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Roberts Space Industries ®






August 30th 2017

Far From Home: Cooler Quest

Cooler Quest

Hey y’all, it’s Old Jegger, finally back with another look at life Far From Home. It’s been a minute since I’ve sat back, collected my thoughts and sent them across the black, so I appreciate all those who reached out in my absence, wondering if I was all right, but it’s not me everyone should’ve been worried about — it’s Shana.

It all started about two weeks back. I awoke from a dead sleep just drenched in sweat. Now, I have a habit of running hot. Don’t even keep a blanket on my bunk ’cause it’s more likely to be kicked to the floor than used to cover me, so in my half-asleep haze, I didn’t noticed the issue was with Shana, not me. Nope, instead I rolled right over and got myself a bit more shuteye.

I really should’ve known something was wrong right then and there. Usually, I’m out like a light from the second my head hits the pillow until the sound of my alarm. Some say it’s a gift, but that kinda sleep has it drawbacks when living all by your lonesome. This one time, Shana drifted into Taranis’ outer asteroid belt while I slept through every single warning she set off. Luckily, I woke up before an asteroid ripped through Shana’s hull and vented me in my boxers. I tweaked her alarms settings to extremely loud after that to ensure I’d never sleep through an emergency again; at least, that’s what I thought.

Waking up in the middle of the night this time, I didn’t hear any alarms or warnings. When I finally stirred a few hours later, it was so hot inside the ship I thought we’d drifted off course and ended up in a thermal bloom or something. That wasn’t the case though.

Turns out the cooler had fried a few coils. It was working just enough to keep essential systems online. Plus, it was seeping a signature strong enough to be spotted through a jump point.

I spent a few hours working on it, but could only get it back to 50% operational. I’d noticed the thing had been a bit inconsistent of late, but I didn’t expect it to completely break down. I’ve owned the thing for so long, and easily fixed any issues with it, I never expected something like this to happen. Guess I kinda grew complacent. That’s just how good this cooler was though, I never really had to worry about it … until now.

Doubt this will come as a shock to anyone, but I’m a bit particular about what components get the honor of gracing Shana. Get the right components tuned together and the ’32 Lancers purr prettier than any ship I’ve ever been on. That’s why the second I realized that I’d need a new cooler, I knew it’d be an adventure to find one, because there was only one good enough for Shana — a 2927 J-Span Cryo-Star.

Collectors covet the ’27 because it celebrated the company’s centennial. As their top of the line cooler, J-Span went all out and gave the Cryo-Star a stunning custom paint job. I tell you, it still catches the eye to this day. Collectors love it because it looks special, but I love it because of a few small tweaks the designers made to the way everything’s laid out. It makes ’em a heck of a lot easier to fix and modify. That’s part of the reason I had my old one for so long.

Anyways, I was in Ellis at the time, and I knew we needed to set down to give Shana a break while I figured out where to find a new one. The closest station happened to be a Rest & Relax. We landed and I wandered inside to snag some essentials and ask around about decent component dealers.

Normally, I’d pass by an R&R if I had the choice. Don’t get me wrong, R&R’s are fine. They’re the kind of spot that describes itself as ‘clean and safe facilities,’ but that also makes ’em a bit bland in my book. You get exactly what you expect — franchise shops hawking the same goods in every corner of the universe. If that’s what you need, then the Rest & Relax is great.

But if you’re like me, and need a special component or are just looking for some local flavor, then I recommend looking for an independent rest stop. They’re not as pretty on the eyes, or even as safe (if I’m being honest), but every once in a while you find something special and unexpected gathering dust on a store shelf. Unexpected discoveries don’t happen when some megacorp is managing the inventory from a distance.

Anyways, as I wandered the R&R, I ventured into the station’s Hardpoint Guys. The clerk noticed me looking at the coolers and immediately kicked off his sales pitch for the most expensive one. I listened to him ramble about Whitley’s Guide ratings and peer reviews for a few before explaining that only a ’27 Cryo-Star would do. He started jawing about how he disagreed with my assessment, but I stopped him dead. Went into my own rant about why the coolers he was hawking were inferior. Well, I guess my explanation came off a bit harsh, because I was asked to leave the store. Wouldn’t have been the first time I left my manners in my ship. Hate to admit it, but that happens every so often after an extended period alone in the drift.

Turns out, all that raving caught the attention of someone in the store. She flagged me down as I left, introduced herself as Stacy and said she might be able to help. At first it felt like a setup, but the more I talked to her, the more I recognized a fellow drifter. I could tell she hadn’t really spoken to anyone in a while, but the second we started jawing about ships, it was hard to get her to stop.

Stacy and I talked for a few hours over some Gino’s Hot Bird and she eventually trusted me enough to pass along coordinates to a ship scrapyard that she’d visited over the years. She claimed it was filled with old parts and components just waiting to be salvaged. If there was a ’27 Cryo-Star anywhere within a few jumps of Ellis, it’d be there. But there was one big catch — it was in Nexus.

Normally, Nexus is on my no-go list. I know, I know, it’s technically a UEE system, but that still don’t make it completely safe. That just means, if I run into another ship, there’s a good chance it’s either an outlaw up to no good or a trigger happy officer of the law, who’s gonna take one look at Shana and assume I’m smuggling something. Either scenario doesn’t sound like a lot of fun in my book. That’s why I avoid the system.

Still, the chance to salvage a ’27 instead of spending a fortune on one was as good a reason as any to bend my rules. So I hustled back to Shana, got her humming as best I could under the conditions and headed for Nexus.

Gotta say, this was the most nerve-racking journey I’d been on in years. With the cooler operating at half-efficiency, I had to manage my systems carefully so my bum cooler didn’t tip Shana’s signature and draw too much attention. I even had to shut her down a few times when ships got a bit too close for comfort.

As I approached the coordinates on Lago, a massive ship scrapyard appeared. My heart fluttered a bit. If it wasn’t in the middle of disputed outlaw territory, I could spend weeks searching through all the wrecked hulls scattered below. I set down nearby and headed on in. Suddenly, the prospect of finding one specific cooler became real. This search was going to be both exciting and daunting.

Stacy had given me a number of pointers about the place. First one being to find the folks that lived there and pay them a flat fee to scrounge around. That gave you the right to salvage as much as you could before sunset. If you didn’t pay the fee and they found you, well, I guess they make you pay one way or another.

After stopping by this small underground shelter and paying my entrance fee to a no-nonsense figure bundled tight in layers to protect from the harsh winds, I moved as quick as these old bones let me through the tangled mess of derelicts. Stepping into each half-destroyed ship had me on edge over what or who might be inside. In the distance, gunfire echoed. Stacy had warned me that outlaws sometimes use the location to hide from each other or law enforcement.

I searched and searched, and as the sun started to set, I grew anxious. I still hadn’t found my cooler. I debated giving the folks that ran the place some extra creds and working through the night, but eventually decided against it. Heck, I even eyeballed a rusty BlastChill for a couple minutes debating if I should just be happy with whatever at that point since walking around a dark scrap yard with only a flashlight was more dangerous than smart. In the end, I figured it would be best to just try again the next day. As I doubled back to Shana, I noticed another ’32 Lancer.

Now, I’m the type of guy who believes fate is what you make it, but even I took it as a sign. I crawled into the ship and started stripping all the original components. I got so caught up that it took me forever to realize this ship also had a ’27 Cryo-Star cooler. I grabbed it, and everything else I could carry, and then hustled back to Shana. Even contemplated going back for more but decided not to press my luck.

Instead, I got out of there and landed in Reis, probably the only truly safe place on the entire planet. It’s cramped, but the folks were nice enough. I rented a hangar and spent the next few days installing everything I snagged. By the time I left the system, Shana was running better than ever.

Funny, as I sit here recounting this tale to y’all, I just had a strange realization. Shana may be the only thing in the ’verse that I’d risk my life for. I’m not sure if that’s —

( extremely loud beeping )

Damn, how long have I been rambling? I best go take care of this drop before the client gets snippy. Didn’t even get the chance to tell you guys about how I’ve started making my own yogurt with really nothing more than a thermos. Guess that’ll have to wait until next time.

Until then, I’m Old Jegger and I’ll be seeing you somewhere Far From Home.

End Transmission

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