Based in the Star Citizen universe, this is a serial story told about an assassin, data-thief, and bounty-hunter named Irene Tanistal. Irene is a badly-scarred woman who was born on a planet where slavery was a way of life, and where what is considered crime on most planets was the only way to get ahead. While Irene has never been fingered for any of her less-than-legal work, she is nonetheless on the radar of UEE's intelligence services, as both a threat and an asset.
Please note that this is a work of fan fiction, set in the Star Citizen universe. The marks and properties, 'Star Citizen', 'Squadron 42', 'Cloud Imperium Games', and 'Roberts Space Industries' are property of Cloud Imperium Games Corp. and Roberts Space Industries Corp ("RSI"). All rights in content, including places, characters, concepts, and ships produced and created by RSI relating to said marks and properties belong to RSI.
Irene’s Daily Bread
Irene stared expressionlessly at the hatch of the Freelancer-class merchant ship as she waited for her hacking tools to disable the ship’s internal security. She had already been waiting patiently for a half hour, following a five hour float from the one-person, in-system shuttle she’d used to approach the ship’s location, and her air supplies were beginning to run low. Nonetheless, she didn’t feel anything approaching fear or desperation. She was accustomed to the threat of death, always just beyond the figurative horizon.
Her breath misted the HUD of her stealth-modified space suit, which had no face mask, preferring to utilize a camera running on internal power to give her proper visuals of the world around her. She wasn’t sweating, but that only made sense, considering how far they were from the M-class star that served as the system’s sun. If it weren’t for the incredibly expensive insulating material and protected internal heating system in her suit, she would have frozen to death hours before.
Even a normal environmental spacesuit would have been unable to protect her… which was just one of the factors her target was depending on to keep anyone from making a stealthy approach to his ship. The incredibly hard security protecting his ship’s internal systems and the hidden launchers built into the modified hull’s sides would have been a far more insurmountable obstacle, were she the average intruder.
She smiled briefly as her hacking tool broke through the security and rewrote the alarm programs, undid the protections on the airlocks, and opened the hatch before her in complete silence. She carefully utilized a burst of compressed air from her internal supply to move herself forward, not wanting to risk a powered burst from her conventional thrusters. She carefully set her feet down inside the airlock, commanding her hacking tool to close it behind her with a few quick strokes of her finger across the pad on her left wrist. A few seconds later, air began to stream into the lock, rapidly pressurizing it until the air became breathable. Just after that, the airlock opened in complete silence, revealing the bare walls of a corridor leading to the cockpit.
Without hesitation, she began walking toward it, her steps completely silent due to the technology built into the suit’s boots, at the cost of having none of the electro-magnetics most space-walkers tended to have built-in. Her hacking tool took control of the cockpit’s internal camera, and gave her a view of her target.
He was a man of middle years, deeply scarred from numerous brushes with danger, dressed in a simple white shirt and sweatpants. It was obvious that he wasn’t expecting any trouble, for the only weapon in the cockpit was the small pocketknife he was using to slice and peel a bright red apple, popping slices into his mouth one at a time, as he cut them.
As the cockpit door opened, he turned in surprise, but the battle-blade built into her suit’s wrist tore through his neck before he could do more than that, sending a spray of dark-red arterial blood across the cockpit windows, the console, and her suit. She hurried over to the controls behind him, carefully detaching the dead-man’s switch built into the system using the access given by her hacking tool, even as he rapidly bled out behind her.
Her battle blade had already withdrawn into her suit’s armored wrist as she ran through the process of downloading the ship’s navigation data and her target’s schedule. The data began to stream across her HUD with incredible rapidity a moment later, and her eyes moved with equal rapidity as she examined the data for the information she wanted. She shut the data flow off a few moments later, having discovered what she wanted to know.
She ran her finger across her wrist pad, and a moment later her helmet uncoupled from her suit’s neck. She reached up and removed it, tossing it carelessly aside as her face became visible for the first time. It was not a face that would have been considered beautiful, though it was not for a lack of natural grace of form. No, it was the hideous spiderweb of scars and obvious cybernetic implants covering the right side of her face that made it worthy of turning one’s gaze aside. The left side of her face was relatively untouched, revealing a face that wouldn’t have been out of place in a king’s harem before the rise of high technology, with rich, silky golden skin that any man would have loved to caress and a single green eye that grabbed one’s attention, even as it chilled the soul with the bottomless well of darkness behind it. When her face had been ruined, she hadn’t bothered replacing her right eye with something that looked natural, and the camera-like implant that sat in the socket now lent an even less human countenance to her already inhuman visage. Her right jaw had obviously been torn away by whatever attack had ruined her eye, and she hadn’t bothered making that look natural, either. The metallic edge of the jaw, with its constantly-exposed teeth that locked together with perfect, mechanical precision, made her look as if her face were locked in a perpetual fanged half-frown.
Seventy hours until the rendezvous with his clients… what should I do until then? She wondered as she analyzed a list of the ship’s stores on her camera-eye. She was not at all concerned about the corpse, already growing cold, lying on the floor behind her. He was only one of several targets she had been assigned as part of her current contract… and the least important. However, taking his ship intact was key to making contact with the other targets, so she had been forced to gamble a little more than she would have preferred.
I’m just thankful Marco spent so much money opening holes in the hull and installing one-off missile launchers… that makes this job a great deal easier. She reflected as she tried to decide what she could make for dinner utilizing the ingredients in the dead man’s stores…
Irene looked on languidly as the Cutlass-class ship she’d been expecting appeared on her sensors, approaching openly from the system’s single jump point. She’d spent the last sixty-nine hours reprogramming the rather limited weapons-systems’ control programs, streamlining them and linking them to a single central command node that was further linked to the pad on her left wrist of her suit. It hadn’t been easy, considering how jury-rigged Marco’s missile control systems had been, but she’d been able to reconfigure them so that they were far less likely to explode inside their tubes… though the likelihood was still far higher than it would have been for a factory-designed set of upgrades.
Irene quickly examined the Cutlass, determining that it was a classic ‘cargo-pirate’ reconfiguration, based off of the ‘Black’ version of the class. What it sacrificed in living quarters and missile storage, it made up for in extra cargo space. The proof was in the complete lack of the missile-launching hardpoints that were common to the class. Whoever was running the ship was obviously partnered with a more aggressive type of ship that was responsible for whatever heavy fighting they needed to carry out.
Fortunately for Irene, there was no sign of the Cutlass’s partner exiting the jump point. She brought up the ‘composite voice’ program she’d made from recordings in the ship’s logs, composing a message to the approaching ship based on what Marco had been expecting leading up to the rendezvous. She sent it off and waited for a response.
She felt herself growing increasingly tense as she waited, despite her belief in the effectiveness of her programs. So, she was quietly relieved when the ship sent a simple acknowledgment, accompanied by a manifest of the ‘legitimate cargo’ they wished to offload. She raised her brows slightly at the precious metals, weapon parts, and even rare luxury food items that popped up on her right ‘eye’s’ internal screen. Successful pirates… oh well.
Without hesitation, she sent them an estimate, kept significantly lower than what the cargo would have been worth going through a more legitimate buyer. This was immediately followed by a counter-offer. This exchange went on for several minutes, before the approaching ship crossed the ‘red line’ that told her they would not be able to retaliate or evade before any missiles she launched hit.
By this time, she had already extracted camera views of the other ship’s interior, utilizing a virus she’d sent in with the first message, telling her each of her remaining targets was on board. She’d immediately saved the data in her suit’s internal memory, for the information of her clients upon her return.
There was no hesitation as she rapidly input the commands that would send the twenty-eight missiles on board out in three staggered waves.
To the other ship, it must have seemed so unbelievably sudden, as the missile tubes’ ‘caps’ suddenly blew off, allowing them to release their deadly payload. The missiles screamed out of the tubes at incredible speeds, rapidly zeroing in on the target ship. At the same time, she brought the ship’s turrets online and began firing, causing the ship to tremble as the heavy ballistic cannon sent their projectiles screaming in at the Cutlass, right behind the waves of missiles.
The Cutlass tried to get out of the way, its own turrets firing rapidly into the storm of missiles, taking out almost a dozen of them in the process (incidentally showing off a degree of skill that was truly impressive for a pirate crew), but that still left sixteen missiles alive. Four more lost track of their target due to the explosions of their brethren and wandered into nearby asteroids, blasting large chunks out of them, but the remaining twelve exploded against the pirate’s shields, tearing them, and the hull they protected, to shreds.
The shots from the turrets, coming in from behind the barrage of missiles, were able to easily blast their way through the ship’s internal compartments, destroying the cockpit, living quarters, and engineering in moments. The Cutlass, unable to take any more punishment, began to fly apart, and its fuel tanks exploded, slagging most of the rest of the ship in a superheated conflagration that left little behind.
Irene breathed a heavy sigh of relief, activating a command that would bring her shuttle up next to the Freelancer, letting her get off before the ship’s self-destruct sequence activated. She was no pirate, and she had no intention of keeping the ship, as its existence in her possession could only bring her trouble.
As she put her helmet back on, it occurred to her to wonder if she was going to be forced to ‘convince’ her employers to pay for the work she’d been hired for.