Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Akokaida Ahitaitoh sat at her desk and watched the three tri-d screens projected above her desk. She had been watching them all for several hours and the decisions she made next might make or break her career. Her superiors, upon hearing about Kruul's latest kidnapping had been most specific, and the father of the kidnapped scion was one of the most influential members of the Home Guards Inner Circle in this region. If she failed to act she'd be as good as dead. If she acted and failed, there wouldn't be enough left of her to worry about. She lit a cigarette and looked at the dossiers before her, each one covered in stamps, ribbons and security markers.
"Damn," she whispered as she watched the three screens. The three officers of the White Rabbits, the semi-legal arm of the Guristas Associates were sitting in one of the less popular bars, the Blue Oxygen Bar, and toasting their successes. Opening their folders she flipped through the lists of missions they had performed for the Home Guard, their standings, their abilities.
"Damn,"she whispered. That she had tools available to go and take the fight to Kruul was apparent, the fleet arm of the Home Guard was strong enough, but it was riddled with informants. And to rescue the scion, she needed an edge, needed a fleet that worked well together and could take out the Kruul's mercenary forces. Slamming her fist down on the table she cried out in anger.
"Damn, damn and thrice damn! Captain, mobilise a squad of riot troopers, A-5 load out," stubbing out the cigarette and closing the screens with a wave of her hand, "We're closing down the Blue Oxygen Bar. No leaks, no escapes. I want everyone in the Bar arrested! Especially any in the White Rabbits."
Strapping on a combat vest and grabbing a high powered rifle she stormed towards the door.

The first the three Guristas in the bar knew about the security presence was when a tall striking civire in an offensively clean and pressed uniform sat down at their table with two armed troops standing behind her. A few swift looks around noticed all the doors were blocked by the same troops and a fair number of patrons were now being herded towards the far end of the bar. They looked on as she lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, blowing the smoke towards them.
"You three make me sick. I'm sick of the sight of you, what you stand for and what your compatriots do. I wish I had the authority to get these men behind me to pull the triggers and plaster your guts across the wall behind you. That badge on your jumpsuits makes the anger in me rise."
They looked at each other then back to the officer. As one, they shrugged. She looked at them, their names in her mind like ice water. The Gallentey Mara Skye, the Vherioker Marlina Kar and the Sebiestor Carmilla D'Morenta, three members of the White Rabbits.
"You should be happy with what we have done for you Akokaida, we have done much good for the Home Guard. The Caldari State as a whole... is happy with us. Kind of makes you sick... oh wait, you did say that."
Carmilla took her glass and knocked back the contents.
"If you have something to say Ako, say it. Otherwise let us leave. If you had anything to try us with we've have been spaced when we first set foot on this station."
Ako took out her service pistol and placed it on the table. Then sighed.
"I need you three to do a job for me. A special job. I need you because I can't trust anyone else to do it properly."
"Is this going to be on the books?" the gallentey asked, taking out a data pad and tapping in a few commands, "how dangerous is this mission going to be? What are we to be facing?"
"Kruul. And his mercenary legion.... he's kidnapped.."
"Alexia Argentias, last daughter of the third Director of the Home Guard?"
Ako stood up in anger, "How could you know that?"
All three of them spoke at the same time quite matter of factly, "Pirate."

The four of them sat around Ako's table in her office. Several fuzzy scans of a cluster of buildings filled a screens, multiple fleets of ships in the area. Cruisers and frigates, several large and impressive battleships. At least fifty ships of various classes in the staging area or the immediate vicinity. It was a daunting prospect.
"We are fairly sure that she is in this pleasure complex here, though there are rumours that she may be onboard one of the ships. Kruul is in the area, and his bodyguard are somewhere else in the system and I think we can use that to our advantage."
She opened a drawer and pulled out a large flat wafer of circuitry and handed it to Carmilla.
"This is the ID transponder of a ship known as the Lazy Dragon, flown by one of the Assassins of 'The Seven'. That is how you should get into the station. They won't expect one of their own to be something other than what they appear."
Carmilla picked up the wafer,"Just because I fly the same ship they do?"
"It should work. No reason why not. If you can get in, find the girl and get out it should be possible to avoid all combat."
Mara and Marlina laughed. Ako looked offended.
"Please Ako, we are not laughing at you. It's just the whole idea of doing that is so...."
"I'll do it," Carmilla whispered. She was looking at the layout of the structures and the potential patrol loops, statistics and details flowed through her implants.
"...stupid that anyone attempting to do it would be killed!"
"It can be done. Look at this," she pointed to several small structures."These are sensor buoys, they will detect anything approaching and alert the fleet. What we need is Marlina to fly in in her 'cane and pulse out some emp smart bombs, take a few potshots and escape. While she's doing that I can jump in and dock while the buoys are down. Mara and maybe Myran can be on backup in their ravens in case anything goes wrong. I should be able to get into the structure and get to her before anyone notices anything is wrong."
They all looked at her quietly. The plan was suicide...... deliciously suicidal.
"There is only one problem though," she smiled, most evilly," I'll need you to come along Ako. I need your technical support. Up for the trip?"
Ako stubbed out her cigaraette and grabbed the bottle, swigging from it.
"Technical support?"
"Well what is Alexia going to say when she is rescued by Pirates? Far better to say that she was rescued by the Home Guard, and then that you were the one who rescued her..... Get your picture in the news."

From one of the observation decks Director Argentias watched the small flotilla leaving the station and holding at the outer marker of the station. Two ravens, a hurricane and a cynabel. The markings of the White Rabbits clear on their hulls, except the Angel cruiser.
"Will they rescue my daughter?"
"They will try Director. They will keep trying until they do."
"Why? What loyalty do we instil in these people? Who are they that they can do what we cannot?"
"They have a saying, those.... capsuleers. There can be no other destiny but our own."

On board the hurricane Ataraxis Marlina sat in the command chair checking the interface to the smartbombs. Sub-officers were checking and rechecking primary and secondary systems. This would be the most hazardous job, taking out the sensor buoys, or at least frying them long enough for Carmilla to jump in and dock. She listened to the comm traffic and checked the sensor logs.
"Home Guard traffic control this is White 23 departing outer marker..."
"All systems checked, weapons green, shields green, all systems go..."
"Primary targets are locked into scanner memory, secondary targets downloaded..."
She clutched the small silver medallion on a chain and wrapped it around her hand. Once again she was heading into danger, once more she was risking all, once more. On the aft scanner she saw Carmilla's ship keeping pace, and beyond the two bulky shapes of ravens. It was usually enough.
"White 23 this is Home Guard traffic, your route is clear and authorised. Over and out."
"Helm, lay in the course and jump when ready," she kissed the medallion,"Blessed be...."

The perimeter markers on the collection of buildings and domes known as Kruul's Pleasure Dome screamed as the hurricane appeared in a flash and decelerated towards the compound. In the control room computer systems were already tracking the probable trajectory of the ship and sending out alerts to the nearby fleets, pilots struggled in locker rooms to get into flight suits and to their ships. Already the battle cruiser was manoeuvring and it's weapons tracking on an unknown target.
"Hostile vessel this is a private facility you will leave now or be fired upon. There will be no other warnings."
The officer in command sounded the alarm and sent a personal call through to Kruul as the first smart bombs began exploding. Sparks flew from various panels and entire boards went down as the emp blasts continued. From one window he saw the first ships leaving the hangers and the fight was joined.

"Shields holding at seventy percent...."
"Primary targets alpha through delta are down, locking on gamma...."
"Incoming targets, Machariel class escorted by cruisers...."
"Damn, they're early, must have been paid already," Marlina cursed,"Send the signal and align for a jump out. Switch target to secondary, lets take out some of these fighters before we leave."
"Shields dropping...."
"We've been targeted by the battleships, incoming fire in five... four...."
One of the sub-officers slammed a console and a siren sounded, brace for impact. Torpedo's slammed into the 'cane, knocking it off it's trajectory. A smell of burning came through the ventilation systems and screams could be heard, but already the ship was aligning again. In the distance she noticed a ship decelerating from a jump, a familiar Angel cruiser. Carmilla was here!
"Get us the hell out of here before those battleships come around for another pass!"

From the deck of the Cynabal Ako and Carmilla watched the blossoming fire around the Ataraxis as the fleet attempted to destroy it. Ignoring everything the ship made it's way quickly to the pleasure complex and docked against one of the airlocks before it was noticed by the complex control.
"Lazy Dragon this is control please respond.”
Ako looked over at the communications officer who seemed to ease himself backwards slightly. There was a hiss of pressure as the inner and outer doors opened to the station. She looked over and saw Carmilla strapping on a gunbelt and checking the charge on two pistols. Carmilla nodded to the console.
“Come on Ako, it's not like anyone is going to recognise your voice.”
With that Carmilla ran into the complex. The other bridge officers looked on as the comm system burst into life again. Ako pressed the transmit button.
“Control.... uh... this is Lazy Dragon over.”
“Docking permission has not been granted. Please transmit ID clearance.”
“Roger control, stand by for ID transmission.”
Ako sat in the command chair and looked out of the view screen. The hurricane had not managed to escape, one of the frigates was scramming her, though the fight was not one sided. Several burning wrecks now littered the space.
“Lazy Dragon. Have you transmitted your ID clearance?”
“Confirmed. Have you received?”
“Negative. Please re-transmit.”
“Comms, make sure Mara and Myran are ready to warp in, if this gets ugly I want all the firepower we can.”

Carmilla walked through the winding corridors of the pleasure complex. Subtle lighting and strange gallentey music gave the place a different feel. Scantily clad women with clients stepped aside as she passed by, eyes taking in her weapons and her scowling face. Stopping at a console she looked around then magnetically attached a hack-station to the wall and attached the leads then began the program running. Concentrating on the hacking she made it look like she was performing maintenance on the console, just in case. People walked past her back, sounds of pleasure could be heard all around and she almost imagined she could hear the sounds of the guards running towards her, but it was just in her mind. The hack-station bleeped and she tapped a few icons on the console, bringing up the complete layout and the security feeds. For a few valuable minutes she scanned the feeds and the layout until she found the right place. There, Alexia was being kept in the security cells. Copying the layout to the hack station she made her way down the corridors until the last corner and she looked around. Several guards were standing outside talking, none really alert, one was chatting to a pleasure slave.
“Carmilla!” her earwig hissed,”Hurry the hell up things are getting hot out here!”
“Stall them Ako!”
“I am... I don't know how much longer Marlina can hold out though....”
Damn, she thought and looked around again. The three guards and the pleasure slave were backed up against the wall and were being photographed by a group of what looked for all the world like tourists. Camera's flashed and video camera's were rolling while the tourists quizzed the guards until one turned around and pointed at Carmilla.
Sounds of excitement rang out as the tourists started taking pictures and the guards reached for weapon, almost at the same time as she did. As the camera's flashed her pistols came up and she ran screaming down to the guards in a hail of bullets and laser pulses.

“Lazy Dragon, this is your last warning. If you do not transfer your ident code now we will be forced to open fire and destroy your ship.”
“Control, will a verbal code do? Our transmitting station seems to be faulty”
The voice was heavily irritated,”That will be acceptable.”
“Ident code E, A, T, M, E.”
Ako closed the comm channel and powered up various systems while the crew laughed on.
“Sensors, I can see ships approaching, what are they?”
“Oh hell, we're in trouble. It's the real Lazy Dragon, with backup.”
“Carmilla! We're out of time! Get your pirate ass out here now!”
The sound of gunfire was loud as she replied as well as the sounds of sirens.
“We're on our way out... prepare for eleven passengers!”
“Eleven? What the hell?”
“I can't leave these tourists here, they'll be killed.”
“You are not here to rescue every waif and stray... we just need Alexia!”
“I got Alexia Ako, now get some of our guys on the docking bay as they are bound to come right to you!”

As Carmilla fought her way through the station with the unconscious Alexia being helped by a burly tourist and the other tourists taping and photographing the most exciting event they had ever seen they arrived at the docking bay and a full fledge gunfight. Station security were heavily engaged with several of her crew, smoke and fire filled the docking bay entrance and bodies from both side littered the floor. With the alarm sirens wailing and the heavy fire coming from in front of them the guards didn't' see the stun grenade as it rolled towards them until it was too late. With a shuddering flash the fire fight died down and she ushered her rescued tourists onto her ship. Behind her crew pulled in their dead and sealed the ship.
“Ako! Punch us out of here! Head towards the Ataraxis..."

On board the hurricane Ataraxis warning sirens were blaring out loud. Smoke was seeping out of the ventilation and the heavy drone of the repair modules going into overdrive.
“Captain, the Lazy Dragon is moving away from the pleasure module and coming to our assistance.”
“Eighty four percent armour and dropping....”
“...Incoming fire from reinforcements.....”
“.... Primary weapons reloading.....”
She banked the battle cruiser and skimmed the surface of the larger pleasure dome, the surface behind her becoming pockmarked as the ships following her fired and missed. Missiles screamed towards her and impacted against her hull or spun off into space.
“Carmilla, we need backup, I'm getting my ass handed to me here!”

On board her cruiser Carmilla ripped out the transponder wafer and every ship suddenly noticed the presence of the cruiser Guristas Turncoat. One by one ships began altering course.
“We're being targeted....”
“Good. Ataraxis, I've pulled some of the heat off you. Mara, come on in and join the party.”
She looked back and saw Ako taking care of Alexia The tourists were watching everything, as is the wont of tourists. For the moment they were not important.
“Begin target everything smaller than a battleship and fire at will.....”
In the distance she saw two raven appear and the first broadsides of cruise missiles began arcing towards the battleships. As the first impacts began to show on the shield she accelerated to attack speed, activated the afterburners and flew directly at the largest concentration of ships.

A few hours later Director Argentius received Akokaida Ahitaitoh's report on the rescue of his daughter. Ako had given an indepth debriefing and received the acknowledgement of a job well done from her immediate superiors. Alexia had given a heart rending description of her torment at the hands of Kruul and his minions, though Ako, at her pleading request had left out what had really happened. There were some things the Director didn't need to know. She handed over the mission dossier, saluted and left, heading straight to the Blue Oxygen Bar. Director Argentius looked on with amusement at the title on the Dossier in his hand. The Damsel in Distress.