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3 Departure

 Ivan followed Mazur through the overcrowded slums. Yellow lights flickered along the high ceiling and decrepit storefronts covered in rust lined the passageways. Humans of all kinds of specie loitered about smoking cigarettes that gave off blue smoke while others argued and fought over good food or drugs.

This place was an old space station within the Delta Quadrant of the Andromeda Galaxy. It orbited an old red dwarf star that neither the federation nor any large companies had any interest in harvesting for energy. As such it easily became a lawless zone without any of the Galactic Fleet patrolling or spending resources to monitor.

"So, what is the mission you need me for?" Ivan asked Mazur.

Mazur briefly glanced at him once over his shoulder before explaining, "Our mission is a poaching job. Symbion Orions are an endangered species indigenous to Oberon II. Their brains have a unique pituitary gland which secretes a small amount of a mutated IR-44 hormone. It has a unique property which causes it to strengthen the chromosomic strings and in turn restore a person's genetic coefficient. Naturally, I need it for personal usage to extend my life."

"Why wait till now? Shouldn't you have gone earlier?"

"If I could have, I would have," Mazur spoke with a dry sarcasm as if to ridicule Ivan's lack of knowledge. "That planet is listed as a national reserve and is under the full protection of the Galactic Fleet. It's usually strictly monitored and patrolled, else the Symbion Orion would already be extinct. However, this decennial election a greenhorn has been voted into the seat of Andromeda Federation Prime Minister."

"How does that work?" Ivan asked curiously, unsure why some inexperienced person elected for prime minister of the federation would give Mazur an opportunity to raid a national reserve.

"The federation has very strict regulations against piracy and those who do illegal acts yet have very soft actions. They don't want to eliminate us as it gives them an excuse to not reduce tax rates from the people. As long as a pirate doesn't go too far, they won't pursue you endlessly. However, things quiet down every decennial election as quite a few politicians like to use anti-piracy propaganda to boost their chances and it is more dangerous to pillage or scavenge war wreckages. This quiets down slowly once the election is over and the status quo is maintained, but this greenhorn has some radical thoughts and is intent on hunting down pirates. As such, the entire Galactic Fleet has been mobilized for the massive operation."

"I see, so the usual patrols will no longer be there. What about the monitoring?"

"What do you think I needed the memories of a Captain for? You should have in your brain there the codes to allow us passage through."

Ivan quietened down in contemplation as they continued passing through the space station. The slums were left behind and he experienced the large open residential and commerce districts. Miniature suns were situated in each area providing both warmth and light. Everyone lived their lives in this world of steel and copper just like normal civilians, except most of these people are criminals in hiding or those still committing larceny or desecrating war ruins. Others better equipped would simply attack and rob cargo transporters.

Mazur eventually led Ivan to the spaceport. He had said he had a ship but Ivan didn't know what to expect.

The size of the spaceport alone left Ivan jawstruck, even after having the memories of the Captain of the Galactic Fleet shoved into his head. The ship yard was ten miles in length alone, and was nearly a mile tall. Innumerable ships of all shapes and sizes. The entire dock appeared to be exposed to space and countless stars could be see against the black backdrop. This solar system's red dwarf star could also be seen from this dock, burning a deep red color within the peaceful emptiness. It appears there was nothing separating the space dock from empty space, but Ivan knew that there was a transparent energy shield covering the opening that would allow a mass a large as a spaceship to pass through, but not something like oxygen or a person who fell or was thrown from the dock.

The walkways were enormous and people were everywhere, some boarding or disembarking their ships, while others drove heavy machinery carrying massive crates of supplies, including food, amenities, looted cargo, or hyper-compressed hydrogen for the ships' Sol Reactors.

"It's only a small ship, but this one is ours," Mazur said blandly as he walked up to a ship that was a thousand feet long and two hundred tall.

"We have very different definitions of small. This ship must need at least a hundred people to pilot it."

"The two of us will do. I've automated most parts of the system. A shame I'm no good with artificial intelligence or I would simply make one of them."

Mazur placed his hand on the side of the ship and after a fingerprint and iris scan, a holographic panel appeared in front of the door upon which he rapidly punched in a code. The door silently slid open after that and the interior of the ship began to light up.

"This ship is named Poseidon and is registered to the Deep Sea Courier Company. It has a triple reinforced polanium casing and the latest Sol Reactor powering it with a total energy loss of 0.4% energy wastage. All food, water and fuel supplies have already been stocked so we are ready to depart."

A linear elevator quickly carried Ivan and Mazur to the bridge of the ship, a circular room near the front of the ship approximately thirty feet in diameter. Holographic displays lined the room, displaying the entire area around the ship. The bridge can also be raised to the top of the ship and an electro-shielded glass window can allow for a personal view outside the ship. It isn't common to view the surroundings personally though as it is the first thing the be targeted during combat.

Other displays also showed the state of the ship's Sol Reactor, energy and shield levels, weapons, radars and other external sensors. There are about ten stations for crew members to control all the ship's systems.

"This courier vehicle has weapons?" Ivan asked curiously, wondering whether it was okay for a civilian vessel to have weaponry.

Mazur shrugged helplessly and replied, "It has four P-310 plasma cannons, and two standard hammerfield torpedo launchers. It's naturally for self defense purposes in protecting any cargo from pirates. Nothing capable of firing within hyperspace or too powerful, otherwise we wouldn't be able declare them for defensive purposes."

"...I won't go into the irony of that," Ivan sighed as he sat down and glanced around the monitors before stating, "Inertia damper is operating at full capacity. Sol Reactor is at critical temperatures and energy extraction is steady. Shields are at 100% and holding steady with no energy leakage. All system operations are reporting within acceptable parameters. Automated control over fourteen systems are not reporting any errors. We're ready to go. Poseidon, open a communication line with the control tower."

The ship's computer didn't have a voice to respond but a transparent panel opened at the front of the deck and displayed the communication status.

"What?" A gruff voice sounded in the bridge as soon as the line connected, but there was no video available.

"This is Commander Storme. Dock B279, Poseidon, requesting clearance to depart."

There was a brief silence from the other end after Ivan requested to leave the space station before a horde of laughter sounded out.

"Wahaha! Did you guys hear that? Requesting clearance?"

"I haven't heard shit that funny in months! This guy sounds so serious too!"

"I'm going to ask the misses that later tonight. Requesting clearance, bahahah!"

Several other sound of laughter and mocking comments followed causing Ivan to be dumbstruck and a bit embarrassed, but he saw Mazur, the old scientist with a lack of emotions, sitting at one of the consoles also covering his mouth while his shoulders gently shook up on down.

"Fuck! You're laughing too!? Poseidon, close the line!" Ivan cursed at Mazur feeling genuinely mad now. "What, huh? Did I say something funny?"

Mazur quickly straightened his grin before answering, "What do you expect, this is a station run by pirates and wealthy tycoons. You come and go as you want, there are no traffic controllers here. Anyone stupid enough to stand behind a ship departing deserves to be crushed by the impulse engines. But... sounding so formal... hah... I told you those memories would affect you."

"Whatever, let's just go, do you have the coordinates?"

"Roger, Commander Storme," Mazur snickered but Ivan decided to just ignore him as he increased power to the engines and departed from the dock.

Ivan watched the monitors as the 'small' spaceship slowly pushed up against and penetrated through the energy shield of the dock and officially entered space. There was some vibrations through the ship as it was accelerating, but Mazur's automated systems immediately compensated that with some minor adjustments to the inertia dampers.

"Coordinates entered into the computer, calculating automatic adjustment to ship's vector in preparation of FTL," Ivan spoke out instinctively as he followed the inputs Mazur made on his console and the rapid corresponding displays that flickered with the updated ship and status information.

"Vector adjustment confirmed, full power to primary impulse engines!"

The Poseidon draw a curved path in space as the space station rapidly vanished into the dark blanket of space. The ship quickly adjusted its vector in line with the input coordinates and system starmap. It then rapidly picked up speed and began approaching lightspeed.

From Ivan's perspective, ten minutes later they arrived at the threshold of lightspeed and the stars in the display rapidly stretched out to become long streaks of light.

"Prepare for FTL and the jump to hyperspace. Maximum power to shields. Secondary impulse engines, full thrust!"

From the initial electric blue glow of the four impulse engines at the rear of the ship, another four extended from the midsection of the ship and rapidly doubled the acceleration as the ship broke lightspeed and jumped into hyperspace.

Ivan watched as all the stars vanished and the monitors only transmitted a screen of black. At the same time, the ship became peacefully calm without even the slightest tremor. If anything, the silence was slightly eerie and surreal.

"Jump to hyperspace successful, speed rapidly climbing and will hold steady at 1.2HU. Estimated time till arrival, 35 minutes."

Ivan spoke but even his voice had a slightly surreal feeling to it, almost like an echo. He knew hyperspace was like this from memory, but experiencing it for his first time as Ivan was still a strange experience. He measured the speed in hyperspeed units, abbreviated to HU. This is a galactic standard unit of measuring speed with 1.0 equivalent to 1000 times the speed of light, and every increment of one unit equaling ten times the speed as the previous, increasing exponentially similar to the Richter or Decibel scales.