THE HUTTON RUN
23 DEC 3304 Hutton Orbital (Alpha Centaury)
I hate mega corporations, and Sirius Corporation is the biggest and oldest of them. It is even bigger than Faulcon DeLacy, the ships manufacturer. Their only allegiance is greed. Sirius Corporation fuelled for years the war between the Federation and the Empire, prolonging the conflict with the result of millions of deaths. Nowadays, they monopolize the new Frame Shift Drive technology, which means vast amounts of wealth and influence, to the point that their CEO, Li Yong-Rui, is one of the most powerful men in the galaxy. Sirius Corporation is a power that controls its own space in The Bubble, but they do not need to conquer systems by force, they just buy them.
I have been in that forsaken outpost of Bruce Prospect in the Avik system for a week, working for the Sirius Corporation in order to get a permit to Sirius system, where I want to meet the engineer known as Marco Qwent. Getting the Alioth permit was easy. Sirius Corporation made me pay the price. After the usual petty transport missions, soon they started to charge me with illegal infiltration missions in surface installations. I barely survived one of those. The plan was to travel to system YZ Ceti to spy one base of the Sublime Order of Van Maneen’s Star, a religious sect with origins in the Federation that believes in maximum hardship and likes to live underground. It sounded pretty easy, but once I arrived to the planet YZ Ceti A 10 b I flew over the compound and observed that it was no base, but a big planetary settlement with lots of buildings and a tight security. A strange place for a group of theocrats that likes to live underground. The night was dark, so I decided to give it a try with my SRV. I landed in a crater far from the settlement and headed there on the Scarab. To the city shining in the dark. But as soon as I trespassed the perimeter, a couple of Eagles took off from the settlement and started to pursue me firing missiles. I ran zigzagging back to my ship avoiding most of the explosions and was able to take off and boost out of the planet losing my shields and most of my hull integrity in the process. Damn zealots!
I had to fly many more transport missions for the Sirius Corporation to compensate for my failure in my last surface mission. And things were not going good in Bruce Prospect. Conflict within the system was rampaging and it was getting very difficult to keep the supply lines. I was interdicted every time I flew with something in my cargo hold. Lucky for me, the Electra is incredibly fast and can scape most situations. The scalation was so big that even the station got damaged in one of the skirmishes. I was so eager to leave this forsaken system that I even bribed the Sirius Corporation representative with some million credits in order to accelerate my permit delivery. As I said before, I hate these greedy mega corporations.
The last mission I got before obtaining my permit to Sirius was a curious one. I had to deliver some critical data to Hutton Orbital outpost in Alpha Centaury, a notorious place for being extremely far from the system’s hyperspace jump arrival point. Hutton Orbital orbits Eden, the only planet orbiting the star Proxima Centauri, and the first planet on which liquid water was detected by spectroscopic methods back in 2038. Coming to Hutton Orbital is considered to be some short of pilgrimage for emerging explorers, because it takes ages to fly the 0,22 light years of distance in super cruise and you can reach speeds of more than 1.800 c. I had to go there.
I make myself ready for the long hours flying straight and depart Bruce Prospect. Upon arrival to Alpha Centaury, I scan the system and head straight to Hutton Orbital. Estimated time of arrival more than 5 days, but it will get shorter as I accelerate. Soon I notice that I was being followed by a Fer De-Lance. They said there was a chance that I will be pursued, but I am not worried. The Fer De-Lance is not close enough to interdict me, and as the Electra leaves the influence of the gravity of Alpha Centaury the acceleration will rise more and more. It is a long trip before the gravity of Proxima Centaury makes us decelerate again. The Fer De-Lance can not keep the track and soon it disappears from my HUD.
The rest of the trip goes without incidents. Just me in the Electra alone in the void. A lot of time to think. I am not really interested in meeting Marco Qwent, but he can help me reach professor Palin, the biggest expert in the Thargoids in the galaxy. Maybe he could help me understand what happened to my father when he disappeared in Merope four years ago and, besides, he is also an engineer with unmatched expertise in thrusters systems. Still a while to go. Halfway, I cross my path with a Hauler of the Hutton Orbital Truckers Co-operative, a faction committed to keeping the supply lines of Hutton Orbital, do not mistake with the Hutton Orbital Truckers, the association of independent Commanders that do to crazy transport missions and defended Hutton Orbital from the blockade of The Code and the Smiling Dog Crew three years ago.
I finally make it to my destination. Upon arrival to Hutton Orbital I detect a signal with the remains of a combat, so I decide to take a look. I do not know if it is because they never found my father’s scape pod, but I am very sensible to the idea of leaving someone floating in space on their own. I find two intact scape pods. I collect them and land in Hutton Orbital. The search and rescue contact of the station pays me for my efforts and informs me that the passengers of the scape pods are still alive. I hope they have a good insurance, other way is going to cost them a lot a transport out of this place. Satisfied, I deliver the data I was carrying and run to the gift shop of the station to get my Hutton Mug. Hutton Mugs are made from the salvaged frame shift drives plates of ships that run out of fuel before reaching the station, and they are only sold to Commanders who make the painfully long journey to Hutton Orbital. You can buy fake Hutton Mugs in many places but, for the real one, you have to come here.
I am recording this log at the canteen in Hutton Orbital, sipping tea from a bag in zero gravity. I wish I could use my new Hutton Mug, but I guess I will have to wait until I can enjoy gravity again. It is said that it feels like if there were latent frame shift energies keeping your drink warm when you use it. And now, here in this remote place, I look out of the window and can see the planet Eden while I think what a milestone in space exploration was the discovery of water there, centuries ago, when the humanity was still confined to the Sol system. Before the Federation, the Empire, the Alliance or the Thargoids. And suddenly I realize that I have never been there. In Sol system. I have never set foot on Earth or Mars and never give it a thought before. I guess is the influence of being in Alpha Centaury. So close. Maybe one day. But first, I must go to Sirius and find Marco Qwent.
Jav Marlo signing out.
MECHANICS, SCIENTISTS AND TINKERERS
16 DEC 3304 Bruce Prospect (Avik)
I am exhausted. I have run tens of missions during the last week and travelled all around The Bubble, from Alliance space to the Empire territory. I have been chased, interdicted and attacked more times that I can count. I have worked for the Empire, the Eurybia Blue Mafia and I have sell illegal commodities in the black market. And all of this for a scanty pay. I just hope that in the end all this effort will be worth it.
Since I decided to contribute to the AEDC efforts and stablished myself at Hamilton Gateway in Wolf 406, I have been trying to build a reputation with the local Alliance factions, mostly flying missions for the Wolf 406 Transport & Co. After the usual petty transport missions, where the Electra showed again its capabilities for avoiding interdictions, soon I was charged with less legitimate tasks, like illegal recoveries operations, and trespassing surface installations for spying.
I even was charged with disabling the turrets of a Dionysus-class Cropper megaship in system Wolf 504, alas I had not enough fire power to accomplish the task and had to run away when the local authorities appeared. All these adventures, plus the fact that almost all factions in Wolf 406 are currently at war, made me thought that I may need more fire power in the future.
I have been observing the ships the veteran Commanders of the Pilots Federation fly. They are big and expensive. I cannot afford them right now. But the most important thing, it is that those ships have been heavily modified. When Commander Oedifastus knocked me down several weeks ago in the Pleiades, he was flying a huge Federal Corvette that was able to outrun my superfast Viper Mk III. How could this be possible. Every module of my Viper, the Achilles, was A-rated, and a Federal Corvette matched my speed. That was not a conventional ship.
There is a group of reclusive mechanics, scientists and tinkerers with huge resources that call themselves the Engineers. Felicity Farseer is one of them. They offer to modify the ships of the independent pilots. Of course, most of these modifications are experimental, not guaranteed by safety regulations and, in most cases, illegal; but with them a civil vessel can outperform comparable military-spec ships. The problem is that those engineers live in their own bases, have different allegiances and are not willing to receive visitors without an invitation. Besides, I learned from Farseer that these modifications do not come cheap. Different materials are required, and some of them are very rare and difficult to find.
I have equipped my Cobra, the Electra, with a collector limpet controller, and starting to explore the surrounding systems looking signals of derelict ships to collect crafting materials. I also have landed in many planets looking for different minerals to gather with my SRV. I have visited Felicity Farseer and improved significantly the jump range of the Electra, and installed a dirty drives modification in my thrusters that allows me to boost over 500 meters per second.
After my visit to Farseer Inc. I decided to hear the invitation of Tod “The Blaster” McQuinn, a former bounty hunter and CQC Arena champion with an expertise in kinetic weapons. He just respects bounty hunters, so I stopped in the nav bouy of Wolf 397, where his base of Trophy Camp is, and waited patiently until a wanted ship arrived. I needed to collect some bounty vouchers to prove my combat abilities to “The Blaster”. Several minutes later, a Krait Phantom appeared. I scanned the ship and saw that if belonged to one of the local criminal organizations. It was a very difficult prey, much superior in fire power, but I was able to handle myself in the combat thanks to my superior maneuverability until the local defense force came in my aid. That was it. A big a juicy bounty voucher worth more than 100.000 credits. Enough to impress “The Blaster”.
After Tod “The Blaster” McQuinn had tinkered with my multi-cannons, I decided to go to system Wyrd, to pay a visit to The Dweller, a mysterious figure of the underworld, with deep knowledge of thermal weapons and power distributors. Reaching him was easier than expected. Due to my activity collecting materials from derelict ships, I found also too many times commodities crates that I sold in the local black markets. These contacts in the black markets told me about the location of The Dweller’s base, Black Hide. Once there, The Dweller just asked for 500.000 credits to access his services. We talked and he suggested that I should modify my pulse lasers for long range engagements, so I can keep a safe distance with my opponents while inflicting damage at the same time.
My next stop was the system Khun, where I visited Elvira Martuuk on her camp, Long Sight Base. Elvira Martuuk is a well known explorer, with expertise in frame shift drives and shield generators. She is also rumoured to have once been a deadly assassin. Better not cross paths with her. She can freeze you with a glance. I took some Soontill Relics with me, a very rare commodity Elvira is very fond of, to ease the deal. In return, she improved my shields making them more resistant to thermal damage.
From there I traveled to the system Eurybia, in order to meet an engineer called Liz Ryder, a demolition expert working for a crime syndicate known as the Blue Mafia. I had to do some missions, nothing illegal, for the Eurybia Blue Mafia before I was granted an invitation Liz Ryder’s base, Demolition Unlimited. I was also asked to brought 100 tons of landmines with me as a gift. That is a big cargo for the Electra, so I arranged for my Type 6 Transporter, The Pallas, to be transferred to the planetary port of Atiyah Relay in the Kongan system, the nearest place selling land mines. After a very stressing trip, being interdicted in every system I jumped, I was able to reach Demolition Unlimited with my cargo hold full of land mines. Once there, Liz Ryder convinced me to change my multi-cannons for seeker missile racks, and she tinkered with them to add more ammo capacity.
The Electra was becoming in quite a ship little by little. Liz Ryder suggested that I should pay a visit to Hera Tani, an old contact of her from the criminal circles. The problem is that Hera Tani only receives pilots with a reputation in the Empire. Being a fresh recruit of the AEDC and born and raised in the Alliance, the idea of working for the Empire makes me feel very uncomfortable. I looked for an imperial system as far as possible from the Alliance space and found Agartha, a nice system with a service economy and a nice fancy Coriolis starport not far from the main star, Enoch Port. I have never set foot before on an imperial station and must admit that I found it quite opulent with its gardens and promenades. Imperials may not be the champions of freedom, but they know how to make an impact on a foreigner visitor. I took a walk around the station and mingled with the locals feeling like a beggar in my flysuit. Outside the landing pads and working areas, everybody was wearing incredible flamboyant costumes and jewelry. Some of the men even carried swords. I am not sure if I crossed paths with any imperial slaves, but given the circumstances, I probably did. And if I did, I honestly could not find any difference with any other imperial citizen. And there were the women. The exotic and mysterious imperial women. So difficult to focus on my mission with so many stimuli. I took some innocent courier missions for the local factions and soon gained the rank of Outsider for the Empire. With that, and a bribe of 50 tons of Kamitra cigars that were very tedious to obtain, I gained access to Hera Tani, who dangerously overcharged my powerplant dramatically improving its capacity.
My next contact was another former criminal, Zacariah Nemo, the leader of a small cult-like commune, the Nemo Cyber Party. Rumours say he is a genius with projectile weapons, they also say that he has a cyber-enhanced brain. Nevertheless, I took some Xihe Companions with me as a token, I have heard that he is a fanatic of robotics, and these biomorphic animal are the most realistic and exclusive robo-companions in the market. In exchange, Zacariah gave me some advice on adding some frag-cannons to my ship if I want to go bounty hunting. He also recommended I visit a partner of him, Marco Quent, a technological guru linked with the Sirius Corporation. The problem with Marco Qwent is that he is in the Sirius system, and I need a permit to go there.
So here I am now, recording this log in Bruce Prospect, an isolated outpost in the Avik system, the only station there, but near to Sirius and a discreet place to contact a representative of the Sirius Corporation. I cannot believe that there is an office of Interstellar Factors here where I will be able to clean my record. Well, as I said, it has been an exhausting week, and there is no Lavian Brandy in this forsaken place, just the insipid local ale. I want to go back to Alliance space as soon as possible. Let`s hope that all this effort will be worth it.
Jav Marlo signing out.
ANSWERING THE CALL. JOINING THE ALLIANCE ELITE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
11 DEC 3304 Hamilton Gateway (Wolf 406)
I finally made it back to Alioth. My first long distance expedition has been a success. A 16.000 light years round trip in a Dolphin with a jump range of just 20 light years. Not bad for my first incursion in deep space. I also visited a black hole, surfed a neutron star and discovered my first ammonia planet, a water world and an Earth like planet. An unforgettable experience. I dream with exploring the galaxy someday, but I have more important matters now, so I shake hands with my passenger, the explorer Peter Mays, and say goodbye.
My first stop is the passenger lounge, where I collect from the Alioth Independent Constitution Party my meagre payment, just 8 million credits for such a trip. But then I visit the Universal Cartographics office in Donaldson and I get paid more than 25 million credits for my exploration data, plus a straight promotion to Ranger of the Pilots Federation. It seems that I have discovered many systems too. Who would think that exploration could be so profitable? Now with my mission accomplished, I can focus my attention in the mysterious message I received from Commander DNA-Decay.
I log into the Galnet an open the message. Commander DNA-Decay introduces himself as a veteran of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps or AEDC, an organization of independent pilots that supports the Alliance with every available method. When I check on them I find that they have been operating for several years, most of their activities are secret, but it is well known their involvement in some major military operations like the liberation of Leesti. They also have the support of many influential organisations and individuals, like the notorious business magnate Victoria Wolf and Commodore Helena Stone of the Alliance Navy. Commander DNA-Decay says that he has checked my background and thinks that, with some mentoring, I could join the AEDC.
I do not know how I came under the radar of this group, but it is the opportunity I was looking for. I came to Alioth looking for clues about the disappearance of my father four years ago in Merope. My plan was to get some reputation with the local factions in hope of getting an audition with the Council of Admirals. Alliance security is to tight nowadays due to the terrorist attacks of the League of Reparation, and soon I realized that they will never receive me, but maybe if I ally myself with a group connected with notorious Alliance individuals, my chances of getting to the Council of Admirals may increase. Well, my father was an explorer of the Alliance Defence Force, I was born in Dublin Citadel and I do not like the Empire or the Federation interfering in the Alliance systems. I think it is time to answer the call of the AEDC.
Commander DNA-Decay has suggested that I should go to Hamilton Gateway in Wolf 406. He also notices me that Diamondback Explorers and Asp Explorers are at a discount there. Maybe he is implying that my Dolphin, the Ariadne, is not a suitable ship for the task ahead. So I fly to Seddon Gateway in 78 Ursae Majoris and recover my MkIII Cobra, the Electra. How much I have missed this ship! It is time to arrive to Wolf 406 in some style.
The moment I arrive on Hamilton Gateway I am contacted again by Commander DNA-Decay. I guess they know everything that happens in their headquarters. He is not nearby, but he introduces me through the commlink to other veteran members of the AEDC. He suggests that I make myself comfortable and pick some jobs in the system while waiting for an operation in which to participate. I think it will be a good idea to build a reputation with the main faction of the system, so I pay a visit to the mission panel and decide to take a job for the Wolf 406 Transport & Co. The task is to deliver some weapons to Russell Gateway in Cupinook. The mission agent warns me: they could send hostiles against me.
I load the weapons in the Electra and prepare to depart. Cupinook is just at one jump distance. I do not want to screw up things in my first mission for the Wolf 406 Transport & Co, but I am not worried because I know my ship is fast and can scape form most situations. I arrive to Cupinook without incidents and head for Russell Gateway, my destination. Seconds later I receive a message informing me that I have a ship in pursue and almost at the same moment I am interdicted. Damn it! They must have been waiting me in the main star, and now I have them behind. I fight frantically with the controls to avoid being expelled into normal space when I realized that I have been intercepted by a Cobra MKIV and that there is supplement in my pay if I destroy it. Well, I have a Cobra too and know how to make it dance. I cut off impulse power and surrender to the interdiction.
I am expelled back to normal space with a violent spin and, as soon as I recover, I lock in my HUD my opponent ship. It is registered to someone called Stubbs, mostly aimless. I guess he is just a petty pirate who got the notice that there was a shipment of weapons and thought that these could be an easy prey. I am sure that he was not expecting another Cobra, and less a heavily armed Cobra. I have killed pirates by the hundreds in my Viper when I was in the Pleiades, so I ignore Stubbs’s orders of surrendering my cargo and hope he is not stupid enough to attack me. He is. He opens fire and we engage on a dogfight over planet Cupinook 6.
I vaporize easily the MKIV Cobra with my pulse lasers and some missiles. Poor bastard! I can see that, before exploding, the Cobra has dropped two canisters of liquors out of the cargo bay. That confirms my theory of the pirate. It is stolen property, but I take the canisters hoping to able to sell them later in the black market. Better than let them to waste.
I enter back in supercruise and aim again for Russell Gateway to finish my mission. I am about to arrive when I see an unidentified signal source in the HUD. I am on schedule, so I decide to take a look. The scanners say that it is a deteriorate transmission that poses no threat. I jump out of supercruise and find myself flying in the middle of a debris field. Much of the derelict metal pieces flying around are bigger than the Electra. Whatever ship was this wreck, it was huge. There is a sill functioning communications buoy in the middle of the debris and I am able to download some data. I hope it seeds some light on what happened here. Suddenly, behind one huge metal plate, I see what looks like an intact Diamondback Scout. I maneuver the Electra using the thrusters and approach the ship looking for survivors. The ship looks intact, but the canopy is destroyed. No signs of the pilot. – What happened to you? Are you still alive? Were you able to evacuate before the demise of your ship? – I knew I was in danger when I went to the Pleiades in an unprepared ship and faced the Thargoids. But the Bubble is not safe neither. This is a cutthroat galaxy. And I should make myself ready for the worst in the times to come if I do not want to end like the owner of the ship in front of me.
Jav Marlo signing out.
THE BEAUTY OF EXPLORATION (PART II)
06 DEC 3304 Deep Space (Thailae NO-B c16-35) Heading back to the Alliance Space
I think I have developed a hunger for exploration. The attraction of the void, the loneliness, the helplessness, and the feeling of going where no man has gone before. I find it very appealing. The frame shift drive technology was introduced in 3290 and had been monopolized by Sirius Corporation since them, but assuring it was distributed to all powers and factions. Since 3300, every space ship comes with a frame shift drive incorporated. Nowadays, commanders can travel in seconds distances that took days before. Frame shift drive technology has made possible to reach the far corners of the galaxy. And it has been done. The stories of pilots like Commander Zulu Romeo, who flying his Cobra MKIII was the first man to go to the galaxy nucleus, the system Sagittarius A, and confirmed that there was a super massive black hole there, or Commander Erimus Kamzel who visited the farthest point of the galaxy, system Beagle Point named in honour of his Asp Explorer, are now legendary among the Commanders who wants to make an impact too themselves in the Milky Way.
I am a rookie explorer on his first trip out of The Bubble. But I want to contribute to the mapping of this galaxy. And soon enough I make my first significant discovery. Phylucs KO-Z d13-2. An undiscovered system containing two water worlds. A pity I did not brought a detailed surface scan with me. I still have much to learn about exploration, Nevertheless, I scan the whole system. I feel exultant and decide to take a closer look to the planets. Tiny beautiful blue pearls in the void.
Peter Mays, my passenger, the seasoned explorer who is mentoring me in the navigation techniques and the secrets of exploration, congratulates me on my discovery, but insists that we should arrive soon to his destination. I understand. No more distractions. Some hundred jumps and a couple of days later we arrive to system Flyeia Hypai FH-X c17-16, our goal. More than 8.000 light years away from Alioth.
The first planet in orbit of system Flyeia Hypai FH-X c17-16 is a small heavy metal planet with vivid red colours that orbits very close to his K-class star. Universal Cartographics has set a tourist beacon there, in a strategic place with astonishing views. Peter Mays asks me to approach the beacon an stablish a link. I do as he says. He does not explain his motives and I do not need to know them. I am just mesmerized with the scene. Lucky me, I brought an SRV on this expedition, and I take my chance to enjoy driving around on the beautiful crater where we have landed.
Well, it seems that Peter Mays got what he was looking for and now we can go back to Alioth. We have four days remaining to do the trip back on time, so maybe I could indulge myself and do a little detour. I want to see a black hole. So, I search in the nav map for systems with huge mass signals and find Flyeia Hypai AA-A h41. There I go. I can see that it has already been discovered, so no chance of finding the black hole untagged; but for my first exploration trip I am content with just seeing it.
I am on my way to my first black hole, just quick searching every system I jump looking for something interesting when I see it. Something I have never seen before. A big brown planet emitting a signal new for me. It seems that it has an atmosphere, but made of what? Peter Mays suggests that I should scan it, so I make an approach while the scanner tries to identify the planet in front. After some seconds, that seems like hours, I get a result. Flyeia Hypai EO-U b35-0 2. An ammonia world with four times more mass than Earth. And I am the first human to find it. They say that the Thargoids may live on these planets. I have to take a closer look.
I arrive to Flyeia Hypai AA-A h41 and cut the impulse power as soon as I jump. There it is. The first black hole I can see with my own eyes. Or more correctly, the first gravitational distortion of a black hole that I can observe for real. Black holes are the stellar remnants of super massive stars that have reached the end of their lives. Nuclear fusion has ceased, and the star has collapsed to a point where gravity is so extreme that light itself can not scape. They are only visible by the distortion they make in their vicinity. One of the great mysteries of the Universe. And I am in front of one. But it seems that Commander Skyflyer found it before me.
With my exploration urges satisfied, I trace a path back straight to Alioth in the nav com. No more detours. I have a mission, a schedule, and I will fulfil them. Back to the tedious jump, scoop, honk, check and jump again. I promise myself that I will just stop if I see something extraordinary. And still travelling through the Flyeia region I see something very familiar, but extraordinary at the same time. An Earth-like world. I aim the planet and see that the signal of the scanner is very similar to that of an ammonia world. The first Earth-like world I discover. Flyeia Hypai CM-K d9-28 5. And it is not so far from The Bubble. Maybe one day there will be a human colony here. This exploration trip is fulfilling all my hopes and more.
I am now not too far from The Bubble, in Thailae NO-B c16-35, a system without planets but with four scoopable stars. Two of them orbit the main star creating quite a spectacle. I have stopped to refuel and enjoy the view. I am thinking that if I stay here long enough I could get a nice tan, when something catches my attention. I have a message in the GalNet from Commander DNA-Decay. He introduces himself as a veteran of the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps, and he wants to talk with me. That is very intriguing. I wonder what the AEDC may want of me. I need to go back to Alioth ASAP. This may be the opportunity I was looking for.
Jav Marlo signing out.
THE BEAUTY OF EXPLORATION (PART I)
06 DEC 3304 Deep Space (Thailae NO-B c16-35) Heading back to the Alliance Space
After some tens of transport missions for the Alliance factions in Alioth my ranks rose and soon the Pilots Federation promoted me to Merchant and the Alliance started to consider me an ally. Alas, that did not get me any significant contacts or clue about how to reach the Council of Admirals in Garden City. They will never concede an audience to an emerging independent merchant pilot. I needed a new plan. And then, I saw it. I was in a landing platform in Irkutsk overseeing the refuelling of the Pallas when an incredibly elegant and nimble white ship flew over me and landed on the nearby platform. It was a Dolphin, a small luxury passenger liner manufactured by Saud Kruger. I know that the wealthy imperial patrons fancy a lot this kind of ships, but they are not such a common sight in Alliance space. And that gave me an idea. I thought that maybe I could build a luxury limo business inter Alliance space stations. That way I might attract VIPs with connections in the Alliance Defence Force and, perhaps, get an audience with the Council of Admirals.
I found a dealer in Irkutsk shipyards willing to sell a Dolphin, bought it and outfitted it the best I could for taking luxury passenger transport missions. I decided to keep the original white elegant painting design and call it the Ariadne, bride of Dionysus the god of hedonism and wine. Perhaps I should acquire some Lavian Brandy to offer to my passengers. Welcome to Jav Marlo’s Luxury Shuttle, may I offer you a drink to make your trip more enjoyable.
I took some businessmen from Donaldson in Alioth to Vizcaino City in STF 1774, and I was back to Donaldson, looking for another easy fast shuttle service when I was approached by a man that did not look like a VIP who asked me about my Dolphin’s jump range. His name was Peter Mays and he was a famous explorer working for the Independent Constitution Party, a democratic faction of the Alliance that controls some of the stations in Alioth. He and two of his men needed transport to a planet that was more than 8.000 light years away in the Flyeia region and none of the local independent pilots were willing to take them there. They were offering just 7 million credits for the trip. That was a lot more that I was never paid for a mission before, but far not enough for all the risk and the time that would took to reach that system. It could take us a week to arrive there. I could make much more money taking short range transport missions on that time. And besides, I have never been out of The Bubble before. It was crazy, a bad deal, above my skills and my rank, but I accepted. And the reason was that Peter Mays offered to mentor me in exploration techniques during the trip.
So here I am. In the black. Heading to a system 8.000 light years away, in my first trip out of the Bubble, flying in a short range Dolphin luxury shuttle that can barely jump 20 light years. And despite everything I am enjoying the experience. I know that for any seasoned explorer this trip may feel like popping to the corner shop, but for me it is my first adventure out of civilized space. According to Universal Cartographics, just 0.0076 per cent of the Galaxy has been discovered. Even with the introduction of the new frame shift drive technology fourteen years ago, it will take thousands of years to map the whole galaxy. Peter Mays, my passenger, says that we are living now the golden age of galactic exploration. And that you can find undiscovered systems just 1.000 thousand light years away from The Bubble. And then it happens. I jump to Praea Euq WG-H b51-1, upon arriving I activate the advance discovery scanner of the Ariadne, I wait for the HONK, check the system map and there it is: an untagged star with no commander’s name on it. It is just a red dwarf in a valueless system that just contains another brown dwarf. But it has never been tagged. Peter Mays is amused by my excitement. He says that is unlikely that any commander will find this system before we return, so I will be able to sell this exploration data to Universal Cartographics and tag the star with my name. It is a scoopable star, so there are chances that some commander stops here in the future. I contemplate the red glare of the star and fill of pride while I imagine a commander refuelling his ship in this system after a long range mission in the void while he reads in his nav map: first discovered by Commander Jav Marlo.
The days pass as we advance, slowly but steady, towards Fleia region. The Ariadne has two passenger cabins, one luxury and the other first class. I give the luxury cabin to my passengers and take the first class for myself. I must say that it is quite a change. Being used to the living quarters of my Type 6 and my Cobra MKIII with its lack of luxuries and tiny bunks, this is a totally different way of travel. I even have some Lavian Brandy to indulge myself. I should not get too much comfortable or I will soften.
After the discovery of my first star, now I want to explore and tag any new system we jump into, but our schedule is tight. Besides, Peter Mays explains to me that many systems are not worth exploring, and that I should aim mainly for the high-metal content terraformable worlds, the water worlds, the ammonia planets, the Earth-like worlds and some gas giants, instead of trying to scan any rocky moon I find. I think he says that because I have spent the last hour scanning every stellar body I found in the Praea Euq KZ-B B54-2 system. Looking at the system map I thought that one of the planets may be a water world, and I was right, alas Commander FLYBOYBS found it before. I lock the next system in the nav map and prepare to engage the frame shift drive when the sensors catch an unidentified signal. That is weird so far from The Bubble, so I decide to take a look. It is a deteriorate transmission. I jump out of supercruise and find the debris of an unidentified small ship. Among the remains adrift there is the source of the signal, a small survey data cache. Peter Mays says that we should collect it and bring it back to civilized space, maybe there is a clue about what happened to the destroyed ship or valuable exploration data. Or perhaps an explanation of why Commander FLYBOYBS scanned just the water world leaving the rest of the system and its star unexplored.
Peter Mays explains to me that Universal Cartographics pays depending of the star type you can discover, being the most valuable the neutron stars, the black holes and the incredibly rare Wolf-Rayet stars. Bad idea. Now I want to see them all. Wolf-Rayet stars are very difficult to find and it will mean a big detour to visit one, but neutron stars are far more common and easy to find trough the nav map. Besides, a pilot with the skills to surf its jet cone can overcharge its frame shift drive and multiply its jump range by four. The problem is that this practice is incredible difficult and dangerous as it inflicts a huge stress for the ship’s internal systems and it damages the frame shift drive. So, let’s give it a try. We search for a nearby neutron star and find Drojia VL-J d10-18, a system discovered by Commander Pygoscelis that just contains a beautiful neutron star asking to be surfed. I cut impulse power as soon as I jump into the system because Peter Mays says that the huge magnetic field of the neutron star can be treacherous and expel us out of supercruise in an instant without noticing. I take a moment to contemplate the beauty in front of me. A tiny blue star with such a huge mass that it cannot retain it and it is expelled to the space in the form of whirlwind plumes that creates a huge turbulence. Beautiful and deadly. I brace myself, take a deep breath and head for the jet cone. I approach swiftly, one quarter impulse, and soon find myself merciless spinning in the turbulence of the cone. The huge force expels me out spinning out of control. It takes me a couple of seconds to recover, but Peter Mays is yelling me: -NOT ENOUGH, TRY AGAIN-. I enter into the cone again and this time I cut off the impulse as soon as I am in the inside. I let the Ariadne spin at the mercy of the spiralling forces surrounding her and suddenly the cockpit voice assistant says: - DANGER, FRAME SHIFT DRIVE OVERCHARGE BEYOND SAFETY LIMITS-. This is it. I wait for the turbulent forces to expel me out of the cone, I take some distance and open the nav map. That is amazing, I can lock stars 90 light years away for my next jump. Here we go. 3, 2, 1… ENGAGE.
KEEPING A LOW PROFILE IN ALIOTH
30 NOV 3304 Irkutsk (Alioth)
Finally, after tens of transport and courier missions for the Alioth Independents, I got my permit to fly to the system Alioth. At last, I was going to visit the beating heart of the Alliance of Independent Systems. Epsilon Ursae Majoris, the white giant star. The disputed system. Coveted by both, the Federation and the Empire. Ilegal to visit for the majority of pilots and factions. And what was most important for me, headquarters of the Alliance Assembly and the Council of Admirals.
My father was flying a secret mission for the Alliance Defence Force when he disappeared in the Merope system four years ago. His ship was found adrift and he was given for dead, is all the explanation I got. The corpse was never found though. Well, I have travel a long way to be here, and I need some answers. The Council of Admirals commands the Alliance Defence Force. Their headquarters are in Garden City in Turner’s World. I need to go there, but it is not going to be easy. Getting the permit to Alioth was the easy part. Now, with all this madness about the terrorists of the League of Reparation, the security around Garden City is adamant and nobody gets there without an invitation. I need to figure out what to do. In the meantime, I will try to keep a low profile as I was recommended, and get friend with the local factions.
My current ship the Electra, a modified Cobra MkIII, is a little bit blatant to fly to Alioth avoiding attention, so I have bought a Type 6 Transport in Sheddon City in 78 Ursae Majoris System. I call my new ship the Pallas, like the mythological giant, because it is my first medium sized ship and I have outfitted it to carry 100 tons of cargo. Time to do some transport missions, the real profitable ones.
So here I am now. In Alioth at last. Taking transport missions for all the factions related with the Alliance and visiting all its space stations, from Donaldson to Irkutsk. I hope that if I work for them enough time, I can build a reputation here, enough for the Alliance to consider me an ally. Maybe then they will admit me in Garden City. So I spend all my time moving food cartridges, medicines, hydrogen fuel and biowaste between the remote outposts of the Alioth surrounding systems. Some of the factions I work for have noticed that I have quite an acceptable combat profile, so they offer me some assassination and bounty hunting missions, but I decline them all. I am keeping a low profile now. Quite a change after being hunting pirates in the Pleiades and running away from the Thargoids.
Jav Marlo signing out.
COMING BACK HOME
27 NOV 3304 Dublin Citadel (Gateway)
The trip to Deciat went without problems. I was worried because I have heard that the Thargoids tend to interdict ships carrying meta-alloys, so I did the trip without deviations, just jumping and scooping, and twenty or some systems later I was in Deciat. I deep scanned the system looking for signals of Farseer’s base and soon I locate a station called Farseer Inc. That must be it. Minutes later I was flying over the base that is embedded in one canyon on the planet Deciat 6A. I wonder how much money did Farseer won on his exploring days to be able to keep a place like this.
I found Felicity Farseer quite approachable once I told her I was carrying meta-alloys. It seems that she is researching Thargoid technology and that her main fields of expertise are frame shift drives, sensors and thrusters. I told her that I arrived to the Pleiades flying in an Adder and that I have been observing the Thargoids with that ship. I think that impressed her. She is very fond of explorers, and willing to improve the systems of my ship. Sadly, most of the modifications she can make require very exotic components that I do not have, so she only was able to slightly improve my thrusters. Now, with the dirty drives modification, the Electra can reach nearly 500 m/s. I said goodbye to Farseer and promised than next time I will carry all the necessary for more deep modifications. I am amazed by the potential of the engineering modifications. Next stop, Gateway.
I was born here, in Dublin Citadel. Never knew my mother, as she died during my birth. My father was based here, but spent most of the time flying in missions for the Alliance Defence Force. He was not a combat pilot, mostly some kind of scout, and that is even worse because he used to spend long periods of time flying alone in missions exploring far systems. So I grew up mostly alone, under the care of the Alliance Social Services. It was not that I was an orphan, because I had a place of my own in the station, my father’s apartment, and mostly due to the high rank he held on the Alliance military. But I was alone in any case, and got into trouble too many times. I was a good student, but liked to mingle with the local petty criminals of the zone, and soon I took the attention of the Gateway Jet Brotherhood, a local powerful crime syndicate. They asked me to hide some crates with weapons in my place. Being my father a navy official, they thought it could be a safe place. Dad was in a mission, hundreds of light years away, and I stupidly accepted. I just wanted to impress them. Some guys from the crew brought the weapon containers, hide them in my place and then we went to a bar to celebrate. When I came back to the apartment the weapons were not there. The Brotherhood did not understand, so they tortured me. They cut my face from side to side with a knife. From that moment, I have told everybody that my scar was the result of a bar fight, because I was ashamed of the truth. Anyhow, when I thought it was my end, the authorities appeared and arrested them. The weapons were a decoy. They took them. Their real plan was to ask my father for a ransom. Luckily, my father had asked one of his friends to keep an eye on me. Sadly, he did not arrive before they cut my face, but even so I am grateful. My father trusted him. He was one of his closest friends. He helped me in the past. And now I am asking him for help again.
Ironically, the incident with the Gateway Jet Brotherhood was what joined Dad and I. From this moment, he started to take me with him on his regular missions and we wandered across all the Alliance space. I never set foot again on Dublin Citadel. Whenever he was on a classified assignment I stayed behind taking temporary jobs until his return. I had become a quite skilful ship engineer by that time. But he never liked the idea of me piloting a starship. Well, one day he left me in Baker’s Prospects in the Asellus Primus system, and one month later the Alliance Defence Force sent me a message saying that my father’s ship has been found adrift in the Merope system and he was given for dead. That is why I applied for the Pilots Federation and that is why I am now back in Dublin Citadel, after four years, asking my father’s friend how can I get a permission to Alioth. I need to go Garden City, where the Council of Admirals is, and find out what happened to my father.
It never was easy to get a permit to fly to Alioth system, but nowadays, after the terrorist’s attacks of the League of Reparation, the security is tighter than ever. It seems that this crazy Admiral, Riri McAllister, directed an organization that was killing high ranking officers of the Empire and the Alliance due to some kind of crazy retribution crusade. It is madness, a member of the Council of Admirals of the Alliance. And I want to reach their headquarters. This is not going to be easy. My contact tells me that there is a minor faction, the Alioth Independents, that is getting quite a reputation within the Alliance. He suggests that, maybe, I should work for them. He also insists that I should keep a low profile. Any record in my profile about criminal activity in the vicinity of an Alliance system can jeopardize my chances of getting a permit to Alioth. So here I am. Doing courier missions for the Alioth Independents and flying the Electra between the most remote outposts of the Alliance space.
Jav Marlo signing out.
FLYING CIRCLES ARROUND THE THARGOIDS AND HARVESTING BARNACLES
26 NOV 3304 Darnielle’s Progress (Maia)
My new Cobra, the Electra, has been cleaned, patched and equipped with the best components I could find. Almost everything is A-rated. She is painted in red with ignition drawings and I have added a fin here and there. The lady is pretty and ready. Now, it is time to see what she can do, so I depart Donar’s Oak and program a jump to Merope in the nav com. I pull the lever, lift from the landing pad and aim the entrance of the station. I cannot resist the temptation, so I indulge myself and push the boost control. The Electra accelerates to more than 400 m/s in an instant and breaks through the “mailslot” like a missile while the traffic controller yells in the intercom. That was fun!
I arrive to Merope system with no incidents and head to Reed’s Rest. This ship is a beauty to fly. I have never felt such a fast response to the controls. It is clear that the ship can dance. Now let’s see if she can run too. Time to look for the bad guys. It is my intention to test the Electra’s speed against a Thargoid. Maybe I am not ready yet to face them in battle, but I need to know that I can run from them if needed. Just some seconds after arriving to Merope the sensors of the Electra catch a NON HUMAN SIGNAL. I start the approach and drop out of supercruise when I am less than 1000 Km. And there it is, a Thargoid flying around the derelict wrecks of a Federation task force. I usually keep the distance with the Thargoids I find, avoiding provoking them but, on this occasion, I am going to risk it all. The Thargoid is huge and imposing compared to my little Cobra and, when I approach, it starts emitting noises while its petals buzz with pulsing lights. I think it does not like me being so close. And then it happens; I have never seen them before, but I have heard the xeno-hunters talk about them with terror: the Thargons. They are like a swarm of superfast interceptor attack drones deployed by the Thargoids. The Thargons spin around the Thargoid and, suddenly, head on my direction. I turn around the Electra and hit the boost control. In an instant I am running at 430 m/s. I look at the HUD and happily check that the Thargons nor the Thargoid can match my speed. In a matter of seconds, they are more than 6 kilometers away, enough distance to activate the frame shift drive without the risk of being mass locked. The test has been a success. I feel much safer now in this part of the Galaxy. The Electra can fly circles around the Thargoids. Time to celebrate in Reed’s Rest.
The more time I spend in the Pleiades the more I realize that I would never find out what happened to my father here. It has been more than four years since he disappeared in Merope while exploring for the Alliance Defence Force. They never told me anything. I just know that the wreck of his ASP Explorer was found adrift with no signs of him floating in the Merope system. I must find a way to get to them and demand some answers, but first I must find a way to get a permit to fly to Alioth, so I have decided to return home, to Dublin Citadel in Gateway, where maybe my old contacts can help me. But before that, I have heard about an engineer called Felicity Farseer, a legendary explorer now operatting a mining and refining facility where she trains mechanics and technicians heading out into the black. They said she can improve significantly the performance of frame shift drives and thrusters, but only receives the pilots who bring her some meta-alloys. Maybe I should pay her a visit on my way to Gateway.
Meta-alloys are an industrial material, cellular in nature and formed organically, that are incredibly strong and lighter than aluminium. They are also a key component in Thargoid ships and technologies and one of the most expensive commodities in the Galaxy. Its commerce it is also highly regulated and you can find them only, if you are lucky, in Darnielle’s Progress base in system Maia, and always in very small quantities. Meta-alloys have a central role in the Thargoids mystery too, since they were found for the first time here, in Merope, and right after that the Thargoid raids started. Meta-alloys grow up naturally in organic structures nick-named barnacles by the commanders. These barnacles can be found in Merope and the systems of its vicinity. The planetary coordinates of the first barnacle site found in Merope 5C are of common knowledge, so I decide to go there and take my chances.
Here I am, in front of the first Alien Structure that was discovered by Commander Octo86 on Merope 5C in JAN 3302. I wonder for how long it has been here. Are they linked with the appearance of the Thargoids, or were they here before? I guess I will never know. Damn it! What was my father doing in this forsaken sector? Anyhow, there is not much left now. It seems that the site has been depleted of meta-alloys and anything else worth taking. I run around in the SRV exploring the surroundings and I cannot find anything. No meta-alloys to deliver to Farseer. I depart Merope 5C defeated when I recall a couple of pilots back at Reed’s Rest talking about two fields of barnacles in Merope 2A very close to Alcazar’s Hope planetary base, so there I go.
I do not know the coordinates of this two barnacle sites, so I head to Alcazar’s Hope with the intention of flying in circles around the planetary base in hope of spotting them. Finally, there is no need for that, 200 Km away from Alcazar’s Hope, my sensors pick up the signal of the barnacle sites. That is weird. I had to spot by sight the barnacle site in Merope 5C, why are these other sites so easy to find? They are very close one from the other, so I land just between the both. I jump into the SRV and leave the Electra. I head one of the fields and drive in that direction when suddenly I hear the cockpit voice assistant saying: YOU HAVE ENTERED A NON-TRESPASS ZONE. There it is my explanation, these sites must be protected by the local authority force and catalogued as a non-trespass zone. Out of nowhere, four sentry skimmers appear and start shooting at me. I guess there are meta-alloys here and I have been identified as a looter trying to steal them. Well, I am not proud of what happened later, but I managed to dodge and destroy the skimmers using the plasma repeater turret of my Scarab. The skimmers must have been programmed to not abandon the area they must protect, and their aim is not good at distance, so I drew away and shot them from afar. It has taken me a lot to find the meta-alloys and I was not willing to give up and retreat so easily. I get the notification of being fined for destroying the skimmers, but nothing too serious, I hope, to send the local authorities after me. Anyhow, I hurry up and collect the meta-alloys. They are very easy to spot in some of the organic structures, looking like ripe pods about to fall. I collect 6 meta-alloys between the two fields and fly to Darnielle’s Progress base in system Maia. There, I sell 5 of the meta-alloy pods for more than 500.000 credits and keep the last one for Farseer. Next stop, Deciat.
Jav Marlo signing out.
HOW I FOUND THE SHIP OF MY DREAMS IN A 4.12 G PLANET
25 NOV 3304 Donar’s Oak (Pleiades Sector IR-W d1-55)
I have spent the last days hunting pirates in the asteroid rings of Pleiades Sector IR-W d1-55 2 class III gas giant. They are very persistent, even after their defeat in the skirmish against the local authority force days ago, they have kept sending ships, mostly light fighters, like if they were measuring the strength of the defending forces and the size mining activity. Anyhow, my combat abilities have been tuned, and now I have the rank of Combat Expert of the Pilots Federation. It seems that my efforts protecting the local mining operation has been to the liking of Aegis Research and the Merope Expeditionary Fleet too.
I arrived to the Pleiades one week ago looking for clues about my father’s disappearance four years ago while he was exploring Merope. They found his ASP Explorer adrift but his body never appeared. After all I have seen, the Thargoids collecting the scape pods of the ships they destroy, I have lost all hope of finding him alive. But still, there is something dark about the way he disappeared. There was no inquiry or search for the body. He was given for dead the moment they found his ship floating empty in the space. Something is not right about all this, and I must know what. Well, it seems that after gaining some reputation with the local factions, at last, they will talk to me. I have met an Aegis operative who insists that the Alliance have kept secret deals with the Thargoids way long before they started to obliterate Empire and Federation fleets. I have told him about my father’s disappearance, and he insists that I am looking for answers in the wrong place, that I will not find anything here on Merope. My father was an explorer of the Alliance Defence Force. They never gave me any explanation about his disappearance beyond that it happened in Merope. Maybe it is time to ask them again. But how? The Alliance Defence Force is commanded by the Council of Admirals, and they are based in Garden City in Alioth. I do not even have the permit to fly there. I must find a way to go to Alioth. Maybe it is time to come back home.
I grew up in Dublin Citadel, in Gateway. Dad was flying most of the time and I got into some troubles with the local bands. Jeez, every time I look into a mirror I can see the scar crossing my face remembering me how stupid and cocky I was on those times. Anyhow, if I want to know how to get a permit to travel to Alioth, maybe some of my old contacts in Dublin Citadel may be able to help me. But, if I am coming back, I want to do it with some style. I have money now, and my encounter with Commander Oedifastus taught me how vulnerable I was. I have been fighting a lot of small ships lately, and found that these MKIII Cobras are incredibly slippery. I think that is what I need. A fast multirole ship. So I search in the Galnet where I can buy a Cobra in the Pleiades. Not many to choose, but there is one, in the planetary base Ceres Tarn, in the HR 1185 system. I can see that the planet HR 1185 A4, where the base is, has a 4.12 gravity. I have never experience something similar. Landing there is going to be fun.
The moment I leave orbital flight I notice the tremendous attraction the planet exerts, even being my viper, the Achilles, a very light ship. I carefully check my approach angle to Ceres Tarn and counteract the gravity with my thrusters. Very slowly and carefully I maneuver to the landing pad and set down quite swiftly, given the circumstances. Once in the hangar I notice that I am soaked in sweat, every movement brings a painful agony and I feel a can barely breath due the pressure on my chest. My eyes ache and my vision greys, what a hell is this place! How can anyone live here?
TThe dealer I contacted on the Galnet meets me at the hangar. He is wearing a powered exoesqueleton like the ones used by the military and the dockers and is carrying another one for me. Everyone seems to wear one of those here. I wear it over my Remlok and we walk out of the hangar. I am not used to the exoesqueleton, so he warns me to take every step very carefully, here a slight fall can mean several broken bones. The Cobra is in a near hangar, but it took us several minutes to travel there. Once we arrive, all my muscles are aching, like after super intense martial arts training session; and the sight of the ship in front of me is not very encouraging too. There is a battered Cobra with hundreds of dents in its hull, probably result of landing to many times in Ceres Tarn. I guess a Cobra is the ideal ship to establish a supply line to such a damn place like this, because it is light and powerfully fast. I cannot imagine how it must be to land a Type 9 Transport here. I revise the equipment manifest and I see the ship comes with the minimum, but it is the only Cobra being sold in the surrounding systems, so I close the deal. I will have to leave the Achilles in a hangar there, but I want to leave Ceres Tarn as soon as possible and I want to do it in my new Cobra.
The ship may not look good on the outside, but once I came in I instantly fall in love with it. The crew quarters are spacious enough to hold a galley and a restroom, unlike the bunk cabin of my viper. It has a big cargo hold that can accommodate a SRV without sacrificing too much space. It has two medium and two small hardpoints for weapons, the perfect balance between combat capability and carrying capacity. And the most important fact: she is fast. I enter into the cockpit, with its two seats and start to check everything. Despite the dirt all the systems seem nominal. Well, maybe she will need some patching and caring, but I intend to make this ship my new home. I will have to find a proper name for her.
Ceres Tarn does not offer a lot of opportunities to outfit my new Cobra, so I decide to take it back to Donar’s Oak. I introduce the coordinates in the nav map, but the computer fails to trace a route. It seems that the ship cannot jump that far. I do not want to strip the Achilles of its frame shift drive just in case I want to transfer it later to another station, so I decide to lighten up the Cobra. I remove the weapons and the scanner, but it is not enough, so I decide to take a risk and remove the shield generator too. The moment I deactivate the shield, the huge gravity of the planet starts to inflict pressure on the already battered hull. The hull dents become deeper and the ship integrity percentage indicator drops in the HUD too. I decide that the sooner I depart, the better. I ask for permission to depart, pull the lever and the Cobra swiftly lifts from the landing pad. I force the exit angle to the maximum to benefit from the maximum power of the rear thrusters, and boost to the sky. The already huge gravity of the planet plus the acceleration of the Cobra push me against my chair and I can feel how my peripheral vision diminish as my blood abandons my head toward my feet. The bulkheads resonate complaining of the pressure and now I think that I t was not such a good idea to remove the shield. I wonder if I will be able to reach altitude enough for the mass lock of the planet to remit before I loose conscious or the Cobra tears apart. The seconds pass like hours until I see the mass lock light of the HUD go out and I engage the frame shift drive. As soon as we leave the orbital flight, the Cobra transforms itself in another totally different thing, swift and nimble. A delight to fly. Tough little ship.
Some minutes later I arrive to Donar’s Oak without complications. This ship may be equipped with the minimum, but even in this condition it is incredible fast and nimble. I almost crash it trying to land in the station, and without a shield this could have been fatal. The moment I set down I go to the equipment dealer to discuss how to outfit her. I want to keep her light and fast. I spend several million credits on her, much more that what it cost me, but I am very glad with the results. The final touch is painting her properly and adding some complements. I have decided I am going to call her Electra, the lost Pleiad, daughter of Atlas and Pleione. She is my home now, and I want to test what she is capable of. I wonder if she can outrun a Thargoid. Let’s find out.
Jav Marlo signing out.
PIRATE SKIRMISH IN THE PLEIADES
21 NOV 3304 Donar’s Oak (Pleiades Sector IR-W d1-55)
As soon as I recovered from my encounter with Commander Oedifastus, I jumped into my Viper, the Achilles, and headed to the nearby planet of Pleiades Sector IR-W d1-55 2, a class III gas giant with pristine reserves of minerals on its rings. I am still resolved to get a combat reputation in the Pleiades and I have heard that the miners there are being constantly harassed by pirates. I guess that Aegis Research, the ruling faction in the system is more focused in fighting the hordes of Thargoids that surrounds us and that they are not willing to commit many of their forces to protect the miners. Anyhow, they still pay good money for bounty vouchers, and Donar’s Oak has a delegation of Interstellar Factors, meaning that I can collect also the bounties that the pirates I hunt have in other systems if I properly identify them with a kill warrant scanner. I fly swiftly over the asteroid rings surrounding the planet looking for a suitable place to start my hunting. The view is mesmerizing. Soon, the scanners buzz and show a signal of high intensity mining activity.
I drop out of supercruise into normal space and start to look for the miners. The Achilles sensors are the best you can pay with credits, but the floating rocks interfere with them, and I am able to spot the magenta shine of a mining laser before the tiny ship maneuvering around the huge asteroid in front of me appears in my HUD. Technology 0 – humans 1. The tiny ship turns out to be a Sidewinder. I open a comm link and tell the pilot my purpose here and that I pose no threat. He thanks me and continues skillfully flying around the asteroid. The Sidewinder is too small to be equipped with collector limpets, so the pilot has to maneuver and catch any fragment it cuts using the cargo scoop. A difficult and dangerous job. It is hard to be a miner.
I do not have to wait long before I detect an ASP Explorer jumping out of supercruise and heading towards my direction. I scan the vessel as it approaches and see that it is wanted in this sector. I wait to see its intentions. The ship is not registered with any of the factions of the system. The ASP pass over me and focus on a Type 7 Transport that is mining two kilometers away of my position. A juicier target, no doubt. It takes no long before the ASP starts to fire at the transport. I take a deep breath, deploy my weapons and attack the ASP.
The ASP has more weapons and is more resistant to damage, but my viper is more agile and has a faster pitch, so I take advantage of it to keep myself out of the ASP’s aim while I punish its shields with my pulse lasers. The ASP struggles to hit me with its rail guns, but it cannot keep aim on me enough time to shoot accurately. The Type 7 transport is firing the ASP too and soon its shields drops. Now I am firing my multicannons and slowly inflicting damage on the ASP’s hull when, suddenly, my shield drops too while the cockpit voice assistant says: WARNING, IMPULSE ATTACK. Two eagles of the same faction of the ASP has just appeared out of nowhere and are firing at me. I cannot outmaneuver them, they are faster and more agile and are crippling my hull with their rail guns. I try to run away boosting between the asteroids trying to avoid their shots, but they close distance fast, so I head up moving away from the asteroid field retreating and trying to jump to supercruise before they destroy me. The eagles start to pursue me and I think I am not going to make it when, suddenly, I see that the eagle I have locked in my HUD loses its shields too. Five seconds later the voice assistant says: TARGET DESTROYED. I turn around and I see two vipers and an eagle of the local authority force concentrating all their fire on the remaining eagle and the ASP. A few minutes later both ships are destroyed and I get the message of the bounty I have win for contributing to the demise of the ASP: more than 50.000 credits.
The local authority force thanks me for my assistance and warns me that this area is about to suffer a heavy raid by pirate forces. I tell them that I would like to remain around and help. They allow me to join their formation. Soon, we spot an Anaconda escorted by two Diamondback Scouts heading towards our direction. As soon as we reach them the authority ships open fire. This is the first time I face an Anaconda, and I find the ship sluggish, but it hits super hard and in all directions. We are four ships against three, but theirs fire power is far superior. We keep the hell of a dogfight for several minutes when suddenly an Anaconda and a Python of the local authority forces appear and start to concentrate fire in the pirate Anaconda. With our efforts combined, soon we obliterate the three ships and I receive more than 400.000 credits in bounty vouchers. It seems that bounty hunting pays better than courier and rescue missions.
In the next hours, we fight wave after wave of pirates. Imperial Clippers, Federal Dropships, Fer-de-Lances, Pythons and lots of smaller escort ships are destroyed by us. It seems that the pirates want to claim these asteroid rings for them to harass the miners at will, but the local authority force is not going to allow it. Time passes, the planet rotates, and we found ourselves fighting in the dark, dodging asteroids and laser fire in the shadows. The remains of more than 50 ships are floating around us when the strength of pirate attack starts to diminish. I say goodbye to the authority task force and head back to Donar’s Oak. I am exhausted and can only think on taking a shower and a sleep the moment I land in the station, but before that, I still have to collect several million credits in bounty vouchers.
Jav Marlo signing out.