Friday, August 19, 2011

Fiction Friday - Series 4: part 5

Prologue Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

* * * * *

The five of us took the elevators to the capsuleer hanger deck and then went our separate ways to our ships. I entered my hanger quarters - private temporary room with a cot, vid screen, and access to my pod equipment - and informed hanger control about my planned departure. As I took off my coat and shirt, I contacted my ship.

"Captain," my executive officer greeted me coolly.

"XO, we're going out. Are we ready?"

Capsuleer ships technically don't need crew as the pod pilot has access to all necessary controls for the smooth operation of the vessel, but larger ships often still have a skeleton crew as both backup to the pilot's control and caretakers for when the pod is disconnected. A non-pod-enabled battleship could require hundreds or even over thousands of crew but that is trimmed down to a fraction on capsuleer ships.

"Yes sir, I'll send the notification for crew on station leave to head back but we have an acceptable complement of crew ready to depart."

Typically a capsuleer had a separate crew for each active ship since there is not a lot of crossover between a crewman working Caldari cruiser shield flux coils and a crewman experienced with Gallente drone AI subroutines. For a ship that has been not used in a while the pilot might let the crew go and simply hire a new one from the station population when he next needed to fly it, and some capsuleers even used a core command crew that he had transfer from ship to ship with him, but it was not advisable to get to attached to crew members. Even though all precautions were taken with escape pods and emergency beacons, the crew did not have the benefit of cloning technology should something go horribly wrong very fast.

"Excellent, I'll be on board in 5."

My XO, an average looking blond haired woman named Macie Odonnelson, gave a curt nod as the connection closed. She didn't look like the military type; short and petite with a plain face and short cropped hair, but she ran a tight battleship from her training in the Caldari Navy and I had come to appreciate her hard work. Some new crew members might think that the unassuming woman in second in command on a capsuleer's ship would be a pushover but the last man to inappropriately proposition her spent three months on bilge duty during which he earned the unfortunate nickname 'Ensign Stinky'.

I shed the last of my clothes and went to the pod and sat in the grav couch in it. Automated tentacle cables attached themselves to my implants on my spine and neck and my world went black as the pod closed and started to fill with the nutrient cushion fluid. Moments later my senses flared back into being and I could see and hear so much more; the comm traffic of the station, the gravity waves of passing tugs and ships, the connections to the system's local channels. I disconnected the pod from the berth and set course across the station interior to my ship.

The battleship shone in the dim lighting of the Matari station. A Rokh class vessel of Caldari origin, it was equipped with 16 powerful custom designed 425mm hybrid railguns and a suite of shield matrix electronics that would make a State Navy Raven captain green with envy. During my stint in the Navy I had flown support of a squadron of these ships once and marveled at their ability to strike so accurately at a long distance. Now I had one even though it had taken me months of working for the Republic agents to earn enough ISK to buy one. It was my pride and joy and the crew aboard were like my children.

"Insisto Oblivion, this is the pod Kirith Kodachi. Permission to come aboard?" I asked with mischief in my voice as I played my part in the little inside joke ritual I had with my XO. The name was based on some old Terran language I had looked up after I bought it and my corp mates thought it sounded lame, but I liked it. Supposedly it meant something along the lines of "to make destroyed" but Kla'strit assured me it meant "pretentious git".

"Permission granted," she replied with all seriousness.

The pod moved under the hull and a hatch opened. I entered with the aid of micro-tractor beams and seconds later I was the battleship, body and soul. Using a speaker on the bridge I said to my officers, "Let's go."

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