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Age 38 in 1202
by Lewis Roberts
Nebula Contest Entry
Hugh was never that interested in the ranching business. He worked on the farm with the rest of his six brothers and sisters, but he never loved it they way they did. He just didn't think ranching was that exciting of a life. The one part of the ranch he did like was riding out to the middle of nowhere and just watching the stars go by. He did show a knack for mechanical things, and he spent much of his free time fixing up an old off road vehicle that he had been given on his 12th birthday.
Hugh often went with his Mother to sell duranga to the visiting Free Traders. One of the Free Traders that came a few times one year was Big Red. Big Red was a beat up Jayhawk Far Trader, owned by Red MaClanahan. It was pretty old and Red always claimed it had seen service in the Solomani Rim War.
After visiting with Red and his crew, Hugh heard the siren call of space. Red was fairly impressed with the teenager and offered to let Hugh join the crew. The current ship's engineer was getting on in years and was thinking about retiring. Red had been trying to find a trained replacement, but had been unable to find one. He figured the next best thing was a smart kid. Initially Hugh's mother said no, but Red said his ship would back later that year. After several months of pleading and pouting, Hugh's parents finally agreed to let him go.
So Hugh signed on and became the lowest employee on Big Red. He was given a great deal of the grunt work, such as scrubbing out the environmental tanks, washing out the hold after the duranga shipments, etc. He also learned a lot from the old engineer, who retired after two years. By then Hugh knew enough to keep the engines going and was constantly learning more.
For the next twenty years the ship traveled throughout the spinward half of Old Expanses. Red was pretty a capricious guy and often he would decide that he was bored with an area of space and strike off into new territory. Often this put him at odds with existing ships with existing routes, but he didn't mind. This wasn't the most profitable of business schemes, but Red was more interested in seeing things than being rich.
Throughout this time Hugh kept this ship going, through lean times and through rich times. Numerous times Hugh saved the ship from certain disaster by coming up with a necessary repair. Red never seemed to appreciate this, and never offered to let Hugh buy into the ship. Hugh was always the hired hand, and given a flat salary, rather than a share of the profits. Other crew members were allowed to buy in, but never Hugh. Hugh was always pretty bitter about this, he thought about quitting, but there weren't that many other ships and they had engineers.
Hugh spent much of his time ashore partying and living life up. Truthfully, Hugh squandered much of his salary and never really had enough cash to buy into the ship, even if Red had offered. Hugh never looked at things this way though. He just saw that Red never even offered him the chance. Hugh had a big mouth and this often got him into trouble. He was often involved with brawls at starport taverns and several times Red had to bail him out. He didn't save his big mouth for groundhuggers, he had several epic arguments with Red. Red never threatened to fire Hugh over these incidents. Red took into account the excellent work that Hugh did on the ship, and Red had a pretty big temper of his own.
In the late 90's Big Red encountered the newly formed Dawn League and realized that this would be a good source of work. So Big Red started working the inter-world trade and also exported Dawn League goods to the Wilds. It was fairly profitable and the ship was doing the best it had in several decades. By this time Red was in his mid-seventies and was thinking about the future. When he heard that Transstar was buying up ships, he decided to put his up for sale. Transstar like the ship and thought it was in excellent condition for a Wild ship. They paid Red a very nice sum. Red and several of the other crewmembers who had ship shares decided to retire and live a life of luxury. Since Hugh had never bought into the ship, he got nothing, even though much of the responsibility for the ship's condition was his.
Transstar did agree to hire Hugh on as the ship's engineer. He didn't much care for corporate life. He had to wear a really ugly uniform in port, and had to fill out tons of truly idiotic paperwork. Also all the ship ever did was travel between Eos and Nike Nimbus. After about a year of this, Thanongsack Vongfykeo one of the members of the Transstar Board of Directors came aboard to see how things were going. While having a tour of the engineering section, Thanongsack asked what Hugh thought was a ignorant question. Hugh pretty much told Thanongsack this, and with in a minute the two of them were engaged in a screaming match that went on for several minutes. Finally Hugh stormed off to his quarters.
Two weeks later, the ship received notice that Hugh had been let go due to "overstaffing". He was given a 10,000Cr severance package and politely escorted off the ship. Hugh didn't know what was next, but he certainly didn't want to stay another minute on Eos, he had seen way too much of this dustball in the last year. He heard the beaches on Trybec were pretty good, so he took the next ship out.
The beaches were as good as he had heard and set out to enjoy himself. A month later he was broke, but he had an amazing time, at least the parts he could remember. He realized that he better get back to work, and the first thing to do was find a ship.
Throw Range: 32
Unarmed Combat Damage: 2
Tony "the Bone" Debone: Crime boss on Yontz. Hugh and Tony were gambling together when the police raided the joint. Together they escaped and spent two nights running from the authorities. Since then Tony has risen to run one of the smaller crime syndicates.
Tsu-Hi Wong: Tsu-Hi is a army supply clerk on Marax in Thoezzent subsector. Hugh often had to deal with Tsu-Hi while scrounging for parts on Marax. Tsu-Hi is in debt to Hugh for a few unnamed favors and would be go to great lengths to repay Hugh.
Fi Silver: Fi is the captain of the Silver Tongue, a family owned Far Trader that works Shenk subsector. Fi and Hugh became friends while Big Red was working Shenk subsector before heading to Sarid (Orriflamme) subsector. When ever the two ships were in the same port, the two of them would head for the seamier side of things. Since then Fi has risen to Captain and is responsible for the fortunes of her entire family.
Shayla Riddle: Shayla is a call girl on Fija that Hugh saw quite often while helping Transstar renovate the Big Red. They also became friends, and Tony is upset that he hasn't seen her in over a year.