Leon breathed. His hand was hovering over a panel on his ship. "READY TO ENGAGE" The HUD read. The FSD was spooled and humming furiously. He knew what to do next, he'd done hundreds if not thousands of times now. He just, couldn't.
It's only been a few months out.
He thought to himself. Can't be that bad. Right?
The idea had struck him as he was passing a nearby neutron star. He knew it wasn't far from his childhood home. He could keep jumping back to his staging ground for the Mercs, but it wasn't too far out of the way... He considered some more.
Leon tapped the console. The ship zapped into Hyperspace.
He reappeared facing a fairly average star. He angled starboard, and his ship locked onto his destination: Dutton Station.
Well, not home anymore. Leon hadn't lived at Dutton for an age. But here he was. Back where he had started. Before the Pilot's Federation. Before his first Sidewinder and Cobra. Before bounty hunting. Before his scar, before his cyber-eye. Before the Mercs. He lived there. That little dot orbiting a sad brown planet. He took another deep breath. He tapped out a message on the comms panel. He sent it and went about angling in for landing.
"DeLacy Lima Echo Oscar, please follow all flight regs and submit a docking request if you wish to land." The voice was clinical and bored.
"Roger Flight Control. Good to hear you, Stace." Leon smiled. They'd met working for the Corporation. He never had the patience for Flight Control, but Stacey Fletcher was a good egg.
"Wait, Leon? Holy hell!" She blurted, fumbling the mic. "You've been gone what, eight months?"
"Just about. Can I get clearance to land?"
"Cleared for Landing Pad Zero Eight. Nice Ride, Falkner, we'll have to catch up when I get off my shift."
"You got it, Percheron Out." Leon tapped the comms closed.
He sailed in through the docking slot as he had a hundred times before. Percherons engines wound down.
He got a ping. He checked his comms device.
"What pad?" The text said. Leon smiled. Nothing happened on this station without Dad's notice. He'd also let him know he was in system so he must be on the docking level already.
"Eight" Leon responded.
"Be right there" Came the reply.
He went about the business of exiting his ship, walking down the passageway and trying to adjust to the "gravity" on the spinning station. He opened the hatch and walked down the stairs of the gangway/landing strut. He had walked only about ten feet when the hangar's lights flickered and went dark.
Leon blinked. Power fault? No way, not on the flight deck, there were several redundant systems for that.
Red lines suddenly appeared in the darkness from every corner and cranny. All of them pointing dead at his chest.
"On your knees! Hands behind your head!" A deep voice shouted, echoing in the hangar bay.
"Oh you've gotta be fucking kidding me." Leon said. There was a bright flash, then everything went dark.
--------TO BE CONTINUED---------