(Be advised, tale inside is extremely grim)
Kyn Avid watched impassively as his new boss chewed him out. He watched the spit from the man's furiously working mouth fly, and endured the forceful pokes to his chest.
Avid observed as his mouth spoke the necessary words, watching his boss. The man continued to posture angrily and make hostile noises, then strode off with a look of self satisfaction.
Insecure and easily placated, Avid wrote in his little black book. Possible weak link.
Supposedly in disgrace, Avid was set to washing the corridors. Other crewmen jeered and hooted as he worked with the sonic mop and much patience to remove decades of renegade filth and blood and grime from dirty decking. He ignored them-he'd already observed that they were unable to initiate a fight without a leader. That had gone into the book as well, on page 92. As renegades went, these did not impress.
A small, twitchy, beady eyed man sidled up to Avid. "Hey, uh, Avid," he said.
"Keff," Avid said blandly, continuing his work.
"So, uh, did you hear? Did you hear about the, uh, the raid?"
"Nope," Avid said. Avid observed Keff subtly.
"We, uh, we're gonna hit a planet!" Keff chirruped nervously. "Ain't that, uh, ain't that something?" he asked, eyes flicking back and forth.
"It is," Avid said.
Keff hesitated as if preparing for a plunge, then all at once he said "Well, there's women on planets, right? Right? I could use one, I mean, I'd-"
Avid looked at Keff. Keff jumped. "I-I-just saying-" Keff stuttered.
"Go do something, Keff," Avid said, turning back to his work.
Keff scurried off without a word. Avid had already evaluated the little man. Keff was broken, damaged and abused. He sometimes hung around Avid because Avid was not given to violence, for whatever reason, and Keff had developed a pathetic loyalty to Avid. Keff was weak and shattered, and adrift in a sea of grinning jackals. He wouldn't last much longer.
Avid returned to work.
Avid was cleaning out a side room in the engineering deck, when a gang of crewmen surrounded him.
"So, it's our likkle wifey, workin' away!" one jeered. "Got an apron, wifey?"
"Hey, c'mere wifey!" another said. "I'll-"
They kept talking, but Avid affected to ignore them. He knew they were unstable, they wouldn't be able to handle his ignoring them.
Which gave him the advantage.
One of the renegades stepped forwards and shoved Keff into the wall. "I'm TALKIN' to you, ######!" the renegade snarled. Avid looked at him, then shook his head slowly and pityingly.
Avid lashed out with his right hand, nails tearing through the pirate's filthy jumpsuit. His hand plunged into the pirate's guts, got a good grip, then ripped them out.
The steaming pile of entrails slopped to the deck. The renegade's eyes bulged, and he collapsed.
The moment stretched, frozen, as Avid regarded his handiwork. "Darn," he mused, wiping his hand clean on a rag, his jumpsuit sprayed red with blood. "Now I'll need to kill you witnesses too."
He cleaned up the mess when he was done, and reactivated the security cameras in the area after feeding it a loop to cover the period when they were offlined. Avid had discovered he liked to whistle while he worked. He enjoyed this small eccentricity while he wiped the blood from the decking.
The ship had finally entered the target zone. Avid had been paying close attention.
Off ship communications and status were kept from the renegade crew, but any crew has its ways of gleaning information.
Avid was under the impression that, not just one ship, but a group of ships had entered the system. The renegades were organizing.
Avid sat down in the barrack, when he finally had a moment alone, and took out the little black book he had kept for months of undercover work, committing every observation to memory for his mission. Then he carefully destroyed it, and set about recovering the pieces for his Blazer Pistol from his meager possessions.
Avid had been ordered back to his engineering post, since the ship was in a combat condition He sat at his station, lit by the yellow and orange Engineering icons flashing on his screen. He jabbed at grubby black keys, scanning line after line of glowing text.
Though it looked like he was monitoring drive pressure, he had actually hacked into the ship's command battlenet to gain a full understanding of the situation.
There were a total of five Turncoat class warships in system, two more than expected. With the fleet so pressed fighting the Voinians, he would need to do a bit of damage to prepare for Third Force's arrival.
Hacking the renegade ICE was effortless. He had plenty of time to install his attack viri. One would detonate his station, causing confusion and enabling him to escape, and the other and the other would simultaneously set the ship's reactor core to self destruct in five minutes.
Avid braced himself.
The keys of the terminal exploded outward in a shower of sparks. He gave a feigned cry of pain and fell backwards.
"Avid!" the boss roared in anger, thundering over. "What then hell-"
"Boss! We've got a navy virus in the system!" one of the techs said, terrified. You do not want a combat virus on your ship's mainframe. Ever.
"WHAT!?" the boss demanded, distracted. The engineering deck was rife with confusion, and Avid used the chance to escape.
Avid made it to the ship's escape pod bay with a minute to spare-a Turncoat was a large ship. Klaxons blared and hooted and red alarm lights flashed. A chip voice quietly advised the crew to make their way to the escape pod bay in an orderly fashion, barely audible in the chaos.
A massed tide of renegades were fighting into the escape pods. The overhead lights in the darkened bay cast chaotic shadows as the crew cried out and bellowed and grunted and shoved, struggling to survive. All but two of the overhead pod displays glared red, indicating that only two escape pods were left.
Avid realized that he would need to act fast to get off the ship. This was the only avenue of escape left to him.
So he leveled his gun and held down the trigger.
The crewers fell out of his way, scrambling in a panic. Most of them died. Once, one rushed at him and he reflexively blew the renegade's head off-too late, he realized it was Keff.
He made it to the escape pod, and slammed the door shut. Corpses littered the inside of the pod, but there was no time to be worried about that. He slammed the launch button.
There was an explosive crump, and the escape pod separated from the ship. He could see the renegades hammering at the hatch on the ship, faces contorted and screaming in silent agony with red lights flashing behind them. He stood in his pod, surrounded by silence, watching through the window. He continued watching as the pod drifted farther and farther away, the red light shrinking, until they could not be seen at all.
The ship in totality was visible to him, hanging surrounded by Kraits and its fellow Turncoats. Helians were scattered through the formation. The ship was the largest of all the Turncoats, ranked with guns and turrets. She must have taken some time to build; probably her captain was proud to fly her.
Slowly but surely, the ship began to tear apart, in crimson bursts of fire.
Avid walked back into the front of the pod and sat down in the control chair. He engaged the pod's plasmatorch drives, and the white-hot flares of the drives silently sprung to life. He was inconvenienced by a sudden blurring of his vision, and a wetness, and he blinked annoyedly as he tried to get rid of it. He happened to glance back, and he jumped as he saw his face reflected in the holovid display.
It was wrenched with horror, tightened from fear and shock, and contorted into a mask. His face was pale and he was trembling from shock.
He leaned forward and held his head in his hands for a long moment. Then he straightened, and turned on the holovid. It scanned for a channel, then it found a music station and the inside of the cockpit was filled with the long sound of violins.
He tried to relax, then he realized he hadn't turned on the SOS broadcast. Without it, he might not be picked up when the fleet arrived.
He reached over and pushed the button. Nothing happened.
He tried again, more urgently. Still nothing. Then he leaned down and looked more closely, and he realized that there were three smoldering Blaze Pistol holes in the broadcaster.
His oxygen began to run out eventually. Avid stood mechanically and began to ready a coldsleep cabinet. He paused briefly, considering turning off the holovid unit to save battery power. He decided against it. He wanted company in oblivion.
As the cabinet quietly whirred closed around him, he shut his eyes and wished he'd never entered the service.
A grey, round capsule floats in the velvet embrace of endless night. There are no lights on the capsule; it is drifting and dead.
The ship approaching it is not. It flashes are glares, bespeaking safety and glorious civilization.
The ship drifts slowly to match with the capsule, and docks with it.
The air inside is cold, and the only light comes from a flickering holovid unit playing to an audience of the dead and the damned.
"A representative from the UE Navy informs us that a UE secret police agent who participated in Operation Iron Viper, just two weeks ago, is still missing." The blond man glammers. His teeth flash whitely against the dark metal and catch on the cold mist inside the pod. "The agent was operating undercover in the Renegade flotilla, and it is believed that he may have died after setting a renegade vessel, the Iron Sally, to detonate."
The hatch loosens. With a grinding creak it opens, and a spacesuited figure drops inside onto a floor covered by corpses. If it is discomforted by the presence of dead bodies inside, no one else could tell. The black space visor reflects the light from the holovid.
"The hearts and minds of all of us here at UECN go out to the poor family of the agent in question."
"In other news-"
The figure shuts off the holovid. The harsh glare of the figure's helmet floodlights blaze through the darkness. There is silence inside the pod, except for the sound of the suited figure shifting.
It looks to the left, and starts back visibly.
Avid's face, locked into a grimace of fear and pain, distorted under the blue lights of the coldsleep cabinet, looks back.
This post has been edited by Shlimazel : 02 July 2009 - 03:51 PM