Don't worry. I'm as lazy as I always was, but I got a bit more news from the spaceship Nyema. Editing is fast enough, so I might just as well edit and post it right away. Again the story is all thanks to our anonymous benefactor, and I only edited it to fit the Blogspot format and fixed some (very few) grammar/spelling errors.
P.s. Some of you (Read: One of the approximately three people who still reads this. Hi mom!) have asked why I changed back to this old blogspot account. My old blog got hacked and I really didn't have anything backed up, so rather than setting the preferences up again I chose to just post a link pointing here. I didn't really like the updated system on the old site anyway, so it wasn't too big of a deal (not counting the loss of old posts).
Ok enough about me. What happened to captain Aiden and the crew of Nyema?
DAY TWO of the return trip, part IIntergalactic travel gave us some time to rest. After just a few hours of sleep we arrived in a rebel controlled sector. I didn't have much choice when taking this dangerous route, as the other one would have been through an uncharted nebula, which I am still a little afraid of. Just a little.
Rebel sectors, obviously, are not much less dangerous, though. The jump points are scarce and we should proceed forward as fast as we can. There is already a whole fleet of rebels chasing us and ones in this galaxy are probably doing all they can to stop us.
We gather for morning tea, or whatever time of day it is. We look at the map together and plan which is the shortest way to the exit beacon. We could reach it with as few as four jumps, but if there are any stores I might head towards them for upgrades. Our ship is still in pretty much factory condition and I have a feeling it might not be enough. Who knows what threat we face when we get closer to the Federation base. There's a war going on after all.
I program the navcom directly towards the exit beacon hoping we can salvage something on the way.
We did find a small trader ship, but they are in trouble and ask us for assistance. When I ask what's the matter they tell me their courier has disappeared, probably died. They don't have anything to sell us, but they ask us to take a drone parts delivery to a larger trading post for a "generous reward," and give us a map marker where it is located. I am not sure if we should venture anywhere outside our planned route. I tell them we will deliver the package IF it doesn't divert us from our plan too much.
Our quest would require just two extra jumps, and we still have plenty of fuel so that won't be a problem. Maybe we could even get more from where we are going. Borman says in his own grudging way that we should not be helping every single stranger in trouble we meet. Markus is still more civil and says I did the right choice.
Jump takes us near a random small station with rebel markings. No surprise. I try to sneak past it but without an engine operator it's difficult to stay stealthy and we are spotted. A lightly armed ship, with trademark orange and turquoise paintwork launches from the station directly towards us. Thankfully it does not LOOK like a big threat.
They lauch something at us. It's not a bomb or a missile but I can't really tell what it is until it gets too close. It's an attack drone which starts beating our shields with a small laser, depleting them so their main weaponry can hit our hull with ease. Borman fires a missile at the drone control station of the enemy ship first, and aiming lasers at the weapons main as usual.
The drone hits harder than expected. I have never encountered them in combat before and I greatly underestimated it. It grinds through our shields right away and begins battering our engines, which makes it impossible to dodge anything. Markus could repair it quickly but he's very busy at the shields. I still command him to the repairwork because dodging always beats soaking damage.
Markus rushes through the corridors of our ship and starts furiously whacking the control panel with a wrench. It doesn't look much like repairing, rather the opposite, but I'm certain he knows what he's doing.
BULLSEYE! Borman manages to hit the critical systems of the enemy and both their weapons and drones are disabled and their hull seems to be leaking like a shark-bitten rubber boat. From then on it was the usual "shoot at them until they die." From the remains we salvage a pretty good amount of scrap metal, some of which goes to repairing the little damage we received from couple of laser hits. Nothing serious.
Markus injured his shoulder when repairing the engine. Don't ask me how it happened. He returns to the shield control room muttering that he is doing ALL the work now that Howard's gone. I console him saying that it's not easy for any of us, as Howard was one of my best friends after all. Silence followed, so I think it marks the end of discussion and time for the next jump.
One jump between our little quest's end and it was just empty space. Our radio picks up some chatter from very long distance and when decrypted it's just some rebel trucker communications bitching about their wives and such.
We arrived at the trading station and instead of being happy, they say we are too late and there's not even need for what we delivered to them anymore. What ungrateful bastards. I demand our reward anyway, but they pay only half of the supposed amount and tell us to leave. THEIR courier was already late and we just tried to help, so it's not our fault.
Borman rushes into the comms room and is yelling at the asshole traders to shove the drone parts into all of whatever body cavities they have. Sometimes I just want to hit Borman in the face but his temper is sometimes actually pretty amusing and strangely cute. I tap him on the shoulder and tell him that we don't need to care about these poor people, as they will be trampled over by the rebel fleet soon anyway.
A distress signal in a system next to the exit beacon. We still have plenty of time before the fleet reaches us, so we investigate.
A rockman ship is floating in space with no fuel,. They ask us for some extra so they could get to a trading station. Our detour took some excess amount of it already, but I'm relieved that it was not an ambush so I give them three units and we are left with five.
They gave us 30 scrap in exchange. That's like 10 units worth, but what would have they done if we didn't help them. They are in debt of their lives but I don't want to demand any more and jump to the intergalactic travel beacon right next to us.
We could finally afford some upgrades from a store, but Markus could also tinker something useful out of the metal.
Engi researchers were heading same way as us and the mantis were trying to take down the defenseless ship but as soon as they noticed we were closing in they zoomed away. Damn pirates, trying to be the tough guys and bully everyone but cowards in the end. The engi give us some drone schematics which we have not yet any use for unless we get a control system installed. Could be worth thirty-forty scrap at a market.
Intergalactic map shows only two beacons again. One is told to be controlled by pirates, and the other by rebels. Pirates, as said, should be no problem to handle and they sometimes drop exceptionally good loot.
We got through this sector so fast that we could reach the end of the next one too today if we are lucky.
DAY TWO of the return trip, part II(Yes you got two posts for the price of one. Get over it.)
Tea time in the intergalactic travel idle time.
We discuss our plans. Markus tells me he has dealt with a lot of pirates before in his combat ship engineering career, and has special contempt against them because they took him captive in one unfortunate battle. He warns me about anarch regions and that the pirate ships' looks can be deceiving. Borman assures us there will be no trouble as long as he gets to do the shooting. Markus is a little less sure about that and suggests we hire more crew. He says he could try to boost the shield power now that we have few hours to spare, just for survival.
Shit, I remembered our fuel is low after we played good samaritans and getting some more is a real concern. Markus' tech work took almost all of our scrap and we can buy only few units of fuel to carry us further. There are no trading posts marked on the map and we should really try to find one by exploring. I try to navigate the ship so that we pass near as many star systems as possible. Nearby comes a distress signal but right now we can't risk it.
Once again due to calculations mistake we almost run into a star. There are rockman pirate opportunists there, damn bastards being immune to fire and all. Engines don't charge very fast without an operator and this is not a place we want to be in, so we have to fight. Borman, do your best.
Crippling hit to our engines. Now it's sure we won't get out right away. Solar flares set our portside airlock on fire again. I have to inform the Kestrel manufacturers about this weakness. Opening the airlock will help again and we can concentrate on the combat.
Rockmen realize they are losing and offer us heaps of resources but no fuel. We can't accept that as a bail because fuel is what we desperately need. Solar flare damages our shield system and we have no hands available. Let's hope we endure.
Once the rockmen's ship is destroyed I quickly scoop up all the remains before it gets burnt. A little scrap and one unit of fuel. Not a treasure but will get us one jump further which may be critical. We have to leave the proximity of the star right away. Shield control room was drained of oxygen but we can't wait for it to refill, and definitely not to repair the system. I hope you have big lungs, Markus, and that we don't encounter anything worse than these little bitches we just obliterated.
Paranoid engi tells us to keep our "shady business" to ourselves. I tell them we are no pirates, but they have a hard time believing and accuse us of stealing a Federation ship and threaten to report us and whatever consequences that might have. Finally I can convince them to keep their damn mouths shut. I thought engi were friendly but they just keep on yapping. We can't leave yet, however. Markus has to repair the shields and we have to wait until the oxygen levels restore to healthy levels.
Two units of fuel left. I am getting worried. I light up a cigarette. I quit smoking four months ago but have been keeping a pack in the dashboard locker just in case. Now it was really needed. It tastes like shit, but it helps me keep my nerve. I feel the nicotine and whatever they put in them these days rushing into my head. I feel a little dizzy and have to wait a few minutes before I can program the navcom again. There's no stores in sight. We don't even have enough fuel to reach the exit.
Unexpectedly a hostile automated sentry ship opens fire at us. Unlike most of them, this one has shields. I know that if we disable its weapons it can do nothing against us because there's no one to repair it. Our Artemis missiles can penetrate shields with ease but before we can even hit the drone it destroys our ship's internal sensors. I no more have any idea if the ship's on fire or whatever.
The sentry was easily taken care of, and dropped some FUEL! We might be saved after all. Markus repairs the sensors and I sigh in relief now that I can confirm that the hull is not breached.
On the last jump before exit we run into pirates. I intimidate them that they won't get us and that we don't even have anything to loot, so their time would be wasted but they won't respond at all. They open fire.
Borman disables their oxygen supply with an accurate shot to keep them busy but our sensors are down again by the return fire. We also took some massive hull damage and the pirates, after thinking they gave us a teaching, start to speed away. Despite of our efforts to chase them as fast as we could, they got away and we didn't manage to benefit from this battle at all. The ship now needs repairs badly.
With our next to last fuel unit I jump to a store next to the exit beacon. It was like some gods were watching us struggle and decided to pity us. First I order the mechanics at the trading post to repair our ship, then I buy all of their fuel, hefty three units of it. I sell the drone schematics we obtained earlier from the friendly engi, and the trader offers 30 scrap for it. They also pack some weapons. I'm considering buying a heavy ion cannon but our ship's weak power supply is not yet enough to use it. If I sell the Artemis launcher we can get the scrap needed to upgrade our reactor. Is it a good trade?
I buy the ion cannon just in case, keeping the missile launcher, even though it is utterly useless weight load for now.
At the intergalactic travel beacon I see a civilian ship chased by pirates. They can't seem to get away and I decide to help them in hopes of a reward. By the way, Markus forgot to repair the sensors because he had a couple of drinks at the traders bar. I need to tell him to focus on the mission after we're in the clear. The fight was trivial. Pirates are just cocky sissies who bark but don't bite.
"MARKUS! GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER MAN! Go repair the systems right away. We can't continue if our ship isn't in condition." The civilian ship gives us huge load of scrap for our trouble and fire their hyperdrive before I can even tell them goodbye. Sensors back online, and no noticeable damage. There's another store nearby where we could get fuel from but Borman commands Markus to upgrade the weapon power supply with the scrap instead. I lecture Borman that I am the one who gives orders here.
I am noticing some dispute in my crew and ask everyone to sit for a cup of tea to get things straight. We can't start fighting now. We have still not even reached halfway of our destination yet and if we don't keep together it won't end well.
Maybe a little rest would do everyone good. We have a few hours to sleep while travelling between galaxies. It has been a long day. Markus stays up a little later doing his mechanics work, which he seems to love. I hope he doesn't exhaust himself completely, as he never seems to sleep. Maybe these half-mechanical men don't even need to rest. He tells me that by the time we arrive our ship would finally have more firepower. Sounds good. I head to the sleeping pods and close my eyes. Visions of space sheep prancing on the moon of Gaigymeda under the double sunset of red and blue slowly lull me into sle...