The following story is based on my experiences in the game Odyssey 3011, an Xbox Live Indie game. The story is a mix of my play through and added fictional encounters in the form of a log kept by my player character.
Day one? I guess.
I don’t know how long it’s been since the accident that stranded me out here. The people here don’t talk in days they talk in hyperspace jumps. So many jumps to this planet. So many jumps until they’re home. So many jumps to get a job done. I don’t fully understand how it works but it seems to.
I don’t know how many jumps it would take to get to Earth. No one around here has heard of Earth. The crew that salvaged my ship didn’t know what I was. Thanks to the local branch of the Intra-Galactic Union of Planets (IGUP), I was set free to do what I will with a small ship, a token settlement, and a legal recognition of my sentience.
This ship is a junker according to some of the other traders. Cobra Mk 2. Others call it a classic. I call it my only possible way home. It’s got sublight engines, hyperspace drive, debris laser, small missile rack, and cargo space. It’s decades, centuries even, ahead of anything from Earth. And they just gave it to me for having destroyed the ship I arrived in.
Even with a ship that can travel light years in a single jump, I’m not getting home that easy.
I’ve adopted the local system of counting time in jumps. I’ve lost count of time. There’s no clocks out here or none that I can read. The space stations operate 24/7 as we would say on earth. Hours don’t mean much to people who never land on a planet. Me included now. Four years of university. A year of space training. Three years working in space. All to end up a space trucker on the far side of the universe.
I started trading goods between planets. Buy low sell high. Trading would be simple if it weren’t for the pirates. IGUP is a political/economic organization, not a police force. Docking stations in orbit around inhabited act as space truck stops. They have their own defense force but they tend to stay close to the stations. Beyond the docking stations it’s like the wild wild west. Anyone can do almost anything to anyone. IGUP tracks pirate ship transponders and you can earn a bounty for shooting them down but docking stations are safe havens even for them.
My ship isn’t really equipped for combat. The debris laser does minimal damage to shields. Missiles do more damage but my ship can only carry three and they’re kind of expensive. So, I’ve been running mostly. I’m not much faster than them but it’s just enough to keep them from overtaking me.
Hyperspace jumps exit close to the star. After finding the local station’s beacon it’s a simple matter of aiming for it and engaging the engines. This is the boring part of being a space trucker. Watching the planet slowly grow in the view screen. I shouldn’t complain too much. The ship’s sublight engines can get me from the hyperspace jump to the docking station in a few hours rather than the months it would take in an Earth made ship.
I’ve found a reliable trade route between Iwltr and Nabijomac. Both are relatively safe systems with ample trade opportunities. Still, it’s slow going. I may need to invest in more cargo capacity. I’ve also been looking into getting some scoops. Another trader was telling me about them. Basically tractor beams that can pull in stray cargo or precious minerals from destroyed asteroids or even hyperspace fuel from a star. A better laser might be in order too. Going to be a while until I can fully upgrade my ship.
You know I’m not really sure how I’m able to understand the various aliens I’ve met or how they understand me. Whatever science or magic is involved isn’t foolproof. Some words don’t translate like transgender or chocolate and some words you can kind of understand from context. Like when I realized it was past time to change my estrogen patch. For course I kind of left any extras behind when I got thrown across the universe.
I talked to some other traders and they pointed me to the docking station’s medical center. The doctor wasn’t able to make new patches. He was bemused at how antiquated human medicine is. Dermal absorption or even injection of chemicals is outdated by several decades in this region. Instead, he implanted a device behind my collar bone that will synthesize estrogen and release it into my bloodstream. He figured out a baseline dose based on my current hormone levels and showed me how to adjust it as needed.
He was curious about why I needed to supplement this particular hormone. So, I explained human biology, as best I could, and gender and “the gender binary” and what being transgender meant. He was bemused again at how simple our understanding of biology is but became agitated as I described how trans people are treated.
And that’s the story of how I learned twenty-three alien swear words while my alien doctor went on a rant about free will and rights of self over society and promised to do, what I assume were, unmentionable things to Earth society on my behalf.
Out of necessity, I’ve started to pick up some combat skills. I still would rather run but I’ve learned how to fight off and even destroy a couple of pirates. Missile costs are eating into my profits.
The fuel scoop works just as advertised. Fly close to but not too close to a star and it activates automatically. I’m thinking of trying to expand my trade route beyond two systems.
Ok, that could have gone better. I did a couple of exploratory jumps outside my normal trade route. I’ll admit I was feeling a little cocky. This new career of mine has been mostly smooth sailing so you can’t really blame me for not feeling like I could handle a rougher system. Let’s just say the rougher system was ready to handle me. A group of three pirate ships attacked me at the first system on my way to the docking station. Thankfully I had topped up from the sun first so I jumped to another nearby system. There I was attacked by two ships that I managed to run from until I ran into two more ships. I made another jump and luckily found myself in a system as safe as Iwltr.
I made it to the docking station and consulted the star charts for the region. Daazearro is a safe planet surrounded by villainous hives of scum and treachery. Not much chance for a weak ship like mine to find a safe trade route. Daazearro does have a high tech level so upgrades for my ship are cheaper and more plentiful. I’ve expanded the cargo space and added some fuel tanks. There are some engine mods and replacements that would make running from pirates easier but they’re out of my price range.
I’m headed back to my original trade route.