In retrospect, Victor was always a little unclear about those next few minutes. That's the way it goes. The moments that change your life are the ones that happen suddenly, like the one where you die.
"Yes, what is it now?"
"Well, there's a Rifter sir"
"A Rifter you say?"
"...and what about this Rifter?"
"Well it seems to be attacking us"
"That is correct sir"
"Are we by any chance attacking back?
"Not at this time sir"
"WELL WHY THE HELL NOT?"
"It's a Rifter sir, it's not like it can hurt us, we are in a Raven battleship sir"
"Any details on the Rifter pilot?"
"He appears to be quite mad sir"
"He appears to be mad... Mad?"
"and how pray tell have you come to this astonishing conclusion?"
"He's in a Rifter sir"
"I think we've established that"
"and he's attacking a Raven battleship"
"Thank you captain obvious, I can see my money is well spent"
"Oh I dunno, launch some missiles at him, that should scare him off"
"Uhm... he's still attacking us"
"Have you tried warping to a stargate?"
"Aye sir, it appears our warp core is scrambled"
"Does he have any corp mates in system?"
"He appears to be alone sir, still firing on us though"
Meanwhile, aboard the Rifter:
"Is this thing on"
"What's up Kane"
"There's a Raven in Eifer"
"Is there an echo in here? Yes... A RAVEN"
"What about it?"
"I have it tackled"
"yes, was wondering if anyone wanted a piece of the action"
"What are you flying?"
"Sheesh, this echo is annoying, I could use a hand to be honest, this guy can tank me all day"
"On our way"
Back on the Raven:
"What is it now?"
"It seems the local comms net has just spiked"
"For a Captain of a battleship you sure do ask a lot of dumb questions"
"See what I mean?"
"What did you just say?"
"Onyx, Onyx, Onyx, Tempest and oh dear"
"What the hell is an oh dear?"
"It appears he has some friends... and they brought a Falcon"
"Aye sir, it appears as if we are in a spot of bother"
"A spot of bother you say?"
"That I did"
"Wonderful, a few months out of the academy and I'm in a spot of bother"
"Systems jammed, shields failing"
"Great, just great"
"Where am I?"
"Welcome to the Quafe Company cloning facilities"
"Cloning facilities, how the fuck I get here?
"Now now, no need for that kind of language"
"Language? what's wrong with my fucking language? How the fuck did I get here?"
"It appears your escape pod was destroyed, hence you waking up in a cloning vat"
"An unfortunate side effect but one that will pass, here's your bill, have a nice day"
Clawing my way back
Mmm, a Drake on scan, I narrow it down to a cluster and warp to the first belt at range.
Mmm, a Claw too, this should be interesting.
I engaged my warp drive to where the Claw appeared to be. Warp trails streaming off my Rifter as I entered normal space, the Claw over 140 clicks above me. I guess I'll just play possum and see if he bites.
Of course he bit, closing the distance quickly, very quicly. In the blink of an eye he was on top of me, the Drake warped in. Time to make a gracious exit.
"1v1 vs the Claw" I asked in local Comms
"Sure dude" came the reply
The Drake left the scene and I warped back in at a range of 100km. The Claw clearly confident closed quickly again, locked and engaged me. Kane being Kane returns the favour, web overloaded, waiting for that magic number to appear on the overview.
Claw is fast, over 6km/s, I'm patient though, at that speed he won't be doing much damage to me. He passes within web range but gains distance too quick for me to react. I make a straight trajectory at full speed, his orbit changes to compensate, I "Crazy Ivan"*, web goes active, distance is closed, at point blank range things go south for the Claw pilot. The cordial "GF" is shared in local as I allow the escape pod to warp out, something I tend to do with arranged 1v1s.
Props to both pilots for honouring the 1v1, I imagine it was difficult for the Drake pilot to sit in system as his friend was destroyed but they both earned my respect for that.
A good end to what had been a pretty bad day for me, as with all things it's how one reacts to loss that determines who he is. I returned to Gusandall, satisfied and in despearate need of a smoke and a cup of tea.
* Crazy Ivan as described in this tale.