January 11, 2014

Becoming Immortal - Part One

"Davey! C'mon. man, we gotta go! They're coming in pretty quick from 270 down 14!"

Davey Clonder swung a camera drone to look at the bearing his wingman called out but kept his focus on the ongoing hack. Sure enough, there were four of the quick and deadly assault frigates bearing down on them, all Jaguar classes. He was, he estimated, about 4/5 of the way done, having beaten multiple layers of security already. After he and his wingman, Josan Mongrey, had spent seven hours finding this hidden treasure, he wasn't prepared to leave it just yet. "Move between me and them and provide a picket for me, Josan. I need a little more time."

"Oh man," Josan whined. But Davey could see his long-time friend moving into position immediately. Josan was piloting an Omen that had been specially modified with heavy armor plates and advanced hardeners designed to scatter and deflect incoming damage. It was well suited to facing a frontal attack, especially against quick, nimble assault frigates who could also deliver quite a punch in groups, as they were now. Davey, on the other hand, was piloting a fragile Anathema. It was perfect for finding abandoned wrecks and sites, then hacking into the long forgotten computers, but it was poorly suited to a fight. The Jaguars were certainly going to be trying to take him out quick while avoiding the Omen and then leave before they took too much damage of their own.

"Bogey One has crossed into my locking envelope. Acquiring solution now. Acquired. Maneuvering for transversal." Davey listened to his friend give updates from the corner of his mind. He was nearly there now, he could tell. Just a little more and he'd have it.

"Shit, they're fast! Ha! Bogey Three  has been scrambled. Bogey Three is down! Davey, Bogey Two is slipping past me. You're going to have company; I can't catch him."

Fear began to well up within Davey's chest. He couldn't fail now! This was a rich site, full of valuable materials. And while Davey was not poor, this load would definitely improve his status in the world. If he could only get it out in one piece.

Josan continued his stream of chatter, calling out maneuvers and positions so that Davey could form a rough picture of the battlefield in his head. He knew that Bogey Two, the one that slipped past Josan, was approximately 75 kilometers away from his position by this time. He'd have only a few more seconds to finish up here before the deadly Minmatar ship was close enough to attack Davey's ship, cutting his ability to warp away. After that, it was only a formality. Josan would never be able to arrive in time to save him, and Davey couldn't possibly fight back.

"Bogey One is down! Bogey Four bugged out. I'm coming in, Davey, just hang on!" Davey and Josan both knew that he'd never be able to catch up to a Jaguar now, not with the sort of lead the Jaguar was sporting, but his friend was more loyal than smart sometimes.

"No, Josan! Go ahead and get out. Head to the rendezvous. I'll meet you there when I'm done here, one way or the other." Davey heard his friend swear, but saw his heading veer away. Suddenly he was gone, his warp engines having spooled up and shot him across the solar system. Now it was a race against time. And Davey didn't have much left.

He did a quick check, spending the effort to break his attention away from hacking to get a confirmed position on the assault frigate. It was worse than he expected, with the Jaguar having closed more range than he calculated for. The enemy was now only 34 kilometers away, and closing fast. Davey returned his focus to the problem at hand. He had to break this computer open and download the information he knew was inside and get out.

A sudden beep alerted Davey that his hacking subroutine had done it. He was able to penetrate into the guts of the machine, taking whatever vital pieces he wanted or needed out. By now, the Jaguar was 22 kilometers away. He had basically no time at all. He initiated the download sequence and fired his engines up, calculating the speed in his head. Hopefully he had it just right where the download would finish right at the envelope of his transmission range. He was attempting a risky maneuver, trying to put a tiny bit of distance between him and his pursuer, hopefully just enough to matter, while staying close enough to the computer speed not to break contact. As soon as the download was done, he would warp away, since his engines were already spooled up to the necessary speed.

Davey could do nothing more but hope his calculations were correct, relax, and watch the events unfold. His eyes darted between the incoming Jaguar, now at 11 kilometers away, and his ship computer's projection of the transmission envelope. It was going to be tighter than Davey expected, if it worked at all. A klaxon wailed, alerting him that he was being locked. Davey checked the range again. Nine kilometers. If the Jaguar's locking computer finished acquiring a solution on Davey, he was dead. He had less than a second to get out. Suddenly, the computer beeped its affirmation that the data transfer was complete. Davey immediately entered warp, leaving the Jaguar, his dead colleagues, and the now empty computer behind him.

As his warp engines spooled down, reality began to take shape around him once again. He could see a slightly battered Omen waiting patiently, glorious in its fierce beauty, its beaked nose brimming with aggressiveness.

"Heya, Josan. We got it!"

Davey could hear his friend's smile in his head, "And it looks like you've still never died, you lucky fucking podhead."