|There & Back Again, An IDA Frigate's Tale
Author: Ragashingo PM
Captain Ragashingo is sent across the galaxy to retrieve some Palladium. Story 6 in my Real Life EVN series. This story is currently being rewritten, but feel free to comment on plot issues in the meantime.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,330 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Published: 03-11-07 - id: 3435334
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This is the sixth story in my "Real Life EVN" series. It was the second story written. In this series each story is almost directly inspired by in game events. The correct order of the series is as follows:
1. So Much For Impartiality
2. My First Rescue
3. The Maiden Voyage of the Indigo Star
4. Good Intentions Lead To Bad Consequences
5. A Trap
6. There & Back Again, An IDA Frigate's Tale
7. (No Firm Title)
There & Back Again, An IDA Frigate's Tale
"As you look around the various vessels on offer you are tapped on the shoulder and turn around to see Rodney, the Sigma Shipyards representative.
"I have a mission of some urgency for you," he begins, quite seriously. "It involves traveling across most of the known galaxy, picking up a cargo that isn't strictly legal, and returning here.
"Before you answer," he raises his hand to forestall your reply, "be aware that you may well come under intense fire in a place far from where we will be able to help you, but also be aware that if we cannot trust you to take this mission, we cannot trust you with any of our more sensitive corporate secrets.
"Are you up for it?"
"Good," he relaxes, looking visibly relieved. "The cargo we want you to pick up is 20 tons of Palladium from the planet Kont in the Kontik system, which is in the far Southeast of Auroran space. The Aurorans won't be happy with you taking it to bring here, but that may be the least of your problems. Recently, some sort of pirate group has blockaded the planet, and none of our ships have been able to get through.
"Now," he continues gravely, "once you have secured the Palladium, you need to return here without being scanned by the Aurorans. If you do get scanned, you may as well dump your cargo and not bother returning here, as we will wash our hands of you. At the end of the day, we have legitimate operations in Auroran space that we cannot do without, and we are not prepared to risk those over a single shipment of Palladium
"Do you have any questions?" he asks, and you shake your head. "Good luck then."
Part I: The Perfect Ship & A Mission I Couldn't Refuse
My crew and I were celebrating at various locations all over the Kane Band, while engineers were busy outside installing a Thunderhead Fighter Bay onto my ship, the Indigo Star, a very modified IDA Frigate. It had taken nearly five years of running cargo back and forth, making brief runs to Auroran space, and seeking out some of the most exotic and expensive technologies available throughout the galaxy. The Indigo Star had a potent array of medium blasters and Auroran made fusion pulse cannons, heavily enhanced shielding and armor, excellent antimissile defenses, and in a few more days would have the ability to launch three of the most powerful fighter I'd ever seen. Little did I know that I'd soon get to put the Indigo Star, and my crew, through the endurance test of a lifetime.
It all started in Kane's Lubritorium, one of the most widely known space port bars in the galaxy. A few of the younger crew members wanted to go see the fancy new ships that Sigma Shipyards had on sell. While I had my dream ship, I agreed to go with them, you never know what you might see, and just because I completed my ship didn't mean I couldn't lust after some other ships as well. It wasn't too long after we arrived in the very nicely decorated Sigma ship gallery that I lost track of the "kids" I'd brought up here. I suppose it's a sign that you are getting old when you call those in their early twenties kids. I was admiring the view of an impressive looking Starbridge when Rodney, a high-ranking Sigma Shipyards employee, found me. Once several years ago Rodney had gotten me to sign on with Sigma as an independent pilot, and while I rarely ran shipments for Sigma these days I guess my name was still on his list.
He showed me to a conformably furnished meeting room, past one of the many Employees Only doors that littered Sigma's areas on the Kane Band. Once there he laid out a very interesting mission that he wanted me to do for him. It involved traveling to a star system I'd never heard of before that was located deep in Auroran space, to bring back a shipment of Palladium. Apparently they had lost contact with a small mining outpost they had established in the system and their ships either met with a blockade or didn't return at all. I was about to decline his offer; after all I had a ship with a new major upgrade that needed a good shake down run. Then he told me:
"Be aware that if we cannot trust you to take this mission, we cannot trust you with any of our more sensitive corporate secrets."
That's high-ranking executive speak for: "If you refuse we'll have nothing more to do with you." So in an odd turn about on the phrase, he had given me an offer I couldn't refuse.
Part II: The Wonders of Hyperspace I & An Abomination
It took another two days to round up my crew, checkout the new upgrades to my ship and make preparations for a multi-month long voyage. The Indigo Star's systems received an extensive inspection, and I paid a few hundred credits to top off its batteries. And then we set out for the weeklong journey to Port Kane. Again I paid a few hundred credits to fill the Indigo Star's batteries and we were off towards the unknown. On first jump took us into the imaginatively named NGC-1743 system. Sam did a sweep of the system and found no ship so we waited a few hours for the solar panels to regain the energy we expended during the jump. Then it was on to our first uncharted system.
Three rest filled days later I'm back on my bridge, the ship is on "yellow alert" and the computer is making slight course corrections for our jump back to normal space.
"Five minutes till reentry." Nathan says in a calm voice.
We all sit, waiting for the navigation computer to initiate the jump-in process. Its funny but the jump to and from hyperspace is far more exciting than hyperspace itself. While in hyperspace all there is to see is a very bright white "fog." Occasionally you might be able to barely make out another ship traveling somewhat near you. But other than that is just boring and white. While the jump to hyperspace is more exciting it really isn't all that impressive either. You go from a beautiful starry sky, to solid blinding white within in a few seconds. But the jump out of hyperspace still impresses me after all these years.
"Here it goes!" Nathan calls out again.
Suddenly there is what can only be described as a slight ripple through the endless white void and then a tiny pinpoint of what looks to be pure black far off in the distance pierces the brilliant white on the main view screen. Within a few seconds that tiny point that is only noticeable because of the harsh contrast quickly expands as it moves closer, and for the first time in days you can make out the silver specks of far off stars. A moment later the white of hyperspace vanishes behind us and the Indigo Star's hyperspace engines go into "reverse" to slow us back to normal cruising speed.
"So, where are we anyway." I say with a chuckle. Its sort of a tradition I have to ask that silly question, although this time its slight more serious as we really don't actually know what this system is called.
"Wait a second," Sam says looking into his screen, "We just caught the tail end of the navigation buoy's broadcast, it should repeat any time now... Ah, there it goes. Welcome to the SPC-1414 system." he says in a happy tone.
"Meh, another boring name. Anyway, status report anybody?" I ask in another tradition. Nathan and Russel both ready for my question blurt out at nearly the same time.
"Flight control and navigation reports normal!" yells Nathan, just ahead of Russel.
"Shields are at full power, weapons systems register operational sir! Oh darn he got me." says Russel.
"You two do know I won since I was the first to report right?" Sam asks mockingly.
"That doesn't count, you didn't give your station's status, you just..." Nathan starts to happily argue, but Sam cuts him off.
"Sir, I'm reading a single Auroran Abomination heading for us at high speed, its weapons are powered." Sam says seriously.
"Russel?" I ask urgently.
"I got it, its almost in missile range, I'm powering up weapons, and defensive systems."
"Abomination is firing, radar missiles only." Sam reports.
I quickly give out my orders "Nathan, you know the drill, full speed right down its throat, Russel, open up when its in range, I want that ship dead, no sense in letting it send a distress signal."
It takes us nearly a minute to close with the Abomination, fortunately the Indigo Star's Auroran made point defense emplacements shoot down the majority of its potentially deadly missile barrage. There's a good thud once or twice as a missile makes it through the storm of bullets and impacts on the shields.
"We're in range, opening fire." Russel says just before a near solid stream of blaster bolts and fusion pulses streak out to meet the tiny shape barely visible on the view screen.
We are rocked by what sounds like explosive rain as the Abomination unleashes its own fusion pulse weapons.
"The enemy is accelerating and moving slightly upward, its probably trying to go past us to get a good shot from behind." Sam says above the noise, correctly guessing the Auroran pilot's actions based on experience.
"It's not going to get the chance." Russel says decisively.
A few seconds later the Abomination on the forward display erupts into a fireball. Chunks of red-hot debris spread in all directions as the fireball is extinguished by oxygen-less space.
"Shields at 77 and holding, enemy vessel destroyed." Russel says, clearly overjoyed that he got to blow something up.
"All other systems undamaged I assume?" I ask.
"Yes sir." comes the dual reply from Sam and Nathan.
"All right, lets get out of here." I say not wanting to give any reinforcements time to find us. A few minutes later we are back in the dull safety of hyperspace.
Part III: The Wonders of Hyperspace II & One on One
We made our jumps in and out of the Zel, Pilot, and Reer systems without too much incident. There were a couple close shaves, but we managed to avoid most of the Auroran ships in those systems. In Tekel Reeva however we jumped in right on top of a couple Auroran fighters that were apparently on deep system patrol. We handled the fighters quickly but a Auroran battle group was apparently alerted and jumped in right on top of us. We jumped out as quickly as we could, but still took heavy damage to the shields. We jumped in and out of the next two systems Tekel and Tekel Kymon only stopping long enough for the navigation computer to register the new systems.
Hyperspace has a few interesting properties, the most widely know of course are its distortions of real space distances. I can never remember the conversions but the way it works is for every so far you move in hyperspace, you move so many times than in normal space. One of the lesser-known properties of hyperspace is its suppression of shield regeneration. Because of this odd effect by the time we jumped into the Smada system the Indigo Star's shields were only up to 50 from the 30 they were at when we fled the Tekel Reeva system nine days before.
"Sam, are there any ships in the system?" I asked after we jumped in.
"No, I'm detecting no ships, or anything else for that matter." he replied after a minute.
"Good, we're going to be here a while, I want to get the shields back up before we make the jump to the Kontik system. That Sigma guy Rodney told me that none of their ships had gotten past the Auroran blockade so I have no plans to go in there unprepared." I said, thinking out loud.
"Sounds good to me." joked Russel.
We drifted through the system for nearly two hours letting the shields recharge. It was actually fairly peaceful. I left the bridge and went down to the observation lounge and just stared into the stars for a while. Then the moment was broken when the lighting dimmed and the room took on a slightly red tint, we were at red alert!
I counted to three and sure enough Sam's voice came over the room's intercom: "Ragashingo, get up here, we've got big problems."
As I moved towards the lounge's door something out the opposite wall's windows caught my eye. I stopped and starred at the tiny shape for a second until my mind finally figured out what I was looking at: a 1.2 kilometer long Aurora Carrier.
As I entered the Indigo Star's bridge I called out to Sam for a status report.
"It took a few minutes for the Carrier to notice us, but they've definitely seen us now. They've already launched fighters, but I've already moved us out of their railgun's range."
"Good, how are our shields?" I asked.
"Shields are at 69, those fighters will be here in about two minutes." Russel reported. "Should I give the order to launch our fighters?" he continued.
I mulled this idea over for a moment but then answered with: "No, their fighters are nearly on top of us, it'd take too long to even get our fighters out the launch bay. We'll just shoot down their fighters and keep out of range of the Carrier, we're faster than it is so they'll either chase us or get bored and leave. Nathan, get us on a course away from the Carrier then swing the ship around to get our guns in position."
"Aye sir" both Nathan and Russel replied.
An Aurora Carrier is one of the class biggest ships I've ever seen. In our journeys delivering cargo we'd run into a few of the Carriers, and once or twice even engaged them with support of the Wild Geese mercenary group. The trick is to get the fighters off your back and then to exploit the Carrier's light weaponry. But out here with no support, and with the possibility of having to run a blockade in the next system I'd decided to play it safe.
"Here they come!" Russel called out.
I activated the view screen's holographic mode and rotated the 3D view of the upcoming battle so I could clearly see the Indigo Star, the Aurora Carrier, and the incoming fighters.
The first fighter, a Firebird, came into range but only got off two or three shots from its twin guns before it was destroyed. I zoomed in on the holographic representation of the battle to get a better view looking for anything that merited my input. At this point me Sam, and the rest of the crew were more or less along for the ride. In a smaller ship its possible for one person to fly and shoot at the same time, but for a ship as big and with as many weapons as the Indigo Star, no one person could possibly do both tasks at once.
"Nathan, give me a quick barrel roll to the left." Russel called out, knowing his request would be done with no questions asked.
I felt a small bit of motion and looked to the combat hologram floating near the front of the bridge, to see the Indigo Star roll to the left, keeping the upper blaster turret in view of a Firebird for a few more precious seconds, which ensured it didn't make another pass at us. Finally I noticed something that I could do.
"Russel, the Firebirds are hitting us in close and shielding the Phoenixes and their missiles from our point defense fire. Target the Phoenixes on their next pass." I instructed.
"Got it!" he replied.
Sure enough when the Phoenixes reengaged us after reloading at the distant carrier they were targeted and destroyed. A few minutes later and the final Firebird took a last burst from one of our point defense guns and drifted off disabled.
"Final target disabled, our shields are stabilizing at 34" Russel told the rest of the bridge crew.
"Sir, we are receiving a message from the Aurora Carrier, audio only." said Sam, probably glad he had something to do again.
"Put it through." I said.
"Unidentified ship, I am Gers Smor'ther Captain of the Carrier Tekel's Flaming Fist, you fought bravely against my fighters and were victorious, why then do you dishonor yourself, me, and my crew by refusing to engage my ship?"
I'd ventured down into Auroran space a few times before, mostly to purchase various items for the Indigo Star. One of the things I'd learned was that an Auroran would rather hear the truth, than a better sounding lie. So I answered him with the truth:
"Gers Smor'ther, I am Ragashingo captain of the Indigo Star. I am refusing to attack your ship because I have been sent on a mission to the Kontik system where I will likely have to engage a blockade who's size I don't know. I do not wish dishonor on you or your crew, but I have made an agreement with my employer and the damage my ship would incur in attacking yours would almost certainly cause me to fail my mission."
"I sense you speak the truth Ragashingo of the Indigo Star." said the Auroran captain. "Your task in an honorable one for I know of the blockade you speak of. We will protect you as long as you are in this system. You are a worthy foe and I should like to be the one to defeat you, not some houseless dog."
"Sir the Carrier has cut off its pursuit, it has come to a stop." Sam spoke up.
"Russel power down the weapons, Nathan move us into visual range of the Carrier, they will protect us while we recharge our shields."
For the next five hours we rested within weapons range of the Aurora Carrier. I knew that no Auroran house would allow a liar to command a ship the size of a Carrier and that we could trust the Captain's offer. Finally when our shields were complete charged we said farewell to the Tekel's Flaming Fist and again entered hyperspace heading towards the Kontik system.
Part IV: The Kontik Blockade
"Jump sequence complete, we're at cruising speed. Navigation and Flight Control systems report normal." Nathan said seriously.
"Shield are at 100, all weapons are online and ready to fire, fighter bay crews are standing by for launch." Russel said next.
"Sensors and communications are operational. I'm detecting two ships in the system both are fighters. They are in orbit around Kont sir, I doubt they've noticed us yet."
"Focus the high power camera on the planet, lets have a look at what we've come all this way to get at." I said to Sam.
A few seconds later the bridge light dimmed and a nearly opaque hologram of the mysterious planet appeared hovering in the air. All four of us stared at the image in awe. Somehow built around the planet was an enormous ring similar to Earth's Kane Band. Except this ring made the Kane Band, which is perhaps one of Humanities greatest achievements, look like it was built out of tinker toys. The ring was so large it almost seemed as if the ring had been built first and then later on its builders had decided to make a planet in its center.
"Wow." I said putting a word to what we all felt.
"Sir, the fighters have spotted us. They've broken orbit and are on an intercept course." Sam reported.
"How long to intercept?" I asked
"About twenty minutes." came Sam's reply.
"Ok. Nathan take us towards the planet, but keep those fighters in front of us." I ordered
"Yes Sir." he said
For several minutes we sped forward towards the enemy fighters, then I noticed Sam look down at his station for a few moments before he turned and said:
"Uh oh. More ships just jumped in, looks like two Abominations, an Argosy, and an Enterprise." said Sam.
"So there is the blockade. Russel, launch our fighters, I want them to go after that Enterprise, and we'll move forward through the first two fighters and then engage those Abominations." I said.
Nearly a minute later I heard a strange sound rumble through the ship, for a second I thought maybe something major had broken, but when Russel announced that our first fighter was away and I realized that the new sound I heard was simply the fighter launch mechanism. The rumbled repeated itself two more times. On the tactical hologram I watched as the three Thunderhead fighters got into formation and then moved past us towards the Enterprise.
"Sam, can you put the fighters com channel over the speakers? I'd like to hear what's going on out there."
A moment later the bridge was filled with the sound of engine noise mixed with bits of static. Above both sounds came the fighter pilot's voices:
"This is Thunderhead 1, squadron leader, I'm almost in range of the target, I'm starting my attack run now. Thunderhead 2 and 3 start your runs once I'm clear over."
"Roger T-Head 1, T-Head 2 copies over"
"Thunderhead 3 acknowledges Thunderhead 1 over"
Russel spoke above the fighter chatter to report:
"First two fighters coming into range, I'm opening fire."
I watched on the holographic representation as the Indigo Star released it firepower on the small Firebird fighter destroying it. Moments later the second fighter, a Phoenix, met the same fate.
"Thunderhead 1 reporting, attack run complete, target's shields have taken heavy damage! I'm returning for missile reload, Thunderheads 2 & 3 you are clear to start your attack runs, over." reported one of my fighters
"T-Head 2 starting attack run now, T-Head 3 follow me in."
"Roger that Thunderhead 2, I'm about one hundred meters off your four o' clock position, just make sure you hang a left at the end of the run, over."
"Confirmed T-Head 3, I see you, here we go!"
"Sir," Russel called out, "The two abominations are attempting to out flank us, one is going high, the other one is going low."
I looked to the hologram again and saw a convenient option:
"Nathan, head towards the low one. Russel use the fusion pulse cannons to take out that one, and see if you can use the blaster turrets to keep the high one busy until we can come around."
"Got it!" said Russel
"Aye Sir!" yelled out Nathan.
I watched the stars move rapidly out the forward window as Nathan directed the Indigo Star's nose down at the lower of the two Abominations. A few seconds later we were pounding both of the heavy Auroran gunships with weapons fire. Moments after that I felt our ship shake at it was on the receiving end of both Abomination's weaponry.
"Fighter 1 is rearmed and ready for launch." said Russel.
"Good, launch Fighter 1 and tell him to hit the high Abomination." I replied
"Indigo Star, this is T-Head 2, attack run complete that ship has taken heavy damage I think its breaking up!" came the female voice of one of my fighter pilots, "T-Head 3 and I are heading home to reload." the pilot finished up.
"Nathan, get me a shot of that Enterprise on my screen."
"Yes Sir, sending camera feed to your screen two now."
I looked down at the screen on my right and saw the Enterprise burning in space, just then a rapid-fire trio of explosions erupted from its engine module blowing the ship into several large flaming sections. A fourth outside the Indigo Star's bridge window joined those on the small screen as Russel reported:
"The first Abomination has been destroyed, fighters 2 and 3 are rearmed and ready for launch."
"Good, launch those fighters and tell them to stay close and provide support." I replied.
With the combined firepower of the Indigo Star and my fighters the second Abomination fell in what seemed like seconds. Then a desperate call came over the bridge speakers:
"This is Thunderhead 1, requesting immediate assistance, I made a pass on the Argosy but my shields are down and I've lost an engine. I can't outrun it! I'm doing my best to stay out of its sights."
"Sam, where is he?" I asked as the message repeated in the background
"He's close, we should be able to reach him in time" Sam replied while isolating the fighter on the tactical hologram.
"Nathan, get us between the fighter and the Argosy, we'll cover him. Russel tell the other two fighters to flank the enemy ship." I commanded.
"Aye Sir" both men replied.
For a second the stars outside turned and then stopped, off in the distance I could make out the shape of the Argosy as it tried to land the final blow on one the damaged Thunderhead. I got out of my chair and walked down to the front of the bridge right up next to the large window. As we continued rapidly approach the two ships I spotted the damaged Thunderhead fighter, it was venting some sort of gas out of its left lance and engine. The fighter dodged left and right avoiding the majority of the fire directed at it, but with each burst the Argosy scored a few hits, the Thunderhead wouldn't last much longer.
"I've got your back T-Head 1!" came the female fighter pilot's voice over the com channel.
Her Thunderhead suddenly came into view, it had flown past us heading straight towards the Argosy's side. As the friendly fighter pulled away and grew smaller it launched a salvo of missiles that apparently cut through the last of the Argosy's shields. It then activated its twin lance weapons and flew straight at the Argosy's engine section, I could see the bright green beams of light burning ever deeper holes in the Argosy's armor. Just as I started to fear that the fighter was going to ram the enemy ship it rotated upward and activated its afterburners missing the Argosy by what had to have been mere meters.
"Sir, the Argosy has been disabled." Russel noted.
"Cease fire, lets get that damage fighter home before we kill that Argosy. The Thunderhead is pretty beat up; I don't want to risk the Argosy's blast doing more damage to the fighter. Nathan, all stop, we're at a good firing range now."
"Right, I'll tell the other fighters to come home as well." he said back. A few minutes later Russel reported:
"All fighters are home, should I destroy the enemy ship?"
I looked back out the window to the Argosy, it had two small glowing wounds on its side near its engines, and a pair of alternating burn marks that the second Thunderhead had made as its pilot pulled up while continuing to fire.
"Kill it." I said
A short combined burst of blaster bolts and fusion pulses struck the damaged freighter, slamming into the weakened armor near the engines. Like the larger Enterprise the Argosy sizzled with small explosions for a second before a final large blast tore the ship apart.
Part IV: The Miners & The Hotshot Fighter Pilot
Most space captains like myself start out in the small Sigma Shuttle. While its not at all a bad ship, it is a small ship. It can't haul much cargo, and its easy prey for even small pirate ships. For the first year the only thing you think about is earning enough money to buy a bigger ship. One of the funny things that you don't think about when your trying to ditch you Shuttle is that the bigger ships you have your eyes on are essentially "stuck" in space, and the majority of your cargo is "stuck" on the ground. So how do you get twenty tons of cargo from a mine on a planet's surface up to a large IDA Frigate in orbit? By using two Sigma Shuttles that's how.
"We've cleared the upper atmosphere," said Diego the shuttle's pilot, "We should see the mining outpost in about ten minutes Sir."
"Look over there that must be it," I said pointing from the copilot's seat to a lit settlement that was quickly moving towards us, "maybe your instruments need adjusting?"
"No Sir, the mining colony shouldn't even be visible yet, their radio homing beacon puts them another thousand kilometers ahead of us." Diego replied, a bit put off by my comment.
Fifteen minutes later we touched down safely, with the second shuttle landing just behind us. The mining colony leader, a large hardy looking man with a thick beard, greeted me. After a quick introduction he invited me to his small living quarters while him mean loaded the cargo of Palladium onto my shuttles. After a bit of small talk I asked him:
"On our way in we saw what looked to be another mining colony. Are you running two mines?" I asked him.
"Hell no. That one is run by some Aurorans. Every once in a while a few daring Auroran ships will run the blockade like you did and land there to pick up shipments of Palladium." He said with a hearty laugh.
"But those were Auroran ships manning the blockade..."
"Not really. The Aurorans running the blockade are "Houseless," outcasts from the governments that rule the Auroran empire. The Aurorans that come to that colony belong to one of the Auroran houses or another, not to this group of houseless Aurorans."
Just then another miner walked in and reported that the Palladium had been loaded onto my shuttles. Before I left I asked the colony leader if he'd need me to go back and get him some more help, in case the Houseless warriors decide to attack him and his men.
"Don't worry," he told me, "they don't want to risk damaging the mining operation, and we are more than a match for them on the ground. Just be careful as you head out, once they don't hear back from one blockade group they send another one, every ship that takes off gets beaten to hell, they get boarded nearly as soon as the leave the planet's gravity well. Good luck out there"
"Thank. We'll watch out for them." I assured him.
Once the cargo and I were safely aboard the Indigo Star I ordered Nathan to get us out of there as fast as possible. Right on cue a second Houseless blockade fleet jumped in right behind us. They chased us for nearly an hour as we made our way out of the system, besides a couple of small fighters none of their ships could catch us and we managed to jump out of the system with nearly no shield damage.
The trip home was an interesting one. Rodney told us to avoid Auroran patrols once we had the cargo. I'm not sure why Sigma Shipyard's procurement of some Palladium was such a big deal that they wouldn't accept our shipment if we were scanned, but I made sure no Auroran ships got anywhere near us. Sometimes it was easy, the Auroran forces in a system would be battling each other or pirates and we'd slip by after we recharged our batteries. Other times we'd just get done with the first scan of the system and then be forced to jump out again as a scouting force came our way. Finally after weeks of traveling we had made it back to Federation patrolled space, the Polaris system.
"Scanning for ships." Sam said as soon as we had finished our jump into the system. Over the last couple of weeks scanning for Auroran patrols had become routine.
"One ship detected, its heading this way." he said after a few moments.
"Ok, Nathan, prepare to jump..." I said ready to give the order to avoid yet another patrol.
"Wait, Sir it's a Federation ship, an Anaconda." Sam called out happily.
"Cool," I said, "thats the first Federation ship we've seen since we left Port Kane isn't it? Sam send him a signal, I want to say hello."
"Sending a request signal... Ok he's on, you can talk when ready." Sam said.
"Greetings Anaconda, this is Captain Ragashingo of the IDA Frigate Indigo Star. We're heading back towards Sol after a long mission and you're the first Federation ship we've seen in a long time so I decided to say hi, over."
"Roger than Indigo Star, I'm just out here on long range patrol, I'll be heading back to the Tichel system soon. I'm glad to see the Aurorans have left you alone. If you do see an Auroran vessel do not engage them. Contact the nearest Federation authority and the problem will be dealt with, over." replied the cocky fighter pilot.
"Will do, we're about to make our jump to Tichel here in the next few minutes, I'd advise you stay clear of our current vector, Indigo Star out." I warned the pilot, trying my best to hold in my laughter
"Roger Indigo Star, I will avoid your outbound vector, Anaconda 2401 out." he said.
When the comm link was terminated the bridge crew nearly died laughing. Don't engage Auroran vessels, report to the authorities and the problem will be dealt with! Obviously the pilot had no idea what we'd gone through over the last two months. Over the next two weeks a recording of that quick transmission had spread all throughout the ship, by the time we made it to Earth every crew member had hear the conversation at least once, most several more times than that.
As soon as we completed docking procedures I let out a long sigh of relief. The entire trip had taken a bit over 78 days to complete. Rodney the Sigma executive dropped by and I told him of the blockade and how the miners were holding out. He muttered something about finding a way around the blockade and told me, a bit cryptically, to keep an eye out for him as he might have another mission for me soon. And with that he left, leaving my crew and I to continue unloading the Palladium.