Diary of a Privateer
I lean back on my stool hardly needing to fain drunkenness. I have lost count of how many little red drinks I've consumed while the crew enjoyed various recreational activities in the above rooms. The conversation I am eavesdropping on appears to be between a small group of civvies - you know, all suits and fake smiles while thinking of you as nothing more than space scum - and a ship's captain. The captain they are dealing with is green - both metaphorically and in this case literally. Still, they come to some sort of agreement as drinks are finally being lifted and personal communicators being used.
It was not difficult to follow greenie back to his ship - a typical Halo Tramp Hauler. You see them often enough. A detailed scan rarely reveals anything other than metals. Honestly, no self-respecting pirate would bother with them. By the time you have boarded it, patched it, re-registered it to prevent the local police, also know cheerfully known as the Halo Execution Fleet from vapourising it first time you casually try to do a bit of trading with it.
Knowing that all efficiently managed cargo runs grind to a halt the minute they involve civvies and now with the details of the Tramp, I have time to wimble back to the bar, down a few more of the little red drinks (wonder what they are made from) and wait for the crew to finish whatever or whoever they were doing. Just a quick drop by the local pharmaceutical out-door and back to the ship - Bernie's Harlot - Privateer. Yeah, I know, shit name but I won her in a bet and I'm certain it pisses the previous owner off no end.
A few hours later and the crew, some rubbing arms where they have taken shots and few rubbing other parts more surreptitiously, have taken their stations and are firing up the engines. This is only to be a short flight, just beyond orbit.
It's more than two days later and all this time we have been sitting here with our asses hanging out. If we are the salmon to the Tramp's fly, then there are quite a few sharks in the surrounding waters.
What makes it more dangerous is that we have not been idle while just beyond the orbit. First of all we have put a blockade on the world and listed the Tramp as an enemy. This gives us a much better chance of spotting it leaving orbit. Next is the ingenious bit - I ordered the uninstalling of virtually all the missile launchers. Crazy eh? Like I said about ass hanging out. You see anybody can blow up a crappy Tramp Hauler - but there's little profit in this and all my hard work discovering it will be for nothing. No, you see the real art in privateering is to take the sugar lump, not the hand that feeds.
So here we sit and wait - the crew getting more nervy and continually monitoring the scan logs just to see if anything has picked us up and is even now passing our details on to a shark.
Suddenly the sensors ping (OK, so something a bit more technical happens, but you get the idea) as the image of a Tramp Hauler leaving orbit quickly resolves. The crew fly into action, the Tramp is slow and we engage, quickly cutting down the intervening distance. The lone missile launcher is readied and silence fills the bridge.
The still fuzzy image of the Tramp appears to split into two... the larger one, moving directly away from us after altering course, the second, smaller object coming in roughly our direction. Beyond all odds, it looks like the Tramp has suddenly accelerated and is gaining distance on us - there is no way we are going to catch her. But then, as you have no doubt surmised, that was never my intent!
As any captain knows, by booting something out of the back of a ship really fast, you give yourself a boost forwards. It's a simple application of good ol' third law of motion or as it is known in the trade 'Dump cargo and flee'.
I give the orders to reinstall the launchers and start picking up all that beautiful cargo.
Here's the thing - by letting him get away and making sure that my nervous crew was in no position to launch a full broadside, I ensure three things - first, that we don't blow up the Tramp and all the cargo inside and second, that greenie can go about his affairs counting his blessings he is not sucking vacuum. No doubt, given time he will be picking up another cargo load and with any luck we will be there to relieve him of it. Finally, but most importantly, so some cargo got dumped - no need to send in the Execution Fleet to deal with a pirate menace. Everyone's a winner - well, I am anyway, and that's my business.
Be seeing yah!