Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's In The Name

        "With hindsight, the decision sucked.  But that's the benefit of hindsight.
        When you use it, all decisions suck." -- Giles Todd

[ What did you say? You were cutting out. ]

I grimaced at the holo comms - Miss Phage was being her usual polite self. The reason I had ‘cut out’ was because a round of cheers that had erupted when Kaili Severasse and his squad entered the bar, returning from a successful operation - the new kind required to live in null-sec. And what the patronage of Squirrel Central’s Bar-and-Grill thought it lacked in numbers, it made up for with enthusiasm.

“I said ‘The operation here appears to have been a success - it has been a while since we had that many alliance members and friends in one place.” I paused, and then as if by afterthought added, “And your last POCO has been placed as well.”

[ I got the notice. ] She smiled faintly. [ And the first import/export taxes are rolling in as we speak. Your alliance is quite a busy bunch. ]

“That they are!” I took a drink from my glass.

[ Your team doesn’t happen to be around? ] she continued.

I hmmed and looked around. The strategically dim lighting of the bar, combined with the flickering of the large holo screens playing back everybody’s favorite battle moments made it hard to locate people… ah, there was Rhys, making good on his challenge to arm-wrestle everybody in the room for drinks, currently giving Darius a hard time. And Mica and Myra… sitting a bit apart from the crowd, laughing and having drinks together. I smiled inwardly at the sight.

“There are a bit busy,” I turned back to the comm unit, “but I’ll let them know that you asked for them - they’ll know what it means.”

Miss Phage nodded in acknowledgment. [ I am wondering about something though… ] She hesitated [ While I wouldn’t prescribe my field agents how they perform their job - why Taloses? ]

“Instead of cheaper and more nimble stealth bombers?” I frowned. “I was questioning my decision myself at times. The original estimates showed them to provide better sustained damage than bombers, and the ammunition was cheaper. And they were fitted cross-purpose to be able to serve as heavy hitters in an Alliance defense fleet as well. Alas,” I grimaced, “the latter never came to pass.”

[ Instead there were many mobile groups with cloaky support. ]

“...and we were rusty as hell.” I agreed grudgingly. “But we got into some nice scuffles, and at the end we had a good system down, even though it required a lot of patience.” I sighed. “I’m afraid though that it’ll be a while before the POCOs make back the expenses.”

Miss Phage chuckled. [ It was never about profit alone, and not even about symbolically staking a claim. ] She looked at me inscrutably. [ I wanted to know if my team was still around. ]

“What…” I began, but she didn’t let me finish.

[ You’ll need a name, though. ] she mused. [ I think it’s tradition among Spec Ops teams that they have impressive nicknames.] She smiled at me. [ Especially the more special ones. ]

I blinked at this turn, and all my brain was able to come up with was the highly unoriginal ‘...what?’

Cat’s Destruction “, said a very cheerful Myra over my shoulder, carrying four drinks in her hands, clearly having overheard us on her re-supply mission. “Nobody’d get it!” She beamed at me, and continued back towards her table.

Miss Phage looked thoughtful. [ I like it - it’s very fitting. What do you say? ]

“I say...,” having gotten back control of my words, “I’ll think about it.”

[ Fair enough. ] She leaned back, clearly done with our chat. [ I’ll let you get back to your party - though I do hope that next time I call on you in person, your partner will be at home as well - I’m curious to meet him. Godspeed. ] And the link cut off.

I emptied my drink in one go, a thought flashing through my mind.

*You and me both.*

Monday, July 11, 2016

Late Night Company

        “Is this a good plan?” - “I’m confused to its purpose, so it must be good!” — Nodwick, 2004/06/16

With a jerk I woke up. My Hound shifted as my brain struggled to make sense of my surroundings, then my view cleared. Outside, the system’s star’s light glanced off the hull of my stealth bomber as it floated in the protective bubble of the POS I was spending the night in. Fluid router downtime was looming, and I wondered what had woken me.

[ Druur, are you there? ] , asked a voice on our Alliance comm channel. Greygal, our intrepid leader.

Subvocalized or not, my first words were just a croak. I swallowed and tried again: “Am now.”

[ Do you have time to scout me to UQY, taking the back way? I figured I’d stage a TCU there while it’s quiet, in case tomorrow’s fight goes south. ]

“Sure thing. Give me a sec - I just woke up.”

[ You definitely sound like you only just woke up, even more than usual! ]

I smiled weakly in my pod while the systems of my ship went back to full power. My warp drive sputtered to life and the POS became a rapidly shrinking point of light behind me. In 60M, Greygal was already waiting in her transport. Our trip would take us through just two systems of ours, but since the TCU was of strategic importance... I took the lead and warped to the 9-H gate, activating the sequence right when I landed.

“9-H is… friendly.”

[ Good, I’m coming in. Hey, how is your POCO project coming? ]

“It’s coming. There is only one left, and it will come out of reinforce in a few hours.” I answered while my warp drive did its duty again. The next gate loomed large, then the warp tunnel distorted my vision. “In fact … UQY is empty … we had it out of reinforce Saturday morning already, but Exiled was simply too active for us to do anything about it.” I grimaced in memory - Exiled was quite good at insta-locking camps and skirmishing, and especially our large ships would have just died needlessly.

[ Ok, hopping into UQY. You know, you could put these timers onto the calendar, so that people could see them, and, like, join your fleets. ] She coughed. [ Hint hint. ]

I felt chagrin as our ships crossed the space towards our staging POS. Our project certainly had turned out more complicated and lossy than expected, and the strain of alarm-clocking the timers was wearing on my team. Asking for Alliance backup would have made some things easier, but yet  …

It wasn’t that we rejected backup when people offered, but somehow it mattered that we didn’t plan on it, even if we couldn’t put the exact reasons into words.

Greygal understood even so. [ You crazy lone wolves with your squirreling… ] she commented with amusement while the crews unloaded the TCU from her ship’s cargo hold, and I laughed.