24 March 3124
: The ship’s clock reads 2084007:11:37 when the ship’s bridge is once again bathed in normal colors instead of the black-and-blue patterns of witchspace. Immediately, the scanner blares a message, but it is lost in the static. There is a lone Python. I tug on the steering column in order to bring the ship in my crosshairs – cursing the fact that console messages disappear so quickly – and the readout makes my lips curve in a smile. Legal status: Clean. Name registered as Cheerful and Decisive
‘Cheerful and Decisive, this is Spider Widow. Are you headed for Lave station?’
The comms crackle for a moment before I hear a young voice – as young as myself – reply:
‘Aye, I would be a poor trader if I weren’t.’
As the Python only makes 0.2. LM, I quickly overtake it and am free to engage Torus. After a moment, however, the scanner sounds again – bearing zero-two-one, 20 km, Wolf Mk II, name on register Demonic or Quintessential
. The name gives me chills and sure enough, the viewscreen highlights it in red. Scanner Targeting Enhancement reports his legal status as Offender. As I veer to keep it in sights in case it started a dogfight, two more Pythons appear on the edge of the scanner – one is named the Lurker
and the other, the Pursuer of Agony VII
. They, too, stand out in red. I turn to face the lush green world of Lave and as I do it, another ship appears. Bearing zero-nine-five, extreme range, Sidewinder Scout Ship, name Raw Power
. I chuckle quietly to myself. The Wolf heads away in their direction, so I am happy to leave him be. As soon as it’s out of my scanner, I engage the Torus and enjoy the view of Lave beneath me.
As I reach station aegis, I am greeted by the sight of a Cobra Mk III named the Shrimp and the Squirrel
and a Cobra One named the Vermillion Fandango
. Eh, the names they come up with these days… - my Father would say. There’s two more, but their names blinked past so quickly I didn’t catch them. A moment later, the scanner reports an Anaconda named Midnight Tail VII
, max range, bearing zero-two-zero. Dead ahead, a Cobra Mk I named Torch of Glory
appears in my gunsights. Legal status: Clean. As well as expected. The chances of pirates showing up in station aegis are practically nil anyways.
By the time I reach the nav buoy, two more GalCop Vipers have joined the party, their scanner lollipops a distinctive purple. Yes, I know they are not really lollipops, it’s just a name the spacers gave the scanner marks due to their shape. As I veer towards the station, I experience a moment of bone-chilling fright as the viewscreen is extraordinarily slow to update. A moment later and the Dock Assist System is activated and everything seems to be in order. The green lights are indeed there.
As I maneuver to fit in the green bands, a hulking shape squeezes in a short way ahead. The STE confirms that it is the Midnight Tail VII
. However, we are both too focused on final approach to chat. The Anaconda is a slow barrel of nails and I can’t even reach half speed behind her. The Commander of The Shrimp and the Squirrel
must be horribly bored in addition to having a poor taste in names, for he complains loudly on the open channel every few minutes. He’s quite far away however, so I guess he’s gonna complain all the way to the station. What a good thing I’m going to be inside before him.
The clock shows 1148 by the time I am in the docking bay. After selling the 1 TC of computers and filling the fuel tanks, my account shows 120 Cr.
25 March 3124
: Zaonce system 1927 hours. At first, in the soft glow of the class K star named Diomede, I mistake several big asteroids for the station. I launch the Torus drive. After a moment, I am mass-locked by three Vipers in formation. By the time they disappear astern, three more appear. When they are gone, I engage Torus again. The Python which mass-locks me is named Average Crow’s Rocket
. I guess the Commander’s name is Average Crow. Wouldn’t strike me as odd on some Avian planets. A quick tap of the key allows me to fly at 21 LM again once the scanner’s clear. By the time I am moving past Zaonce, a Worm named Diligent and Atmospheric
mass-locks me. Not my best day. I wish such teeny-tiny craft did not jam the Torus drive, but well, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride, as they used to say on Terra.
A short time later, the scanner reports Isocahedron station bearing zero-two-zero. Good. As I approach the station, a shuttle named Obed’s Mooncalf
is launched but it clears off by the time I fit the Black Widow
in the light bands. The coast’s clear so I make an approach at full speed – it’s really easy once you know the trick. The clock shows 1940 as I’m docked. Account shows 128 Cr. Twenty minutes later I am out.
27 March 3124
: The Black Widow
’s clock shows 2084010:03:25 after adjustment in Lave system. The scanner is empty and I press the Torus button. Nothing happens and twenty minutes later I have unloaded the cargo and the account shows 140 Cr.
28 March 3124
: On arrival at Zaonce, I spot a Boa named Interplanetary Tree
. Beautiful name or not, I quickly overtake it. Two more traders appear, a Python and an Anaconda named Starboat Pliant III
In station aegis, I encounter a Worm landing craft with a rather lengthy name of Monica’s Feather of the Unsatisfied Drone
and a shuttle named The Diplomat’s Chariot III
. I easily overtake the shuttle on approach and at 1120 hours I am docked. The account shows 170 Cr after fuel expenses.
This time, I pick Isinor as my destination.
29 March 3124
: The clock reads 2084012:19:05 as Isinor shows up on my viewscreen. There is a host of Navy ships at the witchpoint. I frankly forgot that this is home to one of the Sector Commands of Galaxy 1. I am far too inexperienced, however, to try joining them. It is said that they require a pilot to be at least Competent.
A few minutes later I am mass-locked. The scanner reads – bearing zero-five-six, Boa, name registered as Frugal or Alluring?
I fight back a smirk as I easily pass the slower craft. Once it’s out of the scanner, I press the Torus button. The next interruption comes much later, with Isinor occupying upper left corner of my viewscreen, in the form of three Navy ships, including a Behemoth.
A short moment before the Torus is next stopped I see flashes looking suspiciously like ships on ten o’clock. A moment later, four of five disappear in a wormhole and I am in the station aegis. The moment I turn on the Dock Assist, the station launches a Worm craft, an aptly named Salt of the Earth
. The color bands merge into a single red line, forcing me to wait patiently (or less patiently…) Fortunately, the Worm quickly veers off.
Mere 2 ookilometers away from the station, however, I get a nastier surprise. The station launches a Boa straight in front of me, forcing me to decelerate and perform an evasive maneuver at once. Luckily, a head-on collision is narrowly avoided. Once the other craft is no longer a threat, I can finish the docking procedure. It’s hard to believe that it all took only 15 minutes. After selling my cargo, a mere 2 TC of computers, the Market Observer system reports a profit of 61 Credits and my account jumps to 237 Cr.
I load up on Furs and pick Qutiri as the next destination.
30 March 3124
: The ship clock shows 0333 hours when the turquoise sphere otherwise known as Qutiri comes into view. The scanner is empty. I press the Torus button.
Some time later, the scanner beeps – bearing zero-one-six, Cobra Mk I, name registered as The Hypnotic Revenge
. It’s accompanied by a Gecko and there’s another Cobra Mk III, named Harmless and Steadfast
, on zero-three-seven.
A quick look at the viewscreen assures me that while the Cobra Three is indeed harmless, the other two are pirates. I lob a missile at the Gecko and approach the Hypnotic Revenge
. By the time they realize I am not a friend, I am at close range and I ream the Cobra with an orange beam of my military laser. It explodes in a ball of plasma. My first kill!
My elation is very short-lived as the Revenge
lobs a missile at me from close-range just moments before he eats vacuum. It demolishes my front shields and there’s still a matter of the Gecko. I turn tail and his laser fizzles over my aft shields instead of the unprotected front. A moment later I perform a sharp U-turn and I am the one on his tail, belatedly realizing the targeting systems have been damaged in the fight. No matter – I let loose a devastating volley of fire. The Gecko has only a moment to beg for forgiveness, which won’t happen – I shoot it down. The bounty was 26 credits and I am now two kills closer to the Elite rank.
After glancing at the manifest, I realize that I have lost 3 TC of furs in the fighting. I noticed them floating out of the cargo bay, but have no means of spotting them now. Damn!
I set course towards the station and I press the Torus button. Some time later I catch up with Harmless and Steadfast
and the scanner picks up a group of three ships at zero-seven-nine: a Boa named Chairman of Tionisla
and his two Sidewinder escorts, The Kraken and the Warrior V
and Last Straw II
. They are neutral, so I can happily continue my travels towards the station.
A short time later, my peace is interrupted by a large group of ships. I don’t bother with listening to the scanner readout – I take a look and sure enough, they are all pirates, I can see at least ten red highlighters. They are now gunning on Harmless and Steadfast
, who is begging for help. Drat, I don’t care – I hit the injectors as fast as I can, grateful for the fact that I have over four light years’ worth of fuel. As soon as the whole gang is out of my scanner, I slam the Torus control.
I’ve never felt so relieved when I reached station aegis with its additional protection of two Vipers. On approach to station, I almost crash into another ship and then a Boa named Anarchist or Preacher
launches. I dock with no other issues only to be informed that I lost 52 Credits worth of cargo. The ECM, the STE and the military shields are all damaged. I curse the fact that even after selling the Furs, I can’t afford the 300 Cr needed to repair the ECM – my account shows 285 Cr.
A view of Qutiri shortly before the pirate gang showed up