Yizzzy wrote:I plan on reading this stylesrj, sometime when I get the chance. If not just because you played some of my ships.
Be sure to read the other story if you want the complete version from Sector 1 to Sector 8. I doubt I'll ever finish this one.
But there's some good news my one or two fans! Here's a completed chapter I should have posted a long time ago! The Nebula Exit Beacon that put them into Zoltan space!
“Fingers? You’re telling me that’s from your fingers?” Captain Douglas Jensen asked the purple jumpsuited Human in front of him.
“By the looks of things, yes” she replied, scratching her head in confusion. It had only been a few hours since the last battle but everyone could see the strands of purple hair forming on “Allison’s” head.
The whole crew of the Osprey was standing around a large plate torn from a Slug Interceptor. A large cylindrical trench had been carved into it as if a large snake had wrapped itself around the ship.
“This is just surreal” Ensign Marsha Glade remarked, looking over at the woman, then to the readout from the ship’s computer indicating a match of fingerprints.
Douglas said “If what you say is true and that you have the power to manipulate ships as they cloak, this could change the whole war. How did you do that, Kass?”
Kassandra shrugged “Honestly, I don’t know. When I saw those ships, I just reached out and grabbed them like toys. They even had the same feel.”
She looked to the ground “But that’s the strangest thing. I’ve encountered cloaked ships before and I’ve never been able to do this sort of thing.”
“Maybe our arrival has done something with your powers?” Douglas suggested “In any case, let’s get moving. We’re going to leave this sector and the Slugs behind. Let’s hope our weapons licensing is in order.”
Everyone couldn’t help but laugh at that remark.
The Osprey jumped to the next beacon and ended up in yet more nebula clouds, although they were particularly thicker than usual. Douglas went to the medbay to check on Ensign Robert Smith. The Mantis had been enraged by past events and was locked inside a medical pod.
As he walked in, the Engi Two-Zar was standing by the pod, accessing the command console. Robert was standing calmly inside, shaking his head. “Sorry Captain, I don’t know what came over me.”
“It’s only natural you’d be angry” Douglas said, ordering Two-Zar to open the pod “You were almost made into a slave…”
“They would have treated me like a Mantis!” Robert chittered “They wouldn’t see me as Human but another insect to put against another. A hissing, green tool of claws and acid.”
“Calm down Ensign” Douglas said as the pod opened up, sending out visible white clouds of chemicals.
“That’s the thing though… when I got angry, I just felt like… I felt like I should have launched a one-man assault on that Slug ship” Robert said, remaining in the pod.
“That’s interesting, most Mantises would rip into the closest living being when put into a blood-rage” Kassandra remarked, walking into the room with a cup of soma “They don’t think rationally beyond killing.”
“Blood-rage?” Robert asked “Is that what it’s called?”
“It’s like an adrenalin rush for Humans” she explained “or a berserker rage. All you see is red and you push your body beyond all margins of safety. Everyone you see becomes a target and you ignore all pain.”
“That’s what I felt… but I felt like my anger should be directed elsewhere and not on those around me” Robert queried, scratching his head gently with a claw.
“Maybe on an unconscious level you can control your blood-rage. There are a few Mantises out there who can do that – and would be highly dangerous compared to those who attack blindly. All the rage, none of the slip-ups” Kassandra commented “I don’t know but perhaps I could look into it, with Douglas’ permission.”
Douglas put a hand to his chin “I don’t see the harm in letting you do some medical research, Kass. Just as long as it doesn’t interfere with your combat duties; you may be called to take Debbie’s station at a moment’s notice.”
“I can manage that” Kassandra said, walking over to a medical table and clearing off several instruments “I’m going to need several samples for the best results.”
“Do what you can Kass, we’re approaching the exit beacon now” Douglas said, heading back to the helm to take over the autopilot.
The FTL exit beacon was guarded by a small armada of Zoltan warships, painted the green and yellow of the Zoltan Resource Protection Committee. They waved the Federation vessel past, citing that they would be undergoing a search and seizure if they proceeded towards the Zoltan Homeworlds.
With that in mind, Douglas engaged the Osprey’s FTL drive and they arrived in the sector, only to be caught in a massive traffic jam of ragtag ships. Both civilian and military vessels were packed in tight formations and the comms were buzzing with chatter.
“What’s with all the traffic?” Douglas asked himself as the Osprey took a position within the massive fleet. He spotted several familiar and unfamiliar ships such as a Federation Orville-Class Bomber with a Zoltan Energy Fighter’s thrusters or what appeared to be the husk of a Rebel ASB Cruiser with the engines of a Vindicator-Class Cruiser.
“It’s all over the news. The Lanius have awoken around Aquarius and are mobilising to strip the sector of its minerals” Robert explained as his claws ran over the sensor array’s controls, scanning for answers “I’m guessing these are all the refugees fleeing for sanctuary in Zoltan territory.”
A nearby space station ran a scan over the Osprey, singling out the cruiser from the crowds.
“Halt Federation vessel! We’ve detected your arrival from the Gamma Cluster” a dark green Zoltan officer said, guns deploying all over the station. “Anything to declare?”
Before Douglas could declare anything, sirens went off on the Zoltan’s helm. “You’re carrying a lot of people in your cargo hold! You must be a slaver! Stupid move trying to bring your wares into our sector during a refugee crisis.”
Typical ZRPC behaviour. Guilty until proven innocent, Douglas thought to himself with an annoyed sigh. “I liberated them from a Slug trader. Do you have the facilities to process them? Our life support is straining to keep them alive.”
The Zoltan’s glow became brighter. “Emancipated slaves? By Codex Article 24.55B, Sapient Organic Resources, I am now authorised to search for vessel for wanted fugitives. Co-operation will lead to faster processing.”
Douglas said “Welcome aboard then. Don’t scuff the tiles. We just had them polished.”
There were the sounds of multiple teleport signatures as several ZRPC officers beamed onboard the Osprey. In typical fashion, they barged their way past anyone standing in their path as they marched towards the cargo hold with scanners in hand.
They ran them over the various former slaves. The Osprey’s crew stood to the side as the officers methodically went through the rows of slaves, occasionally grabbing one or two of them and taking them to another part of the hold while shuttles moved in.
After an hour, the slaves had been transferred onto the shuttles for further processing. Douglas made a recommendation to get the Federation loyalists and soldiers a post on a ship or at least license them a weapon for the looming Rebel fleet.
“Now that’s all done, are you satisfied yet?” Douglas inquired to the leading officer, a lime-green being with the nametag of “Kip-Lim”
“Not quite. Now we must scan you and your crew” Kip said, raising the device at Douglas. The Human said “Don’t take too long. We’ve got orders from Admiral Tully to get to Federation Command as soon as possible.”
“So does every Federation ship who passes through here. It’ll take as long as it takes and protesting only makes us work slower” Kip replied, activating the scanner. Douglas could see that while most of the crew remained calm, Marsha was tugging nervously at her hood. Of course, she’s probably wanted for some sort of E-crime, he thought to himself.
Douglas felt a light buzzing sensation as the beam scanned him from head to toe. “Is that normal?”
“We’re not taking any chances. But the radiation levels are within safe limits” Kip said dismissively, moving on to Two-Zar. The Engi transmitted his credentials as a Botan Agent and the Zoltan immediately gave him an approving nod without a scan.
“You’re worried about not being able to continue the Jensen legacy aren’t you?” Kassandra asked Douglas cheekily as Kip brought the scanner over to her.
Immediately the device started listing a massive series of crimes, with minor crimes such as noise violations and improper dumping of fuel canisters, to serious crimes as “Utter Villainy”, “Actively Supporting Anti-Empirical Radicals” and “Improper Weapons Licensing.”
Under such circumstances, the ZRPC officers would have jumped at the chance to apprehend her, but Kip said “It seems the database is confusing you for the Clone Template Allison Jones.”
“Yeah, there was a malfunction with the machinery. Might have been some DNA crossover” Kassandra said “Run it again.”
“DNA Crossover?” Kip asked sceptically as he ran the device again for a second time. “Doctor Kassandra Forun?” he asked “But it says here you’re dead and registered as “Uncloneable” by several medical professionals.”
“I got better” Kassandra said “Is there a problem?”
Kip frowned and was about to explain about fee evasion when he put a hand to his side as his comms buzzed. He remained frowning as he then told the Abadothian “That was oddly quick. It seems you’ve got a friend in the Order of the Great Eye.”
Kassandra smiled and Kip went back to scanning the others, glancing over at another officer was busy attaching a drill piece to his scanner in preparation to analyse the Rock(wo)man Debbie.
The Rock didn’t appreciate the fact that they were going to drill a core sample from her rocky body and smashed the device with a massive fist. Several other officers rushed in to try and subdue her.
“Get your hands off me you damned dirty Zoltan!” she protested in an obviously faked posh accent “My father will hear about this and you will pay!”
Kip said to an annoyed Douglas “Protocol says we’ll have to detain your Rocky friend if you wish to proceed.”
Douglas sighed. While he could justify the security procedures in place, he wasn’t willing to spend a week at the border trying to sort out his crew. “How much scrap does it cost for a ticket to the ZRPC ball?” he asked, wondering if this particular officer was willing to grease the wheels of bureaucracy.
“We don’t call it that now” Kip said slyly “It’s called Standard War Acquisitions. 25 Scrap for your Rock friend.”
Douglas sighed and looked to the Rock “I might have to start running a tab for your expenses Debbie.”
“I could fight you for it” Debbie boasted, smashing a fist against her chest “That’s how I settle debts outside of the palace.”
“Yes but if I had to choose a fight against you, it would have to be a battle of wits” Douglas remarked, tapping his head.
Meanwhile Kip pointed his scanner at Robert and again it went off. The Zoltan’s energy field brightened immensely in shock. The Mantis tilted his head sideways “What’s going on, Officer?”
The Zoltan shook his head and muttered “Can’t be right…” He ran another scan and the same results came back. “Could you please come with us... Mr…”
“Smith. Robert Smith” Robert said, slowly raising his claws in a very Human gesture of surrender.
“He’s attacking!” Kip shouted, drawing his blaster. The other officers did the same, aiming at the Mantis.
Robert gave a panicked screech and then reflexively leapt away behind a piece of ship plating as the officers opened fire. “Requesting backup! We’ve got confirmed hostiles attempting to infiltrate Zoltan space!” Kip yelled through his earpiece.
Douglas looked on with stunned silence at the hostilities taking place onboard his ship. “Gentlemen, what’s going…” he started only for the officers to shout for him to get on his knees and surrender.
Deciding that having the ZRPC raiding his cruiser over a misunderstanding would take weeks to sort out, Douglas rushed for the helm to get the Osprey as far away as possible from the station. As he weaved rapidly past the refugees and towards the next beacon node, the sounds of blaster fire echoed from the cargo hold. At this rate I’ll have every damned fleet chasing after me! He thought to himself as the cruiser jumped away.
* * *
Commander Douglas Jensen waited at a booth as his call was placed back home. His cruiser, the Fregatidae had an ansible system in place to allow communications with Command, but it was restricted to Federation channels only.
It was also easier to use a modern civilian network than it was trying to understand the ancient hardware the Fregatidae was hooked up to. No wonder my father tended to plan on the fly with the older ships, he thought to himself.
A few minutes later, his wife Kassandra appeared on the viewscreen with a cheerful smile and what appeared to be a very skintight white hospital uniform with several strategic holes cut into it and not her usual (and more practical) flight suit. “Did you find him?” she asked lying invitingly on the bed.
Douglas shook his head “I asked a few of your contacts you sent me and I even went to the crash site… nothing. All I found was burned wreckage and bodies. Clearly the work of the Mantis.”
“That’s odd. Did you check for lifesigns?” Kassandra asked, throwing off the nurse’s cap and sitting up.
“I thought I detected some in the mountains nearby to the crash site but before I could investigate further with a deeper scan, there were these odd yellow-hulled cruisers moving into the system” Douglas explained “They were led by none other than Admiral Terest himself.”
He showed a picture of one of the ships, with an extra focus on the emblem they bore – a large light blue eagle with the letters “MFK” underneath. “All of the ships bore that emblem.”
Kassandra put a hand to her chin “Admiral Terest? Isn’t that old cyborg pals with your President-In-Eternal?”
“It’s just our President” Douglas said “Anyway, Terest told me to vacate the area or else he’d destroy my ship for intruding on top secret Federation business.”
“That doesn’t sound good” Kassandra said, standing up and walking into the nearby wardrobe. The fabricators within started buzzing and she emerged seconds later in her purple flight suit.
“That’s not all though. As soon as I mentioned my father’s name, the guns began charging” Douglas said “I barely got out of there.”
“I’d watch myself out there. You heard what Tully said about…” the transmission immediately cut to a screen “OUT OF CREDIT.”
“Out of credit? That’s not the payment plan I went with” Douglas grumbled before looking behind his station. Several other people at their own terminals were giving the same protest about running out of credit. He then spotted several figures in yellow uniforms casually strolling into the marketplace, blaster rifles in their hands.
Admiral Terest’s soldiers. Probably looking for me, he thought to himself as he got up from his station and quickly walked back to his ship. He keyed his comms “All hands, get back to the ship as quickly as possible. We’ve got hostile company”
He dashed past an Engi couple holding arms and in a quick moment, shoved them into the path of his pursuers who were rapidly closing in. A large crowd started gathering in the confusion while Douglas made his escape back to the Fregatidae.
“Elizabeth, is everyone onboard?” he asked his XO before she asked what exactly was happening on the station.
“Just waiting on Trent” the Zoltan informed him. “He’s probably at some Engi pleasure-house again.”
A few seconds after saying that, a Human quickly ran onto the ship, out-of-breath. “Reporting for duty sir!” he said, saluting the Commander.
“At ease Trent. Did you encounter any trouble on your way back onboard?” Douglas asked.
Trent gasped “Did I just? First there was this Engi merchant of delicate matters who stopped taking my credit chits… then I…” One of the officers nearby had drawn out her blaster and fired at him, vaporising the officer’s head.
“Fiona!?” Douglas barked, drawing his pistol along with everyone else at the errant officer. Protocol dictated that he was to detain the armed and dangerous individual before getting answers or shooting them. “Drop your weapon soldier!”
Fiona started laughing, raising her arms into the air and dropping her blaster to the ground, along with a live plasma grenade. She shouted “Long live Admiral Terest! Down with the President!”
Everyone scrambled for cover, except for Douglas. Field experience made him aware that it took several seconds for the grenade to build up to a powerful, room-clearing, hot hydrogen-spewing explosive. Disrupting the process by shooting at it meant only a smaller reaction could occur. With a shot from his blaster pistol, he melted half the grenade before diving for cover.
Fiona was mostly vapourised from the waist-down by the dome of fire. Douglas could smell the burning flesh in the air as he approached the body of the traitorous officer who was still smiling despite all the damage to her body.
“You think I’d drop just one?” she coughed, eyes rolling upwards as she died, another grenade rolling into view.
Before Douglas could react to the news, a Mantis with blue warpaint pushed Douglas aside and leapt onto the smouldering corpse. He pressed tightly over Fiona’s chest just as a second detonation went off – a more conventional explosive grenade.
The Mantis was instantly killed by the blast, but his hard chitinous skin blocked most of the shrapnel. “Holy crap!” Douglas exclaimed “We need to leave right now Lieutenant!”
“Aye Commander. Preparing for emergency departure…” Elizabeth said, forcibly undocking the Fregatidae from the station. Messages came on the helm shouting about automated defense turrets and unauthorised departure. She quickly silenced them “Boring conversation anyway.”
“Get us back to Command” Douglas said, slumping into his chair and bringing up the display. Several large contacts were jumping into the system – more ships of yellow and blue. “And open up a channel with Admiral Tully. He needs to know about this new threat.”
He looked at Fiona’s burned and mangled corpse next to two of his dead crew. He wondered if anyone else on the Fregatidae would turn against him.
It was around this time I was playing a lot of Sid Meier's Starships. Also, Admiral Terest is a recurring character in a lot of my fiction when I need a generic Admiral-type character. Also, if you pronounce it a certain way, it sounds like "terrorist."
Also, can you guess who the President-In-Eternal is? It's not Trump or Obama.