Saturday, June 6, 2009


As my Rifter’s computers began their full reboot, recovering from the confusion of jump gate travel, I took stock of the situation so far today. I’d spent the afternoon wandering through my usual haunts in Molden Heath, but absolutely nothing interesting had happened. I suppose everyone has days like this. It had been the same for much of the time yesterday, with one small exception. Normally the system of Half is outside my usual flight path, but yesterday I had decided to take a look around and see what I found. The area is dominated by a gang of do-gooders who go by the name of the “Shadows of Light” alliance, but I knew that most of them would be no match for a hardened warrior such as me. Sure enough, mere minutes after I entered system, I managed to blow another Rifter pilot out of space, under the bumbling gaze of a local defence force made up of several cruisers and a battleship. The kill itself was unimpressive, my foe having fit his craft to combat non-pod pilots, but the circumstances were what made it worth it. Today, however, the system seemed empty. Only a few pilots in the local comms, most likely docked up doing what ever it is white-hats do in their spare time. Still, it never hurts to check. I took a quick spin about the asteroid belts, hoping to find a straggler, but no such luck. I punched in the co-ordinates of the gate to Istotard, and hit warp.

As I landed on the gate, I sighed. Some days you get no luck. I had my hand on the command to hail the gate crew for immediate transport, but before I got the chance to finish my action, I saw the characteristic flash of light which indicates that someone has just been transported into system. I decided to give this place one more chance, and I brought up the local comms, checking for the new arrival. There was, of course, one, a pilot who went by the name of Vasavia. I knew her, having had an encounter with her about a week ago. She’d won, but I was pretty certain it was a fluke, myself having had a little too much to drink that night. Not that she was a bad pilot, I was just convinced I was better, as I almost always am. She was Shadows of Light, but unlike the rest of her organization, she seemed to actually have a pair of ovaries. This was good. She was holding her gate cloak, so I punched in a warp to a nearby asteroid belt, hoping she would get the hint and follow.

It wasn’t more than a few moments before I saw a Rifter appear on my long range sensors, and even less time before my sensors pinged, telling me that a vessel had just exited warp less than 3 klicks from mine. I quickly shouted orders to my crew, settling myself into an orbit approximately 5 kilometres from my foe, and painting her craft with my LADAR targeting suite. I activated my suite of combat modules, and disengaged the thermal safeties of my autocannons, pushing them past the manufacturer’s specifications. She responded in kind, and the fight was on. Swiftly, streams of nuclear death filled the space between our ships. I could tell she was using the standard cookie cutter setup for her craft, but mine was a little different, as I had filled the space normally containing a rocket launch system with an energy vampire, in order to steal my foes’ capacitor to run my modules for longer. This had been much more popular a few years back, before legal issues surrounding the patents forced manufacturers to limit the operation of the NOS modules, but they hadn’t been completely neutered. I knew that the added punch of the launcher would give her the advantage in sheer firepower, but if I held range, I could force the fight into distances where the inherent instability of the ammunition we fired would reduce the damage. This would allow me to capitalise on the greater staying power my nosferatu had given me.

Very rapidly, the multiple continuous detonations erupting about her craft overloaded the fragile shield projectors, and my cannons began to bite into the armour of her tough little craft. Almost simultaneously, however, an insistent warning light on my heads up display warned me of total system failure in my own shields, and my Rifter started to shake and lurch with the force of the Morphite explosives impacting my own hull. I activated my nanite repair modules, and watched the digital readout as the tiny robots clawed their way through my ship, converging at impact points to replace blackened craters with smooth tungsten. The repair systems were helping, but I wasn’t sure it would be enough. My sensors were telling me that although my weapons were in peak condition and my targeting systems were ably compensating for the contortions my helmsman and hers were putting our nimble frigates through, she was very good. This was going to be a very close fight, and I wasn’t certain of the victor if things continued as they were.

As my armour diagnostics reported 50% armour integrity, I knew I had only one more option available to me. I brought up the computer brains controlling my repair systems, and disengaged the safeties governing their operation. There was a certain amount of danger in doing this, as the increased speed and force of the nanites could damage and eventually even destroy my various protective measures, but for short times, the benefits outweighed the possible drawbacks, and repairs would still be much less expensive than replacing my craft.

The difference was very apparent. Almost immediately, my diagnostics systems reported that the damage incoming on my ship was nearly balanced out by the increased efficiency of my glowing green helpers. On the other hand, my opponent seemed not to be aware of this kind of modification, as her armour integrity dropped lower and lower, until my rounds finally began to blast hard radiation and concussive force into her very interior. She had set her systems up well, with protective internal force fields and redundancies, but it was no match for the fury of the 150mm cannon shells riding my LADAR guidance directly into the gaps in her defences, and Vasavia’s tough little Rifter quickly evaporated around her. It was an excellent test of my abilities as a warrior, however, and kudos to her for a fabulous duel, but to the victor goes the spoils.

I gathered up what undamaged equipment I could get from her wreck, and sent my craft to a safe spot to await the end of my global criminal countdown timer. It was always nice to find fresh blood flying in my home of Molden Heath, especially in a capsuleer as skilled as Vasavia seemed. I expected great things from her.