Monday, March 15, 2010

Ecliptic Rift's Flash Fiction Friday: Should You Be Doing That?

Ecliptic Rift is hosting a weekly prompt for fiction from the EVE-Online community. Below is my contribution for the latest prompt: Should You Be Doing That?

Fethe sat at her console in the docking manager's ring deck.  She'd been a docking manager for 6 months now and had only been hired on because she agreed to take a post at a low sec station.  6 more months and she'd be done with her probationary period and could put in for assignments to another station of her choosing.  “Half way there” she thought.

Next to her sat Klept, a new docking manager who'd just started working today.  He obviously wasn't new at this job – he took to the controls, procedures and lingo like a fish to water.  They were the only two on duty in addition to the docking ring supervisor who was elsewhere, dealing with other issues.

A chime announced a ship landing on grid.  The docking control system assigned the ship to Klept in case it requested docking permission.  A few seconds lapsed as the ship dropped out of warp a few hundred meters within in the docking approach path and the station's tractor beam.  Fethe looked over at Klept's display and saw it was a blockade runner.

Another quiet shift.

The capsuleer piloting the blockade runner requested docking permission and the docking control system brought this to Klept's attention with both visual and audio notices.  Fethe expected a quick response from Klept to the request, but instead he changed the communication frequency.

The capsuleer placed another docking request on the new comm frequency, and Klept responded by requesting a security standing check.

“Should you be doing that?” Fethe asked Klept.

“Uh?  What, this?  It's nothing.” he responded.

“Then why are you doing it?”

“I'm just playing around with him.  These capsuleers are so full of themselves.”  His voice took on a mocking tone.  “Thinking they are immortal and can fly ships no one else can.”

“Well, that's not how the docking ring supervisor wants it done.”

“Look, you're obviously new to being a docking manager.  I've been doing this for a long time.  It's standard practice to mess around with these capsuleers.”

Fethe, disgusted at being talked down to, returned to her console.  “Well, if anything happens, then it's your ass on the line.” she said with acid in her voice.

“Whatever.” Klept responded.  He continued to delay granting docking permission.

Another chime sounded announcing another ship landing on grid.  The docking control system assigned this ship to Fethe in case it requested docking permission.  She waited, ready to grant access since none of the automated systems gave any reason this ship could not dock.  Data on her screen showed it was an interceptor.

Klept's console lit up with several rapid fire requests to dock by the blockade runner.

Fethe never received a docking request.  She nearly jumped out of her seat when the ship-grid chime started ringing non-stop.  Klept's console started pounding away with visual and audio markers as the capsuleer in the blockade runner demanded over and over again docking permission.

Two dozen ships  landed outside the station and the docking control system faithfully split them up between their consoles.  Fethe's console sat quiet, Klept's console was a buzzing crescendo of docking requests from the blockade runner.

Bright flashes filled the docking manager ring deck and the windows showing a panoramic view of the docking approach path dimming automatically to compensate.  The only sound was of Klept's console ringing with constant docking requests from the blockade runner.

After a few seconds the requests stopped coming.  The windows readjusted and let in the light from the system's star.  No more bright flashed poured in.  The docking manager deck returned to silence and the two docking manager consoles emptied of data as the ships returned to where they had come from and left the station's grid.

Two minutes passed without a word being said.  Klept's screens winked out and the docking supervisor's voice exploded over the deck's speakers.

“What the fuck, holy shit, Klept!  How the hell did you fuck up a docking request from a transport ship?  A transport ship assigned to a corporation with their HQ offices in this station?  A corporation INVOLVED in a WAR?  They're demanding you be detained for questioning and security has already granted permission.  Don't even think of moving out of that chair!”

Fethe sat in silence and noticed Klept was as white as a sheet.

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