Copyright© 2013 by DaRat
Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Max is a Privateer in the service of the Empire. Along with his holographic friend, Sam, they uncover a conspiracy involving three women that want something he may not be able to give.
I was on a patrol in my assigned sector of the Amethyst system when this mess all started. The Amethyst system is sparsely populated, on the edge of the Empire, and boring. To be honest, it's just what I wanted. It was the second week of my third eight week deployment in Amethyst system as an Empire privateer.
Amethyst gets its name from its proximity to a nebula that has an amazing range of colors, the most prevalent being purple due to the large number of red dwarfs and their effect on the gas and dust. As I said, Amethyst system is sparsely populated with one colony on the forth planet and a mining operation in one of the asteroid belts. The inner belt was dense with rocks between the third and fourth planets in the system while the outer was beyond the fifth and last planet, probably having the two or three times the number of rocks as the inner but it was spread out over a much larger area. In this outer belt were rocks that were the size of small moons that had just enough mass to be caught by the Amethyst's star and those in turn had just enough gravity to hold smaller rocks in between. The system is one of many on the outer fringes of the Empire.
The Empire is big. It nominally lays claim to one whole quadrant of the Milky Way Galaxy. This wouldn't be a problem if the population of the Empire was such that it could actually back up the claim. As it is, it can't. The Empire barely has enough bodies to populate 200 systems with any decent numbers much less the millions in the quadrant. True, most of those don't have habitable planets or moons but still ... The actual extent of the Empire is only about 750 systems (most of which are uninhabited and most of the ones that are inhabited are fairly sparsely populated) and the space in between, which is still a huge chunk of real estate to watch.
So what does the Empire do? That's where the Empire Privateers come in. The Empire canvases orphanages, minimum security prisons, anywhere there are people that are looking to do something for the 'greater good'. Essentially, those that have no real prospects for the future, that aren't completely insane or dangerous, or are unlikely to be anything other than a burden to society, are given training and a ship to patrol parts of the Empire that it feels the need to be patrolled. Privateers take on pirates and anyone else that causes problems to systems or endanger the interests of the Empire.
You'll notice I said 'aren't completely insane or dangerous'.
For the 'not completely insane' part of the job description, one of the requirements for these patrols is LOTS of time spent in space, by themselves, with no one to talk to except an Artificial Intelligence Agent. If you're sane, you'd go fucking nuts. For those like myself, I'm an introvert and a bit antisocial so it doesn't bother me in the least to be by myself for long periods of time. Give me some stuff to read, games to play, video entertainment, somewhere I can get some exercise, and some meaningful work and I'm good. The Empire considers me borderline mentally disturbed. Go figure.
For the 'not completely dangerous' part, we patrol areas of space that border unexplored or unsettled space. This means the Empire hasn't gotten around to putting a military presence in the area, it doesn't mean somebody else hasn't set up shop. There are all sorts of nasty bastards out beyond the fringes. Criminals that have bounties big enough to force them to hide in some rough places. Illegal mining operations that bring in materials, skirting tariffs and taxes, that uses slave labor to do the work. All sorts of people who are willing to take up things like piracy to survive or are willing to kill others just to protect their profits. Believe me when I tell you I'll shoot someone before they have a chance to shoot me. If I can catch them by surprise, this is good. If I don't, I'm willing to fight. If I'm outnumbered, I'll run. If I'm trapped, I'll go down fighting and take as many as I can with me. Where the 'not completely dangerous' bit comes in is that we don't take out innocent civilians for shits and giggles.
Who am I? Maxwell Privateer, 17 years old. I'm an orphan (raised on Antigone4), no family name so when I turned 16 I chose my profession that I was training for (this is common for orphans until they marry, ally themselves to a family, or come up with something better). If I wanted to, I could have tried to locate my parents through DNA inquiries but decided not to. I figured that I had been given up for a reason and I really didn't care.
I was small for my age, and what lots of kids thought of as pudgy. Several kids thought that I was a short, fat little bastard and I became their target of choice for ridicule. At first, it affected me greatly because I didn't know better and I spent a lot of my time by myself. One tough 10 year old kid thought it'd be funny to try to stuff 8 year old me into a recycle bin. True, I was short but I was not pudgy. I found out rather quickly that I was stronger than him by a fairly large margin and ended up stuffing him into the bin, head first. After that, most stayed away from me but now called me a freak. It was at that point that I started to disregard most people's opinion of me.
I later learned that I was most likely from at least one parent of Pericles 3 descent, a planet with a gravity of 1.45gs. Over time, and with a little DNA tinkering, the residents of Pericles 3 developed into a height that was somewhat shorter than normal, normal being about 180cm (71 inches) with Per3 residents being around 160-ish (64in). Their weight increased dramatically from a norm of 86kg (about 190lbs) to 113kg (about 250lbs). The increase in weight was from more muscle and higher bone and tissue density to offset the increased gravity.
The orphanage I was raised in (and any other orphanage) barely prepared their charges for the real world and I knew that if I didn't do something, I'd end up a waste of skin. I was coming to realize that I needed to set myself a goal and fight for it.
I did some research, found that being a privateer had some benefits to it and the work conditions were to my liking, and set about on my way to being one. This meant that I had to pass some basic and some specialized tests. I focused on classes that would help me with these. I also started weight training and self defense classes at the local gym (orphans were given a monthly allowance through the government and I was fortunate enough to find the owner to be sympathetic to orphans, she being one herself).
At age 13 I tested and applied for Privateer training, 2 years earlier than normal, and when I aced the tests, they waived the age issue and I started my 3 years of basic and class training and 1 year of practical. Practical was going out on deployments with senior privateers and patrolling. I ended up with five 8 week deployments, 3 with combat. The senior privateers gave me a lot of grief at first (part of the job so no hard feelings) but as they saw that I was motivated and (more importantly) willing to listen and take advice, they really got down and dirty with my training and taught me a lot. I would pick their brains finding out what skills they found most useful that weren't covered in training. I'd also ask what areas of study that they thought would be good to know.
During down time between deployments I'd look into any of the skill training or study areas that I could get and either bought training crystals or, if I could, get hands on training. Anything that I could use to make me better at my job without depending too much on others or that are useful in emergency situations I tried to get my hands on or brain wrapped around. There's tons of time on patrol where nothing happens and I spent most of that learning.
After my final supervised deployment, I was given the thumbs up for solo duty and sent to Amethyst system.
So there I was, parked on a 30 klick diameter asteroid in the outer of Amethyst's two belts cruising along and watching one of the system approach sectors. In a day or so I'd have to find another rock since the one I was on would be exiting the area I had defined as optimal for observation. I'd been monitoring the area for a week and a half and when not actively working, spending my time keeping busy. At the time I was reading a comic book on my tablet and pondering what to have for dinner when Sam, my Artificial Intelligence Agent (AIA), alerted me.
"Max, I need you on the bridge. We got trouble inbound."
Getting up from the recliner in my quarters, I secured the tablet into the mount on the desk and quickly walked to the bridge.
"What have we got, Sam?"
The hologram of Sam was standing to one side of the command chair looking at the view screen showing a visual of the system approach. A ship was centered in the view and looking to not be in the best of shape.
"Ten minutes ago, the freighter 'Virgo213' jumped in and immediately sent out a distress signal. They'd jumped from Denarrus system while engaged with pirates."
On screen, another ship materialized from jump. This ship was approximately 750 klicks behind and starboard lateral displacement above the freighter. This one was similar in model to the freighter, lots older and not in good repair, and with gun ports tacked onto hull. After a few seconds, this ship started vectoring to the freighter.
"And there're the pirates I assume. Receiving no squawk or ident," Sam told me.
"Great. Time for the pirates to intercept the freighter?"
"At their projected speed that we are seeing, approximately 10 minutes from now."
"Fire up the engines and bring up the jump drive, Sam. How fast can we get up to attack speed?"
"Using the asteroid to push off from we can be at attack speed in 6 minutes."
"Plot a micro jump with 1000 meters vertical displacement above and 5000 meters to pirate's port based on the projected path of the two ships with 10 seconds before we engage the pirates. I'll start the targeting while you calculate jump." I was securing myself into the command chair and bringing up the targeting system. The jump would put us ahead of both ships by about 130,000 klicks. Our attack speed combined with their speed coming directly at us would allow us to close that distance in 10 seconds.
Our current technology is really very good. The only drawback to it all is we are limited to the speed of light for most of it, system travel technology not included. That means that all our sensors and communications gathered or travel at light speed. Something that happened ten light minutes away (approximately 180,000,000km) wouldn't be seen for ten minutes.
So that means that we were basing our plans on events that had happened 10 minutes ago where the light was just now hitting our sensors. At this point, we didn't even know if there were 2 ships still out there. Both could have blown up for some reason for all we knew.
Our ship, which was always in ready/standby mode, fired off its engines and maneuvered into the correct position to use the asteroid as a launch pad.
"Firing system drive in five," Sam warned me.
"Drop gravity," I told her and immediately felt myself go weightless. I was then pushed back into my chair slightly as the engines kicked in and pushed us off of the asteroid and the inertial dampers kicked in.
The targeting screens floated in front of me and I targeted various parts of the pirate ship, the screens being holographic projections onto a weak force field to give me some tactile feedback.
"Course laid in, Max. About 4 minutes to attack speed."
"Sam, how's my targeting look?"
"I concur with one suggestion; take out their port maneuvering thruster. If you do that they'll only be able to use their starboard thruster and that'll turn them away from the freighter."
"Agreed. Thank you for that. Keep the suggestions coming," I replied. This was my first actual rescue op and I could very well miss a couple of things in all the activity. "Shoot a transmission to Amethyst system control with what's going."
"Transmission sent. I've also just received a systems report embedded in the distress signal of the freighter; their system drive is down, core is offline, and they have numerous hull breaches. Inner bulkheads are sealed. Several ship's systems also offline. They are currently coasting at about 3000kps. Embedded sensor data confirms that is the pirate vessel that fired on them."
"Kripes, any slower and they'd be at a dead stop. Transmit to Amethyst we'll need a salvage tug."
"Transmission sent. 2 minutes to attack speed. Updating micro jump based on current readings ... no significant changes. Pirates are maintaining speed and heading."
"Set ship systems to combat. Passive targeting sensors only. Set engines to standby 5 seconds prior to jump, we'll see if we can coast up on them."
Outside, the ship's appearance altered. While on the asteroid the hull had been a mottled gray, the patches of color breaking up the silhouette. The surface of the ship now shifted to bend the light around it. Looking at it with the naked eye you could still see it if you looked at it directly but what you see is the space behind it, just a bit distorted. Optical sensors on the other hand would need to focus directly on to it to find it and other sensors either had their scans absorbed or refracted away.
"Systems to combat. Passive sensors only. Set engines to standby 5 seconds prior to jump. 1 minute 15 to attack speed. Jump drive ready for micro jump. Updating micro jump based on current readings ... no significant changes. At current speeds once we jump in we'll have about 10 seconds prior to engagement with the pirates."
While she was telling me this I was bringing up the weapons screen, I deployed and powered up my upper and lower port plasma cannons and lasers. Plasma cannons are basically the BFG (Big Fucking Gun) of choice for privateers. They drain shields and do tons of damage if they get through. Lasers are more about finesse. They can penetrate weakened shields and do serious damage but only in localized areas. The trick was to weaken the shields with plasma fire and use lasers to slice and dice weapons, shield generators, sensor arrays, etc. Getting both powered up now would prevent any surges that could be picked up by sensors.
"Shields up, please" I said.
"Shields up. 15 seconds to attack speed."
"I miss anything, Sam?"
"Looks good to me, Max." We waited a few more seconds. "We're at attack speed. Jump ... now."
The bridge view screen went dark gray for a second before again showing the pirate ship, now much closer. Our reentry into normal space didn't cause any flash of light or energy readings since our systems were in passive mode and we were coasting on inertia. The pirates' systems never saw us.
Our sensors showed the freighter was behind us. Our sensors also read that the pirates had minimal shields and adjusted fire output to match what I wanted. Systems updated in milliseconds, reconfirmed targeting data and flashed green for updated firing solution.
"Fire when ready, Sam."
Because of our speeds, Sam had complete control of our guns. The two ships would pass each other at nearly 13,500kps, with only a fraction of a second for weapons fire. No human could possibly be fast enough.
The ships flashed past each other. Plasma cannons let loose the superheated gas/energy bolts and struck shields with enough power to drain nearly 75% of their power, weakening them more than enough for the lasers to penetrate and tear into the pirate ship's defenses and weapons. Plasma cannon and lasers on the pirate ship blew in flashes of energy, shield generators and sensor arrays were sliced apart. Their port maneuvering thruster blew and left a gaping hole in the hull. Atmosphere vented for a second or two before either the air in that compartment ran out or the interior bulkheads sealed off the affected area. Other blasts from plasma canon penetrated the hull and caused the pirate ship to isolate whole sections of the ship. Before we passed by the pirate ship plasma fire increased and rained destruction on the engines, turning them into a mass of white-hot scrap.
While this was happening I was plotting a course to bring us back at the pirates.
"Sam, fire up maneuvering engines and bring us around. Follow the course as I lay it in."
"Bringing us around, Max."
The ship came up and over in a wide curve, inertia pushing us farther out while maneuvering engines tried to compensate. Fortunately, neither the pirate nor the freighter had been going very fast with the pirate ship going only fast enough to be able to match speed and dock. I was marking secondary targets on the pirate as we moved in. Sometime during this, light caught up and if I looked I'd be able to see my ship accelerating away from the asteroid that I had been on. It confused me a little at first when I had seen this effect during my training but I wrapped my brain around it by thinking of it as a time delayed replay.
Since we were still at attack speed, we caught up within a couple of minutes to the pirates, applied breaking thrusters, matched speed and parked ourselves to their port, the side that we had broadsided.
"Sam, open comm with the pirates. Pirate vessel, this is the privateer 'Shivari'. You will power down all systems except life support. Failure to comply will be viewed as hostile action and we will destroy you. You have ten seconds to comply or we will start firing on you."
For about 5 seconds nothing happened. Then an incoming transmission came over the speaker. "'Shivari', you have majorly fucked up. I –"
"Sam, open fire on target group Beta," I said.
"Firing weapons on target group Beta."
Plasma bolts at a reduced power tore into the pirate ship, penetrating only far enough to breach the hull. This caused venting of atmosphere, reducing the air in the ship and causing more bulkheads to close and isolating more sections of the ship. The only way they would be able to move from section to section would be in pressure suits.
Over the speaker, the pirates were yelling. "STOP FIRING! WE'RE SHUTTING DOWN SYSTEMS!"
I checked sensors. Sure enough, systems were being shut down as fast as they could be. I nodded to Sam and the weapons stopped firing. When all but life support was powered off I called back.
"Pirate vessel, any powering up of systems without prior permission and I'll target the bridge. Understood?"
"Yeah, understood," was the sullen response.
"Excellent. If you behave you'll be in a security force brig in a day or two."
I looked over to Sam. "Sam, send a control tether over and take over all systems. We need to get to the freighter."
Sam nodded her head. Seconds later a small drone launched from the 'Shivari' and started scanning for the pirate ship systems port. Once it found it, the drone attached itself to the ship, jacked into the port and Sam started to hack the pirates' computers. Within moments the drone, which was an indirect interface with her, confirmed all system were under control.
I was piloting the ship, catching up to the freighter. "Freighter 'Virgo213' this is privateer 'Shivari'. Your pirate problem has been dealt with. We are coming up on your starboard side. Can you give us a status report?"
"'Shivari', good to hear from you. We are currently experiencing systems malfunctions and our system drive is offline. We have some interior damage that is preventing us from communicating with the engine room. We also have some bulkheads that are refusing to open so we can't get out of the ship to do any patching. You think you can give us a hand?"
I groaned to myself. The communications problem was probably legit but the bulkheads refusing to open? Bullshit. They just didn't want to suit up and patch holes. Most freighter jocks lived inside their ship 24/7 and refused to come out unless it was for booze, women, or cargo. The only upside for me was they had to pay me for that work, all parts, and it wasn't cheap. For a long time, rescued ships used privateers to patch holes, using them as free labor until privateers started charge high fees. Most ships now did it themselves but ships that could afford it usually gave the 'bulkhead won't open and we can't get out' excuse. Oh well, time to earn some extra cash.
"Roger, 'Virgo213'. Pass your scans to us. Is there an airlock near the engine room that I could use to check on the conditions?"
"Affirmative. We'll send schematics and scans."
"Right. Give me 5 minutes to suit up. 'Shivari' out."
Sam was looking at me with a disgusted look. I knew exactly how she felt. I'd leave 'Shivari' and let Sam dock the ship to 'Virgo's' airlock. This was starting to turn out to be a long day already.