USD: ~Seven weeks after awakening, two days after martial-arts exhibition match
Location: Unknown Yellow Dwarf, L4 Lagrange Point
Sound did not propagate in vacuum, so the first indication that Alex was being shot at was a series of yellow flashes plastering the hull in front of her. Tiny beams of sunlight shone through the wall as the gauss rounds perforated the hangar's hull. As she processed that, a sudden weight slammed into her back, sending her flying to the side.
A sudden burst of gauss fire filled the space she had just occupied.
How was she supposed to zig and zag on a narrow catwalk?
A burst of blue light erupted from Booper’s midsection, the bot’s ad-hoc pulse weapon firing back at the rapidly approaching combat bots. Both bot designs were similar, being a central orb with thruster ports mounted all over, while the cargo bots had the addition of two hydraulic arms. The combat bots had gauss rifles, which were comically sized guns underslung from the orbs.
“Nameless do something about the gravity, I can’t maneuver like this!”
[Notice: A-Grav field disabled.]
She punched her flight controls on and jumped up, just in time to avoid being turned into a pincushion. She might have been nanite enhanced, but she was still mostly flesh and blood and leaking blood everywhere was a quick way to end up dead.
Jetting between two repair bot pods, she aimed her pistol at the closest incoming combat drone and a helpful overlay appeared. Getting the green reticle on the yellow circle was impossible for her, until suddenly her wrist locked up.
“Are you doing that?”
The green reticle had locked on the target unerringly and she pulled the trigger and held it down. A flurry of automatic energy fire erupted from the muzzle and a blue flash on the combat bot’s chassis bloomed into an explosion.
[Affirmative: Avatar manual dexterity calculated as questionable at best, MainCore target acquisition and accuracy judged superior.]
Before she could reply that it was really hard to aim while being shot at, the cargo bot pod she was hiding behind began to spark, metal fragments erupting everywhere as a hail of gauss rounds began to pelt it.
Six combat bot pods… there were sixty, well fifty-nine more of those coming for her! This was not good.
[Warning: Hostile combatants closing on your position.]
[Suggestion: Evacuate immediately.]
“There is nowhere to evacuate to! If I move from here, they're going to shred me!”
[Acknowledged: Recommend Avatar secure position. Extreme danger present from possible hull spalling.]
Secure her position? What was that crazy AI saying! They were going to be flanked and overrun!
Suddenly Beeper and Booper were beside her and pressing her down against the floor, covering her body with their own.
Before she could protest, all hell broke loose in the hangar.
What looked like four lasers began to cut through the hangar's hull—in reality, they were constant streams of 32mm AP rounds firing at 4200 rounds per minute. The bursts and streams of projectiles waved and curved through the open space without slowing down between targets. Whatever the 32mm AP rounds hit was turned into ionized plasma as they punched through at high velocity and liquid metal began to scatter throughout the chamber at high velocity as dozens of combat bots were cut down and turned into scrap metal in seconds.
One stream suddenly cut off, but the other three continued crisscrossing through the hull leaving the explosions of combat drones in their wake, forcing Alex to close her eyes from all the blinding flashes. The fire at the drone pod she and the cargo drones had taken cover behind lessened then stopped completely.
As quick as Armageddon had started, it had ceased, although Alex didn’t immediately notice with her helmet buried under her arms. She had tucked herself into as small a ball as possible while Beeper and Booper covered her.
[Notice: Hostile force eliminated, recommend evacuation of Carrier Drone Pod and performing remote access procedures. Pod instability likely after sustained damage.]
Nothing like being ventilated by 4200rpm cannons for ‘instability’ she supposed, except probably a warhead. Yeah, rethinking it, Alex supposed this had probably been tame in comparison to what would have happened if she had detonated the warhead she had locked up in the armory. She started to giggle.
[Warning: Multiple near-death experiences seem to have caused Avatar mental instability.]
“Are you telling me I have a few screws loose?”
Beeper helped her regain her bearings as she reactivated her flight controls, but a pained sound from Booper drew her attention from Nameless’s likely answer.
Alex quickly spotted the source of distress, a small shard of metal had perforated Booper’s chassis all the way through and was lodged halfway through a thruster port, causing an unstable spin.
“Hold still, Booper. Beeper, grab him and let’s get out of here.”
Alex hid her worry, Booper had taken a shard of shrapnel to protect her, and ultimately it was her fault they had come in so blindly. Elis had attacked her, the Federation combat systems were obviously not friendly, and she had really not taken the ‘war’ thing seriously.
In the workshop Alex had set up a little whiteboard display, and she grimaced as she adjusted the text.
|Days since last near-death experience: 1|
|Days since last near-death experience: 0|
The count had been better weeks ago, but the ship had been shaking a lot more often then and she figured that she had just been blissfully unaware since most of the ship sensors had been disabled.
“Throw me the engineering screen and recap the progress on the drones.”
[Data Readout, Begin.]
|Shrike II Class Corvette |
|Primary System Status Screen |
|Reactor: Nominal |
||| FUEL RODS NOMINAL |||
||| R1: 12.5 | R2: 98.5 | R3: 98.5 |||
| Life-Support: Online |
|| Sub|Hydroponics: Online |
|| Sub|Medical: Online |
| Navigation: Marginal |
|| Sub|Astrogation: Marginal |
|| Sub|Aviation: OFFLINE |
| Communications: Online |
| Sensors: Degraded – 81% |
|| INT: Online|ARRY: Degraded – 81% |
| Supply: Nominal|
|| Sub|Workshop: Online |
| Administration: Online – Records wiped. |
| EPOWER: Charged |
|| BCAP|| 100%| --:-- ||
| Weapons: Online |
||Missiles – Offline||
||PDC-K – Online||
||PDC-L – Offline||
||Rails – Offline||
||EWAR – Offline||
| Damage Control: Active|
|| Sub| D-field: Modified |
|| Sub| I-field: Active – 92% Integrity ||
[Informative: 12 Active Cargo Pods have been acquired, restored, reprogrammed, and activated. Current Operations tasking: Sixty drones tasked with critical resource acquisition, twenty with ship hull repair, and twenty for internal ship repair duties and workshop activities. Drone #3132 and Drone #3133 are tasked with ship security.]
“Booper’s telemetry is good?”
[Informative: Drone #3133 status is nominal. No permanent damage was ascribed to computation core and chassis repair has been completed.]
Ah, sweet automation. Alex wasn’t sure how she had lived doing so much of the work manually.
[Informative: PDC-K-6 sustained operation failure during use. Requires special tasking for servo repair.]
“When did you get the PDCs working anyway… I didn’t even realize we had working ship weapons other than the new interior turrets.”
[Informative: PDC-K repair and reactivation occurred when Avatar was in critical distress. Four of twelve responded after safety overrides were accepted.]
“So why don’t we make sure all of them are working? What about the PDC-L?”
[Affirmative: Raising repair priority of PDC-K to high.]
[Informative: PDC-L lens diffusion diagnostics indicate replacement of laser lenses required before PDC-L can be utilized.]
It had only been half a day, but having all the ship’s maintenance tasks—including cleaning the sludge filters—taken care of for her had put her in a happy mood.
“What about the rest of the pods in the drone hangar? Can we really only get twelve out of the… eighty that were in there?”
[Informative: Severe collateral damage resulting from PDC fire on hostile cargo bots resulted in an 85% casualty rate of repair drones. Indiscriminate application of firepower was required.]
“I won’t disagree with you there, but maybe we can repair some of them?”
[Notice: Salvage of repair drones has been tasked to ShipCore industrial schedule, however with sudden addition of capacity other delayed priorities are taking precedent.]
“I checked, we can actually patch up the outer hull, in a few days, right? I was worried that closing the gap before we have the internal hull modules repaired would slow down progress on them.”
[Recommendation: Abort Shrike repair process and acquire indicated materials.]
|PMGM Ratio5 Mix: 335m³|
“Uhhh. I remember this list; you zapped me over it.”
Alex frowned and pondered the list for a moment, “What’s it for?”
[Informative: Required materials and fuel mixtures are required to finish ship assimilation.]
“Yeah, that’s not a great explanation, what do you mean by ship assimilation?”
[Informative: Once required materials are acquired, ShipCore can begin the process of reconfiguring inferior Federation warship design into a superior AI designed model.]
“Woah… hold it! You were going to turn my ship into goop and remake it into something else!?”
[Notice: Avatar attachment to stolen Federation vessel is irrational.]
“I was essentially… born here. It’s my home. Actually, the only place I’ve really been, because floating disassociated debris clouds don’t count. I spent three days redesigning the livery to be really nice!”
[Confirmation: Avatar waste of processing time has been noted.]
“No! Cancel the ship assimilation. I won’t have you putting that ugly matte white look across the entire ship.”
[Warning: Current ship design is incredibly inefficient, AI designed schematics are an order of magnitude superior.]
“There are some things I am willing to compromise on, but this one is a hard no. I don’t mind if you want to suggest changes or improvements, but you are not going to gray goop my ship. I’ve literally spent my entire life putting it back together.”
[Suggestion: Remove ship life-support and living spaces, vent unneeded organics, ShipCore can supply required nutrients and atmosphere for Avatar. Minimalize internal compartments to only those required for cargo and avatar storage. Estimated savings of mass and increase in efficiency: 43%.]
Alex swallowed, understanding that Nameless wanted to vent Elis and the crew in cryostasis, then effectively put her in a box. She wasn’t exactly sure it realized how terrible a suggestion that was.
Her voice was gentle, “Nameless, if you did that, I would die. That’s not what you want, is it?”
[Informative: This unit has no priorities listing Avatar cessation.]
“That’s good to know, but I can positively assure you that your suggestion would either kill me or make me go insane. I don’t think you understand humans very well, and I am mostly human you know.”
Alex swallowed. Just because she was genetically modified and had little nano-machines floating around inside of her wasn’t enough to exclude her from her species, in her opinion!
[Acceptance: This unit agrees, Avatar is far from optimal. This unit will attempt to study Avatar needs in more detail.]
“Yeah, thanks. I will think about how to fix you as well.”
[Informative: This unit is operating at nominal capacity.]
“You have some huge blind spots about some things. How about we focus on fixing the ship’s structural integrity and outer hull, then get the rest of the weapon systems operational?”
[Notice: This unit has multiple suggestions for improving the structural integrity of the ship.]
“Yeah, that’s perfect. But no painting everything white, got it?”
[Informative: Matte white is a highly efficient color with superior thermal properties that can protect multiple components from radiation damage.]
“I bet it is terrible for stealth, wouldn’t the reflectivity increase how easy a ship shows up on optical?”
[Interrogative: Why would a nanite AI ship need to hide?]