Keacte awoke in his clone bay. Things hadn’t quite gone to plan in the last engagement. As the clone vat slowly but surely prepared around him he ran through the battle in his mind as it slowly regenerated – millions of years of evolution all crammed into one gooey, sticky, smelly mess. He felt sure that he had done everything possible to guarantee success in this mission. Prior to undocking at PVH, he had gone through all his standard pre-flight checks, and as he emerged from the ISB Station, he felt happy with the Taranis’ performance as he downed the throttle and engaged warp drive to commence his 19:00 Syndicate Enforcement Patrol through 6CZ, MHC and up to PF-346. Alas, in hindsight, as his new frontal lobe began forming, even with all those checks in place, he realised that the result had all boiled down to one thing, and one thing alone – he had underestimated the tenacity of the Rapier pilot and the damage force of his swarm of warrior drones against his Taranis.
Running it through even slower in his mind, he knew he had done everything right; he had overheated his scram from the outset to get the initial tackle, and webbed and overheated his guns on the drones – but on this occasion, sadly it just wasn’t enough.
Upon engaging the Rapier pilot, he had done well to out-manoeuvre the hostile threat, so that his 650mm arties had no real chance to track him – just one quick pulse of his afterburner and overheat had ensured that. This allowed him to overheat his 3 freshly installed light ion blasters whilst webbing the warrior drones.
As the fog rose, it was then that he realised that this was the turning point in his patrol – the Rapier pilot had been agile enough to recall his drones back 2 or 3 times…maybe 4, he really could not remember as everything was still slight hazy. This had tipped the balance: the persistent damage delivered by the Warriors to the Taranis just could not be sustained.
As the clone vat solution crystallised around him, everything was hazy – he thought it could have been the adrenaline – but how could adrenaline follow through to your clone bay? Physically impossible – but he always felt it, and today was no exception. He had theories about how this was possible, but when sat in the officers lounge with his regular Alpha Squadron Fleet a few weeks previous, no one had experienced the same feeling.
As he opened his eyes, he felt a familiar sensation behind them – the burning light shining through the misted clone bay door – it wasn’t even light outside in the officers quarters. As the clone bay door popped open, the dank, musty air entered his lungs for the first time [again] and he collapsed momentarily adjacent to the officers quarters. Not again. The collapsing seemed to be happening more frequently – but this time it felt slightly different, and he couldn’t place it. It was back again – but this time it felt good – they had obviously changed suppliers of the clone stabilisation fluid again. He had seen the Alliance Medical experts a number of weeks back who, after some tests, had given him the all-clear, but he felt sure it had returned.
A minute or more later, he woke up slumped against the clone bay door, he looked up and could see the familiar face of Alpha Squadron Leader Glepp. It was a usually friendly face – however, on this occasion, he couldn’t work out if Glepp was looking down on him reassuringly or with disappointment – she had invested much time in Keacte over the years, and to see him slumped down like this must have been disappointing. “On your feet soldier” Glepp bellowed in a stern tone.
Keacte blinked a couple of times as if to clear some residue from his eyes. Looking around him, he could see others within the officers quarters looking on somewhat concerned – the young skirmisher extraordinaire, Itko, glanced over and mouthed the words “get up”. As Keacte struggled to haul his 6 ½ ft frame up, Child lurched to help claw him up, but JPD signalled that Keacte was going to be alright.
When you fly with someone for extended periods, they become an extension of you – instinct plays a big part – you feel what they feel. These pilots, although bloodthirsty 99% of the time, were no different – they could feel my pain. Still standing over the somewhat jaundiced Keacte, Glepp spun full circle – something had distracted her there were reports of a hostile Battlecruiser gang entering PVH. “I’ll deal with you later” Glepp said sternly to Keacte, as she ran up the well worn gantry from the Alpha clone bay area to the observation deck adjacent to the Director and CEOs Mess.
“Balls” muttered Keacte inwardly to himself as he took a few sharp breaths. He had been a member of Agony Unleashed for nearly 3 years now and he had become used to the euphoria of the tackle and kill – and to an extent death. He had flown ships of all races from frigates, Inties and AFs through Covops and Recon ships all the way up to Battlecruisers and Battleships – but he had found true excitement in small scale warfare – this is what he wanted to do.
Moments later, the claxon sounded and Glepps familiar voice was heard spiralling down the corridors of Alpha Squadrons officers lounge. Keacte had now gathered his senses after taking on some fluids – predominantly whiskey – and he was ready to roll.
As he ran down the corridor to the ‘All Sectors’ shuttle, Glepp’s command came through the loudspeakers, calling for High Speed Short Range (HSSR) Battlecruisers.