A threat became reality. I had to disappear to save my life.
Stunned, I stood in front of my rented HAB on Grim Hex. The door was ripped off its hinges and lay on the floor. Traces of an explosion and bullet holes were visible on it. The HAB was completely devastated. A barrier tape was fluttering at the entrance. Fortunately, I was not in the HAB at the time of the attack. Was that luck or calculation? Did someone want to kill me or just intimidate me? The threat I had received after the meeting with Kjield was to be taken seriously in any case. It was time to get out of Grim Hex, or better, to flee. Again. I guess I had dug too deep in my research on Project ENOS. Right now, I didn’t want to dig any deeper and find out who was behind the attack. Maybe Kjeld could find out something. I sent him a message.
Without any detours I went to the hangar to get my Star Runner ready for takeoff. The sooner I was gone the better. My finger was on the switch to start the systems, I hesitated briefly. It was dead silent in the cockpit. Then I flipped the switch. The monitors came to life, the lights came on and the hum of the engines could be heard. With a loud creak and crunch, the gigantic hangar doors opened. The view of the majestic asteroid belt of the moon Yela became free. What was waiting out there? Was a killer commando hiding behind one of the asteroids? My radar showed nothing.
To be on the safe side, I wanted to overclock the shields. I opened the component menu on the monitor. I could not believe my eyes. This could not be true. No matter how many times I scrolled up and down, it remained the same display. The high quality components I had built into the White Rabbit were gone. Powerplant, shields, coolers, Quantum drive. All were simple stock components. Someone had swapped the components and weakened my ship. Was this preparation for an attack? Again I checked the radar. Nothing. But I could not be sure. The asteroids offered enough possibilities to hide. Right after the White Rabbit had left the hangar, I set course for Port Olisar and started the Quantum drive.
The Quantum flight to Port Olisar was short. As soon as I was out of the Quantum tunnel, a red warning light came on. “Radar lock” it said on the console. Someone had locked on to me with their fire control radar. Then I saw them. Three fighters, Reliant Tana type, were flying toward me. I gave full thrust. The engines roared to life, catapulting the Star Runner forward and pushing me into the seat. The acceleration slowly made me black out. The fighters were getting closer. Port Olisar was no longer far away. The safe haven within reach. Then I had reached it, the weapons-free zone of Port Olisar. After I landed, one of the fighters thundered directly over my head, one positioned itself over my landing pad, and the third landed on a pad nearby.
The situation was dicey. I had to find a way to get out of this unscathed. In the terminal hall of Port Olisar, I looked around nervously. Few people were walking around. One guy, in heavy armor, was standing at a terminal. He acted as if he had something to do at the terminal. It was obvious that he was watching me. Was this the pilot from the landed fighter? He did not let me out of the eyes, while I prepared a flight to the moon Yela. I had to reckon with the fact that he got where I wanted to go. Back in the White Rabbit I accomplished a lightning start. Still in the weapons free zone I started the Quantum drive. The Quantum Tunnel swallowed me up. What would await me when it spat me out again?
The distorted image of the Quantum Tunnel flew past the cockpit. The stars stretched out into long streaks. Time seemed to stand still. Then it was time. The Quantum flight was over. I looked out of the cockpit window. Asteroids were visible. And a greenish shimmering nebula. No moon, no space station, no space ships were nearby. There was nothing within millions of kilometers. I had not jumped to the moon Yela, but to ARC-L3. A Lagrange Point at the edge of the Stanton system. There was no one out here. My pursuers had fallen for my feint.
In the kitchen I got a drink from the refrigerator and made myself comfortable on the red sofa. The plan was to stay out here for a few days. I hoped to shake off my pursuers for good. The supplies at the White Rabbit were replenished. I had a shower, a toilet, and a bed. With a hiss I opened the drink can. I took a sip of whiskey-cola with relish. It could have been worse.
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