Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Wrack, Gear and Pinion - part III

The comm feed has been quiet for a few minutes now. The jump away from the station and into supercruise has taken place without incident, and the ship starts the gradual climb out of the planet's gravity well.

No messages from Gearwright though... nothing. Though he'd be deep into the preparation for sneaking into the station by now, so best leave well alone.

The background chatter on the comms feed falls away and that absence of noise triggers a sensitivity to the moment. That uncomfortable embarrassment when loud and competing conversations go quiet when all have reached a pause in conversation at the same time. For a few seconds everyone shuffles awkwardly as a pervasive silence settles.

It feels like the universe is holding its breath while watching something unfold... watching something important. The hairs on my neck and arm stand up as if a chill wind has brushed by.

Something crashes the party and the loud chatter floods back on the subspace channels in a squawk of protest. The interdiction klaxon brings me back and with an startled surge of adrenaline.

The aggressor had been holding position in supercruise and just outside the station jurisdiction, picking on targets that have just left normal space and are still searching for immediate threats. The snare is snapped shut before there is time to adopt a defensive posture.

A trap, and one that is expertly closed at that.

A quick check of who has targeted me. A Naval Viper and probably carrying sensitive detectors. I've got a secretive comms links open and can't shut it down quietly while I'm the focus of attention. The struggle swings away from me in the tug of the interdiction, and the rough and tumble takes on an added urgency.

The planet falls back into view and for a moment there is a dizzying feeling that I'm about to crash into it. A crazy thought becomes action, seizing the moment without any debate, and I dive towards the planet before twisting away.

The atmosphere slides past as the nose of my ship nudges back towards the stars and strains to pull clear. Whether misjudging the distance to the looming planet, or just concentrating too much on the pursuit, I'll never know, but the interceptor isn't quite so fortunate and the tether snaps free.

An exit wake behind me marks where gravity overwhelmed the Viper and slapped it back into normal space.

Returning to the bounty hunting at the resource field proved relatively uneventful. I've taken careful note of who was still there mining away, and who had departed. Communications chatter from the ships that stayed behind could reveal secrets, but do need careful analysis. Not the kind I can do while scanning nearby space for hostiles.

The sheer amount of metal in these resource sites can hide signal origin, and I'll have to admit that I wasn't paying too much attention the first time round when it all kicked off. I'll have to be careful of that from now on. There's an unknown player out there with intentions that are not yet clear.

When I get back to base I'll run a perimeter check and inspect the sensors: a tighter lock-down protocol for this evening is in order. Sometimes paranoia and intuition can agree.

Now I'll wait to hear from Cmdr Gearwright. Its been too quiet.

I hope all is well.