This is an older story that I’ve been working on for some time, on and off. Theres more to it but this is the part that has been edited semi professionally. By myself, so that probably doesnt count as professionally then. Anyway enough rambling, I present piece number two (yeah really need to come up with names for these)
Twelve warning lights flashed around the room, a somewhat deafening klaxon roared.
“Shit, shut up moron.” Florin muttered stumbling out of his bunk. He hit the release for the cabins door and racing into the bridge, buttoning up his over jacket,
“What, what, what?” He yelled, “What the hell’s going on Phiel?”
“The safety cutout on the secondary thrusters has cut in.” Phiel, the ships AI answered calmly.
“Why?” Florin asked, scanning the console for an answer.
“A small meteorite I believe.” it stated.
“Damn it Phiel quit it with the calm voice. Can’t you panic or something.” Florin yelled
“Why?” Phiel asked, “Would it make you feel better?”
“Yes damn it!”
“Okay” Phiel paused then continued “oh help, help whatever will I do? The end is near, oh me oh my oh help, oh panic.” it flustered sarcastically.
“Highly amusing, now shut up” Florin swore under his breath as he ran a diagnostic check on the thruster.
“Phiel shut down the power coupling to it and flush the plasma jet.” he ordered, the console bleeped and the diagnostic overview display changed colour as the ship shuddered as a large plasma stream shot out the rear.
“Thruster systems shut down, secondary thrusters are off-line, primary are holding on stand-by.”
“Good, now a run a full diagnostic check on the system and find out what happened.”
“Oh yes oh mighty one; at once oh mighty one.” Phiel said sarcastically.
“And shut up.”
Florin scanned the console in search of any clues,
“Phiel how long have we not had any frasier shields online?” He asked, somewhat disturbed.
“Since we left Torean 2, why?”
“WHY!” florin yelled, “Let’s see; we just got hit by a rock and you ask me why I have a problem with the frasiers being offline.”
“They are not offline, we have 20% shields’ on the nose section,” Phiel answered calmly, “And anyway the ‘rock’ didn’t hit us.”
“Say again?” Florin interrupted.
“The rock did not hit us.” Phiel repeated slowly, “The power coupling blew just before the meteorite hit, totally disintegrating it.”
“So I’m meant to be happy because the rock didn’t hit us, the coupling blew out first. Oh thats great. If we ever get back to Eldean 3 I’m gonna kill Hank and his lousy mechanics. Phiel pull up the service logs for those thrusters, will ya.”
The computer paused and then florin’s secondary console board flashed to life with the complete service log of the secondary thrusters. He scanned to the last entry of the file and read aloud,
“14:28 main access panel removed; 14:35 self-diagnostic activated, class 2 diag routine initiated; 15:02 self-diagnostics completed; 15:35 main access panel closed. Bullshit,” He swore a loud , “No one can change a coupling in 35 minutes. Shit you can’t even do a full patch job in that time.”
“Well I think we have our answer.” Phiel piped in.
“How the hell come you didn’t notice this. It’s your body?” Florin asked angrily.
“I never check the logs, it’s like you reading your genetic profile to see what heath defects you’ve got.”
“Crap.” Was his only answer. “So how long to fix it then?”
“No can do out here, it will take a space dock to fix it.”
“Crap, how long will it delay us then?” Florin asked.
“Well we’re only 5 minutes away from the stations jump point, so I’d say 2 days in-system travel when we get to where ever it is we’re going.” Phil said sulking. As a courier, Florins “packages” were often secret, so Phiel did not find out the final destination until the last possible moment, often mere seconds before they jumped.
“Shit 2 days” Florin swore. Pausing for a minute he asked, “What if we jumped in 2 days past the beacon.”
“What? Are you nuts?” Phil yelled, in the closest a voice-sim to a yell had, “Two days past the outer beacon. The station masters will kick your arse right through their sun and back for a protocol breach like that.”
“Who said anything about the outer beacon,” Teased Florin.
“You’re kidding, two days past the primary beacon; they’ll disintegrate us as soon as we appear.”
“Not if we have a major system failure.” He said slyly.
“What like a thruster power coupling failure?” Phiel joked.
“I was thinking more of an explosion or rupture, myself.” Said Florin, “Now prep the HyperLite and I’ll feed you the co-ordinates.” He added stopping any comment Phiel might have had.
With the passing of the Empires new disclosure laws, private personal couriers had a sudden surge in jobs. Most freight or personal vessels had to disclose publically what they are caring; some rushed laws around processing for insurance or terrorists or something. Even if people falsified their documentation (which in itself majorly illegal) they also have to disclose the person or company sending it, and any false names can be hunted out in the public net. So many of the “dodgier” companies now use private couriers. No hassles, no inspections, no questions and guaranteed anonymity. Of course everybody knew that 90% of their work is illegal, but the 10% is enough to keep most station masters or governments off their backs, for a small fee of course. And if you’re really lucky as a private courier you could land a military contract, yeah right. Most military’s, including the Royal Imperial Navy, only use private couriers for the deliveries that they don’t want to have traced back to them.
Florin’s current contract was for the unquestioning delivery of one portable cryo-chamber to the Gorran system. The best part was it wasn’t to a station or planet, always a good sign. ‘Yeah right’, he had thought when he first read the contract. Of course it also called for a 1 day stop at the systems waypoint station. Gods only know why.
‘There had better not be any bloody passengers’, he thought, cos it’s gonna take at least 9 hours to fix the damn thrusters, and with the shit he’s going to pull just to jump in close, the station masters are going to want to have a serious discussion (ie, bollocking) with him unless he could pull off an excellent explosion, he didn’t have the time to prep that compartment of the ship.
“HyperLite systems are all online and all boards are green.” Phiel piped up, interrupting Florins train of thought.
“Uh thanks Phiel.” He replied shaking himself out of his daydreaming. Reaching inside his jacket he pulled out a secured data pad and laid it on the main console, the NFC link passing the jump co-ordinates to the ship.
“Here’s the co-ordinates Phiel, load and lock and engage when ready.” He commanded, unconsciously bracing himself in his chair.
“Aye Sir.” Phiel said with AI mirth.” And no need to brace yourself, the WESiMA anti-inertia shields ARE working.”
Florin grinned as the portal view took on a bluish hue and the stars vanished.
Collision lights flashed with urgency on the console.
“Computer display,” the SIM asked calmly. Into the holo field flashed up an image of a small interstellar craft bursting back into real space, inside the primary beacon. The reading from the IR scan showed a large thermal flare out of the side of the craft.
“Advise the commander and launch t-stars,” he ordered, opening a channel, “P-c17761bh21 this is Sidley Station Control, you have illegally jumped into real space, power down and prepare to be boarded, otherwise you will be destroyed.”
“Sidley Station this is courier vessel Whitestar we have a ruptured power link we need emergency assistance, over. Sidley Station this is…” The message repeated. The console showed it was a repeater on the EBB channel.
“Wonderful,” A voice said from behind him, “Just great we get a full scale alert and it’s just a courier who jumped too far, have him dragged into berth 12 Primary ring, that should be a new experience for him.” the SIM turned around, the station commander stood behind him.
“Aye sir, B12 A deck,” he replied, turning back to his console, sending the message out to the t-stars and harbor control.
The Whitestar landed softly in the cradle, the latches pulling it into the polycore cushioning. The security team waited until the techs gave the all clear; the ship had been scanned as it was being towed in, their job was to make sure the coupling blow out didn’t get any worse. A tech at the airlock was bypassing the lock security to open the portal, with a bleep the outer lock creaked as the pressure in the lock equalized.
“All clear,” he called stepping back, the security team slowly approached the inner door, nodding to the tech; he closed the outer hatch, cycling the airlock and allowing the inner door to open. Inside was dark, the pitched siren of the decompression alarm was still wailing,
“Kill that,” the sergeant ordered, the tech plugged his neural net plug into the door access panel. The computer, knowing who they were co-operated, the alarm stopped suddenly.
“This way officers,” Phiel called, his voice coming from the fore of the craft” he’s on the bridge.”
The team walked thru the ship to the bridge, the command chair was covered in crash foam.
“Get him out of there,” The sergeant ordered, “Bilei get this ship to tell us what happened.” The tech nodded.
“I am quite capable of speaking for myself, thank you.” Phiel said. Bilei shrugged. The sergeant waved him away,
“So then machine, what happened?” He asked.
“How rude, typical for a grunt I guess.” Phiel commented, the sergeant started to steam. Bilei stepped in, “Just tell us what happened.”
“Fine, just before we were due to drop out, the second thruster power coupling exploded, which fried 7 of our nav-space sensors and disrupted our hyper-bubble dropping us out in the wrong place… Sir.” It added. The sergeant scowled and walked over to the command chair which his 3 marines had removed the crash foam from, the pilot sat in the chair limply,
“He’s out sir, the ship gave him a hit of sedative before it encased him,” again the sergeant scowled,
“Fine get the meds in here; then get the techs to search this crate thoroughly.” The marines nodded as the sergeant walked off the bridge.
Florin awoke in the stations med bay.
“My head” he groaned, “Phiel I’m gonna take a laser saw to your primary CPU array when I get outta here.” he muttered.
“Good you are finally awake.” A stern voice barked. Florin sat up and saw what must have been an experiment to use a pit-bull as a design principle for a droid glaring at him.
“Ugly” he muttered under his breath. The droid made a noise like ‘hrrumph’ and continued,
“This is your bill for your medical treatment and we have station security here to escort you straight to the station commanders’ office, you have 3 minutes to leave.” It spun around sharply and walked off. Florin looked at the e-sheet it had thrown at him, 15000 credits.
“Fuck” he swore, they charged him 15,000 credits for treatment from his fake crash, ‘the station commander must be pissed’, he thought, making an example of him to other pilots not to try and get away with jumps like this by unofficially fining him so heavily.
“You; get up now,” one of the two guards standing in the doorway yelled. Florin hadn’t even noticed the security team standing there.
“Yeah, yeah.” he grumbled, “for 15k I should be allowed to at least sleep in.” he mumbled getting dressed.