\"STOKEing the fire in my heart\" part 5

Who: Jed and Rosette
Where: Starbug, on Planet Stoke
When: After they left Moneymiser's Mansion
Jed leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head
proudly. His face was still sore from where Rosette has slapped him,
but he didn't massage it better. He wore the pain like a trophy of
his accomplishment. Women were nothing but a plaything for him, and
if Rosette now realised it, it probably meant she hated him. Which
was a mighty shame for Jed, but hell – he was a Captain. There were
plenty more women he could probably trick into seeing naked.
But Jed squinted his dirty eyelids in contemplation. There was
something he liked about Rosette. She was tough.
He leaned forward and checked the flight computer. The dust cloud
that had been caused by the recent crash was now subsiding, which
meant they could safely fly back to the 'Dwarf. But something caught
his curiosity, he didn't know what it was that had fallen from the
sky and why it had done so. This planet didn't seem to be under
attack, although in the distance he could hear the sound of many
emergency vehicles.
He powered up the Starbug and heavy handedly yanked the controls back
to thrust them into the air. Most people had learned through practice
to fly a Starbug smoothly, yet Jed treated it like an untamed beast,
wresting it roughly into his control. Rosette in the shower let out a
shocked wail.
The Starbug flew over the wreckage of the fallen object. It was
several miles long, so Jed had plenty of time to gaze at the
structure as he went past. Despite the twisted shape it was in, it
was clear that this was Trent Station, the orbital platform around
the Planet Stoke. The station had modest facilities, but big enough
to park a good number of spaceships. Jed knew the station well. It
had been one of his many hideouts for when a deal had gone south, or
someone was out to get him. There was a cheap motel on the station
that he had used many times. The owner never asked for proof of ID so
Jed had stayed under many different fake names. The rooms had only
ever been extremely basic, but Jed didn't mind the sticky floors, or
sticky walls, or sticky bedsheets. The station had also been a great
place to get his escape vehicles re-sprayed and altered for when he
was using stolen ships and needed to get the Space Corps back on his
tail. It was ironic that after all that time avoiding the Space
Corps, he would now be working for them again.
Jed felt some small sorrow for the loss of such a fine spacestation
as he flew down over the rubble. He landed, and whilst Rosette was
still in the shower, he headed out of the hatch.
A crew of men in yellow hazard suits were picking their way across
the smouldering rubble. Jed approached what looked like a local
policeman who was setting up a cordon around the perimeter.
"Please sir, return to your vehicle. There's nothing to see here."
Jed was taken aback. "Say whut sonny? Ah've a Space Corps rank of
Captain ah'll have ye know!"
The policeman blinked. The ragged-looking man in front of him looked
like no Captain he had ever seen. He looked more like a hobo in a
"Oh...er...sorry sir."
"So whut caused her to come down?" Jed asked.
"We don't know. As far as we can tell there's no kind of malfunction.
It was working perfectly, but then just... fell down to Earth."
"Attacked?" Jed asked.
The policeman gave Jed a worried look. "Maybe." he said
honestly. "But by whom? Radar in the system didn't spot anything
before OR after it was destroyed. So whom?"
Jed scoffed. Attack on a space station was so unusual in a place so
far from civilisation. The only people that normally came this far
out were small-town traders and smugglers. Neither of which ever had
enough firepower or inclination to destroy an obscure backwater
The policeman was called away and Jed went back into the Starbug.
He roughly wrangled the spaceship into orbit and span his pitol
around on his finger, hoping to see whatever had destroyed the
<To be continued...>

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