Bierce Station, Youming System
Most of the time, when an organization wants you to go forth and fetch for them, they have a payoff in mind, and I’m happy to help them when they help me. But I really hate those organizations that figure that their goodwill alone will get me to fly out to another system and back. My old Captain once told me, “A pile of good will and a bag is worth exactly a bag.” Love may make the world go round, but my spaceship runs on deuterium, and that perverse derivative of the most common element in the universe doesn’t sell for good will, in a bag or not.
Two or three jumps Sol-ward, however, I hit it lucky. For 12K, some enterprising metal barons were looking for Gallite. The bad news was, they were looking for Gallite. There was exactly one place to go within my fuel range – Fomalhaut. And there was just a chance that Fomalhaut would have it. Is 12K worth the gamble? Hells yes!
As an aside, you don’t often get the chance to see a Legendary star in person. One of the stars that form the very constellations of Earth! If you look real hard, you can probably see Sol from there, in fact. We’re getting into the right part of the galaxy, all right.
Travelling between stars is relatively simple – you point the pointy end of your ship at the star you want to go to, plot it in the navcomp, fire up the Jump drive, and throttle up when it hits peak. When you arrive at the other end, you point the nose of your ship away from the star, and try not to fry right away. Simple!
Traveling from there to your port of call, however, is the tough part. Interstellar travel would be impossible if they hadn’t figured out how to use the Jump drive to “skip” across solar systems in small, controlled jumps. We call it “super cruise” and it makes small, useful ships like mine a possibility.
Pirates can attack you in super cruise by “interdicting” your jump drive, introducing an instability into your system that knocks you off target. You can either get lined back up before they fully knock you out of super cruise, or you can submit to the interdiction and fall out of super cruise immediately, without fighting the interdiction. The former will land you in subluminal space with a nonfunctional jump drive for several minutes. The latter will land you in subluminal space, but your jump drive will recover almost immediately. So you have a fighting chance to either destroy or escape your attacker.
If you’re really good at following my drift, you’ve guessed that I got jumped on the return leg, with a hold full of Gallite that they, naturally wanted. I quickly scoped the perp, noted that he was both Wanted and not much higher rated than myself in the stately art of combat, so I elected to fight rather than run, and I netted another 4K for my troubles.
A triumphant victory was not a guarantee that I would thence dock in safety; just before I arrived at my destination, I got bounced again. And this one was very, very different.
For one thing, I can’t tell you what his wanted status was, because I was too busy scrambling for an escape vector. But he was definitely rated better than I in combat, so after seeing my shields disappear in a puff of plasma, I quickly dropped chaff and ran like the lowly coward that I am. As hard as I worked at it, I still barely escaped with 35% of my hull intact. This guy had beemers, and he knew how to use them.
The 12K more than paid for fuel, repairs, and chaff pods, and the 400 cred profit I gained from one extra ton of Gallite was just icing on the cake. Unfortunately, that was the end of my opportunities there, so I moved on in a Sol-ward direction in search of further opportunities.
Just outside of Trevithick Orbital’s influence, I came upon the saddest sight in the galaxy. It was a mass of six floating cargo pods full of technical blueprints. What’s sad about that, you ask? The fact that I only have four cargo slots open, that’s what.
Trevithik Orbital has one other sad feature that I have never seen before; a Board with nothing on it. I bonked the station comp several times before I realized that it wasn’t locked up, just displaying … the nothing that was the job market on that station. I’m taking that as a sign and overnighting here, or maybe overnighting a few nights in a row. Back on Old Earth, they called this the “weekend”, during which little to no business took place, for some reason. I think I shall be traditional for a day or two.