The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

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The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

Postby J.T. » Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:06 pm

I decided to make a forum account and practice my writing after a somewhat memorable campaign. This might be a bit long.

I bought FTL towards the end of the Steam Summer Sale after having it recommended by a friend, so I'm fairly new to it. I quickly discovered that the nature of the game lends itself well to my tendency to value the individual characters in my campaign - sort of like how a lot of people feel about their starter Pokemon, for example.

I might be a bit weird in that regard, admittedly.

After a few failed campaigns playing with crew named after Mass Effect characters which got me acquainted with the game, I decided, for a personal touch, to give the characters slightly more unique names (or as close to unique as my naming-impaired brain can come up with - I swear, if I ever have children and have to pick names, they are screwed). I got significantly farther on that first playthrough with those new characters than I ever had with my Normandy crew, though that was probably due more to luck than anything else. Nonetheless, I decided then that I would continue using the "same" crew, on the same systems I had them manning in the first campaign, until I managed to get to the end of the game.

As I played through campaign after campaign, though, I began to notice a trend: Davis, the crewman I had manning the engine room, was always the first to die.


Most of my campaigns ended with no crew deaths prior to the inevitable game-over... except for Davis. Whenever a random event decided to give me the short end of the stick; whenever an inconveniently placed deoxygenated room claimed a life; whenever a single missed click gave a boarding party the second they needed to finish off a fighter - Davis was inevitably the poor bastard who bit the dust. Every. Time. It's like his biography was written by Steven Moffat with a foreword by George R.R. Martin. A few times he even died within the first two jumps of the game. My own incompetence probably played more of a part in this than I'd like to admit, but then again, I figured that would cause my other two crewmembers to die before him at least a few times. But no. The solar system had declared Davis its personal punching bag.

After telling my friend of this pattern, I started comparing him to the redshirts from Star Trek, and Davis's amazing talent for dying quickly became a running gag for us. "I'm starting a new game, now taking bets on how long Davis will last!" "Oh, wow, the Mantis I bought died one jump after we got him, even Davis thinks he's a pussy!" Stuff like that. If Davis weren't just a collection of pixels on my computer screen, I might have felt bad for the mocking we gave him.

It got to the point where, on the one occasion an original crew member died before Davis did, I thought something was wrong. Literally the first jump of that particular game led to a random event which I foolishly decided to chance, killing one of my crew members. But it wasn't Davis who took the bullet. It was my pilot.

In all of my previous playthroughs, Captain Pond had survived everything the solar system had thrown at her. She'd never died in a random event, she'd never been suffocated, she'd never been killed by a boarding party... She would not go down unless she went down with her ship. So hopefully you can understand my shock when all of a sudden she's casually killed off, without so much as a fight, before she could even get out of the gate - and Davis remains alive.

I wish I could say I continued that game. I wish I could say that I put Davis in the pilot's seat in her stead, and had him lead the Kestrel to victory against the Rebel flagship in her honor. But I didn't. I restarted the game then and there. I figured a campaign that kills the most invincible member of my crew in the first ten seconds has to be trying to make a statement - that continuing this run can't possibly end in anything but tears.

The next campaign, though.

By the time I reached the Last Stand, I had amassed quite a crew - one of every alien species except a Mantis, plus my starting Kestrel crew. Somehow Davis had survived all the way to this point, and gotten two stars in engine control while he was at it. I had planned this more as an attempt to unlock new ships than an attempt to beat the flagship - I had been well on my way to unlocking the Crystal Cruiser, but couldn't find the Rock homeworlds in time. I had a Burst Laser II, a Hull Smasher Laser II, and a Halberd Beam. Not too shabby at all, but I wasn't feeling particularly confident in my ability to defeat the flagship, because I had gone up against it in an earlier game with that exact weapon loadout and still had my ass handed to me. I had a higher-than-normal collection of scrap, though, likely due to the extended amount of aimless wandering I had done in an effort to find the different ship quests. Almost all of it immediately went to power upgrades before I went into battle.

After a fairly easy and generic first round against the flagship, I braced myself for the drone phase, the one that always seemed to give me headaches. This game was no different in that regard. I had always had trouble dealing with the flagship's power surges when my cloak was on cooldown, so my only real hope for avoiding destruction was keeping my captain in the pilot's seat and Davis in the engine room, then crossing my fingers. This became problematic, though, when I had Davis leave the room to help my Rockman put out a fire faster. As if on cue, a boarding drone landed in the engine room, causing a breach as it started to shoot up my engines. I sent in my Crystal and Engi, the only free crewmembers I had left (Davis was in the med-bay healing off damage from the fires, and the rest were either manning or fixing broken systems), but they weren't able to fully kill the thing before the combined effects of the drone and lack of oxygen left them too weak for me to risk keeping them in.

As I sent the two to the med-bay, I decided I needed to slow down the drone enough to keep my evasion up for as long as possible. Davis was now at full health, so I sent him in. The drone was low on health, but not low enough, I thought, for Davis to take out before needing to retreat and giving the drone the last second or so it needed to damage my engines. As I watched his health closely between shots at the flagship, ready to pause and order him to haul ass out of there when the time came, my mouse hovered over his portrait.

As I looked at his character information, I noticed something I had somehow missed until then.

He had a green star in combat.

To some, it might seem like a tiny increase in damage. To me, it was like an entire World of Cardboard speech without a single spoken word. Until then, I hadn't even noticed how often he'd been thrust into combat against boarding parties and drones in that playthrough alone. Thinking about it now, he had been up against every one of the several boarding parties that had been thrown at me - rarely alone, but always there.

And that just sums it all up, doesn't it? Since the very beginning, Davis has been punched out, suffocated, shot at, and slashed to pieces more times than I care to count. He's been infected with deadly viruses, eaten alive by space spiders, burnt to death in malfunctioning research stations, Benjamin Button'd by crazed Zoltan elders, and who knows what else.

But he keeps coming back.

He'll always keep coming back.

Because he's Johnathan fucking Davis, and this is his fucking engine.

The drone exploded. I don't know how much of it was due to the paltry 10% damage bonus from the combat star and how much was due to me poorly predicting the amount of health the thing had left, but nonetheless I found it impressive. There wasn't really any time to savor the victory, though - no amount of personal epiphany and unexpected badassery can prevent a guy from asphyxiating to death, so I immediately send Davis to the med-bay with barely any health left. My evade chance was kept intact for the rest of the encounter, and I avoided taking enough damage to be killed. After another few volleys of shots, the right side of the flagship broke apart, and I sent my crew in to repair breaches and damaged systems, beginning with the engine room. Davis settled immediately back in once oxygen refilled the room, and I jumped after the flagship, with low health but a hell of a lot of evasion.

It seems a bit anticlimactic to say the final phase went by rather uneventfully. Timing my cloak against the laser power surge was easier, with what felt like less penalty for screwing up. So I guess I'll just say when the enemy boarders teleported onto my ship, Davis was the one leading the charge against them.

With one last Halberd Beam sweep, and with about 5 hull left on my ship, the Rebel flagship was destroyed. The victory fanfare played (for only the second time, I might add) and the name of my crew was displayed on the screen. And for once, Davis stood atop that list - the Redshirt Who Lived.

From now until the end of the earth (or my interest in FTL, whichever comes first), whenever I have at least one human crew member, that guy will be Davis.

(I still can't write endings. OH WELL)
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Re: The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

Postby agigabyte » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:11 pm

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Re: The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

Postby boa13 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:15 pm

Excellent story, thanks for sharing with us! :D
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Re: The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

Postby hybridfive » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:36 pm

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Re: The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

Postby Derango » Sat Aug 03, 2013 3:47 pm

Made an account to write this message.

Well written, touching stuff.
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Re: The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

Postby iceburg333 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 4:09 pm

Kept saw this post popping up, so I finally sat down to read it and must agree with the other posts.
A touching, well written story for sure. Well done!
Congratulate that space-fairing Rocky for me!
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Re: The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

Postby mountinlodge » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:10 am


Absolutely beautiful story! I can already see the reviews:
"Phenomenal story of courage, bravery, and persistence." -The Huffington Post
"Hulk, sad!" -Hulk
"Great story!" -Diego Mountin (<--- Pro FTL player)

Three cheers for Davis! The Red-shirt who lived!
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Re: The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

Postby Jimera0 » Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:40 am

*wipes single tear from eye*

Bravo Davis, bravo.
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Re: The Legend of John "Redshirt" Davis

Postby GPuzzle » Sat Dec 07, 2013 3:10 pm

Holy fucking shit.
A Redshirt lived.
Anyway, Jonathan Davis is now an intergalactical badass.

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