It's a drone's life

18th September 2008 – 7.38 am

'I don't like this, it's too quiet out there.'

'You never like missions, Drone2, always worried about something or other. It never feels good in this bay, the sole small window feeding claustrophobic fears. As soon as we're jettisoned in to space and hurtling around a frigate in a tight orbit, shooting with gay abandon, we have the time of our life. You know that.'

'But what are the odds we'll see some action this time? "Investigate the area and return, you don't need to engage any enemies", you read the same briefing as me. Drone2 is right, we're likely to be running in to an ambush. We'll have a few terrifying seconds of panic when the shields light up with missile and laser fire as the ship slowly aligns in order to activate the warp drive. If we're lucky, we won't see any sparks from the armour before that happens this time.'

'Meh, it will be a relaxing walk in the park, as always. I don't see what the fuss is about.'

'You wouldn't, Drone5. Our illustrious pilot hasn't bothered to learn how to control five of us at once, so you are always left behind, enjoying the space of the bay all to yourself.'

'He he, yeah. I have cake as well.'


'Quiet down, Drone1, Drone5 is pulling your thruster. One of these days you'll be out there with us, then what will you do?'

'I'll be past my warranty by then, safe in a laboratory testing prototype upgrades. Oh yeah.'

'Wait, what was that? I thought I heard...' The drones bang against each other in the bay as sounds of both heavy and light missiles thundering off the shields are intermixed with heavy cannon fire.

'Ambushed! I knew it! With gun platforms too, this isn't good.'

'Why aren't we orientating to the space station? Was that... was that one of our ship's launchers firing? Didn't she read—'

'Oh crap, not again. No, of course not. This is it, chaps. Game over, man. Game o—' The bay door jerks as quickly as a striking snake and the rail holding the drones in place jettisons the first four drones sequentially, thruster engines flaring and system lights blinking, in to the vacuum of space. The fifth drone is stopped by the bay door slamming shut, but its sensors remain active and busily scan the ship's surroundings.

'Oh man, she really did it, she sent them out in to an ambush. Ha ha, suckers! Yikes, Drone4 took a hit right out of the bay, that's going to sting a bit. I'm glad I'm not hey why is the drone bay opening aga—' A tiny, tinny scream is heard for the briefest of moments, before the lack of atmosphere leaves only a single red light silently staring back at the bay, glowing with a horrified intensity.

'Is that all the drones out, computer? I'm losing them left, right and centre.' I get a confirmation that the drone bay is empty and bang my fist on to the controls. Metaphorically, of course, as it's difficult to move in the green goo. At least that fifth drone will come in handy at last. It's irritating that I can only send four out at a time, but I'm glad that I kept the bay full just in case I lost any during a mission. I'm also glad I have some spare back at base, as I can't see a 'scoop base minerals of destroyed drones in to bay' option anywhere.

This engagement seems awfully tricky for a simple reconnaissance mission, particularly when my computer twice warns me that 'Minmatar ships have show up ready to defend their Gallente allies'. I would have thought my agent would have mentioned heavy resistance somewhere, like maybe in the briefing. Um, like this briefing, 'you don't need to engage the enemy'. Ah. I really ought to read these more often, as I have a niggling memory of losing ships to missions where I'm told to warp out directly. It's too late now, I've committed myself, and half the sentry guns are destroyed anyway. I'll probably be okay.

If only my dumb drones had put up more of a fight with all those frigates.

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