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The Book of Patches: Chapter 1The Battle MammothI wasn’t used to the hustle and bustle within the barracks. A week ago there was but a handful of us Recruits around station and a few Veterans. Naturally, the leadership was always around and running into one of them on your way to wherever was not uncommon. However, things have changed quite a bit around Company Headquarters.Thanks to the recruiting efforts of myself, the Lieutenant and I’m sure several others, we’ve seen an influx of Conscripts and applications. I checked the roster a few days ago and by my count we have eight Conscripts and seven Recruits. It doesn’t sound like much, but I remember when it was just Emery and myself, so it was a noticible change for me.So, here I was, standing by my bunk and admiring my shiny new Company insignia pin. The one I had as a Recruit, and the one that every Recruit receives upon acceptance as an applicant, is a dull silver Soulcatcher’s Insignia; a skull wreathed in flames on a small circular disk, no bigger than a bottlecap. The pin that one receives upon accepting their Full Colors as a Brother is a bit more visually appealing; same design, but the flames are orange in color. The one you get when you become a Veteran? The Skull has ruby eyes that have a sinister glow.Some of the Conscripts in the barracks I’m sure were looking at me as though I were some sort of crazy-man. I didn’t care though, I was damn proud of my status of Brother. I worked hard to make it to where I am, and I’ve still got some work to do to make it to where I want to be.I went ahead and put on my flight suit and put the pin in my pocket. I had a combat operation to go on tonight, so I wouldn’t be able to wear it for the time being. The barracks smelled horrible; musky, like rotting gym socks coated in piss and stuffed up a dead strippers ass. Damn Conscripts. I’m convinced they don’t know what a shower is; smelly bastards. I left the barracks quick, fast and in a hurry.On my way down to the Docking Bay I ran into the Lieutenant. She was in a rather good mood tonight. She must’ve hit a few Conscripts on the way to her office this morning. The Lieutenant caught my attention and asked me to walk alongside her.“You flying tonight, Patches?”I laughed. “Is there any time when I’m not?”“You have missed a few operations lately. I was asking because, ” She stopped talking to salute one of the newer Conscripts “I’m thinking about taking out my bait Mammoth tonight. We might be able to bag some nice kills.”I expressed some interest in the idea and she went her about her way, towards her section of the hangar. I was glad the conversation between us was over for the time being. It’s not that I didn’t like the Lieutenant, it’s just that sometimes I don’t want to talk to her. Was I intimidated? Probably. I mean, for a chick she’s tough as nails and could definitely hold her own.I climbed into my Kestrel, Whisper, and started up the engines. As I started to do my pre-flight checks, I lit up a cigarette. Doing so always made me smile as I envisioned Kingz chewing me out for it. The cockpit was dark, with the exception of the blinking led light on the command console and the occasional orange glow from my cigarette.After the pre-flight checks were done and missiles were loaded into Whisper’s cargo bay, I heard a loud rumbling noise. The noise got louder with every second and my ship began to shake. Upon looking out the cockpit window, my suspicions were confirmed. That loud noise and the shaking and rattling of my ship were caused by the Lieutenant’s Mammoth. As she piloted her Mammoth towards the docking bay doors, right in front of my Kestrel, I noticed the name of the Mammoth. Mostly Harmless. I chuckled in amusement.The docking bay doors opened and all sound ceased, with the exception of the radio chatter in my ship. Tonight the operation consisted of the Lieutenant, myself and Skinny. A good crew in my opinion; we worked well together. I followed Skinny out of station and into the beautiful scenery of S1.My comms crackled. It was the Lieutenant. “Virg, you’re taking scout. You know what you’re doing, don’t fuck it up.”I acknowledged and sped up in front of Skinny and the Lieutenant. I made my way to Auga, under orders from the Fleet Commander, and sent the scout report.“I’ve got one war target in local. Gate is clear. Checking scans. Scan is picking up a Slicer.”“Roger that Virg. We ran into that Slicer earlier. Go ahead and move to Dal.” reported the Lieutenant.As I was approaching the Dal gate and getting ready to jump through, I saw Skinny appear in my local panel. He gave the all clear for the Lieutenant to jump into Auga. I jumped into Dal and started checking my sytems for the scout report.Suddenly, in as calm a voice as I’ve ever heard, Skinny stated that he was taking fire. It was the Slicer. I was able to gather, through comms, that the Lieutenant fell back on the gate and put a tracking disruptor on the Slicer. Skinny was able to make the jump through the gate, while the Lieutenant had to wait a minute for the gate to allow her access. She was taking heavy fire and returned fire with what little firepower she had.The comms crackled again. This time I heard a voice that I’ve never heard before. It was the pilot of the Slicer.“What the fuck?! A battle Mammoth?!”The three of us shared a laugh and the Lieutenant was able to escape and jump through. I checked her diagnostics remotely and saw that her Mammoth was down to 50% armor. She told us that she had to dock up in Kourmonen to repair.When all was said and done, she told me to take the short way to Arzad and scout each system on arrival, while her and Skinny took the long way. So I made the jump to Arzad by way of Dal, Vard and Ezzara respectively. I reported an Anathema in Ezzara, and apparently it had spotted the Lieutenant’s ship as she arrived on the gate to Ezzara. She made the jump through and was followed by a war target through the gate. I checked the diagnostics and information of the ship and the pilot that followed her and the information of the Anathema pilot. Same corporation.“Virg, move into Arzad. Skinny, disperse. I think we may have our first kill here. Time to look mostly harmless”I did so and the tension was starting to build. I lit another cigarette and wiped the sweat from my brow. During our deliberation as to whether that ship was worth our ammo, a Retribution jumped to the gate the Lieutenant was at and engaged her immediately. She gave us the order to get to her position and take the Retribution down.The Liutenant told us to burn our asses to her position because she had the Retribution scrambled, webbed, neuted and tracking disrupted. She was taking heavy fire. The Battle Mammoth, as we would later call it, was at full attack.Skinny and I showed up at the same time and immediately engaged the Retribution. We caught him by surprise and we had him by the balls. The Lieutenant was down to 25% structure and the famed Battle Mammoth was spewing flames like a goddamn firework. She warped away, leaving a trail of fire in her wake. Skinny and I had the Retribution down to 25% armor by the time the Lieutenant left.The coward had had enough and tried to deagress and jump out, but Skinny and I were working him like a two cent hooker. We weren’t going to let this one go away. I checked the Retribution’s diagnostics and realized that without the Lieutenants neutralizer, the Retribution was rapairing armor almost faster than Skinny and me were causing damage.Comms were tense for a moment as the Lieutenant waited for confirmation of the kill. After about 45 seconds of insanity, the Retribution was confirmed down. Skinny moved in to pick up the loot from the destroyed ship as the enemy’s capsule warped off. He whistled over comms.“Mostly tech two fitting modules guys. Hell yeah.”I checked the killmail on my console from the Retribution. I got slightly pissed by what I saw.“Goddamn you and your final blows, Skinny. You always get the final blow. Dammit.”“Oh quit bitchin’, Patches. You helped a bit, be proud of that kill.”The playful argument and insults continued until the Liuetenant told us to shut up and head to Vard to repair. The Lieutenant made the decision to head back to S1 with the Mammoth and put it away for the rest of the night. So after repairs were done, we headed towards S1 by way of Kourmonen.As we arrived in Kamela, I noticed a Purifier jump through. It wasn’t a threat to us at the moment so we ignored it and continued on our way. We made it to Sosala and we once again noticed that the Purifier had jumped through as well. It was pursuing us, or more like pursuing the Mammoth. The Lieutenant gave me and Skinny the order to disperse, hoping the situation wouldn’t look like a bait trap.Tension set in once again. I hated this part of the job, being alone in a system waiting for the word to attack. Seconds felt like minutes, sweat beaded down my forhead and stung my eyes, smoke from my cigarette clouded the cockpit.The Lieutenant called for support from Skinny. From what I could gather over the confusing comms chatter, the target had managed to escape the Lieutenants scrambler and disruptor and was making distance. Apparently Skinny wasn’t moving fast enough in his Punisher because the Lieutenant was yelling at him, telling him to burn his microwarpdrive.“Fuck it.” I said aloud to myself. I burned my way towards the engagement, ready to blow the enemy to hell.I arrived but I had no chance of catching the Purifier. The enemy managed to escape or cloak, I wasn’t sure which one. The Lieutenant called a disengage and a return to base. Yet the Purifier followed. We got another chance at the Purifier, but the Lieutenant couldn’t quite lock him in time to get it off to a good start, and it was a repeat of the last engagement. We made the decision to completely return to base and called it a night.(by Patches)