Monday, April 9, 2012
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Sector Hotel 5, 22650525: 12:10 hrs, Nova IV orbit, Nova System, just on the edge of N.E.C space.
“Warning… warning, decaying orbit. Warning… warning, decaying orbit,” echoed the voice of the ships computer, over the sound of the wailing emergency siren.
There appeared to be no life on board this once fully functional freighter. It was steadily drifting closer to burning up in the atmosphere of the giant gas planet, Nova IV. There seemed to have been a battle only a few hours previous, with the attacker leaving the stricken ship to the harsh environment of space. Life support gasses were seeping out from several areas of the ship. A multitude of debris randomly floated about the lifeless vessel. Some of the debris burst into flames as it entered the lethal atmosphere of Nova IV.
Despite all odds there actually seemed to be movement from inside the freighter. Collapsed on the floor, close to a wrecked control panel was a human life form. A tall medium built man of about thirty years old with short brown hair. He was wearing black trousers and a light brown jacket. His clothes were covered in sweat and dirty marks and had clearly not been changed in months. He started to stir in amongst the tangle of wires that had spilled out from the control panel.
“Computer, damage report,” the man groaned as he came to. His voice was rough and weak and grated out each word.
“Entering critical orbit of Nova IV, life support failing, weapons down, engines down, displacement drive down, hull breaches detected, estimated time to impact on atmosphere two minutes.”
“Are there functioning escaped pods?”
“Pods one two and four are damaged, three appears to still be operational.”
Gathering all strength he had left, the man slowly stood up and braced himself on the control panel. Looking around confusedly in the dim light and smoke he saw the emergency lights marking out the path to the third escape pod. The distance he had to cover was very short but littered with wires, broken support beams and other general mess. Looking around he noticed that he was the only life on board the ship. He hurriedly staggered across what was left of the cockpit and weaved his way in and out of the severed electrical wires that would occasionally throw out a spark.
“Forty seconds remaining.”
He fumbled with the escape pod control panel but it seemed to be damaged. No matter what he tried the doors to the pod would not open. He tore the charred panel from the wall in anger.
“Thirty seconds remaining”.
He stood for a second or two as if he was trying to recall something. He was not ready to give up the fight just yet. He grasped a handful of wires that were feeding the panel. First he pulled out a red and an orange wire from the cluster then stripped the ends with his teeth and twisted them together. Plucking out a yellow wire he again stripped the end.
“Fifteen seconds remaining.”
He rubbed the yellow wire with the two combined red and orange wires and the door hissed open. He quickly threw himself into the pod and immediately hit the launch button. Lucky for him, the launch angle fired the pod away from the planet. The pod’s afterburners activated and quickly thrust clear of the doomed vessel and hot gas planet. Looking out of the window he saw the freighter falling victim to the atmosphere and bursting into flames as it broke up. He checked the navigation computer which marked the closest inhabited planet as Tironus, the second planet in the Nova system and some seven AU away. The viewing screen showed it as a small tidally locked planet orbiting its red dwarf sun. Even though he was in the Nova system it would still take a further three weeks without displacement drive. After attaching a couple of monitoring probes to his body the man activated the pod’s stasis system, then quickly drifted off to sleep.
Once the pod had reached a good distance from the planet a civilian Gunship class vessel crept out from behind one of Nava IV’s moons. It made a quick flyby of where the stricken ship had been before it finally turned away and slipped into Void Space.
Planet Tironus, Nova System, 22650615: 09:40 hrs, 3 weeks later
It was a fine evening on the planet of Tironus, its red sky broken by a few clouds. In the skyline, what initially looked to be a meteor broke through the atmosphere. Its speed was far greater than that of a ship on a correct landing vector. Its approach was spotted by a Torvan who had been in the middle of fishing on Lake Trill. He caught a glimpse of it just as it splashed down on the lake’s surface. It skipped along a few times before hitting the soft banking and coming to a sudden stop in a cloud of steam. The lizard like Torvan turned his elongated head and fixed his large reflective black eyes on the fallen object. He turned his boat in its direction and started rowing.
It was white in colour and the outer metal plating was hot from re-entry. The water around it had begun to bubble and hiss and throw up even more steam. The Torvan recognized the fallen object as an escape pod. Its size was not much bigger than that of his fishing boat. On the side was written, ‘GZ-707 Pegasus’. Most likely the name of the ship from which the pod originated. Suddenly there was a popping sound from inside the pod, followed by a long hiss as the pod decompressed. The hatch flew open and a sleepy looking man rose up and staggered out from inside. He was still not yet fully aware of his location or the Torvan that was floating only a few meters from his vessel.
“Roughss landing humanss?” the Torvan said in a snake like hiss followed by a slight grin.
The man got a fright and jumped a little, instantly looking more awake than he did only moments ago.
“The stasis system is supposed to wake me up before I reach the planet. I guess that’s not functioning correctly either. At least I’m on the right planet, I think. Allow me to introduce myself, I’m… god dam it, you know I can’t remember,” he replied clearly trying to recall anything of his past. His voice was now a little less rough and sounded stronger than it had before. Its deep tone suited the man’s muscular figure.
“Well my name’s Davark. Please to meetss you humanss even ifss the situationss is a little oddss. My hovercraft is just across the lakess. I’ll takess you backss to Fara City. It’s only a few hours from heress.”
“Thanks Davark, greatly appreciated.”
The man crouched back into the cockpit and pulled out a small backpack and a blaster pistol. He swung the pack onto his shoulders and slipped the blaster into a holster which hung at his right hip. Davark rowed his boat to the side of the pod and waved the man to jump on board. He leaped from the muddy banking onto the little rowboat. With superior strength Davark pushed off from the bank and launched the boat some seven meters into the lake, spinning it to face the opposite direction. As he rowed, the boat thrust forward at quite a speed through the crystal clear waters of Lake Trill. Ripples that spread out from the boat sloshed against the side of the banking in little waves.
“So what brings you out here then, Davark?” started the man.
“I’m fond ofss the old ways, fishingss is my hobbyss. Besides you canss catch some big fish heress in Lake Trillss. My family likes eatingss fish so it’s goodss for me too, I thinkss.” He paused for a moment and looked up at the sky then back to the slowly disappearing escape pod. “So humanss, may I ask whyss you are heress? I’m guessing you are notss a normal traderss.”
“In all honesty Davark, I can’t tell you. Not because I don’t want to but because I can’t remember. The last thing I recollect is waking up on a wrecked freighter which was in decaying orbit around Nova IV. I narrowly escaped becoming fried and programmed the pod to come here. I did notice the name on the pod. The freighter must have been called the Pegasus. Though I’m not sure what I was doing on board.”
“I suggestss you make your wayss to the planetary arrivals and departures office in Farass. They mightss have some recordss of the freighterss if it has beenss here beforess,” replied Davark after a moment of deliberation.
As the boat neared the other end of the lake a small jetty sticking out from the banking came into view. Parked alongside the jetty was some kind of large metallic platform-craft. To the front of the platform was a glass shield with a control panel and various levers. At the rear was some sort of laser cannon. The platform-craft was a dull metallic colour and stood out from the rest of the dark coloured fauna like a sore thumb. After a few more sweeps of the oars the rowboat bumped up against the side of the jetty. Davark moored the little boat and they both clambered up the ladder onto the platform of what appeared to be a type of hovercraft. The man looked around hoping for a seat to take a rest in, but he had no such luck. Instead he was left to brace himself against one of the railings. Davark pulled the throttle lever back and the engines started to let out an electrical buzzing sound. Slowly but surely the hovercraft began to rise into the air. With each meter or so it gained, the sound of the engines also rose in pitch, until they had eventually broken into a faint humming. The craft reached an altitude of about thirty meters before moving forward. It started at a slow pace but after about a minute had passed, it had gathered a fair momentum. To those on board the surrounding scenery passed with a blur.
They had been cruising at full speed for a good few minutes, before Davark had started to look a little nervous. He glanced over to his right side and out into the horizon several times. From about a quarter of a kilometre away, he spotted three smaller craft closing in. They had initially been camouflaged by the vegetation below. The approaching craft were incredibly fast and it would not be long till they had made up the ground and were right on their tail.
“We’ve gotss incoming humanss. I did not tellss you but we’re in the Tironus Wastelands. Raiders from the Bone clan inhabitss this place. They kill on sightss. They’re outcasts from main societyss for various crimes. Better takess hold of thatss cannon humanss. I hope you have notss forgotten how to use thatss too.”
The three craft were now right on their tail. The man took hold of the cannon and rotated to face the attackers. It was the raiders however that opened fire first. Bursts of red lasers whizzed past the man and struck the deck of the hovercraft, leaving charred impact marks. One shot passed through the shield on the front of the hovercraft and it shattered into pieces, showering the pair in broken glass. In retaliation the man fixed on the closest craft and opened fire. As he pulled the trigger the nozzle of the gun started to spin. This was followed by a rapid popping sound that came from the muzzle of the gun as it showered the enemy in streaks of yellow laser fire. The shots hit home and the front of their craft exploded, sending chunks of debris into the marsh below.
“On the right humanss!” Davark yelled.
The man swung the gun to face right but it was too late. The raiders fired again and this time damaged more than just the deck of Davark’s craft. Black smoke trailed out the rear, leaving a line across the sky. It was a risky move by the raiders, and in attacking with such aggression they had presented themselves as a target. The man seized the opportunity and fired a short burst, sending yet another craft and its crew to the marshes below. Seconds after, Davark and the man were both knocked off their feet. The final raider craft had rammed the side of their hovercraft in an effort to knock them out of the sky. A perhaps logical plan considering they were outgunned and already losing. The raider piloting the craft grinned with enjoyment at the thought that he may actually succeed. Without thinking and still lying on the floor from the shock of being rammed, the man with no name whipped out his blaster pistol. Bringing it to aim he fired a single shot right between the pilots eyes and wiped off his smug grin. With nobody controlling it the raider craft broke free and spiralled out of control, throwing the rest of the raiders some thirty meters to the ground below.
The man stood up and holstered his plaster pistol. Dusting himself off, he said in surprize, “You come here to fish?!”
“Yes humanss, they don’t often bother me. I have had encounters but nothingss like thatss. Perhaps they weress looking for youss?”
“You might be right Davark. Sorry to cause you trouble. I am indebted to you.”
“Haha, don’t worry aboutss it humans just see ifss you can reach the damage and fix itss. If notss we’ll have to landss. Not the best ideass to stop heress.”
“I think I can reach, just slow your speed a little.”
“Good humanss, here take this repair kit,” said Davark while removing a tool box from a hatch in the floor. He slid it across the deck and the man caught it then dangled over the edge to begin his repair.
The hovercraft was now flying over dense jungle just a few meters above the tops of the tall brown trees. The trip was almost over and despite the small red sun being high in the sky, Davark’s watch showed that evening was fast approaching. On Tironus there is no sunset or sunrise and the sun stays locked in the same place, day in and day out.
The large black glass like spheres of Fara City had just begun to come into view in the not too distant skyline. As they got closer they could make out ships of all different size, shape and class weaving in and out of the city walkways that connected the spheres.
“There is Fara City humanss. I’m gladss I could help youss. Don’t worry aboutss the damage to my craftss. Without you accompanying me I would most likely bess a charred mess on the marsh floor of the wastelandss. So I have you to thankss that I’m still alive.”
“Thanks Davark. I’ll see you around. Be careful in those wastelands.”
“I will humanss. I hopess you find out your namess and what you were doingss on board the Pegasus. Rememberss to stop by the planetary arrivals and departures office.”
“I will do.”
The craft arrived at a small landing platform. Once in position it slowly descended and came to a stop. As the engines powered down the humming sound gradually faded away. The landing pad looked to be a busy place and several other similar hovercrafts and speeders were parked nearby. Towering above the platform was one of the large black spheres, supported by a thick white pillar. Reflected in its shiny surface was the surrounding jungle and city. It had a kind of fish eye lens feel about it. John looked up at it as they landed. Glancing around the city John could see it was bustling with life. This was of course quite normal for a destination as common as Tironus. Especially because the planet lies right beside the border between N.E.C an Alliance space.
Davark and the man climbed down from the hovercraft and parted ways, both looked back and gave a small wave. Davark headed for the large sphere where his house and family were waiting for him, and the man strolled over to a speeder taxi sitting for hire a few meters off.
The waiting speeder was nothing more than a flying motorbike. Its slim shape built for dodging through the traffic at high speeds.
“Nearest cantina please,” said the man as he swung his leg onto the speeder. The words came out his mouth quickly as if he hadn’t thought much about it and he knew where he was going.
“Strack na va cradits humoos?” asked the Torvan driver.
“Umm, I’m not local. Nearest cantina please.”
“Oh, do I have credits, right? Well I might look a little rough but I’m not a tramp. Alliance credits okay?” questioned the man looking mildly confused.
“Ssssss okayss five credits,” replied the Torvan holding out his hand.
Reaching into his bag the man pulled out five credits. Clearly not knowing how much he actually had, he took a quick count. Fifteen thousand Alliance credits bound together in a large wad. The man held out the five credits and the driver plucked the note away with his large scaly hand. With the flick of a switch he powered up the speeder. It took mere seconds for it to lift off the platform and enter the stream of traffic. Almost instantly reaching top speed it sped off towards the cantina, despite Davark’s advice to go to the planetary arrivals and departures office.