In retrospect, his day of reckoning had been overdue.
He had been working diligently to get funding the only ways he knew how – mining, which quickly lost its luster, and running anti-pirate and anti-Ammatar missions for the Republic government. As a young pilot without much reputation, fresh from graduation, he didn’t think he had much choice.
He remembered it had been a surprise when one of the agents had been especially complimentary of his work and provided a recommendation to an agent out farther in New Eden than he had yet been – Gulfonodi in Molden Heath. Full of confidence, he and the Archer sped off to meet the new agent, anticipating a solid reward.
The Minmatar Mining Corporation base off Gulfonodi X, Moon 18, was a cold and unwelcoming place, half-buried in the shell of a mined-out asteroid. The description fit the whole region, for that matter – Molden Heath was ostensibly Minmatar Republic space, but was overrun by pirates.
Metlinael Wettin, the agent, was an older Brutor, and seemed to carry the weight of being an Astronautics specialist in the warrior tribe uneasily. Sarcasm oozed from him as he described the assignment. Maybe that should have been a warning, but Rhavas took it as simply the stock outlook of someone who lived their life in a remote and unpleasant place. Besides, the mission sounded easy enough: take out an Angel leader and a small fleet. Wettin mentioned “big guns” but that was typical of these station-bound people. Just like so many others before it.
He hadn’t expected that the Archer would be the smallest ship to take the field. He hadn’t expected his best ship to nearly buckle under the strain of attempting to align to a warp target. And he certainly hadn’t been ready for the four-missile explosive burst that tore through the armor and blew apart the hull around the pod into so much white-hot shrapnel.
On the bright side, the pod proved more nimble in getting to warp than he had expected, and the trip back to the rest of his ships docked at Hek had been thankfully short.
He reviewed the memo one last time. “You missed the window of opportunity. I need timely and punctual help, not indecisive help.”
The Archer II was due to be delivered momentarily, and he needed to make room.