I stranded with my Cutlass on Clio. Chhris saved me and told me about a scandal at Microtech.
Hectically I moved the joystick back and forth. The Cutlass did not react. The surface of the moon Clio came closer and closer. I was in free fall and had no control over the ship. The white patch I could see through the cockpit window was forming into an iceberg faster and faster. I pushed myself into the seat and closed my eyes. The cracking and crunching of bursting ice could be heard. Then it was quiet. The Cutlass was on ice. It was suspended, unable to fly, on a chunk of ice. Miraculously, I was safe and the Cutlass was still in one piece. I was far away from an outpost and wondering how to get away from this frosty place.
Unsuccessfully I tried to get the ship afloat again when I heard the sound of engines. Cursed, I thought. I was a sitting duck . Was that rescue or danger? I could only hope. The other ship could be heard louder and louder. It was definitely coming closer. Then a Prospector thundered over me.
The Prospector landed. Relief embraced me like a warm breeze. I went to the stern ramp and overlooked the ice plate. The world turned, I hit hard with my helmet. Darkness. When I regained consciousness I was lying in the ice next to the stern ramp. A guy in yellow armor bent over me.
He introduced himself as Chhris and asked if everything was ok and if he could help me. After I told him what had happened, Chhris looked at the ship systems. He purposefully laid a few cables and bridged subsystems. Impressed, I watched his practiced movements. At least he managed to bring the control thusters to life and get the Cutlass a few meters into the air. But that was all he could do. So we couldn’t get the Cutlass away from this ice ball.
“I have an idea how we can get your Cutlass repaired without having to call an expensive towing service,” Chhris said. “But we have to fly to New Babbage first.” I was curious to see what he was up to. After securing the Cutlass, we climbed into Chhris’ Prospector and flew off. Snowflakes flew past the large cockpit window like little twinkling stars. The icebergs of Clio slowly became smaller. I stood behind the pilot seat and had some trouble keeping my balance. Chhris flew a pretty wild boot.
After a short flight we landed in New Babbage. We went directly into another hangar. A big hangar. I could not believe my eyes. There was an 890 Jump. The big luxury yacht from Origin Jumpworks. Chhris unlocked the ship and we went on board. He did not have to hack the ship, he had the access codes. Was this his ship? Who was he? With a Prospector, you couldn’t make that much money in mining to be able to afford an 890. The maintenance costs alone had to be gigantic.
The sun was just rising over New Babbage when we took off. The warm orange light of the morning sun was in contrast to the cold ice of Microtech. The spaceport of New Babbage slowly disappeared behind us in the morning fog. Chhris was flying the big luxury ship, I was sitting in a co-pilot seat. On the flight to Clio, Chhris told me that he was head of development at Microtech. The 890 belonged to the CEO of Microtech, who was a good friend of him. Chhris had quit Micotech because there was a scandal in the company. That was obvious, I thought to myself. The big corporations were all dirty. I told Chhris my findings about the conspiracy of the big corporations in the Stanton system, the activists and the free peoples.
And then came the surprise. We both knew Brubacker. This newspaper guy probably pulled all the strings. The ice between Chhris and me was broken. Chhris told the whole story about the scandal at Microtech. Microtech’s chief development officer secretly sold weapons-grade chips to illegal and criminal organizations. Without official authorization, without the knowledge of the CEO. Chhris, as head of development, had gotten onto the scent of the affair. But he did not know who else was involved in the scandal. Chhris suspected that there were backers. In order to be able to clear up the scandal more inconspicuously, he had officially resigned. Chhris and I had a common goal, the clarification of machinations at the large corporations in the Stanton system. The only question was, were there connections and how could we work together.
In the meantime we had arrived at my stranded Cutlass on Clio. It was dark, the icebergs glowed like light buoys in the headlights of the 890. A sea of white ice chunks could be seen from the cockpit. Chhris was looking for a suitable landing place. I wondered how we should tow the Cutlass with the 890.
After landing, the elevator of the 890 brought me to the surface of Clio. It was freezing cold. My space suit indicated that I could only survive 20 minutes in the cold. I searched through the chunks of ice to find a way to my Cutlass. When I arrived, I started the systems. The old and dented ship was quite unruly. I almost had the impression that the Cutlass had had enough of me and didn’t want to come along.
It took us several attempts, but we finally managed to park my ship on the hangar door of 890. We couldn’t get the Cutlass into the hangar because it was too wide. After securing the Cutlass, we flew to Port Tressler and brought my lame ship in for repairs.
Chhris shoved a hot dog in his mouth. “We should gather our information. And we need to talk to Brubacker,” he said chewing. Chhris was right. We both wanted to expose the secret machinations of the big corporations. Together we had more possibilities. And the help of Brubacker’s investigative nose was valuable.
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