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USD: ~Seven weeks after awakening, one day after martial-arts exhibition match

Location: Unknown Yellow Dwarf, L4 Lagrange Point


 

Alex stared at the sensor readout on the holo table in the middle of the bridge. It was a detailed rendition of about a few thousand debris clusters floating around the Lagrange point with her. She flicked her hand and the zoom tracked in to one specific cluster 34,000km away. It was basically right beside them in the grand scheme of things, yet so far away…

Still… “I want that.”

[Notice: Distance of selected debris exceeds flight suit flight time by 877%.]

“I’ve been fixing the ship’s thruster pods. I made sure to get some on every axis, do you think you could fly the ship over there?”

There was a slight pause, and she let Nameless do his thing while she played with the sensor controls and zoomed in more. The holographic rendition of her target was a simple rectangle, but it was the text accompanying it that had her attention riveted.

|Repair Drone Pod, 86/100|

If she had eighty-six Beepers and Boopers, repairing the Shrike would not be such a… slog. Hell, she’d be able to task them on retrieval missions while still repairing! While she couldn’t fabricate full size hull plates… there was no shortage of them floating around on other wrecks, so they could just… cut them off and fly them over, and presto, no more ventilated Shrike!

[Notice: Flight module calculates acceptable levels of torque control. Minor orbit adjustments already taken to avoid multiple minor debris showers.]

“What, you’ve already been using the RCS? I didn’t feel anything.”

[Informative: Maneuvers were very minute in power to avoid shower paths over a long duration.]

Alex nodded to herself and poked in some more data on the screen, but her mind was made up.

“Ok, so about this, can you get us there? This would be a game changer.”

[Notice: Flight path has been calculated, taking into account current structural integrity. Flight time is within an acceptable margin.]

“Excellent, let’s go!”

Alex waited a minute, then looked out at the forward view screen that was currently patched into a camera on the ship’s bow. Nothing seemed to happen.

“Uhh, Nameless, are we going yet?”

[Affirmative.]

“Doesn’t seem like it?”

[Informative: Current Acceleration is 0.014705882352941 m/s² – Current ETA to Repair Drone Pod proximity: 19 hours 32 minutes. Orientation correction was not required and would place unnecessary stress on structural integrity.]

Alex looked down at the hologram table and flipped it over to navigation. The relative debris cloud orbits were still there, but now there was a dotted line with what she assumed their path would be. There were a -lot- of scrolling numbers on the left hand side of the table, but she was definitely -not- a mathematician, or navigator apparently.

Still, the information on the other side of the panel was mostly organized in a helpful manner for less intelligent monkeys like her. They would continue accelerating at the current speed approximately a third of the way there until they cleared the local debris cloud, speed up a little in the middle, before repeating the exact same in reverse on the second half of the trip. Right, because if they didn’t brake on the second leg, they’d just shoot right past what they wanted to match velocities with.

She was suddenly glad she had someone else to do the orbital calculations.

“Well, since we have most of a day before getting there, I am going to go check on our friend.”

 


 

The door to the medbay whirred open with a slight protest, and Alex added it to the long backlog of minor maintenance tasks that needed to be looked at… someday. The redhead was still laying down on the officer bunk Alex had dragged into the makeshift room. Although she had made sure Nameless knew to keep the door locked, it was -not- a prison cell.

The two ceiling mounted pulse turrets tracking Alex’s entry to the room were just there for safety. It turned out the fabricators were very adept at producing the nearly solid-state weapons with their turret mountings, and there was now one in just about every open compartment of the ship, although Alex had avoided putting them in the crew quarters and her mess-galley abode.

“Hey, how’re you doing?”

The girl sat up and moved to the edge of the bed. She was clothed in non-descript gray-blue fatigues with white socks and her newly socked feet touching the floor. There was a blank expression on her face as she replied, “Elis Myers, Specialist First Class, S-13872112.”

“Right. I’m Alex, Avatar, ShipCore something, active captain of this salvaged… wreck, and in charge of this mess?”

The glare didn’t disappear, “Elis Myers, Specialist First Class, S-13872112.”

Looking at the other girl, Alex felt terrible. Despite the medi-doc’s care, she was covered in a mottling hue of blue and purple bruises from head to toe, courtesy of their impromptu martial arts demonstration in the cargo bay. While the girl had attacked her, Alex was perfectly fine, even her broken nose and fractured rib had corrected themselves in less than an hour. The same couldn’t be said for Elis who had fractured both the ulna and tibia on her right arm and leg respectively.

Alex sighed and held up the box in her hands in an attempt at a peace offering, “I brought lunch. You’re probably familiar with it, Standard Federation M-ration Sausage and Syrup.”

“Elis Myers, Specialist Fi—”

Alex made an interrupting sound and shoved a plastic bundle into Elis’s lap before retreating to sit in the chair by the medi-doc.

“Don’t try anything with the cutlery, the Nameless is still looking for a reason to shoot you.”

“Elis Myers, Specialist First Class, S-13872112.”

“Ugh, stop saying that, I heard you. If you don’t want to say anything or answer a question, just be quiet.”

Alex turned her attention to her meal. It was her favorite, and one of the last of its type left. She’d be eating taco packages after this. She was rapidly regretting gifting the other one to Elis.

When it became clear Alex was going to eat in front of her regardless of what she did, Elis started to open her ration too, inspecting it with skepticism. Unable to find anything suspicious, she started to eat, too.

“You know, it is funny, apparently, I am only 7 weeks old, did you know that? But I came with a pre-insert of personality, knowledge, and ghost-memories crafted by some super sapient AI.”

Elis stopped eating.

‘Ok, maybe that’s not the greatest conversation starter.’ Alex worried, before continuing, “I woke you up because my only companions are two cargo bots and a sarcastic, manipulative ship computer.”

“Sounds perfect for a robot,” Elis responded before looking back down at her food and continuing to eat.

“I have spent the last week or so really agonizing about that, but I’ve come to the conclusion that, extremely unwieldy acronyms aside, I’m more human than robot much to our ship computer’s sorrow.”

Elis gave her another glance-glare and didn’t respond.

“The cryopod indicated you were in cryostasis for 176 years, does that give you any idea how long we have been cast around in the wreckage?”

Elis’s fork suddenly froze for a second, and Alex picked that surprise up even if there hadn’t been a verbal response.

“So probably a long time. The reason I asked is because all the debris flying around is irregular, it should have scattered by now and I have no idea why. The reactor rod dating puts us as having been drifting here for 20 to 60 years, so it seems your stasis predates whatever ended up with us parked out here…”

Silence. Awkward Silence. Alex quickly shoved another bite in her mouth to cover it up. Maybe a change of subject?

“I’ve decided to think about the amalgams as something like my ancestors. Except they left me all their best skills, and talents. Uhh, probably enjoyments, too? Fixing hull plates can be therapeutic, and when we were fighting… well the martial arts bit where it started to flow together felt like it could be the same way, uhh, not including the actually-trying-to-murder-each-other bit.”

Alex had almost given up hope on a response when Elis responded.

“It can be like that.”

‘Progress!’ a little elated voice shouted inside of Alex’s head, but the sudden smile was wiped away when the ship suddenly shook a little and she shared a startled glance at Elis. Normal ships don’t shake, and for a second Alex had forgot they weren’t on a normal ship.

[Notice: Exiting local debris cluster, expect intermittent impacts for the next 23 minutes, 17 seconds.]

Elis looked at her expectantly after a moment.

“Oh, right you can’t talk to Nameless. Uhh, he says that we should expect intermittent shaking for another twenty minutes or so.”

“Why is the ship shaking?”

“Things are hitting us, or we are hitting things on our way out of the local debris cluster.”

“Why would that shake the ship?”

Oh, right she hadn’t seen the ship, and Alex tried to laugh it off.

“Well, it’s a bit of work in progress. I’ve modified the D-field to deflect impacts because a quarter, well, maybe a third of the outer hull is missing and the structural integrity of the inner hull is… well it’s about 23% hull patches, and 8% gaps still.”

Elis stared at her again, but the hostility was replaced with shock.

“Don’t worry, things are getting better, there haven’t been any near fatal accidents since, uhh, well yesterday I guess.”

Alex scratched her forehead; this was going SO well.

 


 

Alex had left Elis to rest, to let both of them rest. Socializing was way more stressful than Alex had expected, and she was sure Elis would appreciate some down time as well. Alex figured that rest was especially important after going through a traumatic cryo-revival with complications and an unfortunate beating. The medidoc suggested as much anyway.

So, Alex had left a few extra boxes of rations for the girl and went to take care of her own needs for a bit. Like a bath. Also designing a new spaceship livery for when the outer hull didn’t have a massive hole in it. The sun-scoured bare metal chrome color wasn’t her favorite.

That had eaten up an inordinate amount of time and she soon found herself on another space walk from the ‘parked’ Shrike a few hundred meters from their target. Whizzing space debris filled the area; most of the pieces were tiny in comparison to the other cloud’s composition, but they had a higher relative velocity, and they had irregular trajectories. Something had exploded, and whatever it was had almost turned into dust.

The main exception was the drone pod which was mostly intact except for a massive rent on one side of its longest axis. Rather than infiltrate through the hole though, Alex headed to the obvious airlock that was still lit up.

 

|Access Granted - Shipcore, Alex - Officer|

|Access Granted - Shipcore, Alex - Commander|

|No Atmosphere Present, Airlock Cycling to Full Open|

Alex pulled back her hand and deactivated her flight suit’s thrusters as she took hold of the drone pod’s railing and passed through the airlock. The hangar section was huge, almost a ship in itself with a length of seventy meters, but it had clearly been damaged in an explosion. That indicated that whatever ship it had been ripped off of had been massive, a carrier or battleship of some kind.

The inside of the mostly hollow shell was filled with gantries and scaffolding, a massive hangar door had a hundred circular doors for launching pods and Alex quickly realized a mistake she had made.

|86/100|

This wasn’t 86 out of 100 repair drones. There were 86 drone pods, with ten units attached to each launch cylinder. This was a drone delivery pod hangar! Probably for mobile repairs. A whole slew of possibilities opened up in her mind. She just needed to find an operational control system.

In fact, that didn’t even matter; she’d fabricate whatever she needed to get the thing operational again. With this, she could multiply her productivity and industrial capacity a thousand-fold. Resource acquisition, repairs, it was all going to be possible faster than she had dreamed!

No more ship about to fall apart in 48 hours, or running out of reaction mass, or fuel rods going cold!

“Is there any control room?”

[Notice: Open air controller point, midsection of pod, marked.]

[Warning: Independent ship systems with physical segregation detected. Unable to interface to determine characteristics.]

Well, it was a warship, part of a warship, anyway. Having multiple redundant systems wasn’t a crazy idea, and if the pod had been attached to a kilometers long battleship, it was probably even likely. That made her feel leery; with everything else, Nameless had chomped through its firewalls and simply… hijacked ownership.

The event in the cargo hold with Elis had revealed that the AI wasn’t completely omnipotent when it came to software, and a sudden worrisome thought froze Alex in place.

“Nameless, can you scan the pod? Are there any turrets that are active or could go active and Swiss cheese me? Actually, could you send Beeper and Booper over?”

She had armed them with chassis mounted gauss rifles.

She patted her pulse pistol on her belt to confirm it was still there. After Elis had taken it apart she had figured out how to put it back together as well.

Maybe she had been a bit hasty at jumping into a possibly hostile and possibly armed piece of wreckage, but… she’d been lured by greed.

[Correlation: Inactive anti-personnel energy turrets detected; locations marked. Projected pod’s power reserves inadequate to activate them. Unknown weapon status due to segregated network. Networked camera data covers 98.9% of pod volume; no other static weapons detected.]

Alex let out a sigh of relief she hadn’t realized she’d been holding back. Still, she waited for Beeper and Booper to arrive before continuing to the central control point that was still powered. The screens were blurry, radiation had likely damaged the displays somehow, but she could tell there was some type of UI behind the distortion.

[Notice: Terminal is part of segregated hard-wired network. Suggest plugging into console to grant ShipCore direct access to control feeds.]

“Yeah, I’m not going to be able to make anything out, otherwise.”

Earlier trepidations aside, she felt a bit giddy, they were going to build things with all the man… robot power provided!

Locating the connection port confused her, however. There were two round holes, looking like they would take a coaxial cable connection; how was she supposed to connect Nameless to that herself? She started to look toward Beeper when the AI answered.

[Notice: Touching the connection port should be sufficient for nanites to construct wireless bridge.]

“Ah. Ok, that’s easy enough.”

She touched the bare metal connector and suddenly the tip of her finger swelled up and then a blob of skin colored goop somehow flowed through the skinsuit material. She fought down a momentary reaction of disgust.

“Oh that’s… something to try and get used to, I guess.”

Suddenly all the blue distorted screens flashed to emit an angry crimson, and emergency lighting all over the hangar lit up casting the entire chamber in hues of red.

“Uhh… Nameless?”

[Warning: Federation Security Protocols encountered, hostile ship computer is actively resisting, hacking in progress.]

“Okay.”

[Notice: Drone Pod boot-up sequence detected, power spikes in 6 pods.]

Alex looked out across the hangar, and spotted where the pods were lighting up, on the far end of the room.

[Warning: Reclassifying Repair Drone Pod to Carrier Drone Pod. Manifest indicates a 20/80 mix of combat to repair drones. Combat drones armed with small caliber gauss weaponry and chaff. Recommend evacuation.]

Red blips began to light up on her HUD overlay.

|Hostile Combat Drone| Hostile Combat Drone| Hostile Combat Drone|

|Hostile Combat Drone| Hostile Combat Drone| Hostile Combat Drone|

Alex was already moving, pistol in hand as she rushed back toward the airlock, “Nameless this is not what I wanted!”

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A note from Erios909

I want to go over some ShipCore specific things!

Stuff in | | is supposed to either be on computer screens or Alex's HUD that she sees, something like AR reality glasses or similar, but printed inside her eyeballs.

Stuff in [ ] are messages from an AI and can be printed on Alex's HUD and/or experienced by her auditorily (through the ears) although this is not actually spoken, its directly transmitted to her brain.

If you notice something that deviates from this, please leave a comment and highlight it! I probably made a mistake. I make lots of mistakes. A lot of them get caught on the way to you, but many don't.

Both are supposed to be fully bolded.

Colors are mostly, just whatever I feel like are appropriate. Green is good, red is bad, blue is normalish, yellow and orange are highlighted for importance. I belatedly realize this might be non-optimal for colorblind people... I apologize. 

Finally, I have two more chapters to release today, and already scheduled them. The release schedule is public, so you can check out when they are going to get here on the main story page! (Yes our regularly scheduled Friday episode is still on track, too! This is just a gift because of all the warm comments that have welcomed me back. Love you all!)

Also there is a new cover!!!


Support "ShipCore | A Sci-fi Space Opera ShipGirl Action-Adventure "

About the author

Erios909

  • West Virginia, USA
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Bio: Still alive, yes.

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