An Ideal Victim
Dith Ouonnu's tale:
So I pulled-out of Tiared main on the regular milkrun to Maedrebe. Sure, it’s a max jump, but my Cobra III The Solo is iron-assed and well-maintained. Besides, this is fairly civilised space round these parts... I should know, I was fledged on Tiared. This is my manor, so to speak... I know it like the top of my beak! Anyhow, I headed away from the station at full boost and hit hyperspace... and as the clock wound down, another Cobra III slipped onto my six. Thinking the guy needed to travel far, he was welcome to hitch a lift... it’d cost me nothing, after all!
Six-point-eight lights means about forty-six hours in the tube, but old spacers such as I are well accustomed to that... it’s our down-time, safely cocooned in that mysterious dimension known as witchspace. So I settled into my usual routine and time passed. About thirty odd hours in, I was sitting in the galley, engrossed in my basket-weaving... it’s so therapeutic for us avians, is basket-weaving... and pondering some tea, when the klaxon sounded! What the... then the penny dropped! I was at midway... and that meant only one thing... Thargoids! There’s always a first time, they say, and this was mine... my hyperspace drive shouldn’t have failed, but it had! I raced to the bridge and eye-balled the scanner... thank It, there were only two of them, but one was already laying green beams on The Solo. That got me pretty damn mad, and I came-about to engage the warship... but before I could take one shot, that hitch-hiker emerged and quick as a flash put his ship between The Solo and the warship, taking some heavy hits. As his Cobra swept across my bow I saw the black and crimson dragon on its underside, and the shipcomp provided its name... Spindrifter! Well, thinks I... that’s exactly the type of hitch-hiker an avian needs! The two warships had disgorged a whole bunch of drones by now, but The Solo and Spindrifter between them soon splashed their motherships... and then it was just the two of us, amid a cloud of inert, tumbling drones.
I thanked the guy over the comms, but he made no reply, not a word... just opened-up on me with his mil laser, he did... without any provocation! I was soon in one of the craziest dogfights I’ve ever known. You see, it soon dawned on me that he was toying with me... not pressing the advantage when he had it, taking hits he could’ve avoided. Oh, he was some bloody pilot, alright... our ships were evenly matched, and I’ve been around some, but he flew rings round me! Picked my beautiful ship apart, he did... plate by plate. With red lights all across the board, I fired-off my four missiles at random intervals... but he just brushed them aside, even though he must have been well damaged himself, what with the warships, and then me, laying into him. Now the end was in sight though... the prospect of ejecting in interstellar space was not a pleasant one, but I reached for the handle, swore heartily, and yanked it! Soon as I ejected, the hitch-hiker left The Solo alone and started atomising inert drones, while my escape pod was speeding away to It knows where! Then he came for me. I wasn’t too sure what he’d do, to be honest, but he deftly scooped my pod... and then the auto-sleep systems put me under.
When I came to, I found myself on Articeso main... and this guy was there waiting for me. Cody, he called himself! Ordinary-looking guy, if those damn human colonials ever look ordinary, that is. I damn near went for him, but he had this crooked grin on his space-ravaged face, and a glint in his eye... and he apologised, promising an explanation over a few ales in the bar. And here I sit now, telling you this tale. I had been his unwitting mule, you see... I had facilitated his passage across the Great Rift from Tiared to Articeso, and he even paid me. Yep, paid me five hundred credits, he did... though I do wonder if that is in any way related to the insurance he collected on me. Top premiums, I pay! Elite combateers? Think they bloody own the whole goddam galaxy, they do... strut around, ignore docking protocols... a law unto themselves! But we had a drink and a chat, and I found myself liking the bastard... and I had to hand it to him, he sure could fight his ship! And he told me how and where I could re-cross the Rift, in the shiny new Cobra III that my insurance has provided... all I need is an ideal victim... hmm!