written by Fyren
“I’m stranded. Can you come pick me up?” the slightly distorted communication buzzes through the cockpit. “Sure, I’ll be there shortly but I am running low on supplies.” I reply to my stranded companion. It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything that got me any sort of profit. “It’s alright, I think I’ve got something.” he tells me before the line goes dead. I set out to pick him up.
One uneventful trip later, I have a companion wandering about my cargo hold inspecting the ship that I have now come to call home. “What’s this job you have?” I ask after my new companion is finished thoroughly inspecting the spacecraft. “The Crusader security force put out a contract. They need help taking out some pirates as their forces are stretched too thin across the system. I managed to snatch up the contract before anyone else could get it.” I take my time to ponder the opportunity. I never thought I would be a deputy of sorts. I never thought to actually take a life. “What’s the pay?” I ask as I continue to mull it over. “It’s good, really good” he tells me. “Ok, I’m in. You man the big gun on top and I’ll handle the flying.”
The location is the asteroid belt above Yela. We meet with a Crusader Security vessel who informs us of the mission ahead. We are to take point on a patrol route and eliminate any pirates that might cross our path. The law man will provide support for us as necessary. Once the transmission is finished I call up to the turret position “So basically we do all the work and this guy is gonna cheer us on from the sidelines? Great.”
Patrolling the asteroids is a tricky thing. I’m not the greatest pilot in the ‘verse and there are a few narrow misses as the drifting rocks shift and threaten collision. The first patrol point is clear when we arrive. Nothing to see. The second point is very much the opposite. Upon arrival two ships pop out from behind a large asteroid and immediately open fire. “Two of them! Right in front of us!” I yell up to my gunner as I divert power to the forward shields. “I see them!” I hear from above me. I hear something else being shouted as well but it is drowned out by the sound of a hail of lasers being let loose from the large mounted gun. I reach down to the trigger in front of me to open up the four other guns mounted on the front of the ship. I can scarcely hear or see anything that is happening through the deafening and dazzling barrage headed towards the pirates. I had no idea until just now how devastating the weaponry on this craft could be. Until this point the cannons had been only for show. It isn’t long before debris from the pirates joins the rocks in drifting around Yela in a lazy orbit.
“Well, that was easy. Why didn’t we get into this line of work earlier?” I tell my travelling companion. He joins me in the cockpit while we continue our patrol. “I know, right?” he exclaims “You might even say… it was a blast.” He laughs at his own pun and I briefly consider venting him out the side bay doors. “Get back in position, we’re coming up on the last patrol point.” I say instead. He obliges and I hear the turret activate just as the last beacon comes into view.
This time the pirates don’t wait to be fired upon. Instead, we are ambushed. Two of them behind us, and one in front. I try to maneuver but the smaller fighters easily outpace me. The one that came out in front of us appears to be… “Brace for impact! He’s gonna ram us!” I yell. The enemy ship is careening through space directly at us. I don’t have time to turn or avoid the impact at all. KRABROWM! comes the sound of the impact on the right side. I open fire, but only three of forward mounted guns fire. A quick diagnostic shows the fourth cannon to be missing entirely along with part of my landing gear. The impact removed an entire part of my vessel. “That’s not good…” I say under my breath not wanting to cause any alarm. The next several minutes are spent frantically whipping the controls back and forth in an attempt to keep all of quarry in front of us. The Crusader Security vessel does a decent job of drawing some fire before going down in a blaze of sparks and plasma.
“Ummm, is this supposed to be on fire?” I hear from behind me. Sparks are flying from what seems to be everywhere. “Warning, depressurized” comes the robotic voice of the ship’s computer? An incoming barrage had blown one of the side cargo doors clean off. Flames erupted from several burst pipes that were now hanging loosely and threatening an imminent demise. “There’s only one left. Just shoot them before they kill us!” I yell up to the turret. Thankfully, that’s exactly what happened. The last pirate goes down and we are afforded the opportunity to fly the half of the ship that is left to Port Olisar for repairs.
Is working with the law the right career choice for me? That was a little too close for comfort but it sure was thrilling. Perhaps next time I can take some bigger guns and better shields, or perhaps next time I’ll find myself on the other side of the law. “Who knows where my path will take me from here.” I think to myself as I sip a cup of coffee and watch a fleet of repair drones set about the task of restoring my ship to working order.