Endeavour

by

Cinn

1. Breaking Cover: 2 - Shot across our bow.

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A note from Cinn

Feb 2021 - fixed diagloue tags & minor details

Jun 2021 - minor tweaks

By the time they arrived in the Kentar solar system, the atmosphere on board the ship had subtly changed. The Endeavour had been in deep space long enough for its crew to be fully settled from the personnel changes made when they last docked at the end of a rotation. As a result, the ship was normally a hub of activity and happy chatter as they got on with their work.

Ali made herself useful by helping Marsh apply some of her sensor boosts to the Endeavour's systems after they had discussed some of her more unorthodox tricks. They weren't far out from Kentar when she turned from the panel she'd been working on - to initiate a quick test of her modifications. She caught sight of the way Grey shifted in his chair, with one hand clenching and unclenching into a fist. If it wasn't for the uneasy pit in her own stomach, the old nervous habit would have made her smile. She wasn't sure if the inaudible beat Wood was tapping out with his foot was reassuring or worrying.

Grey stood up once they dropped back into sub-light speeds, just outside of Kentar's solar system. Frost indicated that the Endeavour was reporting no problems once their new vector to the planet was established. He turned to Marsh. "Readings?"

Marsh was already quickly tapping away at his station. He and his staff each had their own instruments and sensors to specifically monitor, but he had to assess the complete picture based on the overviews they forwarded to him. "Nothing unusual from the planet, but I am detecting a large number of ships present."

Grey frowned as he thought. "Kentarians don't usually have a large military presence," he recalled, as his eyes flicked to Ali.

"No, they don't," she confirmed. She was currently leaning over one of the science consoles - after all, she had been his science officer all those years ago - and reading over the shoulder of one of Marsh's staff. "Especially not taurran," she added, recognising the designs.

"Frost, bring us into orbit around Kentar. We are on a normal diplomatic mission and they have no reason to suspect otherwise," Grey said. It was as much a statement of intent as an order to his crew. If they knew his plan they would act accordingly.

The Endeavour hadn't even made it halfway to the kentarian homeworld before Wood reported three taurran ships moving to intercept them and Lartyne reported the lead ship was hailing them. "Patch it through to me," Grey decided as he reclaimed his seat and soon enough a holographic image was projected out of one of the arms. He could have put it onto the view screen but right now he wanted to be able to keep monitoring the whole situation. "This is Rear Admiral Grey of the Endeavour. To whom am I speaking?"

Steam billowed behind the reptilian face that greeted Grey on the screen. Male taurrans had a flatter bone structure along their heads, with smaller and fewer horns, compared to their female counterparts. They also had a bluer tinge to their grey scales. Taurrans had short, broad faces with square, powerful jaws and small dark eyes set slightly more to the side than humans. It didn't show on the small screen but their spines weren't as upright either, their shoulders set slightly further forward than their hips to account for the shallower angle between their head and neck, their tails compensating for balance. "Captain Fashk," he replied, "what business do you have in taurran space?"

"We were unaware this was taurran space," Grey replied and at least he wasn't lying about that. "We're here as a routine run to Kentar-"

"Then you have no business here, please leave or we will be forced to defend our borders," Fashk said.

Grey almost lost his calm façade at the abrupt interruption but years of dealing with unruly crew members had served him well. "Can we at least contact Vaa Kutad to inform him that we will be unable to -"

"No," Fashk interrupted again. "I will not ask again, please leave," he said and closed the channel.

"What would you have done if the ambassador wasn't on Kentar?" Ali teased - Vaa was the kentarian word for ambassador, and translators didn't convert titles by default - though her lighthearted tone only just obscured a dangerous edge.

Grey didn't even glare at her, too busy thinking about his next move, unsure if he was best off calling the taurrans bluff or getting his crew to safety. "Incoming!" Wood shouted, as both he and Frost made some quick commands on their stations and the rest of the crew grabbed hold of something as the inertial dampeners didn't quite compensate for Frost's nimble manoeuvres. "I believe that was a shot across our bow," Wood explained as he checked the readouts, "though it was closer than I'd have called courteous."

"That's one more than they'd usually give," Ali piped up.

"They'd really risk war with USEP?" Lartyne asked.

"USEP isn't a military alliance, it's basically a joint research operation," Wood explained though his eyes never left his data feeds. Ali was right, taurrans weren't renowned for warning shots and he was expecting more. He always expected more, experience had taught him too, and he wouldn't be alive now without that instinct.

Grey was about to explain that whilst USEP wasn't a formal military alliance, it would be unthinkable that they would abandon a member in the event of a military attack.. He could almost hear Ali correcting him that unthinkable was another word for naïvety. Instead, Wood and Frost both reacted instinctively as another shot came at them. "Tactical defence delta!" He ordered, deciding he was not going to let anyone get away with shooting at his ship.

Even though it was no longer her duty - and their discussions so far had suggested that Marsh was a more than capable replacement - Ali couldn't stop herself from looking at the data readouts, skimming over the scans of the taurran ship schematics as she heard angry tapping on the tactical console from Wood. Taurran ships were well armed and reinforced as a general rule - and this particular model of ship appeared no different. They would do well to do any damage without one hell of a plan. Frost was busy as well, evading enemy fire as it became clear that the taurrans were getting the firefight they wanted.

"Hold on!" Frost shouted as she went into a sharp spin to try and evade the latest attack. Despite the warning a couple of people still nearly fell from their seats due to the g-force, and she didn't dodge everything as some of Lartyne's monitors sparked due to the damage causing localised overloading and disruptions. "Sir, can I point out this is a terrible idea?!" Frost asked as she immediately set into another evasive manoeuvre.

"Noted," Grey agreed wryly as he turned from where Lartyne was dealing with the damage to her console. "I want those ships disabled so we can leave the system without pursuit," he added firmly.

"They're too well shielded!" Wood retorted sharply. There was a pause before he realised something. "Frost, reckon you can turn them about if I snowblind them?" He asked. Frost almost smirked as she realised his plan, except that she was too worried about pulling it off. Under her quick hand movements the Endeavour heaved itself in a tight turn to avoid another barrage of weapons fire as Frost tried to plot her next ten moves.

Everyone was busy, shouting warnings and instructions, repairing the damage they were taking despite their best efforts or coordinating their wider response as Frost swerved between the three taurran ships that were chasing them. It served as a reminder of just how much this crew had seen together, that they were able to slip into streamlined efficiency and ignore any anxiety about their situation, because they knew that to get through it they had to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

"Where's the third one?" Frost asked as she completed a drastic turn with a flick of her wrist.

"I've got eyes on it, if you arc port you should stay out of range," Marsh added quickly as Frost confirmed and altered her course, attempting to weave between the ships in such a way that they stopped worrying about where they were in relation to each other.

"Hold," Wood instructed. "Lartyne, on my mark, I want you to issue a burst of static across all frequencies," he added. Lartyne nodded as she primed her instruments, issuing an internal alert that all comms would be offline briefly. As Wood silently counted down it felt as if the entire bridge was holding their breath, anticipation, dread and hope all mingling to create an incredibly tense moment. "Now!"

All at once Frost swerved to avoid the ship she had been diving towards, Wood fired a wide sweep with all available weapons and Lartyne disrupted all communications and a good number of scanners with the frequency burst. It was enough to prevent the taurran ships realising their impending collision and - despite their last minute scramble to avoid each other - their adversaries rammed into each other. "Direct hit," Marsh confirmed with a relieved smile. Frost took a breath before trying to plot a course out of the system. "I'm reading critical damage and a number of engine failures -"

Marsh was cut off by the sound of sparking electronics and rending metal as the ship rocked with the force of another hit. A bulkhead blew out above the bank of science consoles and they all ducked out of the way of the debris that flew at the crew members there. Frost swerved again as she tried to dodge the second attack as Wood took fire. Ali almost lost her footing as she stood up again due to Frost's manoeuvres, putting a hand on the damaged console next to her as she looked for the science team. One - a young crewman - was gingerly getting to his feet, and her eyes landed on Marsh unconscious on the floor. Ali darted towards him with her scanner as the third - an ensign - stirred nearby with a messy abrasion on her head.

"Ali!" Grey shouted, glancing over to the science station long enough to determine who was still conscious. "We need options!"

"Here, press firmly until the medics get here," Ali finished as she encouraged the dazed ensign to try and staunch the bleeding on Marsh's stomach after calling for a medic. She stood to find the crewman already clearing debris away to get some data. She did the same on Marsh's screen as she wiped something away from her forehead, hoping it was sweat or greasy dust. Holding tightly to the console with one hand to keep her balance with the swerving ship and using the other to move over the detailed scans of the taurran ship that was still pursuing them. Eventually her eyes lit on a junction. "There!" She decided, throwing the coordinates over to the tactical station for Wood to see. "All their weapons route through there."

"We'll only get one shot, once they know we've seen it they'll correct their position to keep it far side from us," Wood added.

Grey hit his comms. "Spud." Moments later Spud replied with a terser tone than usual. "Can you give weapons any more power?"

"Get that fire out!" Spud shouted to someone inaudible over the comm line, her attention clearly split between a bunch of different things. "Okay, but I will need to pull power from a number of key systems," she replied. "Oi, watch it!" She added crossly to someone in her vicinity.

"Do it," Grey replied.

"How much of a time window are we talking about, Spud?" Ali asked.

"If it works, you've about a minute," Spud confirmed, "okay, one, two, three… there!"

As Spud had counted down Frost instinctively moved the Endeavour into position. Wood didn't even ask for permission to shoot, he just took the initiative and fired at the hull nearest to the junction they'd found. "Report?" Grey asked.

"Their weapons are offline."

"Frost, get us out of here," Grey said, knowing that this was their best chance of escape before the rest of the ships came after them. Frost didn't need telling twice and soon they were comfortably travelling at light speeds again. "Lartyne, get me command in my ready room," Grey ordered as he stalked towards the small room just off the bridge.

The bridge stayed silent as they all watched until the doors slid gracefully closed behind their captain whilst taking damage reports and helping their injured get medical attention. "What I would pay to watch that argument…" Frost half joked.

"Oh?" Ali piped up far, far too innocently.

"I'm not paying you," Frost retorted firmly, "it's a figure of speech."

Ali shrugged. "In my life, you start to take people literally if it involves pay."

"Don't doubt that," Frost agreed as she turned back to her station.

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About the author

Cinn

  • NW, UK

Bio: I usually go by Cinn, but my backup pseud is Lilitia, I'm a scientist but spend my spare time writing. Mostly because I get prompts in my head and write them down to get them out.

I started out on FanFiction back in 2003, eventually putting some stuff on FictionPress then eventually Inkitt and AO3. Despite over 17 years of posting stories of various quality (I'll admit to some dubious quality in the early years!) I'm still looking for feedback to help me improve.

My Fanfiction moniker is Cinn; https://www.fanfiction.net/u/396269/
My FictionPress moniker is Lilitia; https://www.fictionpress.com/u/419340/
My AO3 moniker is Lilitia; https://archiveofourown.org/users/Lilitia/profile

Credit for avatar image - a doll creator on Rinmarugames

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parkertallan ago

Like the fast pace and the battle was very well done. I think what made it stand out was the way the crew worked together and interacted.

Is there a reason this is Chapter 3?

    Cinn ago

    Lol, only if you count me being a muppet. 🤣 Thanks, I'm glad the battle made sense. One thing I really struggle with is not constantly changing perspectives in 3rd person.

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Louis Bulaong ago

Sharing some of my opinions on this wonderful yard as requested from me :)

Finally some action! The author has shown skills and knowledge when it came to describing worlds and characters, but what about action? In this chapter, the duel between the Taurran and Ali's crew was good. Not great but still decent and good. There was tension and emotions during the battle, and the author did well in adding more of their history and behaviors through the use of action. The crew showcased well their talents when it came to their individual roles and so far they have been outstanding. It would have been cool if the action didn't just focus on the interior of the ship, but also fully described the action that was happening outside of it as well. This is bridge combat afterall, and there's little to add to it than your typical "crew is panicking", "crew is dying," "crew are pressing buttons and other high-tech stuff", "crew needs to work together to save their ass".

On the matter of the new species that was introduced, the Tauurans, I admit I was not that impressed. Aggressive reptilian antagonists are very tired cliches in sci-fi space stories (even more so than orcs in the fantasy genre). Science Fiction has an abundance of these stereotypical villains, from the Gorns from Star Trek, Sangheilies from Halo, to hell, even Zorgons from Zathura. Would have been cool to see something different but as aggressive. But kudos still for not making the Tauurans green or incapable of speech.

In terms of writing, again, everything was almost flawless. I would suggest maybe to revise the sentence Grey had been about to explain to Grey was about to explain but this is just me. It's not really that much of a deal.

Reading at least 1 intro and 2 chapters of this story made me confident that this story will only get better and better. I hope to give a review once I finish the story, but I'm not really a big fan of sci-fi space stories, adventures, and operas, so it might take a while. But even so, for anyone who reads my comment, I assure you that "Endeavour" by Cinn is one well-written fiction.

    Cinn ago

    I hadn't even considered that about the Taurrans, and you are completely right. Hopefully the rest of their characterisation isn't quite so stereotypical, but I'm not sure if that's true. Hm, I shall have to think about this.

    Spoiler :
    A long history with the Kentarians (with a lot of bad on both sides) and then as a non Forum member once the Kentarians join has made the Taurrans very defensive and as such they build their ships to defend themselves. They're not normally aggressive expansionists, that's purely due to allegiance to Barker.

    However, I can see that this is not how they're portrayed and I can't blame it entirely on Forum/USEP bias. Like I said, I'll think about how I can tweak the story so this comes through better.

    I keep wanting to add more action to the battle scenes, but I can never quite work out how. 🤣 I'll circle it as something to focus on.

    Thank you. I've run out of rep for you today so I'll try and remember to come back tomorrow. 👍

     

Experiment Zero ago

Another great chapter!

I enjoyed the battle, it was fast paced and easy to follow - even for someone who doesn't read space battles very often.

The characters continue to be well defined, maintaining their individual personalities. I feel like I'm starting to get a better grip on who is who. :)

Some more suggestions/comments in line with previous comments ;)


Edit suggestions:

By the time they arrived in the Kentar solar system, the atmosphere ofon board the wholeship crew had subtly changed. (The comma for the sake of pace. The other suggestion as a result of the repetition of the word ‘crew’ in the next sentence)

The Endeavour had been in deep space long enough for it'sits crew to be fully settled from the personnel changes made when they last docked at the end of a rotation, that meant that normally the ship was a hub of activity and happy chatter as they got on with their work. I would also possibly split that into two sentences.

They weren't far out from Kentar when she turned from the panel she'd been working on to initiate a quick test of her modifications when she caught sight of the way Grey shifted in his chair and one hand kept clenching and unclenching into a fist. Sorry 😅 but again, it feels like commas are missing

Marsh was already quickly tapping away at his station, assessing the reports coming in from the instruments and sensors he specifically monitored, and those that his staff forwarded on. Again, I am not sure about that comma, but it took me a little bit to work out that the staff forwarded on reports; I was trying to link that part back to the sensors. Otherwise you could make that clearer by restructuring? E.g. Marsh was already quickly tapping away at his station, assessing the reports that his staff forwarded on, whilst keeping an eye on the instruments and sensors he specifically monitored. Although that also sounds clunky. I’m sure you get what I mean though ;)

Grey didn't even glare at her, too busy thinking through/about? his next move, unsure if he was best off calling the taurrans bluff or getting his crew to safety.

Grey had been about to explain that whilst USEP wasn't a formal military alliance, between its backers, it would be unthinkable that they wouldn't aid each other in the event of military action against one of its members. I like how you include some details about the USEP on the side, like this! At the same time, the ‘would’ and ‘wouldn’t’, combined with a double negative in the sentence are a bit of a mouthful.

It served as a reminder of just how much this crew had seen together that they were able to slip into streamlined efficiency and ignore any of their anxiety about their situation because they knew that to get through it they had to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. My usual gripe ;)

The effect was enough to prevent the taurran ships realising their collision with each other and despite their best efforts to avoid each other they rammed into each other. With this one, I think it’s the wording that could be better, not the punctuation. I understand what is happening, but it’s not as smooth as your usual descriptions.

One - a young crewman - was gingerly getting to his feet, and her eyes landed on Marsh unconscious on the floor. She (Ali, or the young crewmember?) darted towards him with her scanner as the third - an ensign - stirred nearby with a messy abrasion on her head.

    Cinn ago

    Omg, how have I missed giving this a reply and rep till now?

    Great suggestions. 👍 Though I would point out for the last one that the young crew-member is getting to his feet. But I take your point about it not being immediatley obvious and just change it to Ali's name.

    Thank you.

LostCat99 ago

The descriptions of the different alien races are great to read. You put a lot of thought into making them! The space fight here was also terrific and kept my attention throughout the entire time!

Elecham ago

Cinn, you've done it again. Now it's comraderie and great action.

About this chapter, I'd only like to point out the following:

You switch out 'said' for other options in dialogue tags. This is a common workaround to repetition, but it's common to find advice that directly tells you not to do this. 'said' is an invisible word, while 'recalled', 'replied', 'reminisced', etc. are not. Usually you're better off sticking to 'said' and 'asked', I think, because most other words will get in the way of reading.

Edit suggestions:

he recalled as his eyes flicked to Ali.

"Then you have no business here, please leave or we will be forced to defend our borders," Fashk decided.

This is what I mean above. Said works best in both cases, I think.

The effect was enough to prevent the taurran ships realising their collision with each other and despite their best efforts to avoid each other they rammed into each other

Repetition of 'each other'

    Cinn ago

    Thanks. And yes, until recently I thought you were supposed to avoid using said. Thanks for spotting them because (like with as) I'm trying to get out of the habit. 👍

DarthKirby ago

"In my life, you start to take people literally if it involves pay." Just like college teaches you never to turn down a free meal. lol But now that things have gotten into swing, I must ask... You like Star Trek, don't you? lol Specifically Star Trek: The Next Generation from the vibes I'm getting from this story. Just hope you don't have any red shirts. All of that being said, it's good writing, but the whole "chapter 16" feel is still haunting me. I'm not used to these characters yet, but the writing treats them as if I should be. So kind of like I told you before, and you suggested, having a glimpse of the crew in a more introductory story would go a long ways towards making the reader feel that "chapter 16" vibe much less.

Edit suggestions:

"They'd really risk war with USEP?" Lartyne asked. (missed the period)

He could almost hear Ali correcting him that unthinkable was another word for naïvitynaivety.

They would do well to do any damage without one hell of a plan.

    Cinn ago

    Thanks. And yeah... the Star Trek vibe has been mentioned more than once. Weirdly TNG is one I haven't actually seen recently. 😆 I don't think I have any red-shirts though...

    And yeah, I'll have a think on the whole introductory/mid story feel thing. Short of writing the prequel I'm not immediately sure how to fix that without a lot of changes... But maybe I'll think of something. 🤷‍♀️ I know that sounds like I'm not receptive to the observation, but I am, I just need time to think about it. Thanks again.

DerpyBunny2020 ago

I love the way you bring the characters to life with their ticks and habits. The way Wood taps his foot when he gets nervous. I also love the way you've brought to life their understanding and endearment to these ticks as a group. These tiny details really add to the story for me and makes it believable. I am taking notes from your character building that you do and how you really bring their personalities out in their actions and conversations.

The action is good and I love the terms and jargon you use. The only knowledge of spaceships and space travel are what I learned from the few Trek episodes/movies I've seen and random other movies. Seeing it used here, is quite a treat.

Edit suggestions:

A few edit suggests below. Some of them are more of a preference and could be ignored. Some of it may be an across the pond thing for me too, so if what I say doesn't jive with your style, please ignore.

As a result
, the ship was normally a hub of activity and happy chatter --add comma

Ali made herself useful by helping Marsh apply some of her sensor boosts to the Endeavour's systems after they had got discussing some of her more unorthodox tricks. --(or after "they had discussed")

They weren't far out from Kentar when she turned from the panel she'd been working on - to initiate a quick test of her modifications. -She when she caught sight of the way Grey shifted in his chair, andwith one ofhand his hands kept clenching and unclenching into a fist.

Grey stood up once they dropped back into sub-light speeds, just outside of Kentar's solar system.

he recalled, as his eyes flicked to Ali.

homeworld whenbefore Wood reported three

Lartyne reported one of them was hailing them. --them and them in this sentence. Maybe "reported one of them hailing their comms" or something? Just a suggestion.

Grey of the Endeavour,. toTo whom am I speaking?"

The taurran people were reptilian and Grey could see the steam behind the man on the screen. --here's a show don't tell op. Maybe "Steam billowed from behind the male reptilian face on the screen"

d taught him too, and he wouldn

Instead, Wood and Frost both reac

Marsh was cut off by the sound of sparking electric and rending metal as the s--not sure if this one needs something? Not sure what sparking electric is unless that's a term used overseas and we just don't use it in the states.

Spud shouted to someone they couldn't hear. They then heard tapping on a computer. --This part is a bit odd. Shouted at someone they couldn't hear but then heard keys tapping? Maybe I misunderstood this?

    Cinn ago

    Thank you.

    But I have to give an honourable mention to Gwunders, because I reworked the opening paragraph to include a lot of those details when he pointed out I was telling rather than showing.

    I'm pretty certain that should be sparking electronics. 😅 Good suggestions thought. 👍

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