Author's Introduction: So I've been playing Elite: Dangerous and reading Mass Effect Fanfiction and go this idea in my head. Now I'm putting it down on 'paper' so to speak and putting it out there. This will start from where Elite is now on the PC and consoles and the Mass Effect calendar won't be changed so they're somewhere around the year 2700 starting from the formation of the Council with the Asari and Salarians (something like 500 BCE by our calendar) so Humans will actually have a lead on space travel. Although the Elite universe's 'lead' is a lot of time of generational ships and then their wonderful FTL journey. Won't drown you with exposition on it but you are free to look all that up at your leisure.
So quick bit: main character for this story in this universe is a Commander out exploring because while I fly my ships around in the FDev version of the Milky Way I always think it would be absolutely tits to run across another alien civilization while scanning planets. Not a chance in hell that'll make it to the development cycle on FDev's plate this century but its decent stuff to contemplate while going space crazy.
Now without further ado, BAM!
The engines spooled up as his hardpoints deployed, throttle in the blue, two pips in systems, four in weapons, aligned with the offending ship. A direct communication pops up on his message feed.
"I've got word you've got a certain passenger aboard. I'll give you a choice…"
Ship targeted, missile lock pending…
"You can either jettison the cabin they're in or we do this the hard way."
'Do none of these tryhards ever figure this out? This isn't my first rodeo.'
He glances at his status and chuckles, "Novice". Nowhere near the "Deadly" combat rank this bounty hunter has. Only problem with that is-
He opens fire while hitting his thrusters to send him 'up' vertically while keeping the nose pointed at the ship and reversed thrusters to move backwards, the Vultures always try to get above that huge hardpoint. Barring that, they're more maneuverable so this one would try to dart past and blast the rear of the ship.
'Tough luck for him though, been there done that, collected the bounty vouchers.'
-they never think to check that I never look for combat. Only ever seeing whatever manifest they're looking at, what they want from my ship and seeing only the "Novice" combat rank -
Three large pulse lasers, two medium and one huge multicannon unload on the ship, the nose of his 'conda keeps tracking as the Vulture hits his boost and tries to track around the back of his ship, just like he knew it would.
-They always think I only ever lose ships. Sure, the Vulture is a good ship for bounty hunting -
The shields on the smaller ship fail before it gets past him, laser light and hardened rounds start bludgeoning the hull of the smaller ship.
-but he's not met any other Cmdr on these passenger missions who had the good sense to fly their ship-
Two small seeker missiles streak out as the Vulture starts to pull distance, 600 meters and increasing.
-with any skill outside of a corny one-liner and deploying hardpoints.
He watched the hull indicator of the Vulture drop to zero, the ship loses power and starts to flat spin. Two more seeker missiles dart out to make sure the ship dies.
With a small smile and an amused shake of his head at the sight of an expanding cloud of metal and gas, Marcus retracts the hardpoints and is turning as the notification of the bounty flashes on his screen, 53k credits for less than a minute of work.
-Frame Shift Drive charging-
His message feed pops up with another message, the second, grateful message that always follows those little additions to these missions.
"Well Lucy, there's another one huh? I'm almost disappointed the fights aren't harder." The ship's ambient noise didn't change much from the building whine and shudder as the countdown reached zero and the FSD wrapped the ship in warped spacetime towards their destination.
He throttled down to hold the counter at six seconds as he chuckled, opting to speak to his ship rather than check the message from his passenger.
He patted the arm of the chair, "Don't get me wrong, I'm not unhappy they seem to be so incompetent. Just that a bigger bounty would be nice sometimes."
[Safe Disengage Ready]
With a shudder and a whine, Commander Marcus Reir's Anaconda - Lucy - dropped back in line with the rest of the universe, a faint rippled echo in the form of a low wake lingered as he lined the ship up with the "mailslot" of the station, getting within a few kilometers and dropping landing gear and speed.
With a shudder the ship settled on the pad and the engines wound down as the station tethers took over powering the ship while replenishing the emergency supplies. He selected the passenger lounge in the station services and clicked on the intercom to the passenger cabin.
"Thank you for flying Lucy-Anaconda space lines. Remember, we're part of the 99% of all the other space liners out there and good luck now that your out of the previous shithole."
He clicked the complete mission button and noted his credits increase by the expected amount. Ferrying refugees tended to be lucrative although he didn't know where the factions got the money or inclination to pay over a million credits a head to evacuate them. He imagined there would be a much closer look at the employment contracts soon. Until then, it was easy, well-paying, and mind-numbingly boring work. Still, with his cargo sold and missions turned in, he spun his chair around and looked around the bridge for a moment.
"Well Lucy, what do you think? Mining for a while? Maybe surface scans or some bounty hunting?"
He walked over to another console, long since designed into obsolescence in the ship, he pushed a few of the prompts, hovering over the cargo hold.
'Not the most but a quick refit and I could do some trading runs…' He brought up his wallet screen into his field of vision with a thought, the pilot federation implant superimposing a familiar status screen on his sight and the number - 1,633,792,450 Credits. Idly he looked at it for a moment before tapping on the console and walking back to stand next to his chair.
Looking down he saw the fuel consumption at 0.00/s with no indicator for fusion since the ship was running off station power.
His shoulders slumped a bit, "Right, you always go right to sleep once we get docked up." With a short laugh, "Sure, fine! I get it, leave all the decisions to me…."
He stared out the window at nothing in particular for a few moments before navigating to the Cartographics screen. The corner of his mouth quirked up as he made a decision and highlighted "Sell Page"
He hesitated to sell the data though, it was only 640k Credits of data. Just what he had accumulated through the past few weeks in the bubble. Nothing new, just some things he'd personally never seen before.
"You know what? Stay put Lucy, I'm going to actually go to the office and turn this in." Knocking on the console before turning to leave and speaking to his ship in an off-key sing-sing voice, "If only to talk to another person before taking off out into the void."
The door in the back of the bridge slid open and Marcus' footsteps were sure. It was about time he went and found something new again.
He turned to wave to the clerk at the desk as he walked out of the station's Universal Cartographics, "See you next time! I'll have a whole lot more next time you see me, ….next time!"
'Smooth, next time eh? Thanks brain.'
He straightened out as the door closed behind him, having gotten his fill of talking with other people, muttering, "If you see me again, not sure I'll come back here now." Then with a spring in his step he turned and started making his way back to Lucy, turning the next corner and nearly colliding with a rail-thin woman and her daughter.
"Oh, I'm very sorry miss….uh…" He went to step around her and the small child, completely unprepared for another interaction with another person but stopped himself.
The woman smiled, her green eyes looking into his, "No, no it's alright, are you Commander Rein? The one who just flew us here?"
He took a step back, interested or no, he had a bit of a bubble of space they were in. Leaning back against the opposite wall a few feet from the two, "Yes, you're a few of the refugees? You don't look so good." He winced internally as the unfortunate statement left his lips.
If the woman noticed she didn't say anything but did laugh, "No, I don't but we'll be better off now. I just wanted to thank you for getting us out of that, ah, 'Shithole' as you put it."
He just chuckled and rubbed his eyebrow, not really sure what to say to that before she continued, "That's not what I wanted to say though, I really wanted to thank you for taking out the man in that Vulture."
"Oh? Were they after you?" She shook her head at this quickly as an unmistakably angry look crossed her face.
"No, he was after my wife, killed her a week ago on one of the planets in the system we were in. Apparently the site manager agreed to sell all the employees at the listening post into slavery and my Vega disagreed with that."
Feeling entirely out of his depth with the sudden influx of personal information he didn't have time to think he blinked for a few seconds, "I get slavery offers from time to time when shuttling people, I always deny them on principle."
'Well, that was stupid.'
Again, he felt stupid but she didn't seem to notice, "Well, it's never come up for us before but that's good to know. You killed the man that was following us though, he couldn't collect Vega, he ended up having to kill her and the ship the others were on and so he decided we would take her place." She choked up at that, nearly breaking down as she looked down and hugged her daughter with her other hand.
Deciding there was one thing he could do, he kneeled down to eye level with the girl, "Hey, I like your hair! That's a very nice shade of red, it's very pretty."
The little girl leaned against her mother's hip, not quite hiding but not saying anything back to him and for a moment his mind raced before something occurred to him.
"Wait, does that mean you paid that 53,000 Credit bounty that was on him?" The woman shook her head at that.
"No, that was put on by the station administrator once we told him what happened, I paid out the 12,000 Credits in addition to the mission payment he paid to have us evacuated."
He ruffled the little girl's hair as he stood back up with a thoughtful look on his face, "What will you do now? Can you do what work you did there, here?"
The startled, almost panicked look that flashed on her face told him everything before she got it under control, "I'll think of something." She looked down at her daughter for a moment.
He brought up his wallet readout again in his field of vision, looking to the two he was standing next to like he was just staring off into space for a moment before he made up his mind.
"How about this, what's your name?" She looked confused for a moment before answering, "Kaitlin Ruger, this is my daughter, Anna Ruger."
He nodded as he opened a few prompts with his mindcom and put the information in, sending off a message to the Pilots Federation in one view and in another he found her information on the station manifest.
"I see your name on the Station Manifest but it has another name after it?" Tears formed in her eyes for a moment as she looked down, obviously having trouble keeping from crying.
"Ruger is my maiden name, my wife…"She sniffed and paused for a moment, "Our marriage wasn't recognized at this station so I had to use that name and not She-" Tears rolled down her cheeks and her daughter hugged her which she promptly returned in kind.
"I'm sorry to hear that, it had to be hard to go through all that." She nodded in thanks, still unable to speak as she just looked at her daughter.
"I can't make it not have happened…" he finalized the transfer of Credits to her, "but I can help, I don't know what you did do before but I've sent off a recommendation to the Pilot's Federation for you to get licensed and transferred a million credits to your name."
The woman looked up abruptly, obviously stunned, "No! That's not-" He held up his hand to stop her.
"I know, I know but I've literally got a billion and a half Credits to my name, an Anaconda along with just about every other ship a guy like me can own. Besides, I'm going to go exploring outside the bubble. Probably for months if not longer. I've got exactly zero use for those million and I think you two would enjoy the chance to not be tied to a single place." He shrugged, "Memories and all that."
He smiled at her stunned silence before he nodded to himself and made to leave before she could gather her thoughts. As he passed her, one other thing crossed his mind, turning to them as he began his walk to his ship he said, "And I've never been married but if I were you, keep her name. If only to remember her, it's a good name."
He turned the corner to the airlock at the pad Lucy sat in waiting and he heard the woman yell after him, "Thank you! I will!" He smiled as the inner airlock door opened and he heard excited laughter between the two.
'I suppose helping people face to face helps the boredom too.'
The outer airlock opened and he got a rare, outside view of his ship, 'Still, it's time to get out of here.'