‘Right, helpful, real helpful.
So if that options off the table, how about instead of busting my rump with old arguments I settled a while ago, my face, my choice, you find us another option’
‘Can I at least access this ships on board net to update my knowledge base a little?’
‘Go right ahead, and no berating me for the state of the ship, it was like this when I found it’
‘Found it? Stole it more like, ok, I’ll leave your bruised ego mostly intact’
Her form sank gently into the console ostensibly appearing to look around and muttering to herself something about it needing a damn good spring clean. I knew it was an act, she could have easily just disappeared, but I’d always enjoyed the more human interaction she gave me. There have been times when Sharon has been my only friend, true confident, and the one person who never left me, so no wonder I could never face her being removed and kept her to myself.
I kept myself busy trying to stay alive and keep flying, there were warnings going off all over the console, I’d resorted to shutting most of them down so I could think straight, but every now and again something would re-trigger an alarm and bring it back up on my console. The one warning screen I had kept in the forefront was the passive scan alert, if anyone actively scanned my ship, either with sensors or weapons lock the system would start screaming at me and I’d need to act rashly, but so far my luck had held out and no alerts had been raised.
To be honest that was the one thing which worried me, I’d just broken out of a medium security prison complex, stolen a broken down light Cargo Lifter from one of the worker farms nearby, and so far, nothing. By now the alarm must have been raised, as the sun had come up over the horizon the first checks on the prisoners would have been taken and the suspiciously empty cell I’d been occupying would come to light, and in any sane world that means pursuit. I must have left trace behind, it’s pretty much impossibly not to with even moderately competent sniffers, they would find the missing ship, put 2 and 2 together and it would not take a genius to start some scans and come after me.
The ship was a mess, barely flight worthy, ok, technically not flight worthy, it would never pass any International Aerospace Authority regulation checks, so it must be leaking something somewhere all over the place, add that to the most basic air traffic control scans and even out here in the back end of nowhere someone should see something. Ok, so I’d been careful where I could, I’d flown up a river for a time to disperse any dropped trace, I’d kept low, I’d avoided any settlements and kept a close eye on the EM scans so I avoided anything like a possible signal return. I’d made sure the transponder was gone and disabled all external comms systems, carefully so I could put them back together, but just switching something off does not mean it stops being a beacon, I learnt that the hard way. There was no way I’m that lucky, not with my recent run, I suppose it’s quite possible things could have turned a corner, but somehow I just don’t think so.
‘Where are you’ I muttered to myself
‘Right here sugar, just runnin’ the numbers’
‘I’m talking to myself again Sharon, but now you bring it up, I thought you were faster than this’
‘For your information I have been multi-tasking as all good girls do, now hush your flaps, I got me some thinking to do if I’m going to find you a way out of this mess, just keep us in the air, and head about 2 points further to the west, I’ll pop up a beacon on your HUD to make things simple for you, I know you don’t like complicated things, I may have us a way of this dust ball, but in the mean time I’m busy’
Knowing what she was like, dreading the answer but needing to know anyway I asked,
‘Busy, so what are you doing, exactly?’
‘Well you may have disabled the external Comms and transponder, but I picked up a secondary transponder you missed, damn thing was sneaky to, doesn’t actually send out a traceable signal, but does ping a flash burst GPS co-ordinate so anyone who has access can ID its location every few minutes to within a meter, I caught a ping as it went out, hacked its simple little brain, and currently its sending out a nice little breadcrumb trail taking anyone following off a ways.’
‘Oh for the love of.… damn it, I missed that little trick’
‘No worries sugar, I got your back as always, you can thank me with a sweet little upgrade I’ve had my eye on for a while when we get to civilisation.’
Something told me this sweet little upgrade was going to significantly raid my savings, but my mom always told me to be generous with my praise and my punishments, so given the fact she had likely just answered my unspoken question and dug my ass out of a hole, she deserved a little Something Something as they used to say.
As promised a bright blue marker appeared on my HUD, a nice a subtle set of arrows ushering me to her chosen destination. While a little insulting, I can read a set of compass headings and at a push even navigate without a lot of the fancy systems pilots these days depend on, but I suppose it made it all but impossible for me to miss the mark as the arrows gentle guided our ailing steed through a series of valleys away from her breadcrumbs.
A dozen or so kilometres of coaxing later and we came out of the low rocky hills and onto a vast plane with more vegetation then I’d seen for the last few hours, I guessed we must have covered 75 kilometres from the prison since my escape so I figured we were all but home free and the risk of detection without a transponder had to be worthwhile, and besides those insistent blue arrows led me straight out over the grassland, with nowhere obvious to conceal the ship.
There was no major structures in sight, nothing to give me a clue to where we were heading, and for a moment I doubted if Sharon had made the right call, but bitter and hard experience had taught me many lessons, and one simple one was that when the chips are down she usually pulls through.
‘Sugar, I need to send out a burst now, or we are going to have some trouble real soon, don’t go being alarmed or freaking out on me, I just need to make an ID contact before anyone gets jumpy’
‘Ok, so what are you up to now and what am I letting myself in for?’
‘Oh nothing special is all, I just about got us a lift off this rock, and with a little luck is some comfort to, you see turns out in the dim distant past some of the more paranoid moneyed members of society on this here rock were rightly worried about world class levels of devastation, so they made arrangements for themselves with hidden away escape routes. Turns out there is one such site not a million K’s away and while it looks like it was likely abandoned when the last set of solid trade treaties got signed, its more than an even bet it’s still in fine fettle and will more than suit our needs.
At the very least it’s a nice and secure, out the way bolt hole in which we can lick our wounds and come up with a better plan’