The Big Leagues

The pair of Machariel orbited my Abaddon gracefully, raining volley after volley of white hot laser energy onto my armor. My shields had failed some time ago. Meanwhile my bank of mega pulse lasers were having a difficult time breaching its shields. 30 kilometers away another pair of Machariel sent swarms of kinetic missiles crashing into my hull.

“Aura how are we holding up,” I asked, focusing my attention on my swarm of light drones, and commanding them to finish off the last of the nimble frigates that held my massive battleship in a stasis field.

“Armor is falling slowly,” came the reply, “but the capacitor is failing, we have about 5 minutes.”

Damn, it’s sheilds were at 50%. I gave the order to cease fire momentarily and switch the capacitor hungry multifrequency crystals out for standards. The machariel’s shilelds pulsed to 55%, 60%… the few seconds to reload seemed like eons. Then the sky lit up as my 8 pulse lasers began to pummel its shields again. My ship jerked into motion as the frigate exploded, sending shrapnel skittering across the forward bow.

“Recall the drones,” I said, to no one in particular as I mentally gave the command to recall the hobgoblins. They sped back into my open drone bay, and immediatley afterwards a swarm of Hammerheads emerged and swarmed around my target. Its sheilds were at 30% and stable, it was in the sweetspot for shield recharge. I shut down the guns again and switched back to multifrequency. Five minutes, I thought, let’s make them count.

The combined effort of my bank of pulse lasers and the medium scout drones began eating away at the machariel’s shields, and at 15% its shields began to fall rapidly. Without the considerable protection of its shield systems my lasers quickly tore through its armor and hull, the explosion sending chunks of hull crashing into my already worn armor plating. With one of the four out of the fight I checked my armor, 40%.

“Aura give me an update on the armor and cap.” I commanded the Abaddon to approach the other Machariel, and it responded as nimbly as an elephant, with no legs, that is also dead. “Christ this thing is slow!”

“Capacitor is at 2 minutes, armor is stable and rising.”

I smiled, “switch to standard crystals, we have all day,” and sat back in my pod.

“With the munition change capacitor is stable at 50%.”

“Thank you Aura,” I replied, though I already knew the information.

Twenty minutes later I was storming down a corridor in the Carthum Conglomerate Warehouse where I had been stationed. Entering the lobby of suite 3287 I stormed toward the back office.

“Hello, can I help you? – I’m sorry but he’s asked not to be dist-”

I stormed into the office.

“Recon mission my ass! You had better start talking now before I shove the smoking hull of my battleship up your-”

My agent had leaned forward, offering me a data sheet. “I assume those numbers are to your liking?” He sat back in his chair.

I perused the sheet, listing my pay and the bounties he had negotiated for me for the machariel.

“It’s all been deposited in your account, I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yes, tomorrow,” I replied, trying to remain angry and upright. I headed back to the hangar.

The deck crew was busy reparing the damage to my ship. “Listen up,” I shouted over the buzzing of repair drones, “I want another large rep fitted and I want it cap stable.”

“Cap stable?” it was the lead tech, buzzing over toward me on a hover crane, “We can fit another rep, but you can’t be serious about the cap. That’d be insane, if it’s even possible. Do you have any idea how much that’ll cost?”

I looked down at the data sheet, still cluched in my left hand.

“Money won’t be a problem, make it happen. I need to go talk to my insurance agents.”

A real job…

After returning to the sky several weeks ago I had spent a lot of time considering my place in New Eden. I was free, I suppose, something my new Gallente employers seemed to think was the best thing in the universe, but I had to disagree. In the military I was certainly not free, but I never really had a problem with that. Actually it was quite comforting.

Freedom at this juncture meant that I could come and go as I pleased, which was welcome given my somewhat shaky state. It also meant that whatever I decided to do, the responsibility, and ultimately the bill, was on me. So it was not without some hesitation that I undocked from the Oursulaert federal navy testing facilities in a shiny new fitted and rigged Harbinger and set a course back to the corporate hanger in Charmerout.

Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose. That was the advice I’d received in my welcome pamphlet when my planetary shuttle dropped me off at the station, and a thousand times since. That was stupid advice. Don’t pay for what you can’t afford to lose. That was better, get someone else to foot the bill then fly reckless. Wars are won and lost on that very principle.

In this particular case it wasn’t quite that bad. I could technically afford to lose and replace my new battlecruiser several times, though I really didn’t want to have to do that. But the state of the federation, at least of my neck of the woods, was somewhat dire and my trusted Maller could no longer handle the sorts of situations my employers were putting me in. It was time for a change.

I docked at the corporate hangar and felt my pod jolt as the hull of the massive battlecruiser opened and the robotic deck crane extracted my pod from within the its thick armored heart.

“What the hell is that?” It was one of my corp mates, a young minmatar. She was staring up at the Harbinger.

“It’s a brick. A brick with guns on it. We’ll see how it flies tomorrow,” and I headed back to my quarters to relax – and notify my insurance agent – before the next job came in.