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Postby Kieve » Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:52 pm

This story is based on my adventures with the modded "Obsidian Cruiser" design...

Profile.log - (Unit:₦θVïҜ) æ²08.Ø6.2¬ø³.º»¿¬¨
»»»<ERROR: Invalid data structure.>
»»»0x00AF479E - System timer has been corrupted. Resetting.
»»». . .
»»». . .
»»»<Startup sequence re-initializing. New system date: æ³01.01.0001.00:01>
»»». . .

Novik sat up slowly, "his" vision blurred and indistinct. This wasn't the first time the Engi's memory had been corrupted - hence the æ³ on his latest reset date. Eventually he'd sync up with proper Federation time again and reformat his memory logs for proper chronology, assuming the Rebels hadn't already won. The world flickered as his optical drivers finished booting, reappearing with a clarity and sharpness humans would have found borderline painful. Cautiously, Novik took stock of his surroundings.

The room appeared to be some kind of medical ward, if the gurneys and diode-lamps were anything to go by, but the equipment looked utterly alien. Vibrant fuchsia-colored crystals embedded themselves in the machinery, pulsing with a soft purple hue. It reminded him of one of those "adult" establishments some Federation officers liked to frequent. As the Engi swung his legs off the table, the medbay's door hissed open. The being that entered was like nothing he had ever seen before.

It resembled one of the Rockmen of the Vrachos system, but formed of gleaming blue crystal. "It is good to see you awake, Construct," it greeted him, its voice soft and resonating like wind chimes in a breeze. "We did not know if you would survive your injuries." The crystal raised its hand, gesturing to the odd-looking equipment lining the wall. "Quartz insisted we bring you to our infirmary. I had thought the repair shop for our drones would be more appropriate."

The green glow of Novik's optics flickered. "Quartz was correct. Engi such as myself are synthetic lifeforms, not simply machines. Regardless, I owe you both my life." He extended a hand. "I am Novik, former pilot of The Vortex, Federation courier vessel."

"Eliza," the crystal stated, touching its fingers to the back of Novik's hand. "You are aboard our ship Retribution now, two jumps from the amber fleet that attacked you." Eliza's face split open in what the Engi interpreted as a smile. "Several of their ships were heavily damaged and require repair. They will be delayed for several hours, at minimum." The crystal turned, motioning for Novik to follow. "Come, Engi-construct, I will introduce you to Quartz."


The crystal Quartz was even larger than Eliza, a deep blue sapphire golem with a mohawk formation of needle-like shards from its brow to the back of its neck. His neck, as Eliza introduced him as male. By her lighter aquamarine color and smoother shape, Novik judged Eliza to be female, though Quartz always referred to her by name or as "my captain." If he had a rank of his own, neither mentioned it. Privately, the Engi classified him as "weapons officer," since his role was manning the Retribution's arsenal.

And what an arsenal! Novik did little to hide his envy as Quartz proudly demonstrated the Pulse Disruptor on a nearby asteroid. "It does not have the energy to bypass heavy shielding," Quartz stated with a tinge of regret, "but it will fire through a single-layer system as certainly as any missile. This is only our first model. The Model Two will be even stronger." It was the Singularity Projector that really caught the Engi's eye however. As Novik watched through the targeting screen, a black dot appeared on the poor asteroid's face. It was quickly surrounded by a swirling vortex of crackling violet energy, and seconds later the miniature black hole collapsed on itself, taking a sizable chunk of the space-rock with it. A new bowl-shaped crater was all that remained, its edges sparking with static discharge.

"What I wouldn't have given for a device like that on The Vortex," Novik declared wistfully. "The Rebel captains would urinate at the sight of it."

Quartz gave the Engi a quizzical stare. "Urination is a good thing?"

"To quote a human phrase, they would 'piss themselves with fear'," he explained. "A bit vulgar. But good for us." Eliza interrupted with a hand on Novik's shoulder.

"These 'Rebel' captains - they command the amber fleet? The yellow ships that destroyed yours?"

Novik nodded. "They do. They've pushed the Federation back across several systems already, and their strength only seems to be growing." He glanced sideways through a slitted viewport, staring into the deep black. "I was supposed to deliver important information to the Federation admirals. That intel was lost when my ship was destroyed. Without it, the Federation may not be able to stop them."

Eliza and Quartz shared a look. After a moment's pause, Eliza nodded. "I will show him. Perhaps it is enough." She turned her attention to the confused Engi. "Follow, Engi-construct. We have something that may interest you."
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Retribution (con't.)

Postby Kieve » Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:18 pm

Profile.log - (Unit:NOVIK) æ³01.01.0001.01:45
»»»<Mission Status: "Salvageable">
»»»Records partially intact. Full technical readouts corrupted.

Novik unplugged the last cable from the damaged hardware, retracting it into his forearm. By sheer, miraculous luck, Eliza and Quartz had managed to secure his ship's mainframe in their salvage operations. Exposure to the vacuum and radiation of empty space - not to mention getting blasted free of the hull - had taken their toll on the Black-Box unit, but precious fragments of data remained. Although a full readout of the Rebel Flagship's capabilities was lost, the intel Novik could recover still had enormous value to the Federation fleet waiting for him. His mission was still on.


"Our assignment was to test Project Obsidian, Captain. We have fulfilled that assignment, far beyond Admiral Geo's expectations. We must return to him with our report."

Eliza scowled, her voice stern. "He will receive our report, Gunner Quartz, but under our current situation, I can see no other reasonable course of action. The amber fleet - the Rebels - must be halted. We cannot allow them to gain control of Vrachos or they will be on our own borders far too soon. Do you wish to see the Dioptase Sentinels crumble and shatter?"

"Of course not!" Quartz shot back, his voice like a windstorm in a pipe organ. "I only mean to remind you of your mission. Do not forget why we were sent here." He pointed through the cabin window, towards the ship's jagged black exterior. "This vessel is a prototype, nothing more. It was not built for extended combat operations!"

The senior Crystal officer looked over her console. He was right of course. Project Obsidian - the ship and all its equipment, weaponry included - were laboratory experiments. They had been successfully field-tested in rescuing the Engi-construct from his assailant, but nothing in the ship was proven to survive the rigors of an actual campaign. And yet...

Their discussion was interrupted by a knock on the cabin door. Grateful for the distraction, Eliza punched in the door's code and the heavy blast doors retracted. "It was there," he blurted out, his mechanized voice laced with excitement. "Not all of it, some of the data was too corrupted to be useful, but there was enough." He paused, looking between the two Crystals. "Apologies, have I interrupted?"

"No, I believe the matter has been settled," Quartz answered, shaking his head. "I await your orders, Captain."

Eliza nodded and turned her attention to Novik. "You believe this data can destroy the amber fleet?"

"If I can reach High Command in time, yes." The Engi's single eye shifted back and forth between the two. "If you can get me to a Federation outpost, I may be able to secure a new ship."

"That won't be necessary, Novik," Eliza informed him. "For the duration of this mission, you have ours."

"Captain!" Quartz looked like a miniature earthquake was about to crack him open. Novik was no less shocked.

"I... Captain, this is your ship. I don't even know what you two are, I owe you both my very life, and you're giving me the Retribution?"

"We are the mothers and fathers of Vrachos," chuckled Eliza. "Perhaps you know our children. And no, Engi-construct, I am not turning my ship over for you to do as you will. But the amber fleet threatens us both, in their own way, and so I will see you to your Federation Command and make sure these Rebels are stopped." She glanced upwards at Quartz. "The Retribution is more than fit for that duty."

"...Aye, Captain," the big Crystal conceded. "I shall return to my station." He gestured in what Novik assumed was the Crystal version of a salute and left the cabin.

"And what of you, Engi-construct? Quartz and I are too few for this ship to abide idle hands. What skills can you offer?"

Novik considered for a moment, the plates over his brow flapping nervously. "Good at fixing, if anything breaks. All Engi are. I am in your debt, Captain Eliza. I will do whatever you require if it means seeing this mission through."

Eliza nodded. "Then familiarize yourself with the shield generators, please. You'll find them down the corridor there and to the right. The Engi nodded dutifully, giving her a passable attempt at Quartz's salute.

"Aye, Captain."
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Re: Retribution

Postby Kieve » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:33 am

Combat.log - (Unit:NOVIK) æ³01.01.0001.05:18
»»»<Analysis: RETRIBUTION(ship).Subsys(Shields)>
»»»Shield generators functional, substandard for warship classification.
»»»Field Test indicates substantial room for optimization.
»»»Parts ("salvage") required for upgrade.

The generator controls crackled under Novik's fingers, their single-layer output barely keeping up with the drone-ship's laser fire. The Engi struggled to compensate, shifting the barrier fields to meet each blast and blunting the drone's attempts to bring down their defenses. Twice, its heavy laser had managed to slip through, gouging chunks of rock-like armor from the Retribution's carapace. Still, for an untested prototype, the ship was holding together remarkably well.

"Projector charged and ready Captain," Quartz's voice hummed through the comm unit. "Where do you want it?"

Novik felt the deck shift under his feet as Eliza slid the ship sideways, dodging another burst of laser fire. A single bolt splashed off the shield array, but Novik was already refocusing power. Their barrier was back up an instant later.

"Put it right in his weapons bay," she growled in response, a sound like glass being crushed. "Then divert power to the Disruptor. Take that mainframe out before it can repair itself."

"It would be my profound pleasure, Captain." Violet-hued static lanced over the drone's hull, congregating around the starboard pylon. As the singularity reached critical mass the drone wrenched violently to a halt, its plating crushed inwards like an empty can. Novik could feel the surge of power through the Retribution as Quartz switched over to the Disruptor. From his screen in the shield room the Engi watched with fascination as a trio of purple bolts impaled the drone's center, obliterating its control systems. Unchecked by pilot AI, the drone's reactor went into meltdown. A flare of white-hot plasma engulfed what was left of their enemy, leaving only a charred wreck drifting in the cold vacuum of space.

"Commencing salvage operations," Eliza informed them. "All crew, report to cargo hold once salvage is secured. Let us see if that scrap can be put to better use."


There was even less of the drone left than Novik thought. The gravity-warped plating across its starboard pylon caused several of his processors to overclock themselves with horrid what-if scenarios, a response most humans would simply call "fear." Unlike humans, he had the advantage of physically shutting down those processors. The rest of his neural net focused on analyzing what remained.

"Mostly sheet metal. Might be worth trade credit at a merchant station. Weapon controller is nano-scale now, good if you like subatomic paperweights. Reactor and engine controls vaporized..." Novik's eye narrowed to a thin horizontal slit, examining something buried in the twisted metal.

"Perhaps your Federation would pay a bounty for ridding it of this drone?" Quartz suggested.

"Possible. Unlikely. Federation credits stretched too thin fighting the war." The Engi braced himself against the wrecked drone and leaned into its lacerated pilot compartment. "Only real value -kzzztrgn!- is in material -frrrk- salvage. Code-damned scrap heap!" Novik dragged himself back out, servo fans whining from overtaxed synnew˚̊. "Quartz, see if you can get that control panel off. It's half-melted and I can't dislodge it."

"Something useful, Engi-construct?" asked Eliza, holding the drone steady as Quartz climbed on top of it.

"Sensor controls. If they're not completely fried, we just might be able to-" The squeal of twisting metal filled the tiny cargo bay, drowning out Novik's words. Quartz's thick crystal hand rose out of the hole, gripping a tangled mess of wires and circuitry. Novik took the unit and passed it down to Eliza, then extended an arm to help Quartz back up. "-be able to upgrade the Retribution's sensor clusters," he finished.

Eliza frowned. "So, not that useful."

"With the right tuning, you could pinpoint enemy personnel and systems." The Engi scuttled down from the drone's carcass. "Better accuracy, better information. It's very useful, depending on what you do with it." Quartz followed a second later, his feet hitting the deck like an avalanche.

"You know Captain," the big Crystal mused, "the Projector does lack accurate data on organic targets..."

Novik looked over his shoulder at the warped plating on the drone. Internally, seven more processors shut down.

˚̊Synnew - "synthetic sinew," i.e. artificial muscle. Best term I could come up with off the top of my head.
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Re: Retribution

Postby SgtFrog » Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:37 am

Always fun to get a little worldbuilding on what Crystal and Engi bodies and minds are like!
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Re: Retribution

Postby el Rago » Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:39 pm

Cant wait to replay this ship. Great story, in any case

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