8th September 3301 – 20:46
I followed the Colonel’s advise in the end and left Mastracchio Terminal and LTT 11478 behind, heading straight back to Dinda.
I hit the bar first in an attempt to drown the insanity I had just been through. I had never seen so much death and destruction in one place. A few more drinks and I might just stop reliving those furious dog fights.
Half a bottle of gin later, and when I felt I would finally be able to crash in the condo and sleep, I received a call from Shiv. Mukesh Premji wanted to see me and was expecting me in Goldstein Port in the Lembava System.
I tried to argue that I was in no condition to fly but Shiv stood firm, insisting on the importance of this meeting. I had so many questions for Premji after all and if I had survived a civil war, surely I would survive my own liquored reflexes and double vision.
I got back in the Viper and cranked up the oxygen levels on the life support.
Without wasting any time I made my way to Goldstein Port and requested docking permission…
9th September 3301 – 19:43
I met Premji outside of the Sirius Corporation Head Quarters’ office. He walked towards me and said with the most serious face: “I did not realize how important you were to these people.”
There was a clear contrast between the loud and proud man I had met in Dinda and the now sombre face addressing me.
“You have been promoted.”
His personal pilot, captain of the Melville, had died. Mukesh Premji wasn’t ready to explain how this tragedy had happened, promptly saying that he was in need of a new pilot and according to him, I had more than proven myself during those recent weeks. I was not entirely sure, but it felt like the decision was made during the meeting Premji had just left from, and was not entirely his.
We walked to the ship together …
The Melville had been repainted in black, in remembrance of Edward Smith, the deceased captain. His body was in the hold… My first assignment as new captain of the Melville. Mukesh Premji felt for some reasons he was partially responsible for the captain’s death and decided to take the body back to his family in person.
I sat in the Saud Kruger Liner’s cockpit and on Dr Premji’s instruction, set the navigation system to Alpha Centauri and Hutton Orbital, home of the Smith family.
113 light years, this shouldn’t take too long, I said.
9th September 3301 – 23:52
This beast is a big ship, I have to say. Thankfully, every single instrument is of the finest made, and leaving Goldstein Port was a cake walk.
Mukesh Premji walked onto the flight deck after the first jump out of Lembava, carrying two glasses of what seemed to be an expensive liquor. He handed one of the drinks to me arguing he didn’t like to drink alone and stood by my jumpseat. I offered him to strap into the navigator’ seat for safety, in vain… he seemed far too concerned by the recent event while pretending to be absorbed by the view…
He remained silent, watching the rising star over the horizon, yet I had this feeling that he was dying to talk.
Our next destination was finally in sight and I engaged the Frame Shift Drive…
The Frame Shift Drive’s charge drowned Mukesh Premji’ self spoken words;
“Ever since the Empire Honcho got out of his coma, they got in a panic… You would think his assassination would have made it…”
I couldn’t make out the rest as the Frame Shift Drive’s loud blast abruptly sent us into Witchspace.
11th September 3301 – 21:38
On the way to Alpha Centauri, Premji apologized for sending me to LTT 11478’s conflict. Visibly embarrassed, he insisted that the Sirius Corporation was also accountable in some respect. According to him, communications between Dinda and Lembava’s Head Quarters had been drastically deteriorating since I had got to Ravenclan’s Astro Lab, and while they were urging for military reinforcements in the system, they had failed to express their wish to exclude me from the operation.
The conversation was getting a little uncomfortable and Premji retired to the main lounge.
Soon after making it to Alpha Centauri and while lining up the ship with Hutton Orbital, I recognized Commander Nosscar’ signature on the contact panel and opened communications with his ship…
The comms systems seemed to be playing up and I couldn’t get a decent lock on his ship. It took me a while to realize that he was extremely far from my position and a little while longer to understand that Hutton Orbital was actually even further away.
The constant breaking of communications didn’t stop Nosscar from warning me that I was heading for a relatively small outpost that would make it impossible for the Melville to dock. I immediately informed Mukesh Premji through the public address system but he firmly instructed me to remain on course.
An hour later, we dropped out of supercruise and Hutton Orbital did indeed reject our docking permission. Dr Premji stormed in and barked: “Dock the bloody thing!”
… so I maneuvered towards the outpost and deployed landing gear…
14th September 3301 – 21:12
Without question, we had made a remarkable entrance as the presence of our ship on Hutton Orbital triggered quite a debate.
The good thing about working for Mr Premji and Dinda Universal Industry is that I didn’t have to deal with the consequences myself, leaving me free to head to the nearest bar again. I am confident our unauthorized docking won’t be too much of an issue as the local authorities seem to already have their hands full, dealing with an unusually large scrap delivery…
The bartender told me that one of the finest gin was produced right here, in Hutton… Shame they had to serve it in one of those horrible metallic mugs.
Nosscar too was at the bar but did not seem too bothered with his drink… says it is part of Hutton Orbital’s charm, sort of a tradition.
Something else Nosscar said between two sips:
“Hugh Caplin is alive.”
He explained the name ‘Caplin’ was just a alias, and finding this out had made it a lot easier to track him down. According to one of his sources, Caplin was located in a small settlement, on an airless planet somewhere in Imperial space. Whether he was hiding there or being kept against his will was uncertain.
I spent the entire trip back to Dinda repeating these four words:
“Hugh Caplin is alive.”
If Caplin is alive, then why exactly am I hiding…
I think I’ll be heading to Lembava next. If Premji won’t give me the answer, someone at the Sirius Corporation might.