Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fiction: 2013 Pod and Planet Entry - ECM Nightmare

Written for the YC115 Pod and Planet Fiction Contest
Category: Other Things Just Make You Swear and Curse

ECM Nightmare

 “I had a dream last night.”

“Did you write it down as we have discussed?”

“Yeah. But it was so clear. I can still see it.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“You’ll think I’m crazy.”

“I’ve told you before that I don’t think you are crazy. The mind is only capable of handling but so much emotional stress. The trauma of what you have been through has to heal. Dreams are how they heal.”

“But this nightmare. It was real. I can't escape it. When I walk down the hallway I remember it. When I dream I remember it. Sometimes its okay. Like, when I eat. I take blue pill you know, to get through the work day in the asteroid fields. I get the shakes when I pass the low sec gate. I lived there. I would dive into that gate without a second thought and now just seeing it on scan gets me shaking.”

“Tell me your dream.”

“Okay. It went like this.”

***

There are times when you know you shouldn’t take a fight. Everything feels wrong. Scans don’t make sense. The scouts have noticed a Nemesis following for the last hour gate after gate. But, you don’t care. You’re going to live forever. Death doesn’t matter now or later. You live in the moment.

That was my life. That was who I was as my fleet turned to burn back to the gate to take the fight that had been stalking us.

“Deploy drones,” snapped the fleet commander. My warriors shot out of my Myrmidon’s drone bay in a wash of ozone. Their engine flares vanished into the night as they spread out around the ship. I was the center of the atom and they were my electrons and oh would they collide.

I’m sure they thought we were running. Six battlecruisers, two assault frigates, and a scythe was our crew. Our last view of them they were running at ten strong with two scythes. We could deal with that. They wanted to have fun. We could give them fun.

The gate energies flared. Sparks danced down the length of the gate as spaceships were flung and caught across vast distances. Gates are strange abnormalities. They make space small and suddenly, you find yourself face to face with someone else in the void.

Those are the moments I lived for. As their ships faded into view I was already cycling through their target list. The assault frigates burned with my drones directly behind them. Everything illuminated in waves of energy as fire met fire and our ships slammed into each other. They were here to fight too but it wasn’t going to be their day. We were good at what we did. Too good. Their first Osprey exploded as our Enyo streaked towards the second to join his fellow assault frigate.

That was when the Falcon decloaked. I hate Falcons. Who doesn't? In moments, half the fleet found themselves blind and offenseless. Our Scythe was suddenly under pressure and the Osprey rebounded. One of the Enyo’s streaked towards the Falcon.

We may hate it but we've been here before. Weapons systems offline and only our experience keeping us calm. Pass went down first. His Brutix exploded into a swirling ball of flame. Then Ioto called that he had the Falcon locked down at the same time Byree’s sensors cleared and his Talos moved to put an end to the Falcon.

It was going well. I had two reps burning and a third waiting. My cap was full and it was good.

Until the Scorpions.

I don't remember the fight this way. But we killed the first Scorpions from a hundred clicks away. I don’t know how but it died. And then it was replaced by two more. And they died to. And then there was four. Annst died and then Tolliver’s Enyo puffed out of existence. My reps were overheated. Eight scorpions. Sixteen. They died and they multiplied until we were surrounded by a net of them.

Until I was alone. My last drone had died. I was out of nanite paste and cap charges. I died, surrounded by a glittering ring of Scorpions while the Falcon laughed in my face. I felt...

***

“You felt what?” The doctor was leaned forward in his chair.

It was all there in front of my eyes. “I felt nothing. I broke inside.” My hands were shaking as I remembered the nightmare.

“Nothing at all?”

I closed my eyes. “Fear. I guess. The shakes. But they don’t feel like anything. I’m empty.”

“Deep breaths. You are in control here.  Now open your eyes and tell me what you feel?”

A Scorpion sat in the Doctor’s chair, its target spectrum jammers directed at me.

-Sugar Kyle, Published October 28th, 2013

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