A bright explosion engulfed the Otelen star gate in Houla seconds after she jumped her Harbinger into system.
Foolish, foolish girl.
She hadn't checked intel. She hadn't asked for a scout.
It was almost automatic, running the pipe from Amarr to Huola. All systems save for one, the final destination, high security. Safe, usually.
Her thoughts were distracted and she simply hadn't paid attention until it was too late.
Bahamut flashed on her overview as she realized six other hostiles were in system.
Holding her cloak, her body tensed as she assessed the situation. No friendlies in system either. Of course, that'd be her luck. She'd passed on a patrol with some of her guys so she could move some things down to the front. No doubt they were several jumps out.
Seconds ticked away as she held cloak, waiting for her chance to burn back to the gate. It would be most likely impossible since she had a fair distance to cover, no microwarpdrive, and two other reds showing on short range d-scan. Fuck.
Inside the corridors of her unnamed ship, crew members were rushing to the escape pods as the klaxons roared and the lights dimmed. Engines were failing as her cap was being drained.
She offered up a silent prayer, hoping that at least some of them made it out before the final explosion.
Hopeless. That's what I should have named you, old girl, she muttered to herself as Triplesol's missiles tore into the hull, ripping it to shreds, delivering the final blow.
Her senses dulled for a nano second as she disconnected from the harbinger. In that moment, a thousand images flashed through her mind at once, a collage of what was happening from a hundred different perspectives. Awareness from each fighter drone deployed, from every camera lens aboard her ship, and the ones mounted from the outside all gelled together, manifesting in a fluid, linear memory of the event.
"Warp, warp, warp!" she yelled a steady cadence, hoping that her pod would maneuver through the sea of scrap metal, rolling smoke, and debris.
Blood splashed across the camera lens as she started to warp through a sludge of floating bodies, unfortunate crew members who hadn't made it to the escape pods.
"I'm sorry..." she whispered, feeling a tightness in the pit of her stomach.
Later, inside her hangar in the 24th station of Huola, she reviewed the recorded footage of what had happened. Mostly a small gang of Ice Fire Warriors, including LP McDuffs and Rothgr Bronn with a few others she vaguely recognized had taken her down with ease.
"Goddammit," she uttered as she killed the video, sitting in the dim light, absently biting on her dog tags.
She tried not to think of the countless crew members that had been lost out of her sheer negligence.
Her reverie was interrupted by light flashing inside the room as an explosion lit up the hazy blue sky outside the station. Her gaze drifted to the floor-to-ceiling glass wall in time to see the scattered remains of a frigate drifting just before it was salvaged.
"Dumb bastard," she rolled her eyes. No doubt Heretic's Army sniper pilot, Lukka, was on the hunt again. When he'd first arrived on the scene weeks ago, she'd spent a fair amount of time trying to catch him. When that failed, she'd resorted to camping her own station to keep him from harming other pilots who naively thought they were safe in a frigate or pod.
Others had joined her from time to time in 'guarding the station', but after so long she'd given up and spent her time back on the war front, hoping that the 24th would have learned by now.
Her crew chief commed her, "Lukka's on the prowl again. I'd suggest delaying your trip to Amarr."
"Yeah, okay," she answered as she paced over to the glass, "I'll make a run early morning, hopefully things will be settled down by then."
"The war goes live in less than twenty hours, just as long as you do it before then."
"Yup, understood." She flicked the comm off as she leaned against the glass, watching the sky as a handful of battlecruisers landed within the station's docking range, one of them Zverofaust.
Her nose wrinkled as a look of distaste etched her delicate face.
Zverofaust. The bane of the Amarr Militia. A former Minmatar freedom fighter, the turncoat had switched sides no doubt to spread discord among the Amarrians. Within months of his joining LOCUS, he had managed to convince them to wardec at least six loyalist corps.
The Knighthood's turn had come, of course.
She was certain it was because of her.
At first he had tried to be charming though she never really trusted him. Once she'd learned of his true nature, his declarations of love and adoration turned to public scorn in an attempt to humiliate her.
He would stop at nothing, say anything just for her attention in any way he could get it.
His love-hate obsession for her was disturbing. He would deliberately try to provoke her or anyone who was remotely close with her.
She'd encountered strange pilots before but he had to be one of the worst. As disgusting as Torus Nunn from the 8th order was, who claimed to rape her corpse, she'd rather be locked in a room with him for a week than spend one minute alone with Zvero.
Weeks ago, she accidentally discovered his non de plume, FW Reporter, a name he wrote under for the FW Report, a supposedly 'independent media site for all things Faction Warfare'.
"Independent, my ass." she muttered to herself.
Once he found out she knew, he tried to bully her into leaving her beloved militia. She refused and he threatened her, telling her she'd 'suffer the consequences'.
Less than two weeks later the Knighthood was declared war upon by LOCUS.
A civil war ensued.