Friday, October 10, 2008

Loss #7: Setting a trap

“You aren’t seriously thinking of buying another one, are you, sir?” I could feel the muscles in my face tighten. I hate it when machines talked back. If I could afford an actual human secretary, that would be one thing. But an AI assistant program should know its damned place. “I am. We didn’t get the right kind of test out of the first one. Now run the damned numbers.”

As it turns out, I had splurged a bit and purchased a Vengeance-class Assault Frigate. Fully fitted, it had cost as much as five fully-fitted Rifters. Some of that had been offset by finding the un-looted wreck of a Stealth Bomber, with its high-tech cloaking device still intact. Or at least it would be, once Guillome paid me for it.

I dubbed the ship the Heritage One, since it was a ship of Khanid design. Taking it roaming through all my usual systems, I wound up in Old Man Star, but there I found nothing but a Rupture-class cruiser and a Rapier-class Force Recon cruiser. I sat outside one of the stations in that system for a while, pondering my next move and hitting my scanner from time to time.

It hadn’t been long, when the Rupture warped in close to me, and his icon on my HUD flashed red, a warning that he was an outlaw. I could shoot at him freely, without worrying about incurring the wrath of the sentry guns… if I thought I could take him. But one doesn’t get to outlaw status without being good at combat, and I wasn’t sure I could take as much damage as he could deal, even with my superior Khanid armor.

Then my HUD flashed. The Rapier pilot had been tracking this Rupture, and asked for my help killing him. So we followed the Rupture as he warped away to another station, and I sat just out of docking range while the Rapier was cloaked nearby. I targeted the outlaw and fired a single shot, then began moving away from the station. I kept my speed down as to not lose my lock on him, but in retrospect the Vengeance isn’t a fast ship, and I should have taken her up to full speed. The Rupture was on me almost instantly, and I managed to both give and take quite a bit of damage before I exploded. The Rapier had indeed de-cloaked, and was hammering away at the Rupture as I warped my capsule out. Getting in on the kill might just be worth the loss of my ship. I warped my capsule away, then back to the station so that I could see the action and dock if combat was still going on.

I cursed at what I saw: two Dominix-class battleships had arrived and had joined the fight on the side of the Rupture. There was to be no kill tonight. The Rapier pilot managed to get away, however, and as I arrived at my hangar, I found several cargo cases on the floor, with a note taped to the top one: “Thanks for the help. This should help cover your loss – from a frigate I took down earlier..” I opened the top one to find it full of high-tech focusing crystals and other expensive equipment.

This should make Guillome quite happy. If only he would show up with my damned money…

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