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Eve Online - Blazing

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7

"Then... Every single one of you will head to an escape pod, I'll trigger this ship's self-destruct and send it's burning wreckage straight to Veerex' flagship." 

"But... that's suicide!" the young officer cried. 

"You're going to give yourself up for one madman, sir?" 

"Not quite as suicidal as you think, I'm a capsuleer, remember?" 

He was amused as he saw the confused expressions on his wayward officer's faces. 

"Upon death a clone body will be activated with my memory engramms, all I'll suffer from it is a slight headache and maybe some short-term amnesia, given the circumstances a win-win." 

"But wouldn't that mean Veerex Daemian has a clone waiting as well?" 

"Possibly, but he is a known outlaw and a fugitive, he would pay a premium for adequate clones and will be far away, meanwhile I can simply camp out in this system until either the heat dies down or Hasarith lives up to his expectations." 

"Which are?" 

Deetex headed back to the captain's chair. 

"Knowing him, he will do what I did four years ago, he'll come down here with every single soldier he can find, nothing will stop him from reaching me." 

Deetex leaned forward, folding his hands together and steepling his fingers. 

"He will leave this system a smouldering ash if that's what it takes..." 

"Hey James!" Sobani yelled, as his console started beeping and flashing. 
James Paladin entered the cabin, still rubbing sleep out of his eyes. 
Their Anathema class frigate had been in space for a month now, sniffing out wormholes and other anomalies, and hadn't been getting a lot of sleep. 

Still yawning, James sat down next to Dave. 
"What's up" he muttered 

Dave pointed a thumb at the bleeping console. 
"It's doing that thing, bleeping." 

James wasn't moving, just blinking his eyes. 

"So.... I need you to get your lazy ass over here and do your thing, it's you're ship, I need your fingers and codes to get into the encryption database." 

Slowly Paladin was getting up, genuinely confused. 
"Why do you need access to the encryption database?" 

"Might have to do with that top-level encrypted transmission we are receiving." 

Only then did he notice the particular console that was making a ruckus. 
"Gods be damned, Dave, really?" 
James Paladin jumped and and reached for the console, typing his access codes and putting the transmission on the screen. 
It a com line, and a well-hidden one, they could barely make out anything through the static. 
"J---ms Pal--n?" a crackled voice sounded, it seemed to belong to the fuzzy visage behind the static. 

"Fire up the sensor boosters, see if we can't get some more data in." Paladin ordered. 
Sobani slid his chair over to a different console and started working. 
"Say again, negative on your last" James transmitted back. 

The signal cleared a little as Sobani reported the booster was online. 
"Comm--rd --mes Paladin?" the figure repeated. 
"This is Paladin, who wants to know?" 
The signal, while still in static, cleared to the point where he could recognize the man on the other end. 
"This is Burseg Tegrin, head of Sardaukar central command." 

Both men stiffened and attention. 
"Sir" Paladin responded. 
"Where are you located?" Tegrin asked. 
"We're at IF-617, wormhole sweeps as ordered, sir." 
"You haven't been engaged by any hostiles then?" 

Sobani looked up, confused. 
"No sir, should we?" Paladin asked. 

"We've been wardec't, our numbers are falling rapidly, if you have a cloak I recommend you use it right away." 
Paladin immediately waved a hand pointing at the ops console, Sonabi slid over and pressed a few buttons, cloaking the ship. 

"Word has it you are on first-name basis with the Empress." Tegrin continued. 

"Word has it some people have fought Jovians and lived, you shouldn't believe everything you hear, sir." 

"Regardless, is it true?" 

Paladin pondered for a second, then responded. 
"First name, no... But I have an understanding." 

"Good, contact whoever you need and get some combat ships, anything you can gather is to rendezvous at Niarja as soon as possible, we're making our stand there." 

"Very well, anything else?" 

A spot of transmission lag paused the broadcast for a minute. 
"After that, proceed with all haste to Oursulaert, we have two guys there that need immediate evac, once collected go to TD-128 by any means for a rescue op." 

"By any means?" Sobani asked. 
"What's the catch?" he added. 

"That system is currently besieged and locked up tight, we've found several wormholes that lead into it and thankfully closely linked, but expect to face heavy resistance." 

"Sounds crazy, what's in it for us?" Paladin demanded, causing Tegrin to scold. 

"I'll tell you what's in it, Deetex, we have reason to believe his life is in immediate danger." 

Both Paladin and Sobani looked at each other, then in unison answered. 
"We're in." 

Tegrin closed the channel, both James and Dave started hopping between consoles. 

"You try and get in touch with the Amarr Imperial fleet, roll up strike package Delta Charlie, tell them we mean business, I'll send us heading to Gallante space." Paladin ordered. 

"How many jumps?" 

"About five or six, shouldn't take long, so don't you start chatting up the cute comm officer this time, okay?" 

Sobani snikkered as he started modulating frequencies and applying encryptions. 
Getting in touch with Amarr Imperial wasn't the problem, getting in touch with the right person always took a little more effort. 

"Activating warp" Paladin reported, as the ship lurched into the depths of space. 



Hasarith peered around a corner, quickly pulling back again. 

"Damnit, guards everywhere, and not a Concord soldier to be seen." 

He cursed some more, looking back at his friend and only ally Epion. 

"What are you..." he asked. 

Epion was hard at work manipulating a standard mail console, rewiring the base and inputting code. 

"Hacking..." he responded casually. 

Hasarith stepped closer, keeping his voice low. 

"Federation security will kill you once they find out." 

"Nah, I'm good, I used to run an oddjob here and there as security advisor... I always suspected they simply threw my reports out the airlock, never thought I'd be happy learning it was true." 

Epion pressed a few more buttons, the mail terminal instantly changed to a different screen layout with logistical data and shipping manivests. 

"Look at that, you won't find Concord anywhere, they've been ordered to withdraw... scared off the miners too, only thing that docked here in the past hour was a solitary Orca." 

Epion scrolled through the reports, large amounts of ammo were being moved, ships repaired and personel embarking and disembarking by the boatload. 

"See if you can enter the security grid, we need a safe route to the shipyards." 

"Tempting my criminal tendancies? The Federation will kill you if they ever learn you're aiding and abetting a hacker." Epion teased. 

"Nah, it's good, a friend of mine used to run security on one of these stations, I'll be fine" Hasarith retorted. 

Epion got to work, entering more code and trying different systems. 

After a few minutes Epion sighed in frustration. 

"Nothing, can't get in..." 

"What's wrong, they actually read some of your reports this time?" 

"No, it's not that... there's nothing to get into, security grid is offline, either that or on a seperate system, but I can't find it." 

"Mr Celdom is right on both accounts, seperate system..." a new voice muttered. 
A hooded man stepped around the corner, facing them, remaining shrouded in darkness. 

"...and offline." 

Hasarith responded immediatly, taking a step forward, drawing and aiming his sidearm. 

"Identify yourself, are you responsible for this?" he demanded. 

"Easy, I'm a friend, I've been send to your aid." the man responded, gently raising his hands. 

"I'm a friend of Deetex" he added. 

"Prove it" Epion said. 

"He's an asshole" The man replied. 

Epion snorted, but Hasarith was not impressed. 

"That won't do, everybody knows he's an asshole, I'm no different." 

"He's an asshole that I, some time ago, outranked." The man answered, moving to remove his hood. 

The glittering golden plate on his head and Amarrian facial features were clearly defined, as was the familair scar on his brow. 

"Paladin?!" Hasarith yelped, keeping his weapon trained on the newcomer. 

"In the flesh." 

"Haven't seen you around in a while, what's a slaver doin' in Gallante space?" 

"You'd better ask how to get out, but unless he lowers his heat it'll be in a bodybag" another voice proclaimed. 
It was coming from behind Epion, they had been so distracted they hadn't noticed him approaching. 

Epion feld the cold metal of a handgun being pressed against his neck, and didn't move. 

"I say again, lower your weapon, Hasarith." 

Hasarith held his breath, contemplating. 
The situation was tense, decisions hard and reprecussions lasting. 
He lowered his weapon. 

"Tell Sobani to lower his piece" he ordered. 

"How did you guys get here, anyway?" Epion asked as he was being released. 

"Falsified paperwork, jittery transponder and a ship that doesn't draw attention." Sobani replied. 

Hasarith cocked his head slightly. 

"Not an Orca by any chance?" 

Paladin nodded. 

"The ISS Murphy's Minion, nothing but veldspar in the cargoholds at the moment, the maintenance bay however..." 

Hasarith didn't let him finish. 

"Got enough room for a battlecruiser in there, a Talos to be specific?" 

Paladin pondered. 
"Yes, I think so." 

"We have our exit strategy then." Epion concluded. 

"All we need to do now is get to the landing bay." Sobani muttered, looking at the long corridor behind him. 

"We can use the maintenance tubes." Paladin stated, as he started working on a ventilation grill. 

WIthout the security grid online they could indeed, Hasarith hadn't even thought about it yet, but now that he did he couldn't help but grin. 

The trip through the station's dark and gritty corridors and shafts took what felt like days, loosing their way halfway across the habitat and finding it again reaching the greenhouse complex. 

Not once did they encounter anybody they didn't want to. 

"How exactly did you get the security grid offline without setting off every single alarm on the station?" Epion asked while climbing up a ladder. 

"We're somewhat masters of unconventional tactics, combat drones aren't the only robotics susceptible to rogue behaviour." Paladin replied. 

"A computer virus reprogrammed the security monitors to loop the last couple of frames, while controlled nanite paste prevents the command center from contacting the security offices." 

Epion wistled, clearly impressed. 

"Huh, nanite paste, never thought about using the stuff for those purposes, clever..." 

After a long climb they reached the top, a sealed access hatch between them and what they hoped was the shipyard, the noise coming from it was deafening. 

"Can't tell by the smell, it's either the yard's waste dump or the station's waste reclamation bay, either case I don't want to open this hatch!" Hasarith bellowed over the noise overhead. 

"Just do it already!" Sobani yelled back, impatient and tired. 

Hasarith released the locks, and the hatch flung open. 
There was no change in the noise, but the smell got better. 

Carefully, Hasarith peered out, letting out a quiet sigh of relief. 
"Alright!" he yelled. 
"We made it, and the bay is deserted!" 

Hurriedly they crawled out the chute and made their way to the cargo crane control box. 
"I'll prep the Atlas for departure, get ready to leave on my signal" Epion called, making his way to a different dock. 
When Hasarith, Sobani and Paladin finally embarked, they were surprised to learn Epion was still docked. 

"Epp, is there a problem?" Hasarith transmitted. 
It took a few seconds for Epion to respond. 
"No problem, just, uh, clearing some paperwork first, you lot ready?" 

"Standing by and awaiting your call." 

Leaving the com channel open, Epion ordered his crew to depart. 

The Atlas, a typhoon class battleship, pulled up in front of the Murphy's minion, it's armor and shield systems radiant, and started crawling to the landingbay's access hatches. 

The automated docking systems immediately opened the massive doors, letting the bleeding sunlight of Oursulaert's red giant seep in. 
Usually a breathtaking spectacle, the four men were not breathing for entirely different reasons, as several cruisers and battleships started changing their headings to intercept the large ship. 

The Atlas' afterburners kicked in, straining it's hull as the increased their almost doubled its speed. 
Not a second later did the first of many projectiles strike the Atlas' mighty shields. 

Epion gave a short pulse transmission, nothing but static, but a definit signal, the Murphy's Minion fired its engines. 

"He's taking a beating" Sobani noticed. 
"But he's tanking it, and shooting back, look!" Hasarith replied, as the Atlas' massive artillery cannons and cruise missile bays opened up. 

Ungrouped and outside the optimal ranges, Epion's guns were cycling between targets faster then he could reload, drawing attention from everywhere by sheer bravado. 
"We're clear, warp drive's ready." Paladin called. 
Hasarith slammed his first on the broadcast button. 
"Epion, go!" 

Within seconds the two ships accelerated to warp speeds, gracefully sliding past the unsuspecting hostile ships, as their target locks invalidated themselves. 

Finally breathing again, the Murphy's minion's crew howled and jumped, celebrating their unbelievable luck. 
They knew they weren't out of the woods yet, not by a long shot, but ever step along the way was a monumental victory. 

They were all celebrating... Except for Epion. 
"Were coming up on the gate, get ready." he send back over the open channel. 
Hasarith noticed it only a few seconds later, a few precious seconds too late. 
"Wait, already?" 
He moved closer to a console and pulled up the navigation charts. 
"That's not right." 
With a sudden lurch and alarm bells ringing all over the ship came to a grinding halt, it's warp tunnel shattered and power systems shorting out. 
Paladin and Sobani were knocked to the floor as chairs, papers and other items flew about. 
"Report!" Paladin ordered. 
Hasarith checked his instruments. 
"Interdiction field, shields, capacitor, engines... All gone!" 
Threw the com line Hasarith could see Epion reaching over to a flashing red button on his own console. 
"Sorry Has, bill me for it." 
He pressed the button. 

The Atlas' artillery fired again, this time upon the undefended Industrial ship, knocking off a sizable chunk of armor plating with an EMP round. 
With only a single shot fired the afterburners kicked in, sending the Typhoon and it's treacherous captain hurdling towards the jump gate. 

Epion, unruffled, started closing communication channels. 
"Things aren't as they seem, Has, maybe look at the bigger picture first..." 

He closed the com channel, leaving Hasarith Seraphine, Dave Sobani and James Paladin with a damaged and shorted out ship in the depths of space, helpless. 
Hasarith yelled after Epion, sending his name echoing to the very depths of hell itself, seething in rage.