A Ship By Any Other Name.......pt1
There was a vague swathe of frosty gas
between me and the stars but they were still beautiful.
The gas had originally been inside the
hull of the USS Unified Diligence, before someone had ripped her open
along three decks with a salvo of torpedoes. When it had vented into
space the gases had cooled and the moisture that had so recently
formed a breathable atmosphere for seventy-two men, woman and neuters
had crystallized into myriad patterns across the stillness of space
near the wrecked ship.
The Feds had of course salvaged the
readily usable parts from the hulk, taken the deceased to bury or
burn and towed the remainder onto a course towards a nearby star
before leaving it to drift there in the course of ten or twenty
years. It posed no threat to navigation and they were so busy these
days with the war that no more time could be spent on such a
negligable collection of metals.
Of course, thats where people like me
I was a scavenger of space, a hyena of
the stars, a salvage vulture. Our little ship held twenty of us. We
sought out anyplace where conflict had happened and waited for the
bigger beasts to be done with the carcass. Then we snuck in and fed.
Ok, maybe I'm a little theatrical about
it all but we were pretty much scum. The ship was owned and captained
by Jacob Fildergast, a vile little rotund figure who stayed as far
from the actual salvagers as he could manage. He favoured handing out
his orders via commlink, interspersed with vague threats of what he'd
do to us if we didnt work fast enough or couldnt find enough rich
salvage. He leered at the few females amongst us and paid us a
fraction of what we actually earned for him. What was really
surprising when I finally saw him in the flesh was that he -wasn't- a
Ferengi. Just a fine example of humanity.
Amongst the crew there were certain
positions what were favoured and certain that carried risk. I worked
the one which carried both. When a hulk was found, someone had to be
the first in to survey the pickings and determine if it was safe
enough to work on. That meant I was paid relatively well but often
ran the risk of being killed very rapidly by a structural shift or
At one point however I earnt his
eternal emnity it seems. A rich looking wreck, chock full of field
apparatus and power coils, was verging on its core rupturing. That
was probably the reason it had been abandoned.
Fildergast sent me over anyway.
We didnt use full blown shuttles as
they were expensive and relied on your destination being large enough
to land. Instead we used several basic long frames with lightweight
drives. Suited up we'd clip onto the frame and the “pilot” would
boost us and our equipment over to the hulk. Once we were there we
clipped an line onto the hull wherever we could and cut our way in.
We'd learnt long ago not to use any hull ruptures to get in, that
usually meant trouble. You could end up lopping a limb off against
some trailing monofilament or stick your head through only to find
there was a reactor core sending rads straight into your skull.
I boosted over, alone, to check it out.
Looking it over from a distance your could tell that it'd been a
pretty savage attack. The outer hull had several dozen direct blasts
and even more streaked scorches. Whoever had done this hadnt intended
on taking anything from the ship, just destroy it.
They'd nearly done it too, The breaches
were massive, the aft section in particular was ripped wide enough to
make the core visible externally.
I swore quietly inside my helmet as I
got closer and saw how bad it really was. The whole support structure
at the rear was quivering, internally Gravity plates must have been
destabilized sending erratic pulses throughout the frame.