‘The Red Star’ Pub
Eranin System, Independent Space
James sat in the bar overlooking the docking bay, holding a glass full of whisky. Her empty sisters - all three - were lined up nicely on the table in front of him. Things have changed in Azeban City since he was last here.. when - almost two years ago? The old communist party regained control over the system. And the station itself... at a glance, it seemed that things didn't change that much. But the feeling inside was different. People were more discreet, less chatty. There were suspicious looking individuals, observing your every move. The name of the bar also changed - from "The Lone Star" to "The Red Star".
Blasius Hajdu was bound to arrive any minute now. Blasius who was - according to James at least - long dead... He will never forget the day when he found his friend's Federal Corvette's wreckage
and Hajdu's last audio log. His final words...
Barrett extended his right arm and stretched out his fingers. His hand was almost fine now. Almost. Last two weeks didn’t exactly go as he planned. He lost two good ships and almost got killed twice.
Grasshopper was destroyed while he was supercharging the FSD at a neutron star. James miscalculated the distance and got sucked in by the gravity, watching helplessly as the hull was being slowly creased. If it weren’t for a passing T-10 and her brave captain, his escape pod would still be drifting there in the eerie blue light...
And then went Lepricon III, his Krait. She suffered heavy structural damage during mining when the seismic charge on the asteroid went off too early. With hull integrity down to 30% James limped back to Hind Mine, only to be interdicted by some pirates less than 10 Ls away from the destination. He lost the ship and 50 million worth of cargo with it.
To make things worse, as he set off back to the bubble to buy a new vessel, word came from T Tauri that Sib’s condition
was deteriorating and that the Thargoid samples
had to be delivered as soon as possible. Misery loves company...
And then he saw him. Blasius looked exactly as he remembered, yet something was different about him. The way he moved perhaps? It wasn’t the same stern Rear Admiral of the Federal Navy, but somebody much more cautious... James got up and walked towards the newcomer without a word. He stopped inches away, looked him in the eye and said:
“Blasius, ye son of a bitch... ye God damn son of a bitch!”
Then they fell in each others arms, two friends who haven’t seen each other for a very long time.
They sat and talked for hours: how Hajdu had to feign his death and go into hiding, how he lost everything and was rebuilding his career from scratch. James described his investigation and how he in turn almost got killed by the lackeys of the Shadow President
. They recalled the time spent in Maya, searching for Sib’s brother
“Speaking of Sib.. it ain’t good. She contracted some xeno disease and is getting weaker with every passing day. And without some fresh Thargoid samples the docs say they won’t be able to produce a cure... so I’m about to become a 'goid hunter, Blasius. How about that?”
Blasius expression became very serious.
“I don’t have a good ship, James. But you can always count on my help. Just say the word and I’ll go with you wherever you need to go”.
“Thanks, friend. Appreciate it. I am about to go and get myself the meanest ship I can. When I am back, I will let ya know and we’ll go hunt get some bugs together.”
(to be continued)