I was startled awake by my dream – the image of Karim’s ship exploding in front of me repeating in my mind. I was sweating, my head was pounding and the ceiling fan in my room was barely doing anything to remove the stale warm air surrounding me. I stared at the fan slowly spinning with a low hum noticing the automatic room lights were still off meaning it was still ‘night’ time. The room was dimly lit, but you could still see well enough.
These motel rooms near the landing pads were always pretty sparse, they look more like a cell, grey metal walls, a small single bed and a tiny bathroom to accompany it. It wasn’t exactly luxury, but it was still a bed.
“How much did I drink last night? I can barely remember anything after eating.”
I tried to go back to sleep in hopes of curing my hangover, but it was useless. It didn’t matter anyway; the automatic lights buzzed and flickered on, it was time to get up.
I sat up in bed, rubbed at my eyes and reached for the water on the stand next to the bed it was warm, but it still felt good to drink.
Once washed and dressed I headed down to the bar for some breakfast, as soon as I walk in the bar man calls out “Hey! There he is, the hero of the hour.”
“Excuse me?” I say confused squinting at him through my headache.
The bartender noticing my bleary look replies “Ah, so you did have a good night then. Can’t remember much, can you?”
“No, I remember eating and that’s about it.” I take a seat at the bar.
“The names Alfred, as I’m guessing you won’t remember that either.” I nod to him.
“Last night, you regaled us with your tails of triumph over pirate scum, all whilst drinking copious amounts of booze”
I shivered at the thought of telling a whole bar about how I’d tracked and killed Karim.
“Don’t look so glum, Karim was a bastard and deserved to die. He preyed on and killed countless innocent pilots; he needed to be dealt with.”
“You knew him?” I asked. “Of him!” Alfred corrected. “He’d been causing a lot of trouble around the local star systems. Stealing, pirating, killing, smuggling, you name it, he was doing it and he didn’t care who he screwed in the process. You did us all a favour finally dealing with him.” Alfred continued as he disappeared from the bar.
I felt a little weight come off my shoulders knowing the guy was scum, but I’d still killed someone and that was never going to be easy to deal with.
The old barman returned with a bowl of food and a coffee. “Eat this, on the house. It will help clear up that hangover too.”
The initial smell of… whatever this bowl was made me nauseous. “What is it?”
“Meat, some beans, a few other things, don’t worry it’s edible and tastes a lot better than it looks.” He replied.
I ate slowly trying not to gag, but once I was finished I did start to feel a little better. “Thanks for the food.”
“No problem, you need anything else?” Alfred was busy cleaning down the bar.
“No, I’m good.” I just wanted to get out of here, as far away from this system as possible. I swigged the remains of my coffee and got up to leave.
Alfred must’ve read my expression “Hey, don’t be too hard on yourself. This guy needed to be wiped out. People came in to this bar a lot telling me about family, friends and fortunes they lost to him and some of his ‘gang’.”
I appreciated what Alfred was trying to do, but it still left a sour taste in my mouth. “Thanks.” I replied feebly.
“See you around?”
“Doubt it.” I mumbled as I walked out of the bar.
As I start my walk back to my ship I felt bad for the way I just left, Alfred had been nothing but kind. But in all honesty I just wanted to get the hell out of Duke City. I check my personal computer to see how far I’ve got to go – it’s still a long way.
After a quick walk I make it back to my ship and prep to leave the station.
I make quick work of jumping through a few systems stumbling across some truly incredible sights. I may have spent my entire life so far living in space, but even after almost 30 years it still manages to take your breath away.
I decided to refuel at a nearby station in LP 862-184 called Winne Plant. It’s a small outpost in a quiet system, but they still have a big contract on offer – nearly 100,000CR for getting some drugs to another station. I’ve done enough of these smuggling runs to make it without much worry, so I gladly take the contract.
Once finished with the contact and the credits are transferred I head back out again and make my way to Salibal a few systems away. I dock at Alpers City and decide to take a break from flying for a few hours.
There was a large market area not far from where my ship was stationed, I wondered around for a while just enjoying being amongst people. Space can be very isolated at times and it’s nice to see some bustle.
The market place was a jumble of stores and stalls selling anything from clothing and food all the way to apartments for rent. They were always busy places too. I decided to eat from food at an open stall that faced out on to the main street of the market and just sat people watching.
I sat for almost an hour watching the world go by; eventually a woman in military garb approached me. “Excuse me, but do you have a minute to talk?” she asked politely.
“Sure, why not.” I wasn’t really interested in what she had to say, but sometimes it’s nice to just chat with people.
She gave a large toothy smile to me. “Great! My name is Alicia Grey I work on behalf of the Sailbar Silver Council, have you heard of us?” before I could reply she continued on “We can offer you a great career with us, we can train you to be a better pilot, provide you with a comfortable life style and offer some great benefits.” She took a seat next to me and slid a leaflet across the table towards me. I took the leaflet and glanced over it not really taking it in.
“Look, I’m not looking to start a career here, I’m just passing through. I won’t be here for long.” I replied.
“Well, we can still offer you short term work for good pay. We have a need for pilots with combat experience to offer protection to ships delivering goods and escorting mining vessels too. It know it might sound dangerous, but we very rarely see trouble. Here is a list of our current contracts.”
There was one that was to provide escort a mining group back to the station within the system, it didn’t sound too dangerous and had a decent pay-out, so I decided to take it on.
“Excellent, here are the co-ordinates you’ll need. They’re out there now, and will be ready to return soon, so if you could hurry along that would be great. Just escort them home and we’ll arrange the credit trasnfer.”
“Yea ok, just let me finish up here.”
I got back to my ship and plotted the route to where I needed to go.
Upon dropping out of supercruise I quickly realised that this was no mining operation. There was a fight going on, and I’d just flown straight in to it. “What the hell is going on?”
Before I had time to bug out I received a comms message “CMDR, everything’s gone Fubar, we need your help.” There must have been over 30 contacts and they were all engaged in combat around me. The mining operation must have been attacked, now it was just a warzone.
My ship started to come under fire from stray shots and I started to panic. Images of Karims ship exploding jumping in my mind, my heart started to race and my palms were sweating. I throttled up to try and get some space, but there were too many ships I wasn’t getting out of here without a fight.
I noticed two ships in combat that seemed a little more isolated and decided that was my best chance of punching a hole to get out; I targeted one and deployed my hard points.
I blacked out as my ship started to break up.