A conspiracy was brewing in the Stanton system. I flew to ArcCorp to give Brubacker the data with the clues.
I had flown directly from Levski to ArcCorp to give Brubacker the data I had recovered from the crashed Freelancer. In the data was evidence that the companies were trying to secure the ores mined in the Stanton system exclusively for themselves. However, they did not want to ban independent mining again to avoid a new conflict with the free peoples. The company bosses wanted to close Port Olisar, the only place through which the ores from Stanton could be exported. They wanted to do it in such a way that they would not be associated with it.
A light breeze was blowing over my face. The air high above the canyons of Area18 was pleasantly fresh. I had been waiting at the meeting place for ages. Had Brubacker stood me up? Or was he scared? My Cutlass stood behind me on the landing pad of one of the many high-rise buildings. On one side I could see the highest building, the IO North Tower. On the other side was the Bevic Convention Center.
I was looking at the endless city and the ubiquitous advertising when I saw something in the sky. A Super Hornet, a heavy fighter of the UEE. The Hornet was heading straight for the skyscraper I was standing on. I cursed Brubacker. He had betrayed me. I figured my chances of getting away. The fighter would have had my Cutlass into mincemeat before I even started up the engines. All that was left was the escape on foot.
To my surprise, the Hornet didn’t open fire. Instead, it landed. Confused, I looked at the second landing pad, which was a bit below me. The pilot got out of the cockpit right after touchdown. I squint my eyes together to see him better. The armor he was wearing looked familiar.
The pilot calmly came up the stairs to me, took off his helmet and grinned at me. Brubacker. He had come after all. Without beating about the bush I showed him the box with the data and explained what it was all about. I told him to make something of it and tell the people of Stanton what the corporations were up to. That would be a story for his editor.
Brubacker remained vague. I waved him off and went downstairs to take a closer look at his Super Hornet. She was well-armed. MaxOx neutron repeaters were hung at every hardpoint. A tremendous firepower. I wondered what it would be like to unleash that hellfire from the rear gunner’s seat.
A short time later I was sitting in the back seat of the Super Hornet and we were leaving the atmosphere of ArcCorp. We had accepted a mission to clean up a mining claim from illegal sentry satellites. I pulled the trigger and awaited the rapid staccato of the neutron repeaters. It went blob, a long pause, then another blob.
What the hell was that? Hadn’t Brubacker paid the bill? We wouldn’t stand a chance even against a Prospect like that. Brubacker had no explanation, either. Well, that was a great experience. We tried everything we could think of. The repeaters never came to life.
Finally, we flew back to ArcCorp and changed over to my Cutlass. I flew, Brubacker sat in the turret. We made short work at the mining claim. The satellites were knocked out fast. Easy money and we did something for our reputation. And it didn’t feel bad to have someone with me. Maybe Brubacker was not a bad guy after all.