Black-Mark Days

Rixx rubbed his eyes and groggily wondered where in the Hell he was.  The last thing he remembered was docking his Drake... and then nothing.  The clock on the wall showed him that about 45 minutes had passed since... since what exactly?  He sniffed the air and detected a faint odor of burnt circuitry as if a server somewhere had overheated or fried.  He shook the cobwebs from his head and stood.  Oh well, he had more important things to do than wonder about lost time.

As if on cue his Commlink started beeping urgently.  It was Angor and a call to fleet up immediately.  He splashed some ice cold water on his stubbled face and hurried to the hanger.  He nearly knocked Eradicator off his feet rounding the corner, Erad nodded and mumbled something about his Nyx.  Rixx shook his head and ran on, he knew Erad's roam earlier in the day had only managed one kill. Maybe that was bothering him.

The call had been for small, fast and light and Rixx decided to take the Jaguar this time.  It was a dependable little ship that he hadn't gotten to fly all that often, being more suited to the lawless lands bordering Empire than the deep recesses of Null.  The Jag was already bobbing in the launch circle when he arrived, ready and loaded.  Scotty might be a bastard at times but he always managed to have his ships ready when he needed them.  As always the next part was a mystery to Rixx, as much as it was to any other pilot he ever asked about it.  One minute he was looking out at the Jaguar floating in the hanger and the next he was scrunching himself into his pod in the cramped cockpit.  Someday he would get to the bottom of that mystery.  But not today.

The mission directive came over from Angor and Rixx laughed to himself, figured.  Fresh back from his time with the Tuskers, Angor was taking them into lawless low-security space.  A couple of Taranis', a Harpy and another Jaguar... should be fun.  They raced up the zero pipe and all of them remarked on how empty the systems were, which wasn't normal.  Rixx asked over Comms if anyone else had time they couldn't account for and the phenomenon seemed universal.  The mystery deepened but as usual more pressing matters were at hand.

Angor's time in the Tuskers was well spent and he masterfully lead them around system after system hunting for targets.  IT was frustrating not being allowed to shoot people on Gates, but Rixx understood the rules even if he hated them.  While he had never considered himself a "pirate" he also wasn't above chasing his enemies into whatever space they decided to run.  And every once in awhile it was also good to just have fun.  Even when that "fun" came at the expense of someone else.

These space lanes were almost as empty as the Null ones they had left behind.  It was almost as if the Universe was coming out from under a momentary spell, getting back up to speed as it were.  But it wasn't long before someone noticed a Thorax killing some Serpentis Soldiers in a belt.  They quickly swooped in and exploded the Thorax and his pod, the readouts made Rixx cringe.  Honestly it was one of the worst fit ships he had ever seen, one of each gun!?  He certainly deserved what had happened to him and hopefully it would be a lesson he'd remember.

Rixx slapped the Minmatar on-board guidance computer, damn thing was still showing echoes on the overview!  Scotty had assured him the problem would be fixed and damn if it didn't cost him on the next kill.  These glitches were getting worrisome.  They had cost Rixx his Dramiel the week before and now they were costing him kills.

The space lanes were mostly empty so Angor decided to take them back home.  Along the way they managed to get caught on a Gate by a... oh wait, the Eris pilot failed to engage his bubble in time!  Lol, for all their bragging in the local channel these Freelancers weren't the brightest bulbs.  Rixx imagined his buddies giving him a face full when they arrived on an empty gate.  It would be great to engage, but Rixx knew it would also be futile in such small ships.  The Eris tried to make up for his lapse by chasing them home, but they were too fast for him.

By the time they arrived back in station Rixx was too exhausted to even think about undocking yet again.  It was time for a nice long steam, a call to his wife up in Empire and maybe a few minutes on that new virtual spaceship game his kids were talking about.