Why you do it?
Because I can.
That would have been her reply if anyone bothered to ask her why she was a pirate. However, she didn’t define herself a pirate, more like a free agent. Yes, a completely free agent.
She pillaged mainly on the Amarrian convoys but it wasn’t due to ideology or a personal feud, it was just because those golden ships simply called for her to loot them up. If that greenish gallentean ones appealed her more, she would have pillaged them too. In fact, she sometimes did.
Truth to be told, she pillaged on anything that sparked her interest, regardless of faction or allegiance.
She focused on the overlay, giving her a tactical sight of her ship hurtling down the warp tunnel, while she checked the last details. Her body rested in the depths of the Vagabond-class Heavy Assault Cruiser, inside a pod directly connecting her to the ship, making her part of it at a deep level. The warp left her in the shadow of a station, silently sitting in space and gargantuan compared to her ship. She ignored the hails she received from it and sat in silent wait.
People called her a pirate, but she didn’t feel she fit in in those more organized groups residing in the furthest corners of New Eden. She considered them no different from the four great Empires, just on a smaller size. She wanted to be free and those organizations were not what she defined as freedom.
There it was: the Impel-class transport was slowly accelerating away from the station, having just undocked and cleared the station’s access tunnel. The sun’s light shined on the golden accents of the bulky ship. Right on time, she thought, as she sent her heavy assault cruiser moving from her shadowed position on the opposite side of the station. The prey had entered the field, it was time for the predator to do the same.
She had tried, it couldn’t be said she hadn’t. She had enlisted in the military, she had slugged for three years in the mud of useless and backwater planets as they fought against the Amarr, and for what? For nothing. She got discharged, too hot tempered and bad at following the orders, the discharge letter said or something on that line…
In her field of view, the overviews gave her plenty of info on the transport but, truth to be told, she didn’t really care about the cargo it was carrying: she only cared about the kill. She ordered her computer to lock on the lumbering ship and by the time the lock beeped complete, she saw the tell tale shimmering of armor hardeners appear on the transport’s hull. Someone wasn’t as stupid as she expected. Not bad.
She hadn’t known where to go there and then. She had no qualification, no family and she had left military on unfriendly terms. That’s when the Angels approached her. Quietly but clear: they might be able to help her. Give her… another chance. But it had a price, of course. With nothing to lose, she took it.
She was quick: as soon as she got in range, her electronic warfare systems locked on the fleeting transport and activated. Warp wasn’t an option anymore for them. As soon as she had it pinned down and she was in range, her guns started spitting fire.
Accommodating people had been around since the dawn of times and the Minmatar Republic wasn’t an exception. They had her go under the scalpel and when she woke up her head hurt like hell, in fact all her body did, but she was on track for more: her spine was ridged with plugs, the plugs for a capsule. They brought her to a station in Curse and, before she even had the time to get used to it all, she was thrown into the viscous liquid filling of a capsule.
Her super heated shells started nipping the shield, steadily lowering its strength before starting on the armor. The transport’s engines nozzles lighted up as the pilot activated whatever propulsion module they had to try pull distance on her.
Confusing would be an understatement. She suddenly had a greater power than she ever believed she would hold. She was a ship. She was greater than a meat human could ever hope to be. She saw space from a different point of view: not from the mortal eyes of the human body but through a ship’s sensor suites. And she couldn’t die. She had become… immortal.
She kept her cruiser orbiting around her prey, her propulsion module keeping up with the transport as she forcefully pushed through that stubborn armor. It was a harder prey than expected, but she wasn’t deterred, not at all. Her eyes were drawn to her scanners, highlighting new ships landing on the field, mainly cruisers and frigates. Coincidence? She didn’t believe so.
They had made immortal, but she had to obey their orders as well. She had chosen that path when she agreed with them. Short was the time to get used to her new perception, to her new view of New Eden, going well past her mortal remains, and soon enough she was enlisted to help in many of the Cartel’s project. She run courier as well as shooting capsuleers and other factions alike. She died, only to wake up again. And again. And again. The first time her body would have thrown out more than it could, her mind in disarray after the excruciating pain of the destruction only to wake up again, with the pain of resurrection. Ah… pain, a constant of life.
As her shells were nipping at the armor of the transport, things heated up: the alarms in her mind blared as the new group that had been speeding up toward her and the transport started locking on her. The transport had friends. She quickly sent all her guns in overheat: she wouldn’t let them save it.
With the pain, a constant each time she died only to resurrect soon after, it came a new understanding. It came the understanding she had reached a position of privilege. A position where she wasn’t to be hold back by mortal chains. She was akin to the gods of old. Then, if so was the case, why had she to be limited by the Cartel’s rules and limitations? By the Four Empires’ ones?
The frigates pulled ahead of their bigger, slower companions and she felt the locking alarms turning into the electronic warfare modules alarm: the smaller ships were trying, and succeeding, in tackling her and making a quick escape impossible. They were there for the kill, not just to scare her off. She could respect that. Her shields started to drop but the armor of the transport was dropping as well, falling past the 50% mark. She chose to stay.
She started looking for something else. She had repaid her debt: she had died countless times and she had done what they wanted and ordered, it was time for her to crave her own path. She gathered her meagre belongings and jumped ship. She headed toward the unknown, away from the Angel Cartel. But she wasn’t worried, she was a goddess now, she would find the way.
Her lips pulled into a feral smile, a smile invisible to anyone but her mind sight, just as her shields started to fail together with her prey’s armor. It was going to be a close call, oh so close. Her ship was fast, orbiting and trying to make it difficult for the enemies to apply damage. However, they were leveraging their greater numbers and their greater electronic warfare capabilities to try kill her before she could kill their friend.
And the way presented itself in the shape of the free agent, of the pirate, of the pilot free by any chain or rule, doing only her will and biddings and nobody’s else. She took on jobs for other pilots as well as corporations but only if it suited her at that point of time and space. She started pillaging the space lanes, revelling in the thrill of the hunt and of the kill. In the adrenaline of the modules burning as a kill was rushed to the end. In the pain of destruction and following revival. In being… a goddess.
She gritted her teeth as her speed got diminished enough to make her an easier target for those cruisers and battlecruisers. They defanged her of the drones and her modules started to get dangerously close to burnout but she wasn’t going to flee. Oh no.
She made herself a name, probably a small one, but she liked that criminal tag nonetheless. She liked how some people tried to hunt her down only to find empty space dust as she had already sped away to other systems and kills. A road that had lead her there and then, tackling that transport and fighting against its defenders.
Her armor was nearly gone but she wasn’t worried. She found the cacophony of alarms had a certain beauty to hit. Shields and armor depleting and failing. Modules burning. Electronic warfare wreaking havoc with her systems. The transport was nearly done, she saw his structure starting to melt, the atmosphere and cargo spilling into space as she rammed it. Dead on. She was going to die but it was coming down with her.
In those moments, she reached another level, past the physical chains, her mind was focused on that single point of time, on that single shell hitting, piercing metal and flesh alike.
And then… painful, burning and glaring light engulfed her before an utterly devoided darkness shrouded her and she was no more.
She gasped, her lungs filling with viscous liquid. She squirmed as those last moments flashed in her mind and the pain cursed in her veins like liquid fire, her limbs twitching.
The pod opened and she landed on the hard, unforgiving grate below. She retched the viscous fluid as her brain tried to get a grasp on the new reality: a moment before she was a ship, firing away and taking fire, feeling the systems burning up and the hull rupturing as if they were her body and brain… A moment later, she was flesh, full of pain, but only flesh. And alive. Again.
Retching shook her body, some things never really changed. She spat the bile, trying to clear her mouth from its taste and pod liquid. Only then, she opened her eyes and her implants came alive, notifying her of the kill added to her roll.
The transport had died split seconds before she did. Success.
Her lips turned into a savage grin: she had done it again and they hadn’t been able to stop her.
Such a priceless feeling.
This is an entry for YC124 New Eden Capsuleer’s Writing Contest, submitted in the prose category.