Hangar Bay 4, iSola Shipyard
iSola Prospect (Planetary Outpost)
Brestla System, Imperial Space
"Do you like ger, sir?" - the saleswoman stood three steps behind James. The view in front of him made him almost complete forget about her - an uneasy fit, considering how stunning she was.
"Aye, lass... I DO like her. I really do. Deadly. Exactly what I need".
They just got out from a brand new Alliance Crusader, equipped for Xeno hunting. Armed with AX multicannon, remote FLAK launcher and plasma accelerator, sporting top-of-the-art bi-weave shield with boosters, extra armour layers and structural reinforcement packages and decontamination limpet controllers, on top on hangar bay with the space for two fighters, one of which - Taipan - had AX weapons installed. As James turned his attention from the vessel to the blonde girl, she smiled and produced a datapad with the invoice. More than 100 000 credits. he didn't flinch and signed the contract.
Landing Pad 15
Eranin System, Independent
"Fair play to you, Blasius, for doing this for me" - James put his hand on friend's shoulder. Hajdu smiled.
"Hey, I am doing it not as much for you, as for Sib. You know I like her and want to help her".
"Aye, I do. But none of us has ever fought the bugs before. And we likely may not come back... Ya know what they say they do with the escape pods..."
"Well, I don't. I mean I don't know what they do to the pilots after they scoop them... but come on, James. It won't be that bad, not in this ship" - Blasius gestured around the cockpit. James' gaze followed his hand and finally he grinned.
"Good. Let's get going" - they both sat down on their chairs. Barret at the Helm, Hajdu to the right - "Galnet says that they have just attacked the Kekenk system. It is not far from here... I would start there".
"Agreed, James. Let's go. I am eager to see her in action".
"Aye. We're going to kick their asses alright. And find some biological matter. Should be aplenty where there are lots of bugs".
AX Conflict Zone
Kekenk, Thargoid - infested system
Thargoid scout spinned as series of blue rounds from the Valiant Knight's autocannon shredded through its skin. Few seconds later it exploded.
"Woohooo, got another one!!"
"Well done, James!" - Blasius voice came through intercom, as he had the VR goggles used to control the fighter - "Check the remains for the matter"
"Doing it now... That's cat, nothing.. some weapon fragments. This is useless, lets..."
A surge of power has stopped him mid-sentence. The ship shook and the lights flickered, then died down.
"I lost connection with the fighter" - Hajdu shouted, taking off the goggles.
"Yeah, all systems are down.. we're sitting ducks. Just brilliant".
James looked back at Blasius, who in turn was staring at the battle taking place in front of them. The scouts shooting their red projectiles, Pilot Federation ships firing back, much larger flower-like interceptors and swarms of small... whatever it was engulfing many of the ships.
The power came back maybe 10 seconds later and almost immediately Betty informed:
James punched the afterburner, but to no avail. The ship shook violently, sparks flew from overhead panel.
"I have control over the fighter back!" - Hajdu shouted from behind.
"Leave it, we're punching out! We're loosing armour too fast! Betty, supercruise, now!!!"
"Frame Shift Drive charging... 4...3...2...1... engaged"
Rescue Ship - Paula Dock
It took around 3 hours for the Rescue Ship technicians to repair the damage done by the Thargoids. They replaced punctured armour plates, disinfected the whole ship to remove corrosive substance that covered most of the Valiant Knight's hull. James and Blasius sat in the pit waiting for them to finish.
"Have you spotted any of the biological matter out there?"
"Nay... weapon fragments, some bio-mechanical equipment... but not what we came here to get."
"Perhaps we should use some of those anti-corrosive cargo racks? I mean that acid or whatever it was melts the military grade composite like butter. Just think what it could do to the insides of your ship" - Blasius took a sip of a coffee.
"Aye, perhaps... As soon as they're done with the repairs we'll go in again. I just need to watch out for this energy surge, have a little device here that can stop them from leaving us without the power"
"That's good. Make sure to use it this time".
"Aye. I will"
AX Conflict Zone
Kekenk, Thargoid - infested system
"Another Scout destroyed! Third one for me!" - shouted Blasius.
"Fair play to you! Let's finish this one off!"
James ground his teeth, trying to stay behind one of the scouts. Multicannon rounds were shredding its skin, but it kept turning and evading. Barrett was so focused on the enemy that he didn't see another surge coming their way. Suddenly, the cockpit lights died down again. He saw the closest Thargoid shooting at them, hitting the side of the ship. He also noticed a much larger specimen far above, locked in a deadly dance with several human ships....
"I'll be damned..." - said Blasius - "How can we win with them...?"
"By not getting surprised" - there was anger in James' voice. He was ready to counter the surge, but lost his focus. He can't let it to happen again.
The systems came back online. Shields were down, hull at little below 50%.
"Blasius, we're getting out of here.. we got hit with this caustic substance again".
"Use the decontamination limpet and recharge the shields, we can.."
"God damn! I forgot to load the damn limpets! Betty, supercruise!!!"
Just before they jumped, the ship shook once more. Hull integrity went down to 22%.
But they were safe.
"Alright, good. We're good. Just got to find a place to land and get this corrosive shit off us..."
"How about that station just 20 mM from here? Herald SM33?"
"I have no idea what it is.. if ya cannot dock there, because it is some kind of a research station, we're done. Let's go for the closest normal outpost"
They both looked at the distance. 4500 ls. And they were still in the gravity well of the nearby planet. Valiant Knight was accelerating, but slowly. Very slowly. When finally they started moving faster, the hull was already at 10%.
"Come on.. come on... we'll make it.. come on..."
"Warning. Canopy breach detected. Life support system active" - announced Betty. The cracks on the cockpit glass became much bigger.
924 ls... 9%.
500 ls... 7%.
"Slow down! You'll overshoot it!" - shouted Blasius.
"I've got it under control" - replied James. And then he did it. He overshot the station.
"I am transmitting our coordinates to the search parties, James".
"We will make it! Come on! Come on!!!!"
20Mm... 1%. Ship began to shake uncontrollably.
"Eject, Blasius! We're punching out!".
They both did. Few seconds later they saw the Valiant Knight disintegrate into small pieces....
A great example of how series of wrong decisions and lousy flying can lead to catastrophic results...
I forgot to load up decontamination limpets. If I had only one, the ship would be saved.
I made a wrong decision and instead of going for a military vessel just 20Mm away, I chose an outpost 4000+ ls from me with Thargoid acid slowly making its way through my ship.
Finally I came in too fast and overshot the station, loosing precious seconds. And a vessel worth over 100 million.
According to the rules I follow, I never rebuy the ships and use them. I pay the insurance cost but then sell them at the closest station, simulating retrieving insurance money, but having to buy a different ship. So much for the Thargoid Hunter career... for now.
Thanks to Matt Horner for great RP!