Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Long Haul



The bottle of zero-g cola bounced off the canopy, split and flew back towards Jared's head. Ordinarily he'd curse about the mess and fret that it might short out some instruments but he was preoccupied with the shuddering surroundings, bleating warnings about heat damage and frameshift interdiction.

The Canberra Song had been scooping fuel from the star, some 450Ly from the core. Jared had been admiring the list of planets and rocks in the system deciding which few to scan before jumping onwards when a Sidewinder had ripped his little Hauler out of supercruise.

"You're all mine now space pilgrim!"

Jared had removed his shields and weapons before he left George Lucas two days earlier. The extra 3t of weight would drastically cut his jump range and would be idle weight for most of his trip. The 1t of shield generator now suddenly seemed highly worth the 0.5ly jump range it would have cost him.

"This guy must by a nutter" Jared said to himself.

Out here scooping in a hauler! Any ratbag pirate with half a brain would know that anyone trading with a hauler wouldn't waste 4t of cargo space on a scoop.. Let alone 100ly from the nearest major port. He was either stupid or deranged.

Jared opened the narrow band comms just as burning shafts of orange fire flashed overhead before scoring into the aft hull.

"What the hell are you doing? I don't even have any cargo pods! I'm exploring!"

"77% damage, temperature warning, heat damage detected"

The laser fire stopped. Hull temperature hovered around 125%. The smell of expensive things melting reached Jared's nose. He needed some time for things to cool before jumping away, the engines were still in safety lockout.

"I have no cargo, we're light years away from anywhere that even has people and your ship is too small to fit any of my modules in for scrap! Who are you!?"

A worried, slightly squeeky voice broke the silence.

"Exploring? Why would anyone explore this dump?"

CD-2112 X-BD-29 A was not especially remarkable. But hardly somewhere anybody could have spent long enough in to call it a dump.

"Er.. This isn't Orrere is it" came over the comm.

Jared would have head-butted the console if he wasn't strapped into his pilots seat.

"No.. Why don't you check your undercarriage.."

Jared was sure the fool had mis-jumped. He sounded too young to be a seasoned pirate and the uncertainty of the voice told him that if you ignored his compulsion to shoot unarmed cargo haulers for a moment; that it sounded more neonate than nut.

"Oh"

The sidewinder stowed it's weapons.

"I'm in deep shit aren't I." Came over the com in sheepish slightly sing-song words.

Jared scanned the Sidewinder's modules. No fuel scoop and an empty cargo bay.

The last outpost was nearly 250ly from here, he'd not make more than two jumps before running out of fuel.

"Why the light show kid? What was I and my empty hauler supposed to have done that was so bad?"

Jared figured the other pilot was barely out of flight school, maybe he'd not even been. 'Kid' should be feeling like a right plank about now.

"We were ordered to stop the weapons traders.. Sorry about the paintwork. Er.. "

There came quite a long pause.

"How do I get home.. Can you.. Er.. Give me a lift?"