The kind people at Andreas Hub try really hard, and I’m sure they’re running the pleasure dome of Stha 181, but I’m also pretty sure that if they posted a “help wanted” ad on the bulletin board, it wouldn’t be picked up, because the damned thing just doesn’t work. Took three tries to get the station console to boot up, and even then it had this intermittent video skew that make my teeth ache. Well, that might have been the formaldehyde in the drinks at the local gin joint.
The bulletin board landscape between there and LHS 3447 was unusually desolate. In fact, once I got to Yaping Enterprise, I was desperate enough to take a Fed military mission – easy enough, it looked like. Take out some clown that was on a ship named General Periera. That should have tipped me off, but I was bored out of my skull and thought maybe they’d leave me be if I did some dirty work for them.
The General, it turned out, was no pushover, and I found myself grappling for the weapons lock, a lockon, the chaff launcher, the eject button, and the family jewels, more or less in that order, before I found myself floating around in the fluffy embrace of the Big Black in the company of one lifepod and an entertainment deck that was stuck on “Learn Esperanto in 30 Days”. I drifted off into cryo sleep trying not to remember the sound of my own cockpit viewport cracking apart.
Gloru la Kreinto por asekuroj – uh, praise the Maker for insurance, even if it ate into my upgrade fund further. I wasn’t hurting, mind you, but picking out needlepoint hangings for the galley a second time was pretty tedious. I actually toyed with the thought of just skipping that completely, but that mural of the poker-playing pugs that seems to come with every Sidewinder in this sector of space just haunts me at breakfast time. I swear, the dealer dog’s eyes follow me. Not covering it was not an option.
Okay, so upgrades are in order before I accept Fed military hit missions again. Forget those guys, let’s head towards Sol.
Every journey begins with a first step, but my first step ended at Wohler Terminal, and the landing pad they assigned to me malfunctioned. They got the techs on the horn, and, as usual, they wanted to reboot everything, including the landing sequence. Sighing, I canceled the sequence, flew out of the docking bay, and re-requested a landing spot. Lucky landing bay 13 did the trick.
The great thing about White Dwarfs like the one at Gliese 812b is that they are fun, in the same way that jumping out of an airlock without a tether is fun. You have a couple of seconds to react upon exiting jumpspace, before you get caught in its gravity well for the rest of your life. I hear neutron stars are a lot worse, with a much slimmer reaction margin. I would like to meet the jackass that insists on putting the nav beacons that close to stars. I would like very much to pack him up in a cargo can and set him afloat around the nav beacon of a pro-slavery hive of neo-anarchists. Good times.
I’ve picked up a couple of K-notes so far on lightweight courier misions, but the atmosphere here at Hopkins Terminal is rather dreary. Ross 193 isn’t exactly the greatest opportunity I’ve seen.
But it’s one more jump closer to Sol.
I think I’ll take a couple of days of down time and see if the situation improves.
They say that Sol is in the far end of one of the spiral arms, closer to the rim than the core. I also hear that I’ll run out of humanity before I run out of stars if I go rimward of Sol. Consider that, and then marvel at how many Federations would fit in the gap between Sol and the Core.
I’ve heard that people go mad out here in the Big Black. Numbers like that can go a long way towards explaining why. Fortunately for me, I’m too dumb to comprehend numbers like that. I just let the computron figure out that stuff for me.