Despite Nevna’s advice I had already started thinking about leaving the safety of Umokka X-4. Eager to begin paying back my debt to him I had managed to hook up a job working for the Cal Navy. It was the standard Merc job that a year ago I would have completed in minutes. I was rusty, and Nevna had told me to stay put; but I had an urge to prove I was not useless, to show I was changing already from my habits. So I began my flight preparations. First was the dock embargo, a quick transaction paid for my missing docking fees, and a generous bonus to the docking staff. A further reimbursement to the Concord Veterans Fund helped ease the old bills grudge. Political issues sorted I turned to the physical needs of war. Ammo was easily enough acquired and automatically loaded into my cargo bay. I was ready to return to the land of the living. Water and food had also been delivered by the docking cranes, along with an order of fresh clothes. I quickly stripped out of my soiled clothing, washed in the steam room and put on my fresh capsular suit. Cleansed I saw truly for the first time the squalor I had been living in. Disgusted I vowed to sort it, after beginning my repayment. I left my pit and walked the dusty corridors towards the bridge.
People often underestimate the size of a Space Ship. The smaller ships, Frigate class, are around the size of a planetary airliner. The Rokh has a mass of roughly 263 of the airliners and its drone bay alone could hold around 5 of them. As with most ships the Rokh was originally designed for a crew, in this case around 500 souls, with later designs converted to the Jovian Capsule system. Most of the crew quarters were converted to machine rooms and computer bays during the conversion to a capsule ship. However it could still comfortably house around 70 people, and many more uncomfortably. A ten minute walk brought me to the bridge. Untouched for a year the door slid open into a pristine room. Capsular Bridges are sparse. Some of the standard fleet bridge equipment remained, weapons, navigation, and scanning stations, but they were rarely used. Most of the equipment in the centre of the room had been removed. In their place was the capsule chair. The capsule Chair is a horror and a modern marvel rolled into one. Solidly build like a physician or dental chair, its stark plane design contrasted with the rest of the equipment in the room drawing the eye, out of place, bare, powerful. A semi circular neck rest, arm and feet holds were its only extras. A ring of silver material surrounded the whole chair marking the safety range of the chair. My Capsulers suit was cut short at the arms and legs to allow bare skin contact to the semi circular rests. The metal was cold against my skin, but as I took my place in the chair it awoke me into my former self.
The chair reacted to me immediately. Its conductive coating allowing it to replace my nervous system with the ships controls. Instantly my body went numb. Although the chair does not cause you to lose body control it does become secondary to ship control. Your eyes continue to see, but your minds inner eye is replaced by the remote camera following the ship. I could feel the ships condition, control it with my mind. A quick diagnostic told me the ship was in reasonable condition, with a few minor weapons system issues. A few seconds was enough time to request a repair from the stations automated systems, I reloaded the launchers, and I was cleared to undock. Allowing the station to convey my ship to space, I prepared myself for my flight. It was glorious, like swimming in a pressure less sea. The engines kicked in and gave a good solid push to the monster, drawing me away from the station and into deep space. Setting my Course for the system in which the pirates were located, I aligned for the gate and brought the ship to warp. The flight was like a rebirth, 4 systems later I was higher than I had even been on the pure exhilaration of space flight. But like a true high, the down was just around the corner, or in this case, more literally through the next gate. As gate control confirmed safe arrival in the system something strange appeared on my overview, a red flashing ship. Having been used to fighting pirates and other undesirables automatically marked as enemies by the system, I was not used to combat with other Capsulers. The red flash acquired a red frame, I was locked and I knew my warp drive had been disabled and my ship had been webbed.
I knew I had only once chance, returning to the gate and attempting to escape back to the previous system. Checking my position, I knew it was going to be a long distance. Setting the ship for full speed to the gate (90 odd meters per second, reduced to around 20 by the Web) I concentrated on the combat to come. A ripple of fire erupted from the side of the Domi and I had just enough time to activate my hardeners before they impacted on the shields. Assessing the damage I decided I might just make this, and sent the command to the cruise missile batteries to open fire. To my awe, my initial damage assessment had been wrong, out from behind the Domi drones undocked. I mentally kicked myself. Gallente ships were almost always drone boats, with hybrid rails as an afterthought. The battle raged. His drones and Hybrids taking huge chunks out of my shields I knew it was a matter of time before they found my hull. However he had made a mistake straying to within 20 thousand km, closing for the kill, he was now within range of my heavy Vampires. Activating all four removed his powered Hybrid turrets from the fray and began to replenish my depleting capacitor charge. I was in with a chance. However I was still a good 10km away from jumping through the gate, but it might just be enough. However just as I was sure of my escape, a bright flash showed my doom. Gatefire, new reds in system, I swore as they locked me up adding their fire power to my incoming damage. Even sucking life from their allies Domi I was going to die before I reached 5km. Feeling the missile magazine empty I slid the next 21 rounds into the bay, and decide to take the Domi with me. He was well into the last 20% of his armour and going down. As my shields buckled his hull started melting. It was a matter of who died first. The extra damage brought by his friends had been fully applied now, and I was dying fast. As the final salvo needed left the missile tube bound for him, the pod alarms sounded, Hull breach. The silver circle around the pod chair extended out of the floor forming a cocoon around me. Tubes slid from hidden parts of the floor and chair to support my life and the pod prepared for ejection. It took seconds but I hardly noticed. I was glued to the cruise missiles accelerating towards the Domi as the ship disintegrated around my Pod, I watched the missile sale into the Domi, or at least, where it had been. As the salvo closed to 200 meters, the Domi leapt into warp and the missile sailed unguided into empty space. I screamed in rage. So shocked I missed the lock on my Pod, and only realised my impending doom as a needle pressed against my neck. My external view of my pod showed a super heated bolt of metal destined for my delicate Pod. A juddering impact, my last view was the pods fluid being sucked into space along with my own and what was left of my lower body. But I was already dead. The pods suicide system had injected me the moment the pod was breached, and numb death embraced me. The world went black.