An EV story, sequel to A New Beginning
For what must have been a hour, I just sat out there in space, letting Levo's weak gravity pull me in. There weren't any complaints from the local authorities, but after a while of it I got bored, and decided to try out my new ship's thrusters.
I put Starseeker into full thrust away from Levo, and looked around me. Buzzing near the planet, far more quickly than my ship, were two Defenders; probably with the militia, judging by my prior experiences. I flew away, enjoying the ship's ambient rumble under my feet. Having your own vessel was a very grand thing indeed.
After a few minutes flying out, I saw an asteroid nearby, and flew over near it. In the wars, a common space defense tactic, or so I had heard, was to hide near asteroids, which would allegedly absorb enemy fire. I wanted to get some practice at it, and it was pretty fun being so close to potential death; just a nudge down and a push of the accelerator could send me to an early grave.
Finally, I figured that it'd be best to get to work making my fortune, and throttled up towards the planet. I hailed the Levo spaceport; some guy on the other end of the line cleared up my entry, directing me to any unoccupied landing pad, and I sat down for the first time on Locanda, Levo's largest island.
Levo is said to be a pretty world, and while I've seen a lot of them since that first landing, I can't disagree with the sentiment. The waves crashed up just a few feet below my landing point; the sun reflected on them in such a way so that they resembled glass, for a brief moment.
Back in my days on the Cargo Container, Sinclair would usually drop me off at the local spaceport bars. His rationale is that while they could be gritty and occasionally violent, there were a few people every now and then that would offer specialty missions to the space captains inside.
The Levo Bar & Grill was one such establishment, though it seemed primarily to be a family business, especially judging by its advertising, that boasted its status as "home of the best plastiburgers this side of the Gamma Quadrant" . As it turned out, the only other people inside aside from me were two men in uniforms, apparently arguing over something.
I sat down at the next table and ordered a Crystal Cola, as advertised in those cheesy new commercials. I didn't drink anything strong as a rule, figuring it'd be healthiest that way.
The argument grew louder and drowned out every other sound in the room. I looked over, to observe what was going on.
"I'm telling ya, Jenkins," one of the men said, "We don't have the capacity to run this excess today!"
The other man, though, noticed my observation. He gave me a passing glance, then spoke over to me.
"Hey, you're the captain of the Starseeker , aren't you?" he asked. "Interested in an easy 10,000 credits?"
I looked somewhat skeptically at him. Surely it couldn't be this easy?
"As much as the next person."
His colleague, who had ceased talking, came over to me.
"Great. We're with the operations department of Starbound Shipping. We have some extra packages that need to get to Zeus, but all of our courier ships are out on other assignments. We'll load the cargo into your ship, and all you have to do is take it to Zeus for an easy ten thousand."
Personally, it didn't sound all that easy to me, seeing as Zeus was on the other end of the galaxy. I thought about bailing out on it. But he didn't mention any time limit, and ten thousand credits is ten thousand credits...
I nodded, and told them where I was docked.
The two men left, one of them handing me a datacard, and I sat back down at my table, swallowing down the last of my drink, just starting to wonder what I'd gotten myself into.
After getting the mission in the bar, I decided to find the local mission computer, to see if there was anything I could do along the way.
I found it in what was described as the "terminal room" by the locals. A few brightly-lit green screens on the left side of the place allowed people to post up assignments; the majority of the terminals, however, were for applicants to such jobs. I took my place near one, with my back to the wall, and scanned through the list, finally finding an interesting one. It read something like this:
"Sauron needs a rush shipment of 14 tons of equipment. Pay is 25,000 credits."
Sauron was pretty far out, from my remembrances, but it was more or less on the way to Zeus, so I scanned my captain's card in the terminal's slot, and typed in my docking number. The mission disappeared, and a message came up acknowledging that I was going to deliver the shipment. A card largely identical to the one I received for my first mission slid out, and I put it in my pocket to join its twin.
Figuring that there wasn't much to do, I headed back to Starseeker. The cargo and dockworkers were all out there on the pad; I entered my shuttle and opened up the cargo bay for them from the cockpit, before stepping back out to watch.
It took a few minutes before they had loaded it up; there was, from the equipment alone, about fourteen tons; the parcels were smaller, and didn't take up significant room in the bay, but they were still fairly heavy.
Finally they were finished loading it up. I waved and headed back into my ship, closing the cargo bay, and sent a message over to the spaceport to see when I could depart.
Finally, it was said that I could leave in clear traffic in about twelve hours, the beginning of the next day; I acknowledged it and dropped down into my bunk, to doze the time off.
After waking up, I dropped by the Bar & Grill again, to pick up one of their infamous "plastiburgers", and headed back to the ship, eating it while I waited for the last few minutes to pass.
By the time I was done and had washed up, the spaceport sent me a message, indicating I'd be good to go. I throttled up my shuttle, and slid slowly out of the landing pad, not knowing if I'd ever see it again.
I left orbit without incident, and started to fly out on my exit course. As I did so, I saw a large ship come by.
A Maskirovka Corvette. Scanners indicated it was a militia vessel, probably commissioned a few years back to enforce Levo's neutrality policies. A powerful warship, it could destroy my shuttle in seconds; I impulsively decided to hail it.
"This is shuttle Starseeker , exiting the system. How fares it, militia Corvette?"
The static on the other end was cut short by the other ship's response.
"Hello, Starseeker. No enemies or other targets at the moment, behave yourself in our patrol zone. Over."
That said, there wasn't much left to do, so I loaded up the built-in interstellar map, to plot my course.
It was extremely limited, only showing the systems around Levo; however, after I loaded the two datacards into the machine, it showed me two red triangles, signifying my destinations.
As I feared, they were indeed far out; several week's transit total. But the pay was good, and it wouldn't hurt me to explore a bit.
All my work in the system done and the source of my next payments obvious, I flew farther out. The computer finally noted that I was far enough out of Levo's gravity that I could begin transit. I pulled the lever signifying to begin the jump; my shuttle turned around automatically, using the planet to adjust its course, and the powerful hyperdrive kicked into gear, more smoothly than Sinclair's freighter had ever managed. The stars flew by me, increasing in intensity. The computer's orientation sound system was working full-force; a slow whine, increasing in pitch, and a rattling boom signified my ship's entry into hyperspace.
I pulled myself out of the chair, and threw myself into the bunk, preparing to endure a day-long trip.
Starseeker 's first interstellar voyage had officially begun.
This post has been edited by Consul Bob : 02 November 2007 - 01:48 PM