The Need for Speed
The asteroid belt spread out around Longs Peak as Erbo whistled at what his sensor display was telling him. Kernite…hedbergite…even hemorphite! This was a rich belt indeed. Of course, the Angels hovering nearby might have something to say about it, but Erbo’s cloaking device kept him hidden from the enemy scouts. He switched it off in preparation for warping to the gate safe spot; even then, the Angels never managed to see him as he built up speed for warp.
Unlike those of his earlier expeditions, this was a star system outside the fringes of empire space, where no law held sway save the law of the jungle. Lexx wasn’t nearly ready to brave the dangers of this space…but, when she was, she’d find a complete set of mapped safe spots waiting for her, courtesy of his “daredevil” ways and his scout frigate setup, proven with Pyramid in low-security systems over on the opposite side of Metropolis.
Wait a minute…is that gunfire I hear?
Erbo glanced up at the jumpgate leading back to empire space. Several other ships were gathered around it, apparently firing at a large Angel vessel that had wandered close to the gate. They hadn’t been there when he’d entered the system, and the local channel’s chatter had mostly been in some unrecognizable language. None of the other ships was showing up with the flashing-red “danger” indicator on the tactical display, but…
He quickly brought Longs Peak around and warped it to a deep safe spot. He then warped back to his gate safe…but the ships were still there, and once again, he warped away.
Got to be careful here. One wrong move and I could wake up in a cloning vat back in Vilur. Now, what to do, what to do…I guess there’s only one thing TO do. Just warp right in and try to jump out before they can react.
If he’d had to hit a physical control to engage Longs Peak‘s warp drive, he might have been unable to do it because his hands were shaking so much. As it was, it took a moment for the pod’s computers to accept the “warp” command, and Longs Peak hurtled into warp for its date with destiny.
The stars slowed their slide past the Tristan-class frigate’s hull, and the gate appeared on his visual display–farther away than he’d figured on. Shit! I’m too far out to jump! he thought. Got to close that gap! A flurry of commands flew from his brain to the ship systems; the Longs Peak moved in towards the gate as the microwarpdrive system roared to life, pushing his speed to better than two kilometers per second. In mere seconds, he’d be close enough to jump…but would he make it?
The computer system screamed a warning; one of the ships parked near the gate was trying to warp-scramble him.
The jumpgate caught him, and yanked him away.
As he arrived, Erbo was already laying in a course to warp to the next gate; the system he’d jumped into might be empire space, but it was still low-security, and not safe. Only when he was safely on course could he allow himself to think about what had happened.
It must have been a gate camp. And I broke through it. I survived. I made it.
There was still a fair journey ahead…back up to Staging Area S-3 to retrieve Gold Brick, which had brought the parts for Longs Peak there to be assembled, then back to Tollus, there to rendezvous with Selena to run more missions. At least the worst was over…for now.