The Present…

06 lay across his bunk, pointedly ignoring the persistent message light and the incoming comms sent his way. He had been quite vocal on the comms lately, both denouncing Scadian Wraith, and in silencing the Voices. It had been a draining few weeks, both mentally and physically. The lingering, numerous scorch marks remaining to mar his ships in both his clan hangar and the DF hangar could attest to that fact quite vividly. The Fringe had become a hotbed recently – a veritable cornucopia of passionate viewpoints about every subject under the Fringe’s many suns.

All he wanted to do was take a break, leave his alternate persona behind, and retire completely. He had the money, now. But – as they say – there is no rest for the wicked. As if determined to prove the sage wrong, he slowly drifted into a deep, yet troubled slumber, eyes moving rapidly, perhaps thinking of the blurred and strife-torn days of recent weeks.

The Past…

A whirlwind of activity in the Arena. BreakerXX and Stealer03 engaged in ruthless combat. Taunts, plasma, and blood flow freely this day. Anyone venturing too near is vaporized almost instantly, as if swatting flies. We have 1 Breaker… one Stealer… and one Crusher. Him. Crap. Only himself, versus two of the best the Devil’s Fist has to offer. Thoughts of the future, of a hope-filled new beginning crumble to dust in that split second of recognition. Steeling himself against the coming trial by fire, he raced inexorably toward the titanic battle between these two great pilots. He couldn’t help wondering what he was going to do in his flimsy pegasus versus two behemoth Hammers. Too late to be maudlin. He was in range. He dropped both his blast torps directly at the spot between the two ships.

Far outdistancing the scream of the torp in seconds, he switched to lasers, and squeezed off a shot at XX on his way past, but doing little damage in comparison to the awesome array of weaponry on each Hammer. He heard the torps detonate behind him, watching in satisfaction as both ships suffered moderate damage from the blast, and pulled a high G turn to return to the fray. Now, it was a matter of survival. He had to get one to destroy the other, and pick the winner off. He rolled quickly with a lat reverse to avoid a rail coming his way, but only partially succeeded. He darted nimbly *between* the two huge ships, and got a hit on 03. Glancing at his HUD, he saw 03 was getting dangerously low. Madly transferring energy reserves to keep his shields up, he dropped under and behind XX, strafing his rear shields with triple bolts of crimson fire, then burned up and through the melee to regain his bearings. Crap! Thinking too much, he said under his breath, as two sets of quad plasmas streaked toward him. Almost as an afterthought, it seemed. Man, they were good.

With a tight barrel roll, he latted and burned his way around to a better position. But not before one of the rockets hit him, shredding his shields and reducing him to 75 hull in seconds. He transferred half his burners and lasers to shields. That will have to do, he thought. He dodged, corkscrewed, and reversed wildly, trying to spare himself that random shot that spelled his death. He spiraled in with full burners, reversing directions, trying to get the shot in, taking advantage of his low profile to avoid most of the fire. Arrowing in on 03, he dropped three lasers squarely in the center of their ship, on his way by at 2000 kph. XX’s engines exploded with a blinding flash, as four plasmas slammed into the rear quadrant of his ship, and the pilot ejected out with a pillar of flame trailing behind, as the dying ship jerked convulsively, then shattered into a brilliant flower of light. Down to 03, and himself. The huge Warhammer was dangerously low on resources, but a wounded beast is the most dangerous.

06 reversed course back in the Hammer’s direction. With a cry, he was thrown back into his seat as he kicked in his burners for a pass at the menacing Hammer. Just enough power for one torp. It left his ship with a scream, 5k out from his target, and zeroed in on the hulking black shape. They circled each other, dancing and sizing each other up. The torp impacted with it’s customary high-pitched, glass-breaking ping as the shockwave passed over his cockpit a split-second later.

The Hammer was down to 35 hull, no shields. He had only wounded the beast further. It came roaring at him with ponderous grace, closing in for the kill. Twin rails caught him off guard, and reduced him to a meager 30 hull. Into the fray! He burned up and behind the Hammer, trying to stay behind, and reduced it’s newly charged shields to ribbons with a couple well placed shots. He smiled coldly, and prepared for the coup de grace. He hit the burners, and … Nothing. He watched four plasma rockets gracefully arc their way toward him, and watched, entranced, as they made a beeline for his ship. So pretty, with the nebula as a backdrop.

CRAP!!!! He punched his eject button, and rocketed out of his doomed ship just in time, as the rockets vaporized the paper thin pegasus. 03 flew through the wreckage, saluted mockingly during a victory roll, and headed for the nearest gate. The adrenaline wore off. He shivered uncontrollably. That was close. Way too close.

Bloody Hammers.

To Be Continued…