All alliance assets returned, titles and roles surrendered, final farewells said. The last of my serviceable ships still in the area was the Ashimmu-class cruiser my capsule was now controlling.
It had taken a mammoth logistical effort to move a year and a half’s worth of my life out of the nullsec region and back into the CONCORD-patrolled ‘safety’ of high security space. My final destination was yet to be decided, but I was keen to have at least my hard-earned ships in a position where I could easily access them if needed.
With a few simple commands, my resignation was completed. A few more, and the contract from my new employer was ready for my final authorisation and sign-off. I would miss this place, I decided. It had been a struggle at times, and we’d all had to learn fast and take some hard knocks; but it would always be a time I remembered fondly. They had welcomed me in straight after I had been granted full capsuleer status, and taught me far more in three short years than I ever imagined.
I was hesitating. I didn’t really know why. Nostalgia? Maybe a slight tinge of betrayal? I had made it know in my resignation message that my reason was purely that I needed a new challenge; one that they sadly could not provide. Yet I still felt like I owed them much more than I had been able to give.
Pushing the past aside, it was time to address my immediate future. As I ordered the Ashimmu’s engines to power up for undock, I added the last digital signatures to my new contract. It was done. I ran through the mental checklist I had been preparing for weeks, receiving clearance to undock just as the automated notification of my contract acceptance flashed up.
My cruiser was just about to reach the port when a bright chirp sounded. My name had been mentioned in one of the fluid router channels I kept open. A quick mental command scrolled through and highlighted the channel and message in question. I frowned as I saw the channel designation – one of the secure regional intelligence channels, one I had forgotten to surrender my access to.
And there was my name and current location.
Along with the letters ‘KOS’.
A cold panic hit me, and I scrambled to pull up the public access database for the region’s ‘Kill On Sight’ list. Sure enough, my name was now there as a viable target. What the hell? I entered the name of my new corporation.
How the hell did I forget to check that? I berated myself angrily. It was something that was almost second nature out here, to check and double-check. Yet somehow I had forgotten. Maybe the more research-oriented nature of my new employ had lured me into a false sense of security. In everything I knew of them, aggression against the current residents of this sovereign space seemed ridiculously unlikely.
Obviously I was wrong.
As soon as I passed out of the station, I would not be able to redock. The local traffic channel showed only two local residents in system with me- one of whom had reported me. Time to make a hasty retreat.
My security access was revoked within seconds of my ship clearing the port. The pilot who had reported me was sitting in a smaller ship just on the edge of my scanner range. While their ship would not normally be a match for a pirate-made cruiser, in this situation they would have two advantages.
One, they could call for help. I was aware of the potential for a rapid response in this particular region.
Two; my ship was not equipped with any offensive modules. Or defensive modules, for that matter. She was an almost brand-null hull, one that I had intended to fit and stock for operations in this area.
My only option was to run like hell. And run I did.
Over a hundred astronomical units stood between me and the relative safety of a quiet low security system. It felt like the longest warp of my life. As my ship dropped out of warp on approach to the gate, three new pilots entered from the other gate. Pilots that had previously been allies, and now were anything but.
I jumped. I escaped. My heart eventually stopped racing.
Next time, I told myself sternly. Do a better job of checking what you’re getting yourself into…
This is a true story.