Thursday, 20 May 2010

I navigate my little Reaper frigate silently through the void, deliberately skimming the nearby asteroids just to keep my hand in as it were. This little ship I called 'Driftwood', it's hull design was suprisingly fitting for it's title. There was almost no symmetry to it and it barely had the power to run a full compliment of civilian modules, yet something about it's 'back to basics' nature always appealed to me. So occasionally I would find myself hiding in the asteroids, daring someone to test the little clunkers limits.

Almost on schedule a pair of guristas frigates drift into this belt. They tend to hop round and around the system, hoping to snare some fool who either doesn't know how to defend his ship, or worse, doesn't know how to not look for trouble.

Luckily for them they just found some idiot in a Reaper frigate making a direct line for their left flank, spitting civilian gatling gun rounds that won't have a chance of scratching their shields until I'm close enough to swap insurance details like in the holovids.

They accelerate and the one frigate drifts off as the other leads me deeper into the asteroids. It's a classic buddy system. I chase like an idiot, trying to down the one frigate, a Merlin class (really nice ship) as it dodges and weaves through the asteroids with some skill. It's 'buddy' meanwhile is locking assorted missile goodies on my glowing exhaust.

I get in close behind the merlin, it's downward swept wings are almost totally obscured by its proportionally huge thrusters as it twists and rolls, trying it's best to confuse my tracking computer, I pepper it with my weak guns, being far t0o persistent on his tail, it's the only way my pathetic weapons will eat away his defences.

A subtle jerk runs through my bones as my ships intertial dampeners shield me from feeling the force of a missile right up my rear, the buddy flying a Kestrel class missile boat launches missile after missile even as my target spits back at me with hybrid blasters.

I corkscrew a little, more to avoid direct hits that to avoid them outright, I'm pretty good with energy shield theory, almost a master so I know I can keep them both out of my hull as long as I'm not an easy target. My gunnery skills are good but not great and so I take on a grim silence as I will my guns to fire more and more paltry rounds into the merlin, dissolving it's shields like rain weathering a rock.

The Kestrel is barely even moving now, hanging just outside the asteroids and letting its missile guidance systems do all the dodging and weaving, and they are suprisingly good. But it's not enough, the Merlin is starting to feel the rounds chewing it's hide, it's beautifully fabricated engines start to warp as I pummel the armour like dough being hit my a hammer.

Eventually one engine just can't take the stress and blows, throwing a spiral plume of plasma into space as the Merlin careers out of control, I think every asteroid is going to be the pilots grave as it skims and grinds across them but it keeps going. I almost expect to see the pilot eject a capsule or bail out in a space suit, but no such luck, the poor pirate explodes brilliantly as it's antimatter supply gets free of its magnetic containment.

I almost lose focus watching the display but thump after thump into my shields reminds me that I've become an open target, and my shield meter lights up in complaint as I almost let them fail, I turn around fast, and close the distance between me and the Kestrel spraying it with barely greater effect than on the Merlin.

My paltry shield booster somehow managed to correct my mistake and my shields start to stabilise as the Kestrel pulls away, it knows I can't kill it quickly but I can kill it, and it knows when it's beaten.

As I watch it slip cleanly into warp with barely a lick of damage but a heap of troubled thoughts, I know I've atleast taught the pilot a valuable lesson, the ship doesn't make the pilot...Not always atleast.

Still, the final fight was anticlimactic, I need something to test my immortality and this frigate has to explode some day, so I look with interest on reports of a drone hive being built barely an astronomical unit away...

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