Aboard the Scavenger, Odlib, Derelik
The cargo crews hated it.
Quafe Corporation paid Rhavas well to import (yes, import) garbage to some of their facilities, and the Percheron was ideally suited to handle it. With a cargo bay large enough to haul seven frigates at a time, the heavy industrial ship could fit a massive amount of garbage.
Rhavas always had to make it the last leg of a run, however, because the stench was retch-inducing and the crew required more than a day to clean her out after each run.
So it was perhaps understandable that they were not visibly excited when he announced triumphantly that they would be building a new ship designed specifically for the purpose of salvaging ship wreckage in space in massive quantities.
That ship, Scavenger, was built on a Thrasher-class Destroyer hull platform, but other than her silhouette bore no similarity to the Archer II, the artillery and missile gunboat Thrasher that had sat beside her in the hangar during the refit.
Instead, Scavenger‘s gun emplacements were rigged half with salvage deconstructors and half with a toy new to his arsenal: tractor beams.
The decision to build her had been driven largely by a desire to get in on some additional lucrative business with the other pilots in his corporation.
While new to Field Command, many of his fellow capsuleers in the corp were veteran pilots. As he talked with them to better learn their tricks of the trade, he quickly came to realize that the most lucrative government-sponsored work (regardless of which government) usually required some serious firepower – more than he could bring to bear even in his Rupture-class cruiser.
One group of veteran battleship pilots, particularly Kellath, a veteran of running mercenary work for the Ammatar government, had invited him along to get whatever could be gotten from the wrecks of destroyed enemies.This would allow them to proceed quickly through their work, knowing he was cleaning up the wreckage. Rhavas had jumped at the chance.
Rhavas had spent some of his time in the Republic military doing things the Ammatar weren’t too happy about, but they took Kellath’s word that he was a reliable addition to the team. As they continued to achieve, they pushed back less each time on Rhavas’s participation.
His first mission alongside Kellath’s group of veterans had led to five trips back to station of rogue drone parts, a trove the size Rhavas had never seen in a single outing. But he had missed all the actual combat, and there was something oddly unsatisfying about waiting for others to do all the fighting and following when all was quiet.
So the second trip he had flown into the tail end of the fight and seen the explosive wrap-up of the battleship combat first-hand. It had been impressive and none of the combatants had paid him any attention, knowing that he was little threat and they already had their hands full.
Kellath sold the goods from the first two runs and suddenly Rhavas was 10 million ISK richer – causing his net worth to jump by 20% almost overnight. For a new pilot, it was his first taste of the big time. He quickly invested in significant upgrades to the Scavenger to ensure she could hold more, pull more, and work faster. While the crews still grumbled about “garbage scow duty” it was now with a touch of good humor – the bump he had added in their pay for salvage duty made it a bonanza for them as much as Rhavas.
The mission Kellath had been given for the team’s third outing seemed pretty simple and unlikely to require much firepower. A group of criminals under some small-time thug named Kruul had snatched an Ammatar Consulate bigshot’s daughter. To make matters worse, it appeared that they planned to use the girl as a sex slave for their not-so-pleasant business enterprises. Kellath’s crew had been contracted to rescue her.
When they entered the Odlib system, Kellath had quickly taken the attack fleet and warped off. Rhavas, monitoring the comm channel, heard the engagement begin, and he warped in to join them, much earlier than he had on previous assignments.
The light show was spectacular. Kellath and the other battleship captains were tearing the criminal guard force apart, but they were greatly outnumbered. Rhavas activated the afterburners and tractor beams snagging wreckage and hauling it nimbly behind him from wreck to wreck, missile explosions and beam weapons fire from the combatant vessels flashing through space perilously near his ship. His luck held – the criminals were clearly focused on the combatant ships.
Kellath’s voice came over the comm channel. “Rhavas, it looks like they’ve got this flying whorehouse of theirs rigged. We have the girl targeted for pickup, but when we get her I think it’ll blow. You may want to get further out.”
“Aye,” he said, banking the ship to snag one last wreck to drag along with him.
Even with the forewarning, when the place detonated Rhavas was unprepared for the force of the shockwave that followed. Scavenger‘s highly specialized design hadn’t allowed for any additional defensive measures – she was a high-tech flying garbage truck, plain and simple.
The shockwave crushed Scavenger like an egg hit by an autocannon shell, spilling all the contents into space and scattering them for kilometers around. Rhavas grimmaced as remnants of his own ship as well as those he had salvaged clanged off his suddenly exposed pod. Bodies of his crew, smashed by the concussion wave and flash-frozen in the cold of space, floated by the exterior sensors of his pod.
“Sorry about that,” came Kellath’s transmission. “Was even bigger than I expected; I should have warned you earlier.”
“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” Rhavas replied. He accelerated the pod to warp velocity, heading to Rens as fast as it would take him.
En route, he contacted his senior staff back at station. The Personnel Officer was getting a new salvage crew in gear – luckily Rens had crews ready to go for most occasions on a contract basis. The trade manager had a new hull lined up and waiting, as well as some of the needed parts, and they had quickly drafted a hangar crew to start fitting her out.
As Rhavas inspected the fittings on the Scavenger II in the Rens station hangar, Kellath’s voice came across the comm channel. “You get another hull?”
“Fitting her out now. My staff had a crew waiting when I got here, should be back out as soon as the fitting is done.”
“The good news is that I’ve picked up some of your equipment from your own wreck,” he said. “Sending the manifest now. I’ve also transferred the cost of the parts of your ship to your account for the trouble. There’s more salvage work for you when you come back.”
“Thank you, sir. Happy to be your garbage man any time.”