7 Feb 3305
Nothing. There’s fucking nothing.
Wait. That is not entirely true. Let me get some coffee and I will start from the beginning.
Okay. That’s better. Let me start with where I am. Currently, while logging this journal entry, I am docked at Giles Station within the Deriso system. I am thousands of light years ahead of the majority of the Distant Worlds Expedition, and I am having some of the best damn coffee I have ever had. This might have something to do with the fact that I have been living on my own stores of coffee for the past couple of weeks in deep space, but I don’t think so. Have I mentioned how much I love agricultural stations? The people out here know what they are doing when it comes to agricultural technology, and they produce a damn fine cup of coffee. I am telling you now. Anyone who wants to colonize a far off star system better bring people who know how to grow a coffee bean. Without it I am pretty sure the whole dang project would go off course. I am being completely serious. The citizens of Giles Station, the farmers and the engineers here, who call this station their home, are my favorite people right now.
I have recently been traveling between stations and systems in the Colonia Region looking for answers. Trying to dig up what information I could on the Dynasty Project. I will get into that in a minute. The little information I have found is not looking good and has served to mostly lead to only more questions.
When I had left the Conflux Alpha Settlement I was excited. I was energized. I had learned, first hand, the discoveries that had been made there about the Dynasty Project. I needed to know more. I needed to get to civilization. I needed to get to a place where I had some proper resources. I needed to dig deeper. I was excited and I was in a hurry. That is what was going to get me into trouble. The fastest way for me to get here, to the Colonia Region, was going to be to attempt something I had never once practiced. I had only barely known of the concept of how to do it. It was going to be dangerous. No. It was going to be very dangerous. I was going to jump systems using neutron stars. The blue line.
Making the decision to start overcharging my FSD using the jets of a neutron star was the easy part. Putting that decision into practice was going to be a whole different matter. You see, I knew that pilots had been using this technique for years. I knew they had, and I knew the basic principle for how they did it. That does not mean that it is something your average pilot attempts on a regular basis. To be honest, it is not something that your average pilot ever attempts. The FSD on any ship is already a highly volatile engine. Deciding to put it into an overcharged sate and run an exorbitant amount of energy through it in an attempt to hurl yourself through witch-space at a near physics breaking rate, well that is just ridiculous, and that is exactly what I was going to do.
I am obviously alive, docked safe and sound, at Giles Station. This is not because of an incredible piloting skill or because of an amazing technical know how. It is mainly because I am ridiculously lucky.
The basic concept of using a neutron star to jump further than anyone really has any right to is simple. First you find, using star maps and system charts, the nearest neutron class star. Anyone who has seen one of these stars, or been unfortunate enough to be too close to one, will know that they are amazingly bright, super heated, highly radioactive, little white balls of quick death. These beautiful bright balls of neutron fire are so reactive that they expel super jets of radiation and heat away from their burning centers.
The goal is to pilot your ship into one of these jet cones of energy and ride the turbulent radioactive waves away from the star. Absorbing the energy into your FSD until it is sufficiently overcharged, to an insane state, capable of throwing your ship hundreds of light years ahead of you. This is, needless to say, very damaging to your FSD and all of the other modules on your ship. It is not something I would recommend doing repeatedly, during an extremely long space journey, where you might find yourself alone in space with no help or chance of rescue. Long journeys such as the Distant Worlds Expedition.
Luckily, I was heading towards the Colonia Region. The colonies and stations there were quite capable of repairing the Frozen Heart after what I was about to put her through. So I had that fact in my favor. Besides the hazard of having to pilot your ship through the jet cone of the neutron star, while keeping it controlled in the turbulent waves of the cone, there is another risk that some pilots may fail to pass on to you. While you pilot your ship towards the super heated ball of fire, towards its gravity well. While you make the turn into its hurricane-like radioactive jet cone, trying to keep your ship under control. While you do all of this, you are doing it at tens of times the speed of light. If you make one mistake it is probably going to be the last mistake you make.
While traveling faster than light, at a neutron star, I made a mistake. Do not tell Carlie.
The first overcharging attempt had gone less graceful than I had planned. The Frozen Heart had been spun out of the jet cone as if it had been a toy. I had to make several more attempts before I managed to get the speed and the trajectory just right. Eventually, I managed to ride the jet cone’s solar wave long enough to overcharge the FSD. The FSD sparked as if it were alive. I aligned the Frozen Heart with my next jump coordinate and spooled the FSD into action. Sha-Foom!
The Frozen Heart is normally only capable of jumping around 40 light years. Give or take a light year depending on my inventory. I had jumped 160 light years in one jump! This was going to be awesome! I made another jump and then another. There was no way I wasn’t going to be using neutron stars the rest of the journey! I was getting good at this! This was easy! I did not know what pilots had been talking about. This wasn’t dangerous. This had to be one of the best kept secrets in the galaxy! I was making good time now. I had literally halved my travel time to the Colonia Region. You just jump into a neutron star system. Avoided the gravity well of the star. Aimed towards the jet cone. Watched your speed.
The Frozen Heart was ripped from supercruise in a heartbeat! Fuck! I said watch your speed you fucking asshole! Avoid the gravity well! Damn it! I had gotten too comfortable.
I hadn’t been paying attention. You know what?! That was okay.
I had been pulled out of supercruise by a star before. Sometimes while fuel scooping it would happen. You got too close. You were in a hurry. I had been through this before. No big deal. Keep a calm head. Just align the ship on a trajectory away from the star. Watch the FSD cooldown and be prepared to get the hell out of there.
No. This was not the same. This was not something I had done before. This was not something I was ready for. Warning alarms and heat sensors were already starting to light up and sound. I was at 96% heat already! The FSD was still winding down and repairing from the sudden drop from supercruise. It wasn’t even half-way! Oh shit! This is not the same! This is not the same! More warnings started to go off! Hull breached! Radiation warnings now! 116% heat capacity! Cargo hatch malfunction! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! FSD cooldown just over half-way finished! 127% heat capacity! I was going to die here! Fuck! FSD cooldown complete! Thank the fucking stars! I spooled the FSD! FSD charging. Heat at 144%! Oh my fucking stars! Please! Please! Ship aligned to trajectory! Heat at 147%! Initiating jump to supercruise.
The only reason I am alive is because I am lucky. I think every alarm in the ship was going off, but the heat was dropping rapidly. Thank goodness. I am going to give Felicity a massive hug when I get back home. Her knowledge of engineering and the power plant design probably just saved my life. Oh man. This fucking trip. I think I had a miniature heart attack. I’m not sure. I was dizzy and I just stared at the ship’s consoles and scanners. I was in the middle of nowhere. Heat was at 64%. The cargo hatch was malfunctioned. I dropped power to that module to keep it closed. I had lost a couple tons of wine. Why was it always the wine?
This made me realize three things. First, I was going to have to do some major repairs when I finally got to the Colonia Region. Second, I needed to be more careful. A lot more careful. I could not afford to get lazy out here. It would lead to ending my journey permanently. Third, Elvira Martuuk had mentioned another gifted engineer who worked in the Colonia Region. Elvira is an accomplished engineer and, like Felicity, she had modified several parts and modules on the Frozen Heart. Elvira had recommended that I seek out a fellow named Mel Brandon. If he could do anything near what Elvira and Felicity were capable of then he was a man worth meeting. Recent events were proof that you could not have too many engineer friends. He might also know something about the Dynasty Project. It was worth asking.
I made it to the Colonia Region the rest of the way without incident. It probably helped that I had just had a near death experience and was now taking no chances. I docked first at Giles Station. I know I have already talked about their agricultural operation and prowess at growing coffee beans, but let me just say that seeing green growing things was amazing. Days and days of seeing nothing but lifeless rock can start to wear on a person.
Giles Station doesn’t really have a lot of space dedicated to parks or recreational areas. This far out in deep space all real estate is at a premium and nothing is wasted. They have areas for recreation, but they are no where near the size and scope you can find in the core systems. Say at Mackenzie Relay for example. The same Mackenzie Relay where Carlie lived at, in my old apartment, that I had given to her. The one with the window.
The same Carlie whom I had gotten on comms with as soon as I had arrived at Giles Station. I was careful not to mention anything about the neutron star incident.
I did, however, mention Mel Brandon. Carlie agreed that I should set up a meeting with him while I was in this area. Carlie also suggested that I take a trip to the actual Colonia system and try to find out any information at Jaques Station. Carlie would meanwhile look into what more information she could find on any of the other abandoned settlements or mysterious beacons placed by the Dynasty Project crews. I agreed. I told her I would get some rest and leave for Jaques Station as soon as I could. She said something about getting plenty of sleep old man and logged off. I wasn’t going to tell her this over comms, but that girl deserves a raise.
After everything that I had been through it didn’t take long for me to get some sleep. I slept long. Maybe too long. You know how when sometimes you are so exhausted that you almost sleep for a whole other day. That is what happened to me. I woke up and checked messages. Carlie had already been hard at work. I had a message from her with contact info for Mel Brandon. She had also already been in contact with administration on board Jaques Station. They were expecting me. Docking permissions and pad reservations had already been made. A second confirmation message had been sent from the arranged Dock Officer at the station. Everything was in order and they would be pleased to welcome me on board. They were looking forward my visit and were proud to start the service orders for the Frozen Heart on my arrival. I have mentioned that Carlie needs a raise right?
I had breakfast. Which was amazing. They have fresh eggs on board Giles Station. Fresh eggs. Some people like to talk badly about the agricultural stations. The living conditions and the quality of life. They don’t have all the best technological gear. You are not going to find the best ship parts or the most extensive repair bays. You know what you are going to find? One of the best damn breakfasts in the galaxy.
So I had breakfast, and then I launched for Colonia. The Colonia region is vastly smaller when compared to the core systems. Within the core systems travel between some civilized systems can be hundreds of light years. The farthest reaches of the core systems from the Empire, to the Federation, and to the Alliance can span over 500 light years. The core systems are within what most people call the bubble, a bubble that is over 500 light years in diameter. The Colonia region barely spans 50 light years between systems. There may be some farther colonized system a hundred light years out, but for the most part the region is a small closely knitted community of outposts and stations. It took me one jump to reach Colonia.
I was docked and meeting with the Dock Officer before my breakfast had settled. I would have to say that for being as old as it was, and for having endured such a perilous journey, Jaques Station was surprisingly well kept. I had learned that many of the galactic citizens of the core had come together. Through multiple missions people had managed to resupply and repair the station to it’s former glory. This was the farthest known human settlement to date and humanity wasn’t going to just let it crumble. Good for them.
I got in touch with Carlie. We talked a little about the Frozen Heart and how the ship was holding up. I unfortunately was unable to tell her the full extent of the damages that had occurred after falling towards the neutron star, since I had not managed to find the time to mention the said neutron star. Sorry Carlie.
Eh. She was going to find out as soon as the mechanic and the technician took a good look at that ship anyway. No need to bother her with the details. Carlie had said that she had found some more data on the beacons and the other abandoned settlements. It had turned out that there had been several explorers from the Pilots Federation who had managed to recover some of the transmissions from the crews who had setup the beacons. There was some interesting logs. There was definitely something going on with the Thargoids. There wasn’t any solid proof, but from what my gut told me, they were involved. There were a few signs to where the other two expeditions of the Dynasty Project may have ended up. Nothing exact. The obvious regions were the Hawking’s Gap and the Outer Orion-Perseus Conflux. These were the other two regions of space, other than the Formadine Rift, that the Dynasty Project expeditions had been originally sent to explore. Regions of space by their very nature are huge, and having been only in Anacondas, and a few other smaller vessels had made any hope of ever finding them a near impossible challenge.
Carlie said that I should try and arrange a chance to talk with Jaques himself. That maybe the old bartender would just so happen to know some things that no one else did. I had been planning on doing just that. How many times can a person say that they have had a drink with the one and only Jaques. I made my way to the now famous bar within Jaques Station hoping to run into the man.
No luck. I wasn’t surprised. He has an entire station to run. You can’t expect the guy to be hanging around the bar every day. I have been told that the 300 plus year old cyborg still does tend bar from time to time. They say he likes to relax, make drinks for his patrons, and just visit with the travelers who come so far out into space. The man has been tending bar an awful long time. It has to be something he enjoys. He is probably a people person. I mean he did get most of the galactic community to help rebuild the station. At the very least the man has to be likable.
Jaques wasn’t at the bar that day. Damn. Well, I had some time to kill, so I thought what the hell? I might as well have a couple of drinks, grab a local data terminal, relax, and see what I could find. Who knows, maybe Jaques would show up.
A couple of drinks in and I was pretty well lit. Most people do not realize, that during adventurous space travel, there is actually very little time to do any quality drinking. Let alone any well deserved day-drinking. This can lead to a person losing a certain tolerance they might have been used to. I am only bringing this up because I feel that anyone reading this needs to understand the reasoning why I found myself at a bar. No. The bar. On Jaques Station. Drunk. Talking to strangers about how the Thargoids were planning a massive invasion and had been secretly abducting humans for the past few hundred years and that only Jaques new the truth about the abductions, the coming invasion, and a top secret plan to save humanity called the Dynasty Project.
To be fair here. That is almost exactly what I believe. Minus the whole Jaques knows the secrets to everything part. I would come to find out later that that part of my crazy conspiracy theory was incorrect. Jaques, it turns out, knows about as much as anyone else. He has heard a few more rumors than most and he knows far more about the previous Thargoid war than anyone else I know. When it comes to the lost expeditions, of the Dynasty Project, Jaques knows as much as Carlie and I do. According to Carlie.
Oh, and apparently, he and Carlie are friends now, or something. I don’t know for sure because I never got to actually meet the man. Somehow I woke up on the Frozen Heart.
A black eye and a bruised cheek from the night before. I don’t exactly remember. I am told by Carlie that at some point I may have started yelling about the glory of the Emperor and started berating the corporate Federation dogs. I may have been in a small brawl where I was knocked unconscious and then escorted back to my ship by security. The Dock Officer then may have contacted Carlie concerning certain incidences, she is listed as my primary contact should something happen. Then Carlie may of had to clear up some miscommunications from 22,000 light years away. I can’t be positive about this. I believe there are probably security video feeds that exist, but it is probably best that we never look at those.
I heard all of this from Carlie the next day. I had had several cups of coffee when Carlie told me that in order to clear up the mess that I had made that she had managed to get Jaques on comms last night. She had had quite the conversation with him. Apparently she is invited to stay at Jaques Station whenever she likes now, at no cost to her. I should add that this does not extend to me or the Frozen Heart. She also has Jaques’ personal comms data in the event that she needs to get a hold of him in the future. Apparently she made an impression.
It was also suggested to Carlie that she should try and keep a better eye on me. I needed looking after and I couldn’t be entirely trusted by myself. At least not if she wanted to keep me safe. Thanks Jaques. Thanks for that. Carlie then went on to ask me what happened with the neutron star. Comms happened to go out right then, so I never got to tell her the whole story. Sorry Carlie.
I finished my coffee and decided to try and get Mel Brandon on comms. Maybe he would have some better information on the Dynasty Project. He was an engineer in the area and might know more about it than most. That was not going to be simple. A person could not just meet with Mr. Brandon. There is a trick to these sorts of things. Mel Brandon is a very capable engineer and a super busy man. Like most geniuses his time, and his experience, are extremely important to him. If you wanted to get a meeting with him, or even wanted to be able to schedule an appointment for his services, you were going to have to do the man some favors.
It turned out that Mel had some favors that needed some doing. I told him that I was his man. I told him that whatever it was that he needed, that I was perfectly capable of doing it. No problem. Mel went on to say that what he really needed was someone to run some bounties on a group in the Carcosa sytem. A group who had been causing him and his organization some problems. A group called The Nameless. Well. Shit.
I was going to have to call Carlie.
The comms call with Carlie was short. She was not happy. That was good and bad. Good, because she didn’t ask me about what had happened with the neutron star and what I had been doing. Bad, because it meant that she knew exactly what had happened with the neutron star and what I had been doing. That meant the subject was going to come up again later. Which meant, that when the topic did come up again, it was going to be way worse.
Nothing to be done about it now though. To be honest that saved some time.
I told Carlie about the conversation with Mel Brandon. I went over the details and got an Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay. Uh huh. Uh huh. K. After that Carlie told me she needed to let me go. She said that she would be back in contact with me in a few minutes. She said for me not to go anywhere or to do anything stupid. Yeah. She was still pretty pissed.
15 minutes later she had me back up on comms. I needed to make my way to the Ratraii system she said. To a station called Colonia Dream. There was a ship there that she had just commissioned. The Deep Fathoms. A Keelback, like the Aqua Melon. They were going to start pulling it out of drydock now. The mechanics would start repairs and refitting the ship for combat as soon as it was moved. While I was to be piloting my way to Colonia Dream Carlie said she that she would be looking for a co-pilot to fly the on board fighter and act as gunner. Hopefully she would find someone of quality and have them hired by the time I arrived. The ship, the Deep Fathoms, was probably not going to be combat ready for another day. That would give me time to get to know the new co-pilot and familiarize myself with the Carcosa system. It would also give me time to get to know this faction we were going up against. This faction known as The Nameless.
The Frozen Heart is an Imperial Clipper. A ship that is more than capable of being a combat vessel. Some would say that it is best as a combat vessel. Engineered and outfitted correctly, an Imperial Clipper, with a proper pilot, can be a very deadly adversary.
The Frozen Heart, however, was outfitted for major exploration, minor skirmishes, and hull repairs. It was not in any condition to try and pursue bounties of wanted criminals. It is true that Carlie and I had outfitted the Frozen Heart, temporarily with mining equipment, earlier in the expedition. That had been planned for weeks though, and they had really just been minor modifications. Not entire combat overhauls. It was going to be easier to just find another ship while we were here doing business in the Colonia Region. A ship that was capable of doing the business of collecting some bounties.
A Keelback is an okay vessel for most jobs. A personal one of my favorites. Carlie and I have flown many missions together in the Aqua Melon. A Keelback is a sort of Jack-of-all-trades. It is not specialized in any one area, but capable of being modified to perform most jobs adequately.
As a combat vessel it has some hindrances. It is slow. Even fully modified by a quality engineer the ship still has a hard time competing against faster vessels. Its main advantage however is that it can support a full blown fighter with an on board co-pilot. This turns the Keelback from one slow, and slightly armored, ship into two ships. With skilled pilots at their helms this can quickly even out any fight. The fast and agile fighter runs interference and constant range advantage. This allows the Keelback to play the role of heavily armored juggernaut. Together they can be very effective.
I have got to hand it to Carlie. The girl knows her ships and she knows how to outfit them. When I arrived at Colonia Dream the mechanics already had the Deep Fathoms out of drydock and were beginning the requested modifications. The installation of the combat modules and the weapons. The Deep Fathoms was going to work out just fine. Of course, Carlie had outfitted the Deep Fathoms with an Imperial class fighter. Carlie knows what she is doing when it comes to ships. Carlie also knows her pilots. I met the pilot Carlie had hired an hour after my arrival at Colonia Dream. I can tell you already that I am going to owe Carlie a huge apology.
The co-pilot Carlie had found was named Shayla Gay. Shayla had been an Imperial fighter pilot who had been escorting other ships her entire naval career. She had only moved out to the Colonia Region after an honorable discharge from the Imperial Navy. She wanted to explore the galaxy. I don’t know how Carlie managed to find an ex-Imperial fighter pilot all the way out here, with such short notice, but she did.
It didn’t take long for Shayla and I to hit it off. Both of us being from the Empire was a quick ice breaker. We had something in common and it didn’t take much for the two of us to start feeling comfortable with each other. That matters a lot when you are watching each other’s back. She had asked about how I had gotten my shiner. I decided I would tell her the truth. I got it while drinking and talking trash to Federation locals at a bar. Jaques bar. I told her things got a little heated from there.
I left out the little bit about getting completely fall down drunk and consequently knocked unconscious. I wasn’t ready to be that honest with her. I mean I had just met her and we were about to fly combat missions together. She needed to trust me and feel confident. It wasn’t really a confidence inspiring story. Shayla laughed at what I did tell her. She replied with something like, fucking assholes I wish I had been there you just can’t trust Federation ass-hats, or something like that. She said something about how we were going to have to repay that bar a visit someday soon and even the odds. Pay em back in kind. Yeah. I liked this pilot. Carlie had a good feel for people.
Carlie had already arranged for the Frozen Heart to be station docked for a couple of days. It wasn’t cheap but the Frozen Heart would be under constant security. It would also be secured with docking locks the entire time. It wasn’t going to go anywhere without authorization from either Carlie or myself. To be honest, now that I think about it, I probably didn’t even have access to it. I need to remember to ask Carlie about that. It helped though, not having to worry about something happening to the Frozen Heart while I was going to be aboard the Deep Fathoms.
Shayla and I were aboard the Deep Fathoms the following day. The modifications and weapon fittings were complete. The Dock Officer had just cleared the vessel for space travel. She was all ours now. It was time to go do some favors. I figured it would be as good a time as any to see how Shayla really handled herself. Trial by fire and all that. I transferred helm controls to her and told her to take the ship out. To pilot a course to Carcosa. She looked at me, nodded, and handled the ship like a professional pilot. A smile crept across my lips. Yes. We were going to be just fine.
Shayla was a fantastic fighter pilot. She was absolutely worth whatever Carlie and I were paying her. Once we reached the Carcosa system it didn’t take long to find the criminals that we were looking for. Luckily Mel had not asked for a ridiculous amount in bounties to be collected. There was one close call. A Federal Assault ship. I do not know what it was doing this far out. Someone could say the same thing about an Imperial Clipper. Regardless, I was surprised when the culprit popped up on the scanners. Shayla had been the first to notice it. A Federal Assault ship. Registered to The Nameless. In big bright red letters the word Wanted shown brightly.
We didn’t hesitate. I had control of the helm and I immediately aligned for an intercept course. Shayla had gone back to her role as gunner and fighter pilot. We both knew what we were doing. We had already been through this with 4 other vessels. Between the two of us those pilots hadn’t put up much of a struggle. We had been itching for a real fight.
We hadn’t been up against anything like this yet.
I locked the target and started to track the Assault ship. We were within interdiction range. I hit the switch. Mother fucker. Did that son of bitch just submit to interdiction? Cocky mother fucker. This was going to be a fight.
We dropped out of supercruise immediately after the Assault ship. I hadn’t even managed to lock onto the Assault ship’s heat signature before Shayla launched the fighter. She was quick. I moved the slower moving Keelback towards the Federal ship. I had to pull back on the throttle in order to make the turn fast enough to even get the other vessel into my heads-up display and enable the target lock. The Federal ship turned and faced me. It opened fire. Damn! It was mean!
I boosted straight at the Assault ship, firing the auto cannons and burst lasers as I rushed past it. The Federal ship’s shields were still at 74%. I looked for Shayla. She was doing her best to distract the other ship. The pilot of the Federal ship knew the score. They were going to concentrate on me.
They understood that if they could disable, or even destroy the Deep Fathoms, then Shayla, in the Imperial fighter, was going to just be a matter of clean up. The fighter’s lasers were doing damage, but not enough. The little fighter wasn’t going to be able to cut through that Assault hull alone. The Imperial Fighter has no FSD. If something happened to me, or the Deep Fathoms, there would be no escape for her. If the pilot of the Federation ship decided to turn his concentration towards Shayla, then they might be able to single her out and get a good shot off. The little Imperial Fighter would not be able to take too many hits.
It wouldn’t be a much better scenario for myself without that little fighter and Shayla. The fight would become a matter of attrition, and that was going to be a losing battle. Shayla and I were in this together no matter what happened. What the Federal Assault ship pilot didn’t realize was that Shayla and I had planned for this. We knew what we were doing. We had, after all, been the ones who interdicted this pilot in the first place. They were about to learn why.
I dropped the flight assist and threw the Keelback around. Firing the thrusters into boost I re-enabled flight assist and was immediately back on the Assault ship’s six. Shayla had already moved in from the Federal Assault ship’s starboard side. Letting loose with her lasers she pushed the Federal ship towards it’s port side and down, keeping it within the Keelback’s weapon range and thruster speed. The Federal Assault ship’s pilot wasn’t a fool, and they were not inexperienced. Their ship was also much more maneuverable. Maneuverable enough that the pilot didn’t need to disable their flight assist to out move the Keelback. The enemy pilot turned hard and quick, straight towards the Deep Fathoms, releasing another volley of fire. The Keelback’s shields went down.
The Federal Assault ship was still at 24% shields. The enemy ship reversed its acceleration. Its pilot threw the ship’s throttle into full reverse, keeping its many forward facing weapons trained on the Keelback. I was pretty sure that the pilot had planned on this fight ending quickly. They were going to be in for a surprise.
Most combat pilots sacrifice hull reinforcement for greater shield strength and maneuverability. This is a sound tactic when going up against other shield fitted, and often smaller, vessels. A pilot will attempt to burn through the other vessels shields and then concentrate their superior firepower on ripping apart the ship’s hull like a cheap cargo container. The Deep Fathoms wasn’t that kind of a ship.
The Keelback is always going to be a slower and more cumbersome beast when compared to more combat versatile ships. Even if you were able to engineer, modify, and tune A rated thrusters, you were never going to out fly a well fitted combat ship. So I say don’t even try.
The Deep Fathoms was sporting a high grade, well modified, military grade composite hull. Along with module reinforcement paneling and increased hull plating. The Keelback was still a slow cumbersome beast compared to the Federal Assault ship, but it was also a completely reinforced box of armor. This Keelback was no simple tin can. This fight was going to last a lot longer than that Assault ship pilot had been counting on.
Shayla, in the Imperial Fighter, was a lot faster than, and extremely more maneuverable than, the Federal Assault ship. Shayla had managed to get directly on his six, and while the Federal Assault pilot had been trying to burn through my hull, Shayla had been burning through the remainder of the enemy ship’s shields. She had just burned through those, and had started to concentrate her fire on the enemy vessel’s hull, when the Federal Assault pilot disabled their flight assist. The Federal Assault pilot hadn’t come to this fight prepared to sustain a barrage of fire from two other ships while not having any shields of its own. Especially when one of those ships was basically a small tank.
The enemy pilot, without flight assist on, spun to face Shayla and the small fighter. It opened fire immediately on the little Imperial Fighter. The Assault ship tore almost immediately through the little fighter’s shields. It then ripped through the small vessel’s hull like it was just paper.
Shayla hit a full stop and then a forward boost. In the time it took that Federal Assault ship to try and spin around again, to turn and face the little Imperial ship, Shayla had already boosted well past me. Now I was positioned in between Shayla and the Federal Assault ship.
Shayla and the Imperial Fighter’s shields were still down and her hull had been ripped apart to only 15% hull integrity. It was a stroke of luck, or more likely, an amazing piloting skill that got Shayla out of danger and out of harms way. The Keelback’s hull was down to 80%. I looked at the HUD readings and my targeting computer. The Federal ship was at 64%. Its shields still down. I continued to unleash everything I had. 60%. 56%. 48%. the Federal Assault ship turned sharp, 180 degrees out, and boosted. 32%. The enemy’s ship spooled its FSD. FSD activation detected. That bastard was going to try and make a run for it!
I boosted. I was still within the laser and multi-cannon’s range, but just barely. 24%. 16%. There was no way the Deep Fathoms was going to be able to keep up! It was out of range! That son of a bitch was going to get away!
Suddenly, from behind me and to my port side, Shayla appeared! Shields fully recharged and she was hauling ass! Go Shayla! GO! 8%. 4%.
Payday mother fucker.
Stars be good.
I was going to need some serious therapy and an extremely long vacation after this trip. Shayla docked the small fighter back within the Keelback. We plotted a course to the Colonia Dream station in Ratraii. One system jump later and we were quickly docked at the station.
Shayla had almost been killed out there today. She didn’t say anything. I had almost been killed out there today. I didn’t say anything.
We decided to get some dinner together at a small restaurant. It had okay food. It was an industrial station, not an agricultural one. The two of us laughed a little. We made some jokes about how close we both had almost just came to not being around for the rest of our lives. We laughed a little more. Then we bought two bottles of red wine from the restaurant proprietor. Did you know that they make the wine at the Giles Station in Deriso. I didn’t know that either. I know it now.
Shayla and I went back to the Deep Fathoms. Then we spent some, well deserved, quality personal time with one another. After, we fell into a deep sleep.
The next day we would travel to Luchtaine. To Mel Brandon’s base. The Brig. After handing over the engineer’s requested bounty vouchers we asked Mr. Brandon if he had any information at all on anything about the Dynasty Project. Of course, by now, you have realized by my first statement that he didn’t know anything. There was nothing. No new information.
Mel had said that he was not aware of any other information out there. He was only aware of the information that Carlie and I had already managed to discover on our own. Mel said that he was impressed that we had manage to uncover what we had. A lot of that information was sealed tight. Very hush hush and need to know. That, at least, was a confirmation that we were on the right track. Mel had said that we were definitely headed in the right direction. He had wished he could have been more help, but we already knew as much about the Dynasty Project as he did. This whole thing, the Dynasty Project, the Thargoid rumors, the lost expeditions, it was all starting to feel like a wild Ceti rabbit chase. It felt like we were hitting a dead end.
It wasn’t an entire loss. The man is a master engineer and can work wonders with all sorts of lasers. We really could have used that tech the other day. Well, Carlie would be in touch with him for sure. I believe that she has already put in an order of modified lasers to be shipped to Mackenzie Relay. I am not entirely sure. That girl never tells me anything.
For example, it appears that after this weekend, when I receive the next way point coordinates from the expedition, Shayla will be accompanying me on the rest of the trip to Beagle Point. This was news to me. It was not news to Shayla.
Shayla had said that she had been hired to keep an eye on me ever since I had first arrived on Colonia Dream. Shayla was to make sure that I didn’t get into anymore trouble. She said that Carlie had given her specific instructions not to let me out of her sight. Shayla and Carlie had already come to a very mutually beneficial agreement. The contract had been agreed upon, written up, and signed when she was first was employed. This was before I had ever even left Jaques Station. Shayla said that she had already been paid her first installment when I had docked at Colonia Dream. She reported to Carlie directly.
The Deep Fathoms was to be drydocked and stored for later use in the Colonia Region. Then we were supposed to fly the Frozen Heart to Deriso, where we would wait for the next coordinates from the expedition. We would prepare anything we needed for the continued journey to Sag A. We would stay out of trouble. Wait. Let me rephrase that. I would stay out of trouble. It was already arranged.
Shayla informed me that Giles Station was already prepared for, and awaiting, our arrival. Shayla continued to inform me that Carlie was actively looking into further information on the Dynasty Project. Carlie would inform me, as soon as it was possible, if she had managed to find any new information. Everything was being taken care of. Everyone seemed to be well aware of what was going on.
I am pretty sure that I am not in charge of my life any more.
I’m probably going to have to call Carlie.