The former captain of alecs newest used ship was in good spirits and happy at the trade-in price he had got as he browsed Alec’s inventories of ships, shopping for a new smuggling ship. This was something that happened here now and again. Without those ships his hallways would be empty and the cradling repair docks would lie bare. The “clients” all adhered to an unwritten rule “no cargo unless it’s incoming cargo” and several smugglers had had to surrender valuable cargoes over the years for trying to sling hot goods on alec’s cold decks.
The nearby sun was an orbiting parking lot of used ships. They represented almost every make and model of space worthy boat, ship, skiff and scow ever made, a few were unique in the fact that no one actually knew anything about who, what or even why some of these ships were made but they had all come under Alec’s ownership because of Angel and when they were alone she referred to them as “Alec’s retirement fund”. Alec had full legal control over what happened to those ships.
Captain Sloobee was well known out here as a very knowledgeable captain. He was sitting in a lounge with his crew. Surrounded by there personal effects and anything else they had salvaged from the piles of gear that had got chucked out of there old ship, as the fastest overhaul they had ever even heard of happened right before there very eyes.
The captain had been very impressed with Alec for years and now days he trusted his drives to no one else. He was a very loyal customer. And when he started scrolling through all the ships that could replace his small ship, he got the “special” price. He carefully considered each for its merits and faults, he sat with his crew and slowly shopped in what had become known locally as the “Candy Store Nebula” there were oohs and aahs from the crew as the captain viewed the huge transport ship “Jak in the box” that Jak Jak had brought with him from his home galaxy. The comments made Alec realize the that he had meet them all in the past, but time had changed them as it does to all fleshys and as he rescaned there faces he realized that they had all walked his halls on leave from many different ships in the years since he had reopened for business the fact that not a single one had got in trouble in that time was impressive. His laws were strict. But to see them all united under one captain gave Alec an idea that was reinforced by the forlorn longing that crossed all the crewmembers faces, as the dream of a ligit life, and a real home haunted their faces. They looked upon the repaired ship Jak Jak had flown from the kayleem galaxy, as if it were the most beautiful thing, they had ever seen.
“Sorry That ship is not really for sale” the captain went to the next ad with a sad sigh. His face and those of his whole crew stared at a long-term crew contract superimposed over the advert for Jak Jak’s boat the largest and by far the fastest privately own spaceship out here. The captains ocular sensors fogged over and the crew started giving congratulations to each other on there good fortune on getting the milk run to central planets.
Alec was always working these days not anything like what he was designed for but at least it kept the lights lit and this deal just might get the interest of mainstream investors looking to expand along the hard won safe corridor that was Angel’s pride and joy.
The traffic in and out of the station was tightly controlled for safety and security. All the ships moved in and out as Alec dictated without question under pain of death. Only the outsiders and brainships plotted there own courses in his space but only after all vessels had checked in as secure and hard docked.
The outsiders always used the navigational “pinger” to act as a safety and guild, that generally gave him plenty of time to shuffle the ships in or out as needed to clear the safety zone he maintained around himself.
The outsiders were reclusive to say the least but the alpha carrage was capable of scrubbing the ships they used, from harmful radiation build ups they acquired in very deep space between galaxies.
Years ago in a stroke of genius Angel had sub-let the alpha carrage to the one Outsiders ship she knew and simply told them to pay for the services as they felt was fair. The first ship to show up from beyond the rim of the galaxy had explained the pinger. They had been so hot that he had had to evacuate the station and send the crew to the candy store shipyard for a week. That kind of scrubbing service was handled entirely by the Outsiders crew.
Alec’s ability to function had became compromised by the long band exotic radiations. The safetys had failed and he had not went into emergency shutdown. This was a not suppose to happen but because some shielding failed and the main interface cooked that routed input and output, the outsiders had been forced to overhaul his main shielding and core interlinking nodes of communication in order to save his sanity. For three eternally long hours he had screamed alone in the silent darkness as they struggled to reconnect him in time to save him. Only his internal clocks steady progression had saved him.
Central planets had got the credit account it so desired, but only because Alec had agreed to co-sign it. After the first year he was rich , so rich that he could afford to acquire things and so he did. That was why he always had enough functional ships to evacuate the entire crew plus there families to the core systems if need be.
The pinger rang, long and low, and he asked an Outsiders ship sucking protons around the blue dwarf he used for a parking lot who was inbound. The answer “unknown” focused his attention quickly and he asked again to confirm.
The events of the past few days had stripped most of the senior personal from the station. With the comet strike on Mugtoe 5, and the civil war on the Futtaff homeworld was getting real ugly, then some Article 28 thing had came up and now the Outsiders didn’t know who was ringing “there” own pinger.
Oh hell no.
‘Fuck that’ Alec said to himself as he lit the claxons and sirens howled all over the station for general quarters. He had just picked up remote signs of battle in outlying rim colonies.
The tone and pitch of a pingers ring was used to indicate time and distance. That much he knew. How exactly they knew who was coming was not something the outsiders had felt like sharing. But Alec also knew for a fact that they relied on the pinger for safety and it usually provided them with an I.d. of origin.
Two of the largest outsider ships that were part of the loose fleet that was renting the cradle this month suddenly jumped in with there guns so hot the accumulated energy glowed up and down the spectrum in a fully visible threat display that had Alec nervous as to how serious they considered this to be. Then ten more outsider ships suddenly appeared in a large halo around him, in a defensive formation, each with different unique weapons of massive destruction hot and ready.
They were very serious.
The call for general quarters suddenly changed to Alec screaming for battle stations in every ear and eye onboard as the messages from Angel got dumped into his buffer from an outsider ship that had suddenly appeared without using the pinger. This was compounded by two emergency bouys screaming through the system on a bee line for central planets. The speed and route they traveled had “Jak Jak” written all over them and the fact this spacestation was a useless waypoint added for no reason was all the confirmation he needed.
He sent pleas for aid to everyone on his contact list. The emergency alert bouys screamed out of there ports. Ships that were not able to move under there own power were shoved off with tractor beams. A truly absurd number of gun ports opened to display a laundry list of different guns to augment the guns that could not be hidden. His outside hull was just a facade to disguise the stupid amount of armament that he maintained for defense this far out on the rim. But the fact he had in possession a working version of hundreds of different guns ment he was the only place out here to obtain parts no matter who you were.
He contacted all the ships in the candy store that had a remote cold starters and fired them bitchs up. Fireballs replaced the ships that had failed to make emergency remote startup but the wide dispersal of the ships made a cascade impossible. There were no crews on these ships and many had to abort as problems arose and the lack of crew could not be overcome.
The ships suddenly punched to full throttle on autopilot, those with jumpdrives folded over and joined the halo and Alec split the fleet into smaller fleets and assigned control of them directly to the individual outsider ships then he created a chart that would cycle the ad-hoc drone ships to his airlocks to pick up engineers on the fly to handle maintenance. Alec had only one truly battle trained solder left and that hard-core fucking crazy ass evil cunt of cold desolation was hidden in his mainframe nursing a cask of single-malt whiskey as his last line of defense.
The huge intergalactic ship “Jak in the box” was at airlock one evacuating families and sensitive projects. Beings were running though the airlock at full speed and not stopping until they hit the back of the being that was running before them.
Jak Jak had locked down the galactic drive but she was still in a class of her own. She was still the fastest ship out here even without the big motors. But her intergalactic grade shielding was almost perfect and her life support system would support standing room only.