13 May, 2010

On the New Frontier...Chasing Darkness: Part II

Day 3
     I carefully plotted a course through the alien space I found myself in. I thanked the fact, yet again, my luck in acquiring this ship. This marked the third time my detector range saved me from encountering alien ships. Watching the data process made me fidget as the ships slipped by. Sighing, I double checked for any other vessels. upon finding none I returned to my thoughts.
     Using the data retrieved from that old transport I had located a place I could land and look for information. The approach to the system was troubling me as I did not want to get caught off guard. No technician, no detector counter measures and me a hack of a pilot seemed to fit trouble.
     In the end my patience gave up and I made a slow approach to the planet.
     "Approaching vessel this is Sirum Control. "
     Swallowing hard, I answered the hail. "Sirum Control, Stellar Rush. Requesting permission for ground clearance for maintenance."
     I tensed. The (few) seconds stretched into the vastness of time. I think I stopped breathing and the like. Hand poised over the flight controls, an escape vector already plotted, I turned blue.
     "Stellar Rush, Sirum Control. Clearance granted. Orbital approach confirmed. Landing beacon activates in 10 seconds."
     Exhaling, I scanned the ships in orbit. None seemed similar to the lot I encountered as I went on by. Entering the atmosphere, the beacon pinged merrily away. In three minutes I found myself parked along with 20 or so other ships. Powering down, I pondered the problems before me.
     First up, how to find information without drawing suspicion. I held hope for some sort of library/reference system to access.
     Second came the question of money. If I needed money/credits/whatever, trouble would abound. No forger or hacker, this one was troubling to me. All I could count on was being a bullshit artist to get me through.
     Third was hoping that I could remain here without being detected by whomever attacked me. I despise great big 'ifs' with a passion.
     Deciding on action, I levered out of my chair. Walking down to my quarters, I entered and immediately pulled out a case. Popping it open, I removed the portable translator and hid it in a pocket, excepting the ear piece of course. Seating it in my ear, I tested it with a quick clip of alien transmission. Satisfied, I grabbed the next item.
     Strapping a holder on my wrist, the small plasma blaster clicked into place. Checking that it remained hidden under my light jacket, I smiled. This little beauty had cost me a small fortune, but had come in handy a few times. Grabbing a spare charge for it caused me to frown in thought.
     I slipped a ion disruptor into one of my bigger pockets. Reason told me that perhaps this alien space had superior personal protection than I did. in that case, some strong medicine might be a requirement.
     That thought lead to the last item I pulled from the case. A personal forcescreen with environment filter was the greatest single defensive option. Enough backwater planets taught me that lesson in my journeys.
     Exiting my ship, I carefully locked and coded her. Strolling around the landing site, I made notes of everything. After a few minutes I used a walkway to make tracks to the actual space port. So far so good, thought me about all this.
     The walkway deposited me in the spaceport. Looking about, I noted that at least I would appear nondescript enough to any observer. I thanked my luck and just passed through the crowds slowly, my translator picking up data and adding it to the translation matrix. While alien, the surroundings followed a somewhat familiar look to spaceports at home.
      Meandering about I looked around.  My shades relayed a visual translation for me to see as I did.  Smiling, I spotted a directory and aimed for it.  Looking it over I noted all kinds of businesses and attractions.  I tapped the information to feed to my palmputer for future use.  I smiled as I even got a map of the place.  That would come in handy for when I decided to be lost in about 15 minutes.
     Moving off I remained as nondescript as possible. Scrambled bits of conversation filtered through to me, but nothing that drew my interest.  My review of the spaceport map seemed to indicate something akin to a reference center.  Hopefully they were not going to check me for a library card.
     An outburst to my left caused me to pause.  Three surly looking men suddenly appeared, running for all they were worth.  In hot pursuit appeared a uniformed man and woman, striding confidentially.  I noted this in puzzlement, doubly more so as the crowd moved suddenly as one, taking me for a ride.  In seconds, the three were frozen in place, and dragged off.  The crowd, silent through this, sprang back to life and filtered out.
     I resumed my walk, thinking for all I was worth.  Seemingly, what I witnessed passed for the norm on many a planet, in many a place.  There was something odd to the whole event.  The massed move of the crowd and the capture of the three men occurred without something obvious.
     Any sign of a weapon or restraining device.  The crowd just moved as one body, one thought.  The three men just stopped, not a sound or anything.

     Using a bit of charm and gruff, I managed to secure myself an access terminal.  Running through the base tutorial, I soon found what I wanted.  Looking about,  I made sure no one watched as I used the palmputer to record everything I displayed.  A concentrated 20 minutes satisfied every need I could think of.  I leaned back in thought.
     Here was I, in a completely alien place, no idea where home was.
     I jumped out of my seat at that thought.  No point in mulling over the things bigger than I.  Depression was something I did not need gnawing at my psyche at this point.  A brisk walk should provide action enough.
     Walking out of the library, my thoughts drifted.  Heading towards the landing area, I decided a return to my ship was warranted.  An in depth study of the available data might provide answers.  Surely, I could at least settle the rumbling in my stomach.
     In minutes I gained my ship at the landing area.  Entering, I locked the Stellar Rush up.  Time to do some thinking.

Day 4
      I awoke with a seriously stiff neck.  Noting my sleeping position (Sitting) a quick round of reasoning told me I feel asleep reading.  Wincing in pain, I worked on my neck and motivated myself for the day.  I needed to do something after all.
     Getting 'kitted up' to use a quaint turn of phrase, I departed my ship.  Checking my palmputer, I located my next search mission on this planet.  Engrossed as I was in my work, I managed to run into a wall.  Falling on my ass, I cursed myself loudly.  Looking up changed my mind on my cursing suddenly.
     A rather large and powerfully built humanoid loomed over me.  Glaring for a count, I noted movement at the edges of my vision.  Smiling up at the figure above me, I stammered out an apology.  My smile faded as I detected nary a reaction from the being before me.  Looking it over, I noted a father large sword looking weapon in it's hands.
     I moved before I could think about it.  Hearing the blade strike the spot formerly occupied by me, I rolled into a crouch.  I winced as energy bolts bounced off my shield, blasting me back a few feet.  Pushing up I suddenly saw I faced three opponents.  I snapped out my plasma blaster and fired at each. 
     Looking at each target, not a thing happened to them.  I cranked up the power to full and fired again.  Three shots, three direct hits and still no effect.  Full power, I thought ruefully, should have blown a hole through each individual, a nice smoking hole.  Frowning, I reclipped the plasma blaster to my holder, and just stared.
     "Alright friends," I said evenly, "perhaps we have a minor misunderstanding going here.  I am sure we can all get along if we talk."
     My reward for ham handed diplomacy was chanting from my 'acquaintances'.   Translation turned it into balderdash, making me scratch my head.  Looking at them, surely they thought something of it.  Amazement chased concentration off their faces as they stopped.  I smiled sheepishly.  "If that was intended to kill me, then my 5th grade teacher was right that I never listen."
     Judging by the curses hurled at me, my joke rated low to this audience.  Another stream of energy bounced off my shield, pushing me into the nearest wall.  As I hit, I yanked out the ion disruptor, thumbing the selector to maximum intensity.  Picking the one throwing energy bolts at me, I fired two strikes.  Number caught an incoming blast and scattered it.  Number two produced the desired result, dissolution of about half of the being in question.
     Turning to the remaining two, I grinned at the looks of astonishment they sported.  Alien as they were, somethings appeared universal I decided.  I fired a strike in front of each, dissolving the landing pad.  Suddenly, both began chanting and linked a hand.  Frozen to the spot I, I shrugged and aimed, firing three full intensity strikes.
     When the smoke cleared I found myself alone.  Staring at the smoking remains of them, I realised I mad an error.  I cursed as I realised I failed to record information on them.  Damn crisis responses anyway.
     A sound caught my ear.  Something was causing the air to crackle all out.  Frantically searching about, I detected more hostiles.  One of them was chanting something, causing the air to form into a nightmare.  closing my mouth, I reacted by firing at everything.  My dismay was profound as I noted that nothing happened.  Screaming a tirade i did the last thing I could.  Closing my eyes, I tapped my palmputer in my pocket.
     In a second or so, I snapped my eyes to the comforting sight of the interior of the Stellar Rush.  My relief at emergency teleport lasted a moment, as the sounds of something trying to eat my hull resounded through the ship.  I pounded off to the flight controls.  Sliding into my seat, I fired up the ion pulsers and opened a channel to ground control.
     "Sirum Ground Control, Stellar Rush, dock area 13.  Request emergency take off clearance.  Under attack at dock area.  Repeat, request emergency take off clearance."
     "Stellar Rush, request denied.  Power down ship and prepare for boarding by authority of Imperium command."
     Flicking the toggle off, I brought the pulsers to full.  Bringing her nose up, I hosed the landing area in ion particles from the drive.  I checked readings as I rose through the atmosphere.  No sign of weapons lock meant I would have company above.  Snarling I throttled out of the atmosphere, detectors screaming at me.  Five ships inbound, I noted sourly. 
     Cranking the shields to maximum intensity, I assigned the target computer the job of confusing the inbound vessels.  Missiles of some kind blasted into the shields, giving me pause.  Spinning my ship, I fired at the ships harassing me, only nailing one of them.  Swearing, I altered course for a tight orbit.  The enemy craft hesitated a moment before regrouping and coming again. 
     More missiles and now laser fire hammered away at me.  Impatience and anger mounting in me, I tore through the planet's atmosphere.  Fighting my bucking controls, I looped behind a pair of the aliens attacking me.  Firing full ion disruptors at them, I watched both explode as their drives imploded.  Turning, I found the other two ships fleeing with all due haste.  Firing at them, I plotted a course to exit the system hurriedly.
     Entering clear space, I stopped to let my nerves unwind.  Huffing loudly, I attempted to organise thoughts in my head.  Sadly, and despite all hope, my alien presence to this place had not gone unnoticed.  Hence, I noted sadly, this made me a rather popular figure on someone's list. 
     But why?
     I allowed that question to rattle its chains as I pondered other facts.  From my ground encounter, what were these people using as weapons?  No sign of anything obvious filtered through my mind.  And the words, the chanting prior to some of those attacks mad no sense to me either.  Muse as I might, nothing sensible presented itself for review.
     Hopping into hyperspace, I jumped in random fashion five times for good measure.  Making sure no geniuses followed, I parked myself high above the plane of the galaxy I sat in on a roaming chuck of rock and ice.  I needed to think for certain, minus distractions.