Chapter 2 - Paradox Personified
That vast emptiness expanded against an endless horizon. A glimmer of light from a nearby station beacon created a halo effect in the canopy, nearly blinding Isaac. He turned his Viper away and began to plot a course in the navigation system. Next to the nav system was a heads up display with a current contract he had taken on. With a month of downtime in the 7 Kappa Delphini system he had to make some form of profit. Small-time pirate bounties were also the perfect way to test his mechanical handy work. With a fixed FSD and a newly installed FSD Interdictor he was feeling confident or at least less worried.
The radio chimed on, it was Schottky Platform’s relay control tower.
“Good luck and have a safe flight, Commander.”
Isaac responded quickly as he was already charging up the Frame Shift Drive.
“Thank you very much.”
He had a course plotted to the Stefna system - a short 8 LY jump away. Isaac shifted in his seat to get comfortable before the few slightly discomforting moments of bending space and time. Aligned with the general direction of Stefna, the computer took over seconds before the jump initiated to line up perfectly - which made up for the slightest of human imperfection. With the computer countdown complete the FSD warped Isaac and his Viper at an unmeasurable speed through a rip in space. For first timers it’s disconcerting to say the least - passing through a swirling tunnel of lights and colors that more or less represented the Big Bang. Isaac yawned.
As he came out of light speed into a cruising speed of about 5Mm/s the central star of Stefna filled his canopy view. He gently veered right and rolled the ship so that the star shined against the Viper’s belly. The fuel scoop activated automatically and started filling the tanks as he got within an acceptable range. Isaac flicked a customized toggle switch next to his throttle and immediately the cockpit filled with music.
A year prior he had done a job for a venerable Baron that had amassed millions of digitized music albums from Sol’s Golden Era. The reward for his completed contract was a sliver of the Baron’s collection - more than enough for any one person. A colleague in Yakabugai had assisted him in installing the digital music player that piggybacked off of the cockpit’s radio speakers, which pleasantly played Strawberry Letter 23 by The Brothers Johnson.
Once far enough away from the star he pulled back on the throttle so that he was moving at 30km/s, a snail’s pace in cruise mode. He bobbed his head to the beats of the music while checking the sensors - no contacts yet. Isaac was on the lookout for a local wanted criminal by the name of Alan Kerr. Apparently Kerr had a nasty habit of ambushing light transport ships with a modified Sidewinder MKI ship and salvaging whatever cargo was left behind. Most recently he had been seen in the Stefana system, where he would sit by the star and wait for ships to refuel before jumping again.
He played it cool, cruising slowly without changing direction and suddenly a HUD notification popped up: 1 new contact. He quickly checked the computer, which identified it as a Sidewinder MKI.
“Hello,” Isaac said to himself with a smile. On the radar the Sidewinder was behind him at 6 o’clock high. Isaac kept his course, but increased his speed ever so slightly. He yawed his Viper left and suddenly brought the throttle down all the way and the trailing Sidewinder blew past. Isaac targeted the ship and scanned it immediately. The scanning system populated the holographic targeting screen with information:
Found you, he thought to himself. After the scan completed he activated the FSD Interdictor module and soon he was yanking Alan out of Cruising speeds. A smile grew across Isaac’s face, it was working perfectly. Throttling up he matched speeds and stayed on Kerr’s tail until the module completed the interdiction, which brought both of them out of cruising speeds - and more specifically with the Sidewinder tumbling. While Kerr’s thrusters struggled to stop the ship from flipping end over end Isaac used his Kill Warrant Scanner, which was an uplink module for universal data on wanted pilots - the more information on all the systems they were wanted in, the higher the bounty reward.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” The comm-radio crackled, Alan was clearly distressed and possibly getting sick. Isaac clicked his tongue in annoyance - it was interrupting his music, which was just a few seconds into a track called Beaumont's Lament.
Begrudgingly he paused the music as Alan regained control of his ship and was beginning to turn it about.
“Sadly, Kerr, I’m just here to collect a bounty,” Isaac said, unpausing the music track.
He let out a chuckle at Kerr’s curt response and deployed the Viper’s forward weapon hardpoints - two gimballed beam lasers and two fixed 6-barrel multi-cannons. Kerr immediately changed direction and increased speed and Isaac happily pursued. Back in his element and not rotting in a decaying station on the ass-end of nowhere actually made him relaxed.
The Sidewinder rolled several times and looped downward in an attempt to get under Isaac’s Viper. He pushed down on his flight stick and engaged the vertical thrusters at the same time, tracked the top of the Sidewinder and fired a long continuous shot with the gimballed beam lasers. In a few mere seconds the blueish hues of Kerr’s reacting shields dissipated to nothing, leaving scorch marks by his engines where the lasers punched through.
“What can I give you to let me go?” Alan begged over the comm. The targeting computer showed the Sidewinder’s shields recharging. For a moment Isaac thought about the desperate question as he rolled to get right behind his bounty’s speeding ship - still naked without shields.
“Not a thing, Kerr.” He stated as he pulled the secondary fire trigger for the multi-cannons, which began a short spooling sequence. He aimed slightly ahead of the Sidewinder and unleashed the Multi-cannons while simultaneously firing the Beam Lasers again. The hull was chewed through in seconds. The Sidewinder pulled up, showing a big profile to shoot at and with one final burst from the cannons it tumbled out of control and burst apart.
Isaac slowed his ship to a crawl and inspected the scattered remains of Alan Kerr’s ship, which would keep floating in the same directions forever until they eventually ran into something - a star, a planet, or even another ship as bits of annoying debris. A somewhat sobering tale of what happened to many pilots out in the black. A feeling of accomplishment washed over him as he began to charge the Frame Shift Drive to head back to 7 Kappa Delphini. It was time to collect his things in his cramped, rented room and head back home to Yakabugai. Isaac's business was done here.