Still in Galaxy Two with a couple of hundred tons of failed food contract to shift, I launch out of Ersoonve (Confederacy TL15) with an additional 300kg gold contract to Isonza and a passenger contract for In Er to Ramaza. Almost immediately I find myself in the middle of a firefight outside the station before I even get as far as the marker buoy! Atomic Annie starts taking laser hits from a Corsair with a Fugitive status, so I bring the Anaconda's forward weapon to bear and start firing. Within a minute three-point-two gigawatts of military laser burns through his hull and he explodes in a shower of shrapnel and plasma – though not before letting loose a missile that stubbornly resists repeated blasts of my ECM, so I hit the injectors until the missile self-destructs.
Now it's time to leave. I initiate witchspace jump with a vectored system departure... but when the countdown reaches zero the cumulative cost of Atomic Annie's extended system-skipping from Esrilees in the south-east sector finally catches up with us. For instead of the familiar wormhole tunnel into the up-and-out of witchspace, all I see is the familiar stars of Ersoonve to the background music of a witchspace drive failure alarm. Engineering contacts me within a minute and advises that the main witchpace initiator has blown out, the resulting radiation surge also irradiating a ton of food and rendering it unsellable. We have to jettison it. I just hope it was a container of wolf meat. I hate wolf meat.
Anyway, Annie's main witchspace initiator is soon reset, and this time we jump successfully to Ramaza (Dictatorship TL8). Now despite Ramaza station being my destination on this leg, I start manoeuvring to the local fuel station to top up my tanks. Even with her weapon load of a forward military laser, aft beam laser, ECM, seven pylons loaded with six hard-head missiles and a Q-bomb, Annie's main defensive weapon is her fuel injectors – and when she's running on full injectors an Anaconda doesn't exactly sip Quirium like a high-class Sotiqu courtesan at a HoOpy Casino. But just as I'm lining up for the docking cage I get bounced by a Moray Star Boat. I have to immediately abandon my approach and go to battle stations, Atomic Annie's ponderous bulk slowly coming about to engage her tormentor as blast after laser blast slams into her shields. Eventually I manage to bring the forward laser to bear, obtain target lock, and arm a hardhead for launch before hitting the firing control. Within a minute or so the Moray is toast, reduced to an expanding cloud of gas and cargo pods, so with a 47CR bounty added to my account I go to see what else I can scavenge. Fuel scoops engaged, course set for cargo pod intercept...
… and soon two tons of food are nestled safe and sound in Annie's cavernous cargo bay. Bugger. Like I don't already have over two hundred tons of food to shift. Why couldn't it have been something nice and valuable, like narcotics? Oh well.
By this time my battle with the Moray has taken me too far from the fuel station, so there's nothing for it but to continue in the main lane to Ramaza station, cautiously manoeuvring my way around other ships and resisting the temptation to burn what little fuel I have left to clear mass-lock, seeing as Annie's massive engines on fuel injection tend to swallow sun-juice like a bunch of thirsty bounty-hunters on a “Five-for-one” Leestian Evil Juice Happy Hour bender at Lobbie's Can-Can Lounge. It looks like the Ramazan civil war is still in full swing though – I watch with some trepidation a quartet of ships off my port side engaged in battle, at least one Dominatrix and a Pitviper. They're ignoring me though, thankfully.
Occasionally during the long drag to the station another ship in the lane hails me. No, Tanker Bastian's Thunderbolt, I do not want to buy a Trumble off you. It took a lot of work to get the last infestation out when I scooped a canister of the buggers a year ago... I swear that during sun-skimming you can still get odours of scorched flesh from behind the nav console!
After what seems like an eternity I finally reach Ramaza aegis, and dock on autopilot with no incident. In Er packs up and disembarks, we refuel again and sell some computers, machinery and luxuries. We also pick up some booze and furs before our departure.
You know what I said about the Ramazan civil war while on the inbound leg? Well, true to form the bloody conflict found us again immediately after launch, as once again Atomic Annie is engulfed in a furball battle. Once again the ECM and lasers are warmed up, and soon I take out an Ionics Whitetail before receiving heavy fire from a Dart on the aft shields. I try and engage the Dart but he's too manoeuvrable, so I disengage and hit full power towards the witchspace beacon, letting the local plods take care of the rest. Annie soon clears the fracas and we have space clear enough for a standard vectored departure, so jump is initiated to Isonza (Dictatorship TL9).
Upon arrival at Isonza I get mass-locked by a civilian convoy as well as two GalNavy formations shortly after departing the beacon. I manage to manoeuvre past all three groups, and hit the torus drive – only to shortly get mass-locked again by a bounty hunter in a Pitviper, the Murderer's Executioner. The Pitviper is happily overhauling me and it won't be long before he clears out of range...
… until we both notice a convoy under attack on our port side. By unspoken mutual agreement, Atomic Annie and Murderer's Executioner simultaneously turn to investigate. It turns out the convoy – two Dominatrixs, a Pitviper and a Mamba escorting the Boa Confidential Gastronome of Dimadi V – is the same one that I encountered earlier, and they are desperately fighting off a bunch of rogue Ionic Whitetails that are obviously intent on ripping the Boa apart to claim her cargo. Atomic Annie and Murderer's Executioner both race to the convoy's aid like a pair of avenging angels and engage the Whitetails, each ship locking on to one raider after the other and methodically eliminating each target in turn. The Whitetails now find themselves the hunted instead of the hunters, as Annie alone racks up five kills and 148CR in bounties before all the raiders are chewing vacuum!
The Boa convoy soon reassembles and forms up on Confidential Gastronome – just in time to see a GalNavy convoy sweeping past like a bunch of tarts on parade. Murderer's Executioner heads off as well, leaving us behind and waiting for the speedier ships to clear mass-lock. But just as I'm thinking we've had our quota of excitement for this haul the GalNavy fleet opens up with massed fire on a target out of scanner range, and my friend the Pitviper appears to be engaging the same target from the other side of my scanner. What the...?
Before I know it, we're engaged in another battle with the GalNavy boys pounding the foe with plasma cannon while Murderer's Executioner ducks and weaves around what turns out to be another furball fight. A Dart suddenly appears on the Pitviper's six and starts tearing into his shields – but the Dart blunders right into my forward sights in the process and I immediately take him out. I search for another target... and find it's already all over. Whoa!
Murderer's Executioner thanks me for the assist, and I wish him well in return before hitting my injectors to clear both the GalNavy and Confidential Gastronome convoys. It's a long slow burn, but eventually I break mass-lock and soon arrive uneventfully at Isonza, unloading the gold and watching my credit account leap up by a not inconsiderable amount.
Still have to shift some of this two hundred tons of food though!
Flying the Anaconda-class transport Atomic Annie
through Galaxy 2.
"Big ships take more booty on your interstellar flights..."