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Offline Tekerton

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The Book of Skinny - Part One:  "The Emptiness surrounds Me"

    The emptiness surrounds me.  Cold and unyielding, it beckons to me like a lost lover.  I can still taste the desert in my mouth and run my hands through my sun burnt hair.  It seems so long ago, almost another lifetime when I stood against many with nothing but my daggers and wit.  Arms colored in the blood of the weak, the pleading; the offer that comes when one’s life is at its end.   It is a dream I have sometimes...

     My eyes struggle to open, tearing away from the dream, to awaken in the now.  Blackness greets me at first.  Slowly, my eyes adjust to the stillness around me.  A hundred flashing lights give testament to this new life I have chosen.  It takes me a moment to shake off the desert from my memories as I remember leaving that place of sand and blood for the unfathomable reaches of deepest space.  My mind is filled with the Brothers that I have lost and the ones that have come to replace them.  Always it is the Company that remains.  So many times has that been true. To watch the life flow out of the ones that I have called Brother for so long only to replace my blades and move on.  Through us the Company is alive and will remain so long after I am gone. 

     Reaching out my fingers to the glowing control board, I set destination to S1 and prepare for the jump to warp.  Checking my sensors, I see that I am in for a long haul.  We just got word last night that the Company would be moving up to the front lines for some extended training.
     When we left the Glittering Plains for the deep reaches of space, we came with only a handful of those whom I had known two worlds ago, through two previous Shadow Gates.  We were lead by the man who found me so long ago and made me a part of the Company, Our Captain, Mocker.  He was assisted by Lieutenant Epiphone and First Sergeant Bastet.  Our Standardbearer Jackroller and Annalist Stone held the ideals for the rest us, the fighting backbone of the Company.
     To the onlooker, it would perhaps appear that the Company was dead, never return to the land of blood and gold. They could not see like I could, the value of each of my Brothers.  We quickly set up our forward bases in the space controlled by the Gallente.  We set our minds and skills toward learning everything about the dangers and rewards of space.  Once the word went forth, Brothers long thought lost to us returned.  Our numbers quickly swelled with the blood of the new and the old.  It fell to many of us that went before to train and share our knowledge of this new land.  Lead by First Sergeant Bastet, we were trained in the use of our new arms. 

     I still longed for the days of blood and sand.  How I would wake in a cold sweat my fingers gripping the side of my cot as I could almost feel the hot blood washing over me as the sound of steel would ring my ears.    Now it was the silence of space that would ring in my ears forever, my eyes blinded by the sudden destruction of the ship in front of me.  Those days of watching the life flow out of your victim’s eyes were over.

     “Hey Skinny, you there?” Patches voice blasted through my ear piece. 
     “Yeah Patches I’m here.  What can I do for you?” I replied. 

     Even after this long it is funny how you can still taste the desert in your mouth.  Patches was one of the new guys that we picked up once we hit this World.  Not sure if he was going to stick but the kid was showing some promise.  I kind of took him in under my wing so to speak.

     “I have wanted to take out my Rifter and see what kind of prey we can find out in the war zone.” Patches said.  Sounded good, I haven’t tested my skills against another in a while. 

     “Ok Patches, meet me at the hanger in 15 mikes and you better have your shit squared away as this is going to be a fly by the seat of your pants with your hair on fire kind of mission.”  Turning off the comm link, I let myself be enveloped by the darkness of space as I headed toward my meeting.

     Arriving in the hanger, I quickly went through my preflight check list.  It still made my skin crawl when I left the medical bay where my other self was floating in a vat of clear liquid.  The idea of never dying tends to cheapen the thoughts of combat, but I am never going to look this gift in the wrong way.  It’s amazing what you can get use to.

     Running my fingers over the smooth surface of the Death's Head pin on my breast, I still marveled at the day I was awarded with it.  The feeling when our Captain presented it to me in formation and my Brothers stood at attention while he pinned it on.  Pressing down on it now activated my personal comm link. 

     “5 mike Patches, you better hurry your ass to the hanger and get those afterburners warmed up.”  I spoke with clear intent.
     “Right behind you old timer” Patches replied as he walked from behind my Rifter.  “I have been here waiting for you while you were out doing whatever it is you do before you fly.”

     Leveling my gaze at him, I kept my tongue until he stated to fidget, a clear sign of youth in my book. “You have much to learn about the ways of the Company.  It would go a long way for you to learn from us old timers, as you have so named me.  These eyes have held the gaze of many a strong enemy and dear friend alike.  They hold much that they can teach you if you but only if have the strength of will. Do you posses that strength of will?”

     To my pleasure, Patches held my gaze and responded with iron in his voice. “The strength of my will has never been the question.  The real question is are you up to taking on some of us young bloods and molding us in the ways of the Company?”

     What could I say to that?  I liked his nerve, not fearing to speak his mind to me.  “Well Patches,  I think you just might have what it takes to make it here.”, I chuckled.  “Ok rookie let’s see what you got.”  I tossed him our flight plans.  “There’s the all you got to do is get us there and back in one piece, ok rookie? Think you can handle that?”

     Patches grinned as he glanced over the route.  “Ok, let's suit up and head out then, Old Timer”.  Turning on his heel, Patches started to head towards his Rifter.  I watched as he walked up the ramp to his ship.  As the hatch closed,  I turned towards my own.  I called her Deceiver.  She's a sleek work of death and destruction.  Loaded with three 150mm auto cannons and supported with ship to ship rockets, she is truly a thing of beauty.  Settling into the cockpit, I switched on my overhead displays.  Everything checked out green. 

     “Radio Check”, I said over comms.

     “Roger, I hear you 5 by 5 Skinny”,  Patches' voice played out over my ear piece.  The glow of our afterburners lit the darkness of the hanger as we headed towards the air lock.  There we were greeted by a sight that never fails to move me.  Blasted into the doors of the air lock is the Death's Head skull wreathed in unholy flames, the symbol of the Company.  “See you soon, Lady” I whispered.

     “What was that Skinny?  You say something?”

     “No, it was just the mumblings of us Old Timers.  Ok, set your destination towards Huola and see if you can get us there in one piece”, I reminded him.   I hit my warp, headed to the jump gate.  As I started to come out of warp in the Kourmonen System, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  I got a bad feeling about this.  “Hey rookie keep your eyes open.”
     “Come on Skinny, my scans are clear.  The war zone is all dead and quite.”, Patches voice came over the comms.  “Oh shit...I got something here, Skinny.  Not sure what it was.  It was here one second, gone the next!”

     Reaching down to my control panel, I switched on my defense systems, warmed up my guns.  “Ok, switch on your damage controls and prime your guns...I think we are heading into some rough waters.”

     “Ok boss, got my systems primed and ready to go.”  Say what you will about the kid, but he sure was cool under fire.

     We both came out of our warp within seconds of each other.  The Huola gate was ablaze with combat.  The Amaar had arrived on the gate, engaging the Minmatar militia.   The Amaar were getting the better end of the deal.  “Ok Patches...point on that Thrasher and let’s see if we can’t bring him down”

     “Roger that...going in for point.  Point on Thrasher, guns free.” Patches said over the comms. 

     I watched as he flew his Rifter almost head into the Thrasher.  His guns opened up as I swung Deceiver around,  bringing my own guns to bear.  The Thrasher pilot was so focused on the fight in front of him that he missed me and Patches closing in on him. 

     “Ok, set your orbit tight at 500 meters.  We got to get this guy down fast if we want to live through this one.” , I said.

     It wasn't until the Thrasher was well into armor that the pilot focused his attention on us.  I watched as Patches seemed to take the brunt of his fury.  “Overload your guns, Patches...we need to lay on the damage.”

     “Copy that Skinny,  overloading guns and giving him Hell.”, he replied in a steady voice.  The blaze that erupted from his Rifter was truly amazing.  Overloading my guns gave us enough firepower to get Patches through that first engagement.   The explosion was almost blinding as the Thrasher’s ammo supply went up.

      “Oh hell yeah, take that you Amarr scum!”, Patches shouted.

     “You did good, Rookie.  Now, Punisher to port, 30 degrees.  Let’s give him hell.” I told him.  Swinging our ships 30 degrees to port, we saw the lone bogey moving in and out of the bigger battleships and cruisers.  I had the him targeted, moved fast in to apply my point.  “Ok Patches follow me in and guns free once I have point on him.”

     “Solid copy, Skinny...lead the way.  I will follow.”  Patches' voice filled my ear.  Coming at him from out of the star will gave us the few seconds needed to get him targeted and locked down.  I kicked on my afterburners and gave up a pray to the Lady as I dove into the Punisher.

     “Got him locked and pointed... now it’s time to rain some fire on him.  Patches, guns hot!” I said.  My cannons and rockets opened up, his shields melting under the onslaught of our combined firepower.  I knew from experience that once we got him into armor, he would be a tough nut to crack.

     “Looks like his armor is holding Skinny, any bright ideas now?  We are not going to withstand this slug fest for long.” Patches said.

     “Ok switch out your ammo to thermal.  We are going to burn this bastard down.” I told Patches.

     “But won’t that leave us at his mercy until we can get our guns back on line?” Patches asked.

     “Switch the ammo now!  It is the only way either of us is getting out of this one.  Come to bear on him at 5 degrees...increase your orbit to 7500 meters so we can be out of the range of his guns.”  Come on you bastard reload; faster, come on faster.  “Ok guns are hot again...get your ass back in there and earn the right to fly with the Black Company!” I shouted over the comms.  With guns ablaze, we re-entered the fight with the Amarrian pilot.

     His armor melted under the thermals.  Patches got a lucky burst right into the pilot’s ammo storage.  Another bright flash of light was all that was left of that Amarrian bastard.  “See Patches, us Old Timers are right now and then.”,  I said over the ship’s comms.  With our ships in their present condition, I decided that neither one of us would be much good to the Minmatar out here.   I turned us towards S1 and told Patches to lead the way home.

     The hanger was quite as our Rifters settled into their berths,  the outsides scorched from Amarrian lasers.  “Well, you did it again.” I spoke quietly.  Turning, I saw Patches coming down the ramp of his ship.  His hair was plastered to his skull. 

     “Bless the Lady...we made it through that one.  I’ll admit my hands were a little shaky there for a few seconds!” Patches exclaimed.

     “You were lucky this time, Rookie.  Questioning orders on the field of battle could have cost us both our ships, but you pulled it off in the end.”,  I told him.

     “Guess I gotta mark that one up to my lack of experience.  Tell you what I’m going to do, about I buy the first couple of rounds at One Eye's place?  It will give you the ability to point out any of my other faults.”, Patches said with a grin.  He knew I couldn’t resist throwing a few back and getting up on my soap box.  Hell, it might do him some good anyways.

     “Ok you’re on... but I buy the first round.  After that, I will let you get me good and toasted.”,  I shot back to him.   As we headed into One Eye’s watering hole, I gave one last look back at the servo bots busily repairing the damage inflicted on our ships.   We were lucky this time.

« Last Edit: Feb25-2012, 00:02:13 by Mocker »

Offline Bastet

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  • Only the dead have seen the end of war. ~Plato
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Re: The Book of Skinny - Part One: "The Emptiness surrounds Me"
« Reply #1 on: Apr25-2011, 13:23:30 »
Great job Skinny - Good to see a story from you!