Hans Maximillian Kruger was a President of the Landreich.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

He was the son of a drunkard, who grew up in a dreasy icebound mining settlement. To escape his drunken father he hoped the acceptance from the Confederation Service Academy, but by 17 it had not come.[1] Winston Turner was on the selection committee and looked his application, but as he was not of the Terran Confederation, there was not enough room for him.[2]

Sarn pilot[edit | edit source]

He signed on to the next merchant ship leaving port, and for 4 years worked his way up through the ranks of the Sarn shipping firm, earning his copilot's license at 20.[1]

Haffa Sarn considered Kruger one of his extended family. However one night he saw Haffa's son, Venela Sarn, pulling a blaster to blow a bar girl away for her impertinent refusal, and Kruger killed him in self-defense, dodging his first blow and then shotting off his head. At that moment he had glimpsed a weird moment of hyperawareness and calm detachment, but the fear of what his family would do to him, didn't allow him to fully embrace that special feeling. Old Haffa threatened him and Kruger realized he'd not make it to court.[1]

Smuggling[edit | edit source]

While on Gainer's World he hopped in the first ship pulling out; it was a smuggler ship from the Landreich, the Phantom in need of a copilot. It took some time to get used to the smell of the remains of the previous copilot, while he suffered the hazing until he had proven himself, especially from Igor; but he suffered silently as he knew that in a one on one against Igor, chances were he'd lose (a part of his body, or his life). All this while he was wanted for murder in Terran Confederation territory. He admired the captain Kevin Milady as much as he feared him.[1]

The Phantom was carrying an illegal shipment of Kilrathi durasteel down in the hull and Hans was entitled 1/50. While in Hallin system, the Phantom was engaged by Kilrathi Vak fighters that were joined by more ships; on Kevin's request for a readout he punched in a data inquiry, that displayed a Targu-class. He announced that the 2 frigates were accelerating and closing to 1:37. Kevin performed a maneuver tumbling the ship to the opposite direction, making Hans to grunt, slamming into his seat. The fighters were now on their front, and Kevin shouted to lock on with the lasers; Hans nervously leaned forward to peer at the dancing blips across the glass on the HUD, and as Igor shooted, he was seeing flashing red lights and a target circle weaving back and forth, waiting for his command to lock and fire, but it was too late as the Vak peeled off. Kevin cursed him for the lost opportunity. The plot board showed the frigates still closing within 10 seconds, and he was wondering why Kevin let the ship be a sitting duck. Then Kevin does another tumble just in time to evade the frigates's firewall. The ship was hit, and instinctively he wore his protective helmet, gaining a disdainful snort from Kevin, pointing out that survival wouldn't matter if he would be captured by the Cats. Marilyn Langer shouted that one Vak was winged and coming up front; his helmet banged against the forward viewport as he lined up on the HUD losing acquisition, but only for a second in order to hit the forward lasers, finishing it off.

As they headed for the jump point, they noticed that the frigates turned about faster than usual, and he warned Kevin that the Phantom would not make it before they caught up. Kevin told him to shut up and launched a nuke mine. Learning that the ship carried illegally one all that time, Hans cried to Kevin, who told him to "get the hell off" he he wants to quit, and lock on the light frigate that blocked their way.

The mine neutralized one ship, but the other launched three seekers, the low-pitched town squaeled in his headset causing him terror. Kevin ordered him to blow chaff and Hans punched the chaff launch button 5 times, but 2 seekers managed to pass. Kevin activated the jump engine, and Hans warned him that they don't have enough energy so Kevin shut off the shields.

The Phantom was at the intersection of flashing lights and Hans felt a weird sensation of impending death, but also of distant detachment experience: he felt his mind clear and calm, while time stopped, allowing him to live fully the moment and think clearly. After the overwhelming terror at the start of the action, in a perverse sort of way, he enjoyed himself in a cold joy. He realized Kevin's feeling of terror, concentrated on the curses shout by Marilyn and Igor, and the data on the plot board standed out remarkably clearly for him. At that new state of dilated time and heightened awareness, he realized and recognised that the light frigate consistently failed to hit them; on the contrary its lousy gunnery caused their own Vaks to hold back. Knowing their imbecility, and that they wouldn't need to maneuver, he slammed the scoops off in order to gain speed, surprising Kevin who now couldn't maneuver; with an uncanny calmness Hans explained his rationale.

Indeed they shot through the frigate's fire and the engines were engaging. Kevin's expression of relief was replaced by a sudden light: Langer shot the last seeker, but took close to the unshielded ship, tearing open the aft section. Langer's plood and flesh was sprayed up into the cockpit, and turning back at Kevin he saw him decapitated by a hunk of metal, and Igor covered by debris, his legs broken, crippled and bleeding. The ship was being depressurized; Hans's jumpsuit sealed his wrists but his hands were exposed to vacuum, and freezing. Gradually losing his movements and sensation, he fumbled to put on his gloves, and slapped them nervously on his thighs to snap the locks closed.

Moments before the jump, he felt Igor behind him, severely wounded and without a helmet, suffocating. Momentarily the jump kicked in, and they safely escaped back into the demilitarized zone. Igor stood up and approached him with a terryfying expression and tried to claw Hans's helmet; Hans felt some satisfaction looking at his former tormentor harmless. He watched him as Igor became weaker and moisture from his body evaporate, and fell to his knees. Hans half-worried that he might shoot his blaster to take Hans with him. Surprisingly, he only tried to smile and gave him a thumbs up gesture, before falling dead, as if he finally accepted his worth.

The tense moment of hyperawareness drifted away, and Hans decided that he will seek it again, and embrace the feeling of clear thoughts and of being alive. He knew that he easily crossed a line of challenge and this changed him forever. After seeing Kevin's eyes (whom he admired) he realized not even he ever had such sense of control.

Hans found out that he reached safely the demilitarized zone and the area around the Phantom was safe. Fuel was at absolute zero and he popped the hydrogen scoops open to replenish the fuel, that would take a couple of days. He planned to throw the bodies to space, repair the punctures outside with plasti-seal and seal the stern access hatch with an inflatable collar. For a moment the thought to salvage the illegal cargo and keep the half of it, but then he decided that he is the new owner of the ship and its cargo.[1]

Captain of the Lazarus[edit | edit source]

Turning on the scoop systems, he managed to collect enough power and after a week he limped back to Hell Hole. He repaired, upgraded and rechristened the ship Lazarus (with appropriate bribes) and had it registered to his name. For this he had to buy off some of Kevin's old friends (with each buy off, more showed up requiring money). In self-defense, he resolved to another killing. During that he felt again that strange detachment, and he was troubled to find out he was unshaken. He was still trying to hide from the Sarn, fearing that his newly gained reputation might reach them; he was also wanted by the Confed because of the Kilrathi fuss caused after his ship destroyed the frigate. He spent one more 50000 to install a nuke mine, not fearing about one more capital charge.

Someone called Mr. Jackson wanted to charter a smuggling run into Kilrathi space. Hans was not much afraid of the Kilrathi, but a lingering fear of the Sarn remained in him and that the business was a setup. He had an arrangement to meet the client in the station's bar on 2436.170. He presented himself as Meyer. He finally saw some people in the corner that looked out of place and approached them. Mr. Jackson, while seeing in front of him a too young, and nervous pilot, saw in him the strange detachment, a quality shared between the best fighter jocks; earned the hard way. He sat turning his chair so as to have the wall at his back. He told about the recent upgrades done on his ship, which one of the clients found strange as he sacrificed cargo space for them; Hans explained that defense and safe return was more important to him. Jackson said that he knew about his last adventure, as he saw a vid shot by a technician; the information worried Hans, fearing that the evidence could fall into wrong hands.

The client knew that Hans was wanted and that the Sarns were asking for him, and mentioned that it is better for both if they left soon. Hans also understood that they are from the Terran Confederation Fleet, and they weren't a threat for him. The client made clear that both sides want keep a low profile, and all that he needs to know is that they need to get to one of the trade points deep inside Kilrathi territory, for a shipment of Gotherian glasswork. Against standard consignment contract, Hans asked 75% of the profits, as the recent loss of the frigate made the trip more dangerous, and shook hands; Turner thought that such an inexperienced pilot would not hate the Confed as did the others. Kruger gave them 12 hours to load his ship, at dock station 33. A Sarn hitman was watching his movements in the bar, but after Kruger left, the hitman was killed by Turner.[2]

Turner promised him 50 thousand credits when they get back.[3]

Later life[edit | edit source]

He married Margaret Kruger.

Character[edit | edit source]

"Winston Turner looked up, startled by just how young the owner of the ship looked. He could sense that the boy was nervous. He had seen that type of nervousness often enough when a young fleggie was facing the dreaded senior oral exams. That was clearly evident, and yet there was another quality as well that Turner found interesting—the boy seemed to almost be functioning on two levels at once. He was engaged in business with them, and yet there also seemed to be a strange detachment from it all. Some of the best fighter jocks he had ever met had that quality, the ability to stay detached in a crisis, to analyze the flood of information dispassionately, and then almost inevitably make the right decision. He knew Vance Richards had the quality, Tolwyn would most likely acquire it as well... and this boy seemed to have earned it the hard way."
― {{{2}}}

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Kruger appears in Fleet Action, Action Stations, and False Colors, and is mentioned in Star*Soldier. The disparity between his estrangement from the Confederation, as well as his name, comes from the first two novels and is partially resolved in the third, in what is an apparent retcon by author Andrew Keith.

References[edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Template:AS
  2. 2.0 2.1 William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, Chapter 5
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named as8
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