The comm rang. Vickers looked at the display and saw the signal was really bad. He hoped he would get through.
"Energix Systems tech support, this is Macie. How may I help you?"
"Yes, hi. Hugo Vickers here, and I'm having some trouble with my Energix Systems FTL drive. You guys have 3 years on-site service, right?"
"Ah," the support agent cleared her throat. "Not anymore. Due to financial reasons we had to end our on-site service package after the first year. If you're having problems, you should take it in to one of our dealers."
"Wait a minute. When I purchased my drive system, I got the extended warranty, so I should still have half a year on my warranty."
"I'm sorry, sir, but all extended warranties were amended to remove the on-site service after the first year. We should have sent you a message about this a few months ago. Let me check."
The signal went silent for a bit while the agent checked something and Vickers mumbled swear words under his breath. This was not a good time to get into a customer service battle but he was in dire need of service.
"Sir?" the agent said. "I've checked and we did indeed send you a message notifying you of this change. You had a month to make any objections and that period passed without any contact from you."
"I never got it."
"Are you sure it's not in your junk message folder?"
"Goddammit," Vickers yelled and smacked the empty co-pilot chair next to him.
"Look, Macie, I'm in a terrible bind here. When I last exited FTL, something smashed into the drive. Now it won't power down, but it is using a ridiculous amount of power. I need help, and I need it soon. And I'm too far away from any civilized world to get there before things get impossible."
"We could send out a technician? But that would incur the standard cost. It wouldn't be covered by your warranty."
"Fine! I don't care about the warranty anymore, just send someone as quickly as possible!"
"Alright, sir, I just need a location and I'll start setting up the appointment."
Vickers checked his navigation screen.
"I'm in the Uncharted Zone, quadrant 24."
"Oh," Macie said. Vickers thought he noticed a tone that worried him.
"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't service the Uncharted Zone."
"What? Why not?" Vickers was now leaning forwards, as if getting closer to the speakers would allow him to get the answer faster.
"Because in the amended warranty, it also states that we've had to limit the areas in which we're able to provide service."
"But you just said the warranty didn't matter for this service call!"
"That's true, but only when it comes to payment. We just don't service anything outside the inner galactic ring."
Vickers rubbed his eyes and sighed.
"Macie. Listen to me very carefully. The situation I'm in is as follows. The FTL drive keeps spinning up and then immediately cycling down. It's going through my power reserves quicker than I can charge my batteries. I am going to run out of power in about 13 hours. Life support will be turned off in 12."
"I'm sorry to hear that, sir, and if..."
Vickers interrupted her, "Macie, I am going to die if you don't send someone."
"Again, I'm very sorry to hear that. But there's nothing I can do."
Vickers considered his options. One was getting extremely angry, but he preferred the second option he thought up.
"Can I speak to your manager?"
"I'm sorry sir, company policy states that..."
"Never mind! God. So you honestly say you won't do anything for me?"
"I can't, sir. And as I said, I'm very sorry about..."
And the comm signal went silent. Vickers stared out of the cockpit window and sighed.
He should've gone with a Veridian FTL drive instead.