+++BEGIN LOG-CMDR AL-POCALYPSE ABOARD FAULCON DELACY SIDEWINDER D299-29.01.3302+++
“Does madness maketh the man, or does Scotch? Yes, a drink is a good idea. Blast, this bottle is empty!”
“Bollocks! Why does no one make space ships with openable windows?”
At least that’s what my flight data recorder is claiming; I still say it’s got its wires crossed.
It is sometimes hard to recall that I’m in space. A fact not made any easier that I was flying a crummy little stock ship. Some little fucker had stolen my Cobra and I was not happy, so I sought any form of solace I could find.
That is when I saw a pretty little Imperial Courier. Deadly? Best avoided then. I reached for my Scotch once more and found it was still empty. So the Courier was the next best thing and you never know, he may be carrying a crate or two.
He didn’t put up much of a fight, which was a shame. Or have any Scotch, which was a bitter disappointment. However, at that point three wandering minstrels turned up and wanted to know who I was.
Well that was a bit of a kerfuffle, you don’t want to know how well hidden the communication switches are on a Sidewinder, and it appears they cannot hold their drink either. For some reasons these minstrels wanted to know how long I’d been flying on this journey for and if I wanted to join them. A strange request, I don’t play any instruments; but their leader, Vexter Dex, seemed polite enough and offered me a Scotch if I joined up with them. I’m not so sure about that Submarine though and Konnie Rane, well she sounds cute but seems a bit quiet.
+++END LOG-CMDR AL-POCALYPSE ABOARD FAULCON DELACY SIDEWINDER D299-29.01.3302+++
+++BEGIN LOG-CMDR DEXTER VEX ABOARD VINDICTA-29.01.3302+++
No one would ever accuse me of affable towards new people. For some people though, I make an exception.
I watched the suicidal sidewinder fly straight at the Imperial Courier, hammering away with the pulse lasers, and the last moment barrel roll underneath it. The courier pilot probably didn’t know what the fuck was going on and the Sidey didn’t give him a chance to figure it out. With the flight-assist off, the Sidey performed a perfect flip and started hammering the courier again.
They have strong shields, those Couriers, but once they are down that’s it and all that’s left is armour made of tissue paper and dreams. And a short time later there wasn’t even that any more.
OK, I’ll admit it, I was impressed. I keyed the comms.
“To unknown commander. You have some balls there, mind telling me who they’re attached to?”
“Bloody switch, where is it? Can never find the fucking thing” I heard a sound that was almost certainly a bottle being thrown at something. Shit – had this guy just done that while on the piss?
“He’s an idiot,” said Ronnie, clearly confused as to why I was wasting my time here. “The switch is on the top left of….”
“Ah found it. Hello. Name’s Al-pocalypse. Sorry, I always lose the console I require.”
I blinked. How do you fly like that and not know where all the buttons are? “How long have you been flying? Al-Poc?” I asked.
“Err, what’s the date?”
“The 20th of January” I answered, perplexed. The clock right on the HUD, you literally can’t miss it.
“Around ten in the evening,” replied Sou, and I could almost hear him rolling his eyes as he said it.
“Um… Seven minutes past, as the clock in front of your eyes would no doubt corroborate.”
“Oh? Is that so? I lost track in deep space. In which case, all things considered and allowing for the curvature of space time: I’ve been flying this ship for about forty-two minutes.”
“I meant how long have you been a pilo…” I took a breath, took stock of the situation. The man was obviously an idiot, but he was a shockingly good pilot and lucky to boot. Never underestimate luck.
I smiled. Oh, Souvarine was gonna love this.
“Never mind, look you’re clearly a danger to yourself, but you’re a far greater danger to anyone you point your ship at. Since I think everyone here wants it pointed away from us, would you like to join our wing for the time being?”
+++END LOG-CMDR DEXTER VEX ABOARD VINDICTA-29.01.3302+++
+++BEGIN LOG-CMDR SOUVARINE ABOARD SSF VORTIGAUNT-29.01.3302+++
The last few hours have been more than a little surreal, not least as I now seem to be drunk. The Vortigaunt’s cabin is spinning slightly.
It started yesterday. Vex and Ronan had been tipped off about a nest of pirates preying on mining vessels in the asteroid belt around Candecama 16, a huge gas giant on the outskirts of the system. There were sizeable bounties on the pirates’ heads. I agreed to join them in claiming them.
Toward the end of the fight, the field was covered with wreckage and we were drifting lazily, counting our bounty vouchers and discussing tactics. At that point our attention was drawn to what looked like an improbable fight.
One of the last pirates was fleeing in an Imperial Courier, a fast, sleek bit of kit that’s nearly a match for the Banshee. Circling him, employing what Vex assured me was an impressive bit of manoeuvring, was a Sidewinder – the same class of ship as the Weasel – a ship used most commonly as a taxi. Needless to say, the Sidewinder won.
The pilot was clearly drunk, or insane. Or both. Vex hailed him and we invited him to join us at Oshima Dock for a drink after we’d rearmed.
All he’d tell us was that his name was Al, and that some people called him Al-Pocalypse. He was a gaunt, thin man with flyaway grey hair and roving, animated eyes. His face and outfit would clearly have been quite striking once, but everything about him seemed to have seen better days. Nevertheless, I suspected that he wasn’t as old as he appeared. He wouldn’t say specifically where he’d come from – claiming not to know – and also claimed never to have flown before. All he was interested in was getting to the bar.
Something about him clearly tickled Vex. After the first round, he got up to order another. I followed him to the bar.
“Nice guy, isn’t he?” Vex asked innocuously, looking into his drink.
“Nice? Yes, lovely. Also mental, and shitfaced. And that was before we even got to the bar.”
Vex chuckled to himself.
“He sure does put them away – buy him a drink and it’s gone before you can look back. Very good combat pilot, though. You can’t deny that.” He ordered another round of the luminous orange whisky cocktails.
“An aptitude for murder is what I look for in an alcoholic madman, certainly,” I muttered. “You don’t think it’s slightly odd that he doesn’t seem to know where he’s come from?”
“Who cares? His past is his business. He can handle himself. He looks like he wants to make some money. We could use him.”
“I was hoping you’d suggest that,” I grumbled. “I’ve been thinking for a while now that was we really need is a tanked up, heavily-armed lunatic.”
Vex smiled to himself again. The robot’s four arms emerged from the bar with our drinks. He was enjoying this.
“Give me a hand with these,” he said. “Let’s see how we go with him for a while.”
“If you’re sure. I’d be happier if he’d at least tell us where he’d come from.”
“He might. Let’s see. You never know, he might not even be looking for work.”
“Ok, your call.” We ambled back to our table.
We raised it with him. He agreed to make a few more forays with us, and we carried on drinking. For all my misgivings, he certainly was likeable, and good fun. Before I knew it we were on our sixth drink.
Al got up to use the bathroom. When he was out of earshot Ronnie turned to me and cocked an eyebrow.
“What do you reckon?”
“Nice chap. Bit dull though.” He laughed.
“Might be fun to have someone like him around,” mused Vex. “Spice things up.”
Later, as I staggered back to my ship, I found myself agreeing. Whatever happens from now on, it certainly won’t be boring.
+++END LOG-CMDR SOUVARINE ABOARD SSF VORTIGAUNT-29.01.3302+++