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Old August 21st, 2019, 04:04 AM
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Captain David Farber sat in the commissioner’s office with a gaggle of officials, some in military uniform, others in local law enforcement, and even a scout or two, their eyes all locked on his relatively diminutive form. A kind of pale blue for eyes, dark blonde hair that was cut in a functional salad bowl shape for better starship operations, or so he was told. Farber was never a great achiever, which seemed puzzling since he managed to gain a position as first mate on an antiquated Solomani merchant that had seen better days before being sent to the starship graveyard via a couple of high yield missiles.

Kind of like his office on Efate. Oh sure, it was essentially a penthouse suite with bay windows overlooking the cityscape, but the off mayonnaise color of his office walls, the durable furniture designed to withstand the onslaught of a primitive primate and not designed for comfort, coupled with the usual smell of a government office, made the whole affair seem like a session in a high school principle’s office rather than the law enforcement interview that it was meant to be.

Scout commissioner Robert Haswell was sympathetic to Farber and those that had managed to escape with him in the ship’s enclosed air raft. A brilliant scheme of using the spare oxygen strapped and jury rigged to the air raft’s life support. How they managed to get picked up an hour later by a passing freighter that was going to put in for some field repairs, was one for the books. Hoping to be mistaken with debris and keeping the engines off and cool was a stroke of brilliance, but accordingly that was the engineer’s idea, and not mister Farber’s even though he had phrased it as such in his official report. Oh well. Even lady luck smiled on the poorest of starship candidates. Still, Haswell felt that he shouldn’t think of Farber like that. His record as a starship officer was less than sterling. He had had several “near misses” when it came to logging hours and reporting (or not-reporting as the case may be) situations on board vessel that could have led to a fire or serious malfunction, but he had managed to bring most of the crew home, save for the captain and the security team which remained on board in the vain hope of repulsing the boarders.

Still, Farber was competent enough at his job to retain a position with a variety of mid range tonnage vessels that needed an experienced person on the spot. Apparently his forte was as a fill in for a single voyage or series of jumps before the captain could find a serious replacement. Farber, in essence and form due to his spotty record, was what in office speak might be called a “temp” or “temporary employee”. A warm body for a position that needed a permanent fix.

“And then what happened?” Haswell pressed, a dozen pair of eyes and ears waiting for his every word.

“And then we launched. Or separated.” Farber’s tone wasn’t exactly sheepish, but far from confident, feeling as if he were being cross examined for some crime he had committed. He hadn’t. Not ever. He may have made a few mistakes here and there, but he didn’t deserve being put on the spot.

“How did you manage to separate yourself from the ship.”

“Our chief engineer, Alarh Sethay. He’s from Vland.” Farber said with a smile hoping somehow his engineer’s lineage might prove for levity to lighten the mood. It didn’t. “He stayed in a vacc suit with a hose hooked up to the air raft. He just pushed us off. But when he did we started to roll some, like the rest of the debris.”

“What happened then?” Haswell gently pressed, wanting Farber to keep focused and to get the story out as freshly as he could recall it to fill in any gaps in the ship’s automated log.

“A couple hours later the Quin-talla exited jump. We picked up her transponder and double checked to make sure that she was who her transponder said she was before signaling them for help.”

“What about your ship? The Evening Star?”

“Oh, sorry, the dogs blew it up. They hung around for like half an hour or more. We heard gun shots and screams over the tactical channel.” Farber’s tone chilled recalling the audio channeling to his ears all those weeks ago.

“Anything else?”

“I think our captain remained on the bridge. She may have fought back, but I’m not sure.”

“You’re not sure?”

“We heard shots, then silence, then Vargr talk, then someone asking her something in really bad Galanglic, and then I guess roughing her up. It was hard to tell what was going on simply by listening to the audio.”

“How did you manage not to get fired upon?”

“Like I said, I don’t really know, but Engineer Sethay kept us powerless until they moved off and jumped out. An hour or two later the Quin-talla came in, and we were taken aboard. Under guard at first, but then they let us stay as guests after they heard our story and corroborated it with the ship’s logs.”

“What did they attack you with?” Haswell had already asked the question, but like with all things, trust but verify.

“At first missiles. We managed to gun some of them down, but they were armed to the teeth with two triple turret lasers. The Solees build a tough ship, and that thing could take punishment, but they hit us with several triple shots. First the life support unit, though we had a backup, then the main drives and engineering. But they just kept damaging the mechanics and drives. No serious damage to the actual engineering section. But the power plant did shut down due to an overload or something. That’s when we lost attitudinal control and fire control. The bridge blacked out for a few seconds before the batteries kicked in. That’s when the captain ordered us to abandon ship, but put the security team in the hold while she went to the bridge.”

“Why did she go to the bridge?”

“I don’t know. Maybe some captain ego thing for all I know. She was big on duty.”

“But you went with the rest of the crew.”

“She ordered me to.”

Haswell didn’t press the issue. She probably knew that Farber wouldn’t be any good in a fight, and so tossed the dead weight overboard, so to speak.

There were a few other ancillary questions from some others standing in the commissioner’s office, notably Fleet Captain Roger Tolchin, the gold Imperial sunburst on his shoulder the and the extra braid signifying him as more than a mere starship captain, but a squadron leader.

“Did you get a name of the vessel, mister Farber?”

“A name?”

“A name, like any ship.” Tolchin stated.

“No, the whole thing … it was all black and yellow. I mean there was some lettering on the fuselage, but I couldn’t make it out. It was in some dog language. The whole thing was battle scarred from fore to aft. Laser burns, blast marks … it’s like the whole thing had been in a shootin’ match or something.”

The Commissioner half nodded, “Okay, thank you Mister Farber. You’ve been very informative. We’ll be in contact if we need you again, and the court bailiffs will be in contact if you’re needed to testify.”

“I can go now?”

Haswell feigned a polite smile. “Yeah. You can go.”

Farber rose unceremoniously and exited the old fashioned swinging wooden door – another government cost saving measure in a high tech building filled with AI, life support and other amenities that would make any yacht owner green with envy, but tax dollars were tax dollars, and not to be frivolously spent on things that could be accommodated with cheap versions of whatever they were.
Sir Ghost, Knight of Imperial occupied Terra, Sol.
Travels with Blue Ghost; musings of a knight of the Imperium.
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