Friday, 9 October 2009

Nox at War

Coming back from a planetside conference, Kayleigh had returned to her office to find a message from Gareth. Nox Draconum was at war and the jin-mei was missed among the ranks of pilots in the alliance she’d helped bring to life.

On the one hand, the message had made her smile. Gareth had always had a way of making her feel welcome and wanted in Nox. On the other hand it had made her feel guilty. Nox needed her and she couldn’t help; not without risking CONCORD intervention, at any rate, which was something she didn’t exactly cherish.

And what was more, by getting involved she might attract attention to her own small corp and could risk getting a war declared on them. As she had given it more thought, she had realised her association with current Nox Draconum pilots was far too evident and easy to discover. It really would be best if she let her CEO know about this situation.

It was while she’d been writing to her CEO that she had found out about Tatsu no Tsurugi’s tower in Ignebaener being in reinforced status. The call had come up for pilots to help repair structures as soon as the tower would come out of reinforced. Torn in her loyalties Kayleigh had finally opted not to show. She had responsibilities in SPHERE and she couldn’t just jeopardise those who had taken her in after the whole mess at Dragonstar.

And so it was that she now found herself cloaked at a distance from the tower. A gang of Rough Necks pilots in battleships were pounding away at the helpless tower and some scavengers were laughing away in local chatter, getting ready to pounce for the scraps.


Nox pilots didn’t dare jump in there, outnumbered and outgunned as they were, but a neutral pilot like, say, one Kayleigh Jamieson-Read, could perhaps salvage something before the vultures got to it. After all, this was Nox property.

Not half an hour later, she had an Iteron Mk4 and was slow-boating it toward structures already unanchored. Heart pounding in her chest, unsure of how the Rough Necks or CONCORD would react, she approached a gun. Despite being bumped by a hostile, she managed to pull it in. No aggression, no police. She smiled, grey eyes hard as steel, and turned her sluggish ship toward the next structure.

More ships came and bumped her. At least three of the hostiles had her locked in their sights, perhaps trying to scare her into aggressing first so they could retaliate, or laugh whenever the local police blew her to pieces, but she knew better than that. Even if she wanted, she couldn’t do anything. She’d been in such a hurry that all she had had time to get fitted were some cargo hold expanders.

The going was slow and rough, being bumped constantly by the lighter hostiles. She filled her cargo with unanchored guns and warped off to the station. As fast as she could, she unloaded and warped back, this time directly to coordinates for laboratories.

She wasn’t so lucky, this time. The Rough Necks haulers were on the job and whenever she could get close to a structure after the bumpy ride, some hauler would already be pulling it into its hold. Much to her frustration, she was unable to save anything of real value. But she went back to the guns and got a few more, racing some neutral opportunists to them. Who’d have thought: the vice-champion of the ISRC league racing for leftovers in her hauler?

In the end, two and a half cargo holds worth of tower weaponry was all she could save. A poor showing, but better than a complete loss. As she met up with Critters in station to hand over Tatsu’s guns, she wondered if her little stunt would have annoyed the Rough Necks enough to retaliate in some way on SPHERE. She hoped not. Not for a few guns, at any rate.

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