Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ecliptic Rift's Flash Fiction Friday: Sensor Boosters

Ecliptic Rift is hosting a weekly prompt for fiction from the EVE-Online community. Below is my contributuion for the latest prompt: Sensor Boosters

It's tougher than I thought to keep these short so thanks for hanging in there with me as I work on shortening up my writing.


Found and Lost

Kiak Jeckta's Marauder class battleship, Toughnut, slipped out of the short warp jump from the acceleration gate.  Data from the ships sensors trickled in showing just two Drone frigates patrolling the area, one small, oddly shaped drone structure and no more acceleration gates.  It seemed very anticlimatic, having been through six deadspace pockets, half his combat drones lost, the structure damage Toughnut had taken.  Most of the attenna arrays were melted, leaving him cut off from civilization.  Well, he thought to himself, time to see what this seventh pocket holds and get out of here.

The two Drone frigates acquired locks on Toughnut and started to orbit, their ineffective turrets doing damage that felt like grains of sand bouncing off his skin.  They hadn't set out distress calls yet, so he let them be and started moving towards the lone drone structure.  Camera drones zoomed in to give a closer look.

The structure turned out to be a regular Drone construction.  What had made it look odd was the wreckage of a ship pulled in close to the structure.  He could just barely make out the power and data cables crisscrossing the few meters between the wreckage and the structure.

A few quick changes to his sensor filters told him what the wreckage was: a Shadow Serpentis battleship.  Now how the heck did that get out here?  And what are these Drones doing with it? Kiak thought to himself.

Toughnut's targeting system quickly obeyed Kiak's commands and acquired a lock on the wreck.  Aura reported the salvager wasn't able to scan the wreck due to some sort of electromagnetic and gravitic interference from the Drone structure.  Anoyed, Kiak swung a beam laser around, targeted the Drone structure, and severed the power and data cables, letting the battleship wreck float free.

Kiak reactivated the salvager and waited the ten long seconds for it to do its thing.  The first scan resulted in nothing.  The salvager auto-started a second scan.  The salvager had found something.  The two Drone frigates started screaming distress calls.  Kiak launched his remaining Warrior IIs and set them upon the Drone frigates to silence their annoying screeches.

With a comm link set up with his salvage team, Kiak watched Ioya, his salvage team lead, fasten the silver gray five square meter box to a scanning table.  The scanner completed its level one probe on the box in two seconds, reporting that it was a sensor booster, and started a level two probe.

Kiak felt one of the Drone frigates shudder and explode.

Ioya moved around to the other side of the box and examined the sensor's data cable.  She reported it had six extra optodata pins; a Shadow Serpentis Sensor Booster.  Kiak grumbled to himself.  Not much of a find for all the trouble I've gone through.

The second Drone frigate exploded and the Warrior IIs lazily returned to orbit Toughnut.

Ioya's face frowned as she pulled up a second cable.  Kiak thought it funny she would frown at a power cable until she mentioned it had twelve optodata pins but no power connectors.  Two data cables?  The scanner beeped as it finished its level two probe.  Ioya looked at the display and her eyes lit up.  "Look at this, Kiak.  The numbers are off the charts."

Kiak pulled up the scanner results in an info window.  He could see why Ioya was impressed.  400% boost to range and strenght.  Self powered.  1 terraflop needed due to a heavily miniaturized slave CPU integral to the unit.  Wow.  The Drones are moving on to modifying their own equipment now, he thought.  This is the best discovery I've ever made.  I can't wait to get this on the market.  I'll be set forever!  This is the best day of my life!

Ioya pipped up. "Several research companies are going to pay a mint to have this.  CONCORD will reward you very well for these coordinates.  We're gonna have to---"

Kiak's sensors screamed at him, drowning out Ioya's words.  120 Drone ships slipped out of warp from every direction possible.  The pathways between Toughnut's CPU and the external sensors saturated in a split second with all the data streaming in.  50 more Drone ships slipped out of warp.  His overview shuffled and reshuffled, trying to sort the ships by distance.  More Drone ships dropped out of warp.  He could feel hundreds of target locks crawling along Toughnut's hull like a thousand spiders.

Kiak sent a command to his armor repair systems to start cycling immediately while simultanesouly commanding his navigation systems to warp to anything directly in front of him.

Neither command made it to their intended systems.  The Drone fleet alpha stike obliterated Toughnut and all on board in a flash.

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