This story was originally posted to the pre-magazine web site in 1999 and reprinted in the October 2015 issue.
[Diary Editor’s Note: The original was found aboard the hulk of a corsair of long-obsolete design, and unknown origin. The hulk showed battle scars; remnants of the cargos described remained aboard. It was found in the outer reaches of a system in the Imperial core, on a tangential course. How long it had been drifting is unknown, but all power had long since failed; there were no survivors. The identity of “Gibreel” is unknown; the ship’s papers listed nobody by that name.]
We shoved off port yesterday, and I’ve got a bad feeling that something’s not right. Bennett checked the liner manifests and said they were 100% Imperial, but I’m not sure. There are all kinds of funny ships out here, and cargoes change hands so fast anyway. How can he be certain the cargo is safe?
Port Tomaret’s a quiet, shabby space dock. It had fuel and some supplies, but wasn’t built to handle real traffic. Heck, it’s only really supposed to handle insystem traffic; but since these outer systems tend to be less high-strung than mainworlds, you can get fueled (and maybe serviced) no questions asked.
I’m sure that cargo ain’t Imperial. Zhenchi and I pried off one of the lids, and it was full of purple basketballs. They looked organic—I’m sure they’re alive (or were)—and I hate moving unclassed organics. What if they got some bug finds humaniti tasty?
We refueled and jumped for the next system. Captain says it’s good policy to jump one ship per system per year, no more. We can run legit cargo too, but we really prefer to find one unique deal where we can make enough money to get us by for months. That way we can cruise around and enjoy the galaxy, you know?
A little trouble in that last system: there were old SDBs there. We toasted one before we even knew what they were, and jumped out with only minor damage. We had to pull an awful lot of fancy maneuvers; I’ve gotten kind of nauseous because of all the evasive action and watching those boats swirl around in a drunken dance out the port.
One good thing about that system was that pathetic excuse for a merchant we sacked. Boy, did she have interesting stuff! We loaded some machinery I ain’t never seen, except maybe in a magazine. Bet one is a black globe. Wonder how one got out here?
Our trouble ain’t over. I’m still nauseous, and half the crew are sick in bed and can’t hardly move. It’s jump sickness for sure. We misjumped when them defense boats were after us. Astrogator must’ve been in a hurry.
No use asking the astrogator what happened. He died this morning. I’ve never heard of someone actually dying from jump sickness.
Nice tidy mutiny today. Gunners thought we should break out of jump, captain says it’d kill us all. We had a nice battle on board here, five more dead and two critical. Hardly enough left to run the ship.
Life support is going stale—we’re way past our recharge date. We’ll have to power down as many systems as possible and freeze ourselves in the low and emergency low berths. If we ever pop out of jump, someone’s going to have to bail us out. Zhenchi and I repacked the black globe and other machinery, and put them in standard cargo crates marked “farm equip”. Should keep interest low. Wish me luck.