actually flew between both of them while passing by, forcing them to turn away from my hurtling Reaper. I banked hard to my right while decreasing speed in order to turn my auto cannons towards one of them, firing at the pirate before I had any sort of decent angle of engagement. I was trying more to distract them from the lieutenant’s pod than actually trying to destroy them.
I looked over to my right to see the pod change direction when a stream of energy came from the pirate I ignored earlier and envelop the pod.
“Damn, warp scram.” I growled as I turned my ship from the two I was engaging to the one that had the lieutenant pinned. I got close to firing my auto cannons on the pirate when I saw several volleys of auto cannon fire tear through the pod that housed the lieutenant. I screamed in anger and horror as the pod exploded in a bright light. Gritting my teeth, I continued to unload heavy auto cannon fire upon the Slasher that killed my commanding officer.
“Control, I have lost 4492B. His ship and pod has been destroyed and I am engaging three pirates…” I said when the pirate ship in front of me exploded. “Correction, two pirates are engaged. I need assistance immediately.” I turned my ship back to the left towards the last two pirates when the alarm started to sound notifying me that I was now warp scrambled and could not warp away to safety. It was at that point that I realized that during the entire combat, I could have warped off to safety several times. I felt a slight jolt as the speed of my ship was reduced significantly by each Slasher employing a webifier onto my Reaper. I growled and turned my guns upon the closest pirate. I was watching his shields and armor start to drop as alarms sounded inside my own head.
“Hang on, Cadet.” Control responded with a deathly calm demeanor. “We have two militia frigates heading to your coordinates. Disengage if possible.”
I was losing shields and armor myself. I turned on all modules that I could upon the pirate I was shooting at, hoping that I could take him out before my hull was breached. I smiled as his ship exploded in a bright flash just as my hull was starting to get damaged. My confidence rose when I realized that I could engage my afterburners and then have a fighting chance of engaging this last pirate. I engaged the afterburner to start putting distance between myself and the pirate.
I looked down in confusion at my HUD when I saw that my afterburner was completely burned out. After a moment or two, I realized that I had forgotten to re-engage the safety for the module overload system and had put my own afterburners out of commission. Now pissed at myself, I engaged the regular engines to start to propel me forward to put some distance between myself and the Slasher.
The ship shook violently and I was pushed heavily into the seat as the pod did its emergency ejection from the Reaper, just a second or two before it exploded. Stunned and disorientated, I looked around to see what had just happened. All I saw was the Slasher sitting there, which turned his attention from the destroyed Reaper to my capsuleer pod. Realizing I was in immediate danger, I turned my pod towards a cluster of asteroids which was the closest waypoint I could mark. Alarms started going off again, notifying me that my pod was webbed and that my warp drive was not available. I sighed, resigning the fact that I had just lost. As I looked over at the Reaper, I could see a pirate Thrasher out a ways beyond the Slasher. Narrowing my vision, I growled at the interloper who ruined my chance of winning this fight.
“Damn artillery Thr…” Was all I could say before the Thrasher unleashed its deadly volley through my pod.