Lt. Fergie Lance sat in the bar, nursing her beer. It wasn’t a bad brew, to be sure, but it just went to highlight how badly the rest of her day had gone. Another ship lost, another fine from the Federation Navy. “If only they’d let me visit the engineers” she thought, “it might have been different”.

She’d just finished a shift, and was drinking away the sorrows of losing yet another Federal Assault ship in a local RES. The fine for losing it would cost her the whole day’s wages, and more. It’s not like the Federal Navy paid it’s pilots that much to begin with. At least she didn’t have to cover the insurance. At this rate she’d be flying a Federal Sidewinder by the end of the month.

It had all been going so well too. She’d been patroling the High Intensity RES site with her wing, as usual, protecting miners and other civilian traffic from the scum of the galaxy, something she was rather proud of, when one of those Pilots Federation types dropped into the instance. Immediately she had her wingmate scan the newcomer, to be safe, since you can never trust anyone who calls themselves Commander, and reassured, carried on the patrol.

That’s when it went wrong. They were taking out a wing of pirates when the Pilots Federation ship just joined in the frey. Fergie sighed, she’d seen this behaviour before, but there wasn’t much she could do. The law allowed bounty hunters, and sometimes she was happy for their assistance. Not that this one seemed to be doing a lot of good.

As the last pirate died, the comms channel errupted with the Pilots Federation commander screaming into the void about “kill stealing” and vengeance. Probably just hadn’t done enough damage to share the bounty, but that never stopped them before.

The next thing they knew, the commander was showing as part of a wing and three more of them dropped in, forming up around … him, her? It was hard to tell due to static on the channel to be fair. A warning alarm sounded, she was being scanned…

Moments later, her world had gone to hell. The Pilots Federation commander’s cobra had been joined by a clipper, a python and an anaconda. And they all opened up at once, Fergie’s entire wing decimated in a hail of munitions. It was hours before they were picked up by the corvette Argonaut and taken home to the station. Worse, the enemy wing had got away with it. Sure there was a bounty on them now, but they rarely stuck.

Fergie slowly shook her head. She expected the Pilots Federation group were laughing over mugs of gin or  brandy by now in some distant system, about how they’d killed the Feds again. She thought about checking the Frontier Forum, but without posting rights there – only Pilots Federation members got that, she’d only make herself even more depressed. Better to just suck it up and hope she didn’t get demoted again.

She finished her drink, looked around the bar, and left.