Ballistic Logistics Saga - Part III

August 2941

"Ok, now are you going to tell me where we are going?" Gedion asked with growing annoyance. He had been sitting blind-folded in the co-pilot's seat of Saskia's Freelancer DUR, the BLG 'Course Correction' for over 6 hours and at least 3 jump points. He had fallen asleep for a short while and could have missed another.

"Come on, you know I'm not going to tell you, so you might as well give it up," Saskia replied, her voice weary from a long flight.

"Don't you think that might be relevant information? I mean, it would be a lot easier to start theorizing who might have made that door if I knew if we were close to Xi'an space, or Banu, or anywhere," Gedion pressed.

Saskia stayed silent.

"Come on, at least let me take off the blindfold now. I have no idea where we are," he pleaded.

Saskia sighed heavily. "Fine, if you'll stop whining, you can take the blindfold off. But don't let me catch you looking at the nav computer, ok?" she relented.

Gedion wasted no time ripping the blindfold off of his head and tossing it over his shoulder onto the floor behind him. He looked out the front of the freelancer and saw... nothing.

"Well if you were worried I'd place our position by identifying astral markers, you can forget about it," he said, trying to lighten the mood with a joke. Saskia didn't bite.

Reaching up to a panel on the ceiling above her, Saskia flipped a series of switches which dimmed all the lights in the ship and seemed to power down the engines. Gedion observed, equally curious and worried.

"Look, we aren't exactly in law-abiding UEE space. We're going dark, and we'll just drift into asteroid field. Then we'll go EVA and check it out. It should take us four or five hours to get there, so you should try to get some sleep," she explained.

"Four or five hours? How dangerous is this system that we need that long of a silent approach? I sure hope you know what the hell you are dragging us into..." Gedion complained.

Saskia didn't bother to respond. They were both exhausted from the long journey, so they both closed their eyes and caught what rest they could.

They both awoke to the flashing red light and high-pitched squeal of the proximity alarm. Gedion shook his head a few times, trying to clear the grogginess, while Saskia took manual control of the ship. They were about to enter the asteroid field.

Saskia slowed the freelancer and began navigating cautiously through the dense asteroid field, brown asymmetrical rocks spinning at various rates all around them.

"So how did you find this door in the first place?" Gedion inquired.

"A mining prospecting mission came through here a few weeks back. They saw something on their scanners and snapped that shot," Saskia paused. Gedion stared at her, waiting for her to continue.

"And?" He asked impatiently.

"And, they started taking fire from an unknown source, so they bugged out," Saskia finished reluctantly.

"And you figure it was who exactly? Aliens? Pirates? Ghosts?" Gedion grilled her, more than a little frustrated and scared at this new information.

"We don't... exactly know. But that's part of what we are here to find out. We'll make for the door, and if the area is clear, we'll go EVA and check it out. If there are hostiles out there, our job is to get a positive i.d. and get the hell out of here." Saskia explained.

"Great, well I hope she's a fast ship, because this could get ugly," Gedion replied.

Saskia didn't bother responding, instead focusing all of her attention on navigating through the asteroid field with minimal thrusters. The darker they could run, the harder it would be to detect them.

After forty minutes or so, she slowed the DUR to a halt and shut down the thrusters again.

"Ok, we're here," she said, pushing the control stick away and leaning into the passive scanner. "Looks like we are alone too. Ready to suit up?" she inquired.

"But where is it? I don't see anything." Gedion replied, leaning forward and squinting into the darkness in front of him. A massive chunk of asteroid rotated slowly in front of them, many hundreds of times the size of the freelancer. But it was mostly dark and impossible to make out any details.

"Got it," she replied. She flipped another switch on the control console and the floodlights on the front of freelancer burst to life, washing the giant rock in light. In the middle of the light a sharp reflection returned: the polished surface of machined metal. "Come on, let's go."