Too generous by half….

Four days heavy testing had left him feeling drained, his credits looking low and his left ear with a constant ringing from the explosions.

It had started with a sortie over to the asteroid belt for some flight training. The new cobra was far more powerful than the old sidewinder and boosting around the asteroids was a combination of a visual feast and a terrorising experience with more than a few close scrapes.

After an hour or so of test piracy (was it really test piracy, or was Vin revelling in the hunt?), Solo appeared and did the usual commander’s spin in greeting. Vin powered the engines up and tagged along, following Solo in and out of the asteroids.

The shield warning markers had lit up as they took a hammering from out of sight and Vin thumbed the control for the nearest threat. Dumping the throttle back to 50%, he spun around to see Solo, gunports open.

“Not having that….”

Vin deployed weapons and opened up with a beam and the multicannons then shifted the throttle into reverse.

Or at least that’s what he intended to do.

Seconds later, his ship impacted into Solo’s. With the shields weakened, his hull hadn’t stood a chance and he ejected back into space.

Having been recovered back to Zelada station and paying out for a new test rig and rather sheepishly, Vin had thrown on a headset and connected up to the ship to ship comms.

“Dude, I was trying to communicate with you!”

“My bad, a narrowband laser pulse to the backside usually gets the other kind of attention. At least you picked up a bounty?”

“Yes. Cheers.”

Solo was as good as his namesake and had boosted out to the perimeter of the system to work on testing the cargo scooping and ejection. A gaggle of 4 Cobras had accompanied them as close escort.

That was the excuse, of course. Viper pilots tend to refer to that kind of thing as “handling stolen goods”.

Watching the hatch under Solo’s ship, Vin could see it slide to one side and spit a cannister into the void at speed. The first three landed squarely in the scoop, the fourth detonated against the hatch, causing the cockpit to jolt slightly and alarms to blare out.

Every now and again, Vin could head Eid shout the word “Scoop”…. His ship comms were voice activated, as were subsystems and Eid’s sentences were punctuated with “Scoop” and “Evade”.

*****

Waking up this morning, he’d jumped straight back into the ship for more testing. Launching from the station, a commander he didn’t recognise came across the headset.

“Morning…. Which test area?” came a strongly accented and slightly crackly voice.

“Heading for free for all. You?”

“I’m stuck in deep space with drones chasing me but not firing.”

After a minute or so banter about the testing, Vin had worked out that Natte Hond was floating about 25k toward contested space.

“You need rescuing, or is all ok?”

“I’m just flying loops around them. The drones aren’t broken, they just aren’t firing…”

“I’ll head in your direction.”

That, it turned out, was easier said than done. Giving up, both ships jumped out to the asteroid field.

Arriving at the jump point, the two ships headed out for the first sidewinder drone. Popping the weapons, Vin blasted the scoops off the first and a cannister spun out into space, easily scooped up. Natte had brought the camera equipment rig and fitted it to the Sidewinder, videoing the cargo capture and then ejection “for posterity”.

Just as the second cargo was being scooped, the shields lit up again…

“Man, you’re being shot.”

Vin swung his eyes back to his own radar from the cargo screens to see a sidewinder fly past the cockpit.

“Feel free to join in.” he chuckled.

Swinging across to get a bead on the target, Vin’s beam carved satisfyingly into the hull as Natte’s pulse lasers tattooed a rhythm on the engines. The intruder exploded with a dull “crump” noise.

“All clear, let’s see if we can get that video lined up again.”

Vin spun the ship so the lower hull was lit by the distant sun and threw the last of the cargo out.

“Not again….” came the heavily accented warning as another blast hit the shields. For the second time, they tagged an intruder and gave him a free ride back to Zelada.

Jumping back to the station for repairs, they had moved on to the Impeccable and it was good to find only a single ship to defend. Switching forward and backward between targets, the two ships had tagged and killed a series of drones, testing the credit allocation system. 300cr here, 300cr there until the last kill when Vin tagged a drone that was mid-explosion…..

“Did you get a credit on that one?”

“Yes. You?”

“Same.”

Dropping in to the Orerve support comms, Vin logged a ticket. “Too generous by half.”

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