The Ashimmu lay about 6300 meters off the Pacifiers cloaked hull. It’s beige hull speckled with red ‘blood’ like design that echoed it’s sordid past.
In those of the Empire’s regions where naughty children are frightened into submission with tales of the Blood Raiders and their gallery of horrors, the terrible spear of the Ashimmu is known by all as a bringer of things worse than death.
Although the Zkill Guide to the Ashimmu on the GNet denigrates its abilities to be a good member of a fleet or fight against other pirates, alone and outclassed with an Ashimuu was enough to make any capsuleer soil their hydrostatic pod goo.
Not only could this beast of nightmare ship web you down to standing still, it could suck all of the power from your batteries and warm your ship’s hull hellishly with the gaze of its beams.
Jason Kepler was not new to staring down the gullet of evil, he was new to doing it so alone, so far from home, and with only a thin cloak between him and sudden death.
The Pacifier he flew was not his ship, but on loan from his childhood friend, ‘it’s complicated’, System Baud.
The ship was fit for speed and stealth, and only had enough tank to stand against an alpha attack from gate or roid rats, or inexperienced capsuleers.
Monitoring the local coms channels here in E-EFAM he had discovered that this capsuleer was in fact Arachne Daemon, who was responsible for the death of Systems parents.
Jason had been following her down this dark alley in Cobalt Edge for 3 days now, and was sure she had now noticed his ship’s gate transponder as it appeared repeatedly listing amongst the other capsuleers using the gates.
He realized she had singled him out as she started staying longer and longer before warping off gate as if challenging him to break his gate cloak sooner than later.
He had tried to appear as an explorer; scanning, warping, and lingering in Relic sites, but that façade fell when he had not hacked any of the nodes, and she had noticed this upon closer inspection.
“Pilot,” Aura interrupted his thoughts, “The Ashimmu is moving off and has activated gate protocols for SBEN-Q.”
Jason had wisely warped to 10 km off the gate and had stayed cloaked while the other vessel had orbited the gate, snooping him out unsuccessfully. Now with a flash and a blink the Ashimmu had disappeared into the gate portal.
Jason, engaged the gate protocols as well, dropping his cloak. He did not like speaking with Aura at all and often just did what needed to be done without comment. Her voice was a shallow echo of a real woman and he did not like fantasy women, he like real flesh, warm reality.
“Pilot,” again interrupting his thought, “There are four ships on the directional scan entering the gate grid.”
Aura’s thoughts in his head dimmed as his little ship crossed the gate horizon and fell into the subspace warp field. Blink, flash, and he was light years away now in SBEN-Q.
Four ships entering the gate grid in E-EFAM only meant one thing, Arachne had friends and he was trapped in this dead end system with only one gate out.
“Aura, full Scan, send the result directly to my Neural Hud.”
Information streamed directly into his brain in a matter of seconds he understood the entire circumstances he now was in.
The Ashimmu had taken up, by luck probably, a position directly in between himself and the only gate out of the system. A glazed white static filled bubble, some 30 km in diameter, had swooped online engulfing any warp escape he might enact. Two flashes from the gate indicated two of the four ships had jumped in behind him and were de-cloaking as he thought of what to do next, still secure in his gate cloak from entering the system.
The other two ships were probably in a similar position back in E-EFAM securing any escape if he made it back to the gate and was able to return there intact.
His best option now was to de-cloak and attempt to outrun the Ashimuu to the edge of the warp disruption bubble and warp off the grid.
He willed the ship engines to maximum thrust and then overheated their manifolds getting another 38% thrust. That might give him the slight edge he needed, but would destroy the drive system if left too long unchecked.
The Sunny Hill shimmered and started to move. He engaged the covert ops cloak, but before it fully engaged the sound of a lock perimeter began to chime and then instantly a lock claxon went off in his mind. How had she locked him so fast? With no cloak, he checked the range of the Ashimuu, it was only 8200 meters off his back left quarter.
This was it. The scram strained the ship and he watched his micro warp drive just stall completely, then the ship slowed to almost a crawl as the blue light of web stasisfiers grabbed hold of its fragile hull.
He had no time left, he quickly open a subspace com channel and began, “Aura, send message immediately while I dictate to Tristan Override, sudo auth one nine seven bravo victor nine. Commence.”
White beams glazed across the Pacifier’s hull sparkling the shield. At that same moment the capacitor battery claxon went off as his batteries dipped below the 30% threshold. Then a loud cracking vibration rang out across the ship as a roaring sound engulfed the hull as its atmosphere began to gush out into space.
He quickly looked at the ship reading and saw he had lost all of his minimal shields and hull armour, leaving about 20% of his hull weakened.
This was it, now or never.
“Tristan, are you there? Can you hear me? I have found the Thukker Assassin and the Krusual capsuleer,” another claxon began to scream in his mind.
“I am sending their coordinates now. I don’t think I’m going to make it out of this scrap,” he sent the system coordinates and the complete log of his last three weeks with a single thought and then continued.
“Tell System she is flying an Ashimu and she has also been seen flying in these parts in a Gila with Geckos as well. The Krusual capsuleers name is Arachne Daemon. You’re not going to believe this but…”
Warm while light.
The sweet scent of Vlanian beans.
Thoughts of his childhood raced through his new fresh clone cerebrum.
Then his cerebellum started to fire off electrical impulses.
His arms and legs, he could feel them.
They were stiff, but they moved when he wanted them to.
Instantly, full on, his mind raced with thoughts.
He had been sending a message to sweet Tristan.
Her face hovered in his mind as he thought fondly of her. She was his kid sister, well, adopted kid sister, but some bonds transcended space and time.
“Ah,” he thought, finally piecing it all together, “New clone. Now I need a new ship. I also need to tell System I am sorry I got her half billion isk Pacifier blown up.”
So much to do in this new clone.