Page 1 of 1

[HIATUS] Kahdel; A Rockman's Story

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:57 pm
by Government Cheese
I am undergoing some harsh studying for a writing class I'm taking for the next few months. This should assist me later as I complete the series, but for now there will be no more new updates for the time being. Thank you for understanding, and I promise to get back on this eventually and ride it through.

So, this first chapter is a bit of a prologue and will only contain a little bit of slightly boring backstory. I have wanted to create FTL stories for a long time (Found out about the game in 2013; played it extensively and read a crap-ton of the various roleplays the creative people here make, got into writing last year, and worked on a fairly bad draft for around three hours every few days for the past few weeks to figure out a storyline.) but never really worked the nerve up into doing it. Finally I have, and as I'm biased towards the Rockmen, I have made a post-Federation victory story about them. I'm trying to be unique though, and as such, this story's main character will not start as a cruiser captain, or anything relatively special at all. This will focus more on the rank-and-file of stories, and will serve as a massive predecessor to my (still being planned) Federation captain story.

Update progress will vary, depending on my time spent on these and the reviews I get.
Lastly, my grammar may be unlike that of others. The main reason is because I'm a special breed of computer redneck living in the southern USA and have the equivalent of an Engi and a Lanius translator both speaking at the same time for my thoughts.
So, well, enjoy, and try not to flame me if it's not how you imagined Rock society.

Five human years after the Federation's triumphant last stand over the Rebel fleet.

Jho'lek (Jalek) slammed the crude axe into the bark of yet another dead, Vrachosian conifer tree. Surface-growing trees had a tendency to be much weaker than their subterranean counterparts, much like the Rock species that dominated the planet and it's neighboring system. Jho'lek lived in a small village near Vrachos IV's north pole, inhabited mostly by its hunter-gatherer tribal nomads that refused to swear allegiance to any Rock warlord or Basilisk and the collections of escaped or freed laborers that failed to find a place to live elsewhere, the Rock equivalent of a slave or servant depending on how you view it. He had lived here for several decades (With some average Rock lifespans soaring into the thousands, technically his early childhood) as a social outcast, because, as opposed to the sedimentary-formed Rockmen he shared meals with, he had been born out of the great magma flows in the planet's core, meant to be tougher, made to fight and win. For he was different from your average Rockman. While most were made of andesite, of scattered ores, clay or sandstone, Jho'lek's bodily material was compromised of the finest, rock-solid, iron ore-deposited bedrock possible in a male specimen. He had been pulled into a tribal chief's service as a laborer almost immediately after his "birth", as rocks are born mature, simply without legitimate education on the galaxy and the universe as a whole. That same chief met his unfortunate downfall very quickly thereafter, following a failed raid on a rival's supply cache. Jho'lek had been taken prisoner and left in chains for nearly a full year without barely any sustenance, despite not being of the warrior class and thus not warranting even being captured. When he was finally freed, however, it was suffice to say it hardened him to reality and readied him for the world that lay in store for him on that planet, which began his dreams of becoming a crewman on a space cruiser and traveling the galaxy. He traveled to the village he resides in now, taking a role as a sentry to warn against pirate raids or mantis slavers. He thought about the rest of the more meaningless details of his life as he continued to chop at the rotten, frost-covered wood.

Suddenly, the axehead gave way and snapped off of the shaft, jolting him from his pseudo-philosophical pondering. He bent over to pick it up, noting that there was only a minor dent in the tree.
"That's the last time I trade tools with Mirqbun." He muttered, before turning and walking back home.

The Rocks have been through tough times recently. They base their trade off of jewels and other mined and refined materials, so when scrap prices inflate and mines go dry as they have been, it generally means pirate raids, mantis slaving and infestations, Lanius hordes, and other incursions will increase. Warlords and captains alike will shut themselves in their fortresses or homeworlds, and the common folk will be left to fend for themselves with little to no help. It does not make it any easier that the Federation is trying to consolidate their renewed power by imposing taxes on alien materials, discouraging some human merchants, which are the main source of trade in the rock homeworlds for the time being, from outside Federation trade. The political system is slowly crumbling as well. In the past four months only, three uprisings had taken place and five major battles had been fought, purely for political gain on all sides. After the "heroes of the Federation"'s involvement in the arranged marriage of the dowager maiden Ariadne to the Grand Basilisk of Numa V, a heavily-contested rock colony which would have almost united the rock peoples, they had undergone a violent civil war resulting in thousands on all sides dying almost fruitlessly. The war had ended after a year, with nothing to show for it and a Mantis slaving fleet creeping up their doorstep. He had often heard the tales and wondered what could have possessed that Federal captain to do that. Yes, he had heard the rest of the story, how he had brought his crew (including Ariadne) to the heart of the beast of the Rebel fleet and destroyed their flagship without a hesitation or doubt. His ship had been left in smoking pieces and half his crew had died, but the Rebel fleet were in turn left uncoordinated and demoralized. Their remnants were still holding out in remote sectors, but they had optioned to establish halfway-dependent government systems on the lone worlds in these systems. The rebellion as a whole had been tamed. The Federation simply were picking back up where they left off, albeit with the factors that began the Rebel scourge in mind.

Jho'lek entered the village's working hut, glaring at the local smith. It was enough to automatically move another villager out of the way once he saw his face. Mirqbunajhel'daraisamaktollith, a retired Mantis engineer and ex-pirate, glared back before asking in broken universal, "What happened now?"

"The axe broke after ten strikes, didn't even hurt the wood." Jho'lek attempted to calmly explain, offering the broken handle and axehead.

The Mantis hissed in frustration, the equivalent of a sigh for most species, before taking the pieces and inspecting them in closer detail. Jho'lek left him to it and walked away to calm down. The old bug was good at his job, it was just that he didn't have good materials and his work was not meant to be used by Rockmen for labor. Jho'lek often envied Mirqbun, simply for the fact he had lived most of his life on a ship. While his crew had not been the most ethical, he still had gotten to see the galaxy and make something of himself. All Jho'lek wanted to do was get conscripted into an elite guard for a Basilisk or become a crewman on a ship, it didn't matter what type of ship nor what side he was on. It was something he had often thought himself to sleep on, and he patiently waited for the day he could travel to a port or shipyard on the planet. His ambitious demeanor had made the other rocks avoiding of him at best, and he was commonly left alone to himself. This meant he could not simply share his burdens with someone else, as they wouldn't be listening anyway.

He had made a private stash of food and scrap, and was planning to travel to a subterranean inner-city where he could find a militant troop or something else to join. He had instincts for battle, not for manual labor, and the only way to scratch that proverbial itch was to scrape a blade across it.

He found his chance not that long after that walk.

Re: Kahdel; A Rockman's Story

Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:33 am
by Government Cheese
As I dive further into this, it becomes increasingly easier to come up with storyline. How I word it is another thing, however.
Here's the official Chaper 1.

Jho'lek had stumbled across a crashed ship. It seemed like an Engi ship at first glance, but then he realized it was a Rock scout with its plating stripped off and its internal workings turned inside-out. His mind reeling in shock and confusion, he slowly set about to exploring it. After a few minutes of ripping doors open and kicking debris down, he came to the conclusion it was empty and abandoned. What it was even doing this far north was beyond him, but by the state of disrepair it was in, it must have been there for a very long time. He ran back to the village, found a cart, and brought it back, before scrapping the ship of anything of value. He even loaded one of the less-damaged doors, thinking it would fetch for a good price.
It certainly did.

When the next circumnavigating, low-orbit transport came, he was able to afford a seat to the nearest under-city of Colvarre, an independent city-state governed by one of the less-powerful but nonetheless influential Rock warlords. The flight had been long and arduous, not made easy by the fact that the passenger compartment was overcrowded, but when he got a glimpse of the city he almost gasped in awe. It hung suspended about a couple hundred meters over a massive magma ocean just below the planet's crust, hanging by stalactites protruding from the harsh ground above. The constant flow of lava ensured there was enough natural light to work by without conventional lighting, and also provided heat and energy to those willing to utilize it. The place was known for its gangs and cultist movements that prowled the streets daily, but he wasn't very concerned about that. He only planned to stay long enough to be recruited into something, then hopefully leave. As he disembarked, he noticed a detachment of heavily-armed Colvarren guards, the governor's personal retinue and the city's police force. They were standing watch over the immigrants. Under normal scenarios, the Rocks will detain non-Rockmen entering their cities or planets until they are able to verify their cause for travel or ascertain any other reason, much like the Zoltan border guard but on a lesser scale. Luckily, there were no others in the group not of Rock origin, so they were immediately granted passage inside.

The city was stunning compared to anything Jho'lek had seen in the surface wastes, although some other civilized species would have considered it an over-sized ghetto. Shops, apartments, the rock equivalent of houses, barracks, warehouses, and all other manner of buildings lined the streets. After an hour or two, he eventually found his way to the starport, where a handful of Rock ships were in various states of repairs or refuels. He noticed that most of them only had two or three crewmen, and his excitement grew. He looked around and noticed the local dockmaster overseeing the refueling of an elite cruiser. Unable to contain himself, he walked up casually, as to appear simply curious. The slightly-smaller Rock turned to him, holding a slab which contained various launch codes and Rock runes.

"Lost?" He quickly asked, before turning to yell at a repairman that had dropped his fuel hose and gotten a corner of the ship soaked.
"No, I was wondering if any of these ships had a need for a new crew member." Jho'lek replied.
The dockmaster turned back to him, looking him over.
"...I'm afraid not, you don't have a tag." He observed, glancing back at the ship's engineers.
"A tag?" Jho'lek asked, his self-esteem draining a bit.
"You're not from here, are you?" The dockmaster sized him up once more.
"I'm not, I'm from the surface." He spoke quickly, suddenly unsure of what he was doing.
The smaller Rock chuckled a bit. "Ambitious little pebble, aren't you? The governor of this city designates his own crewmen by giving them tags carrying the insignia of Colvarre to be worn on their armor or uniforms. You won't get on one of these ships until you've have proper education in one of the roles these crewmen have to fill and have his admiral's explicit permission to work on one of his ships."
Jho'lek's prematurely-built-up ego deflated like a Slug exposed to extreme heat. He had almost been expecting this, but it still stung to be rejected after all of your hard work...
The dockmaster must have seen his disappointment, because he sighed, then continued. "If you're insistent, you could find some smaller jobs to do here and spend your time in the bars as a loaned arm. Alien captains come in all the time after a hard fight to restock and maybe find someone willing to help them, although they won't be trustworthy and you'll more than likely be taken advantage of."

Jho'lek didn't know whether or not to believe that last part, but he was definitely insistent and was willing to do whatever it took to get off of this literal rock. He thanked the dockmaster and went to the nearest all-day bar. After having to verbally fight off a handful of the ruder waitresses there over prices, he resigned to sitting in a corner and waiting.
And waiting.
And waiting.

After a week, the only reason the bartender still tolerated his presense was because the troublemakers were too intimidated for their normal tricks when he was around (Being a few inches taller and significantly larger makes it easy to scare down even the most threatening of people), which was more or less all the time during open hours. During the closed hours, he wandered the streets, doing little errands for whoever was willing to pay. This included but was not limited to stealing possessions back from thieves, being a bodyguard in shady deals, watching over a young sedimentary Rockborn offspring while his mother went out to shop, and stopping low-level crimes alongside the Colvarren guards. Twice he was offered to join them, but politely declined, stating he was (falsely) already a part of another unit, just simply on offtime. He knew they were just as corrupt as the city government and caused twice the chaos they stopped. It simply wasn't an honorable job, and Jho'lek had morals most Rocks do not. He also knew they would find out eventually, but he was planning to be far from the planet by then.

One day in that tavern, while indifferently sipping on a peculiar-tasting Slug beverage which apparently was widely popular to their race, he noticed a handful of Mantis come in. Their markings clearly labeled them as pirates of some sort, but nobody else seemed to care. Pirates on mainland worlds mostly tended to keep to their own, as long as you stay out of their business. What stood out is that a human in a tattered Rebel uniform came in right behind them, taking a seat with them at one table. From what he could see with the sign language between the Human, who was acting as a mediator between two with opposite markings, -captains-, he supposed, it appeared to be a weapons deal of some form. After a few minutes of halfhearted discussion, it suddenly grew tenuous as one of the captains went on a rant, with the human struggling to keep up. The others tensed up and began brandishing their weapons towards each other. The human seemed to understand what was about to happen and stood up, backing away while drawing his sidearm. Jho'lek immediately recognized it as an ion stunner, which was strange since humans normally prefer material projectile weapons. That was more like something you would expect an Engi to carry around. Needless to say, it wouldn't do much good against a raging mantis. He decided to intervene before it got ugly. It would at least make a good name for him and lengthen the amount of time he could stay before the bartender kicked him out for good. He stood up slowly, clutching his cup as if it was empty. He began to walk towards the table, acting focused towards the drink dispenser which luckily was close to the scene. He realized his path would put him just behind the human if he stopped backing away. It was by now he heard a blaster being charged. He increased his speed and earned an ominous stare from one of the patrons, but it was something he'd have to explain later. He got within 5 feet of the table before one of the mantis bodyguards shrieked and charged the other. The human aimed the ion blaster and fired, doing absolutely nothing to the bug he hit. Four mantises attacked each other over the table and the one the human hit turned and charged him. Left with no other choice, Jho'lek threw the remaining liquid in his cup at the 2-on-2 brawl at the table, before bursting into a sprint to intercept the mantis and human. He heard strange wheezing and spittling sounds behind him but couldn't look as he collided into the painfully slow, attempting-to-savor-the-moment mantis as it was recoiling to strike the 'fleshbag'. He knew if it was hurt, its crew mates would turn and attack him, and the last thing you want to do in a fight is have three mantises on top of you (The screeching starts having setbacks on your sanity), so he simply tackled it and held it down. With an excess four-hundred pound hunk on top of him, the mantis was fairly trapped. He risked a glance at the table to notice the drink had splashed all of the brawlers on the heads, and they had all fallen to the floor, writhing in agony.

Apparently they hate slug drinks even more than I do... He thought.

"Oops. I tripped." He offered, slowly getting up. The Mantis below him twitched for a few seconds before letting loose an agonizingly loud shriek, then stood up and skittered away. The rest didn't even look over, still covering their heads and clicking profusely. He turned, looking at the human who was still holding his ion pistol with a fierce grip, now pointed at him.
"You'll want to get something lethal if you don't want your head and most of your skin adorning a hive banner." Jho'lek mumbled, turning back to the writhing mess.
The man simply holstered it and went to helping his own Mantis comrades. They appeared stunned and disgusted, but would otherwise be fine. A small crowd had gathered to watch the scene, but they were quickly dispersing. Jho'lek noticed one Rock who had the look of a military official. They stared at each other a few seconds more before the officer turned and walked away to his table and a waiting entourage of, apparently, other officers. He wasn't thanked for his actions, as any normal patron of a restaurant helps when a situation gets bad.

The rest of that day was uneventful, but that same officer came back in and sat alone across the room. They both stared at each other for a while before Jho'lek worked up his curiosity and came over to his table.

They exchanged mutual greetings, and began to talk...

Don't you just love cliffhanger endings?

Re: Kahdel; A Rockman's Story

Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:27 am
by Chickengames

Re: Kahdel; A Rockman's Story

Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:38 am
by Government Cheese
Chickengames wrote:No

I know, it's disgraceful.

Re: Kahdel; A Rockman's Story

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 6:45 am
by I_am_person
I actually smiled while reading this. Good job.

I can tell you've spent a lot of time writing this, and obviously, it wasn't wasted.

Also cliffhangers is just bait at the en deux of a story and not at the beginning

Re: Kahdel; A Rockman's Story

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:56 pm
by Government Cheese
Thank you! I hope to have the next part published soon.

The cliffhangers actually give me a reason to keep writing, as when I look at it, I think:
"Hmm, I imagine people are wondering where the rest is."

Re: Kahdel; A Rockman's Story

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:21 pm
by I_am_person
Government Cheese wrote:Thank you! I hope to have the next part published soon.

The cliffhangers actually give me a reason to keep writing, as when I look at it, I think:
"Hmm, I imagine people are wondering where the rest is."

Or, you know, they're staring at it in complete apathy but I think all writers would rather imagine the other option.

Re: Kahdel; A Rockman's Story

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:13 pm
by Government Cheese
Jho'lek stared at the Rock captain, named Tenare Boarkjk, in utter shock. He'd just been offered a position as a shield operator on-board a Rock Assault providing protection for Goghren II (A rather desolate Rock world ruled by a Basilisk)'s merchant fleet, with regular wages and housing, no less. The Goghren system was a known hive for pirate raids, especially deserters from the Zoltan-Rebel conflicts that had occurred on their borders during the rebellion's height. Thus, their merchants and mobile markets tended to be more well-stocked with arms and equipment meant for tearing through shields and automatons. Acquiring a "service tag" -which had prohibited him from joining Colvarre's smaller fleet- would not be of the up-most concern, as Tenare had been assured by their fleet marshal that if he could find suitable crewmen, their role's education would be handled by the respective high commanders of the fleet. Tenare himself stood even taller than Jho'lek, and a massive mound of moss splashed downwards from his chin and areas around his mouth all over his chest like a Human creature known in their dark-age fantasy stories as a Dwarf, signifying he was at least 500 years old and as much the wise. He had served as a Federation army officer in their defense of a space station during the last stand. He had courageously led a countercharge against a Rebel boarder position that drove them out of the station (He claimed he had nothing to do with it, that the reports and media excel in misleading stories) and opened it up to the Kestrel requiring a refuel. He had retired soon after, returning to Rock society where he had been received with some amount of renown. He had been made a captain in the Basilisk of Goghren's service. He had been transferred to Goghren II's merchant fleet after a mantis raid left it requiring escort ships. Tenare's previous shield operator had been killed in a small skirmish several months before, after being hit repeatedly by a bomb weapon used by a Rebel-class troop transport (Minus the troops). While tragic, this was common in the galaxy and might not seem so bad to the Rock. Jho'lek himself believed that honor lie in dying in battle, although others would more than likely think differently.

He slowly returned focus to the task at hand.

Tenare had been very generous in allowing him to see the ship and the crew he would be working with before making a decision (As these factors could sometimes determine your fate). He was not disappointed. The ship, coated in the general orange-ish brown of the unified but diverse Rock military, was also splashed in green and black on the front right corner with the heraldry of Goghren II's royal line. He even called the crew outside to meet what could be their future comrade. Three others came outside slowly, and were introduced in turn. First came Eirhe, their engineer (If a Rock woman can be called such a thing), then their gunner and lieutenant, Hgijen "Hig" Joarsson, a Rebel deserter who found service with the Rocks. Last came Yaulo Kenekir, who seemed even younger than Jho'lek and twice as brash-headed. He manned their sensors and other equipment when required. The ship itself was armed with a minibeam and a C-X4 Engi pattern hullbreach missile launcher. Where it came from, not even Tenare knew. It simply came with the ship when he had been assigned to it. Hgijen normally tended to hit enemy shield systems with the missile, and then capitalize on the beam's small size by cutting across the first doorway to their weapons, he had been told. Zoltan ships were a different story. The ship's shielding, while only at level-2 by galactic standards, were sufficient alongside the Rock plating to keep damage to a minimum. Their primary concern most of the time were boarders, as the ship was difficult to maneuver through and rather large for a crew of five. As Rockmen laugh at risks of fires, the only reason an airlock was installed was either to vent unsuitable chemicals or rid the ship of invaders in the back, since it had been put there for no obvious reason.

"So..." Tenare gruffly spoke, shaking Jho'lek from his thinking.

He narrowed his eyes, walking into the shield room and looking at the console.

"The computer is designed to be fairly easy, and can even be put on automatic if you find better things to do." Tenare spoke, walking in after him.

"You enter a code after a shield layer is hit, and it will automatically regenerate when it recharges. Same thing if both layers are taken down, just a little longer." He continued.

Jho'lek had been taught by Mirqbun a long time ago, should he ever need to know, how to work a ship's computer systems using a damaged door control console from a salvaged freighter as a basis. He clicked a button, activating the first layer of shield. An engineer outside who had been chipping away at debris collected on the hull with a powertool was bounced back and stunned. The two exchanged a slightly amused glance before continuing.

"Ion weapons will hit the shield under most circumstances and render the first or second layer, depending on where it hits, unusable and un-rechargable for a time. We try to dodge those." Tenare explained.

"What about missiles?" Jho'lek asked, slowly getting used to the console as he stared at it longer.

"They're either anti-infantry and are deflected or prematurely detonated, or they're anti-ship. Go straight through, pucker up a hole through the weapons and probably leave Hig needing a handful of sedatives and a rest break. We dodge those too." Tenare responded, pointing to a small book. "There's your manual if something happens that you don't know about."

Jho'lek had to grin. He had said nothing about joining besides wanting to look around out of curiosity, and they were treating him like he was already part of the crew and they were in the middle of an intermission between FTL jumps. He picked the manual up and flipped through it. Rockish runes are generally easy to understand, but it slowly sunk in that the way it was worded was for smarter Rockmen and beyond him. He set it down slowly, being a hands-on learner, and went back to tamper with the console.

"Is there anything else you wanted to see?" Tenare asked rather impatiently. "I need to be back in the void by three daylight cycles when our fleet passes through."

"That's why you're here in the first place, isn't it?" Jho'lek asked, still peering at the console. He felt it would be hard to wrench himself away from it.

"Egh...Got sent ahead. Not really a scouting mission, more like a temporary break." Tenare said, opening a compartment.

Somehow, Jho'lek managed to look up and turn to look. Tenare turned with a sash specifically meant for Rockmen labeled with the heraldry of Goghren II and their merchant fleet's naval sigil emblazoned on it. He noticed there were burn marks all over it, and a corner was shredded. It must have been worn by the old shield operator before his passing.

"I'll let you think on it. Bring this back if you decline. Be wearing it if you want to take up this mantle. I won't force you to join, but know that we'll be doing some of the hardest work this side of the galaxy when it comes to staying safe." Tenare said slowly, tossing it to him.

Jho'lek caught it barely, fumbling for a second without knowing how to handle an object like this. He had never exactly thought about clothing of any kind.

"Be back tomorrow." He muttered, turning to leave.

"And, Jal...May I call you that?"

He turned, listening to the old stone.

"Rest well." Tenare made an old parting motion with his hand before turning away.

"Jal is fine." Jho'lek absented, before leaving.

Jho'lek stayed up much later that night than usual, sitting in the alley behind the pub he stayed in. Rocks do not feel fatigue unless they have not slept for a month straight, so it was not exactly as if he was losing rest.
He faced a dilemma most anyone in that galaxy did when joining a ship's crew.

What do I have to lose? He thought. I barely have enough scrap to support me another day, and it could be years before I get a chance like this again. On the other hand, some struggling mining ship with a need for a security officer or something like that could float up tomorrow right after I leave. There are better jobs than this.

But every time he closed his eyespots, they opened back up to the same sight: that scorch-stained black and green cloth, tattered and ragged, sitting on the ground next to his makeshift bed. It reminded Jho'lek of his virtues and morals, what was expected of someone like him.

They need me more than they care to admit. He thought. There could not be a higher calling than to assist my own kin in their troubles.

He settled back, content, and fell asleep shortly.

The next day, he walked into the ship hangar, sporting that same sash over his shoulder. The crew of the GS Kahdel received him warmly and welcomed him officially into their ranks. He was inducted into the crew roster of the Ghoghren merchant fleet and registered as the shieldsman of the fourth assault escort inside of that fleet.

Warm days do not always last, however. The hardest part of Jho'lek's life so far was soon to come.

This part was relatively shorter than I wanted it to be. Oh well. It means I can start work on the actual "FTL" part of the story and not have to pull things out of my totally nonexistant rear-end as I go along for spice. This also will be the last time I use a cliffhanger. It got old for me, too. Expect the next piece sometime within the next few days(?) assuming I don't get overworked. Thanks for reading!