Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dark Fate

Since some of the other EVE bloggers have been dabbling in fiction of late, I figured I'd try my hand. I apologize in advance for the result.

Space, in all its vastness, assaulted Crovan's senses, and the stargate's simulated whine faded away in his mind. He forced his visual senses into focus through the cameras and sensors of his Taranis class interceptor, Dark Fate. The immediate area scanned as clear, but local transponder signals showed about a dozen other capsuleers in system. He shunted his visual inputs aside in favor of the ship's more powerful directional scanning array. While not as detailed as the local sensors, the device could allow him to detect ships at a far greater distance. The sensor sweep initiated, and Crovan's ears were filled with a satisfying ping. Contact. Typhoon class battleship, sensor arc thirty degrees to starboard, directly on system plane.

With a mental flick, Dark Fate accelerated slightly and swung nimbly in the direction of the planetary cluster indicated by the sensor sweep. The warp engine activated, and the tiny ship shot away from the stargate at several times the speed of light. A deafening simulated roar overwhelmed Crovan's auditory receptors, and he silenced it with a thought while recalibrating the sensor array for a wider sweep. The ship decelerated at the seventh planet of this un-named star, and the process began again. Within seconds, Crovan's years of practice paid off, and Dark Fate had a reliable fix on the Typhoon's location within an asteroid belt. A warning sigin appeared in Crovan's mind's eye, informing him that Serpentis pirates were also likely to be active in the asteroid belt where his unsuspecting prey awaited. Ignoring the warning rune, he again willed the warp drive into action, and rocketed toward his target.

This time, as the asteroids changed from blurs to real, solid objects, Crovan dismissed the scanner readouts and reverted to close-range sensors. A smile crossed his face as the sensor readout showed him what he already knew would be there, a Typhoon battleship. The smile disappeared a fraction of a second later, however, as the information continued to filter in. The battleship was over forty kilometers away, and his warp disruption module was only effective to twenty-four kilometers. In the same thought that processed the information, Crovan forced the Taranis' microwarpdrive to live, and set a vector on a near collision course with the kilometer-long Typhoon. The distance closed rapidly as Dark Fate quickly reached a speed in excess of three kilometers per second.

Crovan's brain opened an encrypted subspace radio channel that had lain dormant in the background, until now. Got you! His sensors began locking onto the Typhoon, whose pilot must have known what was happening, but the huge battleship was not nearly agile enough to escape before the interceptor's advanced sensors had a firm lock, and the warp disruption module crippled the massive ship.

Not too close. Despite being unable to run, this was still a battleship, and Crovan was going to have to proceed with extreme caution. No Serpentis scum had shown their face, yet, but it could only be a matter of time until they attempted to deprive him of his catch...and his ship. He calmy transmitted his coordinates over the subspace channel, and with seconds, friendly transponders appeared in system. At the same time, the Typhoon's clumsier sensors finally achieved a lock on Dark Fate. Almost immediately, missile bay doors opened and expelled their payloads into space. Not good. He could still run, but that would mean losing the kill, which was not an option. As the missiles closed on his location, Crovan reactivated his microwarpdrive. Its enormous signature would make him a bigger target for the missiles, but would hopefully also let him outrun them.

The first wave exploded a few kilometers to the aft of the interceptor. The shockwave rocked the small ship slightly, but the deflector shields held firm. The friendly transponders were getting closer, and subspace chatter told him his friends were coming, but it was a long trip for their slower vessels. All the same, he could make it so long as he could outrun--

Blackness. All of the ship's primary systems simultaneously shut down for an infinite millisecond before auxiliary power brought basic functions online. The last pulse from the warp disruptor still held the Typhoon hostage, but it would not las much longer. Frantically, Crovan mentally pounded on the ship's controls to re-establish a lock and reactivate the disruptor. A separate part of his mind read the output of his reactor unit. Dammit! He was running on 5% capacity, which might maintain the disruptor, but that was all. To punctuate his thoughts, a second volley of missiles exploded to the aft of Dark Fate, this time much closer. The deflector shields immediately failed, but it was enough to stay the blow, barely. The Taranis might survive one more volley before becoming another statistic in Crovan's long line of interceptors.

Still, he pressed on. His friends were very close now, and it would me moments before his visual sensors picked them up. In the mean time, he willed his drones, which his subconscious had launched and directed long ago to maintain their target. The ship AI's feminine voice chimed in, "Shield integrity, 0%. Armor integrity, 97%." Thank you, Crovan growled, mentally. "You're welcome, captain." As the drones pounded futily at the huge ship, the third volley of missiles left the bays of the Typhoon. At the same moment, friendly ships began to appear in space mere kilometers away. Crovan winced, despite the fact that he knew the fluid of his capsule would dampen the impact. Dark Fate bucked violently as the warheads impacted directly onto it's aft plating. "Armor integrity, 15%. Advise disengagement." I'm flying here, not you! "I am aware of that, captain."

The Typhoon was as good as dead now, but would he go with it. His fate was out of his hands, as the friendly ships had not locked down the behemoth, and he would let go until they had. A friendly Falcon electronic warfare cruiser decloaked off his port bow. Finally! Still, it would mean one more volley. Dark Fate might prove a prophetic name. Agonizing seconds passed as the Typhoon continued to drain nearly all the capacitor from the interceptor. The pilot of the Falcon reported had achieved lock...I may make it, after all...but had failed to jam the battleship's sensors. Or not. The fourth volley left the bays of the Typhoon, and Crovan willed his Damage Control system into function for a single cycle. Hopefully it would not shut down the warp disruptor. A barely visible forcefield surrounded critical areas of Dark Fate's structure as the missiles sought out their target. The final seconds of the disruptor's cycle ticked away, and the ship AI spoke up again, "Insufficient capacitor." NO!

Just then, an incandescent blue bubble surrounded all of the ships. The friendly interdictor was in position, and the Typhoon was going nowhere. Unfortunately, neither was the Taranis, as the interdiction bubble was incapable of determining friend and foe. Crovan leaned back in his pod fluid, and waited for the jarring separation of capsule and ship. The Typhoon's missiles found their mark, and he felt sections of the ship tearing away as if they were his own flesh. The sound of explosions were muffled by the insulation of the capsule, but were very real, and not simulations for his sensory benefit. The information input from damage reports was blinding. Crovan longed to the release from the deluge of data and the blackness of space.

"Jammed!" came the cry over the radio, followed by "Armor integrity, 0%. Structural integrity...16%. Strongly advise disengagement." Crovan regained his senses and realized that Dark Fate had not been destroyed, and the Typhoon was nearly in its death throes. After the experience of his own ship's near destruction, he almost pitied the target capsuleer...almost

A minute later, and the Typhoon was dust. Dark Fate limped toward the wreck and scooped the pilot's frozen body into his cargo hold. Crovan opened the radio frequency, " much you guys figure I need to bribe the station manager to let me repair this heap of bolts?"

Go go Gadget ego boost!

So, the experts for the Sixth Alliance Tournament have been announced, and I'm one of them! Naturally, this makes me deliriously happy and smugly superior to all of you. That is all.

I keed! We're hoping to do some special stuff in preparation and during the tourney for the pleasure of all EVE fans out there.

Also, new Drone Bay Soon(tm). Current plan has us recording before Christmas...2009.