This is a Sidewinder.

Why am I in a Sidewinder?

I mean is it mine? If it’s mine, what happened to my Courier? This is… It looks like…

Yeah. This is an insurance boat. This is a payout. Look, it’s even got the “Compliments of the Pilot’s Federation Insurance Division: Our Commiserations on Losing Your Ship” leaflet. “Please enjoy a new life of space travel and adventure in this brand-new Delacy Sidewinder. This ship may not look like much, but don’t be fooled: she’s got it where it counts. From her high-power twin…” bleah I’m too familiar with this damn leaflet. It’s not, I admit, the first time I’ve seen one.

I just don’t get what happened. One minute I’m doing something, probably, I assume, in my Courier – a nice shiny ship from Gutamaya with blue trim lighting – and the next thing I know I’m waking up on the floor of the cockpit of a Sidey with that new-fake-leather-interior smell clogging up the atmosphere.

Clearly I got done over.

But I don’t remember getting done over. Leastways, not since the last time I got done over; but that wasn’t this time.

It’s a mystery. One of those that ranks, probably, amongst the most mysterious in human experience. Are UFOs real? Is there life after death? Was the Bermuda Triangle an actual spooky portal to a parallel dimension? Do aliens exist?

I mean obviously yes, on that last one; they do. And we know they do because they keep turning up and trying to blow up our space stations, so that’s not a great example of a persistent mystery, I guess, but I gather it was pretty foxing before the Thargoids showed up.

But more importantly than that, where the hell is my damn Courier? I liked that Courier. Did I mention it was shiny? With blue trim lighting? Not the kind of ship I’m going to give up without a serious fight.

What’s that? Wait, there’s something else up there, pinned to the console. What is that?

It’s a ticket.

It’s a fixed penalty ticket.

From the Federal Security Service, the Partnership of Hu Jung which, I can only assume, is where I am. I’m damn sure I wasn’t anywhere that sounded like that last thing I knew.


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