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Concord’ohkken

April 12, 2013

The Navy Battleship eased into the docking ring under the precise control of her captain. Sukuuvesta station traffic control acknowledging contact as part of handover protocols,  full decontamination commencing immediately on confirmation of inertia compensation and lock.

“Station control to Angel – welcome back. Green on override status. Weapon and drone systems lockouts complete. Power and helm under station control. Confirm”.

“Confirmed. Station control all systems. You have the con”

“Stage 1 decon should be complete in 10. Status request crew prep for stage 2”. There was a slight pause, “Issues?”

The electronic voice of the capsuleer was as cool and devoid of emotion as ever, though control had met the slight Achura woman before. He didn’t think there was much of a difference between that voice and the real.

“None to report. Concord orders. Three year shakedown. Crew are fully suited. Integrity checked. We are go for stage 2”

“Stage 2 decon confirmed. Atmospherics purge in T+10. Uh, good luck Angel. Let us know if we can assist. Control out”.

There was no acknowledgement short of comm channel loss. Control had come to expect that from this particular capsuleer. They were a peculiar bunch, and she was less communicative than most of them. He spared a brief thought for the Concord agents, and hoped for their sake they got nothing wrong…

Airlock 2 – Angels Fear to Tread

Oleson stepped into the waiting space taking more care than usual. A sizable man given to cautious movement, he found the confines of the pressure suit claustrophobic at best. He resented that it made him feel clumsier than normal, closed in and cramped

Behind him, the three others in his small engineering team entered the lock space and waited for the decontamination procedures to commence. The team was quiet. Alone with their own thoughts. Oleson felt the need to break the silence.

“Have any of you been through full decon before now?” He took the lack of any assent as a sign to continue. “Nothing much to worry about really. We exit via the lock and head to the staging bay and clamp ourselves to the safety rings”.

“One last suit check, then they pump all the air out”.

“Of the ship or the docking bay?”

That was Banks. To be expected given he was a newly minted engineer, fresh out of university. First placement. A head full of equations, still damp behind the earlugs.

“Both”, he replied. “This is pretty unusual. If you’re lucky, will get to do a few more with this ship. It’s still a pain in the ass, both this and the full medical assay. I don’t like the fact they shave us completely as part of the process. The itching goes on for weeks. Lets not go into what they prod and where”.

“Lucky? How do you figure that?”

“Well, son” Oleson replied, “I’ve been with this ship for nearly four years. May not sound like much to you, but Angel is a combat ship through and through. She’s been though fire and destruction like you would not believe”.

“Lets just say that life expectancy on a ship like this ain’t great. Oh, we have escape pods and the like, but I can tell you I’ve lost a lot of friends on other ships in the last few. Shit happens out there in the black”.

“What? You think you get paid that well because this is a cruise liner? You remember I showed you the discoloration on the main spinal brace in engineering? 1400mm AC round that was. Yes, it’s very nearly at the center of the ship. Yes, it’s about the best protected place in the whole damned thing”.

“We lost a lot of good folk that day. But hear me on this: this ship is something special. Her and her captain. We’ve been hit by overwhelming numbers. Ambushed. Pushed into situations well beyond what this design was ever meant to handle. And we’ve gotten out, each and every time. Bloodied badly sometimes, but alive nonetheless”

“Her captain knows when to push hard and when to run. You listen close Banks, listen real close. There will be times when we dance the limits. The first time will be terrifying. That’s how I found it anyways”.

“Forget the fear. It does no good anyways. Do your job. I don’t care if the place is falling apart around you, You. Do. Your. Job”. Oleson eyeballed his newest engineer all the while providing punctuation with one large finger.

“You’re lucky to find this ship and crew. It’s special. We all know it. If you’re not prepared to give that same commitment, then perhaps another ship might suit you better. Loyalty is another way of putting it Banks”.

“To the ship or the captain”?

“Both” Oleson replied.

Docking Bay 17 – Suukuvesta Station

The Concord Agent viewed the ship from his vantage point on the observation deck and checked the data stream currently flooding in. Remarkable really, this ship. He would wait to view things personally to confirm, but according to logs, there was almost no single unrepaired part of the ship anywhere in it.

From the external armor plating right through to cutlery cabinet in the secondary mess hall, there had been damage, welds, and the periodic replacement.

His brief was simple – check the ship. Top to bottom. Stress fractures, misalignment, the tiniest of missing bolts. Everything. A spaceship is no small thing. Like most complex systems, one small issue with one component may not appear to be at first glance a problem, but when taken into account with all of the other small issues, well….

Hence Concord did three yearly checks on all ships, hence the agent was here, now, operating under ship statute 14257, systems diagnostics well underway.

At least this captain was on time. She hadn’t run either. He hated it when they ran. It happened more and more often the older the ship became. Too attached, the agent supposed.

The inevitable red flag focused his attention. He knew there would be one, a lot more than one actually, though this particular flag was from a system he didn’t expect. The compliment of 425mm railguns.

On closer inspection and data match with Concord specifications, he found these guns were the older, heavier variety. Sturdier in design and build, with a slower rate of fire but higher damage potential than the latest models.

The recommended specs had now changed to the new as the higher peak power requirements of the older models had been deemed a risk, and as such, while the guns still appeared serviceable if not well used, they were no longer considered safe.

The Concord Agent opened a comm channel and waited for a response…

Capsuleer Quarters – level 519 Sukuuvesta Station

The capsuleer had been cooling her heels for 48 hours when the insistent chime of a priority call hit all her comms devices simultaneously. Probably the Concord agent, as no other agency shy of the highest echelons of the Caldari Megacorporations were capable of doing that. Still, it spoke of a certain unthinking arrogance, one she was certain would be confirmed shortly.

The Concord Agent was a spare man, clean shaven and essentially bald, mostly nondescript with the exception of glints of a kind of fervor flashing occasionally in his eyes. The foreboding feeling the capsuleer had had increasing with each passing hour hit with full force. She recognized a man who loved his work. One who wallowed in rules and regulations, enjoying every moment.

“Sera Khan. You are the owner of the Navy Issue Megathron class ship Angels Fear to Tread. Registered for Caldari and Amarr space”.

There it was she thought. Statement not question. Not even the basic courtesy of an introduction. Arrogance indeed. She nodded to confirm.

“Excellent. I am sending the data file to you now. Your ship will be cleared for launch on acceptance of the documentation. Biometric confirmation of signatory is required as per process”. The smarmy smile gave the capsuleer no comfort whatsoever.

“We found you ship to be mostly compliant to Concord specifications, quite remarkable really given her age, though we do note an unusually high level of military grade equipment throughout the ship. Nothing unsanctioned at this point in time”.

“There was, however, one major exception. The new revised Concord regulations governing the heavy calibre 425mm railguns indicate an unacceptable level of risk of the continued use. I have taken the liberty of upgrading the ship to the latest gun technology and have billed your accounts accordingly”.

“You did what to my ship?”

“Made the ship compliant with Concord regulations. We can do that you know. Ship statute 14257, section 2, subsections 1 through 5”.

The capsuleer paused for a moment. “Your name Ser, is?”

The agent sensing something not quite right, focused on the capsuleer “I am Agent Kepo Venk. As I was saying, once you sign off on the documentation with the appropriate biometric…”

“The name of your commanding officer, Ser”

A small and very heavy silence descended until the capsuleer spoke once again. “Agent Venk. Do the following: access my combat and service records for the following Megacorporations: Hyasyoda, Lai Dai, Ishukone, CBT, Echelon, Internal Security, Corporate Police Force, Spacelane Patrol and the Chief Executive Panel. While you’re at it check with the Sarum Family, yes, that empress, and both the Caldari and Amarr States. Do it now”.

Your commanding officer is, Ser?”

The next pause stretched well past uncomfortable levels until the capsuleer spoke again: “It is obvious that you did not check my records in the Concord registry either. Check them. Now”

The concord agent snapped out of his daze wondering how the hell someone so small could generate such terrifying levels of frosty menace over a screen and how the hell, a routine, by the book ship assay could go so suddenly and horribly wrong. Then the data started to roll in.

“Oh, sh….”

“Indeed” replied the capsuleer.

Docking Bay 17 – Sukuuvesta Station

“Station control to Angel – system control to you in 5, 4, 3 annnd mark”

“Angel to station control, all systems green. Permission to undock”

“Undock granted, fly safe Angel. Before I forget, how was your visit?”

The answer came in the form of one word, loaded with inferences not quite hidden under the cool tones of the capsuleer…

“Educational….”

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