Sol Date 23990
To the Starside Assistance dispatcher I spoke with yester sol: I was the fool who broke down on the edge of Automaton 4’s third ring. My gravity systems failed and life support was in the red. You bent the rules to send me help even though my coverage expired. Pretty sure you saved my life. My ship’s a bucket of never-bolts fueled by hopes and dreams, but if you’re ever up for a misadventure in the stars, I’d love to show you a gas nebula sometime. 
-Broke Down and Crushing Hard
Aw, this is adorable. I hope they find each other. 
I can’t believe I called in sick for that shift!! That could have been me! FML. I swear I have the worst luck. 
Hello there, Broke Down and Crushing Hard. I am a lawyer with Sisquitch & Rowe, investigating a sudden spike in life support (LS) failures. Would you be willing to turn in your failed LS for study in exchange for a new model under full warranty? DM me here for more information. 
Today’s top feed story is a heart-tugging appeal from a pilot known only as ‘Broke Down and Crushing Hard’, who found their life in the hands of a Starship Assistance dispatcher who allegedly bent the rules to save the pilot’s life. This story has caught the attention of galactic citizens everywhere, perhaps made especially poignant given the tragedy befalling the colony ship Hope after its own life support systems failed just a few months ago. The galaxy is still reeling from the near two million lives lost. Is Broke Down and Crushing Hard, like the Hope, just another victim of quality cuts to maximize corporate profitability?
Nebulous Newsfeed’s sister publication, the Daily Galaxy, has since released a damaging article citing Starside Assistance’s policy of abandoning pilots who have no coverage without so much as a call to Emergency Services. While this policy is neither new nor limited to Starside Assistance, given the rising toll of ship fatalities related to life support failure, the public is left wondering how much it could truly cost these companies to relay these calls to Emergency Services. At what point does profit over life become criminal negligence? Nebulous Newsfeed reached out to Starside Assistance for comment but we have not yet received a reply from the company. 
Emergency staff meetings are to be called at once. Any staff members caught interacting with media personnel without management approval will find their contracts terminated, effective immediately. Managers are to debrief all staff members on the ‘missed connection’ fiasco and reiterate that any assistance dispatched to former and/or non-customers is also grounds for immediate dismissal. 
Sol Date 23991
UPDATE: Wow, this got pretty intense. Thank you to everyone who shared my post. I’ve received thousands of messages from people claiming to be the Starside dispatcher who helped me, but…I’m not sure how to tell it’s really you, to be honest. I’m not even sure why you’d bother to answer, I just hope you do. 
-No longer broke down but still crushing hard
Of course, I’ll answer. You were at death’s door and you still made me laugh. I’m not sure how to prove that I’m me, but here goes: you had your pet fish with you, in something you called its ‘travel tank’ which I strongly suspect was just an old jar. You should have been panicked about running low on breathable air, but instead you were worried about what would happen to your fish. The fish’s name is Skyswimmer Finn and you told me its lifelong goal was to be the first goldfish to visit all nine galaxies before it died, but it had only seen eight. I couldn’t let it die with its goal so close. Or you, before I had the chance to meet you. 
It IS you! I can’t stop grinning. Will you meet me for coffee?
-Broke Down and Crushing Hard
I’d like that. My favorite coffee place is Flossy’s Occult Diner on the 13th Meridian Moon. 
Let’s go there. This time, tomorrow sol? I’ll bring Skyswimmer Finn with me, so you’ll know it’s me. And because he wants to meet you. 
-Broke Down and Crushing Hard
We have placed a team of Employee Resource agents at the Diner the missed connections dispatcher has chosen for their meeting place. Once these agents have determined which employee is responsible for this fiasco, we will be laying charges of theft. Given the unfortunate virality of this incident we have no choice but to react severely and make an example of this dispatcher. The employee will be terminated immediately and charges of theft up to and including one million credits will be levied. After their arrest and subsequent trial, the law states they will be sentenced to no less than three stellar years in prison. Starside Assistance, Incorporated feels that this penalty, though severe, is the best way to ensure future employees do not attempt similar rescues. 
Sol Date 23992
HOLY SHIT. Starside are you out there? We gotta find them! I work at Flossy’s Occult Diner and this place is crawling with Employee Resource agents and intergalactic cops. They’re saying they’re here to arrest Starside for stealing from their profits or something? Oh yeah, and that it was illegal to save Broke Down and Crushing Hard. You gotta stay away. DON’T COME. I’ll tell Broke Down when they get there with their fish. Maybe you two can work something out in your DM’s. Everybody, you gotta share the shit out of this if we’re going to keep Starside out of prison.
WTH, that’s so wrong. I’m cancelling my Starside Assistance right now. What a bunch of monsters. Come on everybody, let’s work together and boycott this crap company. We’ll show them what lost profits look like. 
This nonsense has gone on long enough. We are hemorrhaging customers. I want every call we’ve taken in the last month tracked down and analysed until we find the dispatcher responsible for this mess. 
M. Berg, CEO
In a bizarre link to the Broke Down and Crushing Hard phenomenon, Emergency Services (ES) have received a sudden influx of starships with failed life support systems. In the past twenty atomic hours, the number of ships calling ES for failed life support has increased by a whopping five hundred percent. When ES personnel were asked if this was a new fad related to the viral missed connection, ES workers explained that the life support systems of all ships involved were removed and sent for detailed analysis. If pilots tampered with their life support in a misguided attempt to find love, then these pilots would be responsible for paying for their emergency services and possible fines for mischief. ES and Nebulous Newsfeed would like to remind everyone that finding love is much easier alive than dead. Stay safe out there in the starlight. 
(partial transcript)
STELLAR LUNA- Good evening listeners, I know there are few of you listening who haven’t been touched by the Hope disaster and the many smaller life support failures plaguing our galaxy. We are veiled in mourning, our hearts hidden, protected. But one story has lifted that veil. Listeners, tonight our guest is none other than Broke Down and Crushing Hard, the pilot who stole hearts across the galaxy in their search for the dispatcher who saved their life. They are sitting across from me now and appear to be a member of a humanoid species, so Starside, if you’re listening, you have a clue to whether your species are sexually compatible, wink wink. (Laughter) Oh my gosh, our pilot is blushing. I love it. Are you willing to tell us your real name, Crusher, or am I going to have to embarrass it out of you?
BROKE DOWN AND CRUSHING HARD: Sure. Uh, my name is Mike.
SL: Well, Mike, what can you tell us about yourself?
BD&CH: Well, I am a male human, as you mentioned. My parents are from Earth, but I was born in unmapped space, so I’m nobody special.
SL: Oh, I think you’re very special. And this Starside Assistance dispatcher, what do you know about them? Species, gender?
BD&CH: No, nothing like that. I know they’re a good person, they saved my life and I’m really sorry if this has gotten them into any trouble. That definitely wasn’t my intention. I feel terrible that their boss is going after them and I hope they can forgive me. I’m also happy to take financial responsibility for what happened. 
SL: What exactly are your intentions?
BD&CH: I guess to start with, I want to say thank you for saving my life, but I also felt a connection. We made each other laugh and it was easy, like we were in sync. And that felt pretty rare, so I wanted to take a chance, see if I could find them. I hope that isn’t creepy, but I figured they could just ignore me if they wanted and that would be that, but now…
SL: Do you feel differently now that you have all this attention?
BD&CH: No, not at all. I’d give anything to speak with them again, but why would they want to now? I’ve possibly ruined their career, almost had them sent to jail. Geez, who would want a boyfriend like that? 
SL: Boyfriend, is that what you’re hoping to become?
BD&CH: I’m honestly just hoping to say I’m sorry and that I respect them and I never meant for this to go as far or as sideways as it has.
SL: But what do you think of the reports that your story has brought hope to many grieving in the galaxy, that we’re starting to smile again, to believe that life can be beautiful after tragedy?
BD&CH: I think it’s Starside who should get the credit for that. They risked everything to do what they thought was right, and to save my life in a galaxy where life doesn’t mean much anymore. I guess in that way, the rest of the galaxy can understand my crush. 
SL: And he’s blushing again, listeners. Adorable, just adorable. Hold up, Mike, my assistant is telling me someone’s called in. They’ve asked to be patched through. Caller, you there?
CALLER: Mike? It’s me, Starside.
BD&CH: I recognize your voice! Are you okay, are you safe?
CALLER: Yeah, I am. Listen, it’s not your fault, what’s happening. I don’t want you to beat yourself up over it. I chose to break the rules and I take responsibility for my actions. There’s no way I could live with myself knowing someone died when I could have helped. Besides, it was worth it. You trying to find me meant a lot to me and I want you to know that. But you should probably forget about me. 
BD&CH: No, I don’t want to do that.
CALLER: (sighs) Look, they’re going to find out it was me. They’ve got entire teams reviewing data to find your call and my employee number is on it. 
BD&CH: Ah, but they’d never find us out past the Fugitive Belt. 
CALLER: (chuckles) There’s a reason non-fugitives don’t want to live out there.
BD&CH: I don’t know, I think the radiation could do wonders for my complexion.
CALLER: And I have always wanted a bulbous growth on my jawbone.
BD&CH: Right? I adore bulbous growths, almost as much as I adore you. 
SL: OMG is this guy for real? Starside, if you don’t want him, I’ll take him.
CALLER: I’m glad I took your call, Mike. 
BD&CH: Please tell me they didn’t hang up. 
SL: I’m afraid they did. 
BD&CH: Damn. 
SL: Listeners, the look of devastation on Mike’s face is breaking my heart. I’ve got to say, on behalf of the universe watching this love story unfold, I don’t think we can accept anything but a happy ending. And I’m not sure we’re going to get that right now. I think the reason this missed connection went viral is because with all the profit-over-citizens crap happening right now, we need to know that the corporations can’t control every aspect of our lives. We need hope. We need that, Mike, and broke down or not, you and Starside are not allowed to give up yet, because we’re counting on you. 
End Transcript
We have tracked down and arrested the employee responsible for the missed connection: Zephyr Jedda. Her employment and all benefits have been terminated. Please advise your managers that any of them offering references for her future employment will likewise be terminated. 
A PR firm has been retained to rebuild our popularity in the wake of this unfortunate besmirching.
M. Berg, CEO
Starside Assistance, Inc. has reported they have found ‘Starside’ of Broke Down and Crushing Hard renown. In a bold move, they have ordered a closed courtroom for the hearing and have paid literally millions to keep Starside’s picture and identity out of the Galactic media. Nebulous Newsfeed’s relationship specialists suggest this move is likely calculated to ease the story out of the popular media and drive it underground to protect corporate profits. In a blatant display of sabotage, the lawyer Sisquitch of Sisquitch & Rowe has offered a thousand credit reward for any information leaked to the media and promises full anonymity. 
To: Mike Zenshe
Whereas Zephyr Jedda has been charged with theft under and including one million credits from Starside Assistance, Incorporated.
This is therefore to command you to attend court on sol date 24024 at the Dimoran Justice Palace to give evidence regarding the charge. 
The subpoena above is a Court Order. Please be advised that failure to comply with the Court Order may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. 
Ms. Sisquitch, I received the subpoena like you said I would. Please a find a copy attached. Where do I go from here? I can’t let them do this to Zephyr. 
> Re: Subpoena
> Leave it to me. I have enough information to present myself as Zephyr’s lawyer. She’ll probably have been assigned one already but, humility aside, I’m considered one of the best. I’m waiving my fee; you kids can’t afford me anyway.
>> Re: Re: Subpoena
>> I’m very grateful to you for this, but…and please forgive me, but can we trust you? The corporations run this galaxy. 
>> -M
>>> Re: Re: Re: Subpoena
>>> Indeed, they do, but my lover was on board the Hope when its life support systems failed, and I think Starside Assistance had something to do with it. You two are my ticket in. Understood?
>>>> Re: Re: Re: Re: Subpoena
>>>> Yes, ma’am. Glad you’re on our side. 
>>>> -M. 
Sol Date 24023
Hey everybody, and I mean everybody! I work in the judicial system and received word today that Starside’s trial is tomorrow sol. How many bribes do you think it took to get to trial that fast? I bet the company is hoping Starside’s defense attorney won’t have time to work up a decent defense. What a bunch of crooked bastards. What do you say we all meet up and protest the heck out of the Dimoran Justice Palace in the morning? The citizens have something to say and we stand with Starside! 
-Burner Account User 41
Sweet! I can make up some ‘Free Starside’ buttons and we could sell them, give the money to Starside to help pay her legal fees. 
Nice! I’ll make some shirts!
And I’ll bring some extra protest signs. Anyone up for composing some catchy protest chants?
After the time and date of the ever-popular Starside’s trial was revealed on the same social media site that spawned the Broke Down and Crushing Hard phenomenon, millions of citizens have flocked to the Dimoran Justice Palace to make their support known. Police on the scene were quickly overwhelmed but say the protestors have been respectful and they do not perceive any threat to the proceedings. Protestors interviewed say they ‘just want to show their support for Starside.’ 
Two-time Musicosmos winner Freddie Andromeda has staged an impromptu concert on the steps of the Justice Palace. Andromeda says they got the idea when a call went out for catchy protest chants and spent most of the night working on new songs inspired by the missed connection lovers, Broke Down and Crushing Hard and his beloved Starside. This concert will be livestreamed on Andromeda’s personal sites for those who can’t make it to the protest.
My boss says I couldn’t catch a scoop with the Big Dipper, so I’m going rogue. This is Jyn Rummy, Ace Reporter, reporting for citizens. Today I’m sitting inside the Dimoran Justice Palace courtroom where Starside, AKA Zephyr Jedda, is on trial. 
I’m going to live tweet the whole thing. How’s that for a scoop, boss?
Broke Down and Crushing Hard, AKA Mike Zenshe, is already here, waiting to give his testimony. He looks nervous, and who wouldn’t be, he’s about to meet-and testify against-someone he’s been crushing on in person for the first time. I’ve got a few butterflies myself. 
Okay, the guards are bringing in an Aquan female. She’s got a coif of wafting fin cascading from her head and neck in that funky humanoid goldfish vibe Aquans have. Is this Starside? Her skin, sorry, scales are golden, and she’s blushing. Oh, now she’s staring at Mike. 
They’ve both got these cheesy grins on their faces and can’t take their eyes off each other. It’s adorable. Wow. This is the real deal, folx. This is Love. Damn. I want this. 
The judge has arrived. They’re swearing Mike in and he’s giving his account of what happened when he broke down and called Starside Assistance, Inc. You know this part. 
Starside Assistance’s CEO, M. Berg is here representing the company and they appear furious over the way Zephyr and Mike are staring at each other. I think their top lip just curled into a sneer. Starside Assistance, Inc, your CEO is a love grinch.
Berg’s lawyer, identified as Mr. Tortus, is going over the small details of the case. He’s fixating on Mike’s lack of coverage. They are showing records that state Mike cancelled his Starside Assistance Program the week before his breakdown. 
Zephyr’s lawyer, Ms. Sisquitch, is questioning Mike now. She’s asking him to reiterate that he cancelled his assistance. Mike makes a joke about how unlucky that was, but Sisquitch is grim. Now she’s saying that Mike sent her company his LS system the day after the breakdown.
Mike has left the witness stand and Sisquitch has called in an expert witness who is a Tinkerbot. They worked on the investigation into the Hope disaster before Sisquitch hired them to analyze Broke Down and Crushing Hard’s life support. 
The Tinkerbot says Mr. Zenshe’s LS system sustained fatal damage after several internal synapse connector relays were missed. Sisquitch is asking the Tinkerbot to link to the system’s mind drive and determine how the connections were missed. 
Sisquitch has handed the Tinkerbot the system, which looks like a small, dark box. The Tinkerbot verifies it is Zenshe’s and inserts an uplink to download the LS system’s data.
Sisquitch asks them what they found. Recording video:
TINKERBOT: The mind drive has been infected with a virus that is disrupting the synapse connections flow.
SISQUITCH: And is this virus responsible for the failure of Mr. Zenshe’s life support?
SISQUITCH: Did you probe the mind drive’s memory to determine where the virus originated?
SISQUITCH: What can you tell us about this virus?
TINKERBOT: The virus is not sophisticated and appears to have been created by a coding error that has gained some autonomy within the mind drive. Tinkerbots encounter this type of virus often, and label them as a neglect virus.
SISQUITCH: Thank you, Tinkerbot. And where are these viruses most often encountered?
TORTUS: Objection, your Honor. What does this have to do with Zephyr Jedda?
SISQUITCH: Your honor, if you could grant me a few more minutes, it will be made obvious.
JUDGE: I have a few minutes. Overruled.
SISQUITCH: Tinkerbot, when do bots most often encounter viruses of this ilk?
TINKERBOT: Most often in companies who don’t keep a coding professional on their team to maintain the code. Neglect viruses are becoming more common as companies use freelance coders to cut the cost of full-time employees.
SISQUITCH: Thank you, Tinkerbot. Now that we understand how these viruses occur, can you please tell us where Mike Zenshe’s life support system contracted the virus that led to its catastrophic failure?
TINKERBOT: The virus was introduced by Starside Assistance Incorporated’s cancellation program. 
BERG: (leaping to his feet) That’s preposterous!
JUDGE: Sit down, Mr. Berg, or I will hold you in contempt of Court.
SISQUITCH: To be clear, Tinkerbot, in the context of this case, you are saying that the cause of the breakdown that made Mr. Zenshe call for help was, in fact, Starside Assistance?
TINKERBOT: That is correct. 
SISQUITCH: Then I would suggest, your Honor, that Zephyr Jedda acted in the best interests of her company when she rescued Mike Zenshe. 
End Transcript
In a stunning turnaround, Starside Assistance Incorporated has been determined to be the cause of numerous life support failures across the galaxy. Sisquitch and Rowe have launched a full inquiry, including reopening the investigation into the Hope disaster. With luck, families will finally get the answers they’ve been looking for. 
All charges laid against Zephyr Jedda, AKA Starside, have been dropped and the CEO of Starside Assistance has offered her a formal apology and a generous settlement for trouble caused. When asked what she was going to do with her restored freedom, Jedda was quoted saying “I’m taking a tour of a gas nebula in a bucket of never-bolts fueled by hopes and dreams.” 
Nebulous Newsfeed has since had numerous reports of Zephyr Jedda, Mike Zenshe, and what appeared to be a fish in a pickle jar boarding a ship in the Dimoran cluster. Their fans wish them many wonderful misadventures in the stars.