“What the hell was that?!” exclaimed Ithica Hawk as he pulled himself from the rejuvenation tank. Wiping himself off he span around, arms thrown out in frustration to his waiting audience of… no one.
“One minute I’m… where the fuck is everyone?”. The pirate captain stomped over to the entrance of the medical bay and flung the door open. Suddenly aware of his distinct lack of clothing, Ithica sheepishly poked his head around the doorway. The corridor stretched away in a gentle curve limiting the view to maybe fifty meters. The other direction was much the same, brushed aluminium brightly lit by glowing panels on the wall. There were sleek doors, similar in style to the simplistic, industrial design of the walls. They appeared to be at regular intervals, recessed slightly from the corridor itself. Beside each door, at approximately where you would expect to find the handle, was a small screen glowing dimly. Exactly like every other medical facility in every other station he’d ever been in.
“um… hello?”, his voice didn’t even echo down the hall, it never did in these places. Slightly frustrated Ithica ducked back inside and flicked the door closed with his heel. The door slid shut with a pneumatic hiss, robbing him of a satisfying slam. Ithica sighed as he glanced around the medical bay, it seemed like any other medical bay he’d ever woken up in except for one thing: there were always people doing… stuff. Ithica didn’t pretend to understand the science behind the ‘coming back from the dead’ trick that capsuleers like him were able to perform. He just knew that it worked and there were people when he woke up. He presumed they were important to the process.
Leaning back against the cool metal he rested his head back and felt the low, ever-present hum emanating from the station. He had to admit it, he was a bit puzzled.
Usually reanimation was a standard affair. He’d wake up, angry with himself and whomever had managed to get that lucky shot off on his escape capsule. He’d stomp around the medical bay for a few minutes shouting at the poor staff who put up with his outbursts with that souless professional smile they have, all the while nodding sympathetically and uttering phrases like “Oh, how tragic”, “You were just unlucky” and “You’ll definitely get them next time”.
Ithica knew they didn’t give a shit but the ranting helped him cool off.
He’d never woken up to no one before. In fact, he was sure there was some law against this. Not that they where in a CONCORD enforced station but that was beside the point. Last time Ithica had woken up in a station within High Security space he’d had a hell of a time explaining to the local authorities that he wasn’t actually ‘the’ Ithica Hawk (feared pirate captain don’t you know) but actually just a relative who looked remarkably similar. The tattoos and bionic arm were, of course, purely a coincidence.
The eyes of the CONCORD official showed that he didn’t believe Ithica’s yarn in the slightest but a quick donation to the officials personal wallet made his voice, and paperwork, tell a different story. A couple of suspect papers later and Ithica was safely stowed away on a transport ship belonging to an ‘colleague’. Selene Silverblood was technically not a pirate, in the eyes of the law that is. The fact that she held a position of power within a feared pirate training school and supplied a number of such criminals with weapons, ammo and other nefarious items was bye-the-bye. She, personally, hadn’t committed any illegal activities within the realm of the omnipotent CONCORD and was, therefore, an upstanding citizen. Ithica was always sure money traded hands in order for the port authorities to look the other way but he had no proof and Selene would never admit to it anyway. Stubborn bitch. He liked Selene but ‘liking’ someone is a long way from ‘trusting’ them. He’d slept in the ammo hold, an illegal handheld blaster never more than an arms reach away.
That particular ‘outing’ had been arranged by Ithica’s boss and fellow feared pirate captain, Nashh Kadavr. He’d pulled a series of strings to ensure that Ithica would wake up with the authorities in close proximity. It was Nashh’s idea of a joke. He found the whole scenario simply hilarious when Ithica stumbled off the freighter stinking of oil from the cargohold. It had taken weeks to get rid of that smell.
Quickly checking his limbs were all where they were supposed to be and examining his features in the mirror Ithica had a thought, “Aura, which system am I in?”.
Aura, the artificial intelligence that all capsuleers had implanted when they gained the ability to rip death a new one, was usually useful with straightforward questions such as that. However he had an instinct that the answer would not be what he expected.
“Current location: unknown”
“Huh… well that’s new.”
Pulling on the clothes from the medical bay, Ithica stepped cautiously out into the hallway.
He frowned, “what sort of feared pirate captain ‘steps cautiously'” he muttered under his breath.
He quickly slid back into the medical bay, making a show of checking the cupboards and drawers once more just incase anyone was actually watching before strolling out once more with a brazen swagger.
Immediately there was a problem: which way to go. Ithica hadn’t planned anything further yet but he couldn’t stop now. Plus it’s very hard to swagger brazenly on the spot. He spun to the right and set off down the corridor.
The first few doors he passed were either locked, and no one seemed to be inside to answer his persistent knocking, or they opened to empty medical bays exactly like his. All seemed to be in order, clean and empty as if they had never been used. There wasn’t even a layer of dust. He poked around the drawers and cupboards but all were either empty or had the same bland scrubs he himself was currently wearing.
“This is stupid. Nashh, you are stupid.” he exclaimed to no one in particular.
Ithica entertained himself with the imaginative ways he would get even with Nashh as he searched room after room of the facility. Perhaps he would remove the ammo from Nash’s weapons and replace them with fireworks. Just think how funny it would be when Nashh tried to ransom a passing merchant ship only to provide the amused sailors with wonderful display.
He was chuckling quietly to himself when the hairs on the back of Ithica’s neck suddenly stood up. Ithica had always prided himself on his instincts and, right now, they were telling him something wasn’t right. Freezing in the middle of the corridor his eyes darted around searching for anything out of the ordinary. His ears straining against the background hum.
His hand instinctively dropped to his hip for his sidearm but found nothing. Silently cursing the lack of his weapon he span round. The corridor was as empty as it had always been, the door control panels glowed softly in the bright artificial light of the hall.
A nervous chuckle escaped from Ithica as he backed against the wall, presenting a smaller target to whatever the perceived threat may be. His brain was telling him there is nothing there but his gut said otherwise. And his gut was not often wrong.
Ithica was starting to question his gut, perhaps it was just something he had eaten on his last patrol, when he heard it. A soft clicking sound. Every few seconds or so, yes, there it was again. So soft that he hadn’t continuously noticed it at first.
Without warning there was a sudden searing pain behind Ithica Hawks eyes. The captain dropped to his knees as the world went dark.