He still wasn’t comfortable in it. The pod fit well enough but the bloody thing handled poorly and moved so slow he felt like he ought to be mining on the way through systems. Mike kicked at the shiny new dash and triple checked the drone bay. Drone warehouse was more like it. Almost 30 beauties shone in the service lights bright glare. Not a one dented or burnt, yet.
He was new to the system and the agent for the corp he favored gave him a bloody easy hauling contract to start out with. That had taken too much time and payed poorly, Mike complained. The next one up had some meat to it and he wound up facing off against a few other battleships. It went poorly, for them. He brought home the intercepted viral package and probably saved some planets population that he would never meet and they would never know how close they came to disaster. Another day at the office.
The next mission “Should be easy” said the agent and damn if Mike didn’t fall for it. A simple escort, they said. Just go out and meet the convoy and bring it home, they said. Easy million ISK . . .
“When am I gonna learn?”
That was then this was now with alarms ringing and him grabbing onto the hand-holds as his . . . but that is getting ahead of the story.
The trip to the next system, uneventful. He triggered up the active defenses and set an intercept course for the friendly convoy. Coming out of warp brought that sinking feeling he knew too well. The convoy was NOT there . . . the wreckage of it was. He double scanned the area but nothing showed. He kicked the slug into ahead full and watched the scanner. Sometimes the attackers hope for an extra kill and hang about waiting for the rescue ships arrive.
He was already locking on before the automated systems started reacting to the sudden appearance of the drones. “Rogues, damn, I hate these things.” He glanced lovingly back at the monitor showing his own drone bay and whispered, “Not you babies, you I love, you won’t go rogue on me will ya?” A tap of a key cycled up the ogres and he sent them out after the closest rogue. A second glance made him curse and bring them back in. Damn that hurt . . . “Missile rogues? Where in Hels name are they getting missiles?”
OK, only four of them, four he could handle. He gritted his teeth and watched the shields buckle as he ground one after another into so much space junk. The third popped and he growled . . “Just one more and then it is . . what the . . . oh no.”
Bait, and he fell for it. All the rest now lit up and he was surrounded by rogues. In this boat there was no running for the outside and he hovered his finger over the warp button before switching and relaunching smaller faster drones of his own. They started chewing through the enemy as he did his best to keep the ship together and keep the attention of other drones. Boom, booom, boooom. His small dornes were making short work of the rogues, but there were so damn many. He watched his own armor vanishing even with the best efforts of repair units crawling all over it. If he could get to that tipping point where the repairs outpaced the damage . . .
The hull shook and inner structure seemed to scream. “That’s it . . . come home babies.” He tapped the return call for his drones as the damage started to sheer through hull. As soon as the last one was inside he stroked the warp key and grinned, a grin which faded as the warp did not kick in. “What the?” The second layer to the trap became very clear. In the huge mix of rogues out there was a warp scrambler, maybe more than one. I didn’t matter. he was well and truly . . . “Dammit Domi” he grabbed the hand-holds and the pod shot free as the last of the hull buckled and he floated free of the ship. Sadly he looked back at the wreckage of a battleship that had been his, once and all the rogues moving in to ‘feed’ and set the course back to a home system.
As the stars seemed to stretch out he looked back one last time and whispered. “damnit domi . . . ”
Lesson. Missions, don’t get cocky, don’t get trapped.
Assume, when you hit L4’s that there will be webbing and scrambling and all sorts of bad things happen to you. Even carebears who mission need to know a bit about ewar and all the implications. Don’t get to focussed on the one ship you are fighting so much that you are not aware of what the rest are doing.
Oh and never, ever, fly something you cannot afford to lose. That one hurt, not for the cost of the ship but for the fittings and all my lovely babies.
A memorial service will be held, all donations to the Lost Drones Home may be made to Mike Azariah, ingame