Business is going well in our new place. Demand for shipping is higher here than I expected. That's good because the Keelback and the Type-7 Transporter can earn their keep. As for the Federal Dropship, I'm still hopeful but it's starting to look like wasted credits. None of the parts we use fit it. That means a lot of fabrication time or else paying a premium for proper spares.
There's also more demand for freelancer combat work, which has been keeping the Vipers busy. In fact, I could use more combat capable ships. After taking a loss on the Dropship, I've been hesitant to buy anything else. If I do, I doubt it will be a used ship again.
There isn't much need for a rescue ship this far from Pleiades, so the Anaconda has been doing cargo runs. It seems like a waste of a good ship to me. I'm drawing up some ideas to refit her for combat duty. I've never used such a big vessel for battle, but I'm getting anxious to try it. I even came up with a few ideas that would include a fighter bay.
As for my personal business, I'm still looking for more leads. I've made some progress, though. A fellow who was fairly close to the source of my troubles gave me a few things to go on. My efforts have taken a good deal of pressure off of ElderRook LLC at least for the time being. We're trying to avoid Imperial space for now as well. I'm still trying to decide how best to proceed next. I realize I'm taking this personally, but it IS personal. Someone specifically targeted me, and I still have no idea why.
My promotion came through. I'm now officially lieutenant Ryan Elders of the Federal Navy Civilian Reserve Corps. That entitles me to add 'FNS' before all of the names of the ship's in my fleet. I'm going to pass on that. I'm just not interested in spending the time and credits required to alter twenty ship registries.
- - - -
Thomm Wex wasn't what people would call a good man. No one had ever lauded him for his virtues, mostly because he didn't have any to speak of. That didn't bother Thomm. He didn't care about people anyway, all he cared about was money.
When the man with an Imperial accent offered him credits to attack certain ships, something he'd possibly do for free, he gladly accepted with no questions asked. Thomm Wex also wasn't what people would call an intelligent man.
He flew an old Sidewinder. It wasn't ideal, but when he got a few of his friends together, they made a decent showing of piracy. In fact, they did well enough to earn the name 'Neunets Blue Crew'. This was primarily because they had all painted their ships blue after finding blue paint in a cargo crate they'd stolen. Also, they plied their trade from the Neunets system. Thomm, as the 'idea man', had come up with the name himself. As I said before, he wasn't known for his intelligence.
The Keelback cargo ship arrived almost exactly when he'd been told to expect it. He and his two friends opened fire while broadcasting the message to surrender. He was hoping they'd refuse. He was in the mood for a fight. Unfortunately for him, so was the crew of the Keelback.
The first indicator of trouble ahead, which an intelligent man might have noticed was when the Keelback launched an F63 Condor telepresence fighter from an onboard hangar bay. Although a Keelback was large enough to be so equipped, it was rarely done. The size of the hangar bay simply took too much room away from carrying cargo. Keelback freighters with a hangar bay were usually expecting trouble, and this one most certainly was.
Undeterred, Thomm and his wing swooped in with pulse lasers firing. The freighter returned fire in the form of two medium gimballed beam laser cannons and a pair of light turret multiguns. This would be the second indicator of the problems about to come Thomm's way. Such heavy weaponry was far from standard on a freighter. The first pass left one of his two wingmen scrambling to adjust power to his failed shield system while ignoring the hull damage indicators.
It was only when the third indicator appeared that Thomm finally put two and two together (although admittedly he would have possibly required the use of a calculator for such a feat) and realized that the situation was not going to go the way he thought it would. That indicator took the form of an Anaconda corvette that appeared to be covered in fearsome looking spikes and protrusions meant to intimidate its foes. It most assuredly had that effect on Thomm and the other members of the Blue Crew.
When the Anaconda opened fire with all seven of its mounted weapons, Thomm decided that the money he'd been paid hadn't been enough and ordered his crew to retreat. Unfortunately by this time there actually wasn't any of his crew left. The overwhelming firepower of the Anaconda has simply obliterated the closest blue starship it saw while the Keelback and the Condor disabled the second.
As Thomm engaged his Frame Shift Drive to escape his own destruction, he came up with the best idea he'd had in years. It occurred to him that perhaps he'd be happier in another profession entirely. Perhaps there was an opening in sanitation somewhere.