Wednesday, July 11, 2012
The Last Light- Part Two
Her eyes darted back and forth behind closed lids. Her body trembled as the last memories of her previous life flashed through her mind. She fought desperately to put all the pieces in place, to make sense of a massive information 'download' into her new clone.
She thrashed about in the clone bay hibernation unit, sloshing fluid as her fingers curled into tight fists. She slammed them against the translucent lid of her container, beating frantically to draw someone's attention to her.
"I'm alive," the thought ran through her mind though she couldn't actually speak the words, her mouth was still melded around an artificial tube that connected to her lungs, a breathing apparatus that provided sterile, filtered air.
The dull thud of her hands smashing against the container startled Kobe Caglia, junior pod technician, assigned to Jonathan, chief pod technician- someone who had been working for Shalee since she'd become a capsuleer.
Groggily he glanced around, having fallen asleep at the station while his boss had taken a much-needed break. The pair of them had been on duty the entire night as their employer fought her way across the Bleaklands.
Thus was the life of a pod technician. They slept when their employer slept. Their schedules mirrored hers so that they would be there to resurrect her should she die.
And with the Tribals putting up a relentless fight across the war zone, every Amarrian Militia capsuleer seemed to be pulling double shifts of patrols just to keep them at bay. They barely slept, and neither did their grounded counterparts.
The Amarr were losing the war at a frightning pace. Nerves were stretched, tempers were high, and everyone was exhausted.
Kobe hadn't meant to doze off but it had finally caught up with him. Having been monitoring her patrol over comms, he had fallen asleep to the sound of the FC giving orders to jump and hold cloak.
He had started to dream of the fleet, of being in the midst of the battle. He was there as the two fleets engaged, as ships exploded one by one. He could hear the cries as thousands of crew members were blown to bits out into the unforgiving endlessness of space. Debris surrounded the stargate, lights from it illuminated what was left of their ships. So many pods hovered, suspended in an eerie light.
He jerked awake to the sound of 'Resurrection Imminent'. A siren blazed, the display lit up with pale neon warning lights. 'Resurrection Imminent,' the automated warning system repeated.
"Fuck." He dashed over to the hibernation unit and pushed the lid to the side. He shoved one hand beneath her neck, pulling her up out of the shimmering fluids, his other hand pulled the tube from her mouth.
"Breathe," he said as he rubbed his thumb across her eyelids, wiping away the liquid that had gelled in the creases. She blinked several times, clearing her vision, taking a few shallow breaths.
"Commodore Lianne? You with me?" he asked in a soft voice, staring down into her confused eyes.
She nodded as he pulled her up out of the clone vat and wrapped her in a towel. She took a few tentative steps then faltered. He caught her, "Easy now."
"Something doesn't feel right."
"What do you mean?"
"I died," she said softly.
He nodded. It wasn't uncommon to have confusion after awakening for the first time in a new body. "You did."
She hesitated, "But ...something isn't right." Memories flashed lightning fast through her mind.
"I don't know." Her brows furrowed as she tried to remember, "I can't remember."
"Maybe it will come to you later. Here, let me help you Commodore." He led her off to the showers so that she could get cleaned up. After she went through a quick medical exam, she was released.
Wearing a drab medical jumpsuit, she entered into the medical station's cafeteria, in no hurry to make her way back to her captain's quarters. She filled a tray and headed over to sit by the windows. As soon as she took her seat, Scorpion Venom neared her table, "This chair taken?"
She nodded, as if to say sit down. "So they got you too?"
"Yeah." He sat down in front of her, his tray as full as hers, "Fucking bastards."
She studied his face, recognizing him after a moment. "Scorpion, right?"
"At your service." He popped the lid off a bottle of water and took a long drink from it.
"This is the first time we've met? Out of pod, I mean," she asked. She leaned back in her chair and twisted her damp hair into a bun.
"Yeah, I think so." He gave her a glance in between bites. "Do you..." he seemed to hesitate.
"Do I remember how we died?" she prompted.
He nodded. "Yeah. One minute we were fighting and the next..."
She finished his sentence, "Everything was dark. The pod wouldn't warp, it should have still been online. But it wasn't, it was just dark and cold and no one could hear. I could see outside, I could see there were others just sitting there..." she whispered, remembering the last few moments of her last death.
His dark eyes bore down on here, lost in the memory, "And then suddenly there was so much light. Like a blinding light and I couldn't get my pod out. It should have responded, but it didn't. The light was from outside...and then it felt like it was being pulled by tractor beams?"
She nodded again, "Yes! It makes no sense, right? It couldn't have happened like that...it's impossible...you can't lock onto pods with tractor beams and that light..." Her voice dropped to a mere whisper, "And then we were pulled into a loading bay and broken out of our pods, and that's when we died. After the pods were split open manually."
"Right." The stared at each other for a long moment.
She glanced down at her food tray, "Maybe it was just some...glitch... in the download." She knew that it was very unlikely that they both experienced the same exact 'glitch' but there was no other way to explain it.
"Yeah. A glitch," he said unconvincingly.
They both fell silent.
A stream of pale green lights glowed along the top of the dark corridor, simulating night in the 'second station' of Egghelende, a Gallente station that the Imperial Outlaws had claimed as their home for the last couple of months. "Deck forty-seven," the automated voice announced as the doors slid open.
She exited the elevator and turned right, making her way towards her rented apartment. One side of the corridor was transparent, giving a panoramic view of space, the other side was lined with doors that lead to I.LAW and TMFED captain's quarters.
Her thoughts lingered on the night's battles. The Amarrian Militia had dominated the field hour after hour. The Minmatar melted beneath their lasers, their missiles, their heavy artillery fire. The fleet had begun small, commanded by Almity and by the end of the night they had killed over four billion ISK worth of ships.
'Not a bad night at all', she thought as she neared her door, still high off the thrill of combat. The apartment door next to hers, recently vacated by Jones Bones who had left corp to return to the Heretics, slid open. A tallish man with blonde hair and startling blue eyes stepped out.
She gave pause, looking at him with curiosity. "I thought those quarters were empty..." she said skeptically.
Shalee frowned, "They have been retained for the Imperial Outlaws, there must be a mistake."
"But I am an Imperial Outlaw," he smirked.
She mentally ran through a list of new recruits, they had been flooded with them over the last week or so, but he didn't match any of them. "No you're not."
He nodded his head towards the corridor, "Take a walk with me?" He gave her a rather charming smile.
"Uh, no?" Was he hitting on her? She tilted her head, staring him down. The nerve of some people, she thought irritability. "Tell me what you are doing here."
He smirked again, "C'mon. Take a walk and I will explain. I promised you I would."
Her brow arched, "What? You're making no sense. I'm not going on a walk with you okay? I don't even know you. Tomorrow I will contact the station manager and get this sorted but right now I'm just going to go to bed, so if you will please excuse me." She laid her hand against the palm scanner by her door.
"C'mon. Take a walk. What's it going to hurt?" He continued to smile at her but something in his eyes pleaded with her. "Please?"
She shook her head, growing alarmed at his insistence. "No, I'm tired and I just..." her hand wrapped around the hilt of her sidearm as he closed the distance between them.
He was inches from her when he whispered, "Do not open that door."
Fear slithered through her, "Get away from me!" She shoved him as she pulled the sidearm from its holster, her other hand taping in the security code. The door slid open.
"Goddamnit you're hardheaded," he said as he followed her in, shoving her out of the way as he pulled his own sidearm, shooting it at point-blank range, downing one of the would-be assailants. The other came at him, attempting to knock the sidearm from his grasp.
He grabbed the man by the wrist and jerked him forward, twisting his arm so that it bent, in which he used the leverage to turn the man around and force him down onto his knees. "This is the best the Covenant can send?" He placed the barrel of his sidearm against the man's temple and pulled the trigger. The second assailant fell forward, dead.
Shalee stared at the two dead men then looked in horror at the one left standing.
"I told you not to open that door, next time could you listen?" He disappeared through her bedroom door and returned a minute later, carrying a handful of sheets. He started to wrap the bodies up while all she could do was stand there, trembling.
When he was nearly done, she finally seemed to get ahold of herself, "Wha-what just happened?" she stuttered out the question.
He stood at the sink, washing his bloodied hands, "I just saved your stubborn-assed life is 'what just happened'. I said walk goddammit, why couldn't you just take a walk?" he sounded as if he were annoyed with her.
"I don't even know you! I'm not going to take a walk with someone I don't even know!"
"You do know me. Sort of. I'm Melisandre. Also, Scatha and a couple of other identities."
She stared at him blankly, as if still in shock. "What?"
"Look, we don't have time for all the details right now. What we are going to do is drag these two over to my apartment and lock it up then go for that walk that you should have taken. We need to hurry because there are a few more raiders who will be checking up on these two any minute. Got it?"
She gave a curt nod and helped him drag the bodies next door. Once they were in the corridors, he shook his head, 'Not that way, this way." He led her down to a service elevator and once they were inside, he seemed to relax. "She listens for once."
"So are you going to tell me how you're not a girl?" she asked, watching the deck numbers flicker as the elevator descended.
He shook his head, his lips curled into a slight smile. "Really? That's your first question after everything that just happened?"
"It seems relevant."
"They are just a couple of identities, it keeps the DED off my back."
She gave him a look of disbelief. It wasn't a simple act to just create a whole new identity for yourself, not with the DED involved- a police force and paramilitary of Concord. They kept tight records on who was a capsuleer. A pod-pilot simply didn't just buy a new identity, it was nearly impossible, or so she thought.
He noted her look. "Anything can be bought for a price, haven't you learned that by now. You can't be that naive."
She rolled her eyes, "Whatever, okay. Let's say I'm buying this. What's your real name?"
"Steve. You can call me Steve."
"Fine, Steve. And now that we know who you are. I want to know what you are. You're obviously not just some random capsuleer. You fought like ...some sort of assassin."