This is the third story in my "Real Life EVN" series. It was the fifth 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)
The First Voyage of the Indigo Star
Part I: Red Unidirectional Bonding Strips
I'd bought ships before, but none of those purchases could compare to this one, both in exhilaration and shear tediousness. When you see the ads on holo-channels it looks so easy to buy a new ship. Typically the happy customers in those commercials just stroll on in to a shipyard, hand a Credit card to a helpful employee and they fly off to adventure in style. I suppose it was nearly like that for my first two ships, a Sigma Light Shuttle and an Asteroid Miner, well except for the style part anyway. But this ship purchase was proving to be a very different experience. I intended to buy an older model IDA Frigate ever since I first saw one several years ago. I'd done hours and hours of research on the ship class, it was large and powerful, it could be adapted to almost any situation, and it had a very nice interior layout. I could see the one I wanted to buy just outside the spaceport bar window but I could quite get to it because the solid wall of red tape the Federation port authorities had place in my path. I thought I had finally gotten through the restrictions just as another one, a "capital warship license" had been placed in front of me. I dutifully filled out the paperwork and then headed back to wait here in the bar with the rest of my bridge crew.
"I wonder whats taking so long" I asked the nearly an hour later as I looked at my watch again, "the other licenses didn't take half this long."
For a while me and the rest of my core crew members just sat looking out at the IDA Frigate docked some ways away. It was beautifully positioned between the Band and the Earth. If only they'd let me spend my money and buy it. Finally after a long time Sam Isay, my sensor and com operator asked
"Do you think thats even the right one? There must be several docked around the Band right?"
"Actually there aren't," replied Shelton Nicostrato, my chief engineer, "I took one of those small one man speeders out for a look around today, I circled the entire inside and outside of the Band, this is the only one I saw... they aren't all that hard to miss after all." he continued
"You know, I bet the license offices closes at 5, it was 3:30 by the time I handed back their paperwork. I bet the staff just put it off until tomorrow so they could go home." I said. There was a murmur of amused agreement from everybody else at the table, followed by more silence. Finally Lavender Bihn, my pilot stood up and stretched.
"I had better go renew our rooms for tonight then, you boys will want someplace to sleep I bet." she said before she walked off.
I turned to my two remaining companions and motioned after her saying "Come on guys, we better follow her, if someone grabs her up we're all stranded here."
The next day turned out to be a far far better day. The last license we needed was approved by 10, and we spent 10:05 to noon going through the final steps of actually purchasing the ship from Sigma Shipyards. The hardest part of all this was choosing what to fill in for the ship's name. Finally I decided on a good one, one that nobody else disagreed with: the Indigo Star.
From then on everything seemed to accelerate, by 2 we had finished moving our few personal belongings over to our new ship. All of us were glad to finally be free of having to renew hotel reservations every day. After a short rest came the next fun part, bringing together our crew.
While almost any ship can technically be flown and maintained by a single person a crew is required to run a ship with any kind of efficiency. A ship the size of the Indigo Star needs just over 100 people to run properly. Fortunately the four of us had worked for the last month gathering together a crew of nearly 75 people ranging from technicians to security personnel. Several crew members had already arrived on the Kane Band and were in the process of moving their own stuff to their crew quarters. We finished contacting the rest by that evening telling them we were ready.
The other 25 people we needed were mainly just cargo loaders. We decided some time ago that it would be cheaper to hire those as needed, allowing them to come and go as we traveled from place to place, rather than to hire them full time. While having a full crew load would help speed cargo loading and unloading, the spaceport crews could fill in if needed.
Later that week as more and more of our crew arrived I found myself amazed at all the things that actually had to get done before a ship is ready to depart. Food and water stores had to be loaded and secured, several decks had to be pressurized which meant we had to order more oxygen be pumped in to our reserve tanks from the Kane Band, the infirmary with its three surgery bays had to be stocked, every system from the external running lights to the hyperdrive had to be checked and rechecked, and the small problems that popped up everywhere had to be dealt with. On top of it all we had to supervise the various upgrades and additions we added to the ship before we ran out of money. I couldn't remember ever being so busy, and we weren't even going anywhere yet!
Part II: Departure
Finally, four days later than we intended, we were ready to depart. I ordered the entire crew to get a good day of rest in so we could depart on a Monday. I don't know about everybody else but I couldn't sleep with departure day only hours away. At 8 a.m. the next morning me and the rest of my bridge crew had a nice pancake breakfast courtesy of Shelton, and the rest of the crew was enjoying a similar meal in the crew galley. We picked up one new member of our close knitted circle during the last week. We needed someone to run weapons now that we had a ship that actually had some, and out of the blue Russell Robert showed up saying that he was the man for the job. I was skeptical at first but he earned my respect when he showed me things about the Indigo Star's weapon controls even I didn't know about. It was only later that he revealed he was a long time friend of Sam's. Within a few days he had already fit in with the rest of the crew, and now even just a week later I couldn't imagine having anyone else in his position. We finished our meal and assembled on the Indigo Star's bridge. We all took our places and I began the process of departing for the first time in the first ship I was truly proud of. I started with the internals:
"Russell, ship status?"
"All section leaders report ready. Our shields are online and operating at full power, our energy stores are also full. Engineering reports that all thrusters and engines are standing by." he reported so all the bridge crew, and those listening over the ship's intercom, could hear him.
"Very good." I said, then I swiveled my chair towards Sam's station and asked him to request clearance for our departure.
"Requesting departure clearance" he acknowledged then spoke into his microphone "Kane Band Control, this is IDA Frigate Indigo Star, we are docked at external hard point 61G. We request an exit lane for an out of system transit."
After a few moments a mater of fact voice replied: "Roger that Indigo Star, you are granted exit lane A-12. Please be clear of the lane by no later than 8:07 local time. We will direct you to Earth Orbital control once you have cleared the lane."
"Indigo Star confirms we have exit lane A-12 and are to be clear by 8:07 local time." Sam restated to the controllers, he then turned back to me and announced: "We are cleared to depart anytime within the next five minutes sir."
"Thank you Sam." I replied. I stood and walked down to stand in front of the huge window that dominated the front of the bridge. I turned back said loudly,
"Lavender ease away from the docking port, thrusters only."
"Aye sir" she replied in an overly official tone for the crew's benefit. I watched in awe as we smoothly moved down and away from the docking ports of the Kane Band, there was no sound, and no feeling of movement, it was amazing.
"Bring us around to align with departure lane A-12, then take us out slowly" I commanded. Once again the only way I could tell the ship was moving was the changing view outside the window. We were finally off! By the time we had left the high traffic zone of the Kane Band everyone on the bridge, myself included had grown tired of playing the part of the good by the book crew. All the "yes sirs" and " aye aye captains" were replaced by friendlier replies and banter. After all this was my ship, not some stiff Federation warship. The trip from the Kane Band to the nearest designated system exit jump point took almost two days, we could have been there in one, but we would have plowed into countless other vessels if we had tried it. Even in space traffic gets heavy sometimes.
Part III: Revenge is not all its cracked up to be...
Our three day hyperspace jump was the first time I had found time to relax in nearly a month. I found time to catch on my messages, paid some nearly overdue bills, spent some time with Lavender and the rest of the crew, and slept a lot. Three days, two hours and four minutes after entering hyperspace we successfully transitioned back to normal space in the Kerella system. I was asleep at the time but a slowly repeating series of loud sharp thuds woke me up. I called up to the bridge and one of our reserve pilots, Nathan something or other, one of crew we had hired straight from the Kane Band flight academy answered. He informed me that we were continuing on our course through the system to recharge the energy we lost during the jump when we got caught up in a long range battle between an Auroran Cruiser and a Wild Geese IDA Frigate but he had maneuvered us clear already. I considered going back to sleep but the memory of the Wild Geese's ill fated attack on the Auroran Carrier in this very system surfaced in my mind.
"Go to battle stations and bring the ship to a stop clear of the fire fight." I told the kid, he was only 19 after all, "I'll be there shortly."
By the time all my bridge crew joined me I already had a large holographic tactical display floating at eye level in the center of the room. On it you could see the representations of the Auroran Cruise trading railgun shots with an IDA Frigate. Each shot took several minutes to reach its target, but as far as I could determine the Frigate was slowly losing. When everyone was at their positions I stood and walked down next to the hologram and pointed to the Cruiser and explained my plan in a firm voice:
"We're only about eight minutes out from that Auroran ship, and if we don't do something that Wild Geese ship over there is going to be destroyed. I want to approach the Cruiser and hit it in the side as we pass. I'm not going to let it kill anyone else."
Everyone looked at me warily but did as I asked, I think they could tell that this meant a lot to me. A few short minutes later we came into range of the Cruiser and for the first time the Indigo Star opened fire. The three medium blaster turrets scorched deeper and deeper holes into the Cruiser's thick armor, and the twin Raven rocket turrets alternated launching missiles towards the warship. Each missile hit caused a noticeable buckle as it connected with the Cruiser's hull. When the Cruiser turned to try to bring its main guns to bear on my ship the battered Wild Geese IDA Frigate leapt forward and pounded the Crusier's opposite side with a steady stream of RADAR guided missiles and railgun slugs. Just as we exited the effective range of our blaster turrets one of the Cruiser's weapon magazines detonated in a blinding white flash. By the time the image of the Cruiser dimmed the massive ship had been torn in half. A few seconds later one of the Crusier's engines exploded shattering the rear section into several more burning masses. A sinking feeling appeared in the pit of my stomach as I watched the remains of the ship tumble and burn in space. The feeling got much worse when I heard a young voice come over one of the open channels. The voice was from a woman who was trying but failing to keep her voice under control.
"This is Firebird delta 2 to Wild Geese Forces, you have defeated my support ship in battle and I wish... I wish to surrender" she said. But a second heavily accented voice answered quickly and harshly
"No. you will not be allowed to surrender just as your kind does not allow us to surrender! But you can take heart that you lost to someone with as much skill as me!"
I whispered to Russell to display the Auroran fighter that had sent the message, he tapped a few controls and a large image appeared in the air. The Firebird attempted to dodge the Wild Geese Lightning that was pursuing it but it wasn't enough and it was torn apart by the Lightning's Light Cannons. I saw Sam look away from the image and heard Lavender gasp. It was more than I could bear so I stood and said quietly:
"Someone get us back on course and take us to hyperspace. Page me if I'm needed." Then I left the bridge.
As I entered the elevator that would take me to the deck my quarters were located on I wondered how in all this time could I have assumed that only Auroran warriors could be so heartless? How could I never have considered that the kind of slaughter I had witnessed last year wasn't preformed by both sides. I entered my quarters and threw myself onto my bed determined to sleep my troubles away. Today, the fourth day of commanding the Indigo Star, had not been a good day, not a good day at all.
By the time I woke up the brilliant white of hyperspace was visible outside my window. I went to the officer's lounge to try and clear my head. When I got there I found that Sam and Lavender had the same idea as I did. Both of them look distressed so I sat in a chair near them and proceeded to describe what I had seen from my Shuttle's camera more than a year ago, and why I had intervened in the battle with the Cruiser, and how I felt awful now that I had gotten my revenge. The three of us talked for some time, finally we all ran out of things to say. The two of them looked better, and I felt a bit better. I glanced at one of the clocks on the wall and noticed it was 2 a.m. I suggested all three of us get some sleep. As Lavender walked away I stared intently at her and whispered
She nodded and gave a brief smile before walking off, but I had know her long enough to know that her smile was a good sign. Everything would be ok.
Part IV: Pirates
Five days later we jumped in to the Codehaven system. I put the ship on alert as we proceeded towards Codec. This system had a bad reputation for pirate attacks and I wasn't going to take any chances. Fortunately everyone seemed to be in better spirits, the incident in the Kerella system now several days in the past. The light hearted bridge crew banter had taken a few days to come back, but this morning it was back in full force. Embarrassing stories and silly jokes were thrown around the room with ease. We cruised along for a few hours with no troubles, but then just as I could barely make out Codec's pinpoint of light Codehaven's reputation proved itself to be true.
"I'm receiving a distress call from deeper in the system, it sounds like a Starbridge is under attack by two pirate vessels." Sam said cutting off the various bridge conversations.
"Where are they?" I asked.
"Just a second, ok I got them, they're closer to the planet, about five minutes ahead of us." Sam said. He then looked across the bridge to Russell and asked
"Russell can you bring up a tactical display for us?" Russell nodded and a few seconds later the tactical hologram shimmered into view in the center of the bridge.
"Ok, Lavender sound the acceleration alarm and get us to those pirates fast. Sam, contact that friendly Starbridge and tell him to head towards us so we can cover him." My two crew members responded quickly and got to work as I alerted the ship to battle stations. A loud alarm sounded and then I could feel the Indigo Star speed forward towards the battle. We moved closer and closer to the Pirate ships and I told Russell to target the enemy Starbridge with our rocket turrets. A few moments later our unguided rockets streaked towards the still distant light capital ship. While none of the rockets struck their target they had the desired effect, the dark colored ship pitched its nose up and forgot about its former prey as it moved to intercept us. A few seconds later I felt a slight shudder as the first of the Pirate Starbridge's missiles hit our shields. When the ship came into range we nailed it with our blaster turrets, and within seconds the smaller ship's shields failed and it exploded as a pair of rockets struck near its engine section. I looked back to the hovering tactical display to see the other Pirate ship, a Viper, vanish. That friendly Starbridge had stopped running away it seemed.
Suddenly I realized I had been holding my breath and exhaled. It felt good, very very good to use my ship's weapons for the right reasons, not for some dumb vendetta. I congratulated my bridge crew and then the rest of the Indigo Star's crew using the ship intercom. As we neared Codec I noticed that the Starbridge we had rescued had positioned itself in front of us, just off to the side so we could see it through the big window. I felt pretty dang proud.
It was a beautiful sight, seeing a flurry of small cargo carriers working diligently to unload my ship's cargo. Its a strange feeling to be in command of something so big. As I looked back on the Indigo Star's first voyage, on the good times and the not so good times I realized that even in the worst of times I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. This was my new home.