Boneyard Station

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Author’s Note: Alex Stone appeared in Star Frontiersman issues 15, 17, and 19.  At the time he had just traveled to Boneyard Station seeking a new ship for passage after the ship he had hired passage on broke down upon jumping into Cassidine.  This detour in Alex's plans to get to Lossend resulted in Alex not being able to submit articles for publication.  However he also ended up having a few extra adventures along the way.  We present now Alex's continued series of articles detailing his adventures getting to Lossend and back.

by Eric Winsor

Starship nirvana, Boneyard Station, they could both have the same entry in the galactic encyclopedia for anyone who really likes custom high performance rocket ships.  When I was a kid my father took me to Craig's demolition derby, on Gran Quierva.  The derby was on the edge of town back then but Caesar City has grown immensely since then and the old dirt track is gone.  It has been replaced by a multimillion credit race track out by the UPF starport.  I loved the cars at Craig's and they had a drag race track.  My father had a keen interest in high performance machines and the people that pitted them one against the other. 

Then the diplomatic corps of the UPF took us away from Caesar City and to a life around starships.  Racing of high performance machines goes up a few levels when you get to starships.  The ships are very expensive and mega-corps sponsor them.  But if you’re looking for that old dirt track and drag strip feel you gotta find the spacers who piece together their own racers.  To find them you gotta find Boneyard Station.

Boneyard Station is the resting place of many of the Frontier's early vessels.  And it is the birth place of some of the fastest hunks of junk in the galaxy.  You can see the bone yard of Boneyard Station long before you actually see the station.  Ten thousand meters out from Boneyard Station is the bone yard.  Hundreds, possibly thousands of ships are moored to geosynchronous anchor buoys and surrounded by a perimeter of sentry satellites. 

Between the bone yard and the station a thin line of lighted work pods constantly streams to and from the wrecks.  The pods are salvage staff and customers.  The salvage crews are carving up the old ship hulls for scrap.  The customers are often hot shot starship engineers looking for that perfect part.  The ShatterStar's launch brought me into the main dock and along the way I caught a glimpse of a modified assault scout sporting twin Jedggy vector thrust engines on each strut wing.  I only caught a glimpse because her pilot lit her up as soon as she detected a clear path.  The cursing I heard over the traffic control channel was quite amusing.

I boarded the station shortly after local midnight but the activity in the concourse was like noon.  The elevator from the zero gee dock opened presenting me with a panoramic view of shops and stalls crowded and people milling about.  Beyond the concourse a huge bay window provided a view of the ships coming and going from the docks. 

Clustered at the far end was a group of spacers with their proverbial noses pressed up against the alloy glass.  These were the people I was looking for if I were to find a ride to get me on my way to Lossend.  I pressed through the crowd of stalls and shops, zig-zag-ing my way toward them.  The pungently sweet smell of dral eepo pudding wafted over the pantheon of merchants and customers.  I'd have to find the source of it right after finding out from the spacers where to seek passage on a fast ship.

The spacers gathered about the window were jabbering on about the ship that had just burned out of the docking facility.  She was off in the distance blazing circles in the night showing off.  The entire event was being commentated by a dralasite pressed flat against the glassalloy whilst talking out of the back of his head.  He was really hamming it up, even some of the yazirian spacers were in stitches. 

Then another set of burning lights could be seen closing on the ship.  Someone put up a magnified display and sure enough it was two enforcer patrol craft in hot pursuit.  A burly human to my side bellowed out and started taking bets on the size of the fine.  Seems the pilot had danced off the established vectors from Boneyard and crossed into Triad's jurisdiction.  The ship flipped and burned negative gees and the group of spacers started breaking up. 

I wandered up to the dral puttied to the window and greeted him in polite dral, “Mol Hygha Mobla (Hello Mol Comedian)”.  To which he responded, “(Thanks for the esteemed complement friend)” and peeled his head back to look at me and stopped solid.  The ridged expression was priceless.

The comedian turned out to be Gropa, a communications officer on a ship named Ion Revenge.  Gropa and I had an excellent conversation in dral over a couple of bowls of eepo pudding.  He filled me in on the ship that had burned out of Boneyard on my way in.  Her name is Arrow of Yazira and her captain is one Fhag Hurat.  He was celebrating the new engines on his ship and bragging that he was going to beat some of the Void Crusher's records. 

Seems there is a bit of competition between the private courier ships that refit and overhaul at Boneyard Station.  The Void Crusher had just finished overhauls at the station and was taking on cargo to pull out.  Gropa knew the pilot of the Void Crusher, a dral named Plicka, and promised to take me down to her after another bowl of eepo.  There are benefits to speaking a little dral and appreciating eepo.

Gropa took me up to the zero dock observatory to see the Void Crusher.  She's a beautiful graceful ship of Vrusk design but modified with Jedggy Elite engines about two sizes too large.  Her hull is polished silver with red and gold racing lines and a rear facing laser cannon.  She radiates, “I'm fast and don't try following me.” 

Gropa had explained as we were heading to the zero dock that the Void Crusher is a trusted courier ship by many mega-corps and governments because she is very fast and sure to get there.  Gropa called over to the Void Crusher and introduced me to Plicka.  I explained my dilemma with the FMS Solar Wind breaking down and my need to get to Lossend.  We bantered for a bit in dral trading a few old jokes and I found I liked him so I asked to talk to the Captain. 

Plicka transferred the com to Captain V'Thi-Keek and I discussed the terms of passage.  V'Thi-Keek informed me that I was in luck because their next trip included a stop at a research installation in the outer system of Timeon where I could catch a daily shuttle to Lossend.  We agreed upon a quite decent price with the stipulation that I get a physical at the station medical facility, sign a medical waver, and purchase 5 liters of strawberry syrup.  I had a day to get everything done and be aboard the Void Crusher.  That also gave me a day to tour Boneyard Station.

Gropa took me down to the station ER and we said our goodbyes.  Gropa told me that his ship was pushing out in six hours to Athor and he had to report for duty.  Gropa also told me to go ask for Gloobirt in the salvage office and tell him Plicka and Gropa sent me.  Gloobirt would show me around.  I got my physical and had the medic send it to the Void Crusher.  The medic seemed pretty amused at this as I left to find Gloobirt.

I found Gloobirt in the salvage office near the work pod launch bays.  I had brought along some eepo for breakfast and made my introduction.  Gloobirt was impressed that I had been granted passage on the Void Crusher and took the strawberry syrup and put it into food stasis stressing that, “if this is for Plicka we better keep it fresh.”  Then he put Plicka's name on it so that no one would eat it.

Gloobirt lead me over to the locker room and found me a pressure suit.  Fifteen minutes later we were in a work pod headed out to the bone yard.  Gloobirt punched the thrust full throttle and mashed me into the seat.  I hadn't expected it and sat grunting to get my breath.  When he stopped thrusting he jabbed me in the sides as I was catching my breath and said, “You better get used to that if you’re going to fly with us drals around here.”  Then he punched it again to the left and mashed me into the wall.

Gloobirt took us over to some of the racers and I got some good up close shots of some real hot rods.  Many of them were more engine than ship.  There was one green one that was little more than a large escape pod mounted to a triple of engines.  Gloobirt told me she's the Freeze Ride, a single crew race rocket for in-system races only.  A human named Haddley owns it and has rigged it to put him in stasis when the gees get too high.  Gloobirt also informed me (with a few colorful descriptions) that it's not real racing if the pilot is unconscious for the ride.  She looked to me like a suicide machine. 

We then vectored over to the center of the yard and Gloobirt gave me a tour of some real classic spaceships, all old zero gee craft with parallel decks.  He took me into a CU-37 Courier, and three ST-250 Trans Strata Class Transports.  There is a style to these old birds that doesn't go into the modern designs.  You also get the feel of freedom and adventure that the old spacers felt as they explored the black before it was all charted and lit up. 

I really liked the pair of cowboy boots that were stuck up-side-down to the sides of an MRX-8 we passed.  I wondered if it had a purpose and Gloobirt said he didn't know of any, that they had found the craft like that drifting on the far edges of Theseus with an old dead human mummified at the controls.  The ship has been there for years now and no-one wants to buy it.

After the bone yard Gloobirt took me over to where the salvage crews were storing the engines from ships whose hulls were too far beyond repair.  Two single crew pods would handle the engines and move them over to the storage area while a third would cut them from the engine struts.  Here is one of Boneyard's claims to fame, every engine ever made is likely available at Boneyard Station.  I'm not a qualified expert on engines but I did recognize a few Streel Big Bang atomics, a PGC Eureka, piles of Kupper atomics of various sizes, several Obar Enterprises and Interstellar Industries Ion drives, and even a pair of Yayax SC/I drives.

I felt like a kid again dreaming about all the cool ships that could be built out of these engines.  I felt like I did at the races at Craig's Speedway in Caesar City.  I got to wandering about spaceship demolition derby and mentioned it to Gloobirt.  He got the concept and said he vaguely remembered something about the old sport but he considered it unsuitable for spaceships. 

I beg to differ.  I think that with a properly reinforced life-pod built in as the pilot’s capsule, and sticking to shuttle hull sizes, it would be a hoot.  Imagine the spinning and pyrotechnic explosions that would result.  Under the correct conditions and speeds this would be awesome.  I encourage all my human and yazirian readers to share their thoughts with me on spaceship demolition derby.

For lunch we docked on one of the old hulls that was being gutted.  Inside we met up with a trio of humans who had gathered in the old galley and were eating sandwiches.  Gloobirt introduced me to them and they provided me with lunch.  Lunch wasn't bad even after having been in a salvaged freeze field for fifty years.  I had just finished my chips when Rick pulled out a watermelon from the freeze field and said, “Hey Gloobirt, want to juice this one?”

Gloobirt shot down the corridors back to the service pod, bouncing off the walls in the zero gee.  In five minutes he came back with a clear plexi-alloy box.

“Suit up boys!” said Gloobirt as he sealed the watermelon into the box.

We all went into an airlock and Rick sealed the door.

“Watch the box!” said Rick as Tom and Charles tied me and the box off to anchor points then Rick opened the outer air lock door.

The air rushed out into space and we were all pulled momentarily toward the exit.  Then as the last of the air escaped from a vent in the box the watermelon began to swell.  Suddenly is burst in a gush of red.  Juice began to mist from the box vent and Gloobirt quickly shut the vent.  

The four of them were jumping and kicking around excitedly.  They laughed and swatted each other on the backs and punched each other’s arms.  I received a jovial beating as well.  Rick closed the outer door and repressurized the air lock.  The Boys rushed back into the galley and ripped their helmets off.

“Juice!  Juice!  Juice!” they shouted as Gloobirt removed his helmet.

I was getting ready for drinks all around when Gloobirt stuffed his head into the box and started sucking it in.  The Boys pushed themselves wildly around in the zero gee of the galley, whooping and hollering.  I could see Gloobirt wiggling with laughter as he sucked in the watermelon juice.  A few minutes later he was done and pulled his head out, it was stained red and the Boys recommenced their antics and laughter.  The four of them together made quite a show and I enjoyed it greatly.

With lunch finished Gloobirt took me back to the salvage office and encouraged me to explore the station.  Gloobirt had a full day of work yet to do so I let him get back to his job.  I took to wandering the station for the next few hours.  I found an old arcade game functioning in a corner surrounded by some yazirian hangers eagerly battling space ships that dived at their fighter.  The lounge offered me a quiet corner sub-space communications booth to check in with my family.  Then back on the concourse I picked up a few souvenirs for the family and got a great deal on a dral shape sculpture from an ifshnit I about bowled over in the shuffle of beings.

I had wondered the station for about four hours then I boarded the Void Crusher.  My visit to Boneyard Station had been brief but fulfilled my dreams completely.  If I ever get rich enough I want to come here and build my own hot rocket.

Technologies Mentioned

Kupper Interstellar Drives have become the mainstay of merchant pilots throughout the rim territories. Reliable and affordable these drives have what it takes to haul your pseudo-pods anywhere in the Frontier sector!

Jedggy Quick-HaulTM  Although Jedggy drives are faster than Kupper drives, they are primary used for short-haul missions due to their tendency to overheat when jumping more than 6.34 light-years. These drives can be found on many tramp freighters and were made popular when the Moon Osprey made the Dramune Run in under 89 hours with a pair of Jedggy drives.