written by Fyren
The hum of the large engines does little to fill the silence that now pervades my ship. My one passenger is now a ghost left to haunt some dusty red rock in the middle of nowhere. The memory of what I did to McKenna fills the empty spaces of the cabins, cargo racks and cockpit. I continue my journey in silence, ruminating on the past.
At last, the familiar classical music of my docking computer serenades me for the first time in several months as I approach Dove Enigma, the first space station to be graced with my presence in the Colonia system. The next hour is spent in the cartographer’s office as she painstakingly verifies each bit of data I had scanned on the journey here. “This one here, and this one. These aren’t on any of my charts.” the cartographer informs me. It turns out that I can now add explorer to my job description. I was the first to visit several undiscovered and previously unknown systems and worlds during my long trip. After the scrutiny of all of the scan data is complete, the cartographer looks me in the eye and says “Alright, I’ll give you 90 million for all of it.” I stagger backwards as if the words had hit with such force as to knock me clear off my feet. “Take it or leave it” she says in an annoyed tone, probably thinking that I was insulted at her offer. “Of course I’ll take it!” I exclaim in excitement. This is now the richest I have ever been. I’m ecstatic that this trip had not been a total waste, after having lost out on my one and only fare.
Now that business has been taken care of, it’s time to get back to work. There are several inhabited systems out here, so I pick up a few fares and start getting people where they need to go. Quite by accident, I end up falling in with a local group of anarchists. Pretty nice people, for the most part. The problem is that nearly all of them are illegal passengers in every system out here. Turns out governments don’t like people who don’t like governments. Go figure. Time to practice my smuggling. It didn’t go well before, but I have learned a lot since then and even criminals need a vacation from time to time.
The Forgerunner Prime, loaded up with my illegal friends pulls out of the Colonia Dream station. Not trying to draw attention to myself, I take it nice and slow. Security vessels are patrolling the area around the station, but none of them pay me any mind. Quickly and quietly we are cruising along to the destination. I can hear my passengers celebrating something in one of the passenger cabins. The sounds of raucous laughter reach the cockpit with ease. Just as I start to consider telling them to take it down a notch… “Interdiction Detected” comes the robotic voice of the ship’s computer. The warp bubble in which we were safely nestled starts to break down around us. White knuckle grip on the controls. I furiously fling the ship every which way, trying desperately to keep from being interdicted. “You can do this. You’re doing this.” I reassure myself out loud. One of my new friends stumbles into the cockpit, clearly drunk and with a bottle of wine in his hand. Before he has the chance to say anything I turn around, briefly taking my eyes off of the instruments displayed before me and losing track of the rapidly collapsing warp bubble, even if for just a second to yell “Get out! Can’t you see I’m busy” I can’t afford distractions. This distraction was just long enough though. I can hear my large drive engines winding down… “Submitting to interdiction” says the familiar voice from the console, monotone and uncaring to the last.
I immediately begin evasive maneuvers as my frame shift drive starts to cycle. It will be at least a minute before I can make an escape. My heart is pounding, I can feel it in my toes. The first barrage of laser fire impacts the shields. The party in the passenger wing seems to have died down, the sounds of loud conversation, music and laughter disappearing to be replaced with the sounds of weapons impact. I divert nearly all power to the shields. Even with the boost, they won’t last long. “I don’t need long. Just a little bit longer” I mutter to no one in particular through gritted teeth. I am not in an agile ship, the Python class is not meant to be evasive, but I have no weapons to speak of and so I am doing my best rollercoaster impression. “Frame shift drive online.” comes the monotone voice again, as if that wasn’t the saving grace I was waiting for. “About damned time!” I exclaim as I slam the button down, with far too much force. I feel something crunch under the panel. I don’t have time to think about that right now though. “Frame shift drive charging” and charging… and charging… “Shields offline. Hull taking damage” The ship vibrates with the impacts as the barrage from the unknown vessel continues to rain upon my defenseless taxi. I close my eyes. This is it. This is where I die. Out at the far end of the galaxy, carrying nothing but some drunk anarchists. I think back on the decisions I’ve made that led me here. Perhaps I should never have come out so far. “4…” I accept my fate. “3…” I’ve done enough with my life. “2…” Wait, what’s that counting. “1…” My eyes fly open and I snap back to reality as I see space dissolving around me and the large engines kick in. “Engage” The frame shift drive speeds us away from certain death, just in the nick of time.
The rest of the trip passes without incident. I expend a few heat sinks trying to land at the chosen destination while in silent running, trying to avoid the local authorities. Every single one of my passengers stop to thank me as they exit the bruised and battered taxi vessel. One even tried to give me a hug. I don’t do hugs. Only a few flecks of the once brilliant and shining paint job remain. I stand on the dock, looking up at her. I pat the landing gear with one hand and let out a sigh. “If I’m gonna be smuggling, you might need to take a break. I’m gonna need something better suited to the task at hand.” Lucky for me, Faulcon DeLacy, the famed ship manufacturer just released their latest model, the Krait MkII. It seems perfectly suited for shuttling criminals; it runs cold, it’s lighter and faster, and capable of longer hyperspace jumps. All the money I made from my scan data easily affords me this new ship. Enter the newly christened Forgerunner Delta, brand new paint job shining under the light of countless stars. “I can’t wait to scuff it up.” I think as I ready myself for whatever is coming next.
Continued in An Awkward Reunion