SPG - A Life in the Gemini Universe...(Story)
This is a story about a young man, living in the time and place we call the Gemini Universe. He has just one goal, to live long enough to make his fortune, find someone for himself, and settle down. But first, he has the usual problems all young men have, like school, and parents, and getting that all important first ship. His future awaits him, either good or bad, long...or short, but he's ready or so he thinks.
Chapter 1: Schools Out
Jason went to get his last exam for the day and he was deadly serious, his grades were better than average and even at that, his father was never satisfied.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There's a universe full of people out there better than you, and I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t raise you for 18 years to see you die in the first month.Ã¢â‚¬Â His father, Phillip screamed as his wife fought to settle them down, almost on a daily basis, since school was almost over, and with it Jason's graduation, and his first shot at a real life.
Jason slid into the simulator and the teacher started it up, He was flying through an asteroid field, and sure enough, an enemy ship appeared from behind a rock and attacked, hardly original, but he evaded and made a seriously tight turn and went back in right behind his attacker and made mincemeat out of his rear shields. Then he went to work on the hull and in less than 5 minutes the satisfying blast from the enemy showing that, once again, Jason had beaten the simulator.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“82...Ã¢â‚¬Â he saw on the monitor and he stepped out, furious.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whats this 82 crap??? That was dead perfect, I should have gotten a better score than that.Ã¢â‚¬Â he argued as the teacher just nodded very seriously right back at him and Jason saw he missed something.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When the shield failed, why didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you ask for surrender?Ã¢â‚¬Â He asked as JasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face fell, in a simulator that might work but he was getting ready for the real world, and who ever fires the first shot better finish it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The odds of him surrendering are a million to one...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said seriously as the man smiled for a split second and shook his head no.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Actually, its 25 to 1.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason looked less than amused.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Have you ever seen anyone surrender, really?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked just as seriously and the teacher laughed out loud.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I did, back when I was piloting and before my wife made me stop that to teach.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason looked surprised himself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You were perfect, right up until you took every chance to make sure no one escaped, you were really into it there for a minute, I almost threw out a couple escape pods when it went up to see what you'd do, but if you fired on one with all that adrenalin running, then I'd have to fail you.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said very,very seriously as Jason looked away and thought about it for a minute. Firing on an escape pod was strictly forbidden, even if that same scum came back tomorrow in a battleship, you had to let him go.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'd never do that, or a spacesuit...that would be inhumane.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said very softly as the man finally smiled and patted him on the back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“With your other scores and this one you more than pass, so donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry about it, but remember, even pirates and rogues want to live, and given the chance, you might get a bigger ship than you started out with.Ã¢â‚¬Â With that the exam was over and Jason went home to tell his dad his score and listen, once again to him telling him that anything less than 100% was bad,but when he got there he was the surprised one as his dad just smiled and nodded and his mom congratulated him on passing his piloting exams.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So, tomorrow's the big one hey, Command exams?Ã¢â‚¬Â His dad asked as Jason nodded it was true. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Pass those this well and you'll have no trouble getting a good job with some freight company or even the sector security men.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said but he knew that wasn't going to happen. Jason had been working the docks weekends and hours after school for two years, and hadn't spent a single credit that he knew of, and he was invited a dozen times to partys and he went, empty handed... and his friends started laughing and telling everyone how cheap he was, but the select few that really knew him well knew, that every cent was saved for his first ship, and he was very close to having enough laid back for it by now.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The shipyard called...Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillip started very slowly and Jason's mother almost dropped the food she was preparing to hear this discussion start after all this time. Ã¢â‚¬Å“they said they got a gunboat in you asked about, and wanted to know if you were still interested.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said looking up to see what Jason would say, but he just bucked up and stood tall and asked if they told him the price and his mom nearly cried.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“A gunboat...really? Planning on becoming a lawman, or a rogue?Ã¢â‚¬Â Phil asked as Jason gave him a really dirty look and his mom started towards them before something bad happened.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'll never be rogue, they're the scum of the universe.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said seriously and his dad almost couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop the smile that crept up on him to hear that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I made the trip down for you anyways,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phil said looking away as Jason wondered what was coming next.Ã¢â‚¬ÂThey said you talked about payments on any good used one and the one they got in was a surrendered rogue ship some bounty hunter brought in. They gave him peanuts for it so they can let it go cheap.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They actually admitted they gave him peanuts for it?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked nearly laughing as Phil sat up as tall as he could and JasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mom started to smile.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I bought ships there before, they know me, and they were worried that I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want you out there so they called when you werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t home.Ã¢â‚¬ÂHe said seriously as Jason nodded and waited for the other foot to drop. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It'll need things....like another scanner and two shields, but its not in bad shape. I still have no idea how you think you'll pay a crew for that thing, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 20 men and women every month waiting with their hands out...but the down payment was made today, 10k...and you'll have to pay me back someday, us retired people cant afford charity.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as Jason's mom started to cry and Jason walked over and him and his dad hugged for the first time in years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Every cent I promise,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said and he went out the door to go see what ship they called about, and Phil called ahead and made the deal that he had just promised, before Jason found out that he was being tested.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You old softy,Ã¢â‚¬Â He heard as he smiled a little too wide.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Being a lawman isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a bad thing, its just usually a short life,if your not careful, but he's got the skills, if he uses them well.Ã¢â‚¬Â He admitted as his wife gave him a big kiss and thanked him for being a good dad.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whats the ship look like?Ã¢â‚¬Â she asked and he handed her a small pamphlet with pictures and specs and it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t an old used one either, but a book for a brand new ship.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the model there,Ã¢â‚¬Â he mentioned as she nodded,Ã¢â‚¬Â its not really new but its pretty close,and with what he's saved all these months and that down-payment, he shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have any trouble getting a good start.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You think he can make it then?Ã¢â‚¬Â She asked softly as he smiled really wide, and she nearly laughed out loud.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“His teachers tell me that his averages are better than the military academy entrance exams, and they wanted me to get him to go there, but he'll never listen to someone else telling him what to do, hell, he barely listens to me.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said and they both did get a short little laugh. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes, I think he'll do just fine.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Chapter 2: The Future
Jason was on the docks in record time and they walked out together, him and the salesman that said he had dealt with his dad on the down payment, and Jason walked up and down the side looking the ship over, even the few burn marks from the last fight barely scraped the paint, and he smiled a lot. As he walked along the salesman talked about the ship and what it needed and what it had and his dad was pretty close with what he had mentioned earlier.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Normally we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give young kids just starting out this kind of deal, but the down payment covered more than half the cost, so we're being flexible today.Ã¢â‚¬Â the salesman said, all smiles and Jason knew that they were just happy to make a quick buck.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Needs two shields right?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked and the man agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If used doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother you we can give you a heck of a deal, another ship came in and its just about totaled, but its got some good parts on it we can move over real cheap.Ã¢â‚¬Â He offered as Jason asked how much and what parts they were and he even handed the man enough credits to pay for the parts in advance.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It'll be ready, right after graduation, I promise,Ã¢â‚¬Â The little man said and ran away,letting the codes with Jason who went on board and walked from one end to the other, just looking at everything and even checked to make sure the crews quarters had everything they needed as well. It wasn't the cheapest ship made but it wasn't the best either, and he checked to see if it had guns and was happy to see a single turret on top with a light rail gun,and a single torpedo launcher up front. That would rattle some windows, and he decided that he was ready, and he went home and got his late dinner and went to bed early so he'd be ready for his finals tomorrow.
7am came early, but Jason was up well before that. He got his own breakfast and was away when his mother came out to help and saw only a note saying he was on his way to school. She smiled widely as Phil walked out yawning and she showed him the note and he just shook his head. If enthusiasm was worth anything this kid would do very well, and he sat down and had some coffee while his wife made his breakfast for him.
By 9am the last set of exams would be going on, and with that, Jason' s Command codes and license. There wasn't a teacher Phil had talked to that thought Jason wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make it, hell, he had more credits than he needed to graduate the school, but Command is different, its almost like a separate school itself and even the best ships crew might not graduate there, since it took in a whole different set of factors,but even with that, he saw it as a sure thing, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why he made the down payment yesterday. If his son wanted his own ship and crew that badly, then he'd get it, with or without his help, and he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the kind of father to let his only son go off into space thinking badly of him.
Jason sat there in the exam room just staring at the screen when the teacher walked in, and looked surprised to see him there. He thought maybe he was late but the other command students were still in the hall waiting and talking but not this one and he smiled wider than any time recently. Jason was top of the class no doubt about it, and his father had been to school a week ago asking a lot of questions, and it looked like he had made the right choice. Jason was getting his ship no doubt and this last class was his only stumbling block to his new life. He had been teaching for a long time, and he seldom saw this kind of seriousness in a young student, and many of his graduates were still out there, flying and making the universe more safe for them all, so he was really interested to see how this one would do.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The exam will take 4 hours, with a break in the middle,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason looked his way and nodded he understood.Ã¢â‚¬Âyou might want to go to the bathroom or get a drink before it starts.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'm ready...Ã¢â‚¬Â was his only answer and he turned away to keep Jason from seeing the look of absolute joy he got seeing him like this. His serious look and determination, as well as his previous grades in this class, already guaranteed him his license, but he was here, early and so deadly serious that even the teacher, with 10 years military experience had to be impressed.
The room slowly filled as the few that took the class made their way in and every one, without exception saw Jason and his determined look, and they seemed to absorb some of it and got more serious themselves. There would be many, many contracts in their future, and a lot of money and reputation to be made and he was their most serious competition, and there wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a man or woman in the room that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know that already as the test started and Jason seemed to scream through it and sat there minutes earlier than anyone else, just looking forward at the teacher until even he had to admit that he was finished and waved him forward and the rest of the room looked up as he took Jason's test and told him he could wait outside, and he walked out as some of the others looked at where they were on their tests and shook their heads, he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have been that good..so they ignored him and finished themselves as the teacher went about grading the first exam of the new year. He finished it and sat there looking serious at the rest of the class and walked down the row to see where they all were and decided he had the time. He took Jason's test and reached inside his desk drawer and pulled out a small card that had been made up in advance , and stepped outside to see Jason sitting on the spiral staircase waiting and he walked over very seriously and handed him his Command codes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Needless to say, you passed...Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason seemed to breath out loud for the first time today.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thank you sir,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said very formally as the man just smiled.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I would like to ask you about one or two of your answers thought, it wont change your score, I promise.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason agreed,and he pointed out the ones he had questioned.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My ship and crew will be registered as 'Independent' that means neutral,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said softly as the man smiled and nodded,Ã¢â‚¬Â if thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an emergency, I'll help anyone, rescue anyone, regardless of their politics. Politics is a waste of time and resources.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That might be a hard line to hold if a war breaks out.Ã¢â‚¬Â he was told but he just shrugged and looked at his codes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'll do my best to protect my ship and crew even if that means not working some sectors.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as the man nodded and patted him no the back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Good luck,Ã¢â‚¬Â He said and went back inside to see the rest of the class and grade their tests as well.
Chapter 3: Beginnings
Jason was sitting there when a couple friends walked out of their finals too,and stopped to wave their diplomas in his face.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ships engineer, first class,Ã¢â‚¬Â the one chubby young man said as his friend the tall, skinny one waved his as well. They were the odd couple, been friends for years and looked almost exactly the opposite of each other, Frank and Stan, the best mechanics in school, no doubt, but their flip attitude and some strange vibes they seemed to give off made them less than popular.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Good for you, any job offers yet?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked as they looked around at the empty hall way and saw no recruiters anywhere near.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That'll be later,thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s partying to do...Ã¢â‚¬Â They said but Jason shook his head no and the fat one asked if he was ok. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You failed didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you? How was that possible, your the best Command candidate in the school?Ã¢â‚¬Â
At that Jason pulled out his command codes and waved them in his face and the kid started to laugh, he'd been had.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Psych...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they all laughed as another group walked up.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I see you passed, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great!Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason heard as he looked up to see three girls standing there, all smiles and all holding their diplomas as well. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If I'm not working when you get a ship give me a call, I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mind being a navigator for you.Ã¢â‚¬Â She said as one of the other girls elbowed her in the ribs and she demanded it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Slip 13 at the shipyardÃ¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they all seemed to stop instantly and stared at him in disbelief.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whats at the shipyard, your dreams?Ã¢â‚¬Â he heard as Steve walked up, with three of his 'posse' that followed him everywhere, all in light combat gear from their finals as well, ships security and boarding, and they all seemed to have made it too. But Jason reached inside his jacket and pulled out the little booklet his father had the day before and handed it to Steve who looked at it seriously with all the others looking as best they could over his shoulder.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“A gunboat, no way, you've got a gunboat?? ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just so unfair...Ã¢â‚¬Â One of the men said as Steve gave them a stare that shut them up immediately.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Looking for crew...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said seriously and softly as the girls and almost everyone except Steve smiled wide.Ã¢â‚¬ÂNot a full crew to start, maybe 3-4 security guys and a bridge crew, might have 2-3 mechanics as well if they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mind helping on the docks when nothing needs fixed.Ã¢â‚¬Â he went on as everyone there smiled it seemed they were all on his list or possible list if they wanted to be.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'll go,Ã¢â‚¬Â Val said as everyone looked at her with suspicion and she still demanded that nothing was going on, and Jason smiled, they had been friends forever, and she might be thinking further ahead than him right now, but he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mind.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have a navigator, anyone else?Ã¢â‚¬Â and the odd couple decided they could give him a try, having a job before you even left school the first day had to look good on your resume later. Jason looked at the other two girls, and he knew them both pretty well, they were Val's friends and together they could make up his bridge crew with their separate expertise. Ã¢â‚¬Å“need a weapons person and communications specialist, what do you think?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as they seemed to mull it over.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We'll go, but only if you can prove you have this ship...Ã¢â‚¬Â one said pointing to the book as Jason slowly stood and turned to go.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You boys coming? ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work if you want it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as the three looked pretty happy but Steve was still looking very sour about working for Jason. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Steve can be in charge if you all come, I need a security Commander too.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said and walked away with his new crew in tow, and the three security men looked sadly at Steve who still seemed to stand there, looking stubborn until he looked around at their faces and they were all but pleading for him to go, and he silently took a deep breath and called after Jason.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Your responsible for weapons and medical,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said more like a question than anything else and Jason didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even stop walking but just waved for them to follow, and after a second to growl to himself, they did, and Jason had his first crew.
They all went to the shipyard and walked all through the little ship. It was just as advertised and the girls fit right in checking out the equipment and making sure it was all in working condition.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It's level 1 everything, not the best but usable,Ã¢â‚¬Â one said as everyone agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And who's the Captain of this vessel?Ã¢â‚¬Â They heard as they looked around at a tall man in a fine suit standing there and Jason walked over and shook his hand.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That would be me...Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as the man looked him up and down.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“TodayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s graduation, we all know, so its a busy day for us here at Gemini Aviation Authority, so lets see them, diplomas please..Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as everyone gave him theirs and he copied them with his hand scanner and they all checked out. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Command Codes...Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as Jason handed them to him and he scanned them as well. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Seems all is in order here, congratulations on graduation and your first job.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said shaking everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hands as they all smiled widely.Ã¢â‚¬ÂBe careful out there things are a little tense right now.Ã¢â‚¬Â And with that he left the ship and they were officially registered with the Authority as a legal vessel.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“OK, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s it...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as the girls looked around from their posts,Ã¢â‚¬Â we're a legal operating craft, so go home and get your things and be back by tomorrow morning, then we'll go see about making a living.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as they cheered and walked out to see their parents and tell them they had work on the first day and Jason went home to get his things too, and thanked his parents for putting up with him all these years.Ã¢â‚¬ÂAnd I'll see your repaid, with interest.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as he walked out with his bag over his shoulder, and was in the middle of calling another friend or two about jobs on board, and his mother looked like she'd cry, but she held it in. She was so proud of him, he had this dream since he was 10 and now it was happening and she gave her husband a hug and started to say something but saw a tear roll down his cheek and she understood that talking wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessary right now, and they stood there, watching as Jason got into a vehicle and was whisked away into his new future.
Chapter 4: Shakedown
By the time he got back one of his calls had born fruit...quite literally, as cases of fruits and vegetables were lined up on the dock near his ship. If he was going to be traveling everyone had to eat, so this was something else he had to keep in mind, and they gave him a nice discount saying that of all the graduates, only three ships were ready to go today and they gave them discounts for their first order, and Jason thanked them.
He started carrying stuff in when he passed one of the security guys coming in carrying a case too, and he showed him where to put it. It was obvious that he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the only one who was ready to get off the station and within an hour half the crew had returned. They sat and had a nice dinner together and the girls showed off their cooking skills as Jason thanked them for their help. They got a call from the shipyard saying he had 24 hours to move the ship and he agreed and they got a good nights sleep and at 7am the next day, the Pegasus, Jason's first ship, backed out of the shipyard and started towards the center of the sector.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Pegasus is clear,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason heard for the first time as his face lit up like he'd explode and everyone saw it since they werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t much better.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thank you, Control, we'll see you later,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason responded like a real pro and Val asked where they were headed.Ã¢â‚¬Âonce around the system and keep an eye out for floating cargo, since the rogues have a habit of messing with unarmed vessels.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as everyone agreed.
They were about an hour out when they did see something off the side and they moved in slowly to see what it was.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Scans as two cargo containers but its odd...Ã¢â‚¬Â he heard and he asked why.Ã¢â‚¬Â they're not tumbling around or banging into things like they were from an explosion, more like they were just put here for safe keeping.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Maybe miners containers, you know they mine until full then eject their extra until someone comes to get it.Ã¢â‚¬Â Val suggested but Jason had never heard of them doing something like that, but he knew how to find out. He checked the ships list in the area from the long range scan and saw two miners working nearby, so he called one and asked, an easy way to get free info.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Floating what? Oh...that crap...Ã¢â‚¬Â He heard as the man looked disgusted. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The rogues mess with us a lot, and some ships arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t well armed, so they force them to pay 'taxes' for working their areas. Some of those are that stuff and some are just because they're stupid enough to think everyone will let their stashes sit there forever.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sooo,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason started looking serious as the man waited,Ã¢â‚¬Â it's rogue cargos, they actually put this stuff here and expect people to leave it alone?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as the man just smiled.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No one said that the rogues were an intelligent bunch, I took a few things once or twice when mining was bad to help pay the bills. Since none of that stuff is registered cargo it belongs to anyone, or everyone if you arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worried that they might find out it was you that took it.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as the link went closed and Jason looked up at the girls who were definitely not sure they should be messing with pirates stashes, and Jason smiled wide and waved them on as they left the stuff behind. He wasn't to worried about getting caught but he wasn't going to start putting that kind of pressure on his crew the first day out.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Pull into the nearest station,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said and they did and he called to check the jobs list and saw a ship in distress and he took it and they ran full out across the sector until they pulled in along side a large freighter an hour or so later and Jason sent his mechanics across to help. It didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take long and the ship was moving again, not well but it would make it back, so they thanked him and Jason and his crew got their first payment as a legal commercial vessel.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We did it...Ã¢â‚¬Â the girls cheered as a call came in and Jason saw the ships captain they had just helped.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If your interested there's a wreck at these coordinates, not saying thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s much on board but you never know its only been there about a week.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said with a wink and Jason thanked him for the advise and they went that way and found the ship, tumbling slowly next to a large asteroid, and he gave Steve the order and he and his men went across to take a look around.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Scanners say nothing much on board, two units of medical equipment, probably something small but we might need it later, and some light weapons, most likely in the security storage area.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as Steve nodded agreement.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We'll check it out,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said and the link went closed, but while that was going on Jason heard a somewhat soft and almost desperate whimper as he looked up to see the screen and his navigator almost ready to faint. Three ships were running past, heading into the asteroid fields, and they scanned as rogues, the pirates of the universe and he called for Steve to hurry and he called a minute later saying they were ready and beamed back.
They left that area, slowly trying not to get too much attention and after they docked at the nearest station Jason held a meeting to talk about what happened.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We all know there are rogues in this area, heck they're everywhere, so we'll see them on scanners every day.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as everyone agreed but Val was looking especially sick right now,Ã¢â‚¬Â we had a crew off ship and in danger and when you saw them coming why didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you warn me?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as she looked like she'd be sick but one of the other girls held her hand and looked at Jason like she was getting really angry.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Its our first week working, and her first time seeing rogues, give her a break. It was a shock to all of us, its just something we need to get used to.Ã¢â‚¬Â she said as even Steve agreed and Jason apologized for making her feel like it was all her fault.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No harm done this time so its ok, but remember we probably know rogues... they're just people like us that are making a living, just they prefer not to work for theirs,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said and his little joke did go over better than his comments before, so he closed the meeting and left them have some time to themselves to think about things and then he went to see about another mission before they quit for the day.
Chapter 5: First Encounter
They were just coming back from a salvage mission when a small ship came screaming in front of them and stopped and Jason ordered them to stop as well, and a minute later a call came in and he looked up at the screen to see a young man he went to Command school with sitting there all smiles.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey...John..how goes it?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked but the response wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t what he expected.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stand by to be boarded, and surrender your ship!Ã¢â‚¬Â he said looking very smug indeed as Jason looked towards his crew and a silent scan was made and Jason almost laughed out loud. While he was short of help himself, he did manage to get four of the best graduates in boarding on board his ship, while poor little John there, in the smallest, fastest gunboat made had a full crew, but not a single security man on board.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ah, John be reasonable...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason started all smiles that John saw immediately.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We're ex-classmates, friends from way back..Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason went on just making him madder since only the school part was ever true. Ã¢â‚¬Å“donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make me hurt you, go away and we'll call it even.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You have a ship..I have a ship, yours is used, mine is brand new...Ã¢â‚¬Â John went on while Jason waited and he saw Carry start to charge weapons and he smiled, she could see it coming but he had a better plan, as he turned on the ships pa and went on talking.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You have the smallest, fastest ship made, congrats,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as John nodded and smiled,Ã¢â‚¬Â I have a slightly larger ship, better weapons and....a boarding crew of 4, how many do you have?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have gotten anyone good this soon,Ã¢â‚¬Â John said as Jason smiled and a second later, Steve walked in and up to the command chair wearing his body armor from school and what could only be called a nice handgun around his hips, and John looked a little ill.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hello, John,Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said not at all friendly as John looked lost for words.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Here's what we'll do..Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as John looked almost helpless right now.Ã¢â‚¬ÂYou'll take your nice new ship and go away, and we wont fire a shot at each other. Then that means your commander or whoever you report to owes me a favor , OR...I send Steve and his friends over right now and we tow your ship in and sell it on your first week out of school, what do you think?Ã¢â‚¬Â
With that the coms went blank and the little ship screamed from the area and Steve looked over at Jason who looked very pleased with himself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“John's a rogue you do realize that right?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as Jason agreed,Ã¢â‚¬Â he'll be back and better equipped than this time.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said not looking to happy about it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What then?Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve asked as the girls looked around and Jason didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t blink an eye.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We'll either tow him in and sell his ship, or kill him, no other choice.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Steve nodded agreement.Ã¢â‚¬ÂOh by the way nice gun, from the salvage we just did?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Steve nodded agreement as Jason smiled, Ã¢â‚¬Å“keep it and any others we got, we'll need them later.Ã¢â‚¬ÂWith that Steve agreed and left the bridge as the ship sped back up and returned to the station for the night.
The next day, Jason called Steve in for a meeting and left him know that he got them some medical help. One of the schools paramedics answered his ad on the schools boards and was coming on board that morning with a nurse that he had known for years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Weapons and medical, just as promised.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as even Steve smiled, he was trying at least.Ã¢â‚¬Âmight want to consider another security man soon, we'll slowly build up our forces before getting into anything serious.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Just one?Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve asked as Jason chuckled to himself, he was only the first person he'd have a meeting with today, so yes only one.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'll look into it,Ã¢â‚¬Â he promised as he walked out and the three girls came walking in.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'd like you to check for me into what better equipment will cost, nothing grand you understand just better than we have now.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they all agreed and said they'd check while they were in station. With that they too left and Jason checked his account and he smiled just a little, he had done better than he expected for the first few days, but payday was coming up soon and they needed to get back out there.
Just then the coms buzzed and he was told the medical team was here and he went and shook their hands and welcomed them on board.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Check out the med-lab, and see what we have and what we need, then let me know,ok?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as they agreed and went to put their stuff away. That was what he was waiting for and he took another job this time just scanning for some researcher, and they left the station and went out to do the job, but on the way there they heard a call for help, and the universal sign for a ship in distress and they ran that way first, to see a miner being attacked by two small gunboats and his shields were failing, as Jason relayed the message for him to other miner ships close by and they ran towards them at full speed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He's not going to make it until they get here,Ã¢â‚¬Â Val said as Jason nodded he understood and he called for shields up, and the lights went dim as the shields started drawing power.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Fire on the smallest ship,Ã¢â‚¬Â he ordered and a torpedo went flying and a small ship took a hard hit, taking away every bit of the shields left on that side and getting their attention right away.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You again?!Ã¢â‚¬Â He heard as the screen came on and John was there giving him a dirty look,Ã¢â‚¬ÂI left you go yesterday but now you've fired on me and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unforgivable!Ã¢â‚¬Â he said and Jason could see he was saying all this for the other ship to hear because they knew it wasn't true.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bring it on,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as enemy fire hit his front shields and they started down as his rail gun started getting some hits in too.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“His shields have failed,Ã¢â‚¬Â came the automated reply from the computer as Jason felt the ship shake from the missile that he got hit with but just then another ship ran in and John was gone in a second, as several miner ships ran in to help their fallen comrade.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thanks, that was brave of you to help like that,Ã¢â‚¬Â they heard as an older man came on the screen.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was a ship in distress call, we had no choice,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said matter of factually but the man disagreed , saying that many did ignore those calls every day. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Not us.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as the man smiled widely.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You have made a friend today, and the Miners Cartel is no small organization, feel free to call on us if you ever need help.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as they escorted the other ship back towards the station and Jason and his crew went and finished the mission they had started.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, John wont be bothering us any more,Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said as Jason nodded agreement, and Val looked sad to think it but she agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only the first time we've seen combat, and you did very well,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they all smiled even though someone they knew personally had just died, it wasn't that rare out here and they could see that first hand today.
Don't want to interrupt the story much krm398 but it is coming out really well and you can see all the subtle hints at the SPG universe in there mixed in.
In the future, things like this would be common place. Kids live grow up, find jobs and go out on their own. If your living in space stations and bases in or on asteroids, etc, then a life in space is normal, so the SPG universe is no different, making it seem like its their real world is a little tricky, but I enjoy it. 😎
Chapter 6: First Pays
Two days later and they were back at their home docks and the crew was paid. Everyone was happy and went home to say they had done well and that they were safe. They had storys to tell about their adventures so far and money to show that they had been successful in finding work, so their families would be happy about that.
Jason held back a little more and saw that the new medical supplys they needed were brought on board and then went home to see his family for a few hours too. They were glad he was back and his mom made his favorite meal while his dad laughed and said that he was only gone a week, and they all laughed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“See any combat yet?Ã¢â‚¬Â His dad asked at the dinner table as his mom stopped eating to hear and Jason admitted they had.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ship in distress, a miner being attacked by rogue ships,Ã¢â‚¬Â he admitted as his mom looked frightened for him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It must have turned out well, your still here,Ã¢â‚¬Â his dad said and even he sounded relieved as Jason just smiled and said it did.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And made some friends with the Miners Cartel, they said that we can call on them any time from now on.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said and at that even his mom looked a little more happy. He had done the right thing, and had helped someone and got a better reputation for it, that was never a bad thing, and they talked some more while they ate and then Jason headed back to his ship.
He walked onto the docks as a man was standing there waiting and Jason gave him an odd look, before using his security card to even open the ships door.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Can I help you with something?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked as the man turned to see him coming his way.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This your ship?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as Jason admitted it was and the man flipped a badge on him showing that he was a federal inspector and saying that he needed immediate access to the ship for an inspection, and Jason looked at him oddly, there was something about this guy that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say 'inspector' so he asked for more identification but all the man had was the badge and Jason stepped away from him and declined his request, as security men that had been watching the docks on the monitors came running in.
The man saw them coming and took off, down one hall and into a stairwell with the security men right after him and another man, the head of station security asked Jason to come into his office to explain what happened. Jason went and as he told him why he wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let the man in he smiled and shook his head happily.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Probably some con man, you'd wake up on the docks with your ship gone or maybe floating in space and never wake up, you got good instincts, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t lose them.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason nodded but he still didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel just right about this and the security man asked where he got the ship, and Jason told him the whole story and he looked interested.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mind if we do an inspection? If it was a rogue vehicle in the past there might be goods or documents on board that they feel they want or need.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as Jason agreed and they got a full team with scanners to go through the ship from top to bottom, something the shipyard should have done first, as he was told very softly. It took over an hour but they started bringing stuff out, and the sheer amount of stuff amazed them all. The ship was a courier ship for the rogues and it held tons of illegal drugs that had been hidden away in bulkheads and behind walls and they kept at it until they removed it all and they thanked Jason for his patience and cooperation, and he got a very nice reward, a sort of 'finders fee' for the load they got and he had everything that the crew had asked for installed before they got back, to their enormous surprise.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Drugs, your kidding me?Ã¢â‚¬Â One of the security men asked as Jason informed him it was totally true.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How much did they find?Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve asked as Jason tried to explain and as he did everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eyes opened wider and wider. Ã¢â‚¬Å“do you have any idea what that load was worth?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to know... we got a finders fee for it, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s that, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care what they did with the stuff and I'm not asking any questions.Ã¢â‚¬Â He admitted as even Steve got a huge grin, in this circumstance he probably had the right idea, and they now had another new security man and some weapons so that they were a much more secure ship and the bridge crew got new scanners with longer range and new thrusters that made them fast enough to escape many of the troubles they might find. All in all a good day.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everyone have a good visit home?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked as everyone agreed that they had and that their familys were impressed they were doing so well right out of school. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stick with me and we'll all be happy, that much I promise.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a pretty tall order sure you can handle it?Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry asked as Jason laughed, and said he'd do his best as everyone else agreed that as a team they did pretty well so far.
Chapter 7: Jason's Luck
Weeks went by and they did do very well, everyone was paid and Jason's account was just starting to look like he could return his fathers down payment without going broke doing it. They got a load of goods that needed taken into another system and they jumped through early one morning, and started straight to the Free Port to do a delivery. But on the way they picked up a distress call, very weak and faint, and they moved in to see a much bigger gunboat floating near the asteroid belt,just tumbling slowly with an automated signal running.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The scans show thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no life on board. It was attacked and their power supply was destroyed, very accurate and on purpose.Ã¢â‚¬Â Val said as Jason nodded he understood.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Subsystem targeting...Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as they all agreed,Ã¢â‚¬Â whoever did this knew exactly what to do.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You know...Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry mentioned as Jason looked her way,Ã¢â‚¬Â thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a top of the line ship, twice our size and with three weapon mounts, and except for the damage to one shield and the power supply its in pretty good shape.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Worth salvaging then huh?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked as she agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In the very least its worth a good bit to a dealer, for a few thousand they can put it back in service and sell it.Ã¢â‚¬Â She said as he agreed and they rigged for towing, and the grappler beam got a good hold on it and they dragged it back to the base where they made their delivery, and then went on board to see what shape it really was in. It was pretty plush compared to theirs and it got mentioned pretty fast that it would be a big step up for them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“From 10 marines to 20, when we get the chance...Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve hinted as Jason just laughed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Basically same speed as ours,better scanner and three weapon mounts, two have decent weapon in, the third was destroyed in the fight.Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said as they all waited for the decision.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Alright,alright, get your things together, we'll get a power supply and move in, then we can see what else we need before we can leave.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said and everyone smiled and went back to the ship to pack. The supply was cheap enough, and that gave them access to the whole ship and its data. It seemed that it was a bounty hunters ship and that the rogues ganged up on it to get revenge for him hunting them down at his every opportunity, there was a lesson there somewhere Steve mentioned as everyone agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an empty gun mount we can put something in later,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as Carry stopped him with a big smile.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a level 1 weapon on sale here that can go in there, its not a big gun but it would help and its really cheap.Ã¢â‚¬Â she mentioned as Jason brought the specs up and finally agreed that for the price, they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go wrong.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Have it mounted,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as they got a call and a man was on the screen.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I see you have two ships in dock, care to sell one?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked and Jason saw a salesman a mile away.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I might, this one needs a few things but its bigger and more powerful the other is in perfect shape, we were using it until just now.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as the man looked impressed but demanded that his first ship was far from 'perfect'. Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, really I have great maintenance men on board, and everything was top notch, there are even two upgrades.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as the man looked even more interested.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, I''l have to have it checked over and then reauthorized that will cost...Ã¢â‚¬Â he started as Jason just smiled and waited. Ã¢â‚¬Å“15,500..take it or leave it.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason took a little time to think it over as the man saw and he asked if that was the best he could do and the man demanded it was.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“OK, then I'll take it, let us get all our stuff off and then we'll do the transfer.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'll meet you on the docks with a transfer agent in 30 minutes, you'll need him to get the new ship registered anyways right?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as Jason agreed and the link went dead.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Get everything we can off the old ship before he gets here, lets not leave anything behind we will need.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as he and the marines all went on board and got all their food supplys, medical and helped the doctor even transfer some small equipment.
The transfer was made and everyone got their pay. The new ship took the old name and got new owners codes as the team inside went over it from top to bottom making sure it was space worthy and they finally sat the bridge and everyone agreed they were ready.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lets go home...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they pulled away from the station right into a fight, as several small ship were attacking the stations defenses.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What the heck..Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as the station put out a call for assistance and Jason and his new crew found themselves in the middle of a real fight for the first time.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Their trying to blast past the defense towers,Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said as Jason saw other ships starting their way to assist.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Power up weapons and shields,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said and it was done,Ã¢â‚¬Â target the weakest ship.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Several shots later and it blew up and parts flew everywhere but that just made the other two ships notice they were being shot in the back, as one remained shooting the tower and one turned on Jason. They exchanged fire for a couple minutes and his shields went down bad, but the other ship was worse and it too exploded after a few more shots and the nearby ships rushed in and finished off the last one as Jason checked for damages and saw a little hull damage along his left side and he docked to have it looked at better, as the station manger called to thank him for his help.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“For staying to help out, I'll see you get a discount for your repairs.Ã¢â‚¬Â the manager said and Jason thanked him and the link went dead.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We made another friend.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as the girls smiled.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But the rogues will hate us from now on, I hope those guns are the best we can get.Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said as Jason gave him a dirty look and he laughed and walked away. They werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t of course but after a little time to think, Jason did have one changed and they started back towards home, looking around for anything they could find along the way. Right next to the station they found floating cargo from one of the rogue ships and they grabbed that and then went back, through the gate and into their home system.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It's early yet, lets make a circle of some of the stations, and see what else we might get cheap to fix this up.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they bridge crew agreed. They did get one better shield that Jason had added to the front and that one moved to the back which had the weakest one of all, and after that they made a few more trips just looking around and found another cargo right next to a station there, which they got. Then they went back to their home base and stopped for the night. They sold off the cargo they found ,after the crew looked through it for things they might need, and Jason called his dad to come down and see the new ship.
Chapter 8: Becoming a Success
Phil walked up and down the side giving it a good look and then went inside to see what the quarters and bridge looked like and then back outside to stare at it some more.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Not even three months and you got a bigger ship, getting greedy are we?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as Jason laughed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was pure luck,Ã¢â‚¬Â he admitted as his dad gave him a big grin.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What happened to the first ship is it sitting around somewhere?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as Jason reached in his pocket and brought out a credit chip and handed it to his dad.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“With interest, just as promised.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said seriously and Phil didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even look at it just stuck it in his pocket and smiled wide.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Doing pretty good, I'd say,Ã¢â‚¬Â he admitted as Steve walked by with two more men carrying their things with them and one had what looked like an old riot-gun with him as Phil stopped him on the way past.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Are you Brian ShepardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kid?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as the young man said he was and asked why.Ã¢â‚¬ÂI know that gun, he was a member of my security team a few years ago.Ã¢â‚¬Â he mentioned as Jason gave him a dirty little look and his dad looked embarrassed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“OK,ok, many years ago, but he was the best security man I ever had, hope your half as good.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as the guy just smiled and nodded and Steve led them on board.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Looks like you've got things under control here so I'm going home, and your mom said to stop in for dinner before you leave again, so there...I told you.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said laughing as he walked away.
Steve was getting the men he wanted, the crew was getting a better ship and Jason had paid off the biggest debt he owned, the only debt he had so far. It looked like things really were going well for him but he wasn't dumb enough to think it would always be this way but for now he was happy, and nearly broke, again, so he went home for that free home cooked meal and they got ready to go again the next day.
Within a few hours they managed to get a scan of an anomaly done, found a wrecked ship and got a level 1 generator, and some robotic mining equipment off of it. They then returned to the base and sifted through what they got and sold the rest. That made a good day and Jason took them all out for dinner and they all laughed about him having enough extra cash to spend on nonessentials.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I said I'd take good care of my crew and I'm trying,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as everyone agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The ships in good shape now, our weapons are up to date, the computers even been loaded with better software, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing else we need right now.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as Steve faked a choke that everyone heard and laughed about. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We got 7 marines now, what do you want an army?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been boarded yet, and even the smallest gunboat used by rogues carry 10,Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve mentioned like it was nothing and the girls had to think about that, they had seen a lot of ships lately and most of them did have 20 or more crew on board for defense.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“10 huh?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked not even waiting for a reply,Ã¢â‚¬Â your right of course, but I was more worried about the ship, if it looked serious enough no one would want to mess with us, and anyone big enough to we could outrun. I'm not a coward, but I wont get my people killed over ego.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Good plan, but it'll only protect us so much, everyone has scanners, and there are teams of smaller ships that have 10 each on board, and we arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even heavily armed either.Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve mentioned as one or two of his men agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Looks like this might be the last night out for us for a while, more security is definitely needed but that means more paychecks, so we'll not have as much left over.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as the girls gave Steve a dirty look and the team all laughed about it.Ã¢â‚¬ÂBut better safe than dead, or sorry ...Ã¢â‚¬Â with that Jason looked the team over, he actually had lost count but now he knew they had 7 on board they were all sitting here eating.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Get us three more tomorrow, or whenever you can.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as Steve smiled and nodded,Ã¢â‚¬Â and after a few days we'll see what it costs for some more handguns or whatever.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sonic grenades would be nice, loud very,very loud and nonlethal,Ã¢â‚¬Â One man said as another nodded agreement.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Or flash grenades, blind them then just club them and keep going,Ã¢â‚¬Â another said, as Steve sat there agreeing with whatever they said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Guys...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they stopped and looked his way,Ã¢â‚¬Â if we go shopping, please donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hurt me or you'll be living on crackers for a week.Ã¢â‚¬Â With that they all got a good laugh and they left for the ship and Steve promised that with more conventional weapons they would be just fine, as his men looked disappointed.
Chapter 9: The Tension Builds
But things did go pretty well, Steve was up to 15 men a month later, never stopping or missing a chance to say how few they still had. Jason was worried more for a while but now that his dad was paid everything they had coming in was for the ship and crew, and it seemed like it was working out after all.
They pulled in alongside a wrecked corvette one day when Steve sent 4 men over to search for cargo.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Scanners say...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason started and then laughed out loud,Ã¢â‚¬Â 2 units of fruit,2 mining bots and 3 heavy weapons...no playing around guys thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just enough life support for now.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But a second later the coms had a large sizzling sound and one man laughing like crazy, as even Steve, standing beside Jason asked what the heck was going on.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sir, you've got to see this, these weapons are plasma blasters, we fired one here for a test, and it went right through a console.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason looked shocked and Steve seemed embarrassed but he did mention that at least they tested them on a dead ship and not here.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Plasma blasters?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked as Steve tried to explain that they were basically a plasma bolt rifle, that was armor piercing, a very expensive piece of hardware and very deadly in battle.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ahem....Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said after a minute as Steve tried to not look too excited about finding them,Ã¢â‚¬Â maybe you should go see whats going on, and bring them all back in one piece.Ã¢â‚¬Â With that Steve was gone, like a flash and transported over and they all seemed to be having a great time as Jason covered his face with his left hand and waited for the sound he knew was coming. 'Sizzle!Ã¢â‚¬Â and he started to laugh as the girls got a good chuckle in too. He knew once anyone fired that gun Steve would never be able to let it go without trying it himself and a minute or two later they were all back on board. Steve came back to the bridge all smiles and Jason waved for them to move on and as he stood there looking happy with himself, Jason asked how much they could get for those new guns on the station, and SteveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face fell into the dumps as Val nearly choked trying to keep from laughing out loud.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh Captain you cant mean that, those weapons have a fear factor that would make our 15 men scare the heck out of 20.Ã¢â‚¬Â He pleaded as Jason burst into laughter too and he told Steve he might take him up on that someday and Steve just smiled and agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Any time,Ã¢â‚¬Â He said and went away as Jason looked over his shoulder until the door closed behind him and Steve was gone and then everyone got a good giggle out of the look on his face.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Did you see his face after he came back? I think its love...Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said as Jason agreed and Val shook her head in disbelief.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Soldiers and guns, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a love affair if ever there was one.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said and they stopped at a nearby station to look for work, and got a load of equipment to deliver to the science outpost two sectors away. They ran to the gate and were just starting to enter the codes when it opened and out came three ships, in military formation and the Commander called at once for them to get out of their way.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is the Baeldor patrol number 7 entering, get out of our way swine, we have important business in this sector.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said with his nose held high as they moved back and a frigate and two corvettes went by all very superior on the coms as Jason looked very upset. It was that kind of attitude that kept him out of the military, and he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t agree with it now either.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What's Baeldor doing here? This isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t their sector.Ã¢â‚¬Â Val said as Jason just shrugged and waved them through.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Its not our job to worry about them lets make our delivery.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said and they went on through to the station and dropped off the equipment where it was needed. He asked a few people on the other station if they had seen any Baeldor ships and they looked sad and agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It seems they think they can just bully everyone that gets in their way, and they do have a huge fleet, but a lot of sectors arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going for it, and thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s talk that fights have erupted over trading and mining rights.Ã¢â‚¬Â One man told him as Jason showed his ID and they got paid for the cargo.Ã¢â‚¬ÂYou have a nice ship there, stay away from them as much as possible. They'll fire on people just because theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in their way, so protect yourself the best you can.Ã¢â‚¬Â
With that Jason found them another small salvage mission and they finished that and being the end of the week, they ran back home to get a day off and get paid. But when they approached their home station, two corvettes approached them and demanded they follow them to the base, and they did with everyone wondering what was happening.
They docked and were boarded immediately and their ship searched. All weapons were removed at gunpoint and Steve kept his men back until the search was over and they were allowed to leave.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What the hells going on?Ã¢â‚¬Â He whispered as Jason just shook his head and they were lined up on the dock and a Baeldor officer came walking up and looked Jason square in the eyes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This your vessel?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as Jason said it was. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Give me the codes we have need of it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you want something hauled hire us we work cheap,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said but a minute later he was doubled over from a good hard punch into his stomach, as the girls screamed and Carry held Val back from running to help him get up. But he did and stood there just as straight as before and the man asked
again, and he refused again, and was clubbed with a gun and a solder searched him and removed the code card himself and they walked away as the crew gathered around Jason and Steve pulled out a handkerchief and held it over the back of his head where a small cut was bleeding down his neck.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You are insane,Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said as Jason tried to smile but his balance was way off and he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stand for the moment, as a med team from the station ran in and put him on a stretcher and ran into the clinic with him and half his crew right behind. Steve told his men to disappear and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d call them later and they went home and he went too to check on Jason and make sure he was going to be alright.
They gave him a scan and then patched his head up and the blood stopped and finally he was laying there in a bed with Val and Steve sitting along side when a military man walked in and Steve jumped to his feet.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Where the hell were you when those Baeldor creeps were clubbing my captain?Ã¢â‚¬Â he demanded as the man looked around to make sure no one had heard.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We're negotiating the release of the station and all the ships inside,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason looked at him oddly.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is an independent sector and station, whats to negotiate? Either they leave or you shoot them.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as everyone agreed but the man closed the door and stood beside the bed looking serious indeed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There's only three small Baeldor vessels in sector right now and they're all here, causing trouble. If we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t act just right, there will be a dozen or more, and every station will be under attack just like this one.Ã¢â‚¬Â he whispered as Jason looked less than impressed with the way things were being done.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Then after the negotiations I'll get my codes back?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as the man looked sad and Jason kindly told him he wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take no for an answer.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It looks like thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a war starting thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing we can do about one small ship under these circumstances.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said and walked out as Jason tried to get up to follow but he got dizzy again, and Steve was right there pushing him back down.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be a fool, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing we can do right now, we have to just wait and see.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as Jason leaned back and looked like he'd cry and for the first time, Val held his hand and she cried for him. His dream of owning his own ship was crashing around him and she felt as sad as he was about it.
Chapter 10: Respect
A few hours went by and Jason told Val to go home and get some rest, just as his mom and dad walked in and she looked like she had been crying.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You get pistol whipped right on the docks get put in the hospitable and you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t call us?Ã¢â‚¬Â she demanded as Jason smiled and apologized saying he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get out of bed to do it yet, and even though they knew it was more than that they left it go.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How did you find out?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as his father told him they saw it on the news, that he tried standing up to the Baeldor officers and they beat him unconscious.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why did you aggravate them that much just do as they say...Ã¢â‚¬Â His dad said as Jason's face fell into deep despair.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They took the codes for my ship, they're gathering all the codes for all the ships in the docks, and no one knows why.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as his dad looked shocked and he suddenly understood why Jason fought them, to no avail though.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The news says they're here looking for recruits for their navy.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason heard his dad say and he looked surprised, it was one hell of a way to look for recruits.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well they might find one or two but they'll definitely find a lot of enemys the way they're acting.Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said as another voice was hear.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Enemys make the best recruits...Ã¢â‚¬Â and they looked up to see the Baeldor captain and the other military officer walking in and he looked around the room at everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s faces and not a single friendly look was there.Ã¢â‚¬ÂIt might be a nasty way of doing things but it's suited us well for generations.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What do you want here, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t putting my boy in here enough for you?Ã¢â‚¬Â Phil demanded as the officer looked him up and down and pushed his way past.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What's your name boy?Ã¢â‚¬Â he demanded as Jason held back telling him off to his face.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Jason...Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as the man nodded.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Jason what?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked but Jason wasn't giving in for a second.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Just Jason, for you thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s enough.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as the big man actually laughed as the Independent Officer looked shocked at his reaction.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, Just Jason, how about joining the Baeldor military? With your skills and attitude, I'll guarantee you a corvette right out of training.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said and everyone looked too surprised for words.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do military, I had that chance already, my crew and I are neutral all the way. If you ever need a ship rescue call me, I'll come, but I'll do the same for anyone else too. Politics is a waste of time and money.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said seriously as the officer looked impressed even more.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I see by your face and eyes that what you say is true, very interesting, but neutrality is a farce, it just means that your too cowardly to fight and die for what you believe in.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said watching to see what everyone would say but no one took his bait and so he just smiled. He reached inside his jacket pocket and pulled out Jason's code card and threw it on the bed in his lap.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Take sometime to think about what I've said, in time you'll see I'm right.Ã¢â‚¬Â and he turned to go but Jason stopped him and asked why he gave his codes back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“With that little ship and your attitude, your no threat to me or my fleet, and to be honest, your the only real man I met on this station, everyone else was too busy kissing my cheeks to stand up for themselves, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry we'll meet again.Ã¢â‚¬Â and with that he left and the Independent officer gave Jason a wink and followed after him like he was sure he was supposed to, and the room looked at Jason in disbelief.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That is one arrogant SOB,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phil said as Jason just smiled, he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care what Baeldor thought of him so long as he had his ship and crew he would do just what he said, and nothing else, until the day that they were under attack themselves and then they'd not go quietly.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Have you been here the whole time?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason's mom asked Val and she agreed she had.Ã¢â‚¬ÂWhen are you two going to finally get together?Ã¢â‚¬Â She asked Jason who tried to get her to not ask, but it was too late now.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It's too soon,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said finally while Val gave him a dirty look and Phil looked away to keep from laughing out loud. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Even if I sold everything I own right now, we wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have enough to settle down. Things like that take time and money, and someday I might need enough laying around to give my son 10,000 credits for his own ship.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Val got a huge grin but she wouldn't look Jason in the face while she had it, and somewhere in that hospitable room, at least in her mind,an agreement was made that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite make it to paper,or screen but it existed none the less.
A few days later and the crew was back on board. The ship had its first new contract and they were on their way. Jason was healed pretty well by now and Val seemed to be in a better mood than she had been in for weeks and Steve was doing his best to find out why but neither Valerie or Jason would tell him. They finished it quickly enough and went back to get another when a pair of ships were seen shooting up the defense towers again, and the station was calling for help yet again.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You guys have a lot of enemys donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason called to the station and the coms officer gave him a dirty look.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Rogues, we caught one of their officers smuggling and hes being held to face charges, so they're trying to get him back. Station manager says, anyone helping gets 10k.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason nodded and they did a quick scan to see what they had and it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t good. The first scan showed just the average rogue vessel, gunboat, three guns 20 marines and weak shields from the towers shooting against it, but the other was a light corvette, 4 weapons mounts heavier shields and better guns probably some second level rails or cannons and that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look too good, but the scan showed it also had only 20 marines and that surprised Jason who swore it should have been bigger.
He looked around a bit and saw a couple other ships coming their way to help so he figured out the best time and they attacked the smaller vessel who had almost no shields on the side facing them by now. The fight was a quick one, faster than Jason had figured on and the corvette turned on him and started firing as they ducked and weaved to try and avoid as much fire as they could while getting some good hits in themselves. The little ship was making a good showing of itself, when a hit went right through the shields and armor flew and they slid completely sideways from the impact of the hit. Jason looked up again and saw that the tower was still beating it from one side and he and his crew from the other and the enemy had an atmosphere leak that was draining away their air. They made another circle around each other, JasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s crew kept their shields down and the tower kept hitting them directly on the armor and finally just as the bigger ships got there, the ship exploded and Jason and his ship drifted to a stop for a break, as both the station and the other ships applauded them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Good fight, real good, didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think that gunboat could take a corvette,Ã¢â‚¬Â One captain called as he was appropriately corrected.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Make that a corvette and another gunboat, these kids really are having a good day.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as Jason thanked them for their good wishes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Anyone want to help pay for my repairs then if we are so great?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as everyone just laughed and they turned to dock.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That would be us,Ã¢â‚¬Â the station manager said as Jason thanked him and he not only got his 10k but also all his repairs for free.
Chapter 11: Info
While the repairs were going on, Jason was in his office looking over some ships designs when Steve walked in and asked what he was doing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I've been a ships nut from way back,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason admitted and Steve nodded he understood,Ã¢â‚¬Â but that corvette, I've never seen one like it before, it must have been new.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Steve just nodded and moved around to see what was going on as one after another, ships designs went flying by while Jason watched on until finally, he stopped the scan and looked the screen over carefully.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There it is, its a Knight, light corvette, 4 weapons mounts, lots of level 2 equipment and weapons,and ...only 20 marines, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what the scan said that caught me by surprise.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as Steve gave the little ship a good look too.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Same as a heavy gunboat but in a light corvette, not bad, not bad at all,Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said as he reached over and opened the file to see the interior and where the halls and control room was. It was a pretty simple design, something quick and easy to manufacture, but also quite sturdy, and he shook his head looking the layout over. It also was easy to defend as he could see and those 20 men started looking like 30.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right I just remembered,Ã¢â‚¬ÂSteve said with a grin as Jason could see something expensive coming his way,Ã¢â‚¬Â the Baeldorian captain took all our weapons, we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a thing on board to use to repel a boarding.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I forgot all about that,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason admitted but Steve said since they were in port, he had someplace he wanted to show Jason and he was dragged along as he tried to tell Steve he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a lot of money to spend.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I got it covered come with me,Ã¢â‚¬Â was all he said as they walked through the main areas of the station and started into the seedier places that Jason had avoided when possible, but in a minute they stopped as Steve opened a door and Jason looked up to see a sign that read: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Military SurplusÃ¢â‚¬Â and Jason wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sure he wanted to be here.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey Frank how you been?Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve started even before they got in the door as an old man looked up and grinned.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Steve its been forever, I heard you got a good job doing security, this your friend?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as Steve just smiled and said yes, his friend and boss too.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our ship is completely helpless the Baeldor officers that were here took every gun on board, but we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have much to spend.Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve mentioned quickly, and Jason smiled that he said it just like that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Those damned Baeldors, well you've come to the right place, you looking for defense or offense or both?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as Jason thought and said both and Steve nodded agreement and they went into the back room where there were racks and racks of guns some Jason had seen before some he had no idea about. The old man pulled a gun belt from behind some boxes and handed it to Steve who looked it over and smiled . It looked odd, like one barrel with no clip or anything just a one shot pistol, and even with the oversized barrel, it surprised Jason that Steve would even look at it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whats that?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked as Steve and the old man both looked at him like he was nuts or something.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Assault handgun, one shot but lots of power and it fires either killer bullets or incinerators or smoke bombs or even teargas.Ã¢â‚¬Â The old man said sitting a row of different bullets all about an inch around, with different colored tips, on the table for them to see.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And those cost?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked as Steve gave him a dirty look... starting their visit off like this but the old man just laughed and he told it to him straight out.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You know those fancy little dolls you give your kids, and those vehicles for the boys? They are always really cheap, until you need the accessories...Ã¢â‚¬Â he said waving to the bullets standing there and Steve laughed as Jason nodded he understood, and they got two of the big pistols and a dozen rounds of ammo before they left the room.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now this..Ã¢â‚¬Â the old man said holding up a riot gun similar to what they had lost to the search,Ã¢â‚¬Âthese have been around for centurys and never a better guns been found. At close range they blow a man in two at longer rages, they can cut down two guys at once.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Jason looked at Steve who stood there arms crossed and swore it was true, and they got two of those as well and a couple boxes of ammo. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t costing as much as Jason thought it would and he was adding a lot of firepower to his crew as Steve kept saying and soon they had an arm full each and they got some odd looks walking back to the ship looking like old west bandits on the prowl.
As they walked in the first security man to see them coming made the call and everyone came running to help take the guns to the armory and get them cleaned and oiled and whatever else they might need and as they walked away Steve called after them not to load anything inside the ship and Jason remembered the power the old man said that some of those guns had and he decided that next time they needed anything Steve could take care of it himself, but after thinking about that for a second, he decided that he had done the right thing, no way he was sending Steve into a gun store with his account card alone.
Chapter 12: First Assault
A week later he had a real reason to thank the stars he had done what he did. They got a mission to go out and repair a satellite and when they got there, they were jumped by 2 light gunboats at once. The fight was a good one but as they got one nearly done the other would be taking down their shields and they too started taking damage.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We cant be shooting everywhere at once, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re outmaneuvering us!Ã¢â‚¬Â Val screamed and Jason could see it was true if it was only one they'd be just fine so he made a decision, and hit the coms button for the security team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Steve I have a job for you,Ã¢â‚¬Â he called as Steve was right there all smiles and Jason gave him an update.Ã¢â‚¬Âthey're both light gunboats one just like we had to start with, one just like old crazy John had, we can handle one, so I'm giving you the other, transport when ready.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We got it Captain donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry,Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said and in a minute Jason saw the transporter indicator showing it was in operation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The one ship is breaking off attack,Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said and Jason nodded.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Go after the other one, Steve has to be messing those guys up too bad to continue after us as well.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said and they turned on the other vessel and fired on it until it was finally gone, and then they turned to see what else was happening, and Jason got a report from Steve.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The bridge is ours captain, we can tow it home.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said all smiles as Jason thanked him, and they beamed the security team back on board and informed the station they had taken rogues as prisoners. Their security team met them on the docks and took them away, and Steve and his men got a bonus for dangerous duty, which they thanked Jason for very much.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You did good work, and with a good team like this, we really can attack two ships at once, but we're not going to too often if we can get out of it.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they all laughed. Steve only had one serious injury, one man took a hit to the shoulder, which they had fixed at the first station. He'd be off for a little while and they dropped him off at home base to give him a chance to visit with family while he healed, and Steve picked up another man to cover for him while they were there.
The rogue ship got sold as a salvage and added nicely to their account balance and since Jason had told the security team they were getting a bonus the extra money came in handy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You know...Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve started as the girls on the bridge all laughed, seeing it coming.Ã¢â‚¬Âwe could do this more often, all the smaller rogue vessels have less guys on than we do, and ours are being trained and armed by me, so they are far better than any rogue marines.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t lose anyone this time...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason mentioned as Steve agreed,Ã¢â‚¬Â but you will, maybe we'll even lose you, and that would be a shame. I don't want anyone to die if possible, but like you said before, just working these sectors we'll run into rogues from time to time, and you'll get used, and maybe we'll even be able to keep most of us alive, if weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re lucky.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Believe it, Captain, I'll always come back, and if it looks hopeless I'll be the first on the coms screaming to evacuate.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason nodded he understood.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It's a deal, if we get cornered again, you get yours and we get ours, and maybe we'll stay lucky a while longer.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as Steve nodded and went to tell his men they were going to be seeing more action soon, and probably giving them a big pep talk about what they did today.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He's really pretty good,Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said softly as Jason agreed and now Val was elbowing her as she demanded that nothing was going on, and they all laughed.
They had first graduated from school then their first few missions,and now boarding and capturing enemy ships. They were maturing as a crew right along, and Jason could see it, but even he knew that luck cant last forever, and that they would lose someone soon, no matter how hard they tried.
They went right back and finished the mission they had started on and found out that the rogues had set the whole thing up to lure ships out there for attacks. Jason made the necessary report and even the security men at the station didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem surprised. Now they had something else to watch for, and Jason made a note to check into missions that seemed too easy and too far away from any reinforcements, and he had a meeting to explain that to everyone and they agreed. As they went on about the business of making a living in the sectors closest to home, they were learning right along,and that gave them the chance to survive longer and maybe even retire someday, but that was years away, and they stopped at another station and looked for more work before stopping for the night.
Chapter 13: War
A few more days went by and things were working out. Jason was gaining a little extra in his account even considering paydays and repairs. That made him happy and the bridge crew was happy too because the got everything they asked for and now they saw well in advance troubles coming and had avoided many of them with good planning and quick thinking.
They pulled in for a break and got paid again, and Steve informed Jason that their first year as a crew was coming up, and with it, crew evaluations and a pay raise, as Jason nodded he knew in advance.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'm going in for a class upgrade while we're here, I'll be an official Lieutenant when I return,Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said head held high and Jason congratulated him as he nodded and walked out, of course a lieutenant got paid even more, and Jason knew that as they got more experience their pay rates would have to be carefully watched so he set the computer to keep an eye on it so he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mess up their pays.
The announcement was made and everyone got their paychecks and left the ship for their day off. The girls, Val and Carry were standing by the door ready to leave when Val asked where Casey was, the little blond coms officer that ran around with them everywhere.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She's been busy lately, maybe she's studying for a new rate as well,Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said as Val nodded looking impressed, maybe she should consider another class too. It would help her pay too and look good on her resume later.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have a message for the Captain wait right here,Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said as she walked around the corner and down the hall to Jason's room and knocked on the door and waited. Nothing happened which was odd since she knew he was in there probably figuring for everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s raises, she thought all smiles but she pounded on the door until he opened it, in his bathrobe and she looked a little embarrassed but she gave him the message and he thanked her for it, but over his shoulder she saw a big lump move in his bed, well hidden by the sheets and covers and her eyes popped to see a few strands of yellow hair sticking out, and her face went white.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, Jason...Ã¢â‚¬Â she said losing all respect in her voice for a minute,Ã¢â‚¬Âplease tell me thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not Casey in there.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It's not what you think!Ã¢â‚¬Â she heard a soft little voice say as her best friends face came out from under the covers.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, it's EXACTLY what I think, how could you, you know Val's been crazy about Jason for years!Ã¢â‚¬Â She said actually stepping into the room while Jason tried to get some order back.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know that, but I love him too, and she might have went on and on about him to everyone but she never asked HIM if he loved her did she?Ã¢â‚¬Â Casey asked sitting up with a sheet wrapped around her and Jason felt a little happy she was standing up for him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I can see what you mean, but ...how will we ever stay friends like this? Val's going to be heartbroken.Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said as Casey looked like she'd cry.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'll tell her, its my job and it was all a misunderstanding because I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say anything sooner.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they all agreed, and Carry promised not to tell until Jason had the chance to do it himself, and she left the room while Casey got dressed and went home for the day as planned and Jason told her not to worry, he'd make it right, and she gave him a huge hug and walked away.
Carry and Val walked home together but after that shock, Carry was pretty silent all the way which was very unusual. Val asked a couple times what was wrong but all she'd say was ...Ã¢â‚¬Âyou need to talk to JasonÃ¢â‚¬Â and left it go at that and by the time they got to Val's moms apartment, she turned to Carry with a little tear in her eyes and Carry looked at her shocked, had she known all along?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If it's about Casey, I know about that,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said softly as Carry apologized over and over and laid the blame squarely on Jason's horny little shoulders.Ã¢â‚¬ÂI've had a crush on him for 3 years now, and never once made a move to show it. I guess Casey just beat me to it, you have to watch those quiet little shy ones. It wasn't her fault I saw the way she looked at him for a long time and then a few weeks ago they both got really happy. It didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take a mind reader to see what happened.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What will you do now? Wont it be awkward being around the two of them?Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry asked as Val smiled and nodded.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was at first, but that was weeks ago, but now, it just lets me move on, maybe I'll stay here and work maybe I'll get a job somewhere else, but either way, if it was anyones fault, it was mine.Ã¢â‚¬Â She said giving Carry a hug and going into the apartment while Carry walked around the corner to her moms place looking very sad indeed.
They all had their day off and got a good home cooked meal for a change, but as Jason was getting ready to leave a special bulletin came on the entertainment channel as his father leaned forward to see better. It read: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Baeldor Republic declares war on GalaxyÃ¢â‚¬Â It went on to say not the entire galaxy, but some groups that had stood in their way too long. The official for Baeldor went on to say anyone getting in their way would be eliminated, and all other nations should think twice before getting involved. But the Nyxium Ambassador was not pleased as the reporter showed a minute later, and he demanded an end to hostilities in their systems. Any trading vessel attacks in their areas would be equal to an attack on Nyxium itself, he said, as the news went on and on and Jason had heard enough and he went back to the ship. If war was coming things might get a little hot in some sectors and he'd refuse work there trying to stay out of it as much as possible but they still had to work, or he'd lose his crew if he hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t already done that, and he went back to plan what to do next.
Chapter 14: Just the Facts...
When the rest of the crew returned, Jason called Val into his room for their talk,and Carry and Casey looked like they'd cry. The door closed and Jason sat in one chair and waved for her to sit in another and she did try to smile.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I always wondered when you'd invite me in here,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said as he smiled sadly and she waited trying not to cry.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was never going to be like that... how could I ever think that way about my big sister?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as her face dropped and she looked shocked as he went on,Ã¢â‚¬Â you've always been there, since we were little. Giving me advice, standing up for me when I did something dumb, even giving me advise about girls, with all that how could I see you as just another girl when we grew up together?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mom and dad named you as part of the family when we were ten, and since then we have always acted like siblings, always, then when I was in the hospital, mom asked when we were getting together, and it blew my mind. It had never occurred to be,ever. It was like being told to have sex with my sister while my parents approved, it was just unthinkable.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as she saw his face get redder and redder,Ã¢â‚¬Â so thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when I decided that something needed done. I told mom and dad that we werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like that and I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want us to be. It was a shock I think to them but I explained like like I am today and they seemed to understand,I hope you do. I'll do anything to help you, protect you, even worry about you when other guys hit on you, but its not like that for us, I'll always be your brother, like we always said when we were little, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all I ever want to be.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He looked over as Val smiled and wiped a tear away that rolled down her cheek and he waited as she shook her head.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yep, I did, I called you my little brother for years didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t I, maybe I should have stopped that a long
time ago. But I'm glad your being honest about it. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really notice or feel like this either, until a year or so ago when....Casey....mentioned how strong you were and how handsome you'd become..Ã¢â‚¬Â she said slowly turning to look at him while he looked away
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Over a year, you two have been a couple that long and never said?Ã¢â‚¬Â she asked as he admitted they dated a few times, but that they had not become a real couple until lately.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You gave me good advise all along,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said a she shrugged and he smiled wide.Ã¢â‚¬Âyou said: never get hooked on a girl thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to loud, or easy to date, or has a lot of other boyfriends,donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you remember?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as she agreed she had said that.Ã¢â‚¬ÂCasey hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t dated much at all, and shes quiet and kind of shy, and we just hit it off after a while.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I never thought you listened to all the things I said,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said looking embarrassed as he said he did, she was smart person and a girl willing to give him advise about girls, so he did listen very carefully.Ã¢â‚¬Âwell I'm glad, if I had to lose to someone at least it was Casey and she was everything I told you to watch for.Ã¢â‚¬Â she admitted, as she got up to leave.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Please stay,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as she looked embarrassed, he had Casey now what was he thinking? Ã¢â‚¬Å“I mean on board, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quit, I need a good navigator, and your the best, and we're still family, and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you want to see me make a fool out of myself trying to make payroll, and keep all you people in line?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as she started to laugh.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t miss it,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said and went back towards the bridge and Jason gave it time for things to settle down before going there too.
When he walked in they were all smiles even though they were still wiping a few tears away and Casey looked pretty happy to, so they must have settled things before he got back, and that made him happy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Can we get back to work now?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked and they all agreed. They pulled away from the station and started a new trip stopping from time to time to look for more or different jobs. Things looked a little tighter than it had been but the war next door was making it that way. All he wanted to do was make enough to make payroll and lay a little back for his future and maybe his familys future as well. Casey made him very happy and he her so that might be the first part of the end game that he had thought about.
Now it was about the money and he heard people say that nothing makes good business like a good war, but he hated to think that way. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to see people, even entire sectors, burned to the ground or blown to bits. It just wasn't in him. But he understood that many people all over wanted power and when they got it, it just seemed natural for them to use it, for if they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t what good was it? It seemed like a gigantic circle, and he wanted no part of that.
They finally did get another job and finished it before the end of the day, and even now, Jason was thinking that those rogue containers better be gone before things got too bad around here, and they went home for the night and got some rest before trying again tomorrow.
Chapter 15: Turning it up a Notch
After a few days of barely getting by Jason felt he had no choice so they left their home sector one morning to see what was happening in some of the sectors around them. The first was pretty quiet and they found a couple fresh wrecks and got some cargo and equipment from them. That helped, and Jason tried not to think about why they were freshly shot up and where the enemy had gone since. They took a few pictures of the wrecked ships for identification purposes and stopped at the nearest station to report what they found. It was a little sad to see people identify the wrecks from pictures and then break down into tears, but if they were out there, floating in space, they'd want their familys to know for certain, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what he was doing for them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mind the mess inside, there's lots of salvage around now, not just here but just about everywhere.Ã¢â‚¬Â The station manager said as Jason nodded but said nothing,Ã¢â‚¬Â they got a lot of ships when they came through here, but we get our share too, and we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t given up yet, so make sure to report that when you get back home.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Jason guaranteed that he would.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And whatever you do, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go getting into any remote places while your looking...keep both eyes on your screens. The rogues are massing to help the Baeldors, and because of that they are everywhere. If you haven't seen them yet your lucky, but you will. And in that little ship of yours there might not be any real hope, since the Baeldor military started helping them with new and better ships.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as Jason said they'd be careful, and he saw the time and decided they better get going. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to spend too many hours in enemy territory even if he had declared himself neutral,he was starting to see too much and his feelings were starting to shift in the wrong direction.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We'll be careful, and if we see any more wrecks, we'll get some shots and send them to you, just to make sure,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as he walked out and checked to see what the cargo they brought in sold for. It was pretty good and the dock foreman mentioned that they were running short on everything because many freighters werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t getting through.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you find any cargo out there bring it here, we'll give you top dollar for it, and if you get the chance, grab a big load in some other sector and try and get through. If they havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bothered you yet, maybe you'll make it and a few loads like that and I'll guarantee you can retire a rich man.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said and walked away as Jason just smiled. He was exaggerating, of course but it was true that after a while the bare necessities would be all gone and the prices would go through the roof.
He stepped back on board and they started out at best speed towards their home gate,and Jason was in the middle of telling everyone what the manger and dock foreman had said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hauling some freight isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a bad thing so long as we stay away from military supplyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. Things like medical and just normal things like food and even the bare essentials, they'll run out of soon.Ã¢â‚¬Â Val said as everyone agreed,and Jason saw his first chance to help people without getting mixed up in the war, but just then the ship took a hit that surprised everyone because while the autopilot was on taking them to their gate, they weren't paying any attention and Jason saw it was his fault for having a meeting while they were traveling, and Val took control back from the computer and Carry started looking for something to target.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Found it, off the starboard side and closing,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said as Casey looked around quickly.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We're being hailed.Ã¢â‚¬Â she said as Jason answered immediately saying they were not a military ship and they were neutral and leaving the system.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Like we care,Ã¢â‚¬Â he heard as he looked up to see a man not wearing any uniform and he knew a rogue when he saw one.Ã¢â‚¬ÂDrop your shields or we'll do it for you, and then we'll board your ship and see what goodys we can find.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said being very obnoxious about the whole thing and Jason refused and they closed the channel and started getting a few shots in of their own.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What class is it, gunboat?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked as the scan came up and he swore to himself, he had gotten gloated into a fight with a light corvette same as the one he had helped kill a few weeks ago, but there were no towers here to help. He looked at the scan and it was fully loaded, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 20 marines and a full crew and she had bigger guns than him but he ordered the weapons on target, and chose the engines for the targeting computer and after a few passes the bigger ship started slowing down a little and that made their guns a little less accurate since they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t maneuver as well.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Keep on those engines maybe we can disable him and get away.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as suddenly an explosion from the rear of the bigger ship made a bellow of smoke come out around one engine and Casey said they were calling for reinforcements and Jason had her scramble their coms.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Think anyone heard that?Ã¢â‚¬Â She asked as Jason just shrugged and checked the scan again and now with all that smoke, their crew count was falling, and their security was down to half and Jason hit the button and Steve came on the link at once.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I got a job for you, we're in a fight with a Knight... remember that ship?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked as Steve said he did,Ã¢â‚¬Â We took out one of their engines and the ship seems to be filling with smoke. Their crew count dropped and now even security seems to be cut in half. Its possible we're flooding their life support with toxins.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as Steve nodded and said he'd get his men ready and Jason agreed. They got the few gas masks that they had gathered and their best weapons and beamed a team right into the engine room. It was chaos there and many of the security men were there fighting the fire. Steve took them out first and captured their engineers and whatever crew were there helping and then assaulted the bridge, to the amazement of the captain and crew. It all took less than 15 minutes and then they put the fires out and locked the captain and crew in the galley until they got to a station. They put the beam on it and turned around and went back and docked as the station security men took the rogues into custody.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Looks like you really can handle yourself in that little ship,Ã¢â‚¬Â The station manager said as Jason laughed but he had already decided, if they were going to help these people or the other stations here, he'd need more firepower and cargo space, and the move into the wounded corvette started right there, and the station gave him a good price for his ship too, since they had lost many during the last month. It took all night to fix the engine they hit, but it came back on line as the girls came back from the laundry with a big load of blankets and sheets from the beds on board.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“At least they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t smell like smoke now,Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said as they went by and Jason paid for the use of the docks equipment and the help they got to do the work. They left him off cheap even for that, and he told them they'd see him again, and with his new, slightly patched up corvette, Jason made a successful run for home, and docked to the stares of some friends as he drifted in, in the bigger ship. There were a million questions and they were all answered and he gave them all the day off to rest. Now they had another ship and another job anytime they wanted it, and he worried a little about it but at least they could help someone who really needed it.
Chapter 16: Making a Profit...Taking a Chance
Jason and his crew were on the docks bright and early the next day and they loaded a good load of supplys into the cargo hold and then set out for the sector next door. He was confident that they'd be ok, not only were they a neutral vessel, but they were flying one of the enemys ships, so from a distance at least they would appear right at home there.
They entered the sector right along with other ships that traveled through every day. The Baeldor patrols werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t looking for a corvette to be delivering supplys to their enemys, so they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see when it actually happened and then Jason made a quick trip back home to decide if it had been worth it or not.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The pays definitely good no doubt about that but the Baeldor patrols were thicker than I thought,Ã¢â‚¬Â He admitted as everyone agreed. They might be in a Baeldor ship, but if they were properly scanned it would show that it had been transferred and their little game would be over.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So, what do we do? Keep risking it or just let it go for now. Maybe just run a load on rare occasions, so the risk of them catching on would be less.Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve asked as Jason thought about it hard. He wanted to help if he could, but he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to put his crew and ship in too much danger, and then of course there was the money, they were getting up to 4x what they were paying and that was an incredible profit for such a short trip.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I say...random trips, that way thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no way they can plan for when we make a delivery because we wont even know until the very day ourselves.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they all agreed and their new plan went into operation. They made deliveries on odd days, even waiting a week without making any. The station manager understood they had to be careful, and he was rationing everything they had to make the supplys that did get through last, so all in all they were doing their best,while Baeldor went about trying to get them to surrender their station and the sectors sovereignty to them.
After dropping off a load one day, Jason saw a fresh wreck on scanners and went to see what was left on board. The ships main weapons were gone, but it still had a good load of missiles in the cargo bay, and some decent medical equipment that the medic said they could use. Steve took his men and the mechanics over and they started the unloading when a Baeldor ship hailed them and Jason saw the Captain that had tried to recruit him all those weeks ago.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Good day captain, looks like the war is going well for you.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said trying to hold a good smile while watching for signs that the team was finally done.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And you, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that one of our older model corvettes? I said that after training you'd be in one but this is quite the surprise.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said sitting there looking smug.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Rogues aren't the fearless fighters some hoped they were I'm afraid.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said and laughed along as the Captain made it look good as well.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So, salvaging are you? Any money in it?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked and Jason knew they had seen the team on board the wreck by now.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Your people do a good job of removing everything they want, but we get a few small pieces from time to time.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said gritting his teeth while signaling for the teams return. Even if they were on board the frigate they were facing was way more than they could handle alone and he knew it, but he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t through just yet. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Keep up the good work, and we'll be seeing each other around again some day, after all, your my main source of income right now.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, we have been trying to get the stations here to cooperate with us but they seem very stubborn but eventually we'll own this sector and then the number of wrecks will drop significantly, so you better get your fill while you can,Ã¢â‚¬Â The Captain said as he waved and the ship started away and Jason finally got to take a deep breath after a while.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That was close,Ã¢â‚¬Â Val said as everyone agreed,Ã¢â‚¬Â for some reason he seems to like you, they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even board us to check for contraband.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to they scanned us thoroughly,Ã¢â‚¬Â Casey said as Jason agreed, his warning lights had shown the scan. If they had caught them on their way in fully loaded with supplys for the stations, it would have been all over.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Either way the jig is up now, after that scan and talking to us on the coms, they know we are in control of this ship, so our ID is being sent to every paroling vessel in the sector right now. No more pretending to be a Baeldor ship, we're right back to being just a neutral vessel again and we know how strong that argument is..Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they all agreed. They made sure they got everything they could from the wrecks in sector that day and while they did get a decent load, they were sorry they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make any more trips for the stations now that their cover was blown.
Jason sent a coded message saying they were caught and scanned and that they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make any more deliveries, and the station managers thanked him for what he did mange to do. It had bought them some time, and with it, they manged to evacuate many of the citizens of the stations to friendly sectors. Now when they were forced to surrender, Baeldor would get very little, just an empty station and no supplys for the few people that remained behind. It wasn't a perfect plan but it saved many lives and stopped Baeldor from gaining the really important people that had fought against them for so long.
Jason and his crew went right on salvaging wherever they could and doing missions that kept them safe. He gave the crew each a good bonus for working in hostile conditions every time they had a good day, and they appreciated it, and most of what he earned those few weeks went into a special fund, that was getting invested over and over, making his retirement a reality someday. He had his father watch over it for him and he was doing pretty well, so he made sure anything extra they did, the crew got extra too, and he knew that many of them had been doing the same thing, planning for their futures, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just what you need to do to survive in the world of trading, as his father had told him over and over. But they had years to go before that, it was just good that they each had the chance to get a start on it while they could.
Once the war was over things would get back to normal and they'd all have a better, more stable income, and Jason promised that everyone who stayed with him until the end would be well taken care of and they all agreed to stay and work together. They were friends, and teammates and even lovers here and they wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t leave if they were asked to. That is the way things should be on board a ship and Jason was happy that things had turned out this well for them all.
Chapter 17: War Surprises
A month later and there was a huge battle in the sector right next door. Jason sat most of the day in the docks, listening to the coms chatter as ship after ship poured into the sector from the friendly sectors around it. Baeldor had thought that the other sectors would just sit back and do nothing while they claimed one of the most used trading centers nearby, but what they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know was people like Jason and his crew, working to help keep them going just long enough to get a good fleet ready, and now they attacked with a real fury, and after a few hours, the Baeldor Fleet was forced out, and returned home to regroup and make new plans.
The sector was free once more, and Jason and his crew ran in with supplys to help out, along with some medical equipment he knew they would need. The managers were all so happy that their allies had come to their rescue they were speechless, and they accepted every bit of help they could get. Freighters took up the slack quickly and the stations were resupplied for months again. It was a wild ride, from being under the gun one day to free the next, and no one knew when it might happen again. The three closest sectors that Baeldor had put under their 'control' had been liberated, at a high cost but it was done, and now they were furious, and their fleet started advancing into new areas trying to get a foothold there, before the allies fleets could resupply and get repaired. It was like a big game of chess, move here take this lose that, but every move meant lives and many were lost as the war seemed like it would just go on and on.
But things started getting a lot more normal on board and there was lots of work for them close to home now and everyone was happy. They managed to capture a rogue gunboat that had the nerve to attack them while salvaging, and they even got a reward for the rogue captain, since he was a wanted man for his past actions. Jason divided the reward money up with the crew and that helped them too and their daily lives started getting back on track, as their second year of working together came creeping around.
One morning as they were getting ready to leave Jason walked onto the bridge and said 'hi' to everyone and looked around to see Valerie wasn't there yet, and he asked if she was ok.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, yes, no problems, she just slept in a little she'll be right here IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure.Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said with this huge grin that made Jason want to ask, but he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Steve come to the bridge please,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason called as he sat down and after the second call, his second in command answered.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whats up Captain?Ã¢â‚¬Â he asked and Jason asked where Steve was and the man looked a little taken back but he answered that Steve was in the shower and he'd relay the message to him and Jason nodded agreement but then it struck him, Steve was the commander of his unit and therefore, had private quarters. How did his second know he was in the shower? But after picturing that in his mind he decided it wasn't something he ever wanted to know.
Val came running in about that time and Jason asked if she was ok, it wasn't like her to be late and she just smiled and said she was fine and went to her post, and a couple minutes later, Steve came walking in, very clean and refreshed as Jason commented and Steve looked at him oddly but said nothing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“OK, is someone going to tell me whats going on? You two are never late but today you both are? ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one for the record books.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said,chuckling, as Steve started mumbling and looked like he'd run from the room... as finally Val got up and walked over and gave Steve a big kiss and a hug and then winked at Jason who looked mildly amused by it all.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“THAT'S whats been going on, sorry we were late.Ã¢â‚¬Â she said as Steve rolled his eyes and looked like he was in real trouble.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh thank god...when I called for Steve I got his second and he said he was in the shower...in his private room? I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even want to know how he knew that.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said looking away from Steve as the room got a good laugh and Steve gave him a really serious stare.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, trust me he's not like 'that,'Ã¢â‚¬Â Val said as Steve seemed happy she mentioned it just now and Jason smiled wide. He thought as much, they both had been acting a little odd lately, but neither had the nerve to admit it until today.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Steve, what are your intentions towards my sister?Ã¢â‚¬Â He asked as seriously as he could as SteveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face fell and his eyes bulged out. Val started getting up but Casey stopped her and winked.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Allow me...Ã¢â‚¬Â she said as Jason asked what..and she slapped him along back of the head and the room, including Steve got a good laugh from it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What was that for?Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason asked trying hard to look hurt.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“First she's not REALLY your sister so the question is none of your business, second, if you have any worrys they should be about me since I want an answer to the same question..what are your intentions towards me? We've been a couple for almost a year now and you've never said.Ã¢â‚¬Â she went on as even Val turned and gave Jason a dirty look and Steve was beside himself, trying not to laugh too loudly.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the time...Ã¢â‚¬Â he started as she insisted that it was... as everyone gave Jason a hard glare,that made it look like he was really in for it if he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t 'man up', so he cleared his throat and tries to look serious. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ I intend to love you forever, and sometimes until you cant stand and then have twenty kids..Ã¢â‚¬Â he said and then broke into a huge laugh while Casey slapped him again, telling him that was a crude thing to say.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You know...Ã¢â‚¬Â Val said shaking her finger at Casey, Ã¢â‚¬Â that might count as a marriage proposal, probably the most serious one you'll get from mister scaredy-cat over there.Ã¢â‚¬Â she said as Casey threw her arms around Jason's neck and said yes, and the room gave them a round of applause.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was planning on doing a better one, really...Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason whispered into her ear as Casey said that this one would do just fine, so long as he meant it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I like that, maybe I'll use that sometime,Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said as Val gave him a dirty look and said she'd never accept a sick proposal like that and he gave her the look right back and said he wasn't asking her...and they both heard a round of laughter directed right at them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They act married already,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as they both said it wasn't true and Carry nearly fell from her chair laughing at their faces. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I'm glad you found each other and you make her happy.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said with his hand out as Steve shook it all smiles.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“She always did like those brainless muscleman types so I guess it was only a matter of time.Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as he jumped up and away as Steve made a grab for him and even Casey got a good laugh.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You keep it up, and I swear I'll hurt you.Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said and he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look like he was kidding as Jason apologized and they left it slide for now.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So, we all aired our dirty laundry today it seems, anyone know who Carry's sleeping with, lets get it all out.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as the other two women looked around at Carry who just smiled and stuck her tongue out at them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He's not on board this ship and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all you need to know,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said and turned back to her controls and pretended to look busy and finally they all agreed that they had a good time today but they had work to do and Val gave Steve a little peck on the cheek and Casey did the same for Jason and they pulled away from the station looking for work for another day.
Chapter 18: Settling Down
After that, it was like a family affair on board, any time someone was late to the bridge, extra time and patience were the key, and it was appreciated. By now everyone knew that Val and Steve were a full time couple just like Jason and Casey became. They even spent their time off together, just visiting each others parents and families and friends,and that started the talk about the marriage ceremonys to 'make it legal' as more than one mother mentioned, as the fathers all seemed to just take it all in stride.
The men got their two cents in when they got pulled aside by the fathers later and asked if they had planned ahead for something like this,and they both agreed they had been planning for a long time. Jason especially had a good amount saved up, and his father, or more likely his fathers broker, had turned it into a sum worthy of considering ready for his retirement.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It wont be long now,Ã¢â‚¬Â Casey's dad mentioned,Ã¢â‚¬Â until you'll be having kids of your own. We'd like to see you both live to see them grown like we did, so maybe start thinking about a different job, something you can do here instead of flying around getting shot at.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Jason admitted Casey had mentioned it before this. She didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to try and work on board a ship while raising a child and Jason agreed to that up front.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve all been together for over 2 years now,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as everyone on the bridge agreed,Ã¢â‚¬Â maybe its time we start getting really serious, and get enough cash laid back to let us do something else with the rest of our lives.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But having your own ship and flying the space lanes has been your dream since you were little,Ã¢â‚¬Â Val said as he admitted it was.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh we wont be quitting that soon, and having a ship isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the only dream I've had for a long time.Ã¢â‚¬Â He said as CaseyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face grew red and she smiled wide.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But starting today, we'll watch out for anything we can find that'll get us a bigger paycheck, maybe work a few more hours once in a while, and take a few missions that we'd normally let go because it wasn't what we usually do. I know my account isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t too bad and I have someone watching it for me so it'll be ready, but I know that everyone else here gets paid less than I do, and I want you all to have a good retirement too or have enough to start your own little business if thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what you want.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as everyone smiled and said they appreciated the thought.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think I'll have to worry about that, but feel free to pay me as much as you want...Ã¢â‚¬Â Carry said as everyone laughed, her man was the new security chief on board the base and he was paid better than any of them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I thought about just hauling freight after this but Casey doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want me out in space much longer, she wants to be dang sure I'll be there for those late night feedings.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason mentioned as she shook her fist at him for blaming it all on her.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was offered a job already, second in command to station security, Carry's new man asked me about it a couple days ago, and he said to take all the time I want to think about it, there's no rush, the other man is moving to a different base but not for a few weeks yet.Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve said as Val agreed she had heard it and the job paid pretty well.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So, maybe we should start thinking that way then, if Steve goes to work inside the base, I'm not sure who I'd get to replace him, and Casey has mentioned that since we were together this long, she would like to start a family, so lets get our fun in these next few weeks, and then we'll see if we want to stretch things out or just retire from space and into the base somewhere for our familys sake.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said as Casey gave him a huge hug and everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s faces looked happy they had done so well. Jason knew with the little bonuses he had paid them they werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t too bad off, but that wasn't good enough and he decided that he'd pull out all the stops for these next few weeks to get them a nice nest-egg to start the middle of their lives with.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Enough talk then lets get to work,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jason said officially starting their last few weeks of getting shot at for a living.
They really were working harder now and more hours but they all knew this was their last big 'hurray' before they gave up flying for a living. Jason had a chance to buy out a small parts store on board the station and get all the contracts with it, guaranteeing him a good living even without the money he had laid back. Then when he stopped flying he'd be selling the corvette, and in the condition it was in now, he'd get top dollar for it too. That alone would pay for his new business. Steve told the security chief he'd take the job when his pardner left just let him know and give him a week or two to get moved into the base, and he agreed, and gave Steve an invitation to his wedding which Carry had forgot to mention was coming up soon.
Their lives as a fighting ships crew was slowly coming to a stop, and as they all carried their stuff off the corvette that last day, and into their new apartments where they would spend their lives raising their children and working inside the base, they all looked back on those first days and the good times they had had since. Jason sold the corvette to the station ship yards and got a great price for it and then he and Casey had their official wedding and moved in just three doors down the hall from Steve and Val.
Casey gave him a beautiful baby boy a year later and Val delivered her girl less than two months after that. It was the way of things on board space stations, everything in its own time, and now another generation of children going to school and thinking about the day that they too, would pull away from the station in their first ship. Jason was more than happy to tell his stories to his son and daughter too later on until finally, like all kids do, they told their dad they'd heard them enough, and he was forced to stop, and wait to hear their stories as a new generation took their place in the history of the Gemini universe.