Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!
The Delivery Boy - Part 4
Carvaire looked out of the wide viewscreen on the bridge of the Thorax class cruiser. The burning wreck took up most of the screen.
"Status?" the Captain barked.
"Its an Epithal industrial sir, or what is left of it. Detecting antimatter residue. It was fired upon with railguns. 250mm at a guess." the tactical officer replied.
"Life signs?" the Captain asked as they neared.
"None on the ship Captain. Its totally depressurised. I have a couple of lifepods on scan. Setting the tractorbeam to scoop them."
Carvaire didn't ask the Captain permission to leave the bridge, he just took off towards the cargo hold. They were on cross-jurisdictional. The Navy Police were unlikely to be on the same payroll of the Serpentis he was. If that girl was confronted by one of these do-gooders she'd probably spill the beans.
When he burst into the cargo hold the crew were already helping the survivors out of the large 10-man escape pods. He dashed between the pods checking the survivors but couldn't see any sign of the girl. He listened in as they described how they'd come under Serpentis attack. It was unusual for pirates to be operating in the space-lanes of such a high-security system. Especially in a Caldari-Prime orbit. Hanging about the asteroid belts and deadspace pockets was more their thing in this area. Carvaire knew it was no coincidence. The question now being was she alive or dead? Did the Serpentis have her?
His datapad vibrated in his pocket three times. Two was a normal message, three was an encoded message and therefore important. He pulled it out of his pocket, checked nobody was looking and read the message after confirming his ID with an iris scan. The 'off the books' facility in the industrial district had been attacked. A dozen armed men had stormed the building. Awel had been taken.
"Fracking Serps!" he grumbled under his breath, slipping the datapad back into his pocket. Someone had let them know about the boys mother. That was the problem working with corrupt officers, you couldn't trust anyone.
Things were not going well for Carvaire. Right now the Serpentis were holding all the cards. He started heading for the exit behind a group of crew and survivors.
"Aye, she was a good ship the Grand Vert, we'll not get another like her!" he heard one of them say.
He grabbed the man by the shoulder and span him around.
"What was the name of your ship?" he shouted at the shocked man.
"The name of your ship? Wasn't it the Sauternes ?"
"No. It was the Grand Vert."
Carvaire spun away and pulled the datapad from his pocket.
"Control, patch me into orbital command. Urgent."
He waited for a few seconds.
"This is orbital command."
"This is Lieutenant Carvaire. I need the status on two ships. First is Sauternes."
"Checking sir. Sauternes reported lost in sector 4A to pirate activity. Survivors currently being transferred to the station."
"The other is the Grand Vert."
"Grand Vert. Docked in station 3-1 an hour ago. Still there. Hanger bay 23-56."
Carvaire cut the connection and smiled to himself. Someone had been hacking transponders.
The pilot of the shuttle pinged the direction scan again. The Thorax cruiser was still there near the wreck. He typed a new message to his employer and sent it via the fluid router. It would take the light emitted from the sun that was passing his ship right now would take many years to reach the same system the message was heading. However thanks to the FTL message technology the message would be received instantly.
He leaned back in the chair think about what he had done. By spoofing the transponders he had led the pirates to attack an innocent ship. However the one carrying the two persons of interest was also innocent and they'd have been attacked if he hadn't. One of those ships would have been destroyed no matter what he had done. Nodding to himself that he had nothing to feel bad about he programmed the navi-com to warp to the Duvolle labs station and await further orders. He didn't have to wait long. The message arrived as the ship was dropping out of warp.
"A Raven?" he muttered to himself as he read the instructions. He broadcast the AI program he'd been instructed to at the station and set the autopilot once confirmation had been received it had embedded itself in the stations system. Activating the drives, the shuttle swung away from the station and aligned to the distant stargate. In a flash of light the ship jumped to warp and was gone.
Ylle and Jullynes sat in the plush room overlooking the hanger. A small InterBus shuttle was docked with numerous technicians working on it. Preflight checks before the passengers boarded.
"Do you have any idea whats going on?" Ylle asked looking out the window sipping on a glass of Gallente champagne.
"Someone is helping us. I have no idea who or why. The why is the pressing matter. Whether its helping us to escape or leading us into some sort of a trap. Whichever way it is, we've not got much choice but to follow and see what happens."
"Helping us? How? Who?"
Jullynes explained the first time he became suspicious was at the orbital launch facility on the planet. The door was too easy to hack, he'd only got a short way into the system when the door opened. Then when they were picked up by the Sauternes they were going to be thrown in the brig as stowaways before someone threatened them.
"Then there was this." he hand her his datapad.
Ylle looked at the screen. A receipt for two tickets from Luminaire to the star system of Villore.
"Villore? Isn't that right on the border?"
"Yes. Its a 0.5 system that leads into low-sec. Lot of fighting going on in that area. That's why Cromeaux Inc has an office there at the FDU Logistics Support."
"That's where our ticket goes to!" Ylle replied.
"Exactly. So how did our fairy-godfather or mother know that was where we were heading?" he muttered. "I hadn't even told you the specific system but that's the closest with the memory extraction facilities we need."
"Wait, the ticket names! There not us. Wow, its for Abesinon Ahtushin. That actress!"
"I noticed that. Also you do look like her so I think that's the point! It also reduces suspicion about two people our age taking a private chartered shuttle. These Interbus chauffeur services aren't cheap and someone has paid for 1st class. If they think your a famous actress then nobody is going to question it."
"But I do not look like her! She's half Caldari!" Ylle protested.
"So? She might be semi-squid You still look like her! I don't know why you're moaning. She's super hot!" Jullynes laughed.
Ylle raised an eyebrow at that. Jullynes realised what he had said and quickly buried his face back into his datapad. The two sat in silence waiting for the gate to open.
Carvaire entered the security office of the Duvalle Labs Station. A thin Gallente man with hollow cheeks rose from his seat.
"Lieutenant." he said in greeting. "I understand you are after two suspects on our station?"
Carvaire just nodded and handed the man a datapad. He took it and sat down at his terminal. He swiped the data from the pad onto his screen. Green dots appearing on the faces of Ylle and Jullynes as the computer digitised their faces.
"This should take about an hour. Our computers are good but this is one of the busiest stations in the system. Hundreds of thousands of faces to scan!" he stated.
On the screen views from hundreds of security cameras flashed up blue dots and red lines tracing over people's faces as the AI compared them to the the search criteria. The InterBus shuttle executive waiting room flashed up briefly. The empty room vanished as the AI continued its search.
To be continued...