Explanation (for those that care): I really enjoy the game, so much so that I've stopped "grinding" so much and started to really enjoy the little moments. That led me to trying to fill out who I am in the Elite:Dangerous universe. The story that follows takes my character Alex Granger and develops him a little further (I hope). I know it's very short and very raw, and you might notice a missing gap of time that might need some exposition later if the interest is there from both the readers and the writer.
With that said, this was my attempt to document Alex's transition. It is definitely a work in progress. I hope you enjoy it and any and all critiques are welcome. Thank you for your interest. Now on with the story (such as it is...)
Alex Granger got up slowly from his command chair and leaned closer to the window to get a better view. Outside the ship, the spray-bots were starting their first pass. The familiar ice white of the hull was disappearing under a coat of crimson red. It reminded him of blood flowing across sun-bleached bones. Fitting, under the circumstances.
The Star Ranger had been a trading vessel for as long as he had owned it. Too large to land on the smaller outposts, the Anaconda had forced him to stick with larger docks and longer trading runs. Even so, she had been a great ship to trade in. She had replaced his favorite ship "Rusty", a gently used Python that had seen its share of combat. Alex had picked Rusty up in some backwater system for a song and most of his life's savings. He had refitted the ship for trading, but kept enough shielding and weaponry to keep the riff-raff at bay.
Rusty had been a pleasure to fly, and the two of them had chased freedom and profit throughout the galaxy. The extra internal space of the Python had afforded Alex the luxury of trying out different configurations. He spent a short amount of time mining with Rusty. Although it hadn't been as profitable as trading, it was much more relaxing. There was only the occasional pirate to contend with, and Rusty was always up for the challenge.
Alex and Rusty went through so much together - it was hard to tell if the man was getting used to the machine or if the machine was getting used to the man. Either way, flying in Rusty had become second nature to Alex - not unlike breathing. He knew what the ship could and couldn't handle. Alex had never gotten into a situation that Rusty couldn't get him out of. He trusted that ship with his life.
It seemed Alex had found the perfect ship, and he seemed content to spend a lifetime exploring the cosmos at Rusty's helm. While he found all ships beautiful in their own way, none could hold a candle to his Rusty. Well none, perhaps, except for an Anaconda...
One particular trip to one particular docking ring had brought him one particularly tough choice. There in the shipyard was a battered looking Anaconda class ship. These had always been way above his budget, but life with Rusty had been good and profits had been easier to come by lately. As such, it was a little shocking (and exciting) for Alex to learn that it was just possible for him to purchase the Anaconda - providing of course he trade in Rusty.
He knew that these ships didn't usually come this cheap, and it seemed like too good of a deal to pass up. Still, an Anaconda is no Python, and it forces you to make a commitment. It's bigger and slower and a lot more expensive to fit and repair. Rusty promised an easy-going lifestyle. Alex might not get wealthy, but, with Rusty, he would be able to do just about anything he could set his mind to. Rusty offered the comfort of familiar surroundings and didn't ask for much in return. Alex feared that the Anaconda would be a big, lumbering money-pit.
He asked the man at the shipyard if he could sleep on it. That night, all Alex could dream about was life aboard the Anaconda. When he awoke, he knew he'd made his decision. So,with one last pat on the landing gear and a tear in his eye, he traded in Rusty on a beat-up old Anaconda.
His "new" ship had certainly seen better days. She had been stripped of anything of value, and all her systems had been replaced with E-rated ones. Although she could handle more weapons, all she had was two small pulse lasers on her belly. And even though she was cavernous inside compared to the Python, she was only able to carry half the cargo Rusty could in her present state. Alex went to work to upgrade her to D-rated systems at the very least and get her cargo capacity increased. He knew she'd have to be a workhorse to make it worth the trade, or else he should have just kept Rusty. The existing pulse lasers wouldn't do much in a fight but mark his escape route, so Alex added a pair of gimbaled C3 pulses to the foredeck. The rest of his (dwindling) credits he saved for buying cargo and the inevitable insurance payment.
The first time undocking was a real white-knuckle experience! As the exit slot grew closer, Alex was sure the Anaconda wouldn't fit. It didn't help that a Type-9 was approaching from the opposite side. With a little help from the shields, he made it through without damaging the hull. Apparently, he had taken a little too much time, and a warning appeared on the HUD to clear the dock or face lethal repercussions. Alex punched up the throttle and the Anaconda shuddered to life. He cleared the no-fire zone and throttled back to get some practice at the controls.
The ship reminded him of an old hooker. She wasn't in any hurry to get where she was going, but she promised a hell of a time when she got there. That said, he wasn't really eager to name her "Big Bertha" or anything like it. She needed to be a trading ship, since that was his best, cheapest way to configure her for profit. Her name needed to instill confidence or at least not be too offensive. She had a better jump range than Rusty did, but "Space Jumper" sounded too much like the hooker again. Then it hit him. Replace the word "jump" with "range". "Space Ranger"... Close, but no cigar. Space... Galaxy... Universe... Star... "That's it!", he thought, and with that, Alex Granger officially christened his Anaconda the "Star Ranger".
In time, Alex earned enough to afford better upgrades for the Star Ranger. One of the first things he did was have her repainted - a nice non-threatening ice white color. This contrasted nicely with her black accent panels and gave her a clean look. He had markings added to show that she was a trading vessel. The big white Anaconda stood out in a crowd and drew her share of attention. Looking back, he knew that the paint job - while not cheap - was one of the better investments he'd made. With weapons stowed, and unless they got a look inside, no one could tell that the Star Ranger wasn't top-of-the-line. She looked the part of a successful trading vessel, and nothing breeds success more than the appearance of it.
It wasn't long before Alex was able to configure the Star Ranger for other considerations besides trading. With the cargo racks removed, hull reinforcements could be added to more than triple her hull density. Her thrusters were still D-rated, and while she couldn't outrun her attackers, Alex found that she rarely had to. He had earned enough to place pulse laser turrets on every weapon hard point. While she didn't go looking for a fight, the Star Ranger didn't back down from one either.
Soon Alex Granger and the Star Ranger made a name for themselves, at least in their small corner of space. Any cargo entrusted to them always arrived when and where it was supposed to. Their reputation brought new opportunities, and sometimes new friends - not just at the space docks, but even among fellow traders whom they'd pass by on common trading routes.
Alex became close with a few of these, and their friendship blossomed along with a friendly rivalry. On occasion, some of them would even wing up for added protection on some of the sketchier runs. Alex found he longed for their company, and he looked forward to running into them whenever he could.
Friends aren't easy to come by in space, and it's damn hard when you lose them.
Glancing out the canopy once more, Alex noticed that the bots were applying the finishing touches. He exited the confines of the ship for the openness of the docking bay to get a better view. Combat markings were replacing those which had once proclaimed the Star Ranger as a ship of trade. "Star Ranger"... That name had originally meant something else. Now it heralded a ship dedicated to meting out justice across the universe.
Although the ship had not changed its name, it had changed its purpose. The man had a new purpose too, and he needed a new name to go with it. Something that would stand for justice, and the lengths he would be willing to go to. He would bring order where there was chaos, even if only for a brief moment. The Star Ranger had become, essentially, one big gun, and he would travel the cosmos and use it to help those who needed it most.
"Have gun, will travel" he remembered from an old west story he'd read long ago. That pretty much summed it all up. He had nothing more to lose except his life, and no desire to waste it on anything but the pursuit of justice. With an unspoken promise to those he could no longer help, the man that had been Alex Granger stepped aboard his ship and changed his call sign to "Crimson Paladin".