IT IS A SMALL GALAXY
01 DEC 3305 Hind Mine (T Tauri)
The Hyperion’s jump range is over fifty light years and I made it back to Hamilton Gateway in Wolf 406 before the end of the year. I do not have any relatives alive, that I know, but since I started to trait with the Alliance Elite Diplomatic Corps, I have come to consider this place my new home. My relationship with Wolf 406 Transport & CO could not be better, and they have many links with other factions in Alioth, so I asked them about how to reach Bill Turner. As usual, they asked for some favours in return. I had to run a couple transport missions for them, so I transferred my Type 6 Transport, the Pallas, to Hamilton. After all, they are a transport company. But no complains, these companies really keep the profitable contracts for their allies. I was able to win eight million credits just finding for them some gold and insulating membranes. When getting supplies is an emergency, these companies pay way over the price of the merchandise. I even got a promotion to Broker of the Pilots Federation.
Just after two missions, my contact in Wolf 406 Transport & CO called me and told me that Bill Turner is difficult to meet. That, I knew. But there is a person who could recommend me. Her name is Selene Jean, a former miner now working for the Alliance as an engineer. They said she is quite eccentric, growing her own food, and only wants to have deals with miners. I have never given a thought about mining. But if this was the way to get to Bill Turner, I may give it a try. I invested my recent earnings in a second hand Keelback and outfitted it as best as I could for the mining business. Now I just needed to learn how to do mining. I asked around and heard about Hind Mine in T Tauri system. An Asteroid Base build one year ago by Taurus Mining Ventures to exploit the pristine mineral reserves there. Miner’s Paradise, they said. And quite far from the Bubble too. So, I ordered my keelback to be transferred there and did the trip with the Hyperion. I feel much safer in my Diamondback Explorer.
Hind Mine in T Tauri. Miner’s Paradise
Once in Hind mine I tried to mingle with the locals and learn about the mining business. I learned that the usual is to scratch the asteroids with mining lasers for the ore, but the real profitable minerals are on the inside. Some asteroids have diamonds and other precious rocks on their cores, and you can crack them to reach them, But that is a dangerous procedure, and needs special equipment. They also warned me about the pirates. They like to follow the miners to the asteroid rings and rob them. I knew that too. What the miners recommend is to find a good mining spot in one unoccupied system and keep the secret for yourself. I do not know how to find a good spot for mining, so I asked, and nobody told me anything, so I bribed a miner with one million credits, and he told me about Hind Sector EB-W b2-0. And that is where I headed once I painted my Keelback in yellow and renamed it as the Ponos, god of hard labour.
The Ponos departing Hind Mine in T Tauri
In three jumps I was in Hind Sector EB-W b2-0, and not alone, as I expected to be. A Krait Mk II, a ship far superior than my humble Keelback, was flying around the system’s main star, probably fuel scooping. It was piloted by Commander James Barrett
, and I could see that he had a bounty on his head. I thought about jumping again the moment I saw the “Wanted” tag, but there was something familiar about the name. He asked what I was doing there, and I said that I was just miner an did not want troubles while checking his ship’s equipment. After a rather long and tense silence, he said that this was his secret mining spot and offered me to join him and split the gains. I hesitated. Maybe he wanted to lure me to a trap. His ship, the Lepricon III, was equipped like a legitimate miner, but for a menacing plasma accelerator. No interdictor. I have learned some engineering tricks from professor Palin and was able to tinker with the thrusters of the Ponos before departing making it faster. But Kraits are fast too. He said it was a bloody long flight to the asteroid belt and accelerated. I followed him with a nearby system locked in the nav com and the finger on the frame shift drive button.
I wanted to know more about Barrett. I knew I have seen him before, so I asked if we had crossed paths in the past. He avoided the question and asked me about my origins. -Dublin Citadel- I said. Another silence. -Same place- he said. -Maybe we have met there-. No. I was too young when I left Dublin Citadel. It must be somewhere else. Silence again. -What brought you to this remote corner of the galaxy? - I asked. And that is when it got interesting. Barrett told me that his former employer tried to kill him
after discovering some secrets. -Which employer was that? – I asked. -The bastards of Asellus Primus Gold Legal Ind- he said. That was it! Damn! James Barrett. I remembered now. He got rogue almost two years ago. He stole from the company, they said. And attacked some of their ships. They placed a big bounty on his head. I was working for Asellus Primus Gold Legal Ind at the same time. I was merely a mechanic and SRV driver, but I recall it was a big scandal there. I remember reading the official version and it stank. The security got very tight when he left. I was tempted to turn around and leave him. But I wanted to hear his version. I dared to say: -I worked for them too. Left them three months ago- and waited for a reaction. This silence was the tensest of all. Finally, he said that a friend of him, one of the accountants of the company, discovered something and they killed him. He started to investigate
and they tried to get rid of him too. I did not dare to dig more. And we were arriving to the ice ring. Before jumping out of supercruise I told Barrett that my involvement with the company was merely circumstantial and that I had no allegiance with them. I wanted him to relax if we were going to blow up asteroids together.
James Barrett and Jav Marlo in Hind Sector EB-W b2-0
Once out of supercruise I took the chance to face my ship to his and take a closer look. And there was him: James Barrett. Now, watching his face, the memories come back to my head. I remember he used to spend a lot of time in the canteen of Baker’s Prospect when not flying. Tough guy. Rude manners. The man liked whisky. Yes, he liked whisky a lot. I think he used to fly an Adder on those times. I recall patching his ship once or twice. And now we have meet again. In this forsaken system. Miners both of us. I do not buy it. He is no miner, neither I am. There must be more. But I do not want to piss him off.
James Barrett in the cockpit of the Lepricon III in Hind Sector EB-W b2-0
So, I play the rookie that I really am and ask some advice about how to crack asteroids. He says that we are looking for low temperature diamonds and takes the lead.
The Ponos following the Lepricon III (Hind Sector EB-W b2-0)
Thanks to Barrett’s tutoring, we spend the following hours cracking rocks and collecting low temperature diamonds and void opals. Barret skilfully flies trough the pieces of the asteroids and collects the valuable minerals of their cores. I try to imitate his technique to the best of my ability. He is more relaxed now. He talks about his quarrels with Asellus Primus Legal Gold Ind
, his personal crusade against the slavers of Arbuda
and how they captured him, and how he met her first officer, Shioban, and got involved with a scholar called Goldstein who wanted to uncover a mystery regarding the Thargoids
and another alien species long time extinct called the Guardians. We have that in common. We both have seen what the bugs can do. Barrett says that he was recently in the Werapana system rescuing people from Bethke Ring
after a bug attack. His ultimate reason to be there is that his first officer, Siobhan, has contracted a rare condition
, some kind of xeno-infection after manipulatin Thargoid samples, and he is trying to help her. He sounds pretty sincere to me.
On my side, I told him everything that has happened to me since I become a pilot myself. I talked about my quest looking for clues about my father’s disappearance and recommended him to look for professor Ismail Palin in Maia. If Siobhan’s condition has something to do with the Thargoids, he may know how to help her.
I guess I got distracted. I saw Barrett gaining distance to inspect a promising asteroid while I focused myself in the one in front of me that had a core full of void opals. I used seismic charges and cracked it open. BOOM! That was so satisfying.
The Ponos cracking an asteroid in Hind Sector EB-W b2-0
After the explosion, a white mist surrounded me. I manoeuvred among the pieces and collected the void opals. When I finished, Barrett was no longer in my sensors. I called him through the comm. Silence. I flew in circles for one hour trying to find him, but the temperature of the asteroids interfered. It is very difficult to get a heat signal when you are surrounded by ice rocks. Finally, I gave up and returned to Hind Mine.
The Ponos after cracking an asteroid in Hind Sector EB-W b2-0
I do not know what happened. Maybe he just decided to leave. Weird, without saying anything, but with his past, who knows? Maybe he just lost track of me. I was tempted to inform the authorities of his disappearance, but with the bounty on him I decided that better not. Besides, he looks quite able of taking care of himself. I liked him and hope to see him again. May our paths cross again in the future. After all, it is a small galaxy.
Jav Marlo signing out.
The Ponos back in Hind Mine (T Tauri)