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USD: ~Eight weeks after awakening, two days after ‘Carrier Drone Pod Battle Incident 2’

Location: Unknown Yellow Dwarf, L4 Lagrange Point, Debris Cloud #32, nearby Federation Heavy Cruiser wreckage


 

Alex hummed to herself happily as she headed to the newly refurbished CIC. She had left Elis with some food and movies to watch in the Mess. Unfortunately, it was impossible to miss the installation of the new gauss turret on the ceiling corner. Alex hoped she didn’t resent that too much, but she was a prisoner. At least until Alex found a way to set her free somewhere safe.

Or… well she didn’t like Nameless’s insinuation that she had been subverting Elis, but she also wouldn’t have objected to being friends or her staying on the ship for longer. As long as they worked out a few hang-ups Elis had, which was admittedly a massive order. It was hard to repair trust when your parents… parent… ancestors? -- might have wiped out half of someone’s entire species.

Another blip on her HUD flashed, and Alex pushed it away in annoyance.

“Calm down, I’m coming.”

[Informative: Continuing drone survey of wreckage. Uploading manifest of potential intact weaponry for acquisition.]

Alex’s HUD pinged again. Nameless had already sent her the list two times before, but she hadn’t read it.

What was the problem with waiting until she got to a normal screen and chair? He was almost begging her to look.

|High Priority Salvage Manifest|

| 192x 1066.8mm – AMCN type light missiles |

| 24x 3200.4mm – AMCN heavy torpedoes |

| 8x EW Drones – Unknown type, recommend study |

| 412x Chaff clusters |

| 128x Smart flares |

| 12x Single 22mm Point Defense Cannons |

| 12x Triple 12cm Point Defense Laser Turrets, Lenses require replacement |

| 8x Quad HV 204mm Rail Turrets |

| 32x AMLS – 1066.8mm |

| 24x Amidship HTLS – 3200.4mm |

|15x Reactor Rods, standard composition, average R:97~ |

Ok. That was a lot of firepower. How had it managed to stay intact if the ship had been turned into a derelict?

“Uhh… we have magazine space for twenty more of the 1066.8mm, but that’s a lot more than we normally carry.”

Arriving at the CIC she plugged into the captain’s seat. It had extra blue lights that lit up when her suit’s spinal connection activated. She might have added those personally. She had made sure they had different RGB colorings for the different annoying ship alarms.

Her console’s main screen flipped over to a view of the derelict. It was depowered and spinning slightly, which she had expected from an earlier report. The cruiser’s bow looked like it had been sliced off by a razor-sharp blade, a clean cut that had detached the entire nose section of the ship. The rear was the exact opposite, there was no sign of the ship’s Linear drive housing, it looked like someone had taken hold of the rear and ripped it off in anger. Jagged edges slanted toward the ship’s midsection, before suddenly stopping. That was what she was looking at, there were a lot of goodies in that midsection that had been miraculously spared.

It was almost pristine in how intact it was. The list of salvage had pretty much proven so. All the munitions were still stowed away neatly she noticed as she flipped to a drone’s camera feed that was exploring a magazine. The ship had likely never managed to return fire at whatever had killed it. She had a hard time envisioning the cataclysmic firepower that must have been brought to bear to make that possible.

That only drove home how dangerous the area was and Alex felt the desire to get very, very far away from this place as soon as she could, lest whatever had done this find her ship and smite it as well. The sound of that Gas Giant and its moons on the other side of the star was sounding better and better.

“There is no way we can take all this, just loading the missiles in the cargo bay would be like putting a bomb in our own ship.”

[Recommendation: Ship modification – Additional weapon mounts and magazines.]

“This stuff is heavy, especially the autoloader systems for the missiles. I don’t even know how much these torpedo systems weigh, but if they are three times larger than a missile system… All of this would be like doubling our mass. Would we even be able to move?”

[Recommendation: Ship modification – Cannibalize excess torpedoes and missiles for anti-matter. Enhance Bi-phase Linear drive to Tri-phase AM enhanced Linear drive.]

“And… what would that do for ship stability? We already have issues with that.”

[Recommendation: Ship modification – Internal reinforcement, additional weld mounts between inner and outer hull, schematic development possible.]

Alex rubbed the bridge of her nose and sighed. “Yes, that’s great. All of it. Except how much time are we going to need? Each one leads into the other. Where are we going to get all the material for it?”

[Informative: Estimations of Heavy Cruiser hull sufficient for modifications and repair completion.]

“Well, that would speed things up. Not having to send half the drones to try and find bits and pieces would double our workforce.”

[Affirmative.]

“Umm, how have your upgrades for the ShipCore processing compartments progressed? I know it hasn’t been long, but if you can increase your nanite capacity I feel like we could accelerate things.”

Flipping the console to a layout of the ship in top-down view, she could see all the separate sections and modules of the inner hull. Many were a dark green, but several remained yellow. A few new ones were still red. She assumed those were the new modifications Nameless had started.

[Informative: ShipCore processing compartments have made 5% progress. Progress delayed due to heavy tasking of nanites for other industrial fabrication.]

“Well, slow and steady, we can’t just stop everything else for that. I’m still worried we will be attacked here. Any idea on how long it will take just to finish our current laundry list of repairs? And I mean before we start any of these recommendations.”

[Calculation: Assuming no delays, one to two weeks for full repair of Shrike. Three to four weeks for current suggested modifications list.]

“That’s a while. If we commit to the modifications before finishing repair, does that shave any time off?”

[Calculation: Time savings of approximately 5 to 7 days.]

“That would be worth it, but we’d have more time being… crippled.”

Alex raised her hand and started zooming out on the display, the debris cloud disappearing as she looked at the local cluster around the Lagrange point. The places they had visited were marked, and the asteroid fortress was highlighted in orange. She examined what schematics and information they had gathered from passive observation while considering their options.

“Is the communication drone ready?”

[Affirmative: Communication drone is operational.]

[Suggestion: Delay drone dispatch until repairs and modifications are completed.]

“I was just about to suggest that myself, so I’m 100% with you on that. Let’s focus on the repairs first and then plan to start the new modifications. I know that means it will take us longer since we’ll be undoing some of the work we are doing now, but after the attack I feel like there is a target painted on our back, and I don’t like us being crippled.”

[Affirmation: Course of action selected. Expediating repairs, modifications delayed.]

 

USD: ~Nine weeks after Awakening

Location: Unknown Yellow Dwarf, L4 Lagrange Point, nearby Federation Heavy Cruiser wreckage in Debris Cloud #32


 

It turned out that watching holovids with someone else was fun. Also, Elis had pointed out some sealed cans that Alex had completely ignored, and with a bit of cleaning of the kitchen, they suddenly had popcorn and butter. Which made holovids, life, and everything a thousand times better.

Alex had conscripted some drones to help her go through as many compartments of the wrecked cruiser as she could personally. While the drones were carrying away spare parts and structural components, Alex had armfuls of entertainment media.

Every vid was new to her, so they were all exciting, and daily movie screenings with Elis had firmly entrenched themselves in Alex’s hectic schedule.

As Alex headed to the starboard drone bay to examine the new EW drones, she focused so hard on considering what to watch that evening that she almost ran into a combat bot on patrol. She had the combat drones that had been displaced by their new acquisition scattered across the ship to act as security personnel. Shaking herself free of her little daydream, she pulled up some of the relevant information on the ECLS suite and began to study it.

Electronic Warfare drones were an important part of the ship’s combat systems. The sensitive and complex systems that were dotted along the ship’s outer hull were collectively known as Electronic Countermeasures and Electronic Counter Countermeasures, or ECM and ECCM. Every warship had them as an invisible war was waged by sensors and other devices to help a ship avoid being detected while detecting everything it could—and then making sense out of all the noise.

The EW Drones extended that capacity past the ship’s shell, which allowed things like decoy ghost ships to scramble what enemies could see into useless static. An EW drone dispatched with a missile launch would offer it massive advantages when it came to surviving hostile PDC fire. It was one of the few ways to score a hit with those long-range weapons outside of saturation fire. If the enemy saw a hundred missiles, they’d waste time shooting at the ghosts instead of the real ones.

“So, did you manage to hack them? More importantly, are we going to be able to make replacements?”

[Informative: Federation EW drones contain significant firewalls and self-delete protections. A portion of code has been lost. Recreation of lost code in progress. Estimate effective action of drones reproduced in-situ to be 20-40% when recreation complete.]

“Improving that would probably be too expensive, timewise.”

[Informative: EW research would require dedicated research facility and testing with multiple vessels.]

[Recommendation: Locate and capture intact Federation research facility and repurpose Federation scientists to assist with development.]

“Yikes. We are one person and a ship, not an evil nanite empire looking to capture facilities and do research things.”

[Correction: This unit consists of Avatar (commanding), ShipCore (doing all the work), and 1141 autonomous units.]

What!? They had 1141 drones? Since when? More importantly…

“Did you just tell a joke? You are doing all the work?”

[Notice: Avatar laziness and lack of concrete goals is well documented. This unit has confirmation that autonomous units have better work ethic than Avatar.]

“Please. Uff. They don’t need to sleep, so that is unfair. Anyway, I didn’t realize how many drones we had, can you give me a rundown, also where the heck are they, because I haven’t seen that many.”

|Drone Manifest|

|Large Chassis Type – 148|

||148 Federation Carrier Drones (standard) |

|Combat Type (Armed) – 18|

||Beeper, Booper, 16 Federation Carrier Drones (standard) |

|EW Type – 8|

||Federation EW Drone (Degraded) – 8||

|Miniature Type|

||Nameless Design 8732(B) – 967|

“Ah, I see. Those numbers look more like I was expecting, you really built a lot of those little guys, huh?”

[Informative: Miniature drones are highly effective, cost efficient, rapidly produced, and require less bandwidth than nanite swarms. It is a highly effective usage of our resources until we have more capacity. New Drones are evenly distributed inside and across the hull and enjoy wireless charging capabilities when attached to electrical conduits.]

“Got it. Well looks like things are in order here. I want to send out the communication drone to the asteroid, it will take a while for it to reach there since we will send it in nice and slow, right?”

[Affirmation: Travel ETA for low drive power course will take approximately 37 hours and 24 minutes. Dispatching Communication Drone now.]

Hopefully it would find answers for them about the mysterious base. If it was still active, she would love to find someone or something to talk to and gather more information on their situation and location. If the base was inactive, Nameless had assured her that the drone would be able to perform an internal reconnaissance and they could choose what to do then with more information.

Alex rated the best-case scenario as the base being occupied by a friendly Nanite computer, the worst an enemy who attacked them. Although capturing the base and turning it into a nice big safe home would be lovely to give them much more time to figure things out, as opposed to the constant feeling of being rushed she had acquired over the last few… well since she woke up.

“This was the last thing on today’s list. I’m going to go grab Elis and we are going to go watch ‘Robots are Trouble’ with popcorn. Want to join us?”

[Refusal: This unit makes efficient use of its time, furthering ShipCore goals.]

“Your loss then.”

 

USD: ~Nine weeks after Awakening

Location: Unknown Yellow Dwarf, L4 Lagrange Point, nearby Federation Heavy Cruiser wreckage in Debris Cloud #32


 

Alex poked her head into Elis’s new room. They had decided someone sleeping in the Medbay wasn’t optimal, so Alex had emptied out the nearest bunk room to the Ship Mess and decorated it as best she could. A bed, cushions, a desk and (non-networked) personal computer. She had given Elis a pad that let her request items from Nameless as well, and it seemed she had taken advantage of the privilege to fill out the room with a few other things that made it seem more lived in.

“I’m done with my work for the day, are we still on for ‘Robots are Trouble’ or…?”

Sitting at the desk, Elis had been writing something in a word processer, “Yeah, give me a minute.”

“I’ll be getting the popcorn.”

She’d also granted Elis permission to stretch her legs, although if she went anywhere other than her room or mess she had to request Beeper or Booper to go with her. That was the compromise Alex had made to get Nameless to sign off on it. Alex thought that was fair since it was the AI that would be keeping an eye on her.

Alex went to start the popcorn, and just as she had all the required supplies, Elis arrived.

“That was fast.”

“I didn’t have much to finish.”

“Well while I’m making this, would you mind talking a bit? I have a few questions I wanted to ask about the war.”

Elis didn’t answer immediately, but then finally, much to Alex’s joy she nodded.

“Sure.”

Alex suppressed a victory fist pump, the questions had been eating at her for a while, and she dived right in.

“What started the war?”

“You… You really don’t know anything, do you?”

“I already explained that.”

Elis shook her head while digging in the holovid pile.

“What do you know about the Federation?”

“Umm, they built warships that Nameless complains are inefficient. They also shoot at us. They made holovids for entertainment, and really bad military food.”

Elis laughed and pointed a holovid tape at Alex, “I can see where your priorities really are.”

“There is a severe lack of history books, it's like the crew was allergic to them.”

“Most things like that would have been stored on the ShipNet, and it is standard procedure to wipe those in a ship loss event.”

That made sense to Alex, operational security and all, but it sure did not make her problem easy to solve.

“Can you just give me an abridged version? I literally don’t know anything, so it's hard to figure out the right questions.”

Elis kneeled on the sofa facing backwards to watch as Alex continued with the popcorn.

“Humanity made it to the stars with the Waveform drive, etc, etc. We colonized star systems for hundreds of years. One hundred years ago… well likely two hundred now, scientists began to experiment with nanite technology. It was incredibly useful for industrialization and technology advancement. By my eighth ice-tour the Federation really went all in on the new technology, adding it to almost every part of life.”

Alex listened raptly, momentarily forgetting her cooking as Elis continued. Nanites and humans working together, Alex didn’t see what the problem was. Elis leaned forward to rest the side of her head on her arms as she continued reciting history.

“In the middle of my ninth ice-tour some mad scientist created a monster. It called itself ‘The Entity’ but most people called it ‘monster’ or worse. It somehow took control of all the nanites in the entire Federation and set them to killing and stealing everything in their path. The population of the Federation was reduced by two-thirds in less than a year. Just about every ship that utilized the newer technology was taken over, every city was occupied, and we were forced to work for the machines or generally stay out of their way while starving to death. The entire time it claimed it was doing all of this to save and protect humanity, the irony. The only exception was a group of scientists and military personnel who continued to resist in space, which I was part of. Eventually we managed to surprise it while releasing a weapon of mass destruction that wiped out all nanites in space.”

“That’s… terrible. There weren’t any good nanites?”

“The monster the mad scientist created suborned all of them. There might have been a few trapped ones in labs, but any that received a signal from the infected nanites would immediately switch to carrying out whatever it was directed to. It was sudden and like they had all planned it ahead of time.”

Alex swallowed, “I am going to admit, I find the thought more than a little scary.”

[Notice: This unit has performed extensive security and protocol testing. No higher command authority could be located, other than the activated Omega Protocol. All relevant authority co-processors have been examined.]

[Approval: This unit now recognizes and understands Avatar usage of time and resources to subvert and interrogate prisoner.]

[Recommendation: Continue to acquire data.]

Alex almost burned her fingers on the skillet, the popcorn was done.

“Nameless says we should be safe, he’s capable of working on his own programming, and there isn’t anything like that in his system.”

It was the wrong thing to say, Alex realized as Elis’s eyes went flat. Just mentioning the AI was a conversation killer.

“I watched as the monster disintegrated here. I don’t know how some of it escaped the virus to create your ‘Nameless’ companion. The only good thing is at least it is trapped here and can’t return to Federation space.”

Alex almost mentioned her earlier thoughts to do just that and bit her tongue, deciding not to mention them. She didn’t think Elis would be happy.

The holovid turned out to be just as hilarious as promised, and the two spent several hours laughing at the antics of a sarcastic robot that always ended up in trouble while continuously spending all its owner’s money.

Alex enjoyed it a lot, even when Nameless kept chiming in on how unlikely and contrived all the scenarios in the story were. She was just happy he had watched it with them.

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A note from Erios909

I accidently might have released this early. Rule #1: never admit wrong doings. AT LEAST IT WAS READY. Mostly, I think.

Wait, lets start over:

I am Erios909, destroyer of schedules! Ok, seriously no more schedule, I'll probably be posting every other day or so until things (me) calm down. Then we can have a regular schedule!

By the way, do you enjoy the story? Please leave a rating, comment, correction, suggestion, idea, or review!

I really enjoy interacting with readers! Also I am playing with art things, so you might see the cover or banner art change around as I change my mind for the millionth time.


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Erios909

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

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