written by Fyren
Lately, I’ve been playing quite a bit of Elite: Dangerous, a game jokingly called ‘space truckin’ around some parts of the internet. I recently began taking passenger missions, and it struck me at how great some of the stories could be that came out of these missions. For your entertainment, I’d like to share one of those with you now.
Classical music plays from my docking computer, set against the drone of the engines. It’s the same tune that plays every time I pull into a station. Local security scans my ship, nothing to worry about. I’m empty. I check the available fares, one guy is paying over 5 million for a simple trip around some local stars. “Easy enough” I think to myself as I show the man to his cabin. I’ve got some extra space, so I decide to take some refugees out to another system. 30 passengers in total, fueled up and ready to go.
Just as I finish plotting my course, I see an alert from my scanners. I’m apparently carrying an illegal passenger. “Way to go” I tell myself. I double check it just to be sure. Sure enough, the tourist is also a leader in the local criminal group. That’s why he was offering so much for this short trip. I quickly flip between my panels, trying to figure out what to do. There it is, silent mode. I switch on the silent running mode, that I had no idea was even equipped on my ship until this moment, and take off. Little did I know, silent running means that your ship doesn’t emit as much heat making you harder to detect on scanners. Where does all that heat go? Nowhere. My ship begins making angry beeping noises at me and sparks begin to fly from the main panel, and I haven’t even left the space station yet.
I switch off silent running, popping back on to all the scanners, including those of the local security force. Immediately my computer warns me of incoming scan. Not today. Not fast enough lawman. Diverting all power to the engines and giving it all she had I manage to get out of range just before the scan finishes. Lazy cops don’t even feel like chasing me and we’re off through our first hyperspace jump of the journey.
After the first jump, the criminal sightseer decides that he wants a little bit extra out of me. He explains that he knows of some really bad guys that really need to be blown up just one system over. He’s willing to pay extra, but I don’t do that sort of thing. Even if I wanted to, I’ve only got two weapon systems on my ship. I’m a taxi, not a mercenary. I figure I’ll drop the refugees off first, so I start making my way to the destination, a system that’s just inside Federal jurisdiction. Thankfully, my criminal friend isn’t wanted by the Federation. Too easy.
We get to the system, and I’m cruising along on an approach to the orbital station these people wanted to go to. Just as I’m requesting docking at the station, I get this message on my console. “We’ve just received word from our… friends that this station is no longer safe. We need to go a new destination.” I check my navigation panel to see what the new destination is. Sure enough, right in Imperial territory. Guess who’s a criminal on the run from the Imperials. That’s right, my rich guy.
Time passes, and several more jumps later we get there managing to avoid any entanglements. I stop my ship just out of range of the station. “I’m gonna be smart this time” I say to myself, as I manually switch the power off to a dozen or so modules before engaging silent running once again. My docking request is granted and I start my approach. Out of habit, I flick on my docking computer and the ship begins to steer itself towards our designated landing pad. I relax as the same classical tune fills the cockpit. The opening to the station is a mere 100 meters away when my computer warns me of incoming scans. “Oh crap, I’ve made a mistake” was the only thing I had time to think. Turns out the docking computer disabled my silent running, so I just waltzed right up to an Imperial outpost hauling someone they didn’t really care for.
All power to the engines. Docking computer off. Turn around. Before I had even begun to try to make my escape the Corvette’s and Gunships guarding the station open fire. My shields are down in an instant. “I can still run” I think as I start charging my hyperspace drive. Not fast enough. Not today. The barrage of lasers coming in is too much for my little taxi. I find myself 3 months later walking out of an Imperial Detention Facility with a bunch of fines and no ship. I don’t carry criminals anymore now. I’ve learned that I’m just not a very good smuggler, but I am a pretty good galactic Uber driver.
Continued in To Nowhere and Back