This story unfolds from the perspectives of two different people- a jaded pirate named Schaa and her prey, a desperate pilot named Khis
Schaa sat on the edge of the bed, her forehead resting on her palms. Her breathing came in short and labored bursts as the nightmare she had just woken from echoed in her mind. She fumbled around her pockets and withdrew a pack of cigarettes. Deep breath, the smoke feels good in my lungs. Much better. She glanced up at the mirror in front of her. She looked at the dark circles under her eyes and the wrinkles that crawled over her face. She blew out her smoke and inhaled some more. What’s wrong with me- am I questioning myself? She thought. Am I ashamed of what I have become? Why this guilt after all these years. She gazed deeper into her own reflection. I have survived when countless others had failed. I have amassed fortunes after the rest of my family died in poverty. I have done many bad things, and thrived in a galaxy of greed, despair and opportunity. I am a survivor, and that matters above all. I have killed so that I may live. I am only doing as nature programmed me. She kept staring, but wanted to turn away. Could barely stomach that disappointment when she looked at her reflection. The self-assurance didn’t help much, because all she could see in herself were the things she hated most: desperation and weakness. The years of piracy and killing had taken its toll on Schaa, and now the dead that used to haunt her conscious now haunt her dreams, too. The cigarette glowed as she inhaled more smoke, and by now the cloud had filled her small room. I wonder if other pirates feel this way too... if they do, it doesn’t stop them. Why should it stop me? There is no time in this world for self-pity. She mashed the cig in the ashtray and stood up. No time to mourn the dead. She put on a fresh set of clothes and turned on the air vent fan. No time to feel remorse for the stupid, slow, naive, or unfortunate. She proudly put on her old dog tags, the one thing besides her ship that had any value to her, and took another look in the mirror, This time there was no pity, there was only the face of a killer looking back, the dark eyes of a hunter gazing into your soul. She left her room and began the long walk through the station, back to the hanger. Just another day for a pirate. Just another fortune to be made.
Men in desperation make choices that make or break their life. Lasers seared away Khis’s repair drones. I needed the money, so what did I do? I borrowed from a shady criminal. Stupid, Khis, stupid stupid stupid. He panicked as the warp drive wouldn’t respond and his shield tank was quickly melting away “As soon as Eilyin gets the money, we leave you alone.” Khis heard over the comm., but he doubted the people shooting him would really stop even if he did wire the money over. Now missiles pounded his armor. “Tell your boss that I gave him everything! Tell him I can work for him, my death isn’t necessary!” Khis was screaming into the comm. now, but he doubt it would do any good. He heard a chuckle and a cold-hearted reply. “I’m not your messenger, I’m your killer...” The last of Khis’s armor was blown apart, and now his hull was being blasted. He knew this was the end. This was how he was going to die; an unpaid loan. My life is about to end over a fifteen million ISK, chump change to a criminal like Eiylin. He closed his eyes and bowed his head and prepared for the eternal cold of space, prayed that his crew perish in peace. But instead he was greeted by the most beautiful sound he had ever heard; “Warp drive online”. He looked up at the mercenary ships, and saw that they were under attack! What the HELL? A roaming pirate gang had warped in, seconds from his destruction and engaged his killers- Wide-eyed with disbelief, Khis immediately entered warp towards the nearest stargate and prayed that they wouldn’t catch up. Thank god for those pirates. Let their deaths be swift and peaceful. Khis knew how good these mercs were; he knew the battle wouldn’t last long.
“It’s all I have!” Schaa had heard that one countless times. Even when they’re trapped in a burning ship with a broken tank, they still think they can bluff their way out of destruction. It’s all I have... please, pity doesn’t work with pirates. The measly ransom probably isn’t worth half the cargo, anyway. So Schaa blew the ship out of the sky. No pod, strange, usually they hire capsuleers to pilot these ships. That means lots of dead crew members. But she never worried about those. A lot of them are secretly slaves anyway. The loot revealed nothing special, so it was left to drift in space. Schaa was starting to get restless- hours of waiting in my usual hunting grounds, and all I managed to kill was this worthless ship and a few foolish Gurista recruits- and they practically begged me to kill them with the crap formations they had. Screw Gurista. Real pirates don’t send fresh pilots to do their dirty work. I used make a living killing those wannabes, but there’s no good pay in law enforcement. Schaa fiddled with the dog tags around her neck. Then the militia- now that was a job I should have kept- wiping the galaxy clean of those religious freaks. But they’d never take me back, not with my record. She grinned as she remembered her days as a warrior for the republic. Rewards were shit, and I lost plenty of ships, but nothing else was more satisfying. I wish more of those pious fuckers would come in my system; I love to pop their pretty little ships-
She was getting impatient. If there is one thing a pirate can’t stand, it’s inactivity. Ships aren’t gonna blow themselves up. She thought. That’s my job, so I better start hunting. She began her patrol of the local asteroid belts and stargates, hoping for the usual sucker to forget to check the scanners...
Khis’s hands were clammy as he gripped the controls, while the sweat from his forehead dripped down his nose. He would drop out of warp any second now, and he had no idea if there were reinforcements at the gate. He said a silent prayer, and stopped in front of the warp gate. A quick look revealed no enemies- no, the mercs ambushed me, they wouldn’t need to set a trap here... Khis jumped through the gate the moment the wormhole opened, not caring where it led. Anywhere would be safer than here.
His ship sat in a small asteroid field, with nothing but omber rocks to keep him company. As the camera drone circled his ship, he became more and more awestruck that his ship survived- Shield, 3% and rising. Armor, completely gone, and the cracked hull was leaking debris and plasma into space. It would take hours to fix this damage, and trying to dock in an unknown station in nullsec would be suicide, especially when I would be such an easy target. My rep drones are gone, so it looks like this will take a while... His single armor repair unit activated and nanobots swarmed his ship, all the while he kept his attention on the local overview and prayed his unbelievable luck would stay with him.
“These People are getting to smart” Schaa became angry at her incredible misfortune. Every spot she jumped to was either totally empty or packed with miners and a security squad. I can wait until they separate. But Miners tend to take all day and don’t like to stray from the pack. She didn’t dare jump into neighboring systems, because she would be shot on sight in highsec and all the other systems have bounties on her head. So she stayed in her hunting grounds and didn’t look for new territory. Maybe one of these smaller belts will hold some treasure, she thought. She began to check around the isolated pockets of asteroids, and after she dropped out of warp, she gasped with surprise. A single ship was floating motionless; its hull shot to hell and a repair module running. And it sat less than 10 km away!. This could be bait, but it’s just too easy! She grinned ear to ear at her prize catch, and she locked and scrambled it without hesitation. “You made a mistake coming here. Don’t worry though, you’ll learn your lesson”. She laughed into her comm. unit. Her guns were primed and she waited for a response.
“You made a mistake coming here. Don’t worry though, you’ll learn your lesson”. The words rang in his ears and made his skin crawl. He had narrowly escaped death from his enemies, only to be killed by a stranger. I knew my luck would run short- I knew my situation was just too good to be true. Now I have no second option, no escape, and I will pay for my stupidity. Hoping the pirate was a fool, he began to bargain for his life. “You haven’t killed me yet. Maybe because it would be too easy and you want sport. Or maybe you want a ransom, to which I would be happy to give you all that I have.” What money he had left would do no good to a dead man, so he waited for her response “Transfer it to my account. I’ll decide if you are worth it.” He quickly sent her his entire fortune- 10,280,965 ISK. She chuckled when she saw the amount- His ship wasn’t even worth half that- that offers only one conclusion- He isn’t a capsuleer, so killing his ship would end his life- permanently- no clone, no reawakening to start over again- just space and asteroids for all of time. She often pondered what it would be like to die forever, and she wondered why people who couldn’t afford clones would risk their life in space at all. Still, this man must fear death above all else if he will part with his entire life savings- no inheritance for his family, I suppose. It all disappears so he can live. “Well it’s not enough.” She felt an unexpected pang of guilt. Was that too cruel? “Then kill me. When I say it’s all I have got, I not lying. And it wasn’t even mine, it was borrowed from Eilyin Sicha. I narrowly escaped death by his hands, so death by yours will not scare me”. Khis closed his eyes and thought of his younger brothers and sisters, hoped they never became the kind of scum that would kill a man for the worthless salvage his ship would bring. But the guns still didn’t fire and the comm. channel opened again. “I see that you are Gallentian, and that all of your family fought against the Amarr.” Khis couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Did she really research me? Do all pirates do this to their victims? Or maybe she was trying to see if my family had more money...
Schaa continued. “I fought many years ago, and am proud of every one of them I killed.” She held the dirty tags in her hands- ran her fingers over the names of her fallen friends. What is this moment? I am hesitating, holding back- I am becoming WEAK! Be a KILLER, Schaa! Her finger hovered over the trigger, and for the first time in her life, she didn’t want to be a killer. At that moment, 3 ships warped into the belt, and Khis recognized them immediately- the mercs he escaped from earlier.
Oh how luck can turn.
“Thanks for capturing him- I’m surprised you didn’t shoot him on sight, considering your security status.” The merc chuckled and Schaa felt disgusted. “You will be rewarded for your assistance. You can leave now, the rest is up to us.” Schaa signed. This is the biggest mistake of my life... She reopened the comm. channel with Khis. “Eilyin is the scum of this universe. I am about to do something I have never done. I am going to help you escape, because for some reason, I feel that we are not so different.” Schaa couldn’t believe what she was doing “When I release the warp scramble, make a run for the nearest gate and don’t stop until you reach highsec”. Maybe there is a God, Khis thought to himself. “I.. I don’t know what to-”. “Don’t. Go, just go. Pay off Eilyin Sicht, and stay out of trouble” Schaa transferred the money back into Khis’s account and aligned her ship toward the mercs. To their surprise, she targeted one of them and opened fire. “What is this bitch DOING!” As they struggled to realign their guns, Khis warped away. The last thing he saw was the pirate who saved his life, his guardian angel locked in battle with the demons.