YC120 Pod & Planet Fiction Contest - Egger

I wake up.
In my profession it’s hit or miss
the chance to wake up from a blissful dreamless sleep
or from a waking nightmare made real
or as some would call it, a wake up call.

Sleep is not an easy thing for me, wired day and night of any time,
unconducive to mortal timeframes that live in the day or night
and works only to my benefit, and few others besides.
I don’t wake in my bed, it’s too far away from my pod, and too disconnected.

I stretch my arms, unlimbering my glinting gallium guns on the outer hull,
clenching my fists, firing the charred exhaust ports,
and blinking away the unfocused eye lenses as my camera drones come online,
taking in the beautiful rustbucket of a spear that is my ship.

Lee, eccentric Amarrian that he is,
greets me warmly with his reports of successful delves into the abyss,
and plunder aplenty to go around for his merry marauding masochists.
He’s says the abyssal residents are less tough on ramshackle vessels like mine,
with inflated talk about how the underdog profligates
beat everything with their lightweight construction and speed alone.

I still think he mocks me for flying something so ugly and barbaric,
but like the zealot he is, he forgets that he flies alabaster ships adorned with gold
that relies on lasers. What a pretentious way to fly.

But that heavy armor won’t protect him when it slows him down,
make him an easier target, and be dismayed to find
his energy is gone and his weapons useless without it.

Rust is weak, but rust is light.
Guns are weak, but guns are fast.
Trust in the rust.

I feel the solar winds brush past our panels and arrays,
hear the sounds of the universe filtered through radio waves,
and the voices of hundreds of others,
but never overwhelmingly,
not all at once.
They are in the room, and we can speak to them, just as they can speak to us.

But this place Lee dives into, space between spaces, abyssal, and cruel,
they are a far cry from home.
Loud and empty. Crowded and confined.
The middle of the sea with the monsters lurking below.
In a sloop with only a single crewman.
I do not like that place, but it is a necessary evil.

I make my way through life going into it,
scanning and pillaging the abandoned hulks and silos
floating in dense pockets of clutter and rock
in the big empty.
But less abandoned as of late.

I breathed a deep sigh through the circuits and signals to my friends,
a sign they know to be time.
They prime their drives and their weapons,
sitting only a few kilometers away to discourage the curious
and engage the persistent.

The filament burned brightly and I watched in quiet but abundant horror
as my gravity signature spiked and I was pulled under.
I could feel it in my gut and even on my skin under my skin,
even with the dampening gels to keep me unshaken.

I don’t like my destination. But I came here to take, and to leave.
I peer into the darkness while electrical storms roll about my hull,
disguising me and anything else out there from outright detection.
My field of view is limited, the space so confined, my drones have nowhere to go to see.

There! I see the absorbent darkness more alien than the abyss, another intruder like myself.
But this intruder is more prepared than I. It is a Drifter. Cold. Calculating. Silent.
They invaded not just they abyss, but my home as well. No rhyme or reason, and never a word. And with technology more lethal than anything we could hope to make in a year.
It spared me the pleasantries as I felt weak beams of light, lasers, radar, and lidar try to distinguish my shape against the backdrop of the empty. It has locked me.

But this one was damaged, I could see a single overlapping bowed plate covering a breach in its hull, as it bared its armored top to me.
Its outline was sinister, sleek, angular, no engines,
impossible to see with the naked eye, consuming all light it touches, making the only way to see it to look where it is.
But it moved like a ghost, long pylons sparking with life somehow jetting it along, but impossible to hit and disable.

I get under its guns as fast as I can while it is still acquiring me with its weapons, and try to stay in its blind spot where the breach was easiest to hit.
I hit it, and the hull shears in half.
A glass cannon.
I move on.

The locals have found me.
All I can see is their long arms sporting floating orbs, before they too lock onto me
and proceed to turn my shields to static and my thin armor to slag.
They start slow, a methodical cutting beam taking its time to dissect me.
But as I found myself increasingly outnumbered their damage increased exponentially.
Soon I screech and scream in pain as they rend my solar panels from my skin, melting the barrels of my guns and locking me down with energy webs, crackling and spiraling.

They breached my hull.
I am consumed with a searing pain, a bowie knife still fresh from the forge, red and glowing, dug deep into my side, my ribs, aiming from there and up into my heart.

They did not get the satisfaction of killing me. My own pod kills me before I was exposed to the vacuum.

I wake up.
This was a wake up call.

Lee is laughing at my misfortune, another ship lost to the hunt, and another of my own corpses to add to the list.
He forgets how vulnerable he is, like myself. If I fancied, I would destroy him, just once, to claim the satisfaction of victory.
He would grumble later, but he would not strike back in haste.

I stumble away from the clone pod, feeling naked, Bound by flesh alone. Clothed, but naked without my skin.
I will relish the sensation of becoming one with my next ship. The best part of this new and bizarre life of mine.

And this time I will not make the same mistake.
Such is the life of an Egger. Immortal, Unbound, numb to death.
But just as fragile as a faberge egg.

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