This post is short fiction. My short fiction, actually. I’m going to post a few of these in lieu of a “real” blog post, because I’d like to share it with you. Be warned that some of it may not be for those who are squeamish.

Don’t be fooled by the name of the group you’ll likely take umbrage with. There’s a crucial part of the story you’ll find out, later on.

This story was inspired by an “actual” in-game event – so I wrote a story around it. It comes from the game “Tachyon: The Fringe”, which I have played for 6 years, off and on. I still think it is the best spaceflight combat simulator ever made. Primarily because of the flight model. Without further ado…

Chapter 1

SoulCrusher06 looked up from his ‘pad as the incoming message alert sounded. The data encryption algorithms processed, and a similarly encrypted face gazed at him from his viewscreen. “06, we have a contract. Do not reply. A pilot in your sector has been suggested to us as a potential contract due to his decidedly amoral conduct concerning honorable battle. Customer’s comments. Not mine. Here is an excerpt from the formal contract.

‘The pilot known as Johnny Rebel was seen pumping rocket after rocket into a nearby Galspan model fighter as the pilot was composing a message to his superiors regarding a recent escort run. The pilot barely escaped with his life, and the attacker, who’s ident broadcast identified him as “Johnny Rebel” was heard laughing uncontrollably over the open comm as his intended prey fled.’

Needless to say, 06, he’s not the sharpest tack.

Dispatch this individual and upload the completion data and ident match to the usual location. Hull him! Reamer00 out.”

06 inhaled deeply, then exhaled with a visible slump to his shoulders. He stood up, and surveyed his quarters with a regal air, exited toward the hangar area. On his way, he passed several of his clanmates, and greeted them with false bravado concerning the upcoming arena matches with their rival clans. Yes, they were going to kick some butt. No, they weren’t going to stop at anything to win. And so on and so forth. He had other things on his mind. He was used to killing. He was a combat pilot. The world in which he had embroiled himself was another matter altogether. To kill, not for the honor of his clan, not for his ideals, not for pride; but merely because someone asked a pilot dead. Of course, his victim was an idiot. He had tried to kill an unsuspecting pilot like himself. Somehow, this was different. The Devil’s Fist was not your usual group.

He climbed inside his Galspan Pegasus fighter under pretenses of patrolling the border of the Twilight Region from attack. Yes, he replied to the command section query, just adding an extra shift because he couldn’t sleep. No, he wouldn’t let his guard down due to sleeplessness. Of course not. He powered up his fighter, the vibrations from the mighty engines rattling the entire hangar, but strangely distant to him in his padded and heavily shock dampened custom seat, inside his vibration and soundproofed cockpit. The engines roared, and he tore out of the hangar at the top speed of the Pegasus, (which is considerable). He glanced at his own personal motto, mounted on a plate to the right of his instrument panel. It said “Fly with courage, with chivalry, and with skill. No matter the outcome, your honor will be without question”. em>Tell that to my victim, he thought.

He arrived at the Devil’s Fist hangar, which as usual, which was devoid of any signs of life – as it was tucked away deep in the all-encompassing fog – and pulled his fighter in without incident. The rows of menacing black craft shone with a deceptive gleam as he took in the view inside the voluminous hangar. He landed behind his own personal collection of ships he had purchased with his newfound credits. Blood money, all of it, he thought fleetingly. Enough of this. This pilot was an idiot, a danger to others and himself. it was time to hunt. He walked over to his locker with a deceptively easy stride, and gathered his Devil’s Fist flightsuit and all his equipment.

Nothing should identify him. As he pulled on his sable gauntlets, and pulled his jet-black helmet on, he truly looked a killer. The Devil’s Fist is feared throughout the Fringe. Sure. If they only knew who we were, he thought.

He selected a Warhammer to execute Johnny with. Only fitting. See how he likes plasma rockets decimating his shields, he thought to himself. He powered the ship up, and slowly pulled out of the hangar.

Once safely away from the secretive base of operations, he began to scan the comms for signs of his quarry’s whereabouts. Nothing on the RG comms, nothing from IK. This might take a while. He continued to scan through the comms. There! Void Alliance frequency, one “Captain Scarlet”. “That idiot Johnny Rebel’s playing with plasmas again”, he heard from the comm. 06 smiled to himself. Gotcha. He swung the ship around to the new heading, and as he passed through the gate, his last thought was, Poor sucker. Wonder what else you did to piss people off? The Tachyon gate accelerated him to impossible speeds, and the jet black ‘Hammer elongated, then disappeared in a flash of light.

He emerged from the gate with a euphoric rush, and shook his head huriedly to clear the effects of the jump. Within seconds, he had a lock on his victim. “Oh Johnny….”, he said over the comm. “The Devil’s here for his due…” There was an abrupt break in comm traffic as the current occupants of the sector took in the black lines of the Hammer’. He caught the tail end of an encrypted message from an IK pilot. “There’s one … those … scum. I say … take him, and take … the garbage …. him.” Crap, he thought. Just what I need. An IK patrol flight to deal with too. Ah well. Take what comes. Two Pegasi and an Archangel. Great. Let’s see; Target at 240, IK at 160, VA at 230, on the target’s butt. The base is what he’s heading for. Let’s see what this baby can do. “This is The Devil’s Fist, SoulCrusher06 on contract for Johnny Rebel. Stand down and allow me to complete it”, he said in his most authoritative voice. “DF slime, take your contracts back out in the fog, where you both belong. get out of the Fringe!” The IK patrol leader said ominously. So much for the DF mystique…..

The IK fighters were closing, and fast. He still had 35 klicks on the targets, and the IK patrol was almost within range. Crap. Just then, came his break. Captain Scarlet scored a direct hit on his starboard engine, slowing him down considerably. Closing… 20 klicks. IK in range. Plasma, he breathed, don’t let me down. The two pegs roared past him as he kicked the Hammer into full reverse. His shields still whined in protest as two single deimos still scored. Down to 65. Crap… He kicked on his burners in an attempt to close the gap. it succeeded, until he realized one crucial thing he had missed. The sturdy ship bucked in space as quad blast torps scored direct hits on his shields! The Bloody Archangel!

Space him…

10 shields, 60 hull. Crap. Still at 10 klicks out. Closing… bloody peggies are coming back around. He reversed his lats haphazardly, in an attempt to buy himself some time. Another deimos took what little was left of his shields. There goes the rails, he thought, as he transferred laser power to his shields to keep himself (hopefully) intact. 7 klicks… as another deimos hit him aft. 4…. plasmas away, clean quad shot. The rockets hit Rebel’s aft shields in an explosion of light, and brought him to critical on 06’s scanner. 06’s ship rocked as a blast torpedo found it’s mark once again. Crap! Another clear shot… and another set of quads turned Rebel’s ship to stardust. He immediately turned his transmitter on to upload the evidence, in case he didn’t make it out of this one. (He was beginning to doubt the outcome. Most assuredly)

Captain Scarlet suddenly burst out of nowhere, almost directly on top of him, and caused him to duck involuntarily. He distinctly heard hull armor blow up. Galspan hull. He drained the last of his laser power, and hit his slide button once oriented toward the gate. He rotated around his vertical axis on his way back past the IK fighters, and let loose several volleys of plasma on his way by. The second pegasus was not keeping up anymore, he noticed. Now he rotated fully behind his slide path, and let loose with the remainder of his plasma rockets. Busy dodging the lethal hail of rockets, he dropped back a whole 5 klicks. 06 could almost feel the deimos shots as they scattered around his overly large (or so it seemed now) profile. “Why did I bring the Hammer again?”, he asked himself. A large explosion echoed in his ears, leaving him temporarily deaf. The peg had caught back up. The acrid smell of an electrical fire, as well as the distinct feeling he was losing velocity, began to work their way to the front of his mind. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap became almost like a mantra. This was it. His luck had run out. Seething energies surrounded him, took hold of his conscious mind, and he knew no more.

To be Continued…