Logbook entry

Openflanker / 05 Sep 3305
The Plan

Ardgraft chuckled all the way through me relating the story thus far. "How do you manage to get yourself into these situations?" he asked. Together we'd managed to get out of a lot of scrapes, some we wouldn't have been in if we hadn't done something stupid in the first place. Ardgraft could have been a rich man if he'd not been such a principled man. Running weapons for people is fine if you don't care about their cause. It relieves you of the burden of conscience while you relieve them of the burden of their money. But he'd been the kind of person to feel for those he'd helped, they even gave him pet names. Somehow he'd always managed to stay ahead of the law and managed to stay alive as a result.

"You have few choices my friend. The longer you can run the better it will be, but you'll always be looking over your shoulder. It's likely that they have her tagged, all that surgery would have given them opportunity to implement it. It's highly illegal but then so is slavery where they are operating. The good news is that way out there it is unlikely that there will be a way that it could be tracked out here, it would require the matching trackers that only they would have. Hence the million credit reward, they were clearly aware that she was no longer on station.

"You need to disappear, be someone different. Closest place I can think of is out Colonia way. If you want my advice I'd wait until you get back to do it, there is a guy in 13 Lambda Crateris who can help. In the meantime it sounds like you are on top of it. Just be careful. If you can get rid of the tattoos and the chip then that will be best start. Leave it with me. I'll get back to you in a day or so." With that he hung up the call. Deep down inside me something felt off. The way that he ended the call, it seemed out of place. Something had happened, I needed to be more alert.

As the call ended our helmets snapped open and we resumed out seats overlooking the planet. Watching it swim in and out of view continuously was becoming dizzying and I was feeling a little nauseous. I needed to think and sobriety wasn't helping, time for a sidewinder fang.

Nothing like a sidewinder fang to free the mind, it's like being punched in the throat by a cathedral, but it clears the mind. It's like the opposite of alcohol, it's a herbal drink that makes people super-alert and gives unparalleled mental clarity. They have a few side effects, too many and you'd potentially have an anurism. As far as I figured it we'd be OK. I was out here to explore, while we were out in the void we were safe enough. Stay away from civilisation for a while and all would be sound. The nagging feeling that something was up, based on the way the call ended, was now more on my mind than before.

"We're heading out," I said. "Let's get going." We got up and headed to the hangar. The ship was ready to go, we got aboard and launched. I needed to get back to exploring, what I'd set out to do in the first place. As it was the safest thing two and two added up to a neat four so that was what we'd do. I knew that Ardgraft had told us to wait but I knew something was up. Sure enough, as we were about to jump, a message came through across a secure net sub space channel.

"Get out of there ASAP, they are on to you. They tracked the call, no idea how but they did. Will contact you on this. Good luck. A."

Thought so. Damn. Still, there were a million places to escape to and finding us out here was going to be tough. I plotted a course to the Rusty Net nebula and off we jumped. I was glad to be able to be doing this again. The sights that the universe has to offer are amazingly diverse and beautiful. Ringed Neutron stars, Black Holes bending light around themselves, like a giant marble of glass in space. Creatures that float and somehow propel themselves in the void, little anemones that dance, playfully, around the ship. P Type anomalies, glowing and sparkling. It was a safe haven for us and one that offered all the views we could want.

We'd been travelling for days and had seen so many sights that our minds could barely take them in. When I'd had the chance I'd deployed the camera drone and taken footage of what we'd seen. There was this part of my brain that was having sort of a reverse Stockholm Syndrome. It was imagining me and Linka being an item. No part of my mind comprehended how preposterous this might be or even if it was something she wanted until it dawned on me that it might be the furthest thing from her mind. The thought depressed me, I felt isolated up here with her in the cockpit below. "Bite to eat?" I asked. "Sure," was the reply.

She looked tired. "It's going to be OK," I said, almost as if by saying it would make it true. She managed a small smile. "I just need sleep," she said. "Real sleep. I have been having these dreams..." She burst into tears. I put my arms around her and just held her as she sobbed. She clutched me to her and started to cry out loud, howling in places. Then she stopped and just held me. "I am making your suit all snotty," she said, laughing. "This could all have ended to differently. You could have been someone who abandoned me, handed me back. I am not ready to trust anyone yet, but I feel safe with you. Truth is...." She tailed off.

I looked at her quizzically. "Truth is, what?"

"Truth is I just want all of this to be something good. Like, you and me travelling together forever." She laughed. "I guess that sounds corny. What would a guy like you want with someone like me." She sat back.

I sat there, words unable to form in my mouth. How could I tell her how I felt. "Being honest, I am loving this," I said. I laughed. "OK, maybe not loving the stress." She smiled. "But I feel we have this connection. Let's live in the moment and let it be what it is."

She stood up and nodded. "OK. Just be patient with me sometimes. It's going to take a while."

"Sure," I said. "Patience is what friends do."

She smiled and headed back to her seat in the cockpit. As the door closed behind her I smiled a little. That could have gone differently, but I doubt it could have gone better.

{More to follow! Please let me know how you are enjoying the story so far. If you have ideas (not that I am lacking any) then I would love to hear them}
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