Not Your Average Fed-Ex
Rio Grande emerged from warp near the station where Vedulef Gekelgala had sent Erbo this time, ostensibly to pick up a load of silicate glass. Something about the location didn’t ring right, though. It certainly wasn’t on any of the charts of the system. Something was up.
Erbo opened the private comm channel to Selena. “Sweetie, this looks like no ordinary pickup run. Better get your ass out here, double pronto.”
“I TOLD you!” came the response over the communicator. “Undocking now. Don’t go anywhere till I get there.”
Erbo cut thrust to the ion drive units, and did his best to look inconspicuous. Soon enough, though, Selena reported that she was inbound; at that point, he kicked on power, engaged afterburners, and headed in towards the warehouse as the comforting bulk of Mystic Eagle slid in behind him.
Suddenly, the local comm channels crackled to life: “Look! Someone’s here! Grab your guns and get to business!”
Several pirate vessels suddenly emerged from the shadows, many of them targeting his ship. Erbo quickly locked targets and cast loose the three railguns. Rio Grande shook with impact as the “twang!” of firing railguns, from both his ship and Selena’s, indicated that they were beginning to deal damage.
Another group of ships approached; it was clear that this was an ambush. The incoming fire proved too much for the shields, and even for Rio Grande‘s enhanced armor systems; alarms indicated that the cruiser was taking structural damage.
“Shit! I gotta bug out!” yelled Erbo. He engaged warp for anywhere else, and watched in horror as the ship’s hull began to buckle, damage alarm lights began showing on all systems…but, with a fraction of reserve strength to spare, Rio Grande pulled away from the area, venting drive plasma and smoke.
Thank heaven the warp drive still works, thought Erbo, as he set course for a station where he could pull in and repair. He said a prayer for the souls of some unsung Gallente design engineers somewhere; they certainly built the Thorax solid. Over the communication systems, Selena reported that she was holding out well, but the pirates seemed to be targeting her drones.
The repair bill for Rio Grande‘s damage came to over 900,000 ISK; Erbo winced as he paid the bill and took the cruiser out again, setting the warp drive systems for a rendezvous with Selena. She had lost some drones already; Erbo winced again at the thought of those destroyed Hammerhead II’s, at over 600K a pop.
Only a few enemies remained as Erbo warped back to the warehouse area; as he watched, one of the surviving pirate vessels erupted in flame, destroyed by Selena’s drones and gunfire. He turned his own guns and drones on a vessel immediately below his that was launching missiles at Mystic Eagle; it was soon overwhelmed in its turn. At long last, the sky was clear of bandits, and Erbo quickly maneuvered Rio Grande in to the warehouse proper, to pick up the silicate glass, before assisting Selena with the looting and salvage of the wrecked enemy ships, as was their standard practice.
Back at the Tollus station, Erbo delivered the silicate glass; all Gekelgala had to say was, “I look forward to your next visit.” Erbo left, wishing he’d had the presence of mind to shove the silicate glass up that smug Minmatar’s bunghole. The cost had been considerable; all that money for the repairs of the Rio Grande, and six of Mystic Eagle‘s expensive drones turned into worthless junk.
But Erbo knew that that would be nothing compared to the humiliation of having Selena tell him, “I told you so!”