Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hiding in Plain Sight

This post is an installment of Friday Flash Fiction - something that is run by Ecliptic Rift. Here is this weeks prompt: "This week, we turn our attention to the Syndicate region.“Formed by a handful of Intaki exiles in the wake of the first Caldari-Gallente war, the Syndicate today runs a thriving region of the same name on the fringes of Gallente space, providing a useful haven for less savory Federal citizens and outright outlaws. Denied the right to colonize planets in the region, the Syndicate instead operates exclusively from its network of autonomous stations, each of which is run by a station manager who is undisputed master of his own fief.” Here is my submission. I hope you enjoy.


"They say you can run but you can't hide. I say fuck running, and I say fuck hiding too."

Alehandra's Hulk pulled into station along Jamal's Orca. Disengaging from her pod she made her way off the ship. "Get these unloaded and into my storage." She gestured to both ships as she talked to Neelan. "Just the ore and the salvage, leave the drones and the crystals. The dock worker nodded. Alehandra started to walk away when Neelan called out to her. "Hey, there was someone here earlier looking for you."

Alehandra froze, turning around slowly. She was not used to unexpected visitors. "Who?" was all she could manage to ask. Her face a blank mask trying to cover the apprehension dancing in her eyes.

"I don't remember his name. Some Gallente, Harke-something I think. Said he had some news about your sister Illyena. He said he'd be around the station and he'd just track you down later." Neelan cocked his head slightly to one side, "

Alehandra turned and started to walk away muttering under her breath. "That was a long time ago."


"Damn it Illyena! What do you think you are doing?" Herkan's voice rang through her head. "There is no way through that blockade!" The sphere of Gallente militia ships was almost perfect. Whoever was in charge of this blockade knew how to thwart smugglers. Ships or cans spread out every 3500 to 4000 km, no way to push a ship, even a cloaked ship, through the blockade. The area was littered with drag bubbles and warp bubbles, enough fire power to eat through her shields in a matter of seconds. It looked perfect, it had taken her almost an hour of circling to find a chink in their armor.

She punched the coordinates over the private relay to Herkan's overview. "See that hole?" It was less than a 5km miscalculation, threading her ships through window like that would be like trying to spit through a pinhole. "I'm just going to slide through, jump, and be gone before they even think about locking onto me."

"Great plan." Herkan's voice was sarcastic. "Except you forgot about the point where I'm supposed to watch your back and call the shots. It's too risky, we abort." He ordered a fleet warp and Alehandra's Helios started to align to a nearby planet. She quickly gave the override command.

"No way! We are one jump out from a huge pay day, and I'm not going to run with my tail tucked just because of a few militia ships." She began to move slowly towards the window, easing the controls carefully.

Herkan's tone was full of controlled anger. "Stand down Illyena! You've got over a billion in cargo! You get caught and The Syndicate will lynch us both!" She ignored his command, "I doubt they wouldn't take to kindly to us telling them we were a bunch of cowards either. We were hired to get a job done, that's what I'm doing." She held her breath as she started to push through the narrow window. "I wouldn't recommend trying to order my ship around, I turn the wrong way now and we are both screwed."

"Damn it Illyena!" His voice came angrily over the comsys, but no more fleet orders were issued, at least he was smart enough to realize she was telling the truth. She pushed the ship forward slowly making it through the hole safely and dragging her ship to a halt just outside 2000km of the gate. "You coming through?"

"Negative. Too risky, I make a mistake and we risk both getting caught. Just get through that gate and get to the station. I'll monitor from here." Illyena smirked and gave a soft chuckle, "Aye, aye Captain." She dropped her cloak and accessed the gate's jump sequence within a second of each other. She laughed as her overview started to scream as over a dozen ships attempted to lock onto her before the gate could complete the jump cycle.

Her laughter was short lived. As she appeared on the other side of the gate she was faced with a much smaller fleet, but the area was littered with cargo containers. Her warp dropped almost instantly. Panicked she found the closest planet and started to drive towards it. She punched her microwarp, the other ships were ready for her though as her overview lit up with locking traces, a few getting a solid lock. Her display flashed even more warnings at her as warp scramblers began to disable her ship. All her hopes were squashed as a webifier locked onto her ship, dragging her speed to the point where escape was impossible.

"Well crap." She started the ships self destruct sequence and waited for the countdown.
"Illyena! Illyena! What the hell is happening?" Herkan screamed at her over the comsys.

"Sorry Herkan, you were rig.."


Back in Habu, Alehandra sighed as she thought through the hell that followed. The mad dash of fleeing syndicate space, the efforts and isk it had taken to fake her own death with a clone malfunction. The ensuing elimination of the doctor she had paid to make it happen. She thought she had covered her tracks well enough, and everything she had heard from the Syndicate chatter she had. But it seems Herkan had a personal score to settle. Not surprising, lovers tend to be the jealous type.

She checked the station guest list and dropped a message to the only Herkan in the register with a time and a place for a meet. She slid back into her ship, unloading a weapon from behind the hidden panel near the entry hatch and went back out to wait.

A short while later in an isolated corner of the station's service corridors Herkan stepped out into the light. "Well Illyena, long time. Or should I call you Alehandra now?" She let out a sigh, "Alehandra will do just fine. I never was one for having two names at once. What are you doing here Herkan?"

The man stepped towards her angrily. "Do you know what your little stunt cost me? When you went on the run I was the only one left to pin the blame on. I can't get work. None of my contacts want to talk to me. I can't ever afford to keep my license and clone! I had to ride here on the damned Interbus! I have nothing now and it is all your fault!"

"It isn't my fault you didn't run Herkan. I lost everything too, couldn't assess my old accounts once I faked my death. Even had to lose a bunch of what I learned in faking the clone botch, damn doctor couldn't get a high enough grade clone through the black market. So don't talk to me about loss." She stared the other Intaki down. "So what now? You call up the Syndicate and let them know where they can come and find me, or did you already tell them and they just sent you to do their dirty work?"

"Oh no, they wouldn't have believe me if I told them. I didn't even believe it myself at first." He laughed. "You really should think about how you name your ships. But I guess old habits die hard. It was a long shot hunch, but when you have nothing to lose any hunch is worth it."

"That's it? That is how you found me? A hunch?" She didn't wait for an answer drawing her weapon and firing in one smooth motion. The smile was still on Herkan's face when his body hit the floor. "Well at least you don't have a clone for me to worry about. Thanks for making it easy." She pushed the body into the airlock, glad she had the foresight to choose this location. With no ship, no clone, and no real amount of isk to his name Herkan's death would probably go unnoticed. She punched the release sequence and then began to make her way back to the docking bay.

"Ships are unloaded and ready to go ma'am." She smiled to Neelan, "Thanks, I think we'll be taking them back out." She punched a message to Jamal and within seconds he had confirmed. "So what did that guy want to tell you about your sister?" Neelan asked casually. Alehandra smiled sadly, "Just came to tell me that she had died."

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