I was making my way across the Far Shore to deliver time-sensitive medicine for a real big fish when some raiders decided to pay me a visit. It was good the big fish hired me and not those clowns from GalEx, otherwise, there was no chance in hell. The big fish knew the chances were, hmm, let’s say, fifty-fifty with me. GalEx, zero, no doubt. See, I’m a private courier. People pay me money, good money, to deliver packages. Packages they can’t trust with the Postal Service, Galaxy Express, Star Ship, etc. They trust me though, but it comes at a cost. I ain’t cheap.
So, like I was saying, I was making my way across the Far Shore when those fucking zealot raiders decided to pay me a visit. They must have intercepted me from a station nearby. How’d they know where I’d be and when I’d be there and that I happened to not have time for their bullshit? No clue. That’s a problem for another day.
It’s just me in my ship, Starfish, a Class D cruiser. It’s an old hunk-a-junk, but it gets the job done. I had a little work done on it over the years, so it’s faster than most ships in its class. Had a few weapons put in too. It’s not a fighter ship, but you know never what trouble you might run into out there. Protecting the package is what they pay me for, and sometimes that means people who get in the way happen to get turned into stardust.
No clue what I was delivering, I never ask. I’m better off not knowing. It’s a sort of courier confidentially agreement, like what you have with your doc. All I know is that it’s a little metal briefcase with a handle. The case was surprisingly heavy, but I don’t know shit other than that. I strapped it down in a heavily padded trunk in the cabin and started making my way across the Far Shore, like I was saying, when these raiders showed up. I’m a few hours from making touchdown, dropping off this package, and then treating myself to the finest glass of hex this back-planet destination has to offer.
Anyways, yeah, mother-fucking-space-pirates. Scum of space. Nothing better to do than sit around and wait for their prey. Space is too damn big for the SDF to do shit about it. No way they could have coverage across every single parsec out there.
These three ships jet in, oh, I don’t know, probably two Class Cs and a Class B. They’re thinking to themselves, this’ll be the easiest job we’ve ever done. But here’s the trick, they can’t just blow me to oblivion, or the package’ll be compromised. Me and ole Starfish aren’t just target practice. They need to be subtle; they need some tact. They need to take me down, but not utterly destroy me. Now that, I can work with that. These raiders have white skulls painted on the sides of their carbon colored ships. They don’t know a thing about being subtle.
I send out a hailing frequency, “Hello, fellow citizens! How’s your journey across the vast reaches of nothingness going? Light traffic out here today.” The Class B raider responds with a small shot right at me, eaten up by my shield.
I engage the thrusters, full force, and try to skate my way out of this. They’re sending little blips at my backside, nothing my shield can’t handle. They probably didn’t expect such a strong shield for such a small ship. I’m starting to get some distance, thinking I’m in the clear. Then the two Class Cs send out two missiles each, right the fuck at me. Now my shield’s good, but it’s not that good. Starfish sustains minor damage, but my shields are fucked. The profit margin for this job just shrank considerably. Now I’m pissed. This is turning into a real hassle.
I pull back on the stick and twist hard left, turning Starfish around right at them. The Class Cs are sitting ducks, probably shitting themselves, as I unleash a barrage of the Good Stuff. There’s nothing left of the one to my right. The one on the left won’t make it either, but at least there are some scraps for the scavengers. You’re welcome.
But the Class B, I can’t see that bastard. I run a scan. On top of me. Oh shit. I hear a loud clank above me, and Starfish’s sensors start going nuts. Red flashing everywhere. Sweat starts dripping down my face. The Class B ship shot out a harpoon, and it’s got me good. My thrusters can’t take much more of this top speed overclock, and I don’t exactly have the extra fuel to burn. I floor it, trying to escape the harpoon. It’s some Old Man and the Sea shit. No use, this hook and line are some high-grade matériel.
A light bulb goes off, I get an idea. Instead of trying to run, barely pulling the Class B along, I turn back and head right toward it. The Class B fires some warning shots. They miss. I know they can’t risk losing the package, otherwise, this would be a total bust for them. They start reeling in the line, trying to tear me out of my trajectory heading straight toward their ship. But their line doesn’t spool fast enough, I’m heading straight onward. I fire a couple more of my missiles. No dice. Shield’s too strong on this bastard.
Fuck it! I keep my trajectory straight and steady, right toward the Class B bastard. I brace for impact as me and ole Starfish ram full speed into the Class B. Lucky for me, Starfish has a military-grade nose that can withstand just about anything. Even though the Class B’s about four times the size of Starfish, we do some serious damage. I engage the reverse thrusters, fire a few shots, and boom! More stardust. The sucker’s toast.
I barely make my way into the port, puttering along with a harpoon stuck into the top of Starfish and the line trailing along. The fish that got away. The port’s finest mechanics are working on fixing Starfish up right now.
I finished delivering the package on foot. No issues there. You don’t fuck with a courier with a black eye and a small suitcase. I collected my fee, plus a little extra for the trouble. Now I’m here, enjoying this nice glass of hex in this fine establishment.
“Did you learn what was in the package?” the man next to me at the bar asked.
“No fucking clue,” I said.
“That’s a real buncha bullshit,” he said.
“Bullshit or not, drinks on me,” I said, grinning.
Collected in Fleeting