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Eve Online - Blazing

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

All it takes is the blink of an eye... 
Our lives flash before us... atoms collide and neurons respond, light travels from one star onto another. 
It takes only a blink of an eye to damn every living soul you know to oblivion... I have seen it happen... blinking and unblinking. 
But if one could stop blinking all together, would time pass at all? 
Would anything ever happen, perpetual in limbo? 

Would anybody ever die, but then... would anybody ever live? 

~Deetex Seraph, reflections upon time and self. 

It took a long moment before he realized he was awake again. 
Trying to look around, he couldn't see through the thick loekwarm fluid that surrounded him. 
He tried to yell, to scream, to make any kind of sound to draw attention, every gasp flooded out by the fluids. 

He felt a change, something stirring behind him. 
The cables keeping him suspended tightened, then lapsed, released. 
He felt cold inside, as the fluid drained throwing him against the hard plate. 
The protective cover slid open, pooring cables and fluids and sweeping him with it. 

The icy cold air tore at his exposed flesh, the blinding light burned out his sight as he tried to peer around. 
He couldn't breath, wheezing as he coughed up the fluid that intruded in his lungs. 
After a few precious seconds of blissfull unawareness his condition started settling in. 
He had burned in vengeance, blown up his ship to get even with his nemesis. 

He tried to get up, but found his limbs barely had the strength to move. 

He hated this process... despite the years of Infomorphic psychology training, he still hated it. 

'Nessesary... evil...' was the only thought he could formulate. 

Finally the medical bay's systems sprang to life, poking and probing his skin and body, making sure this new clone was up to standard. 
Two mechanical arms lifted him up, suspending his motionless limbs in the air, while two more arms were cleaning him up and draping him in protective sheets of fabric. 

More needles appeared, injecting steroids and stimulants in his muscles, electrifying his nervous system as it started kicking in with spasms. 

Finally his body learned to move on it's own again, he took a few deep breaths and exhaled slowly. 
His eyes still hadn't adapted properly yet, but that would change soon enough. 

The machines gently put him down again, his feet testing their new dexterity, his legs still straining. 

He took one careful step forward, testing his balance. 

"Welcome back" a familair sounding voice greeted. 

Exhailing loudly, he spoke his visitor's name. 


Standing right beside him, Epion raised has hands, holding a rifle. 
Slowly his eyes focussed on his friends, only in time to see the back-end of the rifle speeding towards him. 
With a flash the rifle struck his skull. 
He lost his balance, and started falling sideways. 

Everything went red before his eyes, fading into nothingness before he could hit the ground. 
With a mounting feeling of dread he surrendered to unconsciousness... 

Dominic Tegrin, supreme commander of the Imperial Sardaukar terrortroops stood high atop the command pillar of his flagship, the titan ISS Inexorable, Erebus class. 

All round him officers ran rampant between consoles and terminals, giving orders, taking reports and exchanging data. 
Beyond the confines of the gargantuan ship the situation was identical, hundreds of ships of all types and sizes flew about, changing positions and entering formation. 
Dozens of battleships were holding position in front of the Inexorable, as frigates and cruisers sped between them. 

Not five hundred kilometers in front of them waited the enemy fleet, thousands of frigates and cruisers, hundreds of battleships and several carriers. 

Slowly the two groups drew closer. 

"Formation report." Tegrin ordered. 
Within seconds the officers responsible for such information had a full report compiled. 
One such officer gave him a brief summary. 
"Sir, 85% of the fleet reports combat ready state and has assumed required formations, the rest are falling in as we speak." 

"Anything on long-range D-scans?" he asked. 

Another officer looked up. 
"Negative sir, aside from a handful of privateers it's just us and our friends over there." 

"No immediate reinforcements then..." he concluded. 
"Alright, let's get on with business, open a comm to the fleet." 
Almost instantly he had his order executed. 
"Channel open, sir." 

"This is Burseg Tegrin to all forces." he started 
Commanding supreme authority and wielding nearly limitless power, his orders were executed at a moments notice, without questioning. 
He bore witness to a monumental event, the making of history. 
"Scouts maintain positions on out-gates and watch for cyno's, standard battle plan, keep their logistics and support suppressed via E-warfare." 
More officers moved about, taking positions. 
"Assault forces, move to vectors for alpha and prepare to engage." 
Within minutes the ships under his command moved in to mingle with the opposing forces, everything from frigates and drones to battleships and heavy assault cruisers following their training. 

"Fleet is in position." another officer yelled over the chatter. 

Tegrin took a deep breath, never flinching, not once blinking. 

"Clear comms, Open up!" 

On his command, all hell broke loose. 
From the enemy carriers swarms of fighters emerged and headed to intercept the oncoming frigates, while the enemy battleships fired at extreme ranges. 
"Vanguard ships, move in and deploy drones." Tegrin ordered. 
The Inexorable's escorting battleships fired their engines as their collective drone bays slid open, sending out wave after wave of tiny robotic warriors to counter the influx of fighter craft. 
Several shots scraped past the Inexorable, bouncing harmlessly off of its shields. 
Other shots found their way to the pursuing battleships and cruisers. 
"Sir, the battleship Titan-B is reporting heavy damage, their tank has sustained excessive damage and is at risk of breaking." an officer reported. 

"Attention logistics wing, proceed to the Titan-B and apply repairs as required, then fall back." 

Tegrin looked at the massive monitors all across his command deck, looking at statistics, transversal data, distances and expected damage outputs. 
Behind him the fleet-wide chatter, normally pleasant and friendly, and at times a little chaotic, was now clear cut and straight to the point. 
One particular comment caught his attention however. 
"This is the Poseidon, you people seeing this?" 

He turned to the bridge's aft section, the rows of communication terminals. 
Turning and pointing to no particular console, he made a command decision. 
"Isolate that channel and put it on the main!" 
"On main now Sir!" 
"Poseidon, this is the Inexorable, report." 

"Commander Sampson here, sir... The enemy formation, it's breaking up sir." 
Tegrin looked at the viewport, seeing what looked like a shift in the enemies numbers, but couldn't see the whole picture.
Those damned carriers! 
"Wings three and five, confirm enemy formation change." 
After only a few seconds he got his reply. 
"This is three, confirmed, enemy has changed vectors, no idea why though." 
"This is five, got a nice big open hole right in the middle, looks like they're making room for something." 

"They can't be bringing in a Supercapitol, can they?" Tegrins adjutant muttered, not realizing she was on the open comm line as well. 
"Negative ma'am, not enough room... Hold on a minute" 

Tegrin kept staring at the view screen and surrounding monitors as he waited for more intel, trying to see what was going on. 
His thoughts were interrupted when another commline interjected, 
"This is recon two, gate activation in progress, influx in local warpcore signatures." 

"Recon two, friendlies?" 
"Negative, negative, got bogies, I've been engaged, got nine....!" 
The commline fell silent. 

"Do not engage, get out of there!" Tegrin yelled, but was met with no reply. 

"Recon two, report." he ordered after a moment had passed. 

He waited, hoping the silence was the result of a glitch or inexperienced comm officer... Something, anything. 
"Recon two." he stated. 
"Sir, I'm not detecting him on scanners anymore... He's gone." 
"Did he jump?" 

The officer did not reply. 
"Did he jump out of system?!" Tegrin asked again. 
"No sir, he did not." 
He sighed, bowing his head slightly. 
"Alright then. 
To the fleet, eyes on gate are compromised, recon wings fall back to secondary positions and maintain wide D-scan surveys of our immediate area, assault wings realign to starting positions and cycle targets, let's..." 
"Sir, got movement, look!" 

His attention was diverted to the enemy fleet, the carriers had almost completely turned around, it's battleship flanks were pulling wide pincer movements and were heading straight to the Inexorable. 
Right from the middle however, something else entirely occurred, causing the Inexorable's targeting scanners to flutter. 
"Wing five, you have eyes on enemy formations, what do you see?" 

"This is five, I'm seeing a wing of interceptors moving fast and burning up, looks like they're heading straight for you." 

"Interceptors, what could they possibly be planning with those?" Tegrin's adjutant inquired. 
"Their weapons wouldn't even penetrate our navigational shieldings, there is something else at stake here." 
"Time to contact, two minutes!" a tactical officer called. 
"Phalanx wing, break formation and pursue incoming, keep those ships off of our logistics!" Tegrin ordered. 
"Roger, acquiring targets" a pilot replied. 

"Sir, phalanx wing consists of missile platforms, their weapons won't reach the interceptors before they reach us." a tactical officer noted. 
The middle aged officer had acquired his position through paperwork alone, and lacked battlefield experience and creative insight. 
"I'm aware of that lieutenant, however it is important to keep our instant-strike weapons on the enemy's bulk force, those logistical ships can spider-tank if they have to." 
Another officer cut in, pointing at a monitor as he spoke. 
"Except they are not heading for our logistics, sir, look at the transverse" 
he was right, the incoming ships had barely veered at all as they streaked past the firing lines. 
"Eta thirty seconds!" 
The situation started sinking in, as Tegrin made out the patterns. 
The opening in the enemy's formation, the on rushing interceptors, burning their hulls to a crisp to get on-site as fast as humanly possible, the sudden intrusion at the jump gate and fierce entrance. 
"Deploy interdiction bubbles!" Tegrin ordered, blurting out e words in a hurry. 
"Interdiction bubbles, sir?" an office repeated, confused. 
"Do it ensign, DO IT NOW!" 
In a flurry of movement several bridge officers leapt back in focus and were hammering away at their consoles. 
Within seconds several ships within the Sardaukar fleet started emitting the shimmering gossamer fields of warp-drive canceling interdiction fields, covering half the battlefield and the fleet in whole. 
"Contact, brace for impact!" a helm officer yelled, grabbing a firm hold of his control board. 
Tegrin watched as the three ships cracked up in flames, striking the shields and armor of the Inexorable in a futile sputter of fire and debris. 
It took Tegrin a few seconds to see what else had happened behind the crashes. 
Other officers noticed it too. 
"The enemy... They, they stopped firing..." 

The bridge went silent, Tegrin didn't wait, his guttfeeling told him something wasn't right. 
"Recon wings, anything on D-scan?" 
"Recon one, all clear." 
"Recon three, no contact." 
The last of the recon ships did not respond immediately. 
Tegrin had seen the roster prior to deploying, and knew this particular pilot was very skeptical, checking everything at least twice before conceding. 
"This is recon four, nothing on... Wait a minute." 

Tegrin dreaded to ask, but did so anyway. 
"Recon four, report, what have you got." 
"Incoming warp signatures, got eight pings, no ID or transponders, moving fast." 
"Do not engage, warp to whatever is in front of you once you're spotted, do you read?" 
"Looks like I won't need to, they passed me and are heading your way... I've got no intel, sorry." 
"All ships, prepare for inbound, load long-range munitions!" 
He turned to the officer that second-guessed his earlier command. 
"THAT's why I ordered the bubble up." 

Smiling he turned to the main overhead viewscreen, trying to guess where the new incoming ships would end up, to be pinned by the interdiction bubble and destroyed by railguns and beam-lasers. 
"Contact, eight signatures warping in." 
"prepare weapons, ready target calls. " 
He spotted the glowing trails of the newcomer's warping engines ahead of everybody else, watched as they grew closer and closer, slowly decelerating. 
He watched as eight bright trails shot past the enemy fleet, straight through the opening they had made earlier. 
He stared, eyes growing wider, as the ships approached, as he realized they were decelerating far too slow! 
Within the blink of an eye, eight Tengu class strategic cruisers found themselves right on top of the titan Inexorable. 

'Immobility drivers!' Tegrin thought, as a trickle of sweat rolled down his head. 
'Had they anticipated bubbles?' 
"Get our ECM on those Tengu's!" he barked, instantly resuming the battle as though nothing serious had happened. 
"Sir, fleet is requesting orders, they aren't weaponized for these ships at this range." 
Tegrin couldn't be bothered with advanced battlefield training, didn't have the time to think of the smart thing to do. 
"Targetcall, all ships in weight class, all drones on the strategics!" he replied, as his orders were relayed to the rest of the fleet. 

The many battleships at both sides exchanged fire once again. Wreaking havoc as both parties had resorted to long distance ordinance. 

None of the Sardaukar ships dared fire their sluggish weapons at the newly arrived cruisers for fear of hitting an ally, railguns and beam-lasers were notably unreliable at shorter ranges, even with specialized ammunition. 
After only a moment's interruption Tegrin focused back onto the eight new threats, noting their hull configurations and movement patterns. 
Definite signs of advanced warp propulsion systems, as well as missile launchers and vastly superior computers and sensors, jamming these ship's wouldn't be easy. 

Splitting in two groups, four Tengu's broke of and quickly accelerated, heading in straight-line formation to the frontline Sardaukar forces. 
The remaining four ships did not fire afterburners, instead casually headed to the massive titan's topside. 
"What are they..." Tegrin puzzled. 
"Do we have a target lock on them yet?" 
"Not yet sir, I'm receiving some heavy feedback resonance from their transponders, it's like they're actively bouncing our scans." 
"Specialized ECCM?" 
"Looks like it, I can't get through, but our own E-warfare ships are having more luck, they've acquired lock and are actively jamming." 
"Good thing they split up then..." the paperwork officer muttered. 
Enraged, Tegrin spun about. 
"There's nothing good about two wings of Tengu's, Strategic Cruisers are not to be taken lightly, even IF they're Caldari-made!" 
"No sir, I mean, yes sir... I mean.." 
"Oh just shut up and start working out a way to get through their..." 
A violent explosion cut his sentence short, sending fire and sparks gliding over the deck. 
"what the... Report!" 
Another explosion roared before he got his reply, right amid chaos and panic. 
"Hullbreaches on several decks, we're taking heavy damage!" 
"Straight through our shields?!" 
"How are they firing at us? 
"Are our shields even up?" 

Tegrin blew on his fingers, whistling loud enough for all to hear. 
"Clear comms, I asked for a report." 
Several officers, still shaking, worked their consoles. 
"Those Tengu's are firing at us and our E-warfare ships, catastrophic damage is reported, and we're taking a lot as well." 
"Really" Tegrin grumbled, looking up at the two holes in the ceiling. 
He then looked onto the overhead viewscreen, shocked to see half his picket-line crumbling at the hands of only four distant cruisers. 
"They must be firing Friend of Foe missiles, that's the only explanation for how they are able to shoot, but those can't possibly penetrate a titan's shields like this?!" Tegrin's adjutant blurted, padding some dust and debris off of her uniform.

As quickly as they came, the eight Tengu's regrouped and warped away, unhampered by the interdiction bubble... Leaving smoldering wrecks and demoralized soldiers in their wake. 
Only then did Tegrin realize what was going on, staring at the overhead projections. 
With their electronic warfare ships out of the picture and their logistics capacity completely swamped, the enemy's pincer maneuver would meet only very little resistance... And the Sardaukar's own interdiction bubbles kept them from warping out or receiving reinforcements. 
They had played their part in a carefully set stage, and now were left with very little to show for. 

Hesitantly Tegrin took a breath, and spoke up. 
"All ships... Brace for incoming Alpha..."