Saturday, November 8, 2014

Insomnia

“Fsck it!”

With a resolute motion, I threw back the blanket, and leveled myself off my bed. Sleep simply didn’t come, and from experience I knew that I needed to burn off whatever was keeping my mind occupied.

However, while slipping into my clothes, I had to wonder what exactly to do. The last days I had been mostly been occupied with catching up on my ISK-generating operations, and playing with kittens. But now I was caught up, and the kittens were asleep, so … what now?

…hmm, undock, maybe?

I did have this Stabber humming in my hanger - a rather vanilla fit, except for one modification to make it more suitable for the sparsely populated low-sec system I tended to operate in. Not the sturdiest or most capable of the Minmatar cruisers, but agile and amazingly-looking. Though… after months of flying Frigates, Cruisers were still a strange beast for me.

And as of where to go… a look at the map showed me only little activity in the nearby systems. But there was some - enough to warrant a look. At worst, I’d fly a 40-system roundtrip, and I’d be able to sleep afterwards.

I straightened up: it wasn’t the best of plans, but at least it was a plan.

----------

The drone of my ship’s warp engines increased, a warp tunnel formed, and my Stabber was hurled through the void of sub-space to the next gate. As expected, my tour of the usual low-sec systems had brought up nothing. In one system, one POCO would be coming out of re-inforced 16 hours later - I had no personal beef with either involved party, but an opportunity to interfere as dishonorable 3rd-party is not to be sneezed upon. But otherwise the space was empty.

… as was Sendaya, my destination for the evening. Several people in system, but - as a quick dock confirmed - all docked up.

Damn! That meant that I either would have to go back home now, or I did what I usually avoided to do: go into null-sec.

Null-sec is scary: bubbles, gangs, bombers - and even if you survived, there’d be no security status changes to record your efforts.

I hesitated … and then instructed my ship to head towards the Doril gate. Something my subconscious kept saying about beggars and choosers.

Doril was… empty.

I let out a breath of amniotic fluid I didn’t realize I had held. Jumping in null-sec is usually one of the critical parts of a journey, and all the times before it had happened to me, it was not before a flighty scout had given the all-clear. Yet here I was all by myself in a cruiser: no scout, no intel - just the seat of my panties. Well, might as well press my luck and head towards Catch.

…I didn’t quite make it.

Jumping into Utopia, the scanner presented me with a Sabre at the gate, and an Ares at a tactical which may or may not have been associated.

Sabre… that’s a HIC, right? Or just a ‘dictor? … doesn’t matter - if it can put up bubbles, it’s bad news.

        Druur Monakh> That’s not looking good.

A sane pilot probably would have tried to crash the gate, or done something amazingly smart, but I was sleep deprived. So I just punched it.

Breaking gate cloak, I kicked my ship to establish an optimal orbit around that Sabre, and began the targeting sequence for my weapons. When I’d go down, I’d go down fighting!

The Sabre targeted me back, predictably bubbled the area, and started shooting me with his auto cannons.

Three Stealth Bombers decloaked. And that made the difference.

They made me re-assess the situation, break the tunnel-vision I had fallen into, and made me realize that
I could try to make a run for it. I had long-range weaponry to keep the Sabre occupied - and those bombs, with those I’d just have to take my chances.

I turned, and I ran, for the nearest bubble border. I was tempted to pulse my MWD, but a bomb appeared on my overview, and drilled instinct took over and made me forget about my MWD. Target painters were playing over my hull, the bomb exploded, and took out half of my shields.

But I was clear of the bubble now, and I had a tactical bookmark near my current alignment. I punched the warp drive.

The second bomb exploded harmlessly some 300km behind my back.

I had actually escaped.

The daily downtime of the fluid router beacons was near, so while I headed to a safe spot, my opponents left the system. And it wasn’t until I examined the gun footage during the communications blackout, that I realized that I had killed that Sniggerdly Sabre.

I slept well that night.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Singalong

        “You are not expected to understand this.” -- (In)Famous comment in the v6 UNIX kernel source.

“Standing in line to see the show tonight / And there's a light on / Heavy glow.”

My voice raised over the sizzling - almost, but not really, keeping in tune with the singer’s voice blaring from my quarter’s audio system. But I didn’t care - after spending weeks in space with nothing but intravenously fed nutritients, or even worse: a hasty snack-and-drink in a random station, it felt good to be at home again and to cook something real.

But while dancing lightly on the balls of my feet, taking sips of an Arcturian Mega-Ale, and stirring super-heated vegetables, I had the distinct feeling that I wasn’t alone here. Not in the sense that there was an assassin waiting for me in the shadows, but more that of the presence of a feral kitten too shy to emerge from its hiding place.

…hmm. Kitten…

I faltered for a moment, memories of last night flashing through my mind, then I caught up with the chorus again. While also not-really-surreptuously pushing a paper bag of goodies to the far end of the table.

“Song bird. Main line. Cash back. Hard top.”, I crooned, but I couldn’t really pay attention anymore, as it all came to a boil. Literally. For a minute or two I was moving frantically to turn off the burners just in the right moment before burning, and not for the first time I wished somebody would implement a kitchen-pod - managing a solo-ambush was easy in comparison!

Slowly, the sounds reverbing through my quarters registered with me again, and I noticed that the paper bag on my table now contained fewer pastries than it did before.

Turning to hide my smile from my unseen guest, I spooned my dinner onto a plate, and joined in onto the final chorus.

“By the way I tried to say she’d be there / Waiting for.”