posted on Sep, 23 2016 @ 06:18 PM
“Heave to and lower your shields, Commander. This is your only warning. Federation Corvette Indomitable, out.!
God, even the tone of that cow's voice sent the hairs on the back of my neck rising. Not to mention that it was backed by several megaJoules of
particle beam killing power and a belly full of missiles. I looked round at the girl...well, technically woman, in the co pilot seat. If her jaw
dropped any lower I was sure it would have landed on the radar console.
“Don't panic, kid.” I said. “We'll heave to, you just keep your fingers hovering over the shield boost button and as soon as I hit the
throttles, punch it, ok?”
She blinked, then her teeth clacked before she nodded and swallowed. Looking serious as she said, “Yeah, got it”. All business now, gone was the
little girl lost look of a few seconds ago. Replaced instead by the sort of expression you'd expect to see on the face of an Imperial Princess of the
Duval Dynasty and probably only a couple of dozen deaths away from the throne herself
I know, I called her kid. A capital crime in most parts of Imperial space, not using the proper title. Thing is, we were in Fed space now, hence the
great hulking lump of metal pointing all its biggest guns straight at my little ship.
I fly an old Starfire. small, but faster than anything else you'll find in space, even now, 30 years after it was built at Britannia Base on Mars, it
has no peers for pure speed. Other ships have better range, most have more firepower and a few have better shields.
Boanerges, that's her name. An old Earth guy called T. E. Lawrence used to be a motorcycle nut and named all his bikes Boanerges. I must have
watched the vid about him over a thousand times during long, boring trips from system to system with my mum. She was an intensely independent person
and rather than settle down and be someone's wife, she sold everything she had, took out a bunch of fraudulent loans and bought a slow old rust
bucket and headed into space. Over the years, she made enough to eventually get into a Cobra, one of the big, fast cargo ships. She met my dad on
some R&R weekend she planned in the 61 Cigni system. There's a photo I look at sometimes, in my data pack. She never did find out his name...Nor try.
That's mum for you. She always said, “I don't need no damned man when I have this ship and the whole galaxy and you don't need anything else
either.” She taught me everything, from the basics of literacy and numeracy through to Astro-navigation, trading and, more importantly, how to fly
a ship. I haven't seen her for ten years at least, but every birthday, without fail, I get a little note arrive at which ever station I call into.
She taught me two important lessons – always have a plan and always have faith in yourself.
I waited until the stern doors started to open on the corvette....then I gunned the engines. Twisting the stick to perform a series of wild, savage
loops and jinks as the shields came up. The blackness of space erupted around us in flares of red and blue while the forward guns opened up on us.
Even with the upgraded jump drive I have, it takes ten full seconds from a standing start to transit into ftl (faster than light) travel. Ten seconds
can be a long time, a life time when someone is shooting at you, but I'd guessed that the prospect of taking a high ranking member of the Imperium
into custody would mean that the captain would insist on leading the boarding party, so that he could make the best possible case for promotion later
on. This meant that the ship would lose at least a couple of minutes before it could begin to power up its engines and give chase, by which time we
would be long gone.
My heart rate started to slow from the 300 beats a minute it felt like it was doing after we transited our fourth system and crossed the border back
into Imperial space. I don't normally spend much time there. I don't like the slavery and the silly social class structures. Right now though,
there was nowhere I wanted to be more, and I slumped back in my seat and let out a breath I'd seemingly been holding since that corvette first
appeared on my radar. I set a course for the nearest station and let the Boanerges take us in and dock while I went back and splashed a bit of water
on my face and then tried not to throw up from the stress of my latest near death experience.
When I came back to my seat, she was leaning forward, staring up at the front of the space port, her brow furrowed as she read the dedication to the
Emperor over the main doors “What's up?” I asked.
“It says 'Hail Emperor Sylvanus' on the front, but that can't be right. It was Empress Alexandra when I left, Uncle Sylv is twentieth in line,
just in front of my father. I wonder what can have happened?”
I wondered myself, too. As dangerous as life was before, if I was scurrying around the seedier parts of the galaxy with the third in line to the
throne on board, everything from scummy pirates in their Adders right up to Imperial battlecruisers would be after me and I was in no doubt whatsoever
that my description, or more properly, that of my ship would be filtering through the systems like a dose of the pox.
The hell of it was, I didn't know she was a princess. I'm a cynic, I really am. I was sitting in a dive bar inside the Galton Hanger station
orbiting Ross 128, less than eleven light years from Earth. I'd come back to meet up with some other Starfire enthusiasts at their big bash on Mars.
It had been a good couple of days and now, here I was, nursing a hangover in the gloom, sitting on a shiny, plastic seat just off from the stage, not
quite ignoring the girl dancing in front of me and the small crowd of slightly more enthusiastic perverts on this Monday Lunchtime. It's always
Monday somewhere in the Galaxy and to tell the truth, I never know what day it is because, when you can travel up to 300 light years in a day, it
really doesn't matter anymore.
She was doing that bored, half hearted stuff, just going through the motions and looking like she'd rather be anywhere else that strippers do when it
isn't a Friday or Saturday night and I couldn't have cared either way. She was nice enough looking with long, electric blue hair. Violet eyes that
actually looked real, and a body that looked as natural as one of those video girls you can call up off the Galnet, but without seeming all fake and