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Black Mamba

"So Lakon was bought by Core Dynamics, eh? Well, that's a good thing I finally paid back the loan on my Type 9 the other day..." uttered Emma while watching the latest Galnet takes on what she liked to call "the distant howls of the Bubble". Kestrel, who was busy preparing lunch in the small kitchen section of Myth and Moth, answered with a surprised smile.

"Wait, you have a T9?"

"Aye. It's named BrĂ¼sel. If I have to be honest, it's not my wisest investment. You can't beat 750 tons of cargo space, but the handling is...well, it's a bit like flying a massive truck. On rails. With seven elephants in the backseat. Myth and Moth is positively agile compared to a T9."

"Oh, that I know. When I was in the Bureau, we referred to them as space cows. Well, we did until we realized that a lot of pirates - the most clever ones - used T9s for combat. You can pack a surprising amount of weaponry on such a cumbersome frame. Anyway, Emma, do you like your eggs boiled or fried ?"

"Wait, where the hell did you find eggs?"

"There were some at Bolden's the other day, I think a Fleet Carrier brought several tons of eggs from the Bubble, or maybe it was one of the ships from Gandharvi."

"Eh, I won't complain, but you taste them first." Emma put her Galnet display to sleep then unbuckled her seatbelt, floating away from the cockpit and towards the living area of her Python. Officially she was on a regular trading run between Tir and Colonia, officiously she was running a local courier service for the Unseen Republic - but in Colonia almost no trade ship was an actual, legit trade ship. Emma chuckled as she entered the Python's kitchen.

"You're very cute with that apron, Kestrel. You know that Remlock suits are self-cleaning right?"

"It's all a matter of style, Emma."

"Right, what's the menu?"

Kestrel pointed at the automated cooking system installed in the wall with its circular window.

"Beans, bacon, fried eggs for you, boiled eggs for me. Everything comes from Bolden."

"We've been eating beans for two days straight now..." complained Emma before reaching for her earring-shaped terminal. "Hey, COVAS, remind me of making a detour by Deriso one day. Words danced on the walls in response.

Reminder set. 

As Emma opened the cooker a low-pitched alarm went through the ship, signalling that another vessel had reintegrated realspace within close proximity of Myth and Moth. Kestrel and Emma floated their way towards the cockpit while the ship's automated subroutines had already set engine throttle to 25% and deployed hardpoints. The sensor screens showed the fast-closing signature of a large ship, roughly twice the size of Myth and Moth. The Python's built-in recognition system identified it as a Mamba, but the thermal signature did not check out. It was way too hot and bright to be a regular Mamba. Emma sighed in relief while Kestrel widened his eyes at the sight

"How fast is that ship?"

"About 3,500 meters per second in realspace...Kestrel, could you be a dear and set the brightness filters to maximum? We're going to need it when this thing will be passing by our ship in apprpximatively two seconds."

"I'm not sure I..."

Kestrel was interrupted by the sight of a blue-tinted fog of metal and light which on second thought sort of looked like a Mamba, followed by the blinding light of the most massive engines he had ever seen on an individual ship. Then the ship disappeared in the distance and instead of slowing down just performed a fast flip and burn manoeuver, submitting its pilot to ten gravities of acceleration. Its heatsinks gleamed in the dark like the Pleiades - and it wasn't a metaphor : they were so hot they gleamed in blue instead of the usual red-orange tint. It looked like a Mamba alright, but something was completely off in the way it moved.

"Let me tell you a story..." explained Emma while Kestrel kept staring at the decelerating Mamba. "One day, Jaques - yes, the cyborg bartender - came in possession of a Mamba. Being somewhat disappointed by the ship's performance, he asked some locals to fix the perceived issues with its engines. It should have been a regular engineering pass, but Jaques had a lot of money and nowhere else to spend it so we ended up with...this thing." The pilot pointed at the Mamba which was - very painfully - coming to a stop with the help of its front-facing RCS thrusters. "I introduce you to The Great Escape! A thoroughly gutted Mamba frame with custom heat sinks, no hardpoints, no armor to speak of and megaship thrusters mounted on it."

"Megaship thrus...what?"

"I am dead-serious. The thrusters on this unit have been borrowed from Damask Rose in the Centralis system. They're just the side thrusters originally meant for orbrital control but they're already vastly oversized for a ship of this class. Now you may wonder : what's the point of this contraption?"

"Oh, I have decided to stop wondering about such things a long while ago. I just accepted the fact that Colonia has a relatively high amount of insanity floating around." He grinned as The Great Escape sent a hail to Myth and Moth before starting its engines again, emitting a massive stream of blue-violet light. "Now I am just enjoying the ambient madness."

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