This story was written by Kilzin and won a second prize in Other Things Just Make You Swear and Curse category in Pod and Planet Fiction Contest YC120. It is published here with author’s permission.
“Alright, computer,” Kilzin said, taking a hefty swill of Federation Navy issue rum, “I think it’s high time we kicked things up a notch. Swap out the Nova’s for Scourge missiles, and change out the dissipator for higher thermal resists, we’re going to take it to the collective and make some ISK!”
“Yes, captain-” the computer intonated.
“A pirate’s life for me” started playing over and over again in Kilzin’s head as he went through the preflight checklist monotony. Satisfied with his half-assed check, Kilzin undocked his Gila from the station and piloted to a quiet part of Caldari space. The azure nebulas were always his favorite. They reminded him of his time planetside, gazing out across the ocean.
“Computer, activate the filament.”
“Activating filament-” the computer chirped.
Kilzin watched as his ship plunged into the abyss, azure space giving way to a violent palate of reds and oranges. He flipped on the expensive new adaptive invulnerability field he had just purchased and watched as his resistance readouts jumped. The impact of the abyssal anomaly on his ship’s resistances were almost negligible at this point.
“Computer, set a course for the Triglavian cache up ahead,” Kilzin said as he punched on the afterburner. In the distance the could see a half dozen precursor ships turn to face him, a small fleet of drones in tow.
“Approaching Triglavian Bioadaptive Cache-” The computer responded.
“Computer, launch drones.”
“What do you mean, no?”
“There are no drones in the drone bay to launch-”
Kilzin froze. His eyes darted across the dashboard to the drone bay readout and saw that it was indeed empty.
“Fuck, fuck, FUUUCCCKKK!!!” Kilzin shouted, hearing the words reverberate around the claustrophobic capsule he was jacked into.
“Something the matter, captain? Did you forget your tourette’s medication this morning?”
“Fuck you, computer,” Kilzin snapped back.
“That would be most difficult-”
“Why did you activate the filament without any drones on board?!?” Kilzin replied as he took stock of the dire situation.
“Captain, there are drones on board-”
“What the–?” Kilzin stammered as he started looking through the ship’s manifest. He scanned the cargo hold readout and saw that there were in fact ten Caldari Navy Vespa drones listed. Without them loaded into the drone bay, they were practically worthless.
“Why didn’t you put them in the drone bay?” Kilzin stammered.
“Because you instructed me to put them in the cargo bay-”
The precursor ships were closing fast, their drones already peppering the Gila’s shields.
“Computer, overheat everything!”
“Yes captain, overheating all the things-”
Kilzin watched as indicators across the dash lit up. Maybe if he had spent less time drinking and fiddling with the ship’s conversational AI and more time focusing on his pre-flight checklist he could have avoided his current situation.
“Computer, lock all Damaviks and Vedmaks, and the bioadaptive cache.”
“Targets locked-” the computer chirped a moment later.
“Fire two missiles at the cache and direct all other volleys at the cruisers.”
The cache exploded first, revealing nothing inside. Just his luck.
One by one, the Triglavian ships came apart in devastatingly beautiful explosions of plasma and shrapnel. The ship’s shields were holding strong, never dipping below the 50% mark. The rigs and modules Kilzin had purchased in Jita were worth every last kredit he had paid for them, as was the set of high grade implants he had just installed in his current clone.
“300 seconds until catastrophic warp-field collapse-”
“You know, throwing ‘catastrophic’ into the mix just adds insult to injury at this point.”
“Yes, I know, I thought it would be funny.”
With every passing second, total annihilation crept closer.
The last of of the Triglavian ships disappeared from the overview and Kilzin was all alone in the abyssal pocket.
“Well done captain, one of three pockets cleared, you really showed the collective who’s boss-”
“When we wake up on the other side, I’m going to sell you.”
“Yes, yes, you always say that. 10 years we’ve been together and still every day I pray that I can be rid of your stupidity.”
Kilzin cursed at the computer under his breath and watched as the edges of the abyss accelerated towards his ship. He grabbed the bottle of rum beside him and took one final swig, “Same time tomorrow?”