A Knife Too Sharp
Unknown Wormhole Space
With a slight crackle the voice communications in the pod came to life. The crackle was artificial and unnecessary as the network connection was perfect but the developers added it to make capsuleers feel better. Sometimes perfect technology can be unsettling even to immortals.
“Do you remember the coordinates?” A woman’s voice asked. She seemed angry and the pod’s occupant was put off. He put as much of a scowl into his voice as he could muster and replied.
“Yes sister. I remember the coordinates. I have been repeating them for two hours. They are 24-”
He was quickly cut off as the connection dropped. Across from his lazily spinning pod sat an Astero and circling like honeybees were light drones. He tried to follow their motions but whatever pattern they were doing had a complexity enough to befuddle his implant free brain.
He began to wonder what was happening in the Astero. Silence was never a great sign in these engagements and time wasn’t on his side if he was to get where he needed to be. As if on cue voice was re-initialized. Her voice was calmer now, almost sad.
“You are cleared to go Brother Duncan. God’s speed.”
Duncan never got the chance to respond and he was only partially aware of the subtle change in space as the drones sped away then looped back to attack. Each honey bee tore into the pod with rail gun charges and in a second it was debris and dust. He felt no pain nor heard a sound..
A minute later each drone fell inactive in space and the Astero disappeared into the veil of a cloak.
Two minutes later brother Duncan DeClerque of the Servant Sisters of Eve awoke in a cloning bay screaming out in fear and pain.
With a handshake and a transfer of isk the bargain had been struck. Johan mused on how naïve the Sisters of Eve executive seemed in that meeting. Brother Declerque had been dressed in an ill-fitting suit and had the air of someone who had never experienced the bustle of the Dodixie station let alone negotiate a contract with one of its denizens.
It was to be a simple sightseeing job. Take the man to a remote part of a null system and launch a bomb at an asteroid to map out something or other. The details were fuzzy but the isk would pay Johan’s station fees for a year. Johan’s ship, a Nemesis with a tricked out transponder, could handle the trip in hours without any of the thousand things that go bump in space knowing he had ever undocked.
Johan finished his warm up on the capacitor and turned to see his guest enter the cramped bridge. He had changed into an odd jump suit crisscrossed with wires and in one hand he held out a data chip.
“On this chip are the exact coordinates of our destination as well as some upgrades to the modules on this ship from our labs. This is quite an early model?” Duncan asked.
Johan took the chip skeptically before responding.
“Well yeah I’m behind on software. Me owning this boat is a little off the books. I’m no capsuleer.”
He plugged in the chip and reviewed the updates. Duncan had been right. Without exception every module could be improved afterwards even running the covert ops cloak for several hours it wouldn’t overheat or cap out.
“By the way” Johan asked without turning from the console as updates flowed through his ship. “What’s with the suit?”
“Oh this?” Duncan responded.
“It’s a Pinnacle Savior Suit. Our own design. We use them near Blood Raider sites. Should the worst happen and there is a chance we are boarded by them the suit can be used to disintegrate me entire body down to the molecular level. Nothing left, not even a trace the body was there. It ensures our bodies cannot be defiled by their evils.”
Several flippant responses flashed through Johan’s head about paranoia but he thought better and just nodded.
“We’re ready to go. It will take an hour or so to get there so sit back and relax.” Johan said.
Silent and deadly the Nemesis slipped into its cloak like diving under water and disappeared from view. Johan couldn’t help but smile at it and aligned to the fist gate. He could slip through every one with his hacked transponder and slip away before Concord could scan him. Leaving Dodixie he mused about the heavy Navy contingent flowing out as well. Seemed everyone was sightseeing today.
Unknown Null System
Five gate camps, three government armadas, and a close call with a pirate interdictor later Johan aligned to the coordinates set in his computer. A quick scan showed the system empty. Empty of moons, empty of stations, ships.. Truly nothing but a single gate.
“Brother Duncan, we have arrived, just warping to the coordinates now.” He called over his shoulder.
“Are we alone in the system?” Duncan asked, appearing behind Johan’s shoulder.
“Yes.” He replied.
“Good, turn off the cloak when we land, and scan the area.” Duncan’s voice was tense, like an instrument string turned a half turn too much.
As the ship landed Johan turned off the cloak and set a clock to when it was cooled down enough to re-engage. Empty systems made him more edgy then busy ones. At least you knew where your risks were.
In front of the ship was not an asteroid and the Nemesis’ scanners looking over it were inconclusive as to exactly what it was. A single sphereacal module with two parallel spurs extending on the tip. Soft glows emenated from it pulsing to an unknown beat yet it displayed no outward signs of power.
“What the-“ Johan started.
“I must give you my first apology Johan. For the lie. You can see it is no asteroid. It is something we have been seeking for a long time. Everyone has been seeking it.”
The scanners ticked and Johan looked down to read off the analasys.
“It’s an acceleration gate. No a jump bridge?” Johan asked.
“Both in fact. Jovian, or older.” Duncan answered. He was now leaning forward over Johan’s shoulder and pushing buttons on a side console to bring up more pictures.
“It is not operating, or we do not yet know how to point it, but with it, you could jump any number of ships to anywhere in the known systems empire, null, anywhere. And more specifically without an anchor or cynosural beacon on the other end.” Duncan continued.
Johan could feel the hairs rise on the back of his neck and he anxiously took another scan of the system. Empty.
“But with that.. that’s.. “ He found himself at a loss for words.
”Yes I know Johan. With such an item in their possession one could operate with impunity, and now that everyone knows where it is located.” Duncan let his words trail off.
“What do you mean every-“ Johan was cut off by a claxon from his console.
“Multiple cynos lit, four, five… Gods we have incoming. Amarr, Caldari, Gal- Everyone!” Johan made some mental calculations in his head and set to realign back to the gate.
“Can they see us? Can they see the artifact?” Duncan asked. His voice was far too calm.
“Yes you idoit of course they can see us. We have fast tackle incoming carriers have launched fighters.”
Leaning over just a little farther Johan flicked a previously unlit switch and Duncan could hear a slight kerplunk from the bowls of his ship. With mounting horror he watched the bomb glide silently over to the artifact and with a spherical implosion rip it into a million shards of metal. Activating the cloak he spun his chair around to face Duncan.
“You son of a b-“
Duncan stopped him with a hand up and a soft sad smile.
“You must realize Johan that no one may have that artifact because everyone would misuse it. It needed to be done publically as well so they stop looking for it. And that is my second apology to you, that you were made to do it.”
‘Oh you’re going to tell them you did it you… you.” Johan glanced over his shoulder at a lock warning. That didn’t make sense, the ship was- Duncan interrupted his thought as if he could read it.
“You’re not cloaked. You will find the cloak and your engines have been disabled. Your ship’s records have been scrubbed of all that has occurred since before you and I met. Or rather, we never met. It has been a pleasure Duncan, and again I am sorry.”
With that Johan stepped back, bowed a crooked bow and activated a small console at his side. In an incandescent flash that blinded Duncan and made his head swim Johan, brother of the Sisters of Eve, ceased to be.
Johan slumped back down into his chair as his ship complained about a hundred pinpoints of web disruption knocking on the door as the collective anger of New Edan rolled toward him