Thursday, 3 December 2009
Kayleigh woke with a strangled yelp, soaked in sweat. As she gulped for air she took stock of her surroundings: dark room, small, a bed that was not her own, the covers tossed aside as if in a struggle. She was confused for a moment and then remembered. It wasn’t real, it had been a nightmare. At least this time, it had. Late night yesterday she had been podded for real.
She buried her head in her hands and tried to get her heart beat under control once more, but the horrible memories kept playing behind her closed eyelids, so she flicked a light on just to find something else to focus on.
It was still hard to believe how fast everything had happened.
She had been fleeted up with Yal, Loken and Morbick, the four of them working on dislodging Sleepers from a nest. Four SPHERE pilots, with four pairs of eyes on directional scan. It was supposed to have been reasonably safe. But the fight must have distracted them at the key moment. It all happened when the last Sleeper blew up and Kayleigh was still approaching the first wreck to scoop up some loot.
There were six of them.
The first alarms rang when the Phobos materialised so close to them. The jin-mei was the first to shout a warning and instantly aligned toward an escape route while the Second Breath resolved a lock on the heavy interdictor. Before that happened, a warp interdiction bubble had taken effect, imprisoning both Yal and Morbick. And that was when the other five revealed themselves. Yal shouted at them to warp out and return with stealth bombers.
Loken had been lucky enough to find himself outside the warp interdiction, so he had quickly warped to safety. Kayleigh for a moment thought she was going to lose another painfully expensive Loki, as she was within the bubble. But then she heard Aura’s beautiful voice: warp drive active. A glimmer of hope lit up in her heart. The Interdiction Nullifier subsystem on her ship had just saved her. She had still been lucky, however; among the attackers she had spotted an interceptor, no doubt on tackling duty. If he had targeted her specifically she would have been just as trapped.
As it was, fleet chatter was alive with orders and intel. Back at the tower, Loken was having trouble getting on board a heavier-hitting ship. Kayleigh swapped as fast as she could to the Ignebaener Wrath. Heart hammering at her chest, she followed Yal’s instructions and warped at range, fervently hoping the calculations would be correct and she would land outside that dreaded warp bubble.
But something went wrong.
Coming out of warp, Kayleigh found herself just a thousand metres or so from the Phobos, right in the middle of that bubble… and she with a microwarp drive on board. She tried to realign while locking the primary target, but in a matter of seconds the interceptor was on her. A Hound doesn’t have much in the way of a tank. They made short work of her, as she started to feel sick to her stomach. Not the capsule, please, for the love of everything you hold dear.
Her silent pleas were naturally ignored. Although she spammed the commands, struggled within the pod, physically tried to make it move, she was trapped. The attackers lost no time. First Morbick, then her, then Yal.
She awoke kicking and squirming for her life back in the Federation for the second time in her life, except now Nakatre wouldn’t be coming over to comfort or reassure her. She cried herself to sleep that night.