Interview With An Old Spacer

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by pariah (Jess Carver)

Author’s Note: Many of you might remember the Yachts and Privateers in the Dragon articles at but many may not, so see those for the space of the Rollo’s Revenge. If you are not familiar with these articles, they are treasure trove of adventure ideas, corrections for the rules and modules, and Knight Hawks scenarios. I hope you enjoy this article which was inspired by those articles.

As most of my regular readers will know by now, I am on a quest to prove that an old contention of mine is true. That contention is that there is at least one establishment in every system known as The Spacer’s Rest.

I was on the Ken-zah Kit, and I know I say this about every one of them, but, it was one of the most decrepit, rundown and fun holes I’d found yet. In the slums, near the Starport, sure enough there was the Spacer’s Rest.

I had been hearing of a legendary privateer named the “Rollo’s Revenge” for the last three planets. It seemed this legendary paragon of pirate busting was capable of simultaneously engaging three Sathar Heavy Cruisers, Breaking the record on the Dramune Run and making the perfect cup of Caff in the galley while letting you drink it without spilling a drop under full thrust and maneuvering. I had been searching for this paragon of non-government built pirate busting for the last 1000 hours,so I had introduced myself to the barkeeper, a large fellow that might even give Britmoll on Triad second thoughts about starting a brawl with this one, and he suggested that I might get a good story from an old wreck in the back at the corner booth.

Most non-spacers think that these dives are dangerous and a woman like myself is likely to be accosted at the least in a place like this one. Well, they are right about that, if they walk in looking like a walking Credit Chit and soft as Air Shrike down. I however look as tough as plasitsteel toothpicks with my camera bot looking more like a combat model, and a Rafflur on my hip. Also lots of spacers (Never call them Knight Hawks to their faces, you might not live to wonder what you did wrong) know me by reputation and usually sort out the rougher types for me.

I approached his table with a full unopened bottle of New Pale Bourbon. Known by the Bartender to be my quarry’s favorite. (Also never offer anyone something already poured, they will suspect drugs or poison.) After hundreds if not thousands of false leads, I was face to face with a grizzled, white haired Knight Hawk named Donnal Starkiller. His one good, bloodshot eye was distracting to say the least. His thick white beard was split along this left jawline where there was a long scar upon which no hair grew.

“Well, you want ta know ‘bout th’ ‘Venge do ya?” he asked in a rumbling gravelly voice after formalities were over. I nodded in trepidation, unable to sto[p my eyes from traveling back to his rheumy, opaque bad eye.

“Well, missy, ta tell ya ‘bout th’ Venge, ya gotta know the story of the Pride first. Catch? See, the Pride(Rollo’s Pride for those readers who do not know) was well named. He closed his bad eye and thought for several seconds.

He says, “See there ain’t always been a ‘Venge’, Rollo captained a rebuilt Destroyer he salvaged hisself! Rollo had more pride in his ship than wuz good fer her or her crew. Well, see there’s lots a spacers whut believes that the ship’s name has as much ta do with how she ends up as anythin’ ifn not more. Well, some figgers that ta put pride in a ship’s name, means she’s gonna finish up on th’ rough side, but they wudnt tell’n Rollo thet! No siree! Crystal? Shinny!”

As you might be able to guess, he was very hard to follow. I mostly just nodded, and kept pouring.

“See it wuz like this. Rollo wuz a pirate buster even back then. We’d move around a lot cuz’n most systems, , after we got rid o’ them pirates, the governments don’t take much o’ a shine ta our kind hangin’ around. Catch? Good. We had been hired by the Theseus Gov’t ta rid them o’ a bad batch o Pirates. They wuz a way oput past the Jovians and “Taxin’” everythin’ whut come inta er out o’ the system. They couldn’t stop ‘em an’ the UPF wuz as usefull as paps on a bull Roller. HEE Haw!” He degenerated into a two or three minute fit of coughing here and I was beginning to worry about his life, his face had turned crimson then magenta, when suddenly he stopped, drained the half liter glass in front of him and waved it for more bourbon. I hailed the barkeep and bought the third bottle that day, but not the last one!

See, them pirates wus as thick as a nest o’ Rasties on a Loper corpse in a Volturnian cave! They wuz! They had frigates an’ Corvettes and lots o’ ordinence in them asteroids they were holdin’ up in. Laser cannon, rocket batteries, ever’thin ya can imagine! And here we wuz, one Destroyer,all by ourselves, mostly. We had one Fed Frigate with us, cuz the UPF was spread as thin as one patch spread over two holes in a spacesuit.

Well, Rollo figgred out how ta even thing up a might afore they knowed whut wuz a happenin’. See, Rollo knowed of a system that weren’t mapped. Nobody else knowed of it. We came in behind their radar and we came around the star there, in a long swing around orbit, we cut the drives 5 AU’s away and coasted in ….. From above the ecliptic! Cut the drives, everythin’ ceptin’ the life support. No signatures, Crystal? Golden! Them pirates never looked fer that, I’ll tell ya! Coasted in at Damn near .2C it was! We wuz 20K clicks away before they saw us a commin. We blasted through and caught the pirates a nappin we did! Catch? Shinny! Again he had a coughing fit brought on by cackling laughter. Again he drained a ½ liter glass of Bourbon and wanted more.

“So, we caught ‘em a nappin’. They had t Frigates tied up ta th’ asteroids and we blasted them where they set. Crippled ‘em afore they could do anything back “But, we still had 2 Corvettes and all the guns ta deal with. The asteroids all around cut loose on us and we only survived cuz the Feds caught th worst of it. Blew in two seconds. Most o’ the rockets they fired at us went up in that blast, or we’d a’ been goners too.We cut in the drives. And went to full throttle and evasive. Rollo sure knew how ta deal with them pirates, he did. Them Corvettes was already patrolin’, and as we came around fer a second pass, they cut across our path and caught us from astern. Lost 2 guns and some o’ th’ best gunners I ever served with then. Better’n even in th’ UPF Navy!

We lost our drives too! One of ‘em was so skragged we had ta eject her before she blew and took us with her! Rollo shut down th’ other ta maintenance levels. We had ta hustle inta Damage control drills, or we might a’ been fragged then an’ ther. But Rollo had a surprise up his sleeve he did. He had a gadget that wuz almost an ion engine itself. He could generate one window with it, then its fuel wuz gone. Catch? Shinny!

“So them Corvettes lost us and we shut down everythin’ again! They couldn’t even track us on energy sensors. Needed to ta fix the drive anyway.

The two Corvettes came at us from opposite directions and had fifing solutions already calculated. Well, most folks would think that meant they had us, but nosiree, that Rollo sure knoewd how ta deal with pirates, I done tol’ ya that! He turned right towards the one ta starboard and full throttled right at it! Them uglies had us right where Rollo wanted ‘em! Ya see, Rollo’d been there before and he knew just exactly whut ta do. By turnin, inta them, he messed up their aiming computers. They had counted on us a bein’ sommer’s else’n whur we wuz, Catch? Golden. Ya see Rollo waited until exactly the right second, and let me tell you, everybody on th’ bridge thought that second had come and long gone. At the right second, Rollo flipped us 90 degrees ta starboard and fired up the drive. We squirted out o’ the way like a greased Slither. Then when they both fired, them stupid Flitters, they took each other out, two great big fire balls a travelin’ at about 70K clicks and a blowed ta EM CEE squared!

But, them Frigates weren’t as out of the fight as we had figured, one of em had launched and wuz now on us. So here we wuz, blacked out, one gun left an two Frigates a trackin’ us. We musta’ been leaking some kinda energy cuz one o’ them buzzards turned right for us. Well, some’ll tell ya this is a space story, But I seed it muhself that day! Anybody, oughta know that nobody can hit something a movin thousands o clicks a second out at 30K cklcks without any radar or computers or anythin’ but I seed it muhself! Rollo unstrapped hisself from his command chair and flung hisself down the length o’ the Pride and made Ratchett Bill, our laser battery gunner git out o’ his mount and in Roll climbed!. He used th’ hand crank and fiddled with th’ aimers. Set real still for ‘bout two ta three minutes, then all a’ sudden he stabbed that firing stud. Everybody was so tense by then that when the flash o’ light lit up the cabin, we all jumped an’ hollered like we’d a’ been goosed with a Cybodragon tentacle! But sure enough, 3 seconds later, Whammo! That Frigate blew ta Sathar space! Again he collapsed into one of his laughing, coughing fits and I was ready this time I handed him my own untouched glass which he promptly drained.

When he had recovered, he said, “Well little lady, we spent so much time and effort a watchin’ that FF, the other’un a sneaked up on us an’ buggered us good, we just had got the drives back on line when Blewey! We was holed through the midships! Av RB ( Rocket Battery) had scored on us. We lost a good many o our good friends that time let me tell ya.”

He was silent for several seconds, violent emotions playing on his face. I thought this grizzled ols spacer might cry in front of me. Out of respect, I pretended to be interested in a Dralasite pummeling a Yazarian over a lost bet at the bar until he recovered his composure and dignity. He nodded silent thanks, more acknowledgement than I had expected!

“So, here we wuz, no drives, one gun, and a live Frigate , even ifn it was damaged and one o’ them cobbled together pirate rigs anyway, up our bums!. Rollo’d already figured out what ta do tho! Yessiree! We wuz a flying out of the system at atleast 50K cliks a second and the FF wuz a chasing us. Well, the Pride still had some suprises in her. Rollo had removed the front half of a torpedo, welded her on ta the bow, nozzle a facin’ fore. A lot o crew always wondered what that was for. He triggered that rigged up retro rocket and cut our speed by half at least. That second AS whizzed past, firing AR’s where she thought we’d be, but weren’t now!” He laughed again, but curiously didn’t cough.

“As she sailed past not 500 yards off, Rollo let her have it twice with his laser battery. She went off like the Auroras on Morgaines! Started ta tumble an’ pitch, dead in space they wuz!

“Now the base hadn’t been silent all this time, no way! They had been a shootin’ everything they had on em, but when they seen the last of ‘em go, every Pirate in them asteroids lit out in anything that’d move, work pods, life boats, shuttles, what ever they could get and they lit out, let me tell you what.

“The pride wuz finished, the ejected drive had blowed, and the other was so fried that if’n we’d a fired her up ta full, she’d a’ gone off too! But ol’ Rollo, he don’t never know how ta quit. He rigged the work pods to the ship’s launch, got some volunteers in suits, strapped them ta the outside and chased down the parts of ever thin’ we’d blasted. Every one o them ships wuz holed and scortched, but we found enough parts ‘n pieces ta piece something together.Ol’ Rollo got one whizbanger o’ an idea then.

“Have you ever seen the ‘Venge, little lady? No? Here” He pulled out a holo of the strangest looking starship I’ve ever seen. “Nice,” I said.

“You ain’t kidding little lady. The nicest homebrewed pirate buster in the Frontier!

“Well, we had whut wuz left O the Pride, the Fed Frigate, one o’ the Pirate Frigates, almost all o’ one o’ the Corvettes, and the empty station to work with! Did you know one of them Corvettes wuz one of them first Assault Scouts? One of them with the decks built in the wrong directions, with all of the crew’s seats like fighter pilot’s seats? Had a great big bubble on top, looks like a huge fighter it did, well, that’s the front end of the ‘Venge right there. He indicated the forward section of the craft in the holo, and indeed, it made sense that this was originally a separate ship.

He took our one good drive left, fixed up now, of course, and mounted her in the tail of the least banged up pirate Frigate! That’s where they kept their own any way. He then took parts of the other Frigate’s hull and made engine struts and nacelles, mounted the Corvettes’ drives on them, and hollowed out the Corvette, where he’d took out her drives, with a little cutting an’ welding, the two ships became one! He mounted her at the front of the Frigate and put his con up in that bubble, just like a fighter. He mounted a Laser Cannon from one of the Asteroids and a Torpedo launcher from the Frigate in the Corvette! We mounted the Pride’s last LB and two electron Beam Batteries and an Electron Beam Battery we’d took from some of them rocks that had been firing at us on the hull too! “Well, that’s how the “Venge came inta being. She’s the toughest, best armed class 10 outside the Fleet, and better’n some there too!

We talked some more, and discussed some of the finer points of the engagement, he was impress at how much I understood of such matters, and were nearly ready to part company. But I made a fatal mistake at the end. I asked him if having the word Revenge in the name of a ship was not as bad, if not worse than, having Pride in a ship’s name.

“Teats on a Sea Shrike, woman! No ya stupid Ground Hog!” He stormed off, but did not neglect to collect what was left of the Inner Reach Rum as he left with a noticeable lurch in his step. Apparently, logging nearly 100,000 hours in space liners didn’t confer the title of spacer on me as far as he was concerned.

Wishing you, my readers ten light years of fortune
-- Darleene McCoy (No Relation!)