1. Avarice Rewarded
Date: 128-993 Imperial.
Location: Daggar's Edge system (1425 Ley), aboard outgoing X-Boat bound for Shanape (1023 Ley).
Karsis turned down the cabin music as she caught Cerenkov blue in the corner of her eye. A ship was coming out of jump, roughly where the incoming X-Boat was due to emerge. The vagaries of hyperspace had held it for two hours over median jump time, which was nothing unusual. She was already reaching for the radio enable when the tender opened her channel. It looked like time to get busy. She confirmed bearings to the tender and locked her data array on the incoming boat, starting the five minute meson laser transfer, then shook hands with the planetary data dripfeed to tell it the scouts were spacing out. Time to warn the other warm body...
She hit the com to talk to the hitchhiker in the starboard berth. "Hello David. Our incoming boat has just come out of jump and I'm taking the feed. Please come up and strap in."
"Roger bridge, on my way" came back over the intercom. Half a minute later a small man in a not entirely scruffy IISS jumpsuit and an entirely scruffy brown leather jacket hopped through the bridge airlock and dogged it behind him. His eyes swept the controls as he slid into the astrogator's chair and strapped down. He looked around the bridge, smiled, and let out a happy sigh.
"Last trip on active duty, maybe?" Karsis asked him. He looked about fifty, a little grey at the temples. A real veteran, who'd made a name for himself of sorts in the service and finally gone on detached duty a month ago. Karsis was flying the last leg of his cadged ride to Shanape.
"Could be that way" he replied. "I doubt they're going to reactivate me at my age. Still, I have my A2 rust bucket to look forward to."
Karsis shot him a surprised look, taking her eye off the data monitor for a moment. "You're going detached in a Far Trader?" Anybody with thirty years in the service, two decorations, and a "Sir" he didn't bother with on the front of his name could probably arrange detached duty in some relatively funky hardware. How on earth did he end up with an A2?
"It's not assigned. It's, um, my ship. Since I've got it, I thought I should travel in it."
"Oh" said Karsis. He was talking about seventy-odd megacredits' worth of rust bucket, there. She made Cr 5825 a month. The "Sir" probably came into this... There was an awkward pause, which she filled by giving the jump plot a final sanity check against a paper star chart taped to the bulkhead. The computer pinged, her data was aboard. She swapped jargon with the tender and prepared to jump.
As Karsis drew a key to unlock the covers for the jump controls, Sir David Shetland spoke once more.
"I, ah, won the ship in a card game."
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