My Tug accelerates away from the Hoel Lagrange point, flanked by my two large transports. I cut the acceleration and let my craft drift at a click a second out of range of the LDS interdiction field surrounding the L-point. The computer displays the latest prices on goods in the sector, looks like I'm in luck, I can get a 4 Kilocred profit off the mining equipment pods my freighters are hauling. I bring up the Rare Metals mine on my nav, set a way point and hail my trucks.

“You guys got the beacon?”

“Yeah,” say the captains in near unison. “*whistle* looks like a 5 hour haul.”

“Yup,” succinct as I always am, “fat profits though. Hundred Cred bonuses to all crew on this run. We'll take this load and bring a bunch of metal to Bedalov, Rare's higher there, and Com's cheaper.”

“Thanks boss.”

“Yeah, thanks. I've got your 6, ready for LDS drive.”

“Same here.”

“Slave to my you. LDS engaging.” The rising pitch of the generator compliment's the quick acceleration to LDS speeds, the field of energy pushes the ship into a pocket dimension devoid of inertia. The ship accelerates to .1c with the freighters in tow. I set the autopilot to AI control and go to the kitchen for some joe. I take my mug to the Obslounge and turn on the Fatline Radio. Smooth synth jazz comes over the speaker, a little Wynton Marsalis, a little Yang Stevens, a little ...? Who is that? I look over at the display, heh, Chopin, should have caught that one. I pick up a tablet and read my mail. Looks like a couple jobs are open over at Huang. We'll be up there in a couple days, shouldn't be a problem to get them. I go to my room and nap.

The AI wakes me up, beeping the 30 minutes to arrival sound. I get up, and go to my cockpit.

“How goes it guys?”

“All clear up here. Nice view of the system.”

“That's just because you're a hokie local, Boris,” I laugh, though I've got to admit it's nice out here on the outer Kuiper.

We get to the Rare Metals Mine and unload the cargo. I buy 40k worth of cargo and we chart our way back to Hoel. This time seeing the jewel of Alcuin enlarge as we approach the L-point.

“Boss, we got trouble.”

I jump out of my nodding off in the cockpit. We're an hour out and I see almost immediately what he means. There are a couple of ships behind us. Pirates. Tanakan Raiders by the markings.

“They won't be in LSDi range for until we get to within 200 klicks of the L-point. I'm deslaving you and setting your points to the L-point, get there and I'll hold them off.”

“Got you boss, don't get killed, we like our paychecks.”

“Don't start thinking of epitaphs yet. I've got that new equipment that we picked up at Leung Weapons, remember.”

“Heh, oh yeah. Poor pirates.”

I slow down faster than my already decelerating freighters as they approach the L-point and move to intercept the fighters. Little independent things, probably got a lot of disabler missiles and an old PBC and a load of short-range LDSi missiles. Assholes won't know what hit them. I see it just before it goes off, the LDSi explosion rends the space around my ship and theirs, a wave of visible green energy. My computer systems almost crash from the EMP, but the autorepair brings systems back online almost immediately. And that is precisely when I fire the Deadshot. I watch it scream into range of the fighters, hit my cockpit occlusion screen, unlock the safety and set off the nuke. One of the hardened cameras takes a reduced glare video of the explosion, easily dwarfing the previous LDSi. One of the fighters is gone. The other is vectoring off, hull strength on the brink of failure. I launch a Harrower and watch as it rushes to the fighter. The tiny craft explodes in a miniscule puff of red haze, fading quickly in the deep black.

I shunt my weapon energy to my autorepair gear and my capsule drive, then reach over to the comm to hail my trucks to let them know I'm OK. It's tougher out here every month in the Middle States, in these torn stars.

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