This is the second story in my "Real Life EVN" series. It was the fourth 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)
My First Rescue
"I need assistance, can you help?"
"I was just recently attacked by pirates and they took most of my money, and my energy," comes a plaintive voice over the commlink. "Can you help me out with enough energy so that I can get to the next system to deliver my cargo? I'm prepared to pay 2000 credits."
A lot of Captains will tell you amazing tales of their first daring space rescue, of how they single handedly fought off a fleet and rescued a ship of orphans all while piloting a cargo drone and undergoing painful leg surgery or some such thing. Well I of course had a first space rescue, but I have always enjoyed telling it as it happened, leaving it to others to distort it into something grand.
After about a year of running small cargo transport missions in my Light Shuttle for low pay I had managed to save up a good sum of money. When I met my long time friend Lavender Bihn in the shipyard on Viking and she suggested we pool our resources and go into business asteroid mining in the Fomalhaut system I jumped at the chance. It was a great business opportunity and sharing a ship with someone like Lavender is something you don't miss if you can help it. It took us a week to sell off our ships, both Light Shuttle, and pick out a good stock Sigma Asteroid Miner. It took another week before we found a sensor / com operator and a engineer we trusted.
Sam Isay, the man we choose for our sensor and com operator was someone we had both had passing contact with at the Viking flight academy. He never did want to be a captain or pilot, but he was far better than anyone else on sensors, and he was as decent as anybody else on the com systems. He signed on with us as soon as he heard we were going into business together. Shelton Nicostrato the engineer I found had actually never worked on a spaceship before, his speciality was maintaining sub orbital passenger transports for a company on Viking. I knew I had found the right guy when during our interview he remarked in his thick accent that: "Working on a complex aircraft and working on a complex spaceship is the exact same thing except for the vacuum outside. If something breaks I just have to go out and fix it, and I assure you I can remember to put on a spacesuit before I step out."
The next week we were in business, we picked up a couple of strong looking workers on Gem and set out to slice up some asteroids. While the first few days were fun, learning how to operate the ship, learning which asteroids were and weren't good targets, things quickly began to drag. There's only so many times that scooping asteroid pieces into the cargo hold can be exciting. If the pay wasn't so good I think all of us might have gone back to running cargo. As time went on our roles on the ship became clearer. While Lavender and I were technically co-captains, she preferred to pilot the Asteroid Miner, partially to give herself something to do, and partially because she enjoyed scaring us by making close high speed passes on asteroids as we traveled to and from the best mining areas. We could usually find Sam at his station "monitoring the system for unusual activity" which meant watching some holo-broadcast while munching on some random snack food. Shelton was usually busy, either fixing some small problem on the ship, talking to the various workers we would pickup on Gem, or to our surprise and delight, cooking us a tasty meal. While space life tends to make decent cooks out of all that live it, Shelton was far above average.
After two months of constant mining we were finally nearing our goal of a million credits. The four of us had decided that we made a pretty good team, but this mining job was just too boring, even if it did pay well. We had our sights set on a late model IDA Frigate. All we needed was one or two more mining runs and we'd have enough to purchase and maintain one long enough to get back into the cargo delivery business. Our last mining run proved to be our most exciting, and clearly showed us that we needed a better ship.
We had just begun to slice into a particularly good looking asteroid when Sam called out over the noise.
"Sir, we've got a Pegasus hailing us, requesting assistance, you want to talk to them?" he asked.
"Sure, put them on Sam." I said, gesturing to the small display mounted on the front wall.
The screen switched from the view of the inviting asteroid to the image of a bridge as dark as mine, strange for such an expensive ship, and a man who had obviously suffered some sort of minor head injury recently.
"Thank you for answering my hail." he said with true gratitude. "I was just recently attacked by pirates and they took most of my money, and my energy," he continued. "We managed to fight them off the ship and save our cargo, but our jump here used up everything we had left. Can you help us out with enough energy so that I can get to the next system to deliver my cargo? I'm prepared to pay 2000 credits." he stated.
I considered his offer, 2000 credits was many times the going rate for a single jump of energy. I told the captain we would gladly help, after all I had nothing better to do, well that and Lavender stated that she really wanted to help them. By the time I told the Pegasus' captain we'd be right there the rest of the crew had shuffled into our small bridge. Shelton pulled me aside and voiced some concern.
"That asteroid right in front of us is a very good one sir, I'd bet we could fill the rest of our bay with usable material from it. That ship isn't going anywhere, can't they wait just a bit longer?"
I agreed. And so did the other Captain, he told us that it would take his crew about an hour to ready his ship for an energy transfer and that he didn't want to inconvenience us. So while he got his ship ready we finished off the asteroid, just as we got the last usable bits into our hold Sam turned and quietly said:
"Sir, that Pegasus is hailing us again."
"What now, I told them we'd be there soon..." I responded a bit annoyed, they had called back twice in the last hour trying to get us to hurry up.
"They're saying something about a renegade ship sir." he said.
"Ok, lets hear what they have to say." I said, a moment later the captain was back on the view screen.
" We're in trouble,' the Captain began, "the other Pegasus that just jumped in is the one that attacked us a couple days ago. They had an unguided rocket launcher and a pair of blaster turrets then, we think they're out of rockets but there's no way we can hold them off again. We need you to get over here and give us that energy transfer so we can get out of here." he said urgently.
"Ok, start moving toward us and we'll intercept you and get you that energy." I said. But as the Captain started to reply his signal broke up into static.
"That other ship is jamming the com channels, I know we don't have the equipment to break through it, I doubt our friends do either." Sam said.
"They can't move towards us either," Lavender said, "I remember reading about ships like that, once they decouple their engines from their main power grid to accept an energy transfer they can't use them again until they get it."
"Well that's just great' I muttered. Getting to the powerless ship, and transferring the energy would leave both our ships vulnerable to the renegade vessel. There had to be a better way. Suddenly it occurred to me. With our greater speed we could draw the freighter off and then double back and help out the disabled Pegasus, and then run away to the safety of Gem's orbital space dock.
"Lavender, bring us about and head straight for the enemy ship, I want to pass it at full speed, close enough to strafe it with out mining lasers." I ordered.
"You got it Raga." she replied happily.
I turned to my engineer and said "Shelton, I know the lasers aren't meant to be used as ship to ship weapons, but if there's anything you can do to increase their power do it, I don't care if we blow something out, just give me a few shots, we won't be a real threat but maybe we can startle them a bit."
"I've got an idea, but we'll need a few new power relays once this is over." he said, as he left the bridge, not all that happy with the idea.
"Sam, get on the intercom and call down to the processing compartment, tell the rest of the crew to get to the escape pod, then go prop the access hatches between here and there open so we can make a mad dash if we have to.
"Oookay.." Sam acknowledged.
For the next ten minutes the three of us sat waiting as our engines pushed us closer and closer to the enemy Pegasus. My plan wasn't pretty, and it wasn't all that safe, but it would probably work. Hopefully by buzzing the renegade Pegasus and strafing it with our mining lasers we'd anger the captain enough that he'd break off from the disabled trader and follow us.
"We're getting close, just another minute or so," Lavender warned, "I'm rotating us to face the Pegasus." she said.
As we passed over the huge ship I mashed the small button Shelton had quickly spliced into the mining laser firing circuit. On the small view screen we watched as thin green laser pulses struck the Pegasus' shields etching a quickly vanishing path along the energy film. A few seconds later we were clear of the ship and I stopped firing.
"Did it work?" I wondered aloud to nobody in particular.
Suddenly on the view screen a large orange packet of blaster fire lanced out from the Pegasus towards our ship. A moment later the entire ship lurched as the impact overwhelmed our underpowered artificial gravity generator. Another trio of blaster bolts connected with our ship before we were out of range. Silence hung in the air for a few seconds before Sam answered my earlier question:
"Yeah, I think it worked..." he said jokingly. "They've changed course and are trying to follow us." he added.
I brought up a ship status screen on my station and surveyed the damage we'd taken. For all we were thrown around by the freighters medium blasters we got away fairly well off. Our shields were down to just under 30, but we were otherwise unscathed.
"How are their shield's Sam?" I asked. I wasn't hopeful.
"89, we're not going to scare them off..."
"Can we go around them now, help our friends and then get out of here?"
"I doubt it," Lavender replied, "they're chasing us now, but if we get far enough away to go around them I bet they'll just turn back and attack the other Pegasus." she said thoughtfully.
Now my brilliant plan was looking less and less brilliant every minute. Just as I was about to give up and order that we retreat out of the system Sam spoke up.
"A new ship has just entered the system and its heading straight for our enemy. It looks like its a Federation Anaconda."
"Thats perfect," I exclaimed, "Lavender put us on course straight back to the disabled Pegasus, if we can time this right we can sneak past while our "friends" are busy with that fighter."
We moved steadily back towards the stationary cargo ship, and the enemy vessel moved to block our path. The closer we got the more we slowed, waiting for the fighter to get a clue and do something. Finally on my small sensor display I saw one, then two, then more small dots leap off the icon of the fighter, it was launching its missiles. As the sixth missile appeared the fighter changed course and headed back out of the system. On the forward view screen I watched as the renegade Pegasus' drive sections started to turn, after a few moments its engines flared as it tried to preform an evasive maneuver.
"Go Lavender! This is going to be our only shot!" I yelled.
We were pressed back in our seats as our Asteroid Miner strained to accelerate past the bulky vessel that had been blocking our path. Someone on the Pegasus must have still been paying attention to us because a stream of blaster bolts were fired our way. Luckily our distance and speed caused all but one of the bolts to miss before we were in the clear once more. As the image of the Pegasus shrank into the distance I saw five of the six missiles slam into it with a quick succession of impressive looking explosions.
"I don't suppose we can go back and finish them off can we Sam?" I asked still impressed by the missile hits.
"Heh, not even close," he said knowing what I was thinking, "I'm reading their shields as still above half power, and it doesn't look like we'll be getting any more help from the Federation, that fighter just jumped out."
"Yeah, think God for the Federation" I replied sarcastically. But the distraction had worked, we were two minutes from the disabled Pegasus while our mutual enemy had yet to even get its engine pointed the right way. Fifteen minutes later we completed the energy transfer to the friendly Pegasus. We stayed along side the massive ship and escorted it to the outer edge of the system. The captain of the Pegasus transfer the 2000 credits to our account and then jumped out of the system after thanking us for our help.
"So now what?" Lavender asked.
I looked back to Shelton and the two crew members who had since come back to the bridge and asked, "We've got a full load to haul back right?"
"Yes sir," responded one of the crewmen, "well we could fit in maybe another ton, but..." he trailed off, he was still a bit shaken by the whole encounter.
"That Pegasus is still out there, surely we can find some way to take it out" the other crew member spoke up, he seemed to have enjoyed the last few hours of excitement.
"I don't think so." I said
"But we shouldn't run away from a fight" the crew member said again, disappointedly.
"We aren't running away," Sam said, "its going to take us almost a day to get back to Gem, and if we don't hurry our docking reservation will expire."
"Yeah, and we've got to find someone to tell our story to, we can't radio it in with the channels jammed." Lavender offered the crewman, backing me and Sam up. The crewman realizing that he had a great story to tell anybody that would listed agreed.
Years later as I was waiting for some cargo to be offloaded from my ship on Gem I overheard a captain repeating a story he had heard about the day a hotshot crew of a badly damaged Asteroid Miner had rescued a disabled trading fleet and defeated a group of six pirate vessels. After listening for a while I laughed to myself. I realized that this was a vastly distorted story of my first rescue!