@katsuakira One cannot think of a space hamster and not say awesome!
The final promo for my second Starshatter book - "Twin suns of Carrola"
If you like this book to see the light of day consider supporting me by purchasing the first book on Amazon.com here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079K62S78
An unfortunate meeting
Awesome quickly reached the hangar by use of Starshatter’s maintenance ducts and jumped inside his starfighter's cockpit. One more advantage of him being born as a hamster; you could always reach places that others couldn't. Alice's holo suddenly popped over his fighter's main screen:
“Soooo, when are you finally gonna tell them that I exist?” – she looked mildly annoyed while counting a bunch of apples in one holographic barrel that appeared beside her. Awesome had already found out that she was an AI, and was quite sure that she knew that he knew too...
“Well, I couldn't just spill the nuts like that! Where's the fun, huh? And I am working hard on a joke with the most devastating punchline ever! It is almost ready, I swear!” – his tiny gloved fingers worked with lightning speed and soon 'Insanity' gracefully floated out of the hangar and in outer space. A short streak of ionized plasma left its monstrous main engine, mere seconds after he and Alice had plotted a course through the first debris cloud. He swiped through a couple of holo-files and chose the next album that his PDA would play – “Morning full of Happiness” by “Brilliant Space Senshi”, an all-female group of deadly starfighter pilots. They were excellent performers too, and became an instant hit about a year or so ago. Sadly, (for him that is) they almost instantly found husbands and their incredibly short but fruitious careers were temporarily placed on hold. Awesome hoped that after their first children were born, they could sneak some time away from being mothers and record another album. Also, post more mission holo-files that he could watch on their G-net feeds. They had wiped out two full taz'aran interceptor squadrons in their first joint Op – singing while they were slagging the tazzies.
“Fighting evil by starlight!; Finding love by...” the twelve beautiful voices formed a choir of pure perfection and his eyes teared up a little bit. Alice suddenly changed her attire and began dancing around the cockpit, perfectly emulating the singers' stage performance that she had records on holo-file of. Awesome lowered the sound just a tad, and linked his scanning visor with 'Insanity's' main sensor array. He'd almost expected an ambushing force to pounce on him. Didn't happen but according to what he'd felt from Anit'za's tone, that was surely what his captain thought would occur. From what little Alice was able to find about their new captain by shifting Cav's network, his tactical abilities were second to none, and that gorilla with the cute name wasn't a dum-dum either. Awesome now hoped that the Universe would be kind enough and arrange a meeting between him, his new crew-kin and the slavers who butchered “Mushishi”'s crew and passengers. He vividly dreamt about this many times over.
The baddies owed him one brand new pistol they did, and they were not in the least funny nor had provided the much-needed joke material during their vicious attack. When Awesome got back on Cav he spent a week trying to visit all of the militia troopers' families and relatives whose tags he collected while exploring the derelict starbase. They showered him with gifts that he had but to reluctantly accept. It was not his intention in the first place, that was simply him being nice-nice. Found the brother of that deceased dude that he picked up his new grappler cable from. Did try paying for it but the man was adamant and refused any compensation. After giving the rest of those tags to local Colonial Militia command they wanted to award him a medal. Patrons! He was just a hamster, not some epic war hero of Terra. Despite his awesomeness and great piloting skill, Awesome was acting befitting a dutiful client. They still made him take a plaque and that medal though. Hamsters were not supposed to argue with Rear Admirals, especially such named Holsey and in command of this sector's Colonial Navy units. After that, it was pretty much a matter of luck to bump into those two lovebirds Alric and Vasilisa. Remembering it made him chuckle again but Alice, intrigued as she was, didn't stop dancing.
He had his head stuck in a trash recycler, trying desperately to read the label of some alien candy wrapper by pointing his helmet's lights at it. Squeaks and whimpers were coming muffled out of the assembly and while his little legs were desperately flailing in the air, somebody's powerful hand gently pulled him out. Awesome did manage to get the wrapper though. It was for science you see – he needed more joke material and the name of the candy was most strange. Didn't ask the alien who was eating for it because he gave him the eye. Was simple to walk around the station, following the dirty, smelly and loudly munching sentient, who's very existence provided an insurmountably high heap of ideas than the simple wrapper.
It was an enormously huge human man and a petite young woman standing next to each other. Both wore happy smiles on their faces and looked really intrigued, amused even by his predicament. Awesome gave them one of his best grins, stuffing the dirty candy wrapper in one of his safe pockets for later study. Politely he introduced himself by asking them if they'd heard of one awesome looking hamster starfighter pilot called Awesome lurking around.
An hour later they were still exploring Cav's promenade area, and as Awesome was exhausting his joke repertoire, he slowly understood that those two, especially the man, desperately needed some joy and happiness in their lives. It was the duty that all hamsters took, that they spoke of among themselves only. “The Great Hamster Burden” was part of their racial responsibility towards their Patrons. They have suffered a lot, and some were losing themselves in depression, many even choosing to end their most holy – their lives. Hamsters knew that the Patrons demanded no service from their Clients, they'd take only what was freely given. So, long ago... erm... not that long, really... but saying “long ago” sounded cool and all mystical like. And so, the Elders had a secret hamster meeting where they decided – for the holy act of Creation, their Patrons would receive as payment an eternity of Joy. In the form of laughter. A lot of it.
Both patrons were keen on finding more about him and how he'd become so awesomely famous. The hamster told them his story, and when the big man frowned each time when he mentioned the dead colonists, Awesome was forced to unleash the best of his jokes. That was hard work, yes it was! He promptly excused himself and went on a tour around the Cav's promenade shops. This time when Awesome visited that same weapon store he did before boarding “Mushishi”, he bought a semi-auto Mauser K49; an old and venerable railgun pistol, much bigger than those his kind or the bunnies would use in battle. The funny thing was – he actually wanted a weaker weapon this time but... once he grabbed that Mauser, Awesome just couldn't let go of it. It was as if the pistol itself called him, whispering promises of many a future accurate, and deadly hits.
Did his patrons not know, nor hear what weapons sometimes whispered? After spending time with that beastly laser rifle of his on the shooting range, Awesome soon began hearing things. The words that were coming from the laser promised glorious, fiery vengeance and the impending doom of his enemies. That would've been most strange and scary for most. Him being a hamster meant that he would care, but only ever so slightly. Was he crazy? He remembered some of the Patrons mentioning that hearing voices coming from inanimate objects was a bad thing. In his mind, Awesome rationalized this very quickly, and jokingly accepted all of this as normality for his race. The Patrons were wise as they were loving – surely that was also a part of their awesome and glorious design for his people!
Awesome spent some of his remaining creds to put both folding stock and an assault grip on that pistol. Compared to his size that Mauser was definitely more of a snub gun than a pistol but he didn't mind. Alice was adamant about installing a holo-sight on that and his 'Friedman' laser gun too. As always, Awesome packed as many spare power packs as hamsterly possible – he remembered well his protracted shootout with the slavers on “Mushishi”.
Next time his ammo had to be sufficient so that he would take care of their entire boarding crew!
He of course returned and joined the two Patrons on a even longer stride around the station. Didn't took long to understand that they were attached to him, his joyful presence was starting to influence the big man too – he made him smile a couple of times just by grinning at him. But hamster's job is never done! It might be hard, it might be long, but this awesome client was most determined at putting smiles on those faces – every day.
Awesome was startled for a second – why was he having all those strange flashbacks? Were they too, part of his Patrons design? It was pointless to ponder his smart little head now, and he studied the sensor data-stream projected directly on his faceplate.
His fighter was now reaching maximum scouting distance from Starshatter, and he immediately made a course correction. Proper pilots always stayed within sensor-link distance and he was trained by the such. His mistress was an old American pilot who flew bomber escort missions on Earth during their last Great War. Then, promoted due to her incredible skill, joined one of the first all-female Starfighter squadrons and protected Earth during Mahimm's invasion. The hamster was introduced to the venerable old woman during his school's visit at the “Tri Ship monument”. Little Awesome came with his small model 'F6 Star Phantom' starfighter that he crafted himself, and by virtue of skill won the trip for himself and his classmates. How, and why the old Patron then decided to keep her watchful eye on him was a mystery. Then again, proper Patrons shouldn't be anything else but oozing with mystery themselves. Amelia's teachings found his mind, and awesomely pilot inclined body a fertile soil to plant seeds of knowledge and skill.
He sighed. Again with the flashbacks. His old teacher would probably scold him for this lack of attention, after all, Amelia Earhart had such a legendary focus that they called her the “Zen Goddess” of starfighter combat. Awesome grinned behind his faceplate – even in her old age, she could beat his ass both in the simulator and outer space.
Alice's holo stopped dancing and sat before the transparent megasteel canopy with a little spyglass in hand, black pirate eye patch and old-fashioned hat on top. Patrons! Her creator had access to some really cool holo-algorithms. Instead of chiming in using some pre-programmed and often stock lines that most if not all VI's used, Alice masterfully expressed important occurrences with action and visuals.
The data stream from his main sensor array was coming in waves. Awesome was glad having an AI to help because together they calibrated the mainframe with new corrections, and did it so rapidly, that the quality and details his stock sensors displayed looked all but impossible to achieve.
That is how they managed to spot the faint taz'aran lifesigns ahead.
Six of them, they were all hiding behind large pieces of debris, and Awesome was willing to bet that those were either heavy interceptors or TA pilots.
“Now is the time kiddo” – Awesome chuckled and moved his hand over the main gun controls – “We need to make this one count!” – he pre-programmed targeting data and fed it into his fighter's mainframe. The hamster pilot was aiming at one of those lifesigns with his armor-piercing laser cannon but without activating the weapon itself. Alice looked at him and grinned; a tiny holo of an ancient gunpowder cannon, complete with a pile of cannonballs and powder barrels appeared next to her. Alice carefully aimed down the cannon's barrel, raising her eyepatch beforehand. Awesome let the fighter drift forward without using his engine – that monstrosity would be instantly detected the second he touched his navi-controls. Alice raised her hand and muttered using strange, old-fashioned Earth's lingo – “Ready to fire, aye!” – and with reaction speed that only his species could achieve, Awesome fed power to the laser cannon, pressed the trigger and hummed back on his coded link with Starshatter – “Fighting evil by starlight...”