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Elite: Dangerous: Horizons - Guardians
Score: 90%
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Developer: Frontier Developments
Media: Download/1
Players: MMO
Genre: Flight/Simulation/Online

Passenger Lounge: Belyayev Gateway 5:04:27 19 DEC 3302:

Tipping my hat to the last of the two parties small enough for me to have even offered my services and smiling a weak smile that probably came off a bit more as weary than congenial, I left the Passenger Lounge through the same door I had entered and headed back to my ship. My gait was slow, but not defeated; I was merely going to while away some time and then check the Passenger Lounge again. Perhaps I'll get my Sidewinder a new coat of paint. I frowned. Perhaps my chauffeur's hat could use a laundering, at that.

I arrived back at my bay, rubbed a small carbon deposit from the doorway with my sleeve, then took a step back to attempt to view my Sidewinder as others might see it. Standard issue Sidewinder. Factory paint. The only thing that might draw any attention to it is that her hardpoints have mismatched armaments. That wouldn't raise anyone's opinion of her, granted, but if the weapons are drawn, several things have already gone wrong. The Sun Dancer isn't built to fight. She was originally outfitted to be an exploration ship, with a fuel scoop to refuel in extremely convenient ways and a second fuel tank, to avoid stopping for fuel until another extremely convenient opportunity presented itself.

In addition to deep space exploration, the Sun Dancer had done her fair share of data running. Data jobs can be taken on by the fistfulls, which is much more profitable in such a small ship than trying to transport cargo. Bah. Cargo. The mere thought put a bad taste in my mouth, as I was reminded of a recent experience with a certain "Criminal Mastermind" who had "graciously" included cargo as part of his payment. This required me to install two cargo bays before I could even complete the job, which, in turn, required me to remove her astronomical sensor array and fuel scoop. Then, there wasn't even a Commodities Market at the podunk planet the guy had selected as a destination, so I had to head off to the nearest station just to sell the stuff.

I chuckled to myself... That was the first time I ever bookmarked a location so that I wouldn't go back to it. Hell, I even shelled out the credits to have Dancer's stored modules delivered to the station, rather than take her back to that hellhole. Feck. It was a couple hundred credits, but it would have taken her just as long to make it back to the planet's surface, anyway. Five minutes. I had used that time to check the Passenger Lounge for any interesting fares. If I remember correctly, I'd washed out that day, as well. Ah, well. Order up that touch up paint and it should be time to check the Passenger Lounge again...

Passenger Lounge: Belyayev Gateway 5:15:17 19 DEC 3302:

I paused at the door, straightened my hat and tried on my most confident smile. It didn't fit very well, but here goes everything. Opening the door firmly, I scanned the room, looking for that one individual or couple that appeared to be looking forward to an adventurous tour of the universe. Perhaps a couple who could afford a trip on an Orca or Beluga for their wedding, but were hoping for a much more intimate honeymoon voyage. Hey - I'm just the pilot. I don't pry. Or judge.

No? Okay... maybe a research type, with, perhaps, one assistant. That guy over there looks like a scientist, but he's got way too many people with him. Hmm... Oh. Oh, great. Tall, lanky guy with one hazed-over eye and the excessive facial tattoos at one o'clock. Is he? Yes, he's definitely trying to get my attention. Looks like today they answer is "C" - Criminal Mastermind.

Well, I might as well play the part. I slowly look side to side then nod almost imperceptibly and stroll over. I give him the spiel and listen to his itinerary. I verify the route is doable and hash out the details. It's a somewhat lengthy trip, but the pay isn't bad: just over 300k. Should be a piece of cake. It won't be, of course, but it should be. (Sigh.)

All I have to do is avoid getting scanned and get in and out. Take the trip one leg at a time and it should be easy-peasy. Unless, of course, the planet's Visitor Beacon we're looking for has crashed into the surface of the planet (I still can't believe my luck on that one)... or the Criminal Mastermind wants me to take a side trip to a liquor store mid-flight to pick up a couple of tons of wine. I can't imagine the drinking problem that guy must have... nor can I understand why he would begin to think I had a passenger cabin and cargo holds in a Sidewinder. I tell each and every potential fare, "She's built to get you (and your closest friend) there without attracting a lot of attention to yourself. No one's going to be looking for passengers system-hopping in a Sidewinder. I don't offer luxury, I offer discretion... and flexibility. Want to add a stop? No problem. I'm your driver. Just ring me up and we're off." But cargo? Not on the Sun Dancer. Not her style.

I feel deep in my jacket pocket and come up short. Crap. I'm out of antacids. I'll have to duck into the Crew Lounge on my way back to the ship and see if I can bum some off of one of the fighter pilots. For some reason, they always have some.

Sun Dancer: Bay 06: Belyayev Gateway 5:21:03 19 DEC 3302:

The wait's over, I know. I've got my fare, but I've got an entire Earth day to complete the trip and since the 'Dancer can refuel quickly en route, deadlines aren't typically the issue. No, I can take some time and let my "honorable guests" strap themselves in and get comfortable. I would normally use this time to check for any last minute data running jobs that aren't going to add any unwanted heat, but since I'm already carrying an illegal passenger, I won't have the option of making any stops to take care of some personal errands. I can, however, do my planetary scans every time I arrive in a new system. That can bring in some additional credits. Not a lot, but it's icing on the cake if the fare goes well and a minor bit of compensation if it doesn't.

Bah. It's not easy to make it as a Charter ship with a Sidewinder. I realize that. No one said it would be easy; I only argued it was possible. I guess it's true what they say, though, "You can throw a bride and groom in a Sidewinder, but it doesn't make it a Wedding Barge." I realize that, but I have zero interest in piloting a huge, bloated whale of a ship. I like them fast and small. Something that can run away from a fight.

[Captain's Log] LHS 2123: 6:31:48 19 DEC 3302:

Scanned and attacked. Again. Tall, dark and fearsome doesn't mind the attack - hell, I think he actually enjoyed that part - but, when the Authorities showed up and scanned everybody, he was more than a little peeved. Now, I'm just looking for the nearest station to drop him off. Looks like I won't be getting paid, again. He can sit there and rot, for all I care. It's a good thing I'm scanning systems as I pass through...

Sometimes a man gets tired of running. You pick on a coward long enough and he may decide to turn and fight. I'm not stupid, though. I'm not going to take the world on, all by my lonesome and in a Sidewinder. I'm working on saving up the scrip to buy a ship with fighter bay capabilities, but the cheapest one is a Keelback, but that's 3 Million credits... and I've not heard rave reviews about her, anyway, so I'm looking at something even more expensive. And then, you've got to hire some remote fighter pilots in the Crew Lounge to help you control the extra ships. But the look on pirates' faces when they interdict one ship and find themselves with five to contend with. That might be worth it. Which one, though? That's a tough decision. The only ships I know of, besides the frumpy Keelback and the whale-esque Beluga are the Anaconda, the Type 9, an Imperial Cutter and a couple of Federal ships... the Corvette and the Gunship. But me, at the helm of a Federal ship? Haha. I can't imagine that. Then again, who knows? Stranger things could happen.

Until then, though, I'll keep 'Dancing through the 'verse and sharing its wonders with my small, intimate clientele. What tha!? He just punched out. That scruffy-lookin' nerfherder got tired of waiting on the next station and actually used the nerfin' emergency evacuation gear to jump ship. Not only am I not getting paid, it's gonna cost me 200 credits to fix my Passenger Cabin, now.

I need a vacation. Maybe I'll take some time off, kick back and play some of the new sims they've got. I hear they have a Tutorial Simulation now with a Keelback with a launchable fighter. It couldn't hurt to get a bit of fighter flight time and see if I really want to make that kind of investment. Yeah. That might be nice, indeed.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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