Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

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Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

Postby stylesrj » Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:21 am

Been almost a year or so since I last made FTL fanfiction. But now I'm back. Back into the fight with Fight of the Osprey. If anyone remembers the old one, expunge it from your memory. This time, Fight of the Osprey won't suck. Hopefully.

My main plan with each chapter is to provide a present storyline of navigating the nebula of Gamma Cluster, with cuts to past adventures (like how Debbie came onboard or who died on the way to giant alien spiders) which ultimately lead into a sort of rich-narrative adventure.

Most of it will be set in the Gamma Cluster but depending on my interest levels in writing this and everyone else's, it might spread out towards other sectors (like Chiron Beta Prime). So yeah, without further ado, here's Chapter 1. Enjoy. Or not.

* * *

The Gamma Cluster was a frequent hotspot of conflict between the telepathic Slugs and the energy-based Zoltan. The Slug Trade Fleet and the Zoltan Resource Protection Committee would send ships out into the pink/purple gas clouds and exchange blows before departing.

As the Federation Cruiser FSS Osprey jumped into the sector, they happened to arrive at one such battlefield, their wrecked corpses forming a ring of debris around the entrance beacon. They were not close enough to the nebula for it to start interfering with the sensors.

Captain Douglas Jensen watched the debris impact against his ship’s shields like asteroids and sighed. “Are you sure this was a good idea Two-Zar?” he asked the robotic gorilla standing next to him.

The grey machine stared back at the man with an emotionless glowing green visor. “Sector Gamma Cluster” he intoned, tracing a multi-tooled hand across the screen “Composition of nebula gas clouds. Product of Slug Celaforming.”

“Everyone knows that. Including the Rebel Fleet who have no doubt made preparations for their approach here” Douglas said in a very restrained voice “We’re underequipped as it is and we have no idea what lies ahead.”

“Nebula. Possible debris fields and plasma storms. Recommend avoidance” Two-Zar stated, swiping another display showing a pink/purple map of the sector along with a few spots where stars could be seen in the background. Small yellow diamond-shaped icons with blue circles around them were marked as “possible jump beacon” along with a note about the Rebel Fleet being prepared for the clouds.

“Directive, Captain?” Two-Zar intoned, tilting his head sideways at the Human.

Douglas rubbed his chin in contemplation, staring at the beacons in range. Then one of them flashed red. “Captain, we’ve got a distress signal on known Federation channels on one of the jump beacons. They could use our help” said a chittering voice over the comms.

“Robert, the Gamma Cluster is a frequent battlefield between Slug and Zoltan forces. Chances are it’s some old Zoltan wreck” Douglas replied to the sensor operator.

“Captain, isn’t it our duty to answer distress calls? Even in these hard times?” Robert buzzed “Otherwise we’d be no better than those alien-hating Rebels.”

“I am aware of the Federation’s goals and my duty as Captain of one of the Federation’s finest cruisers” Douglas explained calmly, sitting down in the piloting seat. He mentally prepared a set of beacons to jump towards that would (hopefully) maximise exploration along with speed.

“But Admiral Tully made it clear when he sent us on this mission” he continued “We are to reach Federation Command by any means necessary.”

Robert switched off his comms and remarked to himself “And we have to babysit that Engi spy while doing so.” He looked back at the sensor readouts and saw no other hazards in the area. The distress signal began to sputter and fade, only to start up again at another beacon, then another. “Guess it is just an old wreck.”

Meanwhile the Osprey spun up its FTL drive and prepared to jump to the next beacon.

* * *

Captain Douglas Jensen had barely put his duffel bag down near the helm when an Engi approached him, datapad in one of his multi-tooled arms. “Greetings” the machine said, holding the pad out expectantly “Congratulations on assignment to Osprey.”

“You’re my XO? Figures the Hive-Mind would want a Botan agent onboard” Douglas remarked, taking the datapad and quickly tried to grab the Engi’s hand to shake it. The machine withdrew quicker; his task completed. He replied “Affirmative. This unit is designated Two-Zar. Please consult manual. Time is short.”

Douglas shook his head and checked the datapad. There was an audio message flashing to which he played.

“This war is going to get worse before it gets better, Captain Jensen and Controller Metfel. Botan agents have managed to acquire intel about the Rebel fleets that will prove a means to an end of this senseless conflict” a man informed him. Admiral Tully, Douglas thought to himself, As the Federation currently stands he’s essentially the President.

“The intel you’re is carrying is vital to the remaining Federation fleet! Do not let it fall into the hands of the Rebels who are no doubt chasing after you even as we speak” Tully continued. Douglas could imagine the man leaning in close to the microphone as if using a quieter tone in an audio log made it more secretive.

“Intel? What intel?” Douglas asked, looking towards Two-Zar who was just standing there. Douglas knew enough about the machines that the Engi was unhappy about having to speak to the “slow” Human. “Never mind. Best I not know what data you’re carrying Two-Zar.”

“I have given you a sector map of the path of least resistance. Choose your route carefully and above all else, survive and do not get caught.”

The datapad briefly showed a sector map and beacon paths for several areas. Tully’s voice continued, although he sounded as if he wasn’t sure what he was authorising was the right thing to do. The tone of desperation.

“You are authorised to take whatever means is necessary to achieve this goal. If you need to firebomb a colony or steal medical supplies, the only consequences you’ll face will be on your conscience. I am entrusting you with something bigger than obeying the rules and regulations. We are all counting on at least one of you to make it back to Command with the intel.”

“Good luck and Godspeed Captain Jensen and Controller Metfel. Admiral Tully out.”

Two-Zar stated “Controller Metfel operating Stealth Cruiser Nesasio. Metfel optimal Captain for task. Would prefer assignment to Nesasio.”

“Hah, sounds like the machine is in love” Douglas commented, raising his arms out in front, his fingers cracking as he began setting a course. He was already acquainted with his crew before Two-Zar gave him the mission so he said over the comms “All hands, prepare for departure.”

The hangar bay doors opened and two ships were lowered via tractor beam outside of the base. Once free of the hangar, the engines flared and the FTL drive began spinning up. Once it was charged, the two ships Nesasio and Osprey jumped, thus starting their mission to save the Federation.
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Re: Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

Postby stylesrj » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:55 am

And now, Chapter 2. The mystery hasn't started quite just yet but well... we introduce Debbie who'll be a source of trouble.

* * *

The Osprey arrived at the next beacon, surrounded by the gaseous clouds of the nebula. A quick scan with the sensors brought up false object and energy signatures, which made the ship effectively blind.

Before Captain Douglas Jensen ordered the active sensors to be shut down, there was an immediate proximity warning as another ship came within close range, followed by teleporter signatures in the Osprey’s cargo hold. He quickly checked the internal cameras and spotted a Slug and his bodyguards waiting patiently in the room.

“On behalf of the Slug Trading Fleet, I presssent to you Federation Captain, a gift. A gift because of our most glorioussss alliance!” he said, his voice hissing through the folds in his head. “Why don’t you come on down here and receive it?”

Douglas frowned. He didn’t like the fact that the Slugs had just beamed onboard without being invited and everything pointed towards a trap or a ruse. However the Slug Trading Fleet did have a strange way of showing their gratitude. This left him unsure on what action to take, especially when the Slugs knew what he’d be thinking.

However before he could make a decision, he saw someone enter the cargo hold, wielding a massive crate over their shoulder. It was a massive black/grey alien lifeform that seemed to be made up of rocks. It towered over the Slug and guards and stared him down with glowing red eyes.

“Debbie… what are you doing?” Douglas said to himself, grabbing his blaster from underneath the console and quickly leaving the helm to get to the cargo hold. His XO, the Engi Two-Zar followed, shifting one of his multi-tooled arms into an ion blaster.

Inside the cargo hold, the Rock(wo)man looked at the Slug who was offering her a canister of something slimy. “Could you deliver thissss gift to your Captain?” the Slug asked her.

Without hesitation, the Rock shrugged “You’re talking to her. Good timing with the gift as well. You know how long it’s been since I’ve had a drink?”

The Slug doubled-back. “I wasssssn’t expecting a Rock to be leading a Federation ship” he hissed nervously before adding “Especially one of ssssuch… beauty.”

“Yeah well the Captain didn’t make it so I’m in charge.” Debbie said, glancing back at the doors before taking the canister and wrenching the lid off with ease.

The Slug recomposed himself and said, withdrawing a second canister and pouring one for himself “Now, most gracioussss captain, you must join me please in a drink to our alliance!"

While the two aliens knocked back their drinks, the Slug tried probing at Debbie’s thoughts with his telepathic powers. Rock minds were rather difficult to read – their neural pathways were decentralised making them truly “rocks for brains.” At the same time though, their authoritarian lifestyle left the people simple-minded.

But as he probed Debbie’s mind, he could sense an air of authority from this Rock which worried him greatly. Especially when the Rock yawned and remarked “That hit the spot. The anaesthetic you’ve dosed it with really enhances the flavour.”

His ruse discovered the Slug and his escorts quickly teleported back to his ship, leaving behind three Mantis guards. The insectoid warriors raised their claws and hissed as they assumed a battle stance. Debbie did the same thing, stamping the ground hard twice before she then threw the crate she was carrying at them. The bugs scattered out of the way and then charged at her, four legs skittering rapidly across the deck.

Rockmen (and women) were not well-known for their speed or agility, relying on brute strength and resilience to tank their way through combat. Federation Marines joked about how they were essentially moving cover. But as the Mantis warriors charged, Debbie met their charge with one of her own, moving surprisingly fast and tackling one of the bugs, crushing the insect instantly under her rocky bulk.

The other Mantises corrected their course and came leaping at her, spitting balls of acid at her rocky skin, causing it to burn before slicing at her with energy blades, cutting large chunks before Debbie could shake them off.
“You think you can defeat me that easily?” she shouted “I could take on your whole hive! Kazaaakplethkalik can go f-”

Before she could finish her insult, the cargo bay doors opened and several blue bolts of energy slammed into the Mantises, knocking them off the Rock and stunning them. This was followed up by several blaster shots, their insectoid heads popping off under fire.

Debbie laughed and leapt to her feet, surveying the carnage around her. Her skin was pockmarked from the acid and badly cut in places. A massive bloodstain ran down her front from where the crushed Mantis had been. “They should have known better than to mess with a Princess! Let’s take the fight to them!” she boasted, falling to her knees in the pain she was ignoring.

Douglas sighed, shaking his head “Debbie, you need medical attention right now, then I need you on weapons! It’s only a matter of time before…”

The Slug Captain hailed the crew “Oh about that, we've detected some worrying radiation coming from your medical unit, perhaps your princess should take a look?” and started laughing maniacally.

“Teleport signatures. Sensor room.” Two-Zar informed Douglas “Recommendation?”

Douglas smiled and holstered his blaster. “Debbie, go find out what’s going on with the medical systems, get patched up and hopefully get a recording of Robert splattering the intruders against the walls while you run diagnostic software.”

Two-Zar remarked “Probability of Ensign Robert Smith mission success is 78%. Odds favourable. Optimal plan.”
Douglas pointed to Two-Zar “And you, return to your station. I’ll be at mine. That Slug ship won’t hesitate to open fire once we wipe out his crew.”

Meanwhile in the Sensor room, Ensign Robert Smith reported excitedly over the comms “Slug soldiers? I don’t think they look like engineers”. His voice seemed to chitter, followed by the sound of energy blades being powered on.
Back home, his parents never let him touch a weapon, citing that “You have watched too much violent television. Especially that Captain Awesome fellow!”

But in the short time he had been serving on the Osprey, he discovered that he was a natural. Especially with the energy blades he was wielding. Upon seeing the Slugs teleporting into his little corner of the ship, he leapt into action, splattering their bodies and blood against the walls in a clean, precise fashion.

He powered the blades down and crossed his arms. The sensors then started beeping as the Slug ship’s profile indicated the deployment of weapons.

Douglas and Two-Zar were at their stations at this time. The Osprey’s guns deployed – two Burst Laser cannons popping out of the sides – the Mk.II edition. A red glow also started forming in the nose of the cruiser as the Vindicator Beam charged up.

Douglas never really understood how exactly the laser worked but so far it had proven to be reliable in piercing all shield barriers as if they were not there. The Slug ship was going to be in for a surprise once it was charged though.
“Looks like the Osprey is going to have some seafood.”

* * *

Slugger, Marsha and Artyom. Douglas remembered their names. They had served with him and Two-Zar on the Osprey as they proceeded with the mission of utmost importance. Now… now they were dead.

Douglas knew there were risks. He had lost soldiers and crew before during his career. It was to be expected throughout all the stages. A bad judgement call leading to an ambush; a missile strike that cripples the ship. They could happen and usually at the worst possible times. Even the best were not immune.

The Osprey was travelling through Engi-controlled territory. They had to traverse carefully for while the robotic lifeforms were willing to help, they had signed a very fragile peace treaty with the Rebellion and could only help Federation ships discreetly.

Douglas had just finished receiving goods from an Engi ship who had willingly surrendered to the Osprey. “Cannot be seen collaborating. Must register as surrender” the cargo ship’s Controller informed him. “Apologies.”

He headed towards the teleporter to check on Artyom. The very brutish Federation Marine was standing on one of the pads, dressed in a massive suit of combat armour. Douglas had joked that he looked more like a Rockman in that suit than a Human. “Da, but if this suit dies, you can’t go to quarry and carve new one though” Artyom responded.

“I don’t think that’s how Rocks… y’know do it” Douglas remarked “I think it’s more like the Engies. Why don’t you ask your sparring partner about how it works?”

“Please sir. Don’t remind me” Artyom replied, quivering in his heavy battle suit. “You just checking up on me sir?”
“Yes Lieutenant. Anything you need?” Douglas asked.

“Decent ingredients for borscht?” Artyom suggested “The Engi makes horrible soup.”

Douglas smiled in sympathy and said “I’ll see what I can do at the next station.” He then headed out of the room to check up on the rest of the crew. That was the last conversation he ever had with that man though.

The Osprey had arrived at the scene of a nearby distress signal. Ships were quickly fleeing a space station around an asteroid it had been attached to. “What seems to be the problem?” Douglas hailed the frantic owners who were huddled inside a freighter.

“Help! We're being overrun by some sort of giant alien spiders!” they responded.

“Seriously?” Douglas asked. “Giant alien spiders? This some sort of joke?”

Two-Zar spoke up “Large xenomorphic arachnids are not considered humorous material.”

“Thanks for that” Douglas grumbled. He looked to the station owners and said “We’ll investigate your spider problem but we’re on a tight schedule.”

He piloted the Osprey towards the station, preparing the docking clamps and service bridge. “We have teleporter, no?” Artyom asked, lifting up a massive heavy blaster cannon with his power suit, resting the weapon over his shoulder “We can just beam onboard and shoot them.”

“Normally yes, but there’s too many lifesigns to be surrounded by. So we start at the airlock and work our way forwards” Douglas replied, donning his much-less powerful combat armour and blaster rifle.

“This is bad plan” Artyom said grimly, throwing a power cell into the cannon. “But it’s duty to Federation to help those in distress, even if following plan is bad.”

The crew boarded the station, cautiously moving through the corridors. While Artyom took point with his heavy armour, Debbie came in from behind with her own heavy blaster. A steady beeping sound behind her indicated that Ensign Marsha Glade was wielding the motion tracker.

So far the crew had only encountered empty corridor after empty corridor with webs and biomass oozing out of the walls. “This is boring. I want something to fight!” Debbie complained as Artyom shouted “Clear!” at yet another empty corridor.

Douglas then stepped in something slimy. He saw the remains of a Federation uniform and bit and pieces of a Slug corpse. Several scorchmarks indicated a fight that turned nasty. Two-Zar chirped “Analysis. DNA pattern indicates 87% certainty corpse Lieutenant Slocknaw of the Nesasio. 12.98% likely to be different Slocknog, sibling. Remainder is…”

“So the Nesasio passed through here at one point.” Douglas said, grabbing the uniform shreds. He knew Lieutenant Slocknaw. Shame he had died to giant alien spiders.

The blood on the inside of the uniform though was red like a Human’s and not Slug ichor. Before Two-Zar could chime in on the dead person’s identity, the motion tracker started beeping louder. “Company” Douglas warned them, hunkering down behind a box.

A vent cover was thrown straight off a wall and slammed into Marsha, knocking her to the floor. A man-sized arachnid leapt out of the vent and immediately was blown to pieces by Artyom’s blaster, leaving scorchmarks on the walls.

“Thanks” Marsha said, leaping back to her feet and grabbing the tracker which kept beeping.

“Any time friend!” Artyom shouted proudly. Debbie pouted “I had that one.”

Suddenly more arachnids came rushing out of the vent, followed by countless more from others, swarming the corridors and surrounding them.

“Holy crap!” Marsha shouted, raising her rifle “They’ve boxed us in!”

“We walked right into their trap!” Debbie shouted “This will save lots of time!”

The spiders seemed to be waiting, their twenty-four legs rising in preparation. “Are we even sure these are spiders?” Douglas asked “That’s a lot of legs.”

“It not big issue. We faced worse problems” Artyom said, grabbing a grenade from the side of his blaster and lobbed it at a cluster of spiders. Their bodies instantly vaporised in a cloud of plasma.

“Go go go!” Douglas shouted as the spiders started swarming while the crew ran through the gap “Get back to the airlock! We’re not staying here and if you do, you’ll be left behind!”

“Can’t we use the teleporter?” Marsha asked, blasting a spider leaping at her.

“It’ll only return two of us at a time” Douglas replied, his rifle overheating from the strain of fully-automatic fire. He smashed the butt of the rifle at another spider as it tried to grab him, the heat from the gun’s vents burning the creature.

Another explosion and Artyom said “I’m down to one grenade. Gun low power too.”

“We’re nearly there” Douglas reassured him, gesturing down the corridor. Spiders were swarming it, but the Captain could see the airlock doors and freedom waiting.

They began carving a path through, guns blazing until they were down to energy blades and knives, cutting through the hordes like butter. Then at the threshold, the unthinkable happened. Artyom was jumped and swarmed, his suit toppling over.

“Go on without me Captain!” he shouted, grabbing his last grenade. “I’ll take you all with me!”

“Artyom!” Debbie shouted reaching outwards only to have Douglas and Marsha tackle her back into the airlock. Two-Zar activated a remote protocol with the docking clamps and the Osprey quickly released itself from the station, service bridge still deployed.

“Two-Zar, can we teleport him out of there?” Douglas asked the Engi. Before he could respond, a massive explosion occurred – the grenade had set off a fuel line and blew a large chunk out of the station. “Negative, Captain. Subject deceased.”

Douglas sighed and logged the details of Artyom’s death. The funeral will come later when there’s time, he thought to himself sadly, We’ve lost so much in this war. The Osprey spun up its FTL drive and began to move on. There was no point sticking around after what just happened to the space station.
Last edited by stylesrj on Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

Postby stylesrj » Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:50 am

And now in Chapter 3, the mysteries actually begin...

* * *

“And that’s about all the fuel we could find. Not even a single tank” Ensign Robert Smith said to Captain Douglas Jensen.

“The Slugs were running on empty when they got here” he remarked, examining the datapad provided. He tried to ignore the fact that he was standing on a trail of slime and ichor that was the remains of the Slug ship’s Captain.

A Rock(wo)man poked her rocky head into the Bridge. Douglas sighed “Debbie, this better be important. While I appreciate your efforts in deceiving the Slugs, you did it without my authority.”

“My parents said the same thing whenever I did something for the tribe. Do you know what happened when I decided to obey them for once?” Debbie replied, crossing her arms.

“You ended up on a Federation vessel with me” Douglas replied “Now what do you have Princess?”

“I found co-ordinates to a secret stash a jump away” Debbie said proudly, her glowing red eyes brightening “Maybe the pirate has the rest of his booty there or was planning on raiding it themselves.”

“Guess it’s worth a shot” Douglas commented, keying his comms. “Two-Zar, beam us back.”

Once back onboard, the Osprey spun up its FTL drive while Douglas programmed the co-ordinates into the computer. There was a brief shift in the inertial dampeners as the cruiser went from one beacon to another, followed by a sudden shutdown of several systems upon arrival.

“Two-Zar? Robert? What happened?” Douglas asked, looking out the viewport at the scene before him.

The Osprey floated in the middle of a gaseous nebula, except the clouds were a darker shade of purple and would occasionally crackle with lightning. Debris floated around the beacon like an asteroid field providing a navigational hazard for all ships.

“Plasma storm” the Engi Two-Zar chirped from the engine room behind him “Reactor usage minimised by 50% to prevent overload.”

“Looks like we’ll have to find this stash quickly then. This place is definitely a good hiding spot. No one wants to be in the middle of a plasma storm” Douglas remarked, bringing up a display of the ship. Several bars on his left indicated how much power was available for distribution while icons at the bottom of the screen showed where he could allocate it.

“I know you were in a hurry to conserve reactor power but why in the universe would you decide to take power away from life support?” he complained to Two-Zar “Even you need to breathe.”

“Logical. Maintain shields and maximum weapons power at all times” the Engi stated. He tilted his head sideways at seeing Douglas pinching his nose and closing his eyes tightly. “Problem?”

Douglas turned back to the display and began adjusting power bars. He reduced a layer of shield and left only one gun operational. The rest went into life support and engines. “We can power them back up once we’re out of the storm. Don’t do that again!”

“Apologies” Two-Zar said, dejectedly walking back to his station.

As the Osprey moved through the fields of ship fragments, Douglas ordered the crew to keep their eyes open for usable debris or anything that would resemble a secret stash. He deduced there was plenty of time before the Rebel fleet would track his current position.

He poured himself a cup of soma and wandered the halls checking up on everyone’s progress. He found Robert in the maintenance hatch underneath one of the reactor power cells, making adjustments to the fuel lines. To most people, it looked rather ridiculous to watch him clumsily grab the tools and use then for maintenance. Douglas nodded and said “Carry on.”

“Not yet. Have you looked out the viewports at the ships, Captain?” Robert asked, crawling out of the hatch and sitting up from his position “It looks like most of them had been shattered like glass. What kind of weapon does that?”

Douglas shrugged “Haven’t a clue Robert. But I have noticed that most of the shards are green, brown and black – Zoltan Empire vessels. Whatever the weapon used, they didn’t have it.”

Robert made a loud screeching noise “Should we even be here then? What if the pirate stash is booby-trapped and those were ZRPC ships trying to collect?”

Douglas reassured him “Whatever it was, it was used long ago. The more recent wreckage is what you’d expect from burst lasers, beams and missiles flying about unstable reactor cores.”

“I see” Robert chittered, quickly checking his datapad. “By the way, I just detected some radio signals from a nearby asteroid.”

“You detected them or did Two-Zar?” Douglas asked, crossing his arms smugly “Never mind, anything useful?”
“ANODYNE is still going through it” Robert said “Two-Zar is running a trace on where it might be broadcasting to – the signal seems rather focused.”

Douglas perked up at hearing this news “Run a scan for lifesigns, just in case we’re not the only ones here. If we’re alone out here, working transmission equipment can be repurposed as scrap material if we don’t find this stash..”

“I’ll try but I know my FTL fuel lines more than sensor operation. Especially in these conditions. There’s only so much a scared Engi can teach you” Robert said, ducking back into the hatch to continue his work. Huh, those Engies were right about him having a strange bug, Douglas thought to himself, moving back to the helm.

* * *

After some careful moves through the debris field the Osprey arrived at the asteroid the signal was coming from. “Holy crap, if a pirate wanted to hide a stash, what better place than inside a city?” Robert remarked, glancing out one of the viewports.

The asteroid, like most rocks had been pockmarked with holes from micrometeorites and debris but even a basic scan revealed an entire city had been constructed inside. “Lights are on, but the scanners don’t say anyone’s home” Douglas said, checking the screen “Still, we can’t be too careful.”

He grabbed a blaster rifle and checked the power cells “Two-Zar, prepare the teleporter. Debbie and Robert, you’re with me. We’re going to investigate the ruins. Starting with the transmitter.”

“Acknowledged” the Engi chirped. Although before Douglas had taken one step, he warned him “Hazardous radiation detected.”

“We weren’t planning on going in there in just rebreathers, Two-Zar” Douglas said, heading for the teleporter room “We’ve got the Adaptive Gel Suits for this sort of thing.”

* * *

The teleporter activated yet again and Douglas was inside the asteroid city. Two-Zar had dropped the crew off on the roof of one of the flatter buildings a few hundred metres from the transmitter source. As Douglas took in his surroundings, he saw Debbie and Robert waiting nearby, playing some sort of game with their hands. Debbie appeared to be winning judging by how annoyed Robert was.

“That was definitely paper!” Robert complained, waving his hand at Debbie.

The Rock laughed “You’re bad at arm-wrestling and also bad at a simple game made by Humans. I’d think you were a Mantis if you weren’t such a good engineer.”

“Knock it off you two” Douglas said, raising his gun and heading towards the edge of the building. He could see rocks and metal sticking out all around him, with walkways and balconies above, below, vertically and upside-down. “Looks like this place was built for Humans, or people resembling Humans.”

He checked his suit’s head-up-display and pointed in the direction of a large spire sticking out of one of the walls. “The signal is coming from there. We go over there and salvage the equipment” he explained, powering up the inbuilt flight pack on his suit. “Afterwards, we’ll be sure to grab anything that looks useful. This place looks to be an archaeologist’s dream.”

Robert and Debbie took flight with the Captain as they flew towards the spire. “By the way, ANODYNE came back with a rough translation of the distress signal” Robert said, flying between several walkways. He swooped in and scooped up a mangled pile of electronics. “I don’t know if the translation software is broken or that whoever sent the signal is insane.”

Douglas played the translation. The software synthesised a very tearful young woman’s voice as it constantly repeated “I love you so much grandfather.”

“Definitely an odd transmission to send to someone” Douglas remarked, cutting power to the thrusters once over the spire. His centre of gravity shifted and he found himself standing on the structure. The same happened for Debbie and Robert.

“After we salvage the beacon, we should look for that gravity generator. If it’s been running all this time we can…” Douglas started before a part of the wall shifted, revealing a doorway into the spire.

A horribly garbled message started playing which Douglas assumed was a welcome announcement. He stepped inside, kicking a large pile of dust and electronics at his feet. His radiation counter was registering highly lethal doses inside the building – much higher than the radiation outside.

“Looks like they really wanted everyone in here to be dead” Debbie remarked.

The crew moved through the empty metal-plated and rocky hallways, pausing at nearby doorways and side passages to check for anything useful. Apart from dust and faint audio transmissions from the loudspeakers, the building was empty. “Even the ghosts in this town are gone.”

In the end when they finally neared the room with the transmission equipment, the crew were hauling around several bags of irradiated scrap materials and electronics.

“I’m going to contact Two-Zar and have him teleport these bags back to the Osprey” Douglas said, keying his comms. “Two-Zar, this is the Captain. We’ve got some supplies we’d like sent back. Can you get a read on our transponder?”

No reply was heard. He tried again. Nothing. He looked to Robert. “Anything on your end? It can’t be the radiation – we could broadcast from the surface of a star without transmission problems.”

The Ensign suggested shutting down the transmitter “Maybe we’re close enough for it to affect the comms? Federation-issue is durable but prone to interference from other equipment.”

“Maybe” Douglas said, approaching a large blast door. The beacon’s signals were strongest on the other side. Unlike the other doors, the blast door refused to open. A holographic terminal on one side seemed to be asking for a security code.

Debbie cracked her rocky fists together and deployed the manoeuvring thrusters of her gel suit, positioning them for maximum forward movement. Douglas waved for her to stop “Someone’s left a spoofer on the frame. We can just…”

There was a loud slamming sound as Debbie impacted with the door, denting it heavily with a Rock-shaped imprint.
A loud piercing siren echoed down the halls and other doors opened up revealing combat drones. Douglas raised his blaster at them and chided Debbie “Do you have to trip every security system that doesn’t open for you?”

The drones resembled large floating metal spheres with guns attached to the side. A red light on the front indicated that they were active. Debbie’s eyes glowed brighter as she assumed a battle stance, heavy blaster drawn. “Yes I do. Hacking is boring. This way makes the fights come to us!”

The drones gave an audio warning before suddenly dropping to the ground, their lights deactivating. Debbie looked disappointed “The one time an ancient security system does actually fail…”

The dented blast door then slid open partway before stopping and trying to close again. Debbie put her hands between the frame and the door and forcibly pushed it open. Robert and Douglas stepped through before Debbie let go and the door sealed behind them. “I’ll be out here in case those drones wake up. This might be more fun.”

The room resembled a massive, high-ceiling control room with terminals forming a circle around a large spherical-shaped object in the middle of the room. The sphere stood on top of a pedestal and was surrounded by a shimmering purple barrier.

“Captain, I really do think you give Debbie too much authority” Robert said quietly, grabbing a circuitboard and throwing it at the sphere. It instantly disintegrated upon impact with the barrier.

“I told you already that she technically she outranks me” Douglas said to the Ensign “Federation has guidelines on handling Rock royalty. I’m supposed to only give suggestions, not orders.”

“Would your father have thought the same way?” Robert asked, examining one of the terminals. ANODYNE was still going through the initial translation of the welcoming audio message. He buzzed angrily at how the language was so ancient that even the universal translator was having trouble figuring it out.

“My father followed the spirit of Federation law, but even he would have not wanted to get on the bad side of Vrachos royalty, especially in the presence of one. They don’t raise princesses to be weak after all” Douglas replied. His boots then kicked something soft and he looked down, and then jumped back in surprise.

“An intact body” he exclaimed, crouching down for a better look. It resembled a Human being, of male build, but was encased in an adaptive gel suit of similar design to that of the Federation, except it was in Rebellion Yellow and marked with purple squid insignia. “They might as well have flown a Jolly Roger or something for the same effect.”

“Two bodies, Captain” Robert said, gesturing for one of the more prominent consoles behind the sphere. Another Human, female build and in a purple jumpsuit as if she had been just flown to the place in a space fighter or a corvette – something small. Her skin and hair also appeared to be the same shade of metallic purple.

Douglas gasped, and then shook his head. Robert asked if he was alright. “Just fine Robert… it’s like I’m seeing a ghost. Or someone who looks like a celebrity.”

“Ok Captain… anyway I’m guessing we’re not the only ones who went into the storm looking for treasure” Robert said “Although how did she make it this far without the radiation killing her? It’s high enough to kill a Rock.”

“A Sandstoner maybe. But not one from Vrachos” Debbie called back “I’m only wearing this suit because it has a jetpack.”

Suddenly the woman stirred, her whole body twitching in pain. Douglas quickly rushed to keep her steady before she rolled off the console and hit her head. She groaned out several words weakly, looking up at him with pleading eyes. The Captain stared back in shock at the woman’s survivability even under such conditions.

As her eyes rolled back, her dying words breathed out “Abadoth.”

One of her arms was pointed in the direction of the beacon before she went limp, and her breathing stopped. Douglas shook his head and gently closed her eyes.

“Rest in peace…” He looked to the beacon and saw the console she had been slumped over had a glowing green light. On a hunch he pressed it and the transmitter shut down unceremoniously.

He could then contact the Osprey. “Two-Zar, beam us back onboard. There’s nothing else left for us here.”
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Re: Fight of the Osprey - Advice Needed

Postby stylesrj » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:51 pm

Alright, so like a lot of my fanfic, I write chapters in advance and release them every few days after making sure everything's alright and matches with chapters already submitted. Or at least I hope that's I'm doing.

I've read several fanfics of other genres and sometimes I've encountered a chapter where I just go "Bleh, boring backstory" and skipped it, only to find I didn't miss much.
On my first reading of 1984, I actually skipped Goldstein's book and I didn't miss out on anything either, despite my brother telling me that was the most important part/point of the entire story.

So let's say what I've got coming up two chapters from now is something like that. Everyone else is just a framing device for the real story "The Story of Abadoth"

Should I go with that path or find some way of extending the mystery?
What's more annoying for a reader? Having to wait until the end for it to be Old Man Jenkins (and you obviously know it and no twists making it Young Man Jenkins instead) or being told midway through it was Old Man Jenkins and the rest of the story is about the kids getting up to other wacky hijinks?
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Re: Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

Postby SmoothPapaJ » Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:03 am

Having just finished Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, I might recommend his approach: introducing each chapter with a brief snippet of a continuous back story passage.
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Re: Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

Postby stylesrj » Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:42 am

SmoothPapaJ wrote:Having just finished Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, I might recommend his approach: introducing each chapter with a brief snippet of a continuous back story passage.


I see... but since I'm putting backstory at the end of the chapters, putting backstory at the start might create a sandwich of backstory and people will wonder where the actual story is :lol:

Then as I'm writing ahead, I realised that sure, the backstory of Abadoth only really takes one chapter (and even the characters complain about how long the tale being told drags) while I'm dedicating three backstory sections to Princess Debbie of Vrachos IV... which means 1 1/2 chapters dedicated to a Rock Princess whereas the actual mystery of the story is just one with little buildup.
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Re: Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

Postby stylesrj » Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:05 am

Gah! As I'm checking back with my next chapter to send out, I made one big frakking goof!

I assumed that in my Nesasio story that they went to the Engi Sector first then the Rock sector.
Turns out it was the opposite and now it makes some of the chapters I've already submitted not make sense (for example Princess Debbie should have been fighting Giant Alien Spiders)

So I may have to rewrite a bit of the "past sequences" to reflect this.
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Re: Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

Postby stylesrj » Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:07 am

So I made some changes to the second chapter's second half to reflect the fact I got the sectors wrong. It was a quick change and very flimsily added Debbie to it. Anyway, here's Chapter 4.

* * *

“Two-Zar, did you find where the beacon may be transmitting to?” Captain Douglas Jensen asked, swilling around a cup of soma. Out the viewports he could see the purple/pink gaseous nebula clouds he was familiar with rather than the dark, stormy purple clouds of a plasma storm.

The grey Engi in front of him said “Affirmative.”

Ensign Robert Smith spoke up “Captain, that woman. You seemed rather shocked by her passing.”

Douglas sighed “It was like I was holding Kassandra’s corpse again…”

“She was my late wife…” he added, staring off into the distance. He then looked at Robert with an authoritative stare “Emphasis on the late part. I saw them pack her body into the coffin before they shot it into space.”

“Sorry I asked…” Robert said, lowering his hands in shame “My condolences…”

“You didn’t know” Douglas said reassuringly “That woman… she was the spitting image of her.”

“Clone?” Robert asked curiously. Clone Bay technology had been around for a long time and was quite widespread throughout the galaxy. The Mantises used it extensively, some Rock Tribes and the Rebellion invested in it heavily.

“She was that rare genetic makeup that makes her unable to be full-body cloned” Douglas said with a wistful sigh.

“I’ve never heard of such a thing” Robert said “I thought any living being could be cloned.”

“Like I said, it’s a rare condition. Something about the technology not being compatible with the brain” Douglas replied. He then started laughing softly “Heh, Kassandra would have known more about the technology. She worked Medevac runs around the shoulder of Orion…”

Robert nodded and headed back to his station, leaving just Douglas and the Rock(wo)man Debbie in the room. Lying on the table were two bodies and a Rebellion adaptive gel suit with pirate markings. They had been decontaminated before being delivered to the room.

“Hey Douglas, did you find the ships they flew in on?” Debbie asked “Might not be the booty I wanted to be found but it’s not like they’ll be using them.”

“Did you see the footage of the docking bay they were in?” Douglas asked “Both ships really tore into each other… and there were these things all over the hull.”

He showed a picture of what appeared to be massive flies made up of glowing energy. The insects buzzed over the hulls of what appeared to be a pirate-marked Rebel Rigger-class ship and a red-painted Engi scout ship.

The insects seemed to be tearing into the hulls and draining their reactor cores and burning the hull in the process.
“Let’s get to the next beacon, we’ve spent too long here and the Rebellion is catching up. Our distraction buoys won’t last forever after all” Douglas said.

He brought up the display of the sector for Debbie’s benefit. He had drawn a red line over part of the map indicating the fleet’s progress – reports were coming in from comm relays about the “liberation” of various Slug-owned territories.

“What about these bodies?” she asked, picking up the purple-skinned Human. “Should I toss them out the airlock?”

“Throw the pirate out. Obviously he’s scum, but that woman?” Douglas said “I’m not sure what to make of it, so just seal her in a cryopod.”

“We have those?” Debbie asked “I thought they were freezers. I’ve been filling them up with beef jerky.”

“Beef jerky?” Douglas asked “Why would you…” “It’s a little joke I’ve been playing on Robert” Debbie finished for him. She then grabbed the pirate and dragged both bodies away and down one of the halls.

The Osprey spun up its FTL drive and it jumped to the next beacon. Like the other beacons, this one led to a gaseous nebula covered with the debris of Zoltan and Slug ships that had died in the various conflicts over the Gamma Cluster. Except this time, the cruiser was hailed by a ship waiting nearby.

“This is Captain Buga, Envoy of the Order of the Great Eye” a green energy being dressed in long flowing robes introduced himself on the screen. Douglas could see on his Energy Bomber’s profile that hangar doors were opening up and weapons were deploying.

“Ummm greetings Envoy Buga. I am Captain Douglas Jensen of the Federation Vindicator Class Cruiser, Osprey” Douglas introduced himself, uneasy about the monk’s hostility. I guess he’s part of the more violent sect of the Order, he thought to himself.

“By the Great Eye’s guidance and wisdom, you are trespassing into the Forbidden Zone of Abadoth! You must leave at once or we will open fire” Buga warned him.

“Abadoth?” Douglas asked “Is that a planet?”

Buga immediately cut the transmission and opened fire with the guns. Douglas quickly engaged the emergency thrusters and the Osprey lurched violently to the side to avoid the lasers and missiles flying towards him. Guess that was the wrong thing to say, he thought to himself.

“Debbie, get me a targeting solution on that ship!” he shouted over the comms “Target their shields.”

The Rock replied “With pleasure! I’ll give them a burst laser salvo they’ll never forget!”

The Zoltan ship dropped in from above the Osprey as it released a fast-moving combat drone from the hangar. The cruiser in response quickly moved forwards before rotating itself so the guns were facing the enemy, maintaining its current velocity.

Most guns charged quickly and were highly accurate, able to lead their targets for an optimum hit. This of course was provided a skilled gunner could attain the right firing solution. The more skilled gunners knew when to bypass this process and just trust their instincts.

Debbie Vrachos thought of herself as that sort of person, but when the charge bar was only half-full, she fired off a barrage of lasers. Two of the six shots impacted on a shimmering green barrier while the rest missed entirely.

Douglas spun the ship back and dumped more power towards the engines. The gravity generators and the air vents started shutting down as another missile flew past him, the extra power helping him barely avoid the strike.

With the wave of a hand he then threw power away from the engines to repower life support. “Debbie, check your target and try again. Don’t fire with only half a solution” Douglas shouted as there was a beeping noise, followed by the words “Proximity warning.”

Robert shouted “There’s a bomb onboard! It’s in the weapon’s room and…” he was cut off by the sounds of an explosion “Debbie!”

Douglas checked his tactical display – the weapon’s room was flashing blue indicating the system had been overloaded. Backup circuits were forced into place and the whole system had to reboot. The lasers also had powered down in the process.

Debbie also had been affected by the bomb’s explosion – she had tried to disarm it by smashing the casing only for the concussive wave to send her flying into a wall. Anyone get the IFF on that frigate? She thought to herself in her stunned haze.

“Ion bomb” Douglas grumbled, spinning the ship back and focusing his efforts on avoiding the next few strikes. At least the artillery system is separate from the weapon’s room, he thought to himself, but there’s still that damned Zoltan shield.

With the weapons down for a loop or two, he diverted power to the Vindicator Artillery Beam. Through past experience he usually left the beam on minimal power in case it was required. He barely understood its power and the use of it was what he called “Tactical.”

For starters, the Vindicator Beam was completely reliant on the computers. Once the beam had charged, the ship automatically spun towards its current target and sent a red laser from the bow to the Zoltan ship. The laser wiped out the green barrier in one sweep. But the beam didn’t stop at the energy shields like most beam weapons.

The Vindicator pierced all standard energy shields - even the last millisecond of charge went through, scoring a hit on the Zoltan ship’s helm. The bomber’s engines flickered and the ship began drifting as most of their control went offline.

By this time, the Osprey’s normal guns came back online and Debbie had recovered. “Don’t fire too soon. Even a drifting target can still move. Wait for the firing solution” Douglas warned her.

As if to emphasise his point, the bomber rotated with emergency thrusters and launched another missile and laser strike at the cruiser. Despite how easily avoided such an attack would have been, the missile still managed to get through, passing the shields and smashing into an empty corridor, causing a small explosion and a breach in the hull.

Then there was another proximity warning and an ion bomb had teleported into the corridor, exploding harmlessly. Debbie returned fire with the burst lasers, the energy bolts slamming into the shields, knocking down two layers before the remaining four smashed into the shield room, taking it down completely.

“Nice shot Debbie. I think one of the monks exploded… or maybe the fire did that” Robert chittered over the comms in joy.

“Robert, you might want to keep your enthusiasm down” Douglas warned the Ensign “We’re not bored mercenaries out for blood. What would your parents think if their son came home a violent maniac?”

“Sorry Captain…” Robert said sheepishly, looking down at the console. He perked up when the words “Incoming Transmission” appeared. “I think they want to hail us.”

Envoy Buga appeared on the screen, his energy field flickering while in the background the sounds of fires could be heard. “Very well, your barbaric ways have proven yourself worthy of consideration” he said in a condescending tone.

“Barbaric?” Douglas asked, incredulous at the Zoltan’s claim.

“Yes, you Humans are barbaric and unenlightened beings. We’ll give you some of our cargo if you leave immediately” Buga said, waving a hand dismissively “That’s what you barbarians want isn’t it really?”

“There wouldn’t have been a fight until you mentioned Abadoth” Douglas said “What’s so forbidden about it that you were willing to kill us?”

He could see the Envoy was getting angrier at the constant questions. “By order of the Great Eye, no one goes to Abadoth!”

“Enlighten us on why” Douglas said “We’re curious savages and we love to meddle with forbidden things until we hurt ourselves.”

If the Zoltan had them, Envoy Buga’s head would have been covered in popped veins. “There is nothing for you to see in Abadoth. Move along savage or I will eviscerate you myself!”

Debbie said over the comms “Hey Douglas, I’m sick of his talk. I’m going to teleport myself over there and make him one with his ship’s hull.”

Douglas waved his hands frantically “You don’t want to fight a Zoltan Envoy. They’re an entire army in one body. There are tales of them taking on entire Mantis hive-ships by themselves, armed only with a loaf of bread and winning.”

“Sounds like a challenge” Debbie laughed, lumbering towards the teleporter, stopping to grab her heavy blaster. She briefly contemplated the adaptive gel suit, but she doubted the jetpack and respirators would be necessary for a fight against the Zoltan of all people. “After all, I’ve read tales of Crystal Warriors doing the impossible. They’re all just stories. This won’t take long.”

Crap, the princess is going to get herself killed. Sorry Grand Basilisk Vrachos, your daughter died to a Zoltan. Yeah that’ll go well, Douglas thought to himself.

He then realised that the weapons were all charged, locked and ready to fire. Envoy Buga could see the same thing. “We take your hesitation for barbaric contemplation. You will not go to Abadoth! There are no mysteries to be found!”

The transmission cut and Douglas hit the fire buttons. The Burst Lasers tore through the Zoltan ship’s hull, smashing their engines, drone control system and life support. The Vindicator Beam then swept through, gutting the bomber and turning half the hull into melted slag. Then the ship’s reactor destabilised and was consumed in a massive series of explosions, sealing the Zoltan ship’s fate.

The Osprey salvaged what it could from the wreckage before moving on. “I wonder what the Zoltan are covering up?”

* * *

The death of Artyom took a toll on ship morale. Everyone mourned the loss of one of their best soldier for close quarters combat. Debbie seemed to be hit hardest; the suit of armour Artyom wore was an excellent sparring partner for her brutish Rocky strength.

As soon as the Osprey jumped into the next system, they were immediately hailed by an Engi ship’s Controller. “Strange bug. Can you assist in debugging?” it asked.

“I’ll have to consult Marsha on this one” Douglas said to the Engi “She’s our onboard programmer.”

“Analog issue, not digital” the Engi chirped. Even though the Engies couldn’t feel emotions and their voices were monotones, he wondered if the machine was feeling panicked. It wasn’t closing the transmission and moving on like most Engies would once they were finished.

Douglas sighed “Fine, what’s the problem?”

The Controller’s head light brightened “Found malfunctioning Mantis. Believes it is human. Will receive input only from human. Danger Evaluation: Extremely High. Provide assistance.”

“I’d ask if you were joking, but recently events have snapped me out of that” Douglas said, recalling the giant alien spiders that took the life of Artyom. “I’ll beam aboard once I’ve informed the crew.”

He closed the transmission and went to the room he designated as the gathering place for meetings. The Engi Two-Zar was already waiting for him there, silently recording the proceedings. “Recommend brief venture to Engi ship” he said to the Captain “Mission high priority. Erroneous Mantis requires airlock.”

“Two-Zar, we just lost Artyom to giant alien spiders. Having a Mantis onboard… a Mantis who is friendly towards Humans might help us accomplish the mission” Douglas informed the Engi. Not to mention be easier to keep in line than a mercenary, he thought to himself.

“Negative. Mantis strange bug. Optimal solution airlock.”

“I agree. This sounds fishy. I mean a Mantis who thinks it’s a Human?” Ensign Marsha Glade asked, entering the room. Her face was shadowed by a non-regulation hood that matched the Federation Blues of her uniform. “I wonder what his parents told him when he asked why they didn’t have four legs, a pair of sharp claws, antennae for ears or why every time he coughed he would spit acid on daddy’s desk.”

“It sounds like a trap” Princess Debbie said, shuffling into the room “A cornered Mantis is too dangerous.”
“Then it’s a good thing you’re staying onboard to take over in case I die, Princess” Douglas said with a laugh “After all, the Engies can’t be trusted to escort you back home.”

Two-Zar chirped in protest to which the crew laughed. Douglas then said “Anyway, Marsha grab a blaster and a rebreather and come with me to the teleporter. Things might turn nasty but this should be an easier debugging job than that time you tried to install ANODYNE on that pirate’s Network Node.”

“Hey I thought most of his problems could have been resolved if he got rid of that mainstream Morgan.NET” Marsha protested, walking with Douglas to the teleporter.

Once they beamed onboard the Engi ship, the two were glad for the respirators – Engies needed to breathe but they required less air than most organic beings – their ships ran on minimal life support. It also made any Mantis stowaways lethargic and easier to back into a corner for a bunch of scared Engies.

“Humans arrived. Follow. Sensor Room. Locked Mantis” an Engi informed the two before marching down the low hallway. Everything about the Engi ship spelt efficiency, except for the part where the Sensor Room was directly behind the helm of the ship but required walking around the entire torus-shaped craft to reach it. A set of doors would have been more efficient for repairs.

As they approached, scratching noises could be heard from the sealed blast doors. “I demand my Human rights! You have no right to keep me starving in here!” a voice chittered in Galactic.

“Strange bug inside” the Engi said, immediately leaving the corridor and sealing the door behind him. Douglas looked to Marsha and shrugged “Engies.”

“I swear they have an agenda against organic life” Marsha remarked, raising her blaster and approaching one side of the door. Douglas took the other side “We do this on the count of three. One… two…”

“Wait, Captain is it on three or after you say three?” Marsha interrupted “I haven’t had time to read up on the rulebook regarding breaches.”

“Not this again… as soon as I say three” Douglas said before starting the countdown again. As soon as he said it, he hit the override command for the door and a very angry, green insectoid creature came bursting out of the doors, rushing straight down the hall and slamming into the next set of blast doors. “You bastards! You wouldn’t leave one of your own starving in there for days!” he shouted through the door.

He then spent several minutes scratching at the metal doors, ignoring the two Humans staring at him incredulously. Douglas still remembered the videos of the red Mantis Hive-Ships bearing down over the colonies across the galaxy. The implacable green tide of insectoid warriors, bred only to kill, plunder and enslave…

And there was one of them complaining about not getting their “human” rights. Douglas didn’t know what to think of it. Then the Mantis slumped to the ground, out of breath from the low life support. He turned over and immediately tried to scramble back onto his four feet upon spotting the Humans.

While Marsha instinctively raised her blaster in preparation to fire, Douglas put a hand on top of it and said “Wait. He’s just seen our Federation uniforms.”

The insect slowly raised one of his claws towards his head and held it there for several seconds. A military salute. Douglas returned the gesture, slowly and said “At ease soldier.”

The Mantis dropped his claw and chittered excitedly “I’m not a soldier, Captain! I’m just excited to see fellow Humans here! Have you come to recruit me into the Federation?”

Douglas looked to Marsha then said to the Mantis “Sure. With the Rebellion happening, we’re recruiting whoever we can find who can hold a gun or knows their way around a starship hull. We’ve even got a Princess.”

“You do? This is exciting!” the Mantis chittered “No other Captains wanted me on their ship and my older brother had run off to join the Federation years ago and I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps…”

“Woah, slow down there little guy” Douglas said, raising his hands in front of himself “Let’s get you back to our ship and we can talk more there. You’re going to asphyxiate yourself here.”

He grabbed Marsha and the Mantis’ arms and activated his teleport transponder, sending them back to the Osprey. They then returned to the briefing room to talk further; the Mantis seemed rather excited at being onboard a Federation Cruiser, especially one of the “Vindicator Class.”

“I haven’t properly introduced myself. I am Captain Douglas Jensen” Douglas said, offering a hand. The Mantis perked up at hearing that “Douglas Jensen? The Douglas Jensen, son of Captain Joshua Jensen?”

“I see you’ve heard of my father. He’s quite the hero” Douglas said.

“Hero? He and the Red-Tail saved my colony from being enslaved by that nasty KazaaakplethKalik!” the Mantis squealed “They turned his heroic deeds into the best cartoon of all time: Captain Awesome of the Red-Tail!”

“I see…” Douglas said rather warily. “My father only received six months of royalties from the Federation for using his likeness before they replaced him with a similar-looking, computer-generated figure. But it was an effective recruitment tool.”

“It’s why Charlie signed up. I would have too, but my family needed me back home to help. We couldn’t afford drones” Robert said.

“What did your family do on your home colony?” Douglas asked.

“Our family specialises in FTL fuel and engines. With the war going on, more and more Federation vessels have been stopping off. I’ve seen several Albatross Class Cruisers and Swans” he explained “So I know my way around Federation ships.”

“Interesting” Douglas said “What about combat skills? Can you fight?”

“Mum and dad said I shouldn’t get into fights with others. They said my hands should be used to create, not destroy” the Mantis said, looking at his claws “But I guess if I am to join the Federation I need to learn how to fight. Especially if I am to be travelling with a Princess.”

“I’ll give you a crash course. After all, Marsha here used to be a programmer for the ANODYNE software” Douglas said, pointing to the hooded lady. “Welcome aboard Ensign…”

“Smith” the Mantis said proudly “I’m Robert Smith, Captain.”
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Re: Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

Postby stylesrj » Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:21 am

Chapter 5! I'm so glad for all the feedback so far! :roll:

Anyway, after this one will come the Dreaded Exposition Chapter. It'll have little in the way of action and a lot of backstory, unlike these chapters which contain action, dialogue and action dialogue.

* * *

The Osprey exited the beacon, tumbling at rapid speeds through the stars until the engines and thrusters flared up, slowing the ship’s spin until it was stable.

“Holy crap that was a rough jump” Captain Douglas Jensen remarked, bringing up the sensor display. Oddly-enough despite the beacon’s destination clearly indicating it would be in a nebula cloud, the surrounding area seemed clear of the purple/pink clouds.

“Warning, gravitational disturbance” the Engi Two-Zar spoke from the engine room.

“I would have preferred it before we jumped to a ghost planet” Douglas groaned “Is this where the transmission was going to?”

“Affirmative. Analysis of signal from asteroid is 85% likely to target location. 24% margin of error due to…” “Not needed Two-Zar” Douglas interrupted, looking out the external cameras.

The system, like most others in the Gamma Cluster was surrounded by starship wrecks, however in this case it seemed to only consist of fragments of Zoltan warships. “Shattered like a glass window.”

Behind the beacon was the vast nebula clouds of the Gamma Cluster while ahead of them was the black void of space. No stars shone anywhere near, making it deeply unsettling for the Captain.

“It seems the only thing of interest is a single planet” Ensign Robert Smith said over the comms “It looks like it held life at some point but now it’s just a barren desert.”

“Sounds like home” the Rock(wo)man Debbie remarked “Let’s go have a look.”

The Osprey engaged its engines and headed for the planet. Apart from the hum of the engines and the creaking of the hull, the place was oddly silent for Douglas who poured himself a cup of soma and waited for the ship to arrive in orbit. He passed by the cryotubes and paused to stare at the one occupied by the body of a purple-skinned woman they had picked up two jumps ago.

“Douglas…” a disembodied voice shouted to him.

He looked at his cup and squinted at the purple liquid. He knew it had mild hallucinogenic properties, but so did coffee. He shrugged and went back to drinking. Tastes better than that dirt anyway… he thought to himself.

“So who was that unfortunate space pirate?” Douglas asked Two-Zar over the comms “The one who died without a radiation suit.”

The Engi paused and began recalling the data. “Subject trace elements of nanocells from Probe 68-2. Also known as – Doctor Nabaal”

“She’s clearly Human in appearance” Douglas asked, still staring at the corpse. He suspected there was more to the woman than met the eye. She does bear a very striking resemblance to my wife, he thought to himself.

“Affirmative. Engi nanocells and Neo-Humanoid DNA perfect fusion. Impossible outcome” Two-Zar explained “Further analysis: Neo-Humanoid DNA matches subject file Kassandra Forun.”

“Kassandra?” Douglas asked “Are you telling me that this space pirate is my dead wife?”

“Affirmative. DNA analysis 99.95% certain” Two-Zar chirped “Awareness of impossibility.”

“That… that doesn’t make sense” Douglas said “Holy crap, something must be wrong. Kassandra’s dead. She’s been dead for years and not even a Clone Bay would bring her back.”

“Uploading Mythology: Human” Two-Zar stated. “New theory: Ghost Mythology.”

“Ghosts are just stories told by people who didn’t understand how the world worked” Douglas said “I appreciate your help though Two-Zar.”

“Affirmative.”

Douglas went back to the helm and placed his soma on the console. If she’s my wife, why was she on that rock? He thought to himself, and what is so important about this planet?

The Osprey shortly arrived in orbit over the planet. “Looks more lifeless up close” Doulgas remarked, watching the barren landscape pass beside him. The northern and southern poles of the planet looked to be incinerated, the charred surface snaking down towards the equator like an eldritch abomination had taken root and had choked the life out of the planet.

“Just like Tannhäuser Gate” Douglas said before getting up to grab another cup of soma from the replicator. He needed a stiff drink and downing alcoholic beverages required a painful detoxification afterwards.

“The planet looks to have been devastated by ADWs. That’s Atmospheric Deprivation Weapons” Douglas informed his crew as the cruiser descended into the planet’s weakened atmosphere. There was a brief flaring of the ship’s hull from the heat before it stabilised and began flying over the barren rock. Cruisers like the Osprey were capable of atmospheric travel, but it was not highly recommended in the owner’s manual.

“As you know, both the Federation and the Rebellion have stockpiles of such weapons, but only for last resort purposes” he continued, drawing a line on a planetary map for the crew’s benefit. The destination appeared to be the remnants of a colony – farms and generators littered the landscape with a walled city in the middle. “It’s a nasty way to render a planet uninhabitable for a long time.

“Still no signs of life” Robert said “Looks like if there were colonists, they got up and left.”

The Osprey landed on the outskirts of one of the farms and the crew (minus Two-Zar for security purposes) disembarked in their Adaptive Gel Suits. The structure was in ruins, the fields long-since gone fallow. A single turbine generator still spun in the low winds, making an eerie scraping noise.

“So far this doesn’t look very forbidden” Debbie remarked, smashing a rocky fist against the turbine’s base. The structure finally gave out and collapsed on its side, adding to the derelict litter dotting the landscape.

“Maybe after the planet was set ablaze, the Zoltan decided to prevent people from settling this place again” Douglas explained, engaging the thruster pack on his suit “Maybe we’ll encounter a ZRPC patrol as we delve deeper.”

“That’s how those things show their strength” Debbie grunted “Through incomprehensible law or through bombing the pebbles out of you.”

They landed on the walls of the colony itself, looking into what had been constructed. Small modular buildings had been stacked upon each other with walkways connecting the taller structures. The centre of the city was dominated by a large, dead tree.

The base of the trunk had many symbols carved into the bark, with one particular set showing prominently over the others – most likely the oldest carving and no one touched it out of respect.

“Reminds me of my childhood days” Douglas remarked, placing a hand on the carving, letting the tactile sensors replicate the feeling of tree bark on his skin. “My friends and I would carve our initials into nearby trees or the initials of people we thought who’d make great couples.”

Robert nodded “So would I. Although I didn’t need to use a knife. Not with these hands.” He showed his sharp claws and rubbed them together inside the suit.

The two looked to Debbie who was laughing. “I used to sneak out in one of the Royal Assault Barges for days at a time. There’s this old Crystal artefact floating in the Vrachos Sector where I’ve carved my name with the ship’s mining laser.”

“I thought you revered such artefacts?” Douglas asked, concerned for the Princess’ admission to vandalism.

“I thought if I wrote my name on their relics, my ancestors would appear and take me back home with them” Debbie said “Instead all I got was a very angry family. So I carved more often hoping to luck out at some point. Never happened though but I still believe it will.”

They spent more time examining the symbols on the tree, but found nothing of further interest before moving onto the colony itself. “It’ll take a long time for ANODYNE to do through all of this” Robert said, scanning a nearby sign and what appeared to be an empty storefront “But everything we scan makes it easier.”

Searching the buildings also came up with little information – some of the walls had burn marks in them from blaster fire and utensils had been scattered in many places.

“I’m starting to think now it’s bureaucracy that’s making this place forbidden” Douglas said as the sun began to set upon the planet “Because this doesn’t look mysterious. Envoy Buga was right after all, there’s nothing for us here.”
“What if there’s a secret lab under the colony or a portal to the dimension of robot scorpions?” Robert asked.

“Then we won’t have the time to find it. Every moment we delay, the Rebel Fleet gets closer and we may be the Federation’s last hope at survival. Let’s go!” Douglas said, heading back to the Osprey.

He landed outside one of the airlock doors only to notice that there had been a massive purple arrow painted on the hull. He wondered how that was possible; Two-Zar was reporting full system functionality.

He then looked at what was written under the arrow in plain Galactic. “The Ghosts of Abadoth Welcome You.”
Douglas went to the Security Room to make sure everything was working as it should. Along the way, he passed by the cryotube where his supposedly dead wife was suspended. Nothing had changed since he last saw her.

He had only sat back at the console when a tiny pair of metallic purple arms rose out of a forgotten cup of soma, followed by an equally tiny young woman resembling the one in the crypod, down to the flightsuit. “Hello Douglas! Did you see my message?”

* * *

“It is improper of me to contact off-worlders, but this is an emergency” the Rockman Transport Captain said over the comms.

“I can see that. Looks like you had a bad encounter with some pirates” Captain Douglas Jensen replied, looking at the ship on the display. The Rock transport was pockmarked with laser fire and beam trails.

“Some gravel-heads claiming to be part of the Engi Brigade came screaming past in a pile of junk” the Rock explained, thumping his chest proudly “So I called them repugnant and they open fire and force us to apologise. Such nerve of those machines! That treaty with the Yellow Humans must have turned their circuits to gravel.”

Douglas didn’t want to question any further about that battle. He instead asked “How can we help?”

“Right, we were on our way to deliver our passenger to her new husband - the Grand Basilisk of Numa V - when our engines broke down during the battle with that Engi” the Rock explained, showing a picture of a grey/black Rock with glowing blue eyes. He had trouble determining whether or not it was male or female. “Will you take possession of her, and make haste to Numa V?”

Douglas checked the sector map for the location of Numa V. He also checked the Rebel fleet progress and determined they were still chasing false leads left by the distraction buoys.

“We can make a diversion for it. Bring her onboard” he said. I don’t know much about their customs but perhaps we can have the Numa Tribe help with delaying the Rebel Fleet even further, he thought to himself.

“You surprise me, off-worlder. Thank you. The passenger will be with you momentarily” the Rock said before turning back to his crew “Alright you gravel-heads get those engines fixed!”

Shortly after Douglas and the crew had been briefed and freshened up in the sonic showers, there was a slamming sound as a Rock shuttle had attempted to dock with the Osprey. This went on for some time until the airlocks matched and the passengers could depart into the cargo hold.

The first people to leave the shuttle were two Rocks whose sole purpose appeared to be to bang on drums to create an introduction. Another Rock stepped out with a datapad in the shape and texture of a stone tablet. He held it at length with one hand and shouted “I introduce the Crown Princess of the Vrachos Tribe, conqueror of the Duna Tribe and 2nd place runner for the Galaxy’s most beautiful woman. Ariadne Vrachos!”

He stepped aside and gestured to the shuttle to reveal… an empty doorway. “Ariadne Vrachos!” he insisted, his glowing green eyes glaring.

Artyom towards Douglas “I’ve always wanted to meet royalty.”

“I think everyone does at some point” he replied as the Rock crier was getting more frustrated.
He then rushed into the shuttle and shouted “You said you were not going to do this on me! What would your family think if you showed weakness to the Humans?”

There seemed to be more indistinct shouting before the crier stepped back out. He said “Sorry about that. Introducing Ariadne Vrachos!”

A Rock(wo)man emerged from the shuttle, almost exactly like the one Douglas had been shown from the picture, except her eyes were a glowing red in colour and she wore a very tattered pink dress. Two other Rocks stepped out behind her in black military uniforms – bodyguards.

“Kneel before the Princess” the crier said with a very cringing look at the Princess as he piled back into the shuttle.
The Osprey’s crew kneeled before her (or in the case of Lieutenant Slugger, he lowered his head and arms). Ariadne sighed and went to go back into the shuttle “This is gravel” she cursed softly only to walk into a closed airlock door.

“She’s your responsibility now Human. If she dies, the Vrachos Tribe will be very disappointed in you and your Federation” the crier said over the speakers. The shuttle left the airlock and headed back to the transport leaving the crew alone with Princess Ariadne and her royal entourage.

Douglas was the first to introduce himself “Greetings Princess, I am Captain Douglas Jensen. Welcome to the Osprey. If you need quarters, I will happily…”

Ariadne crossed her arms in annoyance “You can do whatever you Humans do but I refuse to leave this cargo hold.”
“Ok then… but I’m not sure if protocol…” Douglas started, and then shook his head “Never mind.”

Artyom remarked as they left the cargo hold “For a princess she rather cold. I always thought they nice people.”

“Would you be happy to be dragged out of your home to marry a cousin or someone you hardly know halfway across the galaxy?” Douglas asked him. The Marine shook his head. “Come on, let’s just get her to the Grand Basilisk and not stir up any more trouble with the Rockmen. The last encounter seemed rather annoyed to be having to talk to the Federation.”

The Osprey spun up its FTL drive and headed for the next beacon.

* * *

If you're interested in Ariadne's story, you'll have to wait until after the Dreaded Exposition Chapter to find out if she marries the Grand Basilisk or not :lol:
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stylesrj
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Re: Fight of the Osprey - Mysteries of Abadoth

Postby stylesrj » Tue May 05, 2015 7:30 pm

If I wasn't so absent-minded I would have posted this two days ago! But here it is... the Exposition Chapter!

If you know Immortal Defense, this story will sound familiar.

------------------

Captain Douglas Jensen thought he had gone mad – the stress of working for the Federation finally getting to him. He stammered at the sight of the tiny woman sitting on the edge of his mug of soma. “You’re dead! You can’t be here!”

“I know, right? Seeing my frozen corpse in the cryotube, freaky isn’t it?” the woman said, leaping off the mug and onto the console “You’ll find this hard to believe, but I’m literally a ghost.”

Douglas scratched his head “I really must be hallucinating. Ghosts don’t exist! You’re not my wife coming back to haunt me! You’re not Kassandra! She’s dead, the DNA analysis is wrong!”

The woman sighed “There are iron-based anaerobic lifeforms that eat metal, energy beings with magical powers and organic nanomachines that require air.”

She put her hands on her hips “And now you’re questioning the existence of ghosts?”

“I’ve held your dead body in my arms. You were deceased, bereft of life. Shuffled off your mortal coil and gone to pine the fjords!” Douglas said “Since there is no noted ghost demographic… you must be my subconscious playing tricks on me for what I’ve done. That’s just some other person I’ve got in the freezer!”

“Really? That’s your most logical conclusion?” she replied “You used to have such an open mind when we first met.”

“Dead people just don’t come back as ghosts!” Douglas shouted “If you don’t vanish from my delusional mind, I’ll have to force you out at the medbay!”

Kassandra looked at herself and shrugged. “The Autodoc can do therapy sessions but it’s not a good as having an actual person” she explained “But then again you already know that.”

“Then tell me something I wouldn’t know” Douglas demanded “Or do something ghostly!”

“Like what? Possess someone?” Kassandra asked “You’ve got any living bodies you’re willing to spare? I can’t go back into the dead one.”

Douglas began to stand up, so Kassandra said “Fine then, you’ve parked your big fat cruiser on my farm and your Rocky friend destroyed the Terraformer.”

She watched as Douglas went through many different expressions and emotions as his mind tried to process what was really going on. Anger, then confusion, a bit of a smile, then sadness, followed by more confusion. “Your farm? Why would a hallucination claim to own a farm on this rock?”

“Exactly. I set up a ranch here after the war and had to flee from it after slavers shot up the place” Kassandra said cheerfully. “They couldn’t hit the broadside of the barn.”

“What war? The war with the Mantis?” Douglas asked, deciding that perhaps he should now listen to the hallucination. “Because you never mentioned a farm when we met.”

“It was the war between the Zoltan Empire and a tiny tropical planet called Abadoth” Kassandra started “The planet you’ve landed on with a ship hardly-designed for planetary landings.”

“The Zoltan Empire?” Douglas asked “Was there an issue over weapons licensing or something here before we met? Are you now a vengeful spirit who’ll find some way of messing up their paperwork?”

Kassandra chuckled “No, this was way before they became bureaucratic. Way back before they were even energy beings. Back when the Zoltan Empire was the biggest empire in the whole galaxy. It was not a pretty conflict. A lot of innocent lives were lost…”

* * *

The tropical planet of Abadoth was one of the Empire’s vassals, having no need to resist their authority and rule. The inhabitants were a peaceful sort with only a light military to deter pirates from ruining their paradise. Tourism was their primary industry and the Empire left them alone for a long time as long as the token tributes were made.

Then several of the Crystal Empires had banded together on a crusade to acquire more land. The Zoltan Emperor needed more planets producing weapons for war and Abadoth with plenty of free space and pristine resources was slated for domination.

The people had prepared to surrender their paradise when Crystal scientist came along with a way of destroying Zoltan ships as they travelled between stars through a dimension they called “Hyperspace.”

The device required a living body to be hooked up to the machine to act as a conduit. Their “self” or “soul” would be thrown into Hyperspace and granted supernatural powers to destroy the defenceless vessels. As long as their living body remained safe, they would be immortal.

One of Abadoth’s best and brightest had to be sacrificed to become what was later dubbed a “Hyperspace Ghost.”

* * *

“And you were the one who stepped up to the task?” Douglas asked “Becoming immortal and ghostly to save your planet?”

“No. It was my grandfather who did it” Kassandra said. “You probably translated that message I sent to him. Despite never seeing him and what he did after the war, you’ve got to love him for what he did before. Self-sacrifice should take a great cause and saving Abadoth was the greatest of them all.”

Douglas commented “I can imagine my father doing the same thing to protect what he believed in.”

“And he would have been a better choice if he was around that time” Kassandra remarked.

“Such a shame the Mantis Swarms got him” Douglas sighed “So what happened to the Zoltan Empire after your grandfather became a ghost?”

“Well they sent out a small fleet, a destroyer and some escorts. You know, to facilitate Abadoth’s surrender. Something discrete so the people don’t get too riled up at destroying paradise” Kassandra explained “My grandfather’s ghostly powers shattered them like glass.”

“Like all those ships we saw around the asteroid base and around the system?” Douglas asked.

“That was my grandfather’s doing” Kassandra nodded “He kept doing this as the Empire sent larger, more overkill fleets until the Emperor abdicated after the people got sick of all the ships getting destroyed.”

“Impressive. One person in Hyperspace ending an entire war that fleets couldn’t win” Douglas said “Can you do the same thing?”

“Unfortunately, no. My ascension was less than perfect and came much, much later” Kassandra sighed “So you still think you’re hallucinating?”

Douglas frowned “No but now I’m wondering what the hell happened to you Kassandra? What kind of a ghost are you anyway?”

Kassandra scratched her head nervously “Not a very good one.” She looked down at herself and then compared her height to the soma cup. “Let’s just say what you’re looking at is my… spirit. Soul or whatever word feels appropriate.”

“I always thought ghosts and souls would be more transparent” Douglas asked, placing a finger on Kassandra’s shoulder. “You’re solid.”

“I don’t understand it entirely myself” Kassandra said “This is the second time I’ve died after all.”

“Wouldn’t you have a comprehensive database considering you had the creator of the tech on your homeworld writing notes?” Douglas asked.

Kassandra sighed, staring at the ground glumly “We lost a lot of data when the scientist responsible for the ghost tech took back his equipment and vanished.”

“Guess his job was done then and wanted to try it elsewhere” Douglas asked “Did he have a name?”

Kassandra briefly looked up “He purged the databases, so the names of those involved have been forgotten by my time. We told my grandfather but he couldn’t communicate back to us.”

“Right. So because your grandfather couldn’t come back home just yet, he knew like any good soldier would to stick it out a while longer until Command got their act together?”

“Pretty much. Then war broke out again.”

“The Zoltan wanted round two after such a defeat?” Douglas asked, leaning forward on his chair. He was caught up in a literal ghost story by a literal ghost “I guess this time being discrete was not an option?”

“Yeah, but this time the Zoltan had their own Hyperspace Ghost to counteract my grandfather… or so they thought” Kassandra said “He called himself the Great Eye.”

“The Great Eye?” Douglas asked “I thought it was just some mystical vortex the Zoltan believed in. It’s actually a ghost as well?”

“The Great Eye was what became of the ghost tech creator” Kassandra said “He could do a lot more like communicate with his followers and grant them special powers… his attack on the Zoltan Empire might draw some parallels.”

* * *

With the guidance of the Great Eye, the Zoltan underwent “ascension” from their flesh and blood forms and into beings of energy. Through this they could achieve greater power and they believed they could overcome any obstacle; provided they maintained their faith in the Great Eye.

The Order of the Great Eye’s fleets began moving through the Empire, destroying loyalists and converting the populace to their cause. Anyone who did not follow the Order’s path was destroyed or suppressed. Non-Zoltan were persecuted harshly or bombed from orbit.

* * *

Douglas smirked back “You are right. This does draw parallels.”

Kassandra nodded “I wouldn’t be surprised if the Great Eye was behind it again, but instead of picking on the orderly and meditative Zoltan, he decided to try it with someone more war-like.”

“I’d say the Mantis would be a better choice but it was us Federation Humans who uplifted the insects” Douglas remarked “So he probably made a good call. We’re kinda wired to shoot each other over slights.”

He looked back at what ANODYNE was up to with the translations of the glyphs. Kassandra glanced at the screen. “Ah you saw what was on the tree?”

“Yeah, and before you tell me I’m guessing they’re your people’s equivalent of carving initials” Douglas said. Kassandra looked at the most prominent carving and nodded “You’re right except that one. That’s a message for my grandfather.”

She smiled “I carved it in thanks for what he did in stopping the Gutei from wiping us all out.”

Douglas asked “Gueti? I think I heard this story from the ZRPC. The Gutei was the Empire’s largest ship and it went missing in the Gamma Cluster. I suppose Abadoth handed them its ass on a platinum platter?”

“That would be understatement. Saying it went missing is easier” Kassandra said “Although that part comes later, because my grandfather’s attention had been diverted away from its passage through Hyperspace.”

“When he found out he tried to stop it but its shields were too strong and by the time he got them down, it was too late; the ship had left Hyperspace.”

“And outside of Hyperspace, ships cannot be harmed by the Ghost?” Douglas asked.

“Yes. Once the Gutei was in orbit, it powered up its Antimatter Siege Cannon. They opened fire, killing billions of people below and turned entire cities into craters” Kassandra sighed, leaning on the soma cup “They then scorched the atmosphere so that it require extensive terraforming equipment to return the planet back to habitable levels.”

“I know how you feel” Douglas said, leaning back on the chair “The Rebellion has done the same thing to many worlds. I’ve seen assault ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion… ADW’s erupting at Tannhäuser Gate…”

“I’d add tears in the rain, but I was there too” Kassandra sighed “That was our home they scorched.”

Douglas recomposed himself “So what happened after Abadoth burned? It looks like your people came back so I know they’re not all dead.”

“Well let’s fast forward a few hundred years” Kassandra said, continuing her story “Because that’s when the next bit of important stuff happens.”

* * *

Centuries had passed; Abadoth was but a distant memory to many as the Zoltan Empire was now fully under the control of the Order of the Great Eye. Trouble was brewing at the borders between the various Rockman tribes and Crystal Empire settlements. Ships went missing on all sides.

While his planet was dead, the legend of the Great Ghost still lived on.

Meanwhile the Great Ghost was in despair – he lost everything dear to him and yet somehow was still alive despite not having a body. Did his duty as protector of Abadoth still apply without an Abadoth to protect? He sought to find answers as he wandered the galaxy as a dull star in the skies of many planets, occasionally lashing out and destroying a fleet.

The Zoltan had no idea on how to deal with such a threat as it never stayed anywhere for too long. One year he’d attack a fleet near the borders, the next year a few battleships went missing on the other side of the galaxy.

Then he was contacted by Abadothian survivors living in an asteroid they converted into a starship. They had been pursued by Zoltan ships for years, never been able to stop for very long in a single sector before the fleets caught up and gathering what materials they could.

His granddaughter gave him the details needed to break the Ghost out of his sorrow and end the relentless pursuit.

“Our family has been keeping your body alive for years on our ship in the hopes you’ll be able to return and return to the world of the living” she explained to him during one transmission “Thanks to the Nano-Whatsit, we have extended our lives so we can be with you, protecting each other. That is why you still exist.”

* * *

“The Whatsit?” Douglas asked incredulously, interrupting the story.

Kassandra put a palm to her face as if she couldn’t believe she had just said it herself.

“I might have been on the research team for a lot of things but I didn’t name it; the people did when we told them about it. The Nano-Whatsit repairs the body as it gets older or damaged but it’s not true immortality. Can I get back to the story?”

* * *

“My mother died saying how proud she was for her father to have done such an important duty. Which is why we need you to do it again for us. For what’s left of Abadoth. The Empire has found out where we are and has been chasing us from sector to sector. They’ll soon stop at nothing to wipe us out completely” Kassandra said to the Ghost “You have to protect us grandfather!”

With renewed purpose and a face to put on his homeworld, the Ghost went to Abadoth’s aid. He destroyed fleet after fleet of Zoltan pursuers and inspired new hope in the people. No longer were the Abadothians running from battle. They could now hold position and defend themselves.

More years passed and eventually the Great Eye sent their largest fleet in the known galaxy to deal with the threat. Hyperspace was filled with battleships, carriers and other large warships with weapons and defences specifically designed to counteract the Great Ghost. He was very determined to put an end to the legend once and for all and remove the blight from history.

But the Great Ghost had been destroying ships for a very long time and knew how to bypass those defences. Zoltan Energy Shields fell quickly, Field Resonators burned out and many weapons refused to fire upon the spectral entity inside of hyperspace.

* * *

“I told him to leave one ship alive though. We needed to send a message and what better way to do that then to take prisoners?” Kassandra asked “When a frigate appeared in our space, we snagged it for processing.”

“They must have been pretty shaken up to have arrived without any reinforcements” Douglas remarked.

“It wasn’t the prisoners that sent the Great Eye on us personally though” Kassandra laughed “We threw several books worth of childish insults at him and said we were planning an offensive on his monastery now that he lost his fleets.”

“But you had no such plans?” Douglas asked.

“Some of us did, but Abadothian leadership wasn’t willing to be the aggressors” Kassandra said “Especially with the Gutei on its way.”

“Those threats must have put the Eye on edge” Douglas remarked.

“This time however the Gutei was a fortress of death and destruction that even bringing up the name could put the hardest pirates into a coma. The Grand Basilisks of the Rock Tribes would turn around and send their fleets home if they heard rumours of it being in a neighbouring sector.”

“And your grandfather blew it up?” he asked.

“Spectacularly. The whole thing shattered like the fleets before him” Kassandra said “We could see the conflict across all the sensors. Two bright stars smashing into each other like Rockmen duelling to the death. Eventually one would crumble… or shatter.”

Douglas thought he heard unusual shuffling in the Engine Room, followed by the impact of tools on the deck plates. Robert or Two-Zar is performing maintenance work, he thought to himself.

“Anyway, peace returned to the galaxy… relative peace after the deaths of Emperor and the avatar of the Great Eye. The Crystals and Rocks were still out and about, taking advantage of the Empire’s weakness” Kassandra said.

“Duty had been served and my grandfather was at peace, his vengeance quenched” she continued sadly “We were safe and secure. No more need for an immortal protector. Abadoth was effectively back to being paradise, except it was inside a big rock.”

Douglas nodded “Sounds like you would have been content to stay. Why did you leave?”

“Because the galaxy was at peace. No need to live on the asteroid when there’s plenty to see.”

“I see” Douglas remarked “So did your grandfather come back to you?”

“No. I wanted to return him back to his body and have him walk amongst us as our hero, his duty served and finally he could see his granddaughter with his own eyes…” Her eyes started to water. “But instead he stopped listening.”
She slumped on the floor. “We don’t know what went inside his head as he could only communicate to us through the destruction of ships in hyperspace. But my best theory is that perhaps he went insane from the main falling point behind immortality – having no friends to share it with. He was all alone up in Hyperspace.”

She imagined a man in an old spacesuit – he was watching the world and the stars unfold around him. He would reach for his communicator only to find the microphone was broken. Below him on the planet, Ground Control would send a message. But it was a different operator each time.

“And there’s this strange lady on the line calling you grandfather, despite the fact you’ve never met them or even seen their face” she added, pretending to strum an invisible guitar.

* * *

The destruction of the Gutei shook up both ghosts. The Eye thought he needed a physical body to remain in power but as he saw his shattered crystalline form, he realised it was all a lie.

The Great Eye had built an entire faith and an empire in order to absolutely make sure his physical body could not be destroyed by his enemies and cause him to cease to exist. Now he realised that he had wasted his time as an immortal being.

He vanished from the public eye and was last seen a rogue planet wandering the nebulae around Zoltan territories, bestowing upon passers-by with gifts or with harsh punishments.

The Great Ghost on the other hand realised he was dead all along and the people of Abadoth had been guarding a corpse for centuries. He was stuck as an immortal ghost. An immortal ghost with nothing else left to exist for, having served his duty and dealing out revenge for what was lost when duty failed him. He felt empty...

Then he remembered that duty to protect the planet and the people. That was when his immortal life meant something. He wanted to keep going along that path, fulfilling this duty to defend Abadoth from all threats and give purpose to his continued existence.

Peace was not his desire. Peace was not for a soldier with a whole dimension he had control over.
He needed something to threaten Abadoth, to make him feel useful. But what threats were out there?

The answer came from within his shattered mind. He imagined his granddaughter Kassandra asking for help. The planet Abadoth was being attacked by the Zoltan Empire and only he could save them. The Gutei had returned and there were hundreds of them everywhere! The Empire was merely holding them in reserve! With renewed purpose, the Ghost went into the fray, flying back to the ruined planet and defending it.

Hyperspace travel became even more dangerous for starship Captains to travel. The Ghost began attacking cargo vessels, science fleets and colony ships, thinking of them as threats. Then he would go off and fire his powers into Hyperspace, trying to destroy his imaginary ships.

Rifts opened up in Hyperspace which opened up holes in reality around the galaxy. White voids appeared, spewing out all manner of horrific sights from alternative dimensions and universes.

The Crystal Empires began withdrawing from the galaxy, fearing the destruction of reality itself while a mysterious race of iron-based lifeforms appeared in their wake with a deep hunger for metal.

* * *

“You ever wondered how iron-based life could even have existed?” Kassandra asked “The Lanius were not of this dimension after all.”

“I never thought about it too much” Douglas said “Go on. What happened after reality started being turned upside-down?”

“The Zoltan first tried locking down Abadoth, calling the area around it a forbidden zone, but attacks kept happening outside this area as everyone relied on the Hyperspace Drive to achieve faster-than-light travel” Kassandra said “All except one. And they were rather new to the scene and eager to share their knowledge.”

“The Engies?” Douglas asked.

“The Engi Hive Mind had used a slower and less efficient form of FTL travel but it also avoided Hyperspace entirely… everyone pretty much adopted that strategy.”

Ensign Robert Smith then shouted from the engine room “I knew it! My brother thought it was just a conspiracy by fuel companies but I knew it was ghosts! Holy crap did I know!”

Douglas turned around suddenly to see a Mantis waiting at the door. Along with the Rock(wo)man Princess Debbie Vrachos and Two-Zar the Engi was seemed to be in the process of scooping up small pieces of gravel at Debbie’s feet.

“Where did you guys come from?” Douglas asked “Were you listening the whole time?”

“We first heard you talking to yourself” Debbie said, putting a hand on Robert’s head “The squishy one suggested dragging you to the medbay for therapy. The metal one agreed.”

Douglas froze in shock. He glanced back at Kassandra then at his crew. Did he imagine entire story to justify his delusions? “Talking to myself? You mean…”

“Oh we can see her now” Robert said shaking his head “And it freaks me out considering that I just passed by her frozen body on the way here. Whoever put her in there didn’t remove all that disgusting beef jerky either.”

Debbie crossed her arms smugly while Kassandra asked “Can I get back to what happened to Abadoth?”
Robert pouted “All I’ve heard is more history about your people.”

“Ensign, you’d want answers if it turned out your partner was secretly from an ancient civilisation” Douglas said “And that she’s a ghost.”

Robert looked to the ground “Sorry. Continue. What happened to your people?”

“We moved back to Abadoth of course. Tried to terraform it and start a new colony” Kassandra explained “I even planted that great big tree you saw.”

She gave a wistful sigh “Went out there without an enviro-suit and carved my name and my grandfather’s into the hundred-year-old trunk. Bad idea I know but I couldn’t help myself.”

“Then after the colony was founded, we had a few years of peace until the Slugs started celaforming the Gamma Cluster and enslaving the inhabitants with overwhelming force.”

“The whole colony got enslaved?” Douglas asked, offering a sympathetic finger for Kassandra’s shoulder.
“It was worse than that” Kassandra said, stepping back from the finger “They irradiated the whole asteroid so that our people would be a rarer market. Our fleets didn’t stand a chance.”

Douglas sighed “So after all that surviving, you still end up as slaves. No wonder you never told me about how far your past went…”

Kassandra looked to the ground, hands behind her back “I wanted to start anew, leave the past in the past. That’s why I never brought up the subject of my family or kept it vague. Thousands of years of history were not needed.”
Douglas said “I’m glad you’re being honest now Kassandra.”

“Well that’s what a stable marriage is about isn’t it? Communication?” Kassandra asked.

“I’m not sure if I want to get back into that sort of commitment though” Douglas replied. “It would have been nice to know that you were still alive after I had seen your body cast out into space.”

Kassandra sighed “I didn’t realise dying brought me back as a ghost. When I saw myself…”

This time Debbie was the one complaining “I was briefly excited when you brought up the Crystals but now you’re just boring me with all this gravel.”

Douglas glared at the two. Then Two-Zar chirped “Agreement.”

“E tu Two-Zar?” Douglas asked dramatically.

“Affirmative.”

Kassandra sighed “I woke up next to my own frozen corpse, and then a mad Engi scientist named Doctor Nabaal abducted it looking for new organic bodies to experiment on. I beat him up, stole his ship and found myself in the Gamma Cluster.”

“That wasn’t too hard, was it?” Debbie asked snidely.

“It would have been more exciting to explain what I had to go through to beat up that Engi. He wasn’t a pushover after all” Kassandra grumbled.

“Engies can be very unexpected in power” Douglas commented, looking at Two-Zar “But still… what do you think made you a ghost?”

Kassandra said “I underwent a process much like my grandfather’s ascension in the hopes I could finally have two-way communication with him. It didn’t work but I guess it had other unexpected surprises.”

She flexed her arms behind herself and gave out a yawn “You know, I never asked what were you guys doing out in the Gamma Cluster. Obviously finding your late wife is not your mission, nor is violating the Forbidden Zone so I assume it’s something important. Only pirates and smugglers tend to be around here.”

Before Douglas could answer in a way that wouldn’t compromise the secrecy of the mission, Kassandra said “Wait, I remember hearing something on the ansible about this… you’re that ship aren’t you? The one with the vital intel the Rebels are all looking for?”

“Word spreads fast. But none of us are allowed to know what the intel is. The Rebels might capture us and torture it out from us” Douglas said before looking at the crew.

Then the sensors picked up three incoming contacts from the beacon. “Rebel ships” Douglas scowled as he watched one of the contacts move towards him. Suddenly he received an incoming transmission.

A Human in a Rebellion Yellow jumpsuit appeared on the screen. “Looks like we’re not the only ones checking out the Forbidden Zone” he said in a very snooty accent “Destroying you will put me back into Command’s good graces! Charge weapons!”

------------------

Regular story will resume in a few days. In the next chapter, there will be:

Rebels!
Cloaking!
Ghostly Powers!
Princess Debbie action!

Where there will not be:

A Clock Tower! (yes I've done that gag before!)

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