Thanks Tohron. I'll make sure to read up.
Triaxx I'm assuming you mean Ceo's Buckzoid? And that's a really good idea. Keeps me in relatively safe sectors at least. I also may be able to repair my rep with the Boron enough to fly the Endless through. Hmmm. Something to consider, anyway.
stads, thanks! Glad to hear you've enjoyed it. I'll do my best. I've grown rather fond of these characters too. Although I think in Rebirth everybody plays one character, like in earlier episodes. I'm also pretty certain we get stuck in one ship for the duration.
4. Go West Young Man
Two more Harriers entered the sector through the north gate as I was on my way back to dock at the Endless. Then, while I was still workin' on gettin' those two out of our hair, another two scouts jumped through the gate in front of us. Gin was tryin’ to get the Endless to the gate but it was slow goin', and for me, well, even against nothin' but scouts I was really missin' the other two shields the Tenjin can carry. Harriers use particle accelerator cannons. A few bursts from those do a number on just twenty five megs of shieldin'. When I returned to the hangar deck Gunny t'Kt had a surprise for me for me, though. Apparently that Buster we recovered still had a functioning five megajoule shield and a single particle accelerator cannon, both of which we could bolt onto the Tenjin.
Somethin' is better'n nothin, right?
Yeah. So we installed the shield and mounted that PAC in the right turret. At least I'll have some cover. While we were at it, though, another pair of pirates in a Buster and a Harrier came through the gate right in front of us and by the time we had that cannon connected to the Tenjin's power supply those frakkers were takin' hot runs on the Endless. Apparently my decision to clean ‘em out of the Maelstrom - Gaian Star pipeline upset ’em some and now that I’d failed they were feelin’ bold. So I launched and went after ‘em, silently prayin’ it wouldn’t be this hot all the way back to Argon Prime.
That does beg the question, though, as to HOW I’m gettin’ back to Argon Prime. If I head due west through Argon space over to Scale Plate Green and Teladi Space I’ll eventually end up tryin’ to make my way through Split controlled sectors ... followed by the pirate alley between Thuruk’s Beard and Elena’s Fortune. Now the pirate sectors are bad enough but crossin’ Split space would just be suicidal seein’ as the Split have lots of really big guns and fast ships and after all the time I spent liberatin’ ’em of those fast ships and big guns, well, they currently think I’d make great target practice. Now I could try makin’ my way south from Scale Plate Green through X347 and into Teladi space. Then west through Avarice into Montalaar but to do that I still have to cross X347 to get there and then the pirate alley from Hatikvah’s Faith over to Elena’s Fortune to get out. It would also mean crossin’ Avarice ... which could be tryin’ in other, less obvious, ways. I could also head south from the Wastelands into Sacred Relic and by that end up in Paranid controlled space. But the Paranid don’t like me much more’n the Split do. After that I’d end up in either Boron or pirate sectors. So no matter how I go, in order to get back to Argon Prime I have to cross lots of unfriendly space with lots of folks doin’ their absolute best to kill me. It’s a conundrum to say the least.
So not havin’ a clue about what I’m gonna do about it I just put it all out of my mind and concentrated on gettin’ out of Merchant’s Haven in one piece. A little while later we’d reached the approach run on the north gate and I took the Tenjin to scout ahead and confirm that there wasn’t a Destroyer on the other side of the gate about to plow through the ship. It was clear enough and several moments later Gin brought the Endless through.
After I docked again we launched a camera drone to scout the sector while the Endless made her way toward the center of the sector. I was considerin’ pullin’ up alongside the shipyard to offload the Barracuda and the Buster and maybe take a mission or two in the sector to add some digits to my rather pathetic bank account ... when I noticed somethin’ ahead of us that I didn’t like. Namely a Xenon L.
Now my first thought was that I didn’t want to try takin’ on an L in that under-shielded Tenjin in the hangar bay. The next thought I had, though, while lookin’ a little ways off to the left, was: what’s that?
Which in turn was followed promptly by, ‘oh shit.’
So in that moment I decided that we really didn’t have any business in Grand Exchange that couldn’t better be conducted elsewhere and immediately orderd Gin to make for the west gate with all haste. Let the Grand Exchange deal with the frakkin’ Xenon. Shit, I don’t know why they didn’t just blow the north gate decades ago, or tow it a few hundred thousand kilometers out into space, or at the very least surround it with enough lasertowers and squash mines to feed a K its teeth. But noooo. These idiots leave the door unlocked and a Q and its mates show up every few days to pound the hell out of the sector. Well let ‘em have it, I say. I’m sure not stickin’ around to be part of that Q’s next meal.
Runnin’ for your life in TL, however, does seem a little bit like a contradiction in terms. Fortunately those overgrown calculators were busy beatin’ the snot out of the local stock exchange. Now there’s a really good joke in there. I can feel it teasin’ around the outskirts of my brain but it just refuses to catch. Either way I had enough time to check the Shipyard for anything new and interesting. All I found out is that the Teladi don’t think nearly as high of me as they used to. About the only thing they were willing to sell me was a Harrier or a Toucan. Not that it matters with my bank account in the state it’s in but I did find it tellin’ that without the billions I had in assets they’re ready to seat me in front of the kitchen again. I guess maybe they remembered all those Casinos I stole from ’em not too long ago.
Shit, I wonder how Slots is doin’? It’s easy to picture that wiley lil' lizard up in Ceo’s Buckzoid or Teladi Gain fleecin’ all the Boron traffic. I’d hate to think that he’s dead. But then if I had to I’d bet that anybody capable of jumpin’ into a vat of spacefuel for an extended bath is capable of doin’ what he had to to get his investment out of harms way before the Terran military blew it to hell. I hope so. I kinda liked that lizard. Still, the Flamingo?
Anyway, a little while later we passed through the west gate into the Belt of Aguilar where we launched another of the Endless’ camera drones. Now I never did much business with Jonferco and as a result I never had much reason to visit the Belt of Aguilar but even so I don’t remember there bein’ a north gate. Navigational info says it goes to a place called ... Albion? Huh.
I’m tempted to go exploring. I’ve never heard of Albion before. If it wasn’t for the twenty five hundred hungry people aboard the Endless I would but right now I need money and I need food for them. The only opportunity for any kind of employment was a Split wanting somebody to follow an associate that he suspected of selling trade secrets. I wasn’t sure if he knew me at first but as we were talkin’ a light seemed to go on behind his eyes. After that he seemed to be repressin’ that leer the Split get whenever they’re feelin’ particularly vicious. I cut comms without givin’ him an answer. Why take the risk, right?
So I decided to move on to Midnight Star. Without the pirates or the Xenon comin’ out of the woodwork it was actually pretty smooth sailin’. I still led the way through the gate in the Tenjin but other than some traders lookin’ at me cross-eyed nobody bothered us. There was
a Paranid weapons dealer in a Helios that got my attention when he launched his fighters but they just flew escort as we passed each other. So we launched another drone to scout while the Endless made it’s way across the sector.
I found both work and food in Midnight Star. The job was perfect. There was a pirate in a harrier strafin’ a Drone Plant. The manager of the Drone Plant answered my call herself. She was an irritated lookin’ Argon woman who offered me a couple thousand credits to get rid of the pirate shootin' her station and any of his friends that showed up. It was easy work, even in an under-equipped fighter. I just got to the plant and waited for the Harrier to start a strafin’ run. Then I put plasma in his path. A friend of his did show up out of the west gate but before I was even able to bracket him the Argon military turned him into ash and space debris.
After that I was on my way back to the Endless when I saw the cahoona bakery and decided to take care of the food problem. There’s nothin’ like a few metric tons of processed beef and spices to quiet the masses. After that, though, there didn’t seem to be anything goin’ on in the sector. So after the beef was unloaded I once again left in the Tenjin to lead the way through the next gate, this time into the Wastelands where I am confronted with the need to make a decision.
I can head south into Paranid space from here. I can head south to Sacred Relic and then across to Clarity’s End before headin’ up into Hatikvah’s Faith. If I don’t I have to choose between the Xenon in X347 or seven sectors of the Split in between Two Grand and either Company Pride or Hatikvah’s Faith. The problem with goin’ south, though, is that the Paranid despise me and I suspect a few of their captains would be willin’ to pay to be rid of me if the cost was just a few Hornet missiles. Now if it was just me and Gin and Gunny I might be willin’ to risk it, but it’s not. There are twenty five hundred people, includin’ doctors, nurses, school teachers, librarians, priests and priestesses, men, women and children who are all dependin’ on me to keep them alive and safe. I could try and make the trip in the Tenjin but honestly that’s a long way with a high likelihood of attractin’ the wrong kind of attention in a ship that isn’t all that fast.
Which leads me to the next subject of my rather slow and falterin’ thinkin’. At some point I’m gonna have to cross enemy space. Unless I can somehow make nice with everybody the Terrans, the Split, the Paranid, just about every pirate around and even the Boron want me dead and the Xenon want everybody dead. There is no route that does not cross enemy space. Now with my only defense bein’ that Tenjin fightin’ with anythin’ larger than a fighter or two is a losin’ situation. That means runnin’ ... and as good a ship as it may be the Tenjin is not very fast. So I’m thinkin’ that I may be forced to acquire a good scout ship somehow. Somethin’ fast enough sprint across enemy sectors and blaze the trail. Once in a safe sector with coordinates for the jumpgates the Endless will then be able to follow usin’ her FTL. So I guess I’m aimin’ to get a good fast scout. Best one I know of offhand is the Kestrel, and I’m pretty sure they sell those in the shipyard over in PTNI HQ. So for now I think that’s the plan, earnin’ money as I go.
* Note, camera drones are a function of the Salvage Command Suite by TECSG. Normally they are visible in the inventory. Unfortunately the jump beacons from Lucike’s Script Package use the same ware slot. As a result, in my game, the one item has two functions. It’s not my preference but I thought you should know.