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Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:05 pm
by Rogue7414
I'd jumped into Atzaxe in Galaxy 2 and made my way to Navy Sector Command 8 to continue my reserve duties. I was told to head to Erlaened and meet up with my fellow reservist and other Navy ship to intercept a Thargoid invasion fleet. So I quickly boost over to the main station at Atzaxe and save my progress before jumping to Erlaened ready to vape some bugs.

I arrive at Erlaened and see the waiting Navy ships and my fellow reservists ready for battle and in the distance the approaching mass of Thargoid ships. My right thumb slips over to my injectors button on my joystick and I'm off at full speed flying towards the center of the bugs fleet. I arm my Q-bomb, target a Thargoid warship, drop off the package and that's me speeding away with rear shields taking hits as I go. The Q-bomb cooks off and then there's bugs being vaped everywhere. As they're being killed I get the usual insults from the Thargoids, 'Eat ant, Poetry!' and 'Eat Bison, discos!' and my personal favorite 'We'll use your peculiar parking meters for our meat!'.

After the Q-bomb's done it's work there's only one Thargoid battle ship still alive, he's quickly killed off by the Navy and reservists forces. The robot fighters that the battle ship launched go inactive leaving me to scoop them up and sell them for a nice profit when I dock with the Navy Behemoth to refuel and get ready for the next wave. This time there's no follow up wave, the bugs are all dead and my reservist duty is concluded for this mission. I decide not to bother paying the high prices for a replacement Q-bomb and pick one up at the next station to sell them.

As I leave the Behemoth the rest of the ships are all starting to disperse and head their own way. I decide to head to Erlaened's main station save my progress before heading to the systems royal hunting lodge and out flying the systems Nobles and taking their money, did I mention Erlaened was a Feudal system?

So I boost past everyone else until my scope is clear of all purple and yellow lollipops before engaging my jump engines. At this moment I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself, I've nuked a load of bugs, I'm about sixty odd kills away from becoming Deadly, life is pretty good. As I'm having these thoughts I suddenly brought back to the here and now as my ships becomes mass locked. The alarms go off and suddenly I've got a dozen lollipops going from yellow to red. There's two groups, both ahead, one group to the right the other group on the left, Pirates.

I come to a full stop and drop my cross hairs on the first ship that I can, it's a Sidewinder, my sights go red, the Sidewinder goes boom, next ship. It's a Cobra Mk III, I red line my military laser, the Cobra explodes and the missile he just launched at me goes the same way when I activate my ECM. Incoming fire starts reaching out towards me as both groups start to come into firing range, I flip my ship over and show them my tail and take out an Eagle Mk II before engaging my engines. These guys were bloody lousy shots, more often than not their lasers missed and my rear shields were coping with the ones that did find their target. I take out a Mamba that's getting ahead of the pack, that's when I notice the incoming blue and white laser bolts, there's four separate lots all reaching out for me, there's four Ionics Whitetails among the group of Pirates blasting away at me for everything they're worth, that's when it happened.

The Whitetails were that intent in shooting me, that they started hitting the Copperhead MK II that was just in front of them. Suddenly all hell breaks loose among the Pirates as they start fighting within their own ranks. I ease back the throttle and flip my ship back round to watch what's happening. One of the Whitetails is destroyed by the Copperhead MK II, who is then in turn destroyed by the three remaining Whitetails. It's a free for all and I've got a front row seat to it. I watch as another ship explodes and the ever increasing number of white lollipops appear on my scope. I press the button and my Smivs express tea making machine comes to life and 15 seconds later I've got a piping hot cup of tea ready letting me properly relax and enjoying the moment. By the end of it there's only a Cobra Mk I left alive and his ship is in a bad way, I kill it and head over and scoop up all the cargo containers and scrap metal floating about the place before making my way to the main station and selling off a load of cargo that I really didn't have to do that much to get. :D :D

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:06 am
by Diziet Sma
Beautiful! Dissension in the Pirate ranks! So it can happen, after all! 8) :lol:

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:23 pm
by maaarcooose
I seem to remember using it as a tactic in Doom and Quake2. Move in such a way that a bad guys fire, hits another bad guy.
Second bag guy gets annoyed and fights the first one.

Never tried it for real in OOlite though.


Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:09 am
by Ranthe
So I'm on a multi-contract run down into the south-east sector of Galaxy 2, heading towards Xeexes with 400+ grams of Sotiquian Pobble Stones, a couple of tons of gold ingots, several hundred tons of computers, some mud-wrestling videotapes and a couple of passengers. The clock is ticking on the gemstone contract, so I have to move fast.

I launch out of Ceerdiza station and find myself amid a huge furball fight between a flight of Ionics Whitetails and the locals... some local ruckus, but what else can you expect in an Anarch system? But I've got no time for this so I redline my main drive, hoping that no-one takes any notice of the freshly-launched and fully-laden Anaconda, and manage to navigate Atomic Annie through the beams of laser fire out into the clear. So far, so good - no apparent followers, and the dust-up in my scanner appears to be continuing apace without my involvement. Witchspace jump is initiated, and we head out on a vectored departure to Titequ, Annie's drive burbling and bumping a bit in transit - it appears that the last maintenance overhaul wasn't as thorough as it could have been.

We arrive at Titequ to be greeted with the sight of a Galactic Navy formation idling about the witchpace beacon, but I ignore them and plot a course to the nearby fuel station to top up my tanks for the next jump. Anyway, next thing I know I'm getting calls of "Countermeasures! Countermeasures!" coming over the comm. A quick check of the scanner shows another ship has jumped in around the beacon, and I switch to the rear viewer to see an Ionics Whitetail on unknown status dead astern. I'm just about to get an ID lock on it -

- when a hail of plasma fire (presumably from the GalNavy force) slams into the Whitetail, annihilating it in seconds! Whoa!

What must have happened is that the Whitetail must have followed Annie through our wormhole from Ceerdiza, no doubt intending to ambush a fully-loaded Anaconda with nearly dry tanks on arrival - forgetting that Titequ is the home of GalNavy Sector Command 13, with lots of frigate captains itching for a live-fire exercise :-)

Nice work, Navy!

Anyway, I refuel at the fuel station as planned, and witch out to Isxees. Unfortunately, by the time I dock at the station my gems contract had expired, so I'm now stuck with over 400g of Pobble Stone that I don't know what to do with. Oh well, I still have the mud-wrestling tapes and a passenger to deliver next on the schedule...

... eh? Onen is an Feudal system? I really have to check some of these passenger destinations more carefully!

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:03 am
by Diziet Sma

It's always nice to read another update on the adventures of Atomic Annie..

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:31 am
by Twisp
So I've set up shop out in Orrira. Perfect system for a guy like me - no regulation on mining policy, no mandated asteroid cleanup, plenty of stations in the fields. Pretty much ideal for long-term mining ops. Only downside's the pirates, but most of 'em won't pay attention to the real far-out fields. Y'know, the ones out between the corona and the other planets in the system, where whole heaps of the larg - ah, but I shouldn't be telling you too much. Business concerns, n' all.

But anyways, my last trip out to the fields was quite the strange one. Before I continue, let me enlighten you to the basics of how I really operate. Generally speaking, I dont like to risk asteroids I've picked out to drift off. So, to keep my potential wealth in one place, I break up the valuable asteroids in a cluster, and then proceed to pop a shepherd. Those units are one hell of a blessing, tell ya what - pulls all the splinters into a nice cluster. From a really good field, I can get hundreds of tons of valuables just floating around this little beacon. Scoop what I can, process it onboard on the trip back, and sell it all to one of the stations on the spacelane fields. A few round trips, and I can easily make 10 grand, sometimes more.

Agh, I keep getting on tangents. Sorry, friend. Back to the story.

Now, this was what I like to call a virgin trip - when I've exhausted the last thicket I worked in, and have to find a new one. I'd gotten some pretty great intel from one of the passing Hacker goons - some massive rocks clumping together near a star-jelly breeding ground at the edge of the star's corona. Big rocks mean big money, so you just know I was itching to head out.

Largely, things went off without a hitch. Naturally, you can't ever fully trust a Hacker, which is probably why some fool in an Eagle II tried to jump me. Probably told the kid I was easy pickins'. Good for him he had a pod (although I didn't appreciate being delayed by the whole ferrying-the-idiot-back part). So yeah, that little episode over, and I was on my way.

Now, despite his loose lips regarding my departure, I can't say that goon was a liar. That field was a hell of a sight. Must've been at least a dozen adult jellies out in the rocks, gigantic pillars of ice floating through space, gigantic veins of precious metals streaking some of the largest lumps I've ever seen...something special, yeah? I got away from the jelly cluster pretty quick - no need to be vaporized by one of my camera drones puncturing a membrane or some crap like that - and got to work tearing down an asteroid mostly composed of radioactives and processable alloys. It was about 7 hours later - perhaps halfway through the rock - when he showed up.

Like most ships, my sensors picked up his exhaust signature long before I'd be able to pick him up with the cameras, drone or onboard. He popped up about 25 klicks out, coming from the direction of Orrira III. Of course, Orrira doesn't really have a functional security force, so I was cautious. Recalled my drones, set up my targeting system to lock onto him once he passed into identifiable range, armed the hardhead, the works. He wasn't picking up on comms, and was heading pretty directly towards me.

As he passed into identifiable range, I ran all the tests. First, identity. The ship came up as the Divine Claw, a Worm. Clean, legally. That eased my nerves a bit - not much harm to come from some poor guy without a record. Diagnostic scans showed pretty much the expected - it was a beat up old junker with no special characteristics to speak of. Once he hit within 10 klicks, things started to get interesting.

Pretty much the moment he passed that golden distance, my comms exploded. Know all that Witchspace Lobster Cult bullcrap you see on channels? It was like all of those programs condensed into one, concentrated broadcast. The tumult of noise almost instantly made me sick to my stomach - just a wall of sound interrupting and crashing into itself. Visually...well, if vizscreens could cry, I'm pretty sure they would have done just that. It was this massive blur of color, indescribably garish.

I didn't have to worry about this for long, though. Some safety must have gone off in my data core, and pretty much every display and audio dock went dead within a minute. By that point, I was out cold. Sensory overload, and all.

Ship's clock showed it was about 4 hours before I woke up. Everything looked pretty much untouched - no damage, vizs rebooted, ship still in the same orientation. Scanners showed no contacts, other than the asteroids. After I did a quick check of the ship's core systems, I got back to work.

If I had to guess, I'd say there's some people out there who are just completely out of it. Fringe, even for the lobster cultists. Don't see why else you'd set up a transmission that flOopin' insane. Guess I just got unlucky.

Really hope there aren't more where he came from, though. Hope even more that I don't meet another.

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:07 am
by Diziet Sma
An entertaining little tale.. is there any particular OXP back of those events?

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:27 pm
by rayner
This was almost one for the Darwin Awards thread:

So here's a handy tip I discovered today.

If you get a few well-aimed shots off at a pirate who is fleeing with injectors, you might get them to eject at exactly the moment they disappear off the edge of your scanner. If this happens and you chase after them with your Torus drive, their empty ship will no longer mass-lock you when it comes back into scanner range. You will have under two seconds to notice this if you want to avoid flying straight up their thruster exhausts.

(It is also still travelling at several kilometres per second, just to make your life interesting when you've slowed down again. As for the escape pod, it disappeared off the scanner at some entirely ridiculous velocity and is probably halfway to Galaxy 6 by now)

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:11 am
by Cody
rayner wrote:As for the escape pod, it disappeared off the scanner at some entirely ridiculous velocity...
Yeah, they do that occasionly... like greased lightning!

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Tue May 07, 2013 6:52 pm
by Jack_Sterling
What-Ho chaps,
Well in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined the situation I have been in for these last couple of months.
I arrived at Ororqu with a load of Evil Brandy from Xeaqu. I know the Rodent folk like their Brandy and this was a particularly fine vintage. The run in-planet had been quiet and I got a good price for the booze upon docking at the Main Station. While in the Market I bought 30TC of computers to ship on.
I was taking a breather in one of the station concourses when I noticed a billboard detailing excursions to the planet. Now I'm like most spacers - it's a funny old thing isn't it, that I am already behaving as though I've always been here. Whatever, I never go planetside as a rule, but the local inhabitants are famed for their ancient mating traditions and it seems that the Festival of Gnaw was about to start.
Well this sounded like a jolly jape - the festival lasted for two Ororquan weeks (which turned out to be about three months in Old Earth time) and was basically an orgy of eating and drinking during which lovers plight their troth. This I had to see.
So I booked a shuttle flight down to the capital city and off I went. The hotel was a bit shabby to tell the truth. It was a local chain intended mostly for the local population, so most of the furniture had been chewed to a greater or lesser extent, and the carpets were a bit the worse for wear as well.
I was not too bothered as I wasn't expecting to spend much time there and indeed that turned out to be the case, but not for the reason I'd hoped.
It was on the second day that I answered a knock at my door. A large and very officious-looking Capybara in police uniform was standing there.
"Commander Sterling, I must ask you to come with me please". He was an imposing character and saying 'No thanks' didn't seem like an option, so I asked what this was all about.
"We can discuss that down at the Police Station" he said brusquely and he took a firm grip on my arm and guided me outside. I was (politely) bundled into a Police hover and before long found myself in an interview room at the local Police HQ.
To cut a long story short it seems that the Brandy I had brought in was part of a consignment that had originally been bound for Riinus from Learorce and had been 'liberated' from it's rightful owners as the ship passed through Xeaqu. So I was on a rap for handling stolen goods and for good measure the local authorities also threw in a charge of being an accessory to the murder of the freighter's crew.
Despite my protestations, I found myself in a cell which would be my home until the case came to court. If this wasn't bad enough my cell-mate was a flatulent blue insectoid from Aanbiat who had the annoying habit of stridulating all night.
I tried to convince the Police that my possession of the Brandy was legitimate and that the records on board BullDog One would show this, but it seems that due to increased solar activity in the system, communications with the Main Station were down, and seemed likely to stay that way for quite some time.
Well, this was a rum do all round and I decided that I had to take matters into my own hands if it was ever going to be sorted out.
The trouble is, if there's one thing rodents are very good at it is making very secure prison cells. No chance you could gnaw your way out!
A week later (that's an Ororquan week, so around six Earth weeks later) I was bundled into a police hover for my first court appearance. This was my chance! The two burly Beavers who were escorting me were obviously confident they could control me so didn't restrain me in any way. Bad move! As the hover lifted off and started the journey to the court-house I made my move. Now I'm not a violent person, but this situation was desperate, so I lunged forward and grabbed the pilot around the neck. He was a squirrel and with a slight build and so I was able to lift him straight out of the pilot's seat. As I did this the hover nose-dived and crashed into a warehouse silo. Wizard prang! The hover split open and myself, the pilot and the two beavers fell out into the mess of nuts that had spilt from the silo. Being bipedal seemed to give me an advantage so as they all scrambled about in the sea of nuts I legged it as fast as I could. "Tally-Ho!" I shouted.
I had escaped, but what next? I couldn't go back to the hotel, so all my belongings there were lost to me. I was a fugitive on a rodent planet with nothing but the clothes I was wearing. Luckily these were my own clothes as the Ororqu authorities don't use distinctive prison clothing, and being an ex boy-scout (Be Prepared and all that) I was actually quite well equipped. I had a few coins in my pocket, a roll of tape and most importantly a comms unit which I could use to contact BullDog One.
I found a derelict building and set up an incident room - well it was actually a few packing crates held together with sticky tape but it kept me hidden from prying eyes. I used the comms link and dialed into my ship's computer. The old crate had been impounded as she was by now deemed abandoned, but she was still active, so I accessed the flight log and manifest records. The information needed to clear my name was all there, GalCop certified, so I opened a downlink to Ororqu Police HQ and transmitted everything I had to them.
Now I know that the wheels of officialdom can turn quite slowly, so I bought some food from a little corner shop nearby and returned to my hide-out for a few days.
When I was happy that it was safe to do so, I contacted the Police using my comms unit.
Thankfully the data I had uploaded to Police HQ had been verified, and I was told that both the charges had been dropped. I was told to report to Police HQ to tie up any loose ends.
The next day I walked into Police HQ and was promptly arrested! The desk officer, a snivelling little mouse-like creature read out the charges to me.
Unlawfully escaping from custody, destruction of Police property, namely a police hover, and causing actual bodily harm to a Police Officer.
Jeepers, was I angry! But so were they, and again they had the upper hand, so I just had to play ball with them. Luckily it seems that the Galcop administrator of the Main Station had become aware of the situation and she applied some pressure to the planetary authorities. Because I had been so unfairly treated in the first place I was offered a deal. All charges would be dropped if I left the planet immediately and undertook never to return to Ororqu.
I was more than happy to agree to this, and was placed on the first shuttle back to the Main Station, where I am writing this.
BullDog One has been moved back into the main docking area, and as soon as she has been fuelled up and checked over I can leave.
I can't wait to be back out there in the Big Black again. OK, so out there you face instant death from micro-metiorites, pirates, and countless other hazards, but that life has got to be a lot better than the last eight weeks I spent on Ororqu!
Tally-Ho chaps, Sterling signing off, for now at least....

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Wed May 08, 2013 9:01 am
by Commander McLane
Very nice tale! :D

Tip: If you're interested in more planet-bound fiction, [wiki]Justice for Mrs Combs[/wiki] is a good read. It's also a nice classic detective story.

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Wed May 08, 2013 12:50 pm
by Cody
That tale should be in the fiction section, Smivs.

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 4:33 pm
by Bugbear
Sometimes, the Thargoids can be your friends

I'm in Chart 2, doing milk runs between a rich industrial and a poor agricultural, in my freshly purchased Python. Still a little light on equipment - only a front beam laser at the moment so I'm trying to keep my nose clean until I can cash up a little more.

However...and through no fault of my own, I'm getting an annoying Saiph Interceptor stalking me out the front of a TL14 station, in the presence of the cops. I know I'm no match for that thing right now so I'm trying to keep out of the action.

The cheeky rascal then went and hitched a ride on my wormhole, then thought it was a good idea to take a few more shots at me.

So there I am, plenty of fuel (it was only a short jump) and a beserker high on injector fuel on my tail. What to do?

Time to use my stalker's freeloading ways against him.

Plotted a jump back to the nearest system, then misjumped. True to form the freeloader followed me into a storm of Thargoids. I waited around long enough to ensure that he was nice and occupied, then injected away with a return jump countdown underway.


Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 5:51 am
by Diziet Sma

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend." (Well, unless that happens to be GalCop, who generally don't give a damn..)

Nice tale, and a good tactic to keep in mind.

Re: Tales from the spacelanes...

Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 9:37 am
by Ranthe
Anyway, so after finishing my last multi-contract run down to the south-east sector of Galaxy 2 I pick up an assortment of contracts that will send me and Atomic Annie up to the north-east sector to Ersoonve with 234TC of food, nearly a ton of platinum at Esrilees, and a passenger by the name of Lethmas Ar to Rasbiarce. I unload my platinum at Esrilees for an eye-watering 298K payoff, but due to it being off the direct route to Ersoonve it's starting to look a little tight for Atomic Annie to fulfil the last two contracts in time – as we all know, Anacondas are pretty much at the other end of the speed scale to Cobbies and Ferdies. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and (famous last words) I have a plan!

I depart Esrilees and jump to Tigebere (Corporate TL8) – and promptly head for the nearest fuel station, gently nosing Annie's massive bulk into the docking cage and waiting for the reassuring clunk of the refuelling hoses connecting to the Anaconda's fuel ports. Refuelling commences, and a few minutes later with fuelling complete the hoses disengage and I manoever out out on docking thrusters with full tanks of Quirium. Then it's full burn on impulse drive for a minute or two to clear the fuel station, noting that I've got six days and eighteen hours to get to Rasbiarce and seven days seventeen hours to Ersoonve.

Witchspace jump is initiated, and I arrive at Ceerdiza (Democracy TL9). Again I head for the fuel station instead of planetside, topping off Annie's tanks for a second time. I set course for Atius and initiate jump, but almost immediately I got the infamous warning that I was too close to some other body for the witchspace wormhole to be generated. Turns out it's the Ceerdizan ConStore... but just when I was resigned to slugging it out in normal space to get clear I notice a flight of ships departing the ConStore and heading away from the beacon. On a hunch I follow them, and to my delight they opened up a wormhole to... Atius! Immediately I navigate Atomic Annie into the wormhole after the convoy, arrive at Atius without incident or a single drop of fuel burned, and immediately witch out to Veenar (Confederacy TL9).

Pirate activity reported in system” is the warning message from the Veenar beacon. I've got time remaining to Rasbiarce of three days eighteen hours, Ersoonve four days sixteen hours... “no pressure”, eh? Search for the fuel station and engage main drive – damn near colliding with the Your-Ad-Here Beacon in the process – and shortly Atomic Annie is again satisfying her thirst with several tons of Quirium. All during the refuelling my eyes never leave the scanner as I pray to Giles that we're not jumped by raiders while trapped in the fuel station's docking cage... but my luck holds as the refuelling lines retract and we smoothly depart for clear space.

So far, my strategy of system-skipping with in-flight refuelling seems to be working. But there's a problem ahead. The next jump is to Cemabe – which is a Feudal system, TL4. Which undoubtedly means that there's no friendly fuel station waiting off the beacon. I'll either have to sun-skim or run the gauntlet to the main station aegis. Damn.

After another routine witchspace jump I duly arrive at Cemabe, and no only is the lack of an in-flight refuelling confirmed, there's also another “Pirate activity reported in system” warning from the beacon. By now Atomic Annie has done five jumps in succession and her witchspace engines are starting to show the strain, but a Feudal system is no place to hang about for long in an unescorted Anaconda so I want to get out fast. I angle off the main lanes and set course for the local star, engaging the torus drive for the first time in quite a number of days... only to find that getting to that free sun-juice is going to eat up more time than simply refuelling at the main station. Oh well. At least by now I'm off the main lanes. Course set for the station, and torus drive engaged.

I'm almost within spitting distance of Cemabe aegis when suddenly the torus drive cuts out and I'm mass-locked. A single ship shows up on the scanner – could this be a friendly? No such luck. The yellow lollipop on the scanner immediately swings around onto an intercept course, and shortly the yellow blip turns to red as the bastard – a Dart – opens fire at long range.

Well, two can play at that game! I immediately cut impulse speed to minimum, lock on, arm a hardhead as backup, and immediately open fire with my forward military laser. A few seconds later I'm rewarded with a satisfying explosion in the distance, and 28CR added to the ship's coffers as a bounty. Nice one! Torus drive is re-engaged, and I arrive at Cemabe with no further incident, bringing Atomic Annie into her berth on autopilot and immediately arranging for refuelling.

While my crew (and my passenger Lethmas Ar) hit the local facilities for R&R, and some interim trading is carried out with other miscellaneous cargo items in Annie's enormous belly, I plan for the next jump over a tankard of Reidquat Ale. Computer says shortest route is via Anenat (Feudal TL5), but I decide instead to reroute via Verave (Confederacy TL11), hoping pirates from neighbouring Ladibe (Anarchy TL2) don't pop over for a visit en route. But the clock on my contracts keeps ticking - time remaining to Rasbiarce of two days twenty-two hours, Ersoonve three days twenty hours.

No time for dawdling if I want to keep my reputation. I recall the crew, clear departure formalities, and we launch once again into the big black, performing the usual pitch-up and full thrust manoeuvring to clear the launch corridor and head to the departure area for the jump.

We witch out of Cemabe, and arrive at Verave. Damn near hit the beacon again en route to the nearest fuel station. Once again we manoever into position, line up at the entrance, ease Atomic Annie's massive hull into the confines of the docking cage and watch the fuel hoses successfully link to our couplings. Annie gorges herself full on Quirium, slaking her tremendous thirst for the moment at least, then with the Veraveian station's cash register (metaphorically) ringing in our ears we drive out of the fuel station and jump again.

Now it's Soreisbe (Corporate TL9) and another fuel station. Manoever, line up, thread the needle into the docking cage, try to ignore the “Alien vessel reported in system” warning from the beacon transponder. Watch Annie's fuel gauge and effective range steadily rise as she slurps down yet more refined sun-juice, the Anaconda guzzling the stuff like a drunken Celibar Poet on shore leave. With tanks full, Rasbiarce and Ersoonve are directly in range – but despite Ersoonve being closer I plot a course for Rasbiarce as I'm down to one day and six hours remaining for safely delivering Lethmas Ar. Only one problem: I belatedly realise Rasbiarce is a Feudal TL10 system, and I do not want to potentially go into battle with a ship that hasn't had at least a quick fitness check-out previously. So it's off to the local station. But at least I got cheap fuel, as refuelling at main stations seems to be a more expensive exercise since Directive 177 came out...

One quick battle-readiness checkout at Soreisbe Main later, and we launch. Initiate jump - and immediately after exiting the wormhole at Rasbiarce I'm mass-locked by a (friendly) Cobra Mk III. I angle off the main lanes again and hit the torus drive as soon as I can, watching the scanner and visual scopes as we head towards the planet, making sure to steer away from those tell-tale laser flashes of distant battles. Surprisingly, it's not long before we reach station aegis at Rasbiarce and Atomic Annie docks with no incident, Lethmas Ar bidding us a fond farewell and thanks for a safe journey completed.

With one more jump to reach Ersoonve, I start to relax... when suddenly the Rasbiarce battle alarm sounds. We hear mayday calls from an Orbital Shuttle coming over the P.A, so we execute an immediate launch to render assistance . Yeah, Annie may “just” be an Anaconda, but she still packs a punch!

The Orbital Shuttle is soon located, as well as her antagonists: a couple of Ionics Whitetails. I hate Whitetails. Immediately I lock onto the first of the prakkin' 'stards with my forward laser, spacing him in short order before turning my weapons onto his friend. And making him one with the universe as well. With combat concluded, I immediately set course to Ersoonve (Confederacy TL15) and jumped.

We arrived at Ersoonve with no incident (despite another “significant pirate activity reported” warning from the beacon) – only to find that my contract for 234TC of food had expired and as a result my contract rating had dropped. Damn! I was able to sell some of it off, as well as some booze, furs, textiles and minerals, and I also managed to pick up a good lot of computers, machinery and luxuries so it wasn't entirely wasted. I also picked up a contract for 300kg Gold to Isonza – a one-jump job – as well as a passenger contract taking In Er (Human Colonial) to Ramaza.

I just hope the Ramazans have forgotten my blowing the witchspace beacon with a Q-bomb on my last visit...

Edit: It's the Galaxy 2 north-east sector! East!