I was investigating a wreck for Marsden Analytics. More than one surprise was waiting for me there.
There was a busy silence in the Business Lounge. It was not dead quiet, but not loud either. Somehow all the sounds were dull. A strange atmosphere. One of the founders of Marsden Analytics was sitting opposite me. Even his voice was muffled, like a whisper. He said that he liked my commitment to the free peoples and my appearance at verse24. The machinations in Stanton had to be cleared up and he would help me with his analysis technology. I only have to get information. “Xeno Threat is still active in the Stanton system. They are planning something,” he said. “The announcements that were heard in the landing zones some time ago were just the beginning. I’m afraid there’s more to come. But I don’t know what or who is behind it. I need more information.”
One day later I found myself on the planet Hurston, approaching a shipwreck. It was a Starfarer, it had broken into several pieces. I had got the coordinates from Marsden Analytics. I was to collect all the information I could find. The broken ship was lying on the shore, the waves partially reached the wreck. The sun was high in the sky, the shadows were short.
It was not my first wreck I examined. I also had an encounter with Xeno Threat at a wreck. It had also been a Starfarerthen. I was warned and took weapons with me, as much I could carry. Carefully I went up the broken ramp to the middle deck of the Starfarer with my gun drawn. The waves clapped gently against the metal of the ship and drowned out my steps.
I reached the entrance to the ship when I suddenly looked into those grim eyes. I almost collided with the pirate. Puzzled, he looked at me. Time seemed to have stopped. Both of us stood motionless, as if we were trapped in space and time. Then I pulled the trigger. Half of the magazine poured out over my counterpart.Fortunately I had a silencer and nobody noticed my attack. Ducked I went to the gallery to look down into the cargo hold. From my elevated position I could see several pirates below me. I took the grenade launcher from my back and pulled the trigger. It made a click. Nothing else happened. Damn, my gun jammed. I hit the grenade launcher when I saw a pirate on the gallery on the other side. He screamed, alerted the others and ran to the passageway to my position. Another ran up the stairs to me.
I held the grenade launcher in the passage through which the attackers came. Click, click, click. No grenades, no explosions. Cursing, I threw the gun away and took the machine gun. The half-empty magazine was empty in a second. Then it made several pings. Bullets hit the bulkhead beside me. Damn, this was going wrong. I changed the magazine and returned fire. The next magazine was empty in no time. The fire speed of the Gemini C54 was crazy high. In no time I had emptied my last magazine. When I looked around the corner, I saw my attackers lying on the ground. I myself lay in a bed of empty cartridge cases. I had no more ammunition. I grabbed a shotgun from one of the dead pirates and went down to the cargo hold. Two more pirates were hiding behind a cargo container. I was surprised how effective the shotgun was. Two shots and both were on the ground.
After searching the rest of the ship and finding no one else, I sat down on the floor. My hands were shaking, my knees were soft like butter. I was not made for combat. It took me a while to get my bearings again. Finally I got up and started to collect the many cargo boxes that were scattered all over the wreck. It took me an eternity to get everything into my ship. In the meantime it had become dark.
When I had finally stowed all the boxes in my Cutlass, I was looking at a decent loot. The boxes piled up in several rows. That was for me and would at least reward me a little. But I still needed data for Marsden Analytics.
I went back to the wreck and took pictures. Finally I searched the cockpit of the crashed Starfarer and removed the memory stick of the logbook. When I had everything I looked out of the broken cockpit window. The morning was already dawning. The horizon turned blood red. It was time to disappear.