Penumbra – The diffused, weak part of a celestial object’s shadow.
She was quite possibly the ugliest ship he had ever decided to fly.
He knew that many non-Matari pilots found their entire fleet ugly, but this would be one of the few cases he had decided he was in agreement. Even the cobbled-together Reaper-class frigates at least hung on to some semblance of an aerodynamic appearance.
The Vigil-class frigate did no such thing. It was an ungainly machine that looked like some sort of oversized, unbalanced humanoid robot, just waiting for a slight bump to knock her over flat on her back. When flown, she wheeled around the capsuleer’s emplacement like a child swinging on a tethered rope rather than making an elegant banked turn.
But he couldn’t deny her effectiveness. She flew faster than anything he’d ever piloted, and backed with a micro-warp drive she positively hurtled through space. The triple-salvager, dual-propulsion platform rigging that Gonakis Eraettafrin had recommended, while it seemed a bit overly specialized, positively tore through wreck cleanup operations.
He named her the Bone Gnawer, for that is what she was made to be. A stingy, speedy and daring little mongrel in search of a meal from a bigger dog’s kill.
Once he had the ship, it was simply a question of finding the right place. He had searched the battle reports data coming in from CONCORD, looking for high report counts – and found an unlikely system that matched his search. It was appalling, really, that Pator was a hotbed of pirate attacks and activity, even if they seemed to be losing almost every battle they fought. If CONCORD couldn’t keep the capital system of the Minmatar Republic safe, what could they do?
Rhavas had gone looking for trouble. Moon to moon, asteroid to asteroid – but found nothing but miners, their ships bathed in yellow mining laser light filtered through clouds of spaceborne veldspar dust. Maybe, he thought, this whole “unrequested salvage” operation was not going to be much of a challenge or a success. At last, bored of searching, he noted something on the system map.
Of course. The Eternal Torch of the Minmatar Republic, something he had heard about since childhood, but had never seen. And so now, he was on his way to see his boyhood symbol of freedom.
As with many things one builds up in one’s mind, it was smaller than he had imagined. While it had an impressive bearing, it appeared abandoned by CONCORD ships, or the Minmatar honor guard he would have expected to be standing by. Wrecks of pirate ships lay not far from the structure, and with a brief amusement flickering through him, the salvagers flashed and cleared the wrecks from space.
Rhavas took a slow orbit around the Torch, taking in the view of the plasma flame, briefly mesmerized by its flickering and his memory. Even though he identified himself less than most with the crimes of the Amarr Empire and the identity of the Rebellion, and even with the Torch seeming nearly abandoned in its own home, it was a thing to inspire pride in his history and his fellow Matari. Freedom was what allowed him to do what he did, and to be who he was. To that, he owed a debt to the forefathers of the Rebellion that he could only pay by exercising that liberty.
Snapping out of his reverie, he reminded himself that he had not yet accomplished what he had set out to do. It appeared he would not stumble upon conflict, but needed to seek it out.
Aboard the Wraith, Interplanetary space, Pator, Heimatar
Nothing was easy the first time. While Rhavas was now quite used to using core probes to scan down stationary targets, ships were a different issue. What you scanned one moment was not there the next. Instead of looking for objects, you needed to look for patterns. In the capital system of the Minmatar Republic, there were too many ships to count and most of them were in motion.
In the end, he nearly gave up. Finally, after chasing too many ghosts to count, he picked a signature. It didn’t matter what, really. The combat probes reported it as “Drone and Probe”, so he half feared that he was scanning down his own probe. But he at last acquired a target, and warped.
While no massive find, it was better than he had hoped, and gave just enough of a boost to his confidence to continue to spin his probes through the system. As he scooped up the four abandoned Hammerhead drones he had found, he began again looking for patterns.
And this time, he found one. Two, actually. A Maelstrom-class battleship and a Drake-class battlecruiser; classic pirate-fighters. He double-checked the cloak on the Wraith, and warped to a space within view of the Maelstrom.
Safe behind his cloak, he examined the space around him and the numerous pirate wrecks strewn about from the pair’s handiwork.
OOC:Penumbra is the second of a three-part story about Rhavas’ first foray into questionable activities. Next: Annularity.