Log #151 – Dangerous cruise

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After a dubious invitation, I took part in a dangerous cruise. Events on board came to a dramatic head.

Irritated, I looked at the message in my mobi glass.

“from {Gate} to {Zero-Sense}
FWD:Branaugh-Elysium with a stopover in Stanton (ZS).
It would be my honor to welcome you as my guest for a short tour of Stanton. Your entertainment, meals and safety are assured.
You can expect an audiovisually impressive short trip with selected interlocutors of the highest decency and manners.
If we could find time to talk about the enjoyment and trade of spirits at the bar, I would be delighted.
SOL-CET | 20:30 – 22:30 || Green Imperial Housing Exchange | Yela | Crusader | Stanton
In cooperation with
Northern Lights Aviation [NORAV]
Banu Trading Corporation [BANUTC]
Old Wolves [OLDWOLVES]
@Gate Catering
.:☆* Star Frontier ✧˖°
a step beyond”

Who was this guy and how did he know me. And what kind of tour would this be that would start in GrimHex. It all seemed very dubious to me. Was this a trap with which someone wanted to take revenge for our action on the Renaissance? I knew Nordlicht Aviation. I had met the CEO Friedrich Winters once. He was a friend of Brubacker. I sent Brubacker a message.


A few days later I was in GrimHex to join the tour. My concerns had not been dispelled. Brubacker was also invited and quite relaxed. He did not believe that Friedrich Winters would get involved in crooked things. Nevertheless, I had taken precautions. In my space suit I hid weapons, medpens and oxypens. And I had agreed with Kjeld that he would be on stand by to be there with a rescue operation in case of emergency. The start of the tour was not a confidence builder either. We were informed that the tour would take place aboard Nordlicht Eins, Nordlicht Aviation’s 890 Jump luxury yacht. A shuttle was to take us aboard. However, we were not taken to a landing pad or hangar. Instead, we floated in EVA through the old destroyed cargo hangar on the lower level in GrimHex. As I floated onto the old landing pad, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Parked above the destroyed pad among the rubble were two Argo MPUV personnel carriers. The other guests crowded behind the one shuttle. One by one, they tried to get on. It was more of stumbling in than getting in and took forever.

“There’s no one on the second shuttle. Let’s get in there,” I radioed to Brubacker.

Elegantly, I tried to float into the shuttle. It looked as if I would master it. But then I got stuck with my feet on the outside of the edge. My upper body was already in the shuttle and was caught by the artificial gravity. I tipped forward and hit the ground hard. For a short moment I was out of breath. Coughing, I stood up to hit the ceiling with my helmet at the same moment.

“Shit, what kind of shuttle is this? That’s not a shuttle, it’s a prisoner transport,” I said in a burst of anger.

I walked through the cramped space between two rows of seats to the other end of the shuttle. When I turned around, I saw Brubacker. He was floating upside down feet first through the hatch way too fast. He hit the ground with a crash. The shuttle moved from the force of the impact. The metal walls acknowledged Brubacker’s arrival with multiple echoes of his impact.

On the flight to the 890, we were the only guests aboard. Through the open hatch I looked out into space at the asteroid belt from the moon Yela. In the background was the gas giant Crusader. Actually it was a beautiful view, if this oppressive shuttle would not have been. Two rows with four seats each stood closely opposite each other. There was hardly any room, standing upright was not possible. This vehicle would fit well in Lorville to oppress the workers already on the flight to work.

After a bumpy flight, we landed in the hangar of the 890 Jump. As I stood up, I bumped my helmet against the ceiling again. When I was finally out of the shuttle, I stretched in all directions with a loud groan. The other shuttle was already there, standing next to our MPUV. Arriving in the large hangar brought back memories of our action on the Renaissance. Brubacker snapped me out of my thoughts.

“Come on. We’re supposed to register in the medbay. Do you know where that is?”

“I think so. But I’m not sure anymore if it was the right or left door.”

In the hallway outside the medbay were boxes of clothes in a long row. We were invited to exchange the spacesuit for comfortable clothes. Skeptically, I looked at the offer. After changing, I looked down at myself. It was terrible, the pants were shiny and way too tight. I looked like a UEE snoot. Disgusted, I tore off my clothes and put the spacesuit back on.

On the upper deck we met the other guests. Brubacker was suddenly all excited.

“Look. There’s Oliver Zark of Zark Media. He’s a famous reporter.”

Wrinkles formed on my forehead. Somewhat disparagingly, I looked at Brubacker.

“Aha. Another writer. You’re in good company there. But I don’t want my face or name appearing anywhere in the press again.”

Brubacker plunged into a conversation with Zark. I watched the goings-on on the ship a little apart from the others with a bottle of beer in my hand. It was like an anthill. Guests were running back and forth between the bar and the atrium. People were drinking and talking. All this in the face of the beautiful view through the large panoramic windows.

Outside, the moon Yela could be seen with its majestic asteroid belt. Despite the impressive scenery, I didn’t like it. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t even know which one of those guys was Gate. Rumors were making the rounds that he wasn’t even on board. It was dubious and fueled my fears that all was not right here. The whole situation reminded me too much of the Thiago Lobby party on the Renaissance. Everything was polished to a high sheen. The ship, the people. There was talk of business. We had infiltrated the party then and kidnapped Eris during a fake emergency situation. Was a kidnapping or assassination imminent now, too? The uneasy feeling in my stomach wouldn’t go away.

Lost in thought, I looked out at the moon Yela when suddenly loud screams were heard. Then gunshots.

Someone in a long leather coat had a revolver in his hand. Smoke was rising from the muzzle. It was Zark. Against the wall stood someone in battle armor. Right next to him were bullet holes in the wall. In a split second, security had secured the guy in the armor and taken him away. Zark had apparently only reacted. There was no threat from him. Slowly I took my hand off the weapon I had hidden in my spacesuit. Grinning, I realized that I was not the only one who had smuggled weapons on board. The situation quickly calmed down and the conversation continued as if nothing had happened. It was crazy. Through Dethilion, I learned that the situation was under control. He was one of Kjeld’s people and part of the ship’s security.

I had had enough of the hustle and bustle. With a few beer bottles under my arm, I went to the spa. As soon as I had taken off my spacesuit and was lying in my underwear on a lounger, I felt like I was in another world. The warm air caressed my skin, the lapping of the pool water sounded like a gentle lullaby. My eyelids grew heavier and heavier. My body lighter and lighter.

Suddenly, I jolted up from a trance-like state. I must have fallen asleep. Gunshots and explosions echoed through the spa. They sounded different from the gunshots before. Louder, more powerful. They were ship’s guns. In a flash, I got dressed and rushed upstairs to the atrium. The atmosphere was tense. Security personnel scattered to strategic positions. Through the glass roof, I could see defensive fire from the 890’s turrets. Red lightning flashed through the black of space. Decoys were ejected. The bright flares flew off like fireworks, mingling with the glow of the stars. A torpedo followed them. At that moment, I realized this one was meant for us.

“An Eclipse stealth fighter is attacking us”, someone yelled through the atrium.

With trembling fingers I wrote a message to Kjeld. My uneasy feeling had been confirmed. Sometimes I hated being right. Kjeld’s reply came promptly.

“We are behind you. No need to be worried.”

Kjeld was a good talker. He wasn’t sitting in a lumbering pot on which torpedoes were being fired, after all. Then the 890 jumped out of the danger zone. Coming back out of the quantum tunnel, through the glass roof we could not see the asteroid belt of Yela, but green-brown gas clouds. An announcement sounded over the ship’s loudspeakers. We were told that for safety reasons we had not jumped to GrimHex but to the space station at Lagrange Point CRU-L1. However, the 890 did not dock. Instead, we were instructed to put on the spacesuits as quickly as possible and go into the hangar.
We were taken off the ship in the MPUVs. Next to me, Brubacker, Zark, and two others crowded into the cramped shuttle. Nervously, I looked at the others and suddenly realized that I better did not get aboard the shuttle. It was just like on the Renaissance. This was exactly how we had abducted Eris. I looked at Brubacker. But he still looked relaxed. What the hell was going on? Where were they taking us?

After landing, I carefully stepped out of the shuttle. We were actually standing on the landing pad of the space station. This was the unscheduled end of the cruise. No one was going to abduct us. As I walked to the airlock, I turned around once more and looked at the shuttle. The industrial-looking MPUV was a big contrast to the luxury of the 890, but it wouldn’t stand out in a city like Lorville. A thought planted itself in my brain. Like a seed, it began to germinate.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)