CHAPTER 2 - Change

by Fuel Rat Flynzilla

3 years ago, I went BINGO (pilot slang for running out of fuel). An amazing group of commanders came to my rescue. A totally anarcho syndicate of beings united by a common cause. Not only saved my sorry butt from a stupid rookie mistake, gave me what a lifetime of others failed to do, a second chance ...
At that quintessential moment I decided to put everything else on hold and pay my honor debt back. I logged on the Fuel Rats chat channel, and declared my intention. Sold my beloved Clipper, bought a Diamondback Explorer, my name was noted on the Fuel Rats roster. The rest as “they say” is history. 200 rescues later sold the DiamondBack, bought an AspX, carried out another 150ish rescues in her, and a milestone, one that I am very proud of, a sprinkling of Code Reds (where the commander is on a countdown till their life support stops) and countless assists (being a second or back up on a rescue within the target system in case it goes wrong).

I had a word with Fuel Rat Command and took the night off. Most of it I can remember, The waitress was tall, beautiful and could drink the back legs off of a donkey. I should’ve known that when I asked her for a drink, the warning signs were there: the narrowing of the eyes, and the wolfish grin should’ve set alarm bells off, however I got lost in her beautiful dark green eyes.

In the PDF I had a habit of rising with the sun, and after 24 years it became my ritual, it was a salve, gave me purpose, and was the constant reminder that I made it another day. Today I woke up with the sun high in the sky. I cracked an eye open and instantly regretted it, the lance of pain from the sun was like an accusatory stab.

The pain in my head was drumming a staccato, my mouth felt like a large marsupial decided to nest in it, and my eyes wanted to crawl under the pillow, with or without the rest of me. Note to self: do not challenge ANY bar staff to ANY sort of drinking contest...never, just don’t.

Wearlilly I went through the motions of trying to obtain a level of sobriety:
1. Ingested a slightly obscene amount of painkillers
2. pray to whatever deity that will listen or indeed pretended to care
3. get off bed, shower, shave, and contemplate the next choices.

Don’t get me wrong I love being a Fuel Rat, however I came late to the party. While the other Commanders had engineered their ships to get the maximum range out of them, I concentrated on getting the fuel to the customer, and subsequently put everything aside.

Time for a change. Time for Commander Flynzilla to start doing things for himself and his ship. So I did what every level headed commander would do at a mid-life crisis point...and headed to the bar.

During the day, the bar serves food (most of it edible, however stay away from the Hagra Biscuits. They look good, but the residue left in your mouth and the raging acid indigestion the next day will remind you that this stuff is not to be trifled with). Luckily enough a BloodBowl game was being shown on the big screen, the volume was turned off, and replaced with a selection from the music center. Like every bar in every system, when you enter, everybody notices, and doesn’t say a thing. Your anonymity is assured, well at least till somebody flashes the creds, then they will shop you in, quick as that. Nothing personal (of course) but business is business.

In my hungover state, the usual flawless internal guidance system was slightly skewed, across the floor I walked and described a slight arc from the door to my table. This action was made harder whilst waiting for my pupils to adjust to the low light levels. Not wanting to attract attention to myself, I found an empty booth, about 10ish meters from my usual spot, however I will take this as a victory.

The new booth fulfilled a couple of criteria, it was far enough from the entrance, was located against a wall, and my seat allowed me to lean against it, and had prime visual fields to the patrons at the bar). I slowly relax, my hand dropping to unclip the safety of my hold-out blaster (the echoes of my father in my head “Son, you can never be too careful)

Within seconds, the barmaid appears. Her mousey blond hair gathered over a shoulder, the eyes twinkling with equal measures of impishness and sultriness, her perfect bow lips smiling at me, “how's your head flyboy” , my response was somewhere between great and my head wants me dead, however I smiled nodded, and ordered a hot soykaf, and something vaguely egg shaped.

I started to mechanically shovel rehydrated egg products into my mouth, and reciprocally felt slightly better. I pulled out the tablet and started to browse GalNet. Equal amounts of politics, sports, latest bounties, who has done what, to whom, Thargoids trashing spaceports in the Pleiades system, ineptitude of the Alliance, the usual drivel. I hoped that it wouldn’t be long for the pills to kick in, and I could make decisions, without feeling that mental acuity is about to pound my skull back to the stone age.

Hidden in a small article on GalNet, there was the latest buzz. Blueprints for a new plug-in module for the Frame Shift Drive could be obtained at a Guardian Site (a recent excavation funded by Ram Tah had unearthed an alien site) The article claimed that an extra 10.5 light year (ly) boost can be added. Seemed simple enough, plug the module into a free slot, let the Frame Shift Drive synchronise with the module...boom, 10.5ly!

10.5ly such thing, my head was unconsciously slowly shaking side to side. This elicited raised eyebrows, bowed heads and hushed tones from some of the closer patrons. All this from a plug in module? Again Dad’s voice in my head “Son if it's too good to be true, then it probably is” I can still hear his basso-cantante voice in my head.

The thought would not go away, no matter how much spin I put on, fanciful, hokum or snake-oil salesmen, the thought would not go away.

By the time my internal monologue was finished, the soykaf was stone cold. This particular brand of soykaf could be used to fill potholes on 10 different worlds. Providing that the officials “looked the other way” when it was being imported and the planetary civil engineers were on a kickback.

My current thought process:
Look at my chrono. The local star is over the yard-arm, time for a drink.
Order another drink,
Walk back to my table,
Order another drink because the first one “must” have evaporated, and therefore on a purely scientific basis I’m required to repeat the experiment.

My second shrug, externally it looked like I was having a fit, however the subtle blend of eye contact, and my hand to “casually” land on my holster dissuaded the patrons from acknowledging what had happened.

Fine brain, you win...this time, let's do it. The painkillers finally kicked in, my brain started to work out the logistics needed.

Quickly my fingers opened up a new window, tabbed back to GalNet, highlighted the system, ctrl+x, tabbed to the fresh page and pasted Synuefe NL-N C23-4 B3 into StarMap, the result was pleasantly close, 10 jumps, with a station within 2 jumps. That rueful grin of getting something for free and minimal effort had crept across my visage, more than likely this was probably the effects of the painkillers kicking in.


A quick series of commands to the Fitting yard, remove fuel limpet control module, replace with SRV hanger and vehicle, remove 30t of fuel limpets and refit with cargo racks, engage refuel and repair, prep for take-off.

The commands were duly processed with accompanying flashes of green.

Mopping up the remainder of my breakfast with toast, gulping the last of the soykafe, smile towards the waitress, press my thumb on the scanner to extract the payment from my bank account, pass her a slip of paper with my phone number (bold move, however fortune favours the brave) grab my flight bag and head towards the hangars. My AspX was waiting for me, purring and waiting to be let off the leash.

I had total faith in the droid maint team, and the perfect service record they have obtained. The preflight checks were more for my benefit. Each and every time I check my ship The memories come flooding back to preflight training whereby “The Canon” Channon (the Instructor) would say “use your senses, always run your hand from nose to tail:

touch, feel the fuel umbilical throb as they keep your bird topped up, spin the thrusters, do they run smooth?
see, look, have the team got the carbon buildup from the leading edges removed, is there unusual wear and tear in the leading edges?
smell, are there any unusual smells, the reek of fecylene is not normal (excess fuel, coolant, hydraulic oil)
feel, when you start your bird, are there any vibrations, does it feel right?

Many times this internal checklist has saved my butt. A whole bunch of years ago, I declined a type 7 cause it smelt like roadkill (by pure coincidence, I read months later an article in Galnet that the same starship dealer was duley incarcerated because he sold too many ships that crashed under “mysterious” circumstances).

With renewed vigor, I mount the access stairs 2 at a time, quickly input the access code into the grimy data pad and wait for it to cycle open. Above the door is a Maple Leaf sticker, I cant remember where I got it, and as far as i’m concerned it belonged there. I don’t believe in luck, however I can't stop myself and give the sticker a pat as I walk through, an automatic action that I've done a million times before.

Sitting in the pilots seat, I key in the start-up sequence. The well worn purr of the internal systems coming online, the ship spoke. Thrusters spooling up, leading edges coming online, radio links established, the head up display running through its preflight checks

Tower this is FR1..err..correction PA3712 landing pad 32, requesting lift-off and disembark.
PA3712, why the nic change? you could almost see the question marks in the tower.
PA3712, roger, not on duty, therefore using my old PDF ID.
Roger that PA3712, this is ATC, depart pad 32, maintain correct speed, fly safe, oh seven Commander, don’t forget to engage FSD when outside no fire zone”
ATC out

With the grace of a ballerina, the Starship Bistromath climbed vertically at a stately pace, wove around an errant Adder that was blatantly trying to block me, however with a quick burst of speed, shot past the Adder and saluted the pilot with the appropriate gesture. I popped through the docking portal like a terran bottle of champagne. Clearing the toaster rack, and into the void. A slight pressure left on the stick sending her into a slow and stately barrel roll, With a quick glance to the right of the radar still showed the mass lock light still illuminated, however a blast of the thrusters, caused it to extinguish.

I have made a practice of making friends with chef’s, barworkers, techies, star port authorities and even transport drivers. Generally people that nobody would want to engage with, however I have found (much to my surprise) that these were the ones that furthered my gains, and helped me out in a tight situation.

A couple of stations ago, I met a techie “that knew a friend, that knew a friend”. She pointed me to an experimental program that when activated allowed you to “speak” commands to the computer. Trust me, the name is more grander than its actual nature. In reality it rarely got things right, either deploying hardpoints when I commanded “ turn on night vision” or boosting when the command was lower landing gear. My years of trusting my instincts has saved me from ploughing into the landscape of a planet or being a smear on the side of a starport. The selling point was “allowed me to vocally engage commands rather than extend a pinkie to flick a switch, lazy yes, but it's all about style. With a reluctant press of a switch, I enabled Voice Commands.

Navcomp, plot route Synuefe NL-N C23-4” PLOTTING TO EPSILON PHONECIS, IS THIS CORRECT?, no, plot toSynuefe NL-N C23-4 PLOTTING TO SWOLIZ PK-R B35.

My fist slamming down on the control panel did a number of things, and not all of them advantageous, spilled my coffee cup (reminding me to put a fresh pot on), released pent up aggression/frustration at wasting most part of a day and hit the delete button and erased the voice command subroutine.

Head tracking sensors followed my head rotation across to the NavComp, and manually inputted the destination. Picoseconds later, the green light flashed an acknowledgement on the HUD, lifting the FSD gate, pushing fully home, sitting back and watching the stars spaghettify.

The trip was one of a thousand, uneventful, routine, monotonous jumps. Translate to witchspace, drop to supercruise, scoop, honk, engage, repeat, and finally arrive in the system. The only input from me was to press the button on the soykafe machine. However 10 jumps later I translated into the system, and with practiced moves, searched for the navpoint

The navicomp had assigned the navigation beacon with an icon, with the elevation/depression stalk, and made it easy to find. Dropping into normal space, and manouvered so the beacon was a click or 2 off my canopy. My brain started to drum my fingers, waiting for the electronic download of the system into navcomp.

In reality it was more like, miss the drop point twice, loop of shame, admonish myself, fly up to the beacon, fingers preselecting a system, eyes glued on the scanner, seeing roughly 15 dots swarming around the display waiting for one of the solid triangles to go hollow (when a ship deploys hardpoints (weapons) the corresponding symbol turns from solid to hollow) and waiting for some “pirate” to gank me, hands ready to dance across the controls to get me out of there. However I like the former boring narrative version.

The system data loaded, lazilly watching the other ships loop about, and with a twist of the control handle, rotated my boat to the corresponding escape vector, engaged supercruise, and headed out to the planet designated B3.

At 52,000 the rocky moon was close enough to make it accessible, but still about 2 ½ hours realtime cruising and far enough to verge on the annoying. I had to keep running the words 10.5 extra light year jump range through my thoughts to remind myself that this will be worth it. Within 1000 light seconds away, my detailed surface scanner spooled up its subroutines and started feeding data into the navcomp. Overlay was presented and populated the moon's surface with geographic data, mineral outcrops, and points of interest. Including the site, it was represented as dots of information on my HUD as a tactical overlay.

Having found the guardian site, I targeted it and started my descent to the surface. During this , my computer called up the plans for the Guardian Ruins, and populated points of interest, what to target, what to avoid, and as an added bonus the optimal route for my SRV. Interestingly it was laid out like an old Terra flint arrowhead. Pointy at one end, flaring out triangularly to the base, whereby it was a rectangle. Roughly symmetrical, an uncanny resemblance of an arrow.
It was totally anachronistic but very apt.

With my usual aplomb, the drop down to the planet’s surface, gear down, flare, adjust touch down.In truth was a lot like the others. Point nose at surface, deploy full retro thrusters at the last possible second, flick the toggle for landing gear, and pray to whatever Deity that would listen to slow/stop my descent.
The surface was potato brown and rocky, very rocky. My AspX isn’t the biggest boat out in the fleet, but I was still having problems trying to find space and land. Cliff face to the north, and the quiet graveyard of past commanders that got the landing wrong to the south. It was tight, and gave little error for landing. Finally I managed to set her down on what seemed like the only postage stamp of clear terrain, and powered down.

Looking downwards, the Helm display was projected, fingers selected and started the SRV deployment sequence. With a final glance around the cockpit, unbuckled myself and made my way down into the SRV or buggy bay.

As a nod to my father and the old science fiction movies he “found” and kick-started my love affair with Space and exploration, I fitted a flashing light, it served no purpose whatsoever, but to this day it makes me smile.

The pressure of me sitting in the SRV seat confirmed to the main computer that I was correctly seated, the 6-point harness was secured, and my helmet jack was plugged in. Keying in the deploy systems, and setting her engines to idle. With a couple of subroutines, I had pulled the site data across from the main NavComp over to the SRV. I also keyed an overlay of the ruin site over the HUD. I allowed the Comp to plot optimum course,resource points. Made “live” the system information panel that showed the quantities overlay bottom right.

The blast doors closed, the flashing light started, the void of space was slowly introduced. Once the pressure has been equalised, the light stopped, the bay door opened. The mag clamps descend, and attach either side of the buggy, the floor recedes, and proceeds to lower me to the surface.

The cockpit of the buggy was like sitting in a goldfish bowl, no armour, apart from a couple of strengthening braces, no interfering structures. This gives you the illusion that you’re hanging your ass out in the wind. Saying that, the views that it affords are truly breath-taking.

Like a giant mechanical spider the buggy slowly unfurls her legs, the wheel stanchions rotate and lock. The mag clamps disengage, the buggy touches the surface, and slowly settles a couple inches on her absorbers. The wheel motors rotate to counter the gravity, and she raises back to working height. Leaning over I turn on my constant companion, and the dulcet tones of Radio Sidewinder fill the cockpit, smiling, slowly easing the throttle forward trundling from under the ship, the turret rotated and locked into position, pointed the buggy in the right direction and got to work.

I say work, more like drive, shoot, collect, drive, shoot, collect, repeat ad infinitum. The monotony was broken with the occasional what I like to call the “holy shit” moments where I wasn't paying attention to the route, and accidentally triggered the guardian protectors, however automatons are no match for a human, and made swift work of them. I needlessly spent a couple of days going round and round, collecting materials. This was for a couple reasons, firstly I wanted to make sure that I had enough, secondly I enjoyed the drive. After being cooped up on my boat, the opportunity to go racing across an alien landscape was greatly appreciated. All this hard work culminated in receiving the blueprints. My final scan was the pinnacle of the Guardian structure.

At a predetermined point, I ejected Guardian relic. Nothing. Total anticlimactic. My ire was rising. Turned the buggy around, saw that I had ejected the relic in the wrong spot, picked it up, backed to the predetermined spot and dropped it. Again artistic licence, 9 times it took me to drop the bloody thing...9 bloody times. At one point I was heading back to the ship to get some sleep, clear my head and try again, but my inbuilt stubbornness kicked in.

I was finally rewarded by the monolith opening up. A bright blue ball levitated out of the “dais” with a quick scan it fed the data straight into my SRV computer. The show was beautiful, graceful, precise, and laced with potential destructive energy. Definitely one to tick off my “wow that was neat” list. With the “data transfer complete” overlay on the HUD, everything went dark, and off I trundled back to my boat.

“Comp, overlay next steps, plot route to Tech broker, start SRV recovery program” The docking arms came down, mag-locked on the sides of the chassis, gracefully retracted. Whilst this was happening the legs folded in, the turret stowed, and finally SRV comp synced with main Comp. Fresh O2 cycled into the dock, and a few moments later, green lights flashed on my main system panel and the dock. A twist of a handle, and the accompanying pressure equalisation later, the door gracefully swung open. I climbed out and stretched the last 7 hours in a cramped seat out of my bones.

I headed up to the flight deck with a stop to peel off the bulky Remloc suit and threw it in the wash, and climbed back into my freshly laundered haptic suit.

I was greeted with the NavComp already plotted the next jump point, and the route was overlaid on the HUD. She’s getting smarter. After countless takeoff procedures, my fingers selected the sequence and keyed the preflight start up checks. Slowly bringing the engines up to power, feed into vertical thrusters, check readouts, thumb the landing gear switch, rotate to the crosshairs, ease off vertical thrust, feed into main thrusters, grin, push throttle fully forward, lift gate, pull up interlock, grin wider, into supercruise, and wait to break the planetary gravity well. Break the gravity plane, unbuckle, grab soycafe, back to the command seat, buckle back in, rotate to first waypoint...engage FSD and start mentally totalling what this haul will be bringing in.

4 jumps later, I arrive at Baraniecki Vision in the system of Llyr. With its module selection and shipyard, this port has impressed me more than once.

The sub-ether slightly distorted the monotonous tone of ATC started the landing formalities. “Foxtrot Lima Yankie this is Baraniecki Vision, you have now entered the no fire zone maintain current course, don’t forget to submit docking request before entering”. My fingers punched in the docking request before the transmission had finished. “Foxtrot Lima Yankee, your docking request has been accepted, please use landing pad 6” I hit auto-dock, unbuckled, made my way aft to my quarters, sloughed off the haptic suit, took out the fresh RemLoc suit from the wash/dry machine, hung it on a hanger to dry, sloughed off the haptic suit, balled it up duly threw that into the washing machine started the wash/dry cycle, put on some normal clothes, tucked my blaster into its holster, and made my way to the airlock.

The clunk of touchdown always made me smile. I made entries into the datapad, for a standard replenish and refuel, punched the exit button, waited for the airlock to initiate the cycle routine. Stepping outside and filled my lungs, the reek of promethium and oil filled my lungs, reminded me of my tank. Smiling at the memory, headed down the stairs and headed for the taxi.

Right. The list of things to do was numerous however seemed to follow the time worn tradition. Grab a drink, cash in the exploration data, another drink, see tech-broker, cash in the relevant materials, fit to boat, another drink, find something warm round and cuddly to spend the night with, another drink, and we’ll see what occurs!

The exploration data chimed in at a healthy 31.8mil credits. This had me cracking my heels together like a madman! I totally forgot to change up the data for the past 6ish months of jumping for the Fuel Rats. The tech broker was on par with the “used ship salesman” oily and as two faced as can be. However after selling my alien artefacts and blueprint plans, I was in possession of a new FSD Guardian bolt-on.

Through the bar window I had an uninterrupted view of the pad. I watched the arm of the lifter sink below the surface of the pad, and re emerged with the module pre prepared for fitting. With a spring in my step, and a wry grin at an extra 10.5ly. And with that ordered another self-congratulatory round for myself. One for me, and one for...i had no reason, it just felt right.

The fourth drink paused halfway to my mouth. The data slate had shown me a red X when it came to fitting it to the AspX. Setting the drink down, I had a closer look, INSUFFICIENT SPACE. That stumped me. I thought I had loads, however a quick glance at the schematics showed exactly what insufficient space I had remaining!

Fuel scoop
Limpet controller
Shield generator
Docking Computer
cargo racks (25t)

My demeanour became thoughtful and pensive, tackled with a problem I honestly thought I could work out. The speed of my commands sped up until frantically I started to juggle modules about, storing ones that I have never used, selling ones that I had forgotten about. Try as I might, I couldn’t find that extra class 5 spot.

The time has come to upgrade the AspX. My mood changed, the bar staff must’ve realised this because the waitress was delivering drinks at a faster rate.

Resignation hit me like a Zorgon Peterson Hauler. I had to sell the AspX. My tally was 372. Almost 400 saved souls are still flying in the Black due to my actions, my boat was part of me as I was a part of her. A team. I had amassed countless thousands of assists. My heart was heavy, but the 406mil credit balance soon lifted my spirits.

What seemed like a lifetime ago, and the stark realisation that I needed to do “other things” apart from being a Fuel Rat, I slugged the remainder of my drink, plugged my data slate into a comms port, and proceeded to type requirements. To be fair my list of requirements weren’t extensive. I called up the original order for the AspX including the extra G5 slot.

With dread I punched the enter button, swilled down the remainder of another nameless drink. It burned its way down my throat. Paid the waitress (with enough of a tip to guarantee next time I'm in town that there’s a drink waiting for me before I sat down) and asked her to hail me a taxi. Seconds later the resulting beep on my data slate confirmed that my ride was here.

What seemed like an eternity (in reality only a couple of minutes) browsing Galnet, my eye straying over the “Multipurpose Ships” section and catching up on current affairs. I was that engrossed in the shop selection, my stomach lurched and my inner ear spun. A quick look outside the cap, reaffirmed that within the Star Port I had crossed the gravitational plane. With the ease of a seasoned spacer, I calmed my stomach and senses, focused on a distant point and carried on.

I finally arrived at the Shipyard. A cynical eyebrow rose at the cleanliness of the yard. The deckhands were wearing matching uniforms. Baraniecki Vision was going up in my estimation.

I looked around and saw somebody cutting around, marshalling men and materials, and paid him no attention. My eyes were looking for the vaguely humanoid dressed in the “latest fashion” of an oil stained, greasy blotched boiler suit, that still had the aire of a ball of grease that typified the Shipyard sales assistant. My mind was trying to work out what I needed, and strayed over the various ships on offer. I managed to find a Clipper and with the help of a lifter, was inspecting the Ion focussing rings.

A polite cough brought me out of my reverie, and with a glance downwards there stood the sales person in a suit that was cutting about earlier. Whilst the lifter was retracting, pleasantries were exchanged, and a firm handshake later, we were discussing business.

Baraniecki Vision’s modules and accessories that were displayed on the data slate had virtually every weapon/module/upgrade, and a thriving black market would get the others that were not listed.

I was like the proverbial kid in a sweet shop with about 400 million credits burning a hole in my pocket! However I managed to snap myself out of a potential buying frenzy (much to the salesman’s disappointment) and started to reel off the requirements. This was more for show than anything else, as the dataslate had already fed the information to the shipyard. With a mental shrug I consigned myself to put the Fuel Rat gear into storage signified the end of an era.

Time to do things for myself. Time for change.

We got on the topic of ships, and more specifically what the ship could do for me. This style of sales was a breath of fresh air, and also provided the last nail in the coffin for anointing this as my “home”. He mentioned the latest brace of ships that he had in, to which he mentioned the Krait Mk 2. My bark of laughter echoed around the dock yard. I looked sheepish and hastily apologised. I mentioned that my Pops back in the Marlinist Wars flew one of them. He said it looked great, however it was tiny, single seater and could just about punch itself out of a wet paper bag. If the salesman noticed, he didn’t let on, professionalism oozed from him.

With well worn, salubrious patter, the salesman spoke “Flynzilla, let me introduce you to the Mk2” and with a flourish he dialled up the pad.

When I bought the AspX I likened it to a cat, if this were true then the beast that rose on the platform defied such a petty anthropomorphism. It was an Arrowhead. A machine. A...hunchbacked killer. Something designed with the sole message of “not being on the pointy end”.

The image reminded me of the same shape of the boat that Pops used to fly, but it was bigger, much bigger, the flat wedge shape,split intakes vents for the two huge engines. The underslung cockpit was like a vulture. And room for a pilot and 2 further seats. My jaw flopped open.

Again, the salesman was grinning “this is a common reaction” I waived for him to be quiet, I needed to drink this in. He spoke quickly into a link, I caught the “roger ATC”. He pressed a button. The mechanical gears whirring, a couple of internal clunks, I was wondering if this was on the level, and what this guy was trying to sell. Seconds later the hardpoints were deployed. On top, 3 huge multicannons gracefully lifted from their stowage positions and locked into place. Below, left and right of the cockpit, 2 medium beam lasers hung from the wing like a pair of baleful eyes. My eyebrows retreated so far up my head, I must’ve looked foolish

The tell-tale jiggle of the weapons told me that they were gimballed. I had just about remembered to close my mouth. Again, the salesman clicked a button, and all 5 weapons retracted. I looked at him, and asked if I could have a walk about to think. His smile never faltered, “of course Flynzilla, be my guest”, and with a gesture bade me to have a look. I turned back to him and he was speaking back to ATC to advise that weapons were stowed, and normal flight could resume. The fact that this salesman had deployed hardpoints within the station, and astonishing ATC allowed this to happen got me to add this to the list of “Why Baraniecki Vision is my new home”

The walk around the ship was just for show, I knew deep down that she was mine, and so did he.. With a perfunctory wave to the chap I wandered back to the taxi rank. The oily git knew I was hooked, I’ll be back.

Tipping the waitress with a big tip earlier had worked, by the time I sat down at the bar, my drink on a napkin was waiting for me. On the corner of the napkin, I noticed that there was a kiss in red lipstick. I pulled out my data slate for a bit of work. 46mil credits to get the Mk2, yes I rounded up, I’ve been stung one too many times to use exact figures, insurance was a cool 2.3mil, and to be fair, I have most of the modules saved from the AspX, therefore initial expenditure shouldn’t be that steep. The odd looks I got from the other patrons was the hint that my inside voice had leaked out, and the looks ranged from bemusement to lunacy. Ah well, in for a penny, in for a pound.

Armed with said drink, and a firm idea working around my head and what I want fitted and what is to be sold I set about the task of sorting out the loadout.

Huge multi-cannons, check, gimballed or turreted, not quite sure, I suppose I’ll leave that decision until I have a scrap or three. Next on the list; beam lasers, if it wasn’t for the drink I would’ve laughed out loud. Energy draw is far too high, however good damage per second, burst lasers are the most balanced damage output, power input, finally, pulse lasers, low damage against low power output therefore the beams have to be swopped out for burst lasers for the win. With childlike giddiness I put the AspX’s G5 engineered FSD, and gleefully pressed the button for the Guardian Grade 5 FSD module. Pressed the refresh button, I watched (mouth agape again) the jump range climb above the magic 50ly

I managed to get on the Rat Chat channel, and was pleasantly comparing notes with other commanders and postulating loadouts. The drinks flowed, and I completely missed the light touch at the back of my neck. The barmaid was coquettishly looking at the clock and I. Subtle hints were never my thing, however the sledgehammer look she gave me prompted me to sign off, pay the tab, and head to my quarters. Arm in arm with my Helen of Troy.

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