written by Fyren
While I had heard time and again about the greatness of the Colonia area, I remain unconvinced. Having spent several weeks in this small pocket of the galaxy, I realized that was all it was; a small pocket. It is neither lucrative nor interesting for a humble Uber driver such as myself. So, I decided to plot a course back to civilization. With the countless populated systems that I had left untouched when I first started the trip out to this far flung corner, now they are calling me back.
Travelling back is a much more pleasant experience than the trip to. Not only am I now flying a far more capable ship, but I have grown more accustomed to the long dark expanses of space. GALNET continues to drone on through the Forgerunner Delta’s internal sound systems. The stories now are of bestselling authors, lawsuits, special task forces, terrorism, and royal families. Careening through the black, bound for my namesake Firen system, none of that seems to matter.
I make good time on the return journey, though with increased speed and range comes increased fuel consumption. Something that had not been a concern in a very long time. It is only when I am nearly to my destination, just a few thousand lightyears to go, that it becomes a problem. There are no stations out here, to be expected. I find myself in the middle of the SWOIWNS sector, surrounded by nothing but brown dwarf class stars. This wouldn’t be an issue, except that these stars do not expel the hydrogen coronas that fuels starships. In fact, these stars are not only useless, but extremely dense and hot, making them especially dangerous as well. I should know by now not to trust in luck. However, I have apparently not learned my lesson by this point. I push my luck, hoping to run into a star on which I can refuel. Reserves run lower and lower. The ship’s computer is now beeping warnings at me. “I am about to be THAT guy.” I lament out loud to my empty ship. “I’m gonna need to call in The Fuel Rats for a rescue.”
I start poring over my charts looking for the nearest fuel source. Nothing but brown dwarfs. Determined not to need rescue I keep looking for nearly an hour, just going over my maps. In the opposite direction I find what I need, a lone Class M star in a veritable sea of uselessness. I enter the system with alarms going off on my dash, less than 5% fuel. Looming ahead of me however, salvation. Yet another crisis averted. I chuckle a bit as the refueling process begins. “GALNET will never report on this.”
After a few more fuel concerns being dealt with, in what I came to deem as Brown Dwarf Country I finally pull in to Kronecker Dock in my home system for the first time in many months. I am warmly welcomed by the control tower, who shockingly remembers me, as does the cartographer responsible for maintaining the stations star charts. I regale him with stories of my travels out to Colonia and back. As we are going over my scan data together, he pauses as if he had just remembered something. “Whatever happened to that explorer you were taking out there?” he asks. I try to hide my expression, but I am fairly terrible at concealing things like fear and confusion. McKenna Curtis… I still remember the day I left her alone to die on the empty, dusty red dunes of some unknown planet. “I… uh… we ran into some… she… uh… stayed in Colonia.” I stammer. Caught off guard by the question. People here will remember her just as they remembered me. The lie came out awkwardly, but with no one able to verify it, it should hold up with the locals. The cartographer gives me a sideways look as he continues to pore over the data, I can tell he doesn’t fully trust me. I quickly sweep into the story of my time amongst the anarchists near Colonia, trying to change the topic and hoping that he would forget about my involvement in McKenna’s… relocation.
Wrapping up my affairs from the travel takes a while, but soon my ship is repaired, refueled and restocked. I am eager to get back to doing what I do best, taking people wherever they need or want to go. This entire ordeal has taught me quite a bit. Mostly, that I am a mediocre explorer on my best day, a sub standard smuggler when the need arises, and that I am really not a people person. I am excited to get back to work in a place with limitless opportunities and countless fares. “That is all for another day though.” I tell myself as I walk down the streets of Kronecker Dock in search of a bar that I can spend way too many credits in.
continued in Too Close For Comfort