Sunday, 29 March 2015

Needle. Haystack.

The galaxy serves up a surprise every now and again.

Thousands of commanders. Tens of thousands of systems and stations. A massive distraction from credits earned and the usual scream of tortured boost capacitors.

Something needs finding.

A serious upgrade to your display capabilities is offered for the return of some old tech that is almost 1300 years out of date. Quite oxidised and beyond functional by now I'm sure.

My wrist chrono piece has more computing power, and the item sought isn't even holographic. How... anti-quainted... is that!

So there's only one thing to do. Embrace the madness I say.

I've already found the haystack.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A new dawn at Lugh

There is a peace here now.

Of a sorts.

A hope of tomorrow being different to recent memory. That the future holds a brighter and better thing than recent uncertainty and doubt, pain and fear, sacrifice and loss.

The waging of war has torn this system asunder and now it needs time to rebuild. The Federation is gone, but has certainly not gone far. It will not forget for a long time the solitary system that roared.

Long after the deaths of thousands of civilians there will be a memory of a bloody nose. Perhaps historians will look back with the benefit of hindsight, and more complete knowledge, and call this a cusp in the long history of the Federation.

For now though there is still work to do.

Both factions need stability. Leaders of both sides must learn to operate in a peaceful coexistence again. In a far better way than the rabble rousing and drum beating of war.

Much has been done in the name of people of Lugh. They rightfully expect no less.

Though a nagging doubt arises and I hope that it is just an aberration. When bounty hunters act to drive away lawlessness and bring a return to order, then why does the Crimson State Group have trouble with bounty hunters. A misunderstanding?

For now I can't tell. But I'll stay around for a while to see what emerges.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The quiet before the storm

There was too much at stake.

Lugh stands as a dark reminder of why we talk first. Of why we listen to each other. It is a civilised way to resolve and compromise on differing view points. Much can be achieved without shedding a single life.

The Federation is holding on to all who fall under its protection. Many are united under one banner and welcomed with open arms, and it is so very... very... easy to join. Though once discomfort grows, and circumstances change, it can be found that there are no rules on how to leave. No way to step back outside and say "Thank you, but this is no longer what we want."

Whether won in bloody conflict, or gained through decades of tact and diplomacy, a freedom is earned and defended by those who value it. When the government that you have is no longer the government that you want or can afford then you walk the path of secession.

When leaders and diplomats fail to find a way then there is a civilised war. One that has rules. Where commitments are made and binding contracts are entered into.

Tonight I feel a little cheaper in my soul; in a place where the alcohol cannot dull the pain. Whether signing up to fill your wallet, or protect those you love, the risks are known and understood. Those who have died up until now knew the choices they were making.

Over 9000 civilians dead. Federation civilians in the wrong place. Dead by the hand of their own government.

A civilised war would call that a crime.

The Crimson State Group are desperate enough to take a merc who has fought and killed many of their own. Under contract of course.

Though I may have lost sight of what is right I do still know what is wrong.

No longer am I alone.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

A blood dawn at Lugh

I visited Lugh once when I had just started schooling. The people were warm and welcoming and I have fond recollection of a family holiday. Like all childhood memories there are rose tinted moments that have been forgotten... now remembered... and put into light in a way that only a grown mind can comprehend.

A thin red line that was never going to be crossed.

A strange symbol painted on a wall: attractive to a curious young mind but coloured a bright angry red. Father picking up the pace and ushering the family on quickly. Angry voices stirring behind us. Our mother drawing us closer and a question dying on my lips: barely started and quickly shushed.

My memory has no understanding of the loud voices spoken by strangers and in another tongue. My grown up eyes see anger directed at unnamed tourists in the wrong place. We were not local. Not so friendly.

The innocence has gone now and the fierce local pride has spilled over. The desire to have self determination has grown and bloody war has finally dawned in Lugh.

For me there is no great love for the Federation, and childhood memories blunt the call for freedom in Lugh. So I can't quite bring myself to believe either side. That memory 40 years gone has now dulled any passion for the cause.

Perhaps I have become more mercenary in the way that I view the world, especially when fighting battles on behalf of others.

That wasn't expected.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

There's painite in them thar asteroids...

There's no such thing as a gold rush these days. Just drop in on your local extraction economy and pick up a few tonnes. Expensive, yes. But there is an indifference to it now that history channels enjoy recounting tales of the early frontiers when Sol was all we had.

So a new market has opened up for highly mobile socialites. It just takes a few brave souls to find some and get their hands dirty digging it out of an asteroid. Running past the local pirates who demand you stand and deliver. Selling at a station for polishing, mounting and trading at a jeweller near you.

No doubt people will die for this.

So the bright sparkling young socialite things can play my daddy is richer than your daddy.

If you discovered a source of this rare mineral, would you stake a secret claim or declare open for all?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Reprise at Sorbago

I wasn't sure I'd have reason to be here again so quickly.

The last time it was all out bloody war.

Senator Torval had committed forces in full suppression of the slave rebellion, calling on the commanders of the Federation of Pilots to assist. Many came and not all fought on the side of the slaver.

I was one of those pilots.

The uprising lasted for 10 days while I sought answers on why the slaves had fought back. Combat failed to tip the balance. A tenuous trail to the Federation via Mastopolos Corporation went cold, and intel from captured transmissions was too little too late.

Its gone quiet. No one else seems to care. A lone capital ship stands on patrol, and another in the adjacent system of Synteini. All quiet I'm sure.

I'm back. To wage war again.

This time armed with a box.

[Reprise video blog series: The Slave uprising at Sorbago]

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Two jumps out, three jumps back

The sediment of the Gerasian gueuze beer settled at the bottom of the glass: illuminated motes of light like the cluster of stars fronting a nebula.

The Alliance terraforming initiative has certainly paid dividends.

A modest 9 trips over two days netted a tidy profit and I don't feel any need for a grumble. Even though the trade trip was essentially one way, what with terraforming planets being very demanding, there were a number of side missions accumulated. The box can deliver on those as well, and it even became worthwhile making a detour with enough contracts to fulfil.

Bubbles in the beer continued to pop with glowing vigour, filling the air with a deep and heady aroma of fermented grain.  The dimmed lights of the booth leave my face awash with the bio-luminescence from the beer, gradually fading away as the level in the glass falls.

It hadn't taken long for the nearest source of land enrichment systems to dry up so jumps had to be made further afield. Much further afield. The range of a Lakon-7 is severely curtailed when loaded to capacity, so the two jumps for the empty journey out became three jumps to bring the cargo back. That could catch a trader out in a sparse volume of space.

There are more planets that need terraforming. I'll keep an eye out for those. Alliance space is becoming more attractive a place to trade for the improvements being made.

I pulled on the last mouthful, savouring the warmth and flavour of the brew. The waitress was being attentive tonight and smiled at me just as the glass touched the table, my booth having now fallen deeper into shadow.

The box had done well. I ordered another glass.

I could afford to.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Oh no, not again

So its a box.

"Isn't she a beaut? Nearly new with one previous and careful owner. Just look at those lines."

The lines are all square and angular and join very neatly to make sharp pointed corners.

The very definition of a box.

The salesman seems not to notice the laser scars and welded repair plates scattered across the hull, his eyes just a little too wide to convincingly match the smile stretched across his face. I resisted the temptation to point to details, after all he's still going through his sales pitch and we're not yet negotiating.

As we wander into the cargo hold I pass a guilty glance over to my Asp parked a few bays down. I'm still wondering if this is the right thing to do.

"Plenty of space. You can haul just about anything you want!"

The other end of the cargo hold is barely visible, though that could be only the small number of internal lights that still seem to be working. I let out a loud whistle and wait for the echo. 

"Excellent sound proofing! You won't hear any complaints from the cargo!"

So that's why the ship is now up for sale at what is already a good price. It has a history, and probably with one of those clans that like to sit on the periphery of a system accidentally making an occasional honest credit.

Back outside I point to the stubby and awkward wings that protrude from the side. The ship obviously needs additional cooling and radiative surface area.

"Oh ... they're for aerodynamic stability and have been known to land on planets. Notice the styling on the front for atmospheric flow and scooping through the corona of a star."

I nod as if imagining and appreciating the possibilities behind his words. I've convinced myself... but not for his reasons. It is time to change career again.

We soon get down to the detail of haggling price and terms. Nothing new here, money speaks and my Asp is in better condition for trading on and he knows it.

At one point I compared the box to an old and extinct Sol creature called a whale. He looked at me blankly. I could see him consider the negotiating benefit of asking the question, but the moment passed and it would have felt awkward.

"Er...what's a whale?"

I had my back to him and so cocked my head, pretending to wait for the echo.

We eventually settled on price and traded contracts. He left me with the access codes and wandering the ship as the new owner, his mind having already forgotten me and on to a list of buyers for the Asp. Conceding that it might just make it through an atmosphere, I still didn't quite fancy playing with the ground yet though.

The salesman had failed to mention how many had successfully taken off.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Meditation in exploration

Inhale. A slow deep breath. Exhale. Gradually and uniformly.


...until you see beyond the scratches on the canopy.


...until the hum and whirr of mechanical devices keeping you safe have no presence in your thoughts.


...until the blood pulsing through your body grows to a roar that diminishes and finally fades away.