Ensign Yooch was in a grumpy mood. Some recent IRL (interstellar relativistic logistics) training had left him jet-lagged and out-of-sync with his regular schedule. Judging from the memos he found, he had slept straight through some exciting activity outside the barracks. Apparently his corp-mates had spotted some old friends from End-Of-Line during a routine recon mission, but were unable to contact them before the wormhole separating them collapsed unpredictably. Such is life.
Now, as they slept, Yooch was wide awake. He took to the normal tasks of life in deep space, visiting his production plants and adjusting the extractor units. Realizing that his stockpile of goods was getting rather large, he decided to look for a safe route to take them to market. This would require quite a bit of scanning. Hopping in his trusty Grand Theft Heron, Yooch accessed the coordinates of a wormhole scanned down by Yenom earlier in the day and warped to it. Entering the portal, he found himself in a deserted system orbiting a black hole. The trouble with wormholes is that you never know where they will take you. Clearly there was no market here, so Yooch dropped his probes and started scanning for another portal.
Finding one, he warped to it and jumped through into a larger solar system. Following corporate protocol, he named the system C5A and saved the coordinates of the wormhole. Unfortunately there was not a market here either, or a living soul for that matter. Sometimes it took many risky trips through an entire chain of wormholes to find your way back to known space.
Lacking the ability to warp while cloaked, Yooch settled for parking his ship near the portal and cloaking up while he scanned for yet another wormhole. As he searched, he made sure to monitor his on-board directional scanner as well to keep an eye out for hostile ships in the system. Finally locating another wormhole, he checked d-scan one last time and warped to the entrance of the portal to C5B.
After initiating warp Yooch leaned back lazily, watching the strange optical illusion created by travelling at light-speed through the windshield. A sudden beeping caught his attention and he snapped upright. The directional scanner was flashing! A signature had been detected in the vicinity. The computer resolved the signature and determined it fit the description of a Loki hull, just as his ship began to slow to sub-light speeds.
Yooch cursed his incompetence and began flipping switches like mad, trying to pull the ship out of warp. He should have scouted the wormhole before warping straight to it like a total Minnie! Unfortunately, the calculations required for light-speed travel mandate specific coordinates, and the ship refused to stop. It pelted forwards towards the wormhole where the Loki waited like a spider in a web, pulling abruptly to a stop at 8 km from the wormhole.
Apparently the Loki pilot was as surprised as Yooch had been, because he didn’t respond for a moment. Then the first volley ripped through the shields of Grand Theft Heron, threatening to destroy the ship in seconds. Yooch put the ship in full throttle, burning straight toward the wormhole. Without even stopping to save the coordinates of the portal entrance he jumped into oblivion, knowing the Loki would be hot on his tailpipe.
Reaching the end of the tunnel, he immediately instructed the ship’s computer to warp to a random planet, and then another, to throw off the pursuing Loki. Finding himself safe for the time being, he cloaked up and began to scan the system. Perhaps he could find an alternate way to escape, without having to pass the Loki. Directional scan showed a mass of other ships in the system. It was clearly occupied. Why didn’t he just scout the hole? And why had he jumped through into their base of operations? He was so careless.
Finding two new wormholes, he saved their locations before warping back to wormhole he had entered through, close enough to see its defenses without getting caught. A Stiletto was orbiting the hole. Seeing a tasty exploration frigate, it started burning toward his ship. FAST. There was no way he could get past that. Especially with that Loki nearby. He made a split decision and warped to one of the other wormholes, racing away from the pursuant combat probes sent out by an unknown enemy.
Jumping through, he finally found himself in known space, in a low-security system. There would be no help from CONCORD here if he was followed. Since the powerful ship sensor mounted in the system was already broadcasting his presence, he warped to a planet and cloaked up, hoping to lay low while he pursued the star map to determine his location. No such luck. A pirate by the name of Julian Leclerc immediately hailed him. Knowing full well that capsuleers living in these parts couldn’t be trusted, Yooch asked the computer to respond to the transmission with a happy face emoticon while he ran a background check on the unknown pilot.
It turned out Julian was a member of The Condemned and Convicted, a mercenary group known for doing the dirty work of other groups. Perhaps he would see reason. After all, Yooch was of little threat in his scanning ship. He didn’t even have weapons mounted! So he followed up his initial broadcast with an explanation that he had become lost, figuring that it was obvious from context anyway. Julian of course, responded in the usual pirate way, stating that he could give valuable instructions in exchange for currency.
Yooch considered this for a bit. It wasn’t like he needed instructions. He had a star map. Also, it was clearly a joke. Everyone knows that pirate ransoms are quite hefty. His wallet was not going to cut it. Upon reflection though, he started to feel a bit bad for the man. Perhaps he was just misunderstood. Maybe he had resorted to a life of crime in order to support his family. With a little help, just maybe he could have been a noble space explorer as well. What the heck, he thought, as he wired the man ten million interstellar kredits.
Julian must of been surprised at that. He actually made a small effort at providing instructions to a market hub, though it was information Yooch was already well aware of. Just to keep him talking while he waited for things to die down through the wormhole, Yooch elaborated a bit on his situation. The pirate seemed to be genuinely interested in his narrow escape. It must get lonely out in these outer systems with no one to talk to.
Deciding to try his luck at returning home, Yooch re-entered the wormhole after promising to cable the results back to his new friend. The other side of the portal was clear – a very good sign. Returning to the wormhole where he had first encountered the Loki, he cloaked up and surveyed the scene via directional scan. It appeared to be clear of any hostiles. Crossing his fingers, he warped to the hole and jumped through. Unable to restrain himself, he sent out an unencrypted message to anyone that might be in the system just before jumping:
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee said the little piggy all the way home!
Hurtling through nothing, he suddenly arrived on the other side. Before he had a chance to shake his head and clear the haze, a huge thump shook his ship and threw him from his seat. He had collided with that cursed Stilleto! What were the chances of that anyway? Scrambling upright he desperately tried to cloak his ship, but it was too late. The Stiletto had a lock on Grand Theft Heron and was already applying hefty damage to it’s shields. An alarm sounded as the warp-drive operator was neutralized. Seeing no other option, Yooch forced the ship around and back into the wormhole, praying to Bob that he would be able to escape the Stiletto when he emerged in the hostile system.
He was. Just barely. Bouncing from planet to planet as he collected his thoughts, Yooch evaded the combat probes hot on his tail and finally cloaked up. Having already blown his cover, he broadcasted a message stating that he just wanted to go home. He received a rude reply from Lucky Pasta of Grumpy Bastards which mocked him and his scanning ship. Apparently, shooting down a Heron would be an embarrassment for them, the filthy elitists. Unwilling to put up with this kind of abuse, Yooch let them know his ship was made of solid gold. He finally gave up any faith in their intellect when Lucky described which part of himself was made of solid gold.
Growing tired of the less-than-stimulating conversation, Ensign Yooch set a warp for the wormhole which would take him back to the low security system. As he emerged from the wormhole, he realized he was being followed. A Sabre had jumped through with him! Yooch immediately warped away from the hole and contacted Julian to alert him to the hostiles in the system.
Julian was eager to teach them a lesson, and Yooch was feeling a bit less noble after so much harassment. Teaming up with the pirate mercenaries, Yooch warped back to the wormhole at range to try and instigate a fight. It turned out that Grumpy Bastards had changed their mind about the value of a Heron. Waiting for him at the hole was a Sabre, Stiletto, Loki, and Harbinger. Little did they know that Yooch had backup, in the form of Julian in a Rapier and two Tornado pilots from his corporation.
It seemed they had no interest in a fair fight. Catching sight of the twin Tornados, they burned back to the wormhole and disappeared through the portal. Yooch joined his new friends for a beer at the station as they laughed about the antics of the little girls from Grumpy Bastards. These pirates were actually pretty cool guys, except of course P220. What a tool. Yooch thanked them for their help before leaving for Hek. Reaching it, he shouted the obligatory “Tonight we dine in Hek!” out of respect for Trigoth before docking his pod to the sleep bay and calling it a day.