Art by Major Sniper
==The following transmission was received by a Minmatar Republic Patrol in [Redacted] on the 5th of [Redacted] It appears to be an emergency broadcast from a Noctis Class salvage ship ==
I messed up guys. Big time. I’ll tell you where it all started, providing my air lasts.
It started out as a routine salvage operation. My corporation is based out of Metropolis and we were given orders to go salvage a wreck in Otou. That’s all the information we were given. Not much out of the ordinary to be honest. It was usually, “Go here, find it and salvage it.” This time it would be another lowsec system, which isn’t much of a problem for our salvage team. We typically fly a fleet consisting of three Maelstroms, seven Ruptures and a dozen or so Thrashers covering the Noctis. Guess who was on board the Noctis?
Nostromo. When I first was assigned to her, I thought the name sounded cool. Turns out it was taken from a book from before the collapse of the Eve Gates. Who knew something from the precursor era would last, even if it was just a name. Well Nostromo is now a broken piece of shit that I have given up all hope on. My mistake? Signing up.
Well, we get on location and see a few combat ships on D-scan, probably the reason for our salvage operation. Here’s the strange thing though. One wreck, no drones. Nothing really indicating a fight. Now here’s the kicker. It was less than 20 kilometers from a wormhole. That one thing sent shivers down all of our spines as we’ve had to deal with Drifters before. Let me tell you this, if you ever encounter a ship looking like nothing you’ve seen before, run. Don’t just drift, but you find the nearest celestial, lock your navigation on it and warp. During our first and last encounter with these Jovian boogeymen, we were lucky to get away with only two of our Maelstroms in one piece. All hands on near 15 ships lost. That left another company a decent penny in salvage. We weren’t going back to that hellhole, but here we are. Different place but the same boat … and no paddle.
We had just finished the E.V.A. exploration of the wreckage. Again nothing at all indicating a fight. The bridge, even though it looked like a can opener had made sweet love to everything, was more or less intact. Almost like a surge of power went into the ship and erupted out of every wire, every conduit. The ship looked as if it had imploded from an overloaded power core.
Well, we were heating up the salvage tackle when it happened. At first the wormhole made a sound, like metal stressing under water or something. Then we saw them. Not it, but them. A fleet of ships had appeared through the wormhole. As I’ve said before, we’ve encountered drifters before and consider ourselves lucky — very lucky to have survived. Now here we are with five ships we had never seen before. These weren’t Drifters, these were something different. Captain called out something to one of the support battleships and the reply I overheard was something about “Triglavians?” No sooner did the distress beacon go out when I heard the thunder of the Maelstroms in our fleet unloading onto the closest target.
The captain of my ship ordered everyone to combat stations; which on a salvage ship means that everyone gets into an evacuation capsule and waits for the all clear, or the red light inside the capsule to tell us to abandon ship. A few minutes passed by while I rushed from my position operating the salvage modules to the mid section of the ship, just under the mess hall to the evac pods. I had just shut the door when the Nostromo seemed to go weightless. You know the feeling when you jump off of a diving board, the moment of weightlessness just before the splash and sudden slow down as momentum pulls you deeper into the weightless abyss. Well, that’s pretty much exactly what happened. I got pushed up against the wall of the capsule, only lit by a very dim green light. I could feel the ship slowing down and everything was dead silent. No humming of the Noctis jump drive, not even the sound of the battle raging outside.
I waited a couple more moments and just as I was getting ready to open the evacuation pod to re-enter the ship the next thing happened. I was thrown against the roof of the pod and the sound that the ship made was a thousand metallic cries of agony. Suddenly I could hear warnings going off outside the capsule door while I was being thrown around inside the capsule. I seriously felt like the metal ball in a can of spray paint.
When everything stopped I knew what happened. Something had hit the hull and gouged out a huge hole. At least that’s the sound I heard. Being inside a ship long enough, you tend to notice the differences in sounds. Rocks versus screws versus bits of metal. Your ears actually become accustomed to the sounds and you eventually cannot only tell what hit, but where.
I must have been knocked out during it all because I woke up on the floor of the capsule and yeah, it hurt … a lot. I tried to reach up for the capsule eject button because I already knew by the warnings and what had just happened that my Noctis was gone. No power. Not even enough to eject my capsule. When I hit the button to open the capsule door, it did, oddly enough. No power to save my ass but just enough to open the door. Just my luck. Worst part, the capsule had been turned inside its housing. So instead of opening to the airlock door, I was staring at a 15-inch gap between the capsule and the ejection tube wall.
It didn’t hit me until I was halfway out of my capsule, clambering along the side to the airlock door that the ship was still pressurized. I hit the emergency open button which failed, of course, so I had to pull the manual release. I fell onto the floor of the escape hallway and was overcome with both relief and grief. Hard to describe how you go from knowing you are going to die to having a spark of hope. Over the next half hour I scoured my ship to get a message out. When I found comms were shot, I went to the bridge to see if the captain knew what was going on. I’m honestly sorry I did because it appeared what happened to the ship also happened to him; he had been tossed around the bridge like a toy in a box. The rest of the crew seemed to suffer the same fate.
I went down to the engine room to see if I could get the old bird back in flying shape. Besides having wrenches and fire extinguishers bounce around the thing like a mobile home playing chicken with a tornado back on Matar, the engine didn’t look too worse for wear. Seriously it looked fine given what had happened to it. Well, it wasn’t. Internals were gone. Not damaged. Gone. I grabbed the nearest wrench and threw it against the wall as hard as I could. The clatter could have been heard throughout the ship. Something obviously heard it because the next thing I knew, the sound of metal being ripped and scratched started again. Just then, the floor fell out from under me and I was smashed against the ceiling of the engine room. I reached for the nearest railing and clung to it for dear life.
Over the next few minutes the sound and shaking were tremendous. I’m sure that I’ve got a mild concussion from hitting my head on the railing. And I’m kind of surprised that none of the loose tools hit me, as they would have made this entire ordeal much shorter. Once everything stopped shaking, and whatever was assaulting the wreck stopped, I could tell that the hull breach sirens were active. With my closed eyes I hadn’t even noticed the amber lights flashing.
As soon as I could, I rushed to the nearest evacuation hallway and jumped into an E.V.A. suit. Basically a hard-shell to keep the air in and space out. For the next hour I tried everything I could to get life support back online. Defeated, I locked myself in the cargo bay, closed every bulkhead and airlock between the leak and myself. Unfortunately enough air had leaked out that there isn’t even enough here in the bay to breathe. Time on my suit says one hour. I wonder what happened to my fleet? Are they still fighting? Are they sitting along side me in wrecked ships and as hopeless as I am? I know we aren’t in known space anymore. The Navigation computer kept throwing up errors so I’m fairly sure that wormhole we were tasked to salvage next to is where I’m at now. Heh, maybe I’m near the exit and some solo chancer will find me.
I hear that scratching again, this time it sounds like it’s coming from inside the ship. Really? Are they on my ship? What the hell are they looking for? There was just a knock at the cargo bay door.
IN HERE I’M ALIVE!
The door’s opening!
WHAT THE HELL ARE…..