It’s been some weeks since the dragons settled in Patocuda. The moving of the fleet went smoothly and Starcrosser quickly found a nice apartment aboard Coney Station.
The past weeks showed that growing in influence within Patocuda and the systems in the neighbourhood would be a hard challenge full of intrigues and even more unpredictable outcomes of the dragons’ actions.
One disturbing thing for Starcrosser is the presence of Archon Delaine’s people – the Kumo crew. But luckily the dragon’s influence is growing and we now, that People who get connected with us will have their freedom including protection as long as they don’t interfere with our business and keep the ample flow of single malts to Star and Garter upright.
The past months have been also quite successful concerning Starcrosser’s credit balance. Starcrosser has now been able to afford an Anaconda for himself and has done some nice trades with it – he likes the use of this huge ship as a trader much more than using it as a fighting ship.
Recently – Starcrosser sat in his Flag ship Pandora and enjoyed doing small favours for the dragons in the neighbourhood. Scanning around, he discovered a wanted Python heading towards Coney Station. Dollar signs were shining in his eyes when Pandora displayed the 150,000 credits to be claimed from this guy called „Ross Johnson“.
“Well Mr. Johnson – Whatever you want to do here in Dragon space, you have to be inspected by Pandora’s guns first.”
The interdiction went fast – too fast actually – “Why did this guy submit to my interdiction?”
Pandora positioned herself quickly in front of her opponent and started firing. Mr Johnson in his Python was lucky and able to make several direct hits with his plasma accelerator so that Pandora’s shields collapsed. When I thought that this would going to be a harder fight it seemed that there was no luck left for Mr. Johnson as we got into the perfect angle to kill his reactor and bring an end to the Python.
When we entered supercruise we received a short message through the voice com: “CMDR, it’s been nice to finally see you, especially to see your dearest ship – again.”
“Pandora” – I yelled – “Did you open the voice comm?” Pandora said nothing. “Pandora, Dear, speak to me, is everything okay?”
“Yes, I’m okay” – “So, Did you….” “Docking request granted, welcome home CMDR Starcrosser”. “Sigh, yes thanks… So, Pandora, I’ll let you being checked at home. Did you know this guy?”
There was no answer. Starcrosser’s sighed again thinking hopefully that it was just one of those strange moods his ship sometimes had.
He wanted to take a longer rest aboard the station, hang out at S&G’s and stay in bed as long as his sleep and an occasional company allowed.
So after an entertaining night with entertaining company I woke up in the morning with a slight headache and a never ending buzzer sounding in my head – no – actually at the door. “Now what’s sooo important – YES, COMING!” – the doorbell stopped buzzering… Starcrosser opened…”Yes, of course, it’s so funny to wake people like that and run aw…oh, what’s this?“ There was a box on the flor, a beautiful one with an old fashioned design, no lock, just a small hook in a ring keeping the cover closed. Starcrosser took it into the room, put it on the table and started releasing the hook mumbling to himself: “Ok, nice little box, now it’s me getting the honour to receive a Pandora’s Box from someone. Hmmm, what surprise do you keep for me, and whoever is giving it to me – don’t dare to mock me and my relationship to my ship, you might face the same destiny as Mr. J….” The thought of yesterday’s encounter in space came like a horrible flash…. As soon as the box burst open, something sticking on a feather jumped out – accompanied by the sound a “koboldish” laughter. That something was not a funny doll – it was the decapitated head of a young girl. Starcrosser jumped back out of terror, ran straight to the restroom and threw up. The terrible laughter of that box continued for another minute. After cleaning himself, Starcrosser took the box and threw it into the waste disposal unit with great disgust. Just another two minutes past and his voice comm gave the sound of an incoming voice message which – not that surprisingly anymore – started to play automatically.
“It’s me again, that’s a small reminder to you that you shouldn’t mess up with the Kumo Crew. That head once was in the possession of the daughter of one of the slaves you recently took from one our Kumo Crew transports. Oh and by the way, I got your.. I mean MY clipper back into my possession, I shouldn’t have sold it in the first place… So, be so kind and don’t fight us please, it’s not worth it.” – end of transmission.
So it was definitely the former possessor of his dearest ship – an honourable imperial officer whose motivation to fight had turned into a complete madness, only striving to strengthen his power above others with a maximal possible recklessness.
With a mixture of deep anger and grief, Starcrosser opened a secured channel to his insurance company to begin the transaction he never had though was necessary to perform. He was glad that he got persuaded to buy that exorbitant expensive insurance for ship computer systems. The policy includes a code as part of the galaxy map firmware which is able to turn off a ship’s specific A.I. anywhere in known space, split it into more than a billion fragments and spread them onto different servers of the pilot’s association. There’s no chance for a commander to get in touch with the A.I. until he decides to let the fragments be restored and set up on another ships computer.
“Transaction started – Software will be removed from ship with signature No. Ic097Ad4756086#ky08%1 – please enter the 60 digit verification key and prepare for IRIS scan.”
Still being in the possession of both his organic eyes that was safe enough then….
“Transaction complete – ship’s A.I. successfully removed and split. Restore code will be available after a 4 weeks security period, please be aware that you won’t be able to access any data of the A.I. nor is it possible for employees of the insurance.”
“Ok my dearest Pandora, I sent you now into hibernation, sleep well and believe me that’s best for you and by the time I will wake you up, there will be a perfect new body for you.”
A few days had passed now, Starcrosser passed the time more or less doing nothing than get drunk at S&G’s and get on the other Dragon’s nerves telling his recent story all the time. Every night somebody took care that he found his way somehow to bed….
One night, a nice lady – who didn’t seem to be a member of our squadron nor didn’t she seem to share interests with Archon Delaine’s people – showed pity in him and listened to his story as well. She offered to cheer him up during the night – and she did that damn well – and the most astonishing thing was, that she was still lying next to Starcrosser the next morning.
„Thanks“, he said, „you did a damn good job, I’ll get a cred stick for ya and hope that my payment will please you.“
„I don’t want your money actually“, she replied with her sexy warm voice with quite an amount of self-confidence, „Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for a relationship either but I’d like you to ask you something, better offer you something else instead. Let me introduce myself. My name is Trisha Forman, part of the contractor relationship team of Sirius Gov. We would like to offer you a contract with us, let’s say as a possible way to help you out of your self-pity. You’re a good pilot – We are looking for a residential within Archon Delaine’s domain to do some undermining work for us. You know that you made yourself a name for transferring slaves to new employers, that’s exactly what we would like you to do for us. As we have enormous product developments ahead we need the necessary workforce to produce them. I you can be sure that all slaves handed in to us will get an employment contract with a good payment and protection of their families. They won’t be able to live here anyway, so we „help“ those to get a new live outside of The Kumo Crew’s influence.
„So you want me to hang the „please shoot me, as I’m your residential enemy“ sign on my ship and make myself to a public target for the Kumo Crew?“
„You’ll get well paid for it, you know that. And it’s completely up to you how much effort you would like to give on the contract. The more workforce for us, the less for Archon Delaine, the more credits for you.“
„Hmmm, and you would keep the 8th Dragon Squadron out of your business, right?“
„So far we make such contracts with individuals, not organisations, so we’re absolutely neutral concerning the Dragons, we don’t interfere as long as they don’t – why should we anyway as we have a lot of very good customers among them.“
Watching the beautiful woman getting dressed, Starcrosser thought about that offer. She turned over to him and sat on his bed, looking at him with her beautiful eyes showing an expression of a big expectation.
can be sure that all slaves hanful eyes showing an expression of a bigger expectation. m. I you can be sure that all slaves han“Oh hell, tell me where I have to sign.“
She moved intimately closer and gave him a long intimate kiss. It would remain a secret if she was really that good in playing her feelings or if there were any…
„That was signature enough, you’ll find your details in your mail box.“ She kissed him on his cheek and made her way to the apartment door. „Oh and please buy yourself a useful ship for your new duty – I said useful, not beautiful. Oh and it was a real pleasure meeting you, come by at my office from time to time, will you?“
„I will, Trish…“ And she vanished out of his sight, when the door closed behind her.
It’s been some time since those events. Starcrosser is sitting in his recently acquired Python called SCARAB thinking about what had happened, waiting for a new Kumo Crew Transport flying by to face SCARAB’s guns and Hatch breakers….