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Seeds of Darkness pt. II

Time. Too much is a bad thing. Time to think, time to doubt, time to regret. Since the day I left my old life behind I’ve had time to do all three. As I make the jumps from system to system, steadily heading away from the regular space-lanes deeper into unsafe regions, I’ve had plenty of time to question my resolve. From the day I was commissioned as a pod pilot my life has been one of duty, rigid discipline and service to my clan. Such habits are indeed hard to break. I find myself wondering if I am truly capable of turning my back on those principles I once held dear. Whether I am able to place myself outside the law and live the life of an outcast, preying on those weaker than myself. Hunting, killing. Murdering?

Cleared for publication by: Ander
Time. Just when you think you have too much, it runs out.

“Contact! Sensors are picking up an energy signature, looks like a cruiser-sized power-plant”. The voice of my navigation officer cuts across the bridge.
“Narrow down the scan, boost the gain. I want identification and location.”
She turns back to the console, I could do it myself but I use the extra time to calm my thoughts.
“Target confirmed, it’s an Osprey. I can’t get a positive lock but best-guess puts it in the third belt of the fourth planet.”
As a precaution I double-check the scan myself. Before now my crew had all been hand picked, each of them experienced professionals, career officers and future pod-pilots. This crew however is different; ability and dedication have by necessity been sacrificed for a certain moral flexibility.
“Good track, set intercept course, bring us about.”
This is it, time to choose. It’s not too late to turn away. There are other systems, other agents, there is always work available for a pilot with a good ship. I make the choice.
“Assuming full control, all hands prepare to warp.”

Even as I give the command I open the neural link to it’s maximum setting, information floods into my mind from every system on the ship, implanted bio-processors kick in translating the complex data into full sensory perception. As we enter warp my consciousness expands outwards. I feel my heart beat in time with the pulse of the reactor core; the invisible energy of the shields prickles my armoured “skin” like a million static shocks. The input from the sensors lets me “see” in multiple spectrums, multiple directions. This is the true power of the pod pilot, this perfect blending of man and machine into a single organism. Indivisible, alive. Those who have not experienced the merge could never understand the feeling of strength and power that almost overwhelms me. I am Stormrider; it is I, an immortal mind in a metal body. I feel the wind of the warp brush across me; I “smell” my prey waiting in the belt, unaware of the beast that approaches.
Time slows. Space twists in on itself, and from the depths of the warp I leap back into reality. There in front of me is my prey, the osprey class-cruiser is only just beginning to turn, the pilot is young, inexperienced, he did not see the danger he was in until it was too late. I reach out and hook my claws deep into his flesh, his warp drive fails, and his fate is sealed. As I draw close I scream in rage and exultation. The roar of my guns answers me as they burst into life; the lethal storm rips his shields away and tears gaping holes in his armour exposing the fragile flesh beneath. There is no need for subtlety or caution now. He is mine. His desperate attempt to return fire is futile, his missiles no more than gnat bites against my skin. Slowly I draw closer, savouring every last moment of the kill. Revelling in the sheer destructive power at my command. Several rounds punch through his hull and breach his reactor, his ship blossoms into a roiling ball of fire and plasma sending house-sized chunks of hull spinning off into space. Without hesitation I turn my attention to his escape pod, it lasts less than a heartbeat under the full fury of my main batteries.
The ecstasy of combat fades and I start to withdraw from the merge. Suddenly I am worried! It has never been this hard to return to the standard level of flight control, something is resisting the withdrawal, some part of me is unwilling to fade in to the background. The merge has never been this intense before, nor so violent. As I struggle to regain a measure of independence I am shocked by what I have just done. This wasn’t combat as I knew it, a test of skill and courage against a worthy foe. This was murder; bloody, brutal and merciless, killing for killings sake. The thought sickens me, yet I remember the surge of lust just before the kill, the insane joy in victory. And I can still feel the hunger stirring deep inside, watching, waiting, and growing.

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MAZ on :

Just don't... come back to the good side and fight BoB, Goons and all other empire builders - past, present and future. Oh... that's probably best done as a pirate anyway.

thzlou on :

nicely told man, liked it alot =)

Cpt. Torax on :

@MAZ-Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. I'll leave the huge lag-fest fleets to those that enjoy that sort of thing :-)

@thzlou- Thank you :-)

Tarminic on :

I enjoy your storytelling and the way you described the connection between the Pod Pilot and the ship. Ganking an Osprey never sounded so cool. ;-)

Cpt. Torax on :

Glad you liked it Tarminic, the Pilot/ ship "relationship" is something I intend to explore further in later stories.
As to the Osprey, it seems that the only pilots I come across when out solo hunting are newbie miners and ratters in destroyers :-(
Oh and the occasional LOL-fit raven :-) (I was in a gang for that one however)

Gabriel Lornadonis on :

real nice way of portraying the ship/pilot union

i look forward to the next story

And how you intend to write about the feelings of a loss to a monster ship greater than your own

might be interesting

Cpt. Torax on :

Thanks Gabriel, I'm sure that story will be coming, just as soon as my 'cane gets nailed :-) Not sure whether I'm looking forward to it or not, however the loss may hurt less if I can get a good story out of it.

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