Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Tale of the Nesasio

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Re: Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Tale of the Nesasio

Postby Tharsis » Mon Sep 15, 2014 7:06 pm

No cake?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Tale of the Nesasio

Postby stylesrj » Mon Sep 15, 2014 7:25 pm

The cake is a lie.
Besides if there was cake, it would be baked by a Zoltan and they have a 50% penalty to baking.
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Re: Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Tale of the Nesasio

Postby Tharsis » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:50 pm

Too bad.

Also, the cake was not a lie.
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Re: Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Tale of the Nesasio

Postby stylesrj » Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:11 am

The more I write this, the more I see Slocknaw as the protagonist of this tale. A Slug who behaves just like a Human despite the fact his entire species are seen as sly, conniving manipulators.

Charlie just seems to be some guy who everyone explains stuff to. I don't know, but it's rather hard to give Charlie any significant role against the Flagship, because I believe having good Engines and Piloting is vital to winning and everyone else can board.

But the away team can't just be Slocknaw and Translator because there needs to be a redshirt :lol:

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

Sector 8 – Last Stand – Flagship Product

The Nesasio arrived at the next beacon with several other cruisers ahead and behind them. There were a wide range of vessels from all different parts of the Federation. From the torus-shaped Engi vessels, the oddly-shaped Zoltan Cruisers and even a knife-like Lanius vessel and a few Shivian Class Rock Cruisers made appearances.

Slocknaw was checking the Sector Map. Several beacons were flashing as they turned into hotspots of furious combat as Federation forces pulled back or were overrun. He tried not to think about how many lives were being lost in those areas, focusing on the lives that would be saved.

One beacon in particular displayed “Last Known Position” with a rotating icon of a massive ship. Above the map was an indicator giving an estimated time before the Flagship would be in range of the Federation base.

“36 hours” he commented, checking the secondary timer until the Federation base could safely jump away. “40 hours.” Even if all the Zoltans onboard diverted their energies to the shields, it wouldn’t even last an hour against such a large fleet, he thought worriedly.

Ahead of the Nesasio was a battle already in progress around the exit node – Federation ships were engaging Rebel ships at infeasible ranges. “Something must have gone horribly wrong if they can look out the viewports and see their target in front of them” Charlie remarked as he tweaked with the engines, diverting power from the main drive to the manoeuvring thrusters.

As the Nesasio ducked and weaved across lines of fire and missiles, he added “But at these ranges it’s essentially fighting with knives. No artillery, no ASBs. Straight up shooting with the guns.”

“Destroy the Rebel fleet!” Captain Rebekah shouted over the battlegroup’s channel before moving her Lanius cruiser ahead of the Nesasio “We must secure the exit node!”

The Slug assumed Admiral Tully had put her in charge of the fleet or at least would be the one to point the ships in the right direction.

A distress signal went over the comms from one of the larger Federation ships trying to escape from the scene. A quick scan revealed it to be a badly-damaged colony ship taking fire from a single Rebel fighter that was roughly half the size of the Nesasio. Probably sent as an afterthought while the main battle rages, Slocknaw thought to himself.

The scans also showed that the ship’s life support was rapidly failing. “Help us! We’ve got families and wounded onboard!”

Slocknaw lowered his eyestalks as a frown. “I’m going to save those civilians” he announced to the other cruisers before breaking formation “I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Good luck Nesasio. We’ll try to save some Rebels for you once you’re done playing hero” Rebekah said before continuing her messages of bravado to the rest of the cruiser fleet. “Come on you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?”

The Nesasio’s wings went into a combat position and Slocknaw hailed the Rebel fighter “Hey bastard! Pick on someone who can fight back!”

Seeing the cruiser heading towards it, the fighter broke off from its run on the colony ship. “I don’t care who you are but no one defies the Rebel Fleet!” their Captain shouted over the comms. The Slug swore he heard that pompous accent before.

“Wait a second, you’re that jerk from Aquarius!” Virus #247-12 interjected.

“And you’re that ship!” The pompous Rebel exclaimed “I will take great pleasure in smashing your pathetic cruiser into dust!”

He opened fire on the Nesasio, only to have his shots either missing the ship completely or depleting the shields in his barrage. The stealth cruiser locked on to the fighter and began charging weapons.

The dual lasers fired first, missing the target completely, followed by both the Glaive Beam and the mining laser which swept over the target’s shields. Slocknaw cursed loudly before quickly recalibrating the mining laser’s targeting system for a more focused strike.

Virus reported a Breach Missile being launched and engaged the phase-cloak just as the projectile was about to impact with the ship. It passed straight through and out the other side to be destroyed by an ASB projectile that buzzed past the cruiser.

A new transmission came in over the channel, yet it happened to also be the same pompous accent of the officer in the fighter. “This is Rebel Bombardment Cruiser “Deadly Bacon” moving in to provide ASB support. And to you, Nesasio. I don’t care who you are, but no one defies the Rebel fleet! Target their engines!”

“Deadly Bacon?” Charlie asked, trying not to laugh “What the hell kind of a name is that?”

The other Rebel didn’t sound too happy about the ASB support either as he argued back and forth with the cruiser, citing he had the targets handled and the ASB would get in his way. It’s like they’re talking to themselves, Slocknaw thought to himself as shots were still flying towards the Nesasio.

“Virus, they’re going to bracket us into a killzone once we drop out of cloak” Charlie warned as the shots came dangerously close to the Nesasio “I don’t like the look of that glow.”

The Nesasio’s dual lasers missed the fighter yet again while the mining laser cut through the shields and into the generator, piercing straight through and out the other side. The craft still held strong though – while the room was reported to be damaged on the screen, the shields didn’t seem to appear to be any weaker.

“If I can just get these lasers to hit their target, this will all be over” Slocknaw said as the phase-cloak dropped and the hostile cruiser’s projectiles started becoming more accurate. One of them smashed straight into one of the wings and tore it off the ship, almost taking the mining laser with it.

“Something tells me that we can’t just buff it out” Charlie commented.

Once the guns were ready, the Nesasio fired again just as the fighter slowed down to take a sharp turn to avoid friendly fire. The dual lasers depleted two layers of shield, followed by the mining laser smashing into their shield generator.

While the crews scrambled to fix the damage, the Glaive Beam swept over the hull, causing explosions to ripple across the ship, tearing the Rebel fighter apart into scrap. The Nesasio then shook from one of the cruiser’s ASB shots impacting into the hull from below. The shot overpenetrated the plating and came straight out the other side.

“Damage report!” Slocknaw shouted, knowing that this impact was more dangerous. He saw the cloaking device had finished cooling down at that moment and was ready to activate.

Translator replied grimly “They blasted straight through the Clone Bay.”

“Well at least it wasn’t the engines” the Slug said with a nervous chuckle before adding “Those ASB shots are calibrated for bigger targets than us. They could take down a battleship with that kind of firepower or… oh crap!”

The projectile barrage had stopped as the Rebel cruiser changed direction until it was pointing its guns at the crippled colony ship. “Nothing personal but I have new orders to destroy that ship full of Federation loyalists first” the Rebel cruiser Captain said scathingly “We’re better than your pathetic little ship, so just try and stop us!”

A Lanius cruiser spun into position in front of the ship, flak guns charged. The Rebel officer said “I don’t care who you are but…”

There were a series of explosions as the Lanius ship fired the flak guns, cutting off the officer’s last words and tearing the cruiser apart with high speed projectiles and debris. The vessel quickly turned away from the explosion with minimal damage.

“I figured you could have used a hand” Rebekah said to Slocknaw.

The colony ship sent a message to the ships “Thank you for saving us. This ship is transporting Federation civilians on the run from the Rebellion and we don't have the equipment to fight for ourselves. I don't have much to offer, but we were planning on setting up a repair station at Federation Command to assist once we get these refugees offloaded.”

“Much appreciated. Stay safe” Slocknaw said as the Nesasio moved away. The battle around the beacon had died down – thanks to the intervention of the other cruisers, the exit was secured and the fleet was heading through.

* * *

The Nesasio did a quick salvage run of the wreckage of the destroyed ships before heading towards the exit beacon node – the damaged Federation fleets were retreating.

At the next beacon, there was another chaotic battle between the Federation and Rebellion fleets as they fought for control over a highly volcanic planet. Debris from a black Shivian-Class Rock-Cruiser flew past them as a Rebel cruiser lobbed an ASB projectile at the beacon.

Several Federation cruisers opened fire with Vindicator artillery in response, tearing the ship apart as their beams swept through. Virus had to keep track of the laser paths and projectile trajectories as they moved between both fleets. The Flagship was estimated to arrive shortly.

The Federation-aligned cruisers picked their own targets of opportunity all around them while they waited – transport ships, missile frigates and bomber wings were engaged.

Slocknaw set his sights on a large Rebel battlecruiser three times the size of the Nesasio that was bombarding the planet’s surface with missiles. A large section of planet below it was scorched. Almost as if someone had ignited the atmosphere and… holy crap, just like that planet in Aquarius! He thought to himself grimly.

A massive torus-shaped Engi vessel then jumped into the system and opened fire with ion weapons and a swarm of bright-white drones the size of the Rebel’s automated ships. The battlecruiser hardly stood a chance.

“Holy crap! I’ve never seen that class of ship before! Do we have flagships of our own?” Charlie asked in shock.

“That’s General Turzil’s carrier, [PURITY OF CODE].” Envoy Trikko said, pronouncing the brackets quite succinctly “It’s the largest ship in the Engi Brigade. It seems we’re pulling out all the stops here.”

She then pointed to a large green and asymmetric battleship that shortly arrived into the system, along with several smaller ships. “And that one is the Tyson, the largest ship in the Zoltan Resource Protection Committee and the second-largest in the Zoltan Empire.”

“Second largest?” Charlie asked, imagining just what would be more powerful than that.

“The Gutei is the largest, but that battleship went missing a long time ago on a voyage to Abadoth” Trikko explained “It’s still registered on official records though.”

“Typical Zoltan Empire bureaucracy” Charlie laughed.

Admiral Tully appeared on the screen. “All capital ships, the enemy flagship has jumped!” he shouted. “The fleet will be arriving in your system shortly. All capital ships, engage the Rebel fleet. Cruisers, proceed to your objective. At least one of you is needed to get through!”

The Federation ships began forming around the flagships, creating a giant sphere as they faced the bulk of the Rebel fleet around the beacon node. There was a massive disturbance of gravity and the already-massive Rebel fleet was reinforced by an even larger fleet of ships, both manned orange ships and black automated ships.

They spread out in a cone-like fashion before forming a massive cube around a central target – a large warship bristling with weapons. This is it! The Rebel Flagship! There’s no turning back now! Slocknaw thought to himself before saying to the crew of the Nesasio “We’re going in! Get tactical!”

* * *

A series of shots phased straight through the Nesasio as it cloaked and moved through the Rebel fleet. A massive blue beam swept through several Rebel ships from the Zoltan flagship to assist the cruisers.

However, just before the Nesasio could approach the Rebel flagship in the very centre of the formation, a large Rebel battleship stood in their path. “I don’t care who you are but no one defies the Rebel fleet!” said a very snooty accented Rebellion officer.

“Seriously?” Slocknaw asked with a massive groan of annoyance. “Can’t you clone someone else?”

The Nesasio’s guns and several Vindicator Artillery Beams from support vessels fired at the errant battleship. They tore a massive hole in the side of the warship’s hull and the stealth cruiser flew through it, leaving a large explosion of debris and bodies behind.

Other Federation ships came alongside the Nesasio – Vindicator-Class Cruisers, Zoltan Adjudicators and even an Engi Vortex Cruiser. They all faced the Flagship before them. Before the Rebel fleet could turn to annihilate the cruisers, the Rebel leader came on the comms – as a black silhouette on a dark screen.

Slocknaw was surprised to say the least – he was expecting another snooty officer just to spite him.

“All ships, focus on the other Federation ships. We can handle these ships ourselves!” The Rebel leader said in a gravelly voice, much like a Rockman before addressing the cruisers “Do you really think your pathetic ships have a chance at stopping the Rebellion?”

“We’re willing to die trying to find that part out” Slocknaw boasted. The other ships shared the same sentiment. “Non-functionality preferred option to servitude to Rebellion” the Engi operating the Vortex stated.

“No single species should have all the power in the galaxy. The might of a united Federation stands before you!” Slocknaw shouted.

He gestured to everyone “Humans, Slugs, Zoltan, Engies and Lanius. We have Rockmen and Mantises allied with us. The galaxy needs to be united as one, not separated by this reckless conflict.” Great, now I’m thinking like a Zoltan, Slocknaw thought to himself.

“You Federation scum keep spending too much time playing pioneer that you neglected your internal problems. Was it not the Federation that provided the Mantis with the FTL drive?” the Rebel leader explained harshly as the rest of the Rebel fleet moved on ahead without the Flagship. Only a few capital ships remained to watch for any surprises.

“The Mantis/Federation War could have been avoided centuries ago if you just let those insects die on their overcrowded homeworld” the Rebel continued, moving his silhouette in closer. The Slug could make out vague facial features in the darkness, as well as something shiny. He’s definitely a Human, the Slug thought to himself.

“Then when pirates started raiding outer colonies in greater numbers, did the Federation save them?” the Rebel continued “Or did they just hide behind their coreworlds, not wanting to scratch their precious firepower?”

“That one isn’t the Federation’s fault” Slocknaw protested “Especially when it was YOU who funded the pirates!”

“Even before then, the pirates were getting bolder. The Mantis Swarms were getting more numerous” the Rebel said “But no, you Federation scum didn’t care about that. You had more confusing laws to make, more Zoltans to appease and more useless stars to explore.”

He laughed “Then your leaders decided that Slugs should be given equal footing. Slimes like you with the power to lead others. Humanity might as well hand over everything to you slimy bastards before they’d be compelled to.”

The Slug leaned in closer to his screen, lowering his eyestalks in a glare “You shouldn’t have told your fleet to back off. Because I’m going to come over there and rip your damned throat out.”

“The teleport’s locked on” Virus informed Slocknaw.

“Oh how cute. The Slug and the Engi thinks they can threaten us” the Rebel leader laughed, his voice booming across all channels. “Playtime is over. Go jump into a star and save yourself the trouble of being wiped out by our impressive array of firepower. I hope your intel at least picked that up.”

The cruisers opened fire on the Flagship, sending a barrage of lasers, missiles and beams across the shields. The Rebel vessel shrugged off the attacks or avoided them before retaliating.

Virus said “Missile launches detected. Taking evasive action!”

The Rebel leader laughed in a guttural growl. “Witness your doom!”

The cruisers quickly dived away from the incoming missiles as explosions went off rapidly throughout space. Occasionally a cruiser would take damage from a missile strike they couldn’t evade. The Flagship would then pummel it with a barrage of lasers, ion blasts and a powerful, sweeping set of Glaive Beams.

The Nesasio shook from an unexpected impact and the blast doors to the weapon’s control room began sparking before sealing shut. A nearby console displayed the words “System Disabled by…” followed by the Rebel’s eagle symbol and “Have a nice day.”

There was a loud whirring noise behind him, followed by heavy footsteps as Translator came stomping to the doors dressed in dark power armour. The Lanius wordlessly forced the doors open with his claws and held them open so the Slug could get through.

Once he was through, Translator closed the doors behind him “I volunteer for the boarding operation.”

The Slug nodded and brought up a hologram of the Flagship schematic for the crew’s benefit. He pointed to four locations on the ship – they were labelled “Weapon’s Control Station” and had a connection to a large series of guns on the flagship’s hull.

“I’ve overlaid the FBI’s schematics of the flagship with our current scans and the layouts match almost perfectly” he explained, pointing to Translator.

“For the moment, we’re the only ship here with a working teleporter, so we have to board them” Slocknaw said “We will be taking fire from friendlies, but hopefully it won’t affect our objectives.”

“You will take the forward starboard side station. Lifesigns are minimal but be on your guard for surprises. We have to move quickly, those missiles will be our greatest threat” he continued.

Translator nodded and teleported off the Nesasio and onto the Rebel flagship. The Nesasio shook as one of the flagship’s missiles exploded near the hull. The Flagship then opened fire with a massive barrage to which Virus quickly phased the ship to avoid.

The flagship visually dropped off the screen as well. “The Flagship can phase-cloak!?” Slocknaw yelled in surprise.

“That would take a lot of power for a vessel that size” Charlie remarked grimly as the Flagship then fired a barrage of missiles and lasers, the projectiles materialising from empty space.

“That is not right!” Virus complained.

He looked to Charlie and said “You’re with me Charlie. We’ll be taking out the Glaive Beams on the outwards starboard station. I want you suited up and ready to go as soon as they drop their cloak! We have to destroy those beams!”

Charlie asked “Sir, shouldn’t you be taking Trikko on this one or Virus?”

“Trikko is needed to keep the shields powered up” Slocknaw said, pointing to the outward portside station. “That’s an ion blaster launcher. We cannot afford to lose our shields to ion damage.”

“And Virus needs to fly the ship” Charlie said with a sigh.

“Normally most people would be excited at the prospect of suiting up in power armour. You certainly were when we left Command” Slocknaw said.

“I then had a look at what I was supposed to be wearing and realised that I’m not rated for power armour operations, especially the heavy suits. They never covered it in Basic either” Charlie explained.

“I see” Slocknaw said, handing the Ensign several satchel charges “Stay behind me then and I’ll cover you while you plant the explosives.”

Charlie looked at the explosives and asked “How long should I set the timers for?”

The Slug chuckled “There are no timers. We set some charges and detonate them before we bug out.” He quickly went to the cargo hold to retrieve his own combat gear.

What returned to the teleporter room was a large, Rock-sized armoured bubble with two robotic arms attached to the sides and a pair of heavy laser cannons. Charlie gave a whistle of approval.

The Flagship had dropped back into normal-space. There was a flash of light and the two were on the Rebel Flagship, surrounded by metal bulkheads and rows of shiny-looking computer screens.

* * *

Charlie placed a satchel charge on a nearby workstation as a Rebel soldier jumped out of a nearby supply closet shouting “I don’t care who are are…”

The Rebel didn’t even have time to pull the trigger before Slocknaw’s armoured bubble had shot him with several rapid-fire heavy laser blasts into the chest.

“Room clear” Slocknaw announced.

“Same on our end. Single Rebel soldier. Greeted us with a tone of outrage at us defying the Rebel fleet” Translator responded, followed by the sound of machinery breaking as a metallic claw smashed through items. “And I just found a cloning tube in the supply closet.”

“I’m getting a strange tingling feeling by being on this ship. The sort I used to get whenever I was close to Virus” he added.

“Maybe they’ve got Engies being forced to work on the ship?” Slocknaw suggested, reaching out with his mind. All he could sense were Humans.

“You think this change anything?” the Rebel leader asked on the Flagship’s speakers. “Those stations and their crews were redundant anyway!”

Slocknaw shouted for Charlie to detonate the charges. As soon as he did so, the two were teleported back onto the Nesasio. The Flagship had cloaked as soon as they were off.

Several explosions rippled across the hull as weapons began separating from the ship. Missiles exploded in their tubes, the Glaive Beams broke apart and the laser cannons started overheating and melting.

The cloak failed, revealing itself as it tried to replace the damaged guns with new guns. The Glaive Beams were ejected and replaced with a single, weaker Halberd. The other weapons stations seemed to undergo structural failure, leaving them with fewer guns than before.

“You may have cut off our firepower significantly but we’ve done the same to yours!” the Rebel leader taunted “Bring it on Slug!”

There were more explosions rocking the flagship, presumably as Translator was tearing places apart before being teleported back to the Nesasio.

The Rebel leader looked to the side “What!? Shut it down! We’re not finished with the Federation scum! Now go away, I’m about to taunt them a…”

The Flagship’s portside “wing” began undergoing structural failure, sparking and rippling across the ship before violently exploding into scrap. The ship’s FTL drive immediately powered up and performed an emergency jump away from the battlefield, leaving a very visible exit trace, as if it had torn through the fabric of space itself to get away.

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

Phase 1 has to be a little different from the actual fight, because honestly, why would the Flagship be fought 1 on 1? I know it can be assumed the fleet is being distracted by the Federation, but I think Rebel arrogance works better as to why a cruiser or two can take it on.

Of course, thanks to the efforts in Phase 1, it'll be back to traditional firepower for the next two phases.

So coming up next, be prepared to expect:

Drones!
New Allies!
Translator's Secret Project!

And don't be prepared to expect:

The Grand Inquisition!
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Re: Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Tale of the Nesasio

Postby Tharsis » Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:53 pm

I certainly wont expect something like The Grand Inquisition
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Re: Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Flagship Phase 2

Postby stylesrj » Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:28 am

Ok, to be honest I'm getting rather bored of FTL at this current moment. My creative juices are not flowing like they should and my mind is wandering on other projects.
After I finish this story I think I'll move away from FTL fanfiction and move back to the medieval/fantasy/sci-fi story I was working on before (which has nothing to do with FTL and I can't find anywhere to post it because I'm lazy)

But hopefully I won't do a cheap cop-out with these last three chapters and give some sort of satisfying conclusion with a sequel hook!

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

Sector 8 – Last Stand – Power Surge Detected

The Nesasio pulled back to Command for quick repairs. Slocknaw positioned the cruiser next to a large colony ship that had been hastily refitted with repair arms and waited for the crews to do their work.

“Flagship’s ETA is 30 hours” the Slug muttered, looking at the sector map. “We need to press the attack before they fix themselves up as well.”

“Captain, I’m sending to your console something that’s freaking me out” Charlie said nervously over the comms “You really need to see it.”

An image of a massive red-coloured cruiser appeared on the screen. “What the hell is that ship?” the Slug asked “It looks like a Mantis vessel but nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

Charlie explained “I’d recognise that ship anywhere. The hull is cobbled together from several different Mantis ships and it looks like the drives are ripped an old Federation Hawk-Class Cruiser.”

He tried to remain calm and took a deep breath. “It’s the Gila Monster, KazaaakplethKilik’s ship!”

Slocknaw gave an audible gulp “And it’s just sitting there by Command? Has the war turned so badly that even our long-time enemy is joining forces?”

“I certainly hope not!” Charlie snarled “He can’t be allowed to live. Especially after what he did to the galaxy. There’s no way he can ever make up for it!”

“Well he could renounce his ways of violence, donate his worldly possessions to charity and seek penance with the Order for the next hundred years” Envoy Trikko chimed in, much to Charlie’s shock.

“You’d be surprised how many Mantises have done that” the Zoltan continued cheerfully “KlornaaakMilith the Bloodied was the poster-child example... he did a lot more to the galaxy than KazaaakplethKilik and he redeemed himself through a life of non-violence and generousity.”

Charlie shook his head “You did not witness what I saw on the Condor. He killed all of the colonists or took them into slavery. He let his kids pick out the best people for nesting grounds.”

“KlornaaakMilith would have done a lot worse – he was a warlord by nature and very violent, very brutal” Trikko said “He would torture people for weeks before killing them just for the sheer thrills.”

“Of course he made plenty of enemies in the process so when they caught up to him, he fled to Zoltan space and tried hiding in a monastery. He learned to hone his tendency to use violence towards more peaceful means.”

Charlie pictured a green Mantis in long flowing green robes and wooden sandals and a long grey beard like a Zen master of sorts. He couldn’t help but laugh at such a possible sight. “So is this Klornaaak guy still alive?”

“No. Such was his dedication to non-violence that when he left the monastery, he did not raise a claw against the ZRPC officers when they shot him for not having the right weapons licensing on his ship” Trikko concluded with a shaking of her head “It was rather embarrassing.”

Slocknaw’s console lit up as an incoming transmission came in from a Lanius cruiser heading towards the Nesasio. The Slug opened the channel to hear what they had to say.

“This is Captain Rebekah of the Kruos. Good to see you’ve made it back here in one piece Nesasio! We’ve been assigned to assist you on your way to the Flagship” said a cheery blue-skinned Human “Be wary though, the FBI says the power readings are phenomenal.”

“Thanks for the tip. So what’s KazaaakplethKilik doing here?” Slocknaw asked her.

“You haven’t heard yet?” Rebekah asked. “Kazaaak’s ship came retreating from the Chiron Beta Prime sector, requesting the location of Federation Command. Apparently the Rebels overwhelmed his fleet and he wants to rally them here to help us with the fight.”

“And Tully just let that monster in with no questions asked?” Charlie asked scathingly.

“We all are pained by what Kazaaak did to the galaxy. He enslaved me and my family when I was young” Rebekah said before looking at her console “It seems he wants to talk to us. I’ll patch him through and we can hear his answers for ourselves.”

A brief, haunting theremin started playing, followed by a red banner and a pair of severed, bloodied claws overlaying it. Slocknaw remarked it was similar to the Qulekalez Swarm’s banner, except it was blue.

The camera moved downwards to show the back of a large gold-plated throne designed for the Mantis anatomy. “Foolish meatsacks!” a voice chittered before the throne turned around revealing a Human sitting on it wearing a cheap plastic Mantis mask.

The rest of his uniform appeared to be a Federation jumpsuit that had been dyed red. Several Federation service medals were pinned to his chest and a patch on his shoulder bared Kazaaak’s emblem. He looks familiar somehow, Charlie thought to himself.

“Huh, I was expecting someone taller” Slocknaw remarked in confusion “And greener.”

“KazaaakplethKilik is elsewhere with important work” the man said in the chittering tone of a Mantis as lights on a device on his throat started flashing. “I am his representative in lieu of these circumstances, meatsacks.”

He looked in the direction of Charlie. “I suppose your subordinate has a question to ask KazaaakplethKilik. I can see it in his eyes – always facing forwards, focusing towards their prey and not looking around for others to hunt.”

“I’ve seen those exact medals before, laid out in that distinct pattern. Where did you get them?” Charlie asked, stepping forward “The Triple Federation Cross, the Purple Core… the three Long Service Medals…”

He glared and continued “I would say you had stolen them off him but they’re worn exactly as Captain Joshua Jensen would have worn them. That cannot be a coincidence or an imitation of his style.”

The man laughed. “Very astute, meatsack. Or should I say… Ensign Charlie Smith.”

He removed his mask revealing an intact face with strong, chiselled features and a lantern jaw. I can see where those colonial cartoons got their inspiration from, Slocknaw thought to himself.

“I am KazaaakplethKilik’s right-claw man, Captain Joshua Jensen” he declared “I have to say though, I am pleased you escaped the deathtrap that was the Condor.”

“Deathtrap?” Charlie exclaimed in shock “Didn’t you say you’d rather die than ever become a slave? Sir?”

Joshua’s voice still chittered like a Mantis when he spoke again “That was until KazaaakplethKilik showed me this letter he found off one of his victims.”

He showed Charlie a partially-burned letter with a few words about how much money would be enclosed for the recipient’s family for their service on the Condor. In the corner was the emblem of an eagle with the words “MFK” on it.

He explained how the Rebels funded the Condor to act as bait to eliminate KazaaakplethKilik and himself. “The Rebels would have then taken charge much more easily as my “heroic sacrifice” would be used as their platform.”

“But instead it was just written off as another tragedy of piracy and the colony industry suffered even more greatly” Slocknaw concluded “And so the Rebels had to find a new excuse like the Trade Fleet negotiations.”

“So I was just a pawn in this crazy game of politics?” Charlie asked “So why did Kazaaak let you join with him instead of killing you?”

Joshua said to Charlie “KazaaakplethKilik works in strange, mysterious ways. He saw my heroic efforts against him as a sign of great strength and decided I was better suited to serve as his liege rather than as his enemy. Since the Rebels put an attempt on my life, I couldn’t risk returning home – so here I am working for the Federation’s greatest enemy.”

Slocknaw asked why Kazaaak was working for the Federation now. Joshua’s stated that Kazaaak swore loyalty to the Federation after he was beaten by a particularly strange Mantis who had been raised by Humans.

The experience had given him a new perspective on how Humans could both be vicious warriors and generous at the same time without being uptight like a Zoltan about it. “Still, after this conflict is over, he should join a monastery. The Order needs another poster-boy for other potential Mantis acolytes” Trikko commented.

Once the repairs had been confirmed, the Nesasio undocked from the repair station. The ship bore marks from the previous battles and the wing was still damaged but for the most part, the ship had been patched up. As it headed for the exit beacon node, Slocknaw declared “Time for round 2 with the Flagship!”

* * *

The next beacon the Flagship was fighting at had another massive battle between the Federation fleets and the Rebel fleets. However this time, there were a lot of red ships looming in the fray, taking shots at the Rebels.

Occasionally a Rebel cruiser would go silent and start turning its guns against the other Rebels or self-destructed as a Mantis boarding party took it over.

A ship of similar design to the Nesasio suddenly approached them. The hull had been painted in a mix of black and orange camouflage patterns and an oddly-shaped circular drone hovered around it. The IFF tag registered it as “Simo-H.”

“Look buddy, I don’t like you and you don’t like me. We will never be friends here” said a familiar, Zoltan’s voice “But my superiors have decided that I must assist you.”

Slocknaw chuckled “Well Commander Buck, good to have you on our wing regardless.”

“Shut up Slug and don’t get in our way! Our ship is more advanced than your pathetic piece of junk!” Buck shouted “The ZRPC and the Engi Brigade just rolled this out last week and they already know it’s in good hands since I’m the one they picked for it”

The Slug rolled his eyestalks before ordering Virus to form up as they moved on the Flagship. Rebel ships tried to move into the Nesasio’s path only to be blown away by the supporting fleet. That snooty Rebel’s voice is going to haunt me next time I sleep, the Slug thought to himself after hearing another “I don’t care who you are…” being transmitted on all channels.

The Kruos grabbed nearby debris with its recovery arms to quickly shape it into crude projectiles. They were then fired out of the forward cannons, clearing a wide path ahead of them. Surviving ships were taken apart with the Glaive Beam or the mining laser of the Nesasio.

The Simo-H remained close behind, generating a shimmering green shield around itself rather than contributing to the fight. Slocknaw assumed at first it had no weapons until he saw that the cargo bay section of the ship had been refitted with a drone hangar.

The Flagship was soon before them, surrounded by a protective layer of small defence drones. A large chunk of the port side of the vessel had been violently torn off from the damage inflicted in the previous encounter.

“You again!” the Rebel leader broadcast to the Nesasio. “I’m not going to give any speeches this time! So let’s just get this on!”

A swarm of drones launched from an open hangar in the starboard side of the ship, heading towards the three vessels while the weapons began charging up and targeting the ships.

Charlie was on edge with the power mitigation of the thrusters of the Nesasio. The combat drones were forcing Virus to take the ship on tight manoeuvres and he needed to make sure each thruster had the power the Engi was asking for and to provide it quickly. Then there was the sound of the hull buckling and breaking nearby, followed by a massive hiss of air and an intruder alarm.

He snapped up his rifle and turned around quickly to find himself staring at the red visor of a Rockman-sized and shaped boarding drone on treads. “Holy crap!”

* * *

The drone had a brief period of inactivity before it began shooting so Charlie quickly fired his rifle in short controlled bursts, aiming for the centre of the bulky machine. His shots seemed to do nothing but scorch small holes in the reinforced plating.

“There’s a boarding drone in the engine room!” he shouted over the comms, his voice hard to hear over the sound of air escaping. “I need help taking it down Captain!”

“Slocknaw and Translator have already boarded the Flagship” Virus said “Trikko is reinforcing the shields and I can’t leave my station to help you or else we’ll be sitting ducks!”

The drone then sprang into action, guns spinning up and the visor glowing brightly. “Searching” it said in a deep robotic monotone as its head and body swivelled in different directions until it locked onto Charlie.

“If someone doesn’t get their ass down here and defend the engine room, we’ll all be sitting ducks! Or dead!” Charlie shouted as several laser blasts fired from the drone’s guns, smashing into the equipment.

He took cover and the drone lost sight of him very quickly. He briefly contemplated upping the intensity of his rifle, but as he went for the button, it made a distinct sound to indicate to himself (and his foes) that he was doing just that.

“Are you still there?” the machine intoned, scanning the area again before giving up. “Proceeding to primary objective…”

“Where are the Marines when you need them?” Charlie wailed quietly as the drone suddenly started firing at the nearest console, smashing it to pieces before spinning towards the next one.

* * *

Slocknaw and Translator were busy applying heavy firepower to the equipment in the Rebel Flagship. “Missiles are always the biggest threat” Slocknaw said to Translator “They travel at a speed that shield systems have trouble blocking.”

“I know that already boss. I’m mostly bothered by the fact that this room is isolated from the rest of the ship.” the Lanius said to the Slug, gesturing a heavily armoured set of claws around the Missile Control Room.

The iron-based lifeform had opted to expand his carapace integrity with a suit of specially-designed Lanius power armour. “Designed by the Engi Brigade to take down Level 6 Combat Platforms” he had explained to Virus “The Brigade obviously must have worked quickly to update the Lanius’ suits after you took over Metfel’s platform. Just in case there’s more compromised combat platforms I guess.”

Slocknaw shrugged inside the armoured bubble before realising Translator wouldn’t be able to see the gesture. “You said earlier that you were bothered by the Engi signatures in here but I’m still not sensing any of the robotic lifeforms.”

“That’s the thing. They’re much stronger this time” Translator said worriedly “Boss, there may be a…”
“Hold that theory, we’ve been boarded in the engine room” He then shouted as a fire broke out inside the room they were in. He assumed the system was rendered non-functional – the power readings from the missile launchers indicated as much. Hard to tell with their ship jamming the sensors, he thought to himself.

Translator shared the same sentiment “Yes, Charlie always seems to get himself into trouble with enemy forces.”
The teleporter activated and the two were sent back to the Nesasio. An incoming transmission came from the Kruos. “I’m picking up a massive surge of power coming from the Drone Control Room” Rebekah warned the crew of the Nesasio.

“A power surge? What could that…” Slocknaw started to ask before seeing a massive swarm of drones buzz out of the hangar, heading straight towards them. Combat drones were moving in on the Kruos, Beam Drones on the Simo-H “And an extra special package of boarding drones for us! Crap!”

“That’s their best? A swarm of beam drones?” shouted Commander Buck over the comms. “They’re no match for my superior…”

His transmission immediately cut out – the Beam Drones had torn through the Simo-H’s supershield like it was paper. He barely managed to get a single layer of shields up before the drones took significant chunks out of his ship.

“Come on, we’ve got to help Charlie before it gets worse” Slocknaw said, rolling towards the engine room at top speed. Translator followed close behind.

The boarding drone immediately opened fire at the newcomers as soon as they entered the Engine Room, laser blasts scorching small holes in their armour. Translator raised a claw which split into three other blades which then launched and sliced through the drone’s base before shattering.

The boarding drone started shooting wildly in all directions as the drone’s upper section slid off and toppled over before shutting down. A deep monotone said “I don’t blame you!” The Lanius raised the empty claw again and a new set of blades were deployed from the mini-fabricators inside the suit.

Charlie took a sigh of relief and ran for the blast doors, sealing them tight behind him and taking several deep breaths. Then the ship shook again as the next wave of boarding drones landed, including an Ion Intruder Drone which nearly sucked him into space through the hole it made in the hull.

The drone then casually rolled over to the blast doors leading into the Shield Room and deployed a cutting torch.
Not taking any more chances and no longer hiding, Charlie increased the power output of his rifle and fired at the drone, melting larger holes than he did with the boarding drone. He didn’t stop firing until the rifle’s sides opened up and it began ventilating the excess heat.

The Ion Intruder’s plating was melted in many places as it turned its body around, revealing its exposed interior structure from the damage. The drone then raised two large panels at its sides while still using the cutting torch on the doors until they were forced open.

There was a short buzzing noise and Charlie was sent to the ground in writhing pain, he felt his blood literally boiling inside, as if they were cooking his insides. He rolled around for relief from the pain until his face landed on his overheated rifle and he stopped moving.

The drone then went through the doors to meet the business end of a large, Zoltan energy-enhanced pipe, followed by several slashes with a similarly-infused sword.

“Charlie!” Trikko shouted, spotting her friend’s body lying near a hull breach. She kicked the rifle away and dragged him out of the corridor into the shield room. Once the doors were sealed, the Zoltan grabbed her gun and said “Answer me Charlie, do you need the Clone Bay?”

“Uggh… I’m fine” Charlie groaned, trying to get to his feet and feeling his face “What the hell was that?”

“Active Denial Field. It boils the water in your body and can cook you from the inside” she informed him before giving the drone a good kick “And they thought the energy disruptor was bad enough.”

“I’ve re-tuned the sensors. The power surge has died down but I’m reporting another buildup of energy” Virus said over the comms.

“Then let’s stop that from happening again!” Rebekah shouted, powering up the thrusters of the Kruos and charging straight for the Flagship’s drone hangar. One of the ship’s recovery arms snagged an enemy defense drone and shortly fired it out of the forward flak cannons with the rest of the debris.

The Flagship’s shields were slammed with the barrage, followed by a swarm of debris rippling through the hull and then having a blade-like Lanius cruiser cut into the drone hangar.

“She’s certainly a crazy sort of Captain” Slocknaw remarked as he looked to Translator. “We might have to rescue her though. I can sense her lifesigns don’t look good though – and there’s a lot of Rebels moving onto the flagship!”

“Don’t worry boss. I’ve got a special project that’ll assist us” Translator said “Launch the PUPPY. For great justice!”

* * *

“Special Project?” Slocknaw asked as the scout drone was deployed out of the Nesasio’s cargo hold. “I thought I told you to revive those brains and to space them if it didn’t work.”

“They were too far gone for the Clone Bay” Translator replied, handing Slocknaw a remote control with several large buttons. “So I repurposed them into the PUPPY. It’s better this way – all the equipment is there.”

“This goes against so many regulations but I guess we can argue this when we’re not getting our asses kicked” Slocknaw said with a sigh “Using Rebel technology against the Rebels, especially drone-based mind control.”

He then looked at the controls “Although I was expecting something a little stronger considering they’ve got a Slug brain in the mix. This is a level 1 Mind Bender.”

Focusing on one of the Flagship’s lifesigns and with the controls, Slocknaw aimed the PUPPY’s Mind Controller at it. Seconds later, the Rebel soldier targeted suddenly realised he wasn’t fully committed to the cause and opened fire on his comrades before being cut down mercilessly.

Slocknaw and Translator then teleported onboard the ship inside the Drone Hangar. The Slug expected something a little more open only to find that the room was jam-packed with dormant combat drones and debris from the Kruos’ guns and the Kruos itself.

Walkways were extended between different parts where Human soldiers and Lanius warriors were exchanging shots. The Lanius were in the same armour Translator was using, so at first the exchange seemed highly one-sided but the Rebels had access to medical facilities – a soldier that had taken a knife directly to the sternum got back up a few seconds later, casually withdrawing the knife from their bodies as the wound healed around it.

“The air’s filled with self-repair nanobots” Slocknaw warned Translator, firing his cannons at the Rebel forces. “Don’t let them breach your suit. Who knows what they might do to us?”

There was a crackling of the air and one of the Lanius warriors collapsed into a pile of molten metal. A Rebel officer in thin black and orange armour stood high above the battle with a green-glowing sniper rifle with an overly long barrel.

Slocknaw focused his attention on the officer only for him to casually switch his attention over to the Slug and prepare another shot. There was a hissing sound as Translator sliced up the balcony the officer was standing on with a wide barrage of knives.

The Rebel stumbled and fired, the air crackling as the high-energy shot missed Slocknaw by a thin margin. However the officer engaged several thrusters built into his thin armour and hovered in the air with an evil grin.

Slocknaw scowled and fired the Mind Controller again once it had prepared another charge. A nearby Rebel started shooting at their superior and was taken down with several laser shots to the chest. In that moment though, Slocknaw had narrowed down his aim and with several large explosions, the Rebel officer was destroyed.

Soon the Rebels were retreating from the hangar, sealing the blast doors behind them. Several of the dormant drones began powering up, despite their main exit being destroyed and blocked with ship debris.
Virus then said over the comms “Captain… I’m picking up another power surge.”

Some of the drones began exploding in their bays as they attempted to take off or deploy. Others were dropped through hatches on the bottom of the Flagship. They were soon on a direct course for the Nesasio.

At the same time, antipersonnel drones were deployed from doors in the hangar walls. “Target acquired” was the unanimous monotone from all of them.

The sound of a jetpack cutting off punctuated the arrival of a familiar, blue-skinned Human as she landed nearby, dressed in armour similar to the Rebel officer except in Federation Blue. She then said “You may want to beam us out of here now. The Kruos may or may not explode in the next few seconds.”

* * *

The Flagship was rocked with large explosions on the starboard side wing. The drone swarm it launched powered down and overshot their marks. There was a massive explosion that consumed the starboard side wing of the Flagship and forced it to break apart from the side.

The crippled Flagship somehow managed to jump away from the battle yet again. Slocknaw checked the situation report of the Federation fleets. Federation assets were falling back to Command as the Rebels were overwhelming more and more systems.

The Nesasio spun up its FTL drive and jumped straight for Federation Command in preparation for the final showdown.

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

Honestly I was expecting more from the Drone Phase (everyone says it's the hardest phase and this was pretty much blown through easily) but with the rewrite of Fight of the Osprey being more of a pipe dream, I'm trying to sort of make this independent of the events occurring in it. Otherwise the Osprey would have been around in Phase 1 rather than this "Rebekah" person.

Next time though:

The Osprey returns!
New allies!
The Rebel's secrets are unmasked!
POWER SURGE DETECTED
Death Blossom!
Virus, why is everything on fire!?
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stylesrj
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Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Grand Finale

Postby stylesrj » Thu Oct 16, 2014 7:56 am

This is it. The last chapter. After this is just the epilogue and "where are they now" for most of the characters. That'll come quite shortly. Then I'll be free to write my other, non-FTL story! Woo!

Ok, let's be honest this last chapter is rather lacklustre and the ending may disappoint you, especially when I introduce a Deus Ex Machina and worst of all - don't go much into the backstory, as if there was to be another story explaining it.

There's also points where something might lead somewhere, the whole idea that everyone has power armour now...

Maybe I'll do a "Mysteries of Abadoth" special but for the moment, here's the last chapter.

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

Sector 8 – Last Stand – Clipped Wings

Admiral Tully looked out at a view of the stars and of the various fleets gathering outside Command. Humans, Zoltan, Engi, Rocks… Mantis ships of both red and blue; they were all there, ready to defend Federation Command to their last.

He raised a glass of something slimy to the display and mused about the beauty of such a sight was. Then the display switched to show “Priority Alpha.”

“Agent Mannon. What have your boys and girls at the FBI uncovered today?” he asked the caller.
“This just came in from Terraforming Team C12 – they were operating in the area as forward recon when this came up” Agent Mannon replied, showing drone-cam footage of a massive fleet gathering.

Ships of orange and grey had formed around the massive wreck that was the Rebel Flagship. Despite all the damage it had sustained at the hands of Federation assets, the ship was still operational. “The Rebel Fleet seems to grow in number no matter how much damage we deal out.”

A 4X followed by two arrows appeared in the corner as the fleet was slowly being reinforced from other systems. Most of the new ships however were black and grey, with ominous red lights scattered about.

Automated cruisers, scout drones and even what appeared to be a battleship larger than the Flagship itself were arriving. “Where are they getting all these ships?” Tully asked Mannon.

“We had that question as well” Mannon said, pausing the video. He circled several of the automated ships with a digital marker. “They’re from the Chiron Beta Prime Sector. The Rebels have seized control of the shipyards there and are pumping out automated ships by the thousands, even though our agents had sabotaged the equipment.”

“And because their ships don’t need any crews, they can use the factories to their fullest potential” Tully scowled “But why can we never answer the biggest question of all since the Rebellion started: Why are their AIs limited in strategy and tactics but sophisticated enough for FTL travel?”

“I believe Captain Douglas Jensen can answer that” Mannon informed him “A Federation Cruiser of the Vindicator Class just arrived in the sector and will be at this system in under an hour. Its last known location was the Chiron Beta Prime Sector.”

The footage continued playing – the automated battleship deployed several clamps and grabbed the Flagship, tearing off the orange hull plates and integrating the exposed black and grey metal core into itself. Bodies and debris scattered from the point of fusion.

There was another FTL jump and a small fleet of orange Rebel ships appeared, guns deployed and charging. Hundreds of large guns deployed from hatches built around the Battleship. Then there was a brief flash of light and the probe footage cut out.

“Looks like the Rebellion have their own Rebellion going on” Tully remarked.

* * *

Captain Slocknaw was briefly browsing a Slug merchant’s wares as he stopped off at Command. The trader saw the massive battle as a great opportunity to provide less-than-legal merchandise in exchange for scrap materials.

The Slugs exchanged mental dialogue back and forth about how much should be paid to upgrade Translator’s Mind Controller into something to be reckoned with. “With these upgrades, you can force a person to use their fullest potential. Or even make involuntary actions… voluntary.”

Virus then said over the comms “Don’t mean to interrupt your conversation but Command says we have friends whom we might want to see.”

A standard Federation white and orange Vindicator-class Cruiser jumped into the system. Half the hull had been patched up with large shards of crystal in both blue and amber colours. The ship’s IFF registered it as “The Osprey.”

Slocknaw perked up his eyestalks. Looks like the Crystals pulled Douglas out of some serious danger. They can’t be too far behind either, he thought to himself.

Captain Douglas Jensen and Slocknaw both agreed to meet in the Situation Room with their crews. “We have a superweapon that will put an end to the Flagship and the Rebellion.”

Douglas was accompanied by his First Mate, Two-Zar. The Engi did not look any different from the last time he had been seen – his visor was still a glowing green and he still kept a humanoid form; Engies were not the sort to wear power armour even when it was the most logical for survival. His visor narrowed as a sort of glare at Virus.

“Well at least he isn’t shooting me” Virus remarked.

“Programming reassessment now accounts for caste-impaired on Federation missions” Two-Zar stated “Warning: Will revert once mission complete.”

“Just you try it Tin-Man” Virus said, casually fabricating a glowing blade in her right arm “Because this will be launched into your central processor faster than you can shoot me.”

“Hey if anyone’s going to shoot the Engi it’s me!” a gravelly voice said behind Two-Zar. It was a granite-black Rock(wo)man wielding a gun almost as big as a Human being and covered in enough belts of energy cell ammunition for it to be considered clothing.

“Princess Debbie of Vrachos IV” she said “In case any of you forgot who I am. I heard the Clone Bay does that to your squishy heads.”

She put a large hand on Two-Zar’s head and squeezed it tightly “This Engi has been very helpful for quite some time. Except when he almost got us killed on the Hades Ring.”

“This platform’s processes compromised by hostile cyberwarfare. Cause: Caste-Impaired Engi masquerading as artificial intelligence” Two-Zar stated “Extended reason to purge all viral software upon mission completion.”

Debbie let go of the Engi and shook her head. “See, what sort of gibberish of an excuse is that?”

“Wait, what?” Virus asked Two-Zar, ignoring the Rock “Go back a few hundred processes. What’s all that about an AI?”

“Virus #001-01” Two-Zar said “Organics designate rogue software as Virus Prime. Botan Network Enemy #1.”

A Mantis in a specialised, 6-legged suit of power armour then skittered up to the group. “In other words, who knew that the Engies were behind the Rebellion?” he said “It’s always those you least expect.”

Charlie thought to himself, so that nutcase on the Condor was right. There is an Engi conspiracy!

The Mantis looked at Charlie and said in a chittering voice, child-like voice “Hey Charlie! Check out this suit of armour my father got me!” He spun around quickly, showing off the intricate equipment – although Charlie couldn’t help but notice all the small, delicate moving parts the armour was using.

“You’re rated for power armour as well, Robert?” Charlie asked.

“KazaaakplethKilik said that all of his children… and his clones can wear armour like this instinctually” Robert chittered excitedly “Said it was a matter of relaxing and letting the suit do all the work.”

He rubbed his front claws together and added “Well at least you’re back to normal – it’s rather awkward to think you were a girl.”

Charlie nodded out of politeness. Still can’t believe my little brother is a Mantis, he thought to himself. “And I have this lovely beard of manliness to prove it” he said to the insect, stroking his chin to show off the fuzziness.

“Wish I could get one of those… or just hair. Because you look like someone who has survived hell and doesn’t give a crap about shaving” Robert said, waving his claws “But you know how it is with the Bipedal-Impaired. No thumbs, no hair.”

Charlie thought to himself, I really need to learn how to wear power armour now.

“Judging by the information provided, we haven’t brought out the streamers and the confetti, so the fight is still on” Captain Douglas Jensen said to Slocknaw and Rebekah “Duncan has just sent Tully a data packet on everything he needs to know about the Rebels. It’s a lot more comprehensive than the original Botan Network data and we’ve identified a clear weakness.”

“There’s more to the Flagship that meets the eye?” the Slug asked curiously “And I thought access to ship-wide medical nanobots were bad enough. Just how involved are the Engies in this mess?”

“Probably not very much; Engies are mostly just programmed tools these days” a yellow-green Zoltan said, walking into the room. Unlike Trikko, he took the form of a Human in a labcoat, with messy hair and goggles on top of his head. A nametag read “Duncan.”

He looked at Two-Zar with a knowing glance. “My best theory is that it’s not Virus Prime that’s doing this but the Zoltan Empire.”

The Zoltan showed a diagram of the Flagship. A large green bubble surrounded it. “With the supplementary systems down, it has diverted its power to a protective shield much like the Zoltan Shield except better” he added “The work the Rebels put in is amazing!”

“Nice to see you again Duncan” Slocknaw remarked “What brings you out here into the danger zone?”

“Science of course” Duncan grinned “But very few people take kindly to everything being on fire. It was an accident I swear though!”

Douglas shook his head in shame before asking Slocknaw “Has your Engi Virus told you the story of Virus Prime?”
Virus put a hand to her head and said “Now that you’ve mentioned it, I do now.”

“Virus Prime was the first viral program in the Engi Hive-Mind and the first to be purged. It was able to reproduce itself at an alarming rate and compromise any system” she continued “But leaked intel informs us that it managed to escape the purging and the Hive-Mind has been covering up its disappearance to avoid unrest for the other Engies.”

“Correct. Information on Virus Prime suppressed. Engies believe Virus problem controlled” Two-Zar said “Botans searching for Prime for [TIME INDEFINITE] since conflict with Lanius. Purge must be 100% certain.”

Douglas summarised the Rebellion as a means for Virus Prime to get revenge and not some Zoltan plot. He elaborated on how Humanity was strong-willed against mind manipulation but highly susceptible to manipulation in the form of belief. With a disgruntled army from the Mantis/Federation War, it was the perfect setup for galactic dominance.

“What we saw at the Hades Ring was the tip of the iceberg” he concluded his summary.

“So what you’re saying is that the Federation’s still doomed?” Slocknaw asked “A single Flagship is bad enough but a fleet of them? And they’re bigger and better than the one we fought?”

“Not necessarily” Douglas said “Virus Prime left one crippling weakness in his flagship fleet. They don’t use FTL engines or Crystal Wormhole Drives. They tunnel straight through hyperspace to get to their destination.”

Charlie’s eyes widened in shock “That’s the weakness? Hyperspace drives are so efficient that they can be run off the ship’s reactor and are much faster. The only weakness I see is that not enough ships use them for some reason.” Probably some sort of conspiracy by the FTL fuel companies, he thought.

Trikko said to Charlie “Hyperspace drives were discouraged by the Old Zoltan Empire millennia ago. Especially in home territory – the Great Eye tends to do nasty things to ships in hyperspace. You ever saw what a ship looks like when it’s been smashed to pieces like a stained-glass window?”

Charlie remembered back in the workshops of home, his parents were visited by a very badly-damaged ship. Jagged sections of hull had been left from the aftermath of someone or something powerful. There was a single, badly-wounded Zoltan onboard screaming about an “Abadoth” before expiring.

“That’s why I think it’s a Zoltan Empire plot” Duncan chimed in “If your AI gets too uppity, who else but the Order of the Great Eye to deal with it?”

“Ya’ll are crazy, you know that friends” said a metallic purple-skinned woman in a faint, yet strange accent. It reminded Charlie a lot about Ruwen Shattersphere and his odd dialect of Galactic. He mused if the universal translator always gave unknown entities the same accent.

The woman seemed to have phased through the walls to enter the Situation Room. The Nesasio’s crew seemed to recognise her, except for Charlie. “Kassandra Forun” she introduced herself to him “Not to be confused with my grandfather. He’s the crazy one.”

“Umm… I’d hate to ask but how is your grandfather crazy?” Charlie asked nervously.

“Oh y’know. My grandfather has these delusions that Abadoth is still alive and needs protection from unruly folk” the ghostly figure rambled “It’s a long story but we’d all be here all year if I told you folk about it.”

Charlie then noted Trikko’s aura was rather nervous, staring at the spectral entity. “I’d say you look like you’ve seen a ghost” he said to the Zoltan, trying to lighten the mood. The fact that ghosts existed didn’t faze him the slightest. Although that accent is disturbing, he thought to himself.

“She has all rights to being so. Her ancestors did destroy Abadoth after all and caused honest folk like my grandfather to become Hyperspace Ghosts” Kassandra said with a cheerful smile “But I’m not here for revenge. I’m on your side.”

“Hyperspace Ghost?” Charlie asked.

Kassandra pointed to Duncan’s diagram of the Flagship. “Me… and other Ghosts have the power to destroy ships that enter hyperspace or shift dimensions to hide from being shot at. As soon as Virus Prime enters, the Rebellion will just be a pile of rowdy folk with orange ships. I’m the superweapon that will save the Federation. Any questions ya’ll?”

Charlie decided he had no questions to ask the strange being from Abadoth.

Douglas said “Moving on, your friend Ruwen says hello and he’s got several Crystal fleets to support the side of the Federation.”

“Two-Zar then picked up a burst of data being transmitted to an automated battleship that fled the system. This may be the vehicle Virus Prime is using” he continued.

“Virus Prime escaped?” Slocknaw asked.

“Yes and unfortunately for Kassandra, it doesn’t utilise a hyperspace drive” Douglas said “But it does have a cloak.”

“We may have to goad it into using it” Kassandra remarked “If Virus Prime is smart enough to realise…” before she was interrupted by klaxons wailing across the base.

“All hands, Rebel fleet is jumping to this location! All nonessential personnel prepare for evacuation. All available Zoltans to the Shield Room. All combat crews, get to your ships!” Admiral Tully yelled over the loudspeakers.

Charlie expected it to be punctuated with “This is not a drill” but he knew the officers never said such things outside of television.

It was time to engage in the final battle.

* * *

It was chaos outside of Federation Command as automated ships of various sizes were constantly flying into the system, engaging the gathered fleets.

The Mantis ships were struggling the most against the onslaught of Rebels. Their crews and weapons were focused around the capture and control of enemy vessels rather than destruction and as far as the sensors could detect, not a single orange ship in the mix.

Zoltan and Federation vessels combined their efforts to punch through enemy shields. A Kestrel or a Vindicator would fire barrages of lasers while the Zoltans finished them off with an array of beam weaponry.

The only thing missing from the spectacle were the blocky Engi ships. Only a small part of the Engi Brigade was available and they had only defensive drones and ion weapons to work with in conjunction with the fleets. Admiral Tully asked Agent Mannon about the status of General Turzil and the bulk of the Engi Brigade.

“He went to answer a distress signal from a stranded division of the Brigade” Mannon replied, a look of concern on his face “I think it’s an obvious trap though. No other Federation assets have sent out distress signals.”

“Dammit! We need the Engies back here!” Tully grumbled as several Rebel Fighters flew in to intercept his cruiser, missile launchers priming to launch at the Nisos.

Tully deployed defensive drones around his vessel in anticipation of the missile strikes only to have the fighters blown away by a large Engi carrier jumping into the system, ramming through them.

“About time the Brigade got back. Anything to report, General Turzil?” Tully asked.

“Negative. Distress signal ambush” Turzil replied in a monotone, robotic voice. His visor flickered between red and green rapidly to which Tully saw as perfectly normal for the psychotic Engi General.

As per usual, the Engi did not elaborate on any “unnecessary” details such as who ambushed them and how many ships. Then Turzil said across all channels “[PURITY OF CODE] Build Routine 721” and coolly cut communications.

“Build Routine 721? Wasn’t that the code used…” Mannon started to say as the Engi next to Admiral Tully turned around and stared at him expectantly.

“Build Routine 721” it stated before one of its arms deployed into a laser gun and its visor flashed red. Before the Engi could fire, Agent Mannon already had grabbed the machine and turned him away. The Engi’s shot fired harmlessly into a wall, leaving a small sizzling hole in the plating.

Frantic transmissions came over the system from Captains and crews shouting about the Engies going crazy and trying to kill everyone onboard. The shields of the Nisos rippled as the Defense Drones fired upon the host.

Tully then heard a massive hissing sound as one of its own boarding drones had decided to eject itself and impact directly into the Nisos’ bridge, causing a hull breach. “Admiral, I think we need to get off this ship!” Mannon shouted.

Tully shook his head and shouted “I’m not abandoning ship because of a single intruder” before grabbing a large rifle from under his console. The drone had only begun spinning up its guns before the Admiral fired at the machine, blowing large holes in the plating and melting the guns. The drone started rolling forwards and fabricated a glowing hot blade.

“At least abandon the bridge or put something over the hull breach” Mannon suggested, twisting the Engi’s face backwards before delivering a powerful headbutt to the machine’s processors. The boarding drone began powering down once the Engi remotely controlling it did as well.

“What do they train you in at the FBI anyway? Krav-Maga and Ninjitsu?” Tully asked rhetorically before ordering a technician to help him with hull repairs. Transmissions could be heard across the fleet about Engies and drones not responding to commands and maliciously attacking the ships they were on.

While the breach was being repaired, Tully ran another scan of the area and located a small group of Cruisers on an attack run for the Rebel Flagship. The Rebel command hub was attached to the underside of a massive Rebel battleship and was back to being a more dangerous threat. It powered through space in a beeline for Federation Command, shrugging off hits and ships in its path.

“Osprey, Nesasio, Swallow, Basilisk. This is Admiral Tully. Destroy the Flagship! It’s all up to us!” Tully said, diverting all power from the drone control system to engage the engines to catch up.

Behind him, the Rebel ships were bombarding Federation Command with lasers, missiles and bombs. The weapons smashed against a constantly flickering layer of green shielding around the station as the Zoltans onboard struggled to maintain the barrier.

Then the sensors picked up more incoming contacts; however their entry points were far from the nearest beacon node and distorted gravity in the local area. Have the Rebels developed a new FTL drive system already? The Admiral thought to himself.

A massive fleet of crystalline shard-shaped spacecraft warped in, including several cruisers. “Howdy folks! I came here just in time didn’t I? It looks like ya’ll could use a hand around here” an oddly-accented Crystal said over the comms.

* * *

To Charlie Smith, the battle with the Rebel Flagship was rather anticlimactic. He was expecting to push his skills with the engines to the limits as the Nesasio had to dodge wave after wave of projectiles.

But after the second power surge, he found a pattern developing to which Captain Slocknaw took advantage of by cloaking the ship just as the Flagship fired off a massive barrage to which the Slug nicknamed a “Death Blossom.”

The barrage would tear into both Federation and Rebel ships in the vicinity but for the most part, the Flagship wasn’t putting up a great fight considering the fact there was a battleship attached to the core. It moved with a single purpose towards Federation Command, shrugging off hits and smashing through obstacles in its linear path.

The Nesasio and the Osprey were not making much progress getting through the powerful Zoltan shield system the Flagship was equipped with. Both Trikko and Duncan remarked that it was more powerful than any ship-based shield technology. Not even a bypass module could get through it.

Then the Flagship stopped moving, counterthrusters putting it in a stabilised position and making it a stationary target. A massive cannon deployed from the centre of the Flagship, the barrel running down the spine, aimed towards Federation Command.

“Fleet stand clear, intel suggests the Rebel ship is armed with an Antimatter Siege Cannon” Admiral Tully warned over the comms just as another power surge was detected.

The cannon fired, sending huge projectile resembling an upscaled Anti-Ship Battery shot towards the space station. Emergency thrusters flared and the massive platform dived away slowly.

The shot completely annihilated the Zoltan shield and pierced several rooms in the process but instead of being gutted in one shot, the station just buckled under the pressure and secondary explosions went off in the central spire causing the recharging barrier to collapse.

“They’ve just destroyed the station’s engines and the shields. Command is a sitting duck!” Charlie gasped in horror, watching the bodies venting out into space. He then saw a small white ship emerging from one of the hangars – it was an automated scout in Federation colours.

“Isn’t that our PUPPY?” Charlie asked, before checking the Nesasio’s cargo hold. Their own reprogrammed automated ship was still there.

Several more drones emerged from the hangar and Charlie realised what was happening. “The PUPPY had puppies of its own…”

The Flagship gave an electronic growl reverberated over the comms. “You only delay the inevitable. You believe using my ships, twisted to your cause will stop this vessel? Build Routine 721.”

The automated drones kept moving towards the Flagship, unfazed by the hostile programming. “All machines obey my will in time! Build Routine 721!” the Flagship boomed again.

Translator remarked to Charlie “What Virus #001-01 fails to realise is that while it may be a good program, it’s a pretty terrible programmer. It was easy to code out the little backdoors and add a few of my own.”

The Flagship’s powerful Zoltan shields went down in an instant after he said that. The drones immediately powered up emergency thrusters, beelining straight into the hull.

“Wait… those ships had a large pair of prongs much like a…” Charlie started before the Flagship’s systems started powering down. He heard Slocknaw remark that he didn’t even know the Flagship had a Mind Control device installed.

The Lanius laughed “I couldn’t find enough brains so I decided to go with oversized Hacking Drones.”

“Unprecedented” the Flagship boomed “This changes nothing! There are still fleets moving across the galaxy with fully armed and operational Flagships. You cannot stop the Rebellion. This galaxy will be… be… be bound to my will!”

Ships opened fire on the Flagship. Despite the engines and shields being hacked, the AI was able to dodge most of the shots or take the hits. Another power surge was detected and guns deployed all around for another “Death Blossom” strike.

“You organics are persistent but…” the Flagship started before one of the hacking drones accessed the ship’s phase-cloaking device. The massive ship disappeared from sight and most sensors, barely able to be picked up by the Nesasio and the Osprey.

There was a bright flash of light from the Osprey as a green triangle-shaped comet flew out of the cruiser and vanishing at the Flagship’s last location.

Ten seconds later when the hack wore off, the Flagship reappeared, shattered into fragments as if it had been made of glass. The sight was broadcasted to all of the ships in the Federation fleet. Cheering and shouting could be heard over the comms as the large automated ships started deactivating across the battlefield while the smaller scouts and assault craft became less competent and were more easily picked off.

The Engi ships reverted back to their Federation loyalties and turned against the Rebels once more. The war was essentially over, especially when Slocknaw said over the comms “Incoming FTL signatures. It’s more Rebels!”
Several orange cruisers jumped into the system and hailed the Nisos and Federation Command. “This is Admiral Terest of the Rebel Fleet. We surrender ourselves to the Federation authorities.”

* * *

Later on, the Nesasio had docked at one of the intact hangars on Federation Command. Charlie asked Slocknaw “So now what happens? We get medals and promotions that assign us to other ships?” He brushed past a pile of debris a Lanius was shaping into another automated ship.

Slocknaw shook his head “We can’t rest yet. You heard what Virus Prime said – there’s a massive fleet of automated ships taking over the galaxy. If we don’t take care of them, they’ll be back and in greater numbers.”

He put a reassuring hand on Charlie’s shoulder “If you’re willing, I think we should stick together as an effective team. Together we can accomplish great feats and…”

A very haggard-looking Zoltan Resource Protection Committee officer approached the Nesasio’s crew. “Stop right there criminal scum! You’ve violated Zoltan law and evaded justice for too long!” He shouted while signalling for his fellow officers to surround the group. He then started listing off the crew’s rights and their crimes from serious to misdemeanours (unlicensed weapons were at the top, harbouring an Engi fugitive for some reason at the bottom) from a card he procured out of nowhere.

“You will submit to the appeals process within 3 standard days where you have a choice to pay the court a fine or to serve your sentence in full. Your ship and equipment will be forfeit” he concluded.

“Seriously?” Charlie muttered in annoyance “After all this, we get arrested on some silly crimes?”

Trikko scolded Charlie “Unlicensed weapons are a serious matter.”

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

Yes after all that, I pull a Monty Python on the crew and have them all arrested. It's a cheap cop-out after all!

Don't worry, they won't stay prisoners for long .They'll break out of prison and become soldiers of fortune. When you have a problem and no one else can help you, you can call upon...

The N(esasio) Team! *cue theme*

Just a few things to clarify:

Kassandra Forun was supposed to be the new POV character from Fight of the Osprey (On hiatus) and her backstory is highly derivative of Immortal Defense. Or more like "ripped straight from it, except names are changed and it's purple-humans rather than Humans with blue tattoos on their faces."
She was also to be Douglas' wife (thus sinking any possible Douglas/Debbie shipping I hinted at in the previous Fight of the Osprey).

I might shoehorn in a shipping relationship of Robert Smith and Captain Rebekah, you know so the Mantis isn't left out. Because Debbie's got a marriage plan her family will most definitely approve (and so does her sister Ariadne).

In fact this whole chapter would have a lot more going on if this were written from the Osprey's perspective. Alas, this is about Charlie and the Nesasio, so things are left out as after all, it's supposed to be from his perspective.

If this is poor writing technique, I apologise but I'll strive to do better next time. If I ever write Fight of the Osprey again.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned next week for the Epilogue.
dalolorn
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Re: Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Tale of the Nesasio

Postby dalolorn » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:51 pm

Well, it was already past 'next week' when I read through this whole thing, and it still is... ;)

Great story - easy to read, amusing and... something I can't find a word for or accurately describe. Drat. :|
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stylesrj
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Re: Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Tale of the Nesasio

Postby stylesrj » Fri Oct 31, 2014 2:21 pm

Oh right, the epilogue. Ummm... I've got it all written down somewhere.

Epilogue

The crew of the Nesasio promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade back to the Federation. Today, still wanted by the Zoltan Empire they survive as soldiers of the Federation. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them... maybe you can ask The Nesasio Team!

Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Ok, for realsies:

Epilogue

Commander Charlie Smith and his Mantis brother, Lieutenant Robert Smith were slowly prowling the dark corridors of a space station. “So what’s our plan of action?” the Mantis asked, nervously sliding his claws together. He moved the beam of his torch across the hallway and found several clawmarks in the plating, along with acid burns.

“We go in slowly and quietly” Charlie said, leaning up against a door and peeking inside the dark room. He could barely make out the shadowy figures in the darkness.

A loud scream then pierced the air nearby, causing the two Federation officers to jump. “That came from over there!” Robert said, pointing down another hall.

“Holy crap. We might be too late! Forget the plan, hurry!” Charlie said, running in the direction of the screams. Robert followed hot on his heels before overtaking him, skittering down another corridor.

There was another scream, this one longer than any other scream Charlie had ever heard in his life. He stopped outside a pair of doors, panting for breath while his brother went about opening them, bathing the two officers in a bright shining light.

A large figure approached them, silhouetted in the light as Charlie’s eyes adjusted. “Are we… am I?”

“You’re just in time friend” the figure said, revealing it to be a humanoid creature made up of blue crystals and in a strange uniform. Next to him holding hands was a large Rock wearing ammunition belts as clothing.

“Just you two?” Charlie asked “Prince Ruwen Shattersphere and Princess Debbie Shattersphere-Vrachos…”

The Rock grunted “Ariadne getting married to Duna in a few days. You know the prenuptial ritual takes time.”

There was shouting further up ahead. Charlie reached a hand into one of his pockets and headed towards the noise with everyone else in tow. He opened the doors to find himself looking at a ghostly-looking metallic purple-skinned woman leaning over a green Zoltan lying on a nearby medical bed.

Several Federation officers were present at the scene to which Charlie saluted. “Fleet Admiral Tully, Admiral Jensen and Admiral Slocknaw” he introduced himself before looking at the ghost “I came as quickly as I could. What’s Trikko’s verdict, Kassandra?”

Kassandra shrugged “I don’t know. It’s hard to tell with all the genetic engineering and the fact she’s more energy than organic…” “It’s a boy” Envoy Trikko interrupted, clutching a small green bundle of energy in her arms “A beautiful, healthy baby boy.”

Charlie looked at the bundle and smiled, holding out a small green crystal from his pocket. The bundle reached out with a tiny hand and touched it. “A Zoltan-Human hybrid. I wonder what that’ll mean for the galaxy?”

Tully shrugged “The galaxy has never been so united to consider the possibilities of the new hybrid species. But for the moment, I authorise that a celebration be in order over this momentous occasion.”

He raised a glass of something slimy. Slocknaw did the same thing while the hardier personnel produced glasses of strong liquor.

“So where’s Virus and Translator?” Charlie asked.

“They apologised that they couldn’t make it – Dread Pirate Tuco is raising havoc in their sector” Slocknaw said “You turn your back for one second and every pirate and bandit wants a piece of you.”

Douglas added “And before you ask, Two-Zar is on another mission, my father is away with one of Kazaaak’s raids and General Turzil made it clear he wasn’t interested in the birth of one of the first few alien hybrids in the galaxy.”

“That’s a real shame. You’d think such an event would be amazing” said a green/yellow Zoltan scientist “But I guess the Engies don’t have the emotions for it.”

Robert chittered “Until of course someone figures out how to hybridise Mantis with them. Make the ultimate killing and repairing machine. The Engies would be all over that like a Lanius to scrap metal.”

Everyone laughed and knocked back their drinks. Charlie looked to his son and said “We’re going to need a name for you…”

“How about Hope? As in the hope for the future being more prosperous?” Trikko suggested.

Charlie said “That’s more of a girl’s name than a boy’s. But I guess it’ll work.”

Trikko laughed weakly “Then it’s settled. Our son will be named Hope.”

The gathered personnel cheered again and had another drink. It was the start of a new era of galactic history with an uncertain but bright future for everyone.

The End
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Re: Charlie & The Flagship Factory - Tale of the Nesasio

Postby FSS-killemdead » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:20 am

"COME ON YOU APES YOU WANA LIVE FOREVER" was the last words of the most baddass soldier in starship troopers and 13 seconds later was ripped to shreds by bugs.

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