- Nov 18, 2003
- Reaction score
- The shadows
I...don't remember how I got here. I remember something about a dive bar at the deepest, darkest corner of an industrial outpost; something about "zero-G milled rye"; something about angry words, flashes of fists, and then the unconscious void. And that was about it.
Quite to my surprise, my brain suddenly started processing visual stimuli again and I found myself staring through my cockpit screen at some bleak hunk of rock pockmarked by craters.
My brain tried to process the words my HUD were showing me. "No..no...bell...gate...waaay. " Ouch. My brain hurt. I needed another drink. Where the heck was "Nobel Gateway"? How did I get here?
I tentatively tried to move. That just brought more pain. Still, I persisted. I managed to untangle my limbs and peel my back from the form-fitting crash couch that I must have been dozing in for quite a few hours while my Cobra hurtled through the void.
Well. I was here now, so I might as well head planetside to see if I could find another bar. I felt good enough to make a landing attempt. Not an actual landing, mind you, but an attempt. Anything more would be gravy.
9.04 million meters, here I come.
I am not the best pilot in the galaxy, but I do pride myself on my precise approaches and landings. This time, well, it was different. I wasn't flying the craft as much as getting into a wrestling contest with the flight stick. Wow, I needed to sober up.
I did make it to Nobel Gateway in one piece. Seemed to be a nice sized planetary port set just inside the rim of a low crater:
I was so distracted by the view that but for the voice of the traffic control girl, I would have flown right on past. When I snapped out of my mini-blackout, I realized that the base was right below me. So much for using a long, gentle glide path. Instead, I pointed the nose down at the base and hit the throttle. I pretty much came in like the proverbial rocket. The poor fellas in the ATC tower must have hit the deck seeing all that tonnage come hurtling down like a lawn dart back on green earth! I laughed to myself at the time.
At the final few meters, I flared my approach and hit my high beams, further adding to the ATC's discomfort. "Now he's blinding us!" Chumps.
I came in too fast, bouncing the craft twice on the pad. LOL! Good thing my shields absorbed the shock. My craft was now safely settled on the pad, if cockeyed. Who said you couldn't drink and fly?
I looked out through my windscreen and admired the nicely sized port. I could see some high rises framed by a beautiful sky filled with the ultimate light show. This is what made it all worthwhile. Well, this and the zero-G booze.
Once my ship was safely lowered into the bowls of the station, I spilled out of the cockpit and proceeded to stumble through the corridors, seeing if I could find some work. I passed a trash receptacle and grabbed a discarded news slate from the top of the pile. It was a few days old, but the lead story gave me hope for a good contract:
Apparently, I was in a system called Thoth. Shrug. With 400 billion systems in the Milky Way alone, one system was just like an infinite number of others. Sure, the dames might be prettier in one, the gambling better in the other, but they were all the same.
I found my way to the port contract brokerage, and perused the open offers. One caught my eye: a simple delivery mission. Perfect. I wasn't in any condition for anything more challenging. I keyed the contact button on the screen for "Thoth Free," the organization offering the job, and found myself starring at a freaky-looking dame by the name of Councilor Eden Stanton. Great, a lawyer. She was all business and got right to the point. Turns out the package was a delivery of personal weapons. Someone was throwing a party somewhere....
Looks like I was heading to H. G. Wells Plant. I hated H. G. Wells. Overrated technological utopianist.
While the freaky lawyer eyed me suspiciously, I fumbled around in my flight jacket, looking for my smart slate. I finally found it one of my inside pockets, flipped it open, smiled at Stanton (she just sort of growled in response) and keyed in the coordinates of the destination:
No prob. "Sure thing," I said. "Straight jump."
She just said to get going; the cargo would begin loading into my ship immediately. The screen went black and then filled with the logo for "Thoth Free," one that suspiciously looked like a middle finger to me. But that was probably just my handover talking. So I fished around in my jacket again and came out with my prized flask, and downed some more rye.
Off to work!