Plying the Backwaters
Hopper Anderson is a small, quick flygirl who works at attracting no notice at all.
Hopper Anderson grew up on Asteroid 4151 and got off it as soon as she was legally able to sign up for Service. It didn’t take her long to discover that life in the Scouts was only marginally better than life on an asteroid. Half a year later, she disappeared on a three-day pass and hasn’t been seen officially since.
After a few years of scraping by doing odd jobs under the table at one spaceport or other, Hoppy fell in with a guy who knew a guy, who could get in touch with a guy who could fake a new persona. She is now in debt to Fussy Jones for 20,000 CR, but with the new legitimacy the types of jobs she can land has risen. A competent pilot, she was on the spaceport rota as a substitute pilot for cargo runs. The work was steady.
Soon she could meet Mr. Jones’ minimum monthly payment with some left over, beside. Not bothering to tell him that, she saved it towards the price of her own craft. If she could buy and maintain a transport vessel for low orbit hops, she could go into the cargo business herself, eliminating the middle man and paying off her debt that much sooner.
It was at one of the second-hand dealer’s lots, when she was assessing the market, that disaster almost struck. “Anderson, isn’t it?” a voice behind her said. She turned to see a Navy man that she vaguely recognized; she recalled a Scout mission handed off, years ago…. “You must be mistaken,” she replied after a moment. “My name is Hale.” He took it with a noncommittal grunt, but seemed to consider that they had met before.
“Looking for a ship?” he asked. It was Hopper’s turn to make a noncommittal noise. “Me, too. Freighter. Need to get off dirtside.”
“Not me. I’m looking to do hops.”
Jordan looked at her and then at the ship in front of them. “Nah, I think what you want, is to keep on the move, planet-wise.”
One month later, not quite sure how she got there, Hopper was giving her imprint on the contract for the Free-Trader Loki, a freighter for interstellar runs. She owned 1% outright, and Jordan owned 1%, and they were heavily in debt for the remaining 98%. She wondered how she was going to explain to Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones, on the whole, took it well. He explained to her that he would be coming along, to protect his investment. In return, he would arrange cargo. He brought along Hank Muller [link not currently working], known to Hopper as the man who hooked her up with Mr. Jones. He arranged for the hire of a computer expert, Randall Bragg, also vaguely familiar to Hopper from her scout days, but seemingly equally willing to accept her face under a new name.
True to his word, Mr. Jones has arranged several cargo transports to two worlds, and a number of passenger transports, lowberth and stateroom. Hank has arranged to hire a steward. Liftoff is in a few days.