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USD: A few hours after departure from Ackman Station

Location: Enroute to Nu Crateris Jump Point, Tears of Fire


 

Alex had discussed the mission with Elis, and after some examination of the specifics they decided to accept.

True enough to his word, Wyles had smoothed things over with Mr. Whitely for them. Which was good, because the Portmaster had been having fits that the construction crew for the manufactory job was completely comprised of the Tears' construction bots.

Apparently, the drones were a safety hazard. Alex suspected they were much safer and more efficient with Nameless controlling them than any human crew would be in the same circumstances but revealing that to the Portmaster wasn’t an option.

Sadly, the production on that had to halt once they accepted the Dedia IV relief mission.

It had taken four days to load the Tears, even with all their remaining cargo bots assisting them. Nameless had scrambled all the construction bots to rigging more cargo hangars inside the hull, and all the space had been required.

News of the nature of their mission had spread. The people on Ackman station turned out to have close ties to their neighbors in Nu Crateris. Pallet after pallet had arrived at the Mooring arm with donations of food, clothing, and just about everything one could imagine. Including piles of guns. Piles of loose old projectile guns and boxes of ammunition to go with them.

Alex was glad it wasn’t their job to sort out that mess. It did pose more logistical problems, and she had to put her foot down when Nameless had informed her they would need an additional hangar platform inside the ship if they were to load any more.

Those sections were already a hazard in combat, and now there was the remote possibility they would need to take the Tears into atmosphere. That was her next priority.

“Nameless, can you please show me our engineering display for navigation?”

[Affirmative: Displaying Navigation Status.]

| Navigation: Nominal |

|| Sub|Astrogation: Nominal |

|||Ter|FTL – Waveform: Nominal |

|||Ter|RCS – 128/128 |

|||Ter|Linear Drive Thruster: Nominal |

|| Sub|Aviation: Marginal |

|||Ter|Aerodynamics: Nominal |

|||Ter|MPVT Accelerators: Nominal |

Alex read over the data. “Our upgrades to the Linear drive were canceled due to other things coming up, weren’t they?”

[Notice: Industrial taskings have been prioritized over ship upgrades. No current drive upgrade is in progress.]

“I’m not blaming you; we had things we needed done. You told me we could upgrade the Bi-phase Linear drive to anti-matter enhanced.”

[Informative: Upgrade currently possible with existing resources.]

“Next, our ship is much heavier than is standard, do you think it is still atmospheric capable? I noticed aviation is listed as marginal.”

[Notice: Current maneuvering thrusters TWR is below 1 for Dedia IV. Atmospheric Linear Drive usage is not recommended due to hazardous exhaust.]

“Yeah. First priority, fix that. Can we increase power to our Magneto-Plasma RCS system by shunting power from the Linear drive? Or… just increasing the amount of thruster ports?”

[Informative: Both options are possible. Shunt systems will degrade system integrity by a small amount. Additional RCS thruster mounts will increase ship maneuverability in all environments.]

“So, we need both of those. Plus, the anti-matter upgrade for the Bi-phase Linear drive. I need you to crunch some numbers. Assume we need to get to Dedia IV as fast as possible, and then possibly enter the atmosphere. What’s our best option, upgrade now or will it slow us down?”

Alex waited for a minute for Nameless to come up for an answer for them.

[Informative: Upgrading Bi-phase Linear drive to AM Enhanced Bi-phase Linear drive will save approximately 25% travel duration to Dedia IV orbit. Upgrading shunting and RCS thruster mounts concurrently will reduce this to 22% duration.]

“Great. Make it happen. Also, about the new hangars. We need a way to get rid of them, safely. I am not going to have anyone onboard the ship, and they are going to want to unload as fast as possible, I’m sure. So ideally, we would be able to just detach the hangars and float them out once in orbit.”

[Informative: A new access hatch matching hangar specifications is possible, however a reduction in hull integrity would result. Furthermore, this would reduce our time of arrival speed from drive upgrades from 22% to 20% if done concurrently.]

“That’s not the greatest but go ahead and add that as well. How about our hull? I know we’ve done patches on the spine, but until the orbital works and Manufactory is done, we put that on hold.”

[Notice: Temporary reinforcements to hull are sufficient for projected compressive forces in line with the maximum acceleration of queued drive upgrades in a straight-line. Evasive or rapid course corrections / rotations are not advised or accounted for as these will exceed hull reinforcement limits. Atmospheric flight will require a bow-up only orientation at all times to prevent excess lateral stress.]

Alex frowned, making note to object to any atmospheric activities requested of them for the time being. Hopefully they wouldn’t be needed. It killed part of the purpose of upgrading their RCS thrust, but she didn’t think that would be true forever.

She tried to think of anything else to set in motion but drew a blank.

“I think that’s everything. I’m going to go spar with Elis to practice my new ANUF things.”

[Notice: Traumatizing or injuring the ship’s most productive human crewmember is not advised.]

“Don’t worry we have power armor now!”

 

USD: Later that day, after a brutal sparring session

Location: Enroute to Nu Crateris Jump Point, Tears of Fire


 

Alex sat at the table in the mess, her head on the table while a bag of ice sat on her cheek. “You broke my jaw.” She mumbled sadly.

“You’re talking again, so it’s already healed. I’m sure it won’t be problem when the pizza is done.”

Alex wiggled her nose, sniffing the air, the fragrant smell of the ‘pepperoni’ pizza filling the room.

“I’m cured! Let’s eat!”

“Ten more minutes.”

Alex grumbled, “Cooking is the worst, because you have to wait for it to get done.”

“Every good thing takes time.”

“We should install a Jaco’s inside the ship, then we wouldn’t have to wait.”

“I don’t think a kebab shop is appropriate for a warship.”

“You just don’t want to admit my amazing ideas.”

Elis gave her the look.

Alex bit her bottom lip, “Fine, we can ask Jaco to franchise on A-3123Y as soon as it’s ready for employees!”

|Idyllic galley |

|A most, tasty fragrant smell |

|Cooking for the masses |

Elis looked a bit shocked, “The rock is writing Haikus? Plus, its listening in on us?”

[Affirmative: Laser comm link established with Avatar approval. A-3123Y wished to monitor Tears to continue to learn. This unit has been providing educational assistance and problem-solving recommendations.]

Alex nodded, “It wanted to be part of the team. I didn’t think blocking it out would be nice, since we are the only ones it has to talk to.”

|Fiery morning sights |

|A graceful redhead training |

|With a beautiful smile |

Elis’s cheeks turned red, and she began to fidget, “Maybe it should talk more instead of just creeping!”

“Well, it is trying now, isn’t it? I think it might just be getting used to us.”

Elis shook her head, then looked at Alex “A restaurant on a station would be much more reasonable than a ship, yes. Although I’m not sure how happy people would be if they found out who their chef was. Also, speaking of employees, I had a few hits for you. I put their files on the ShipNet.”

Alex nodded to Elis, “Okay, I’ll look at them later.”

Worried about what A-3123Y would do while they were gone, Alex picked up her datapad and started poking at the statistics information for the orbital.

“Nameless, can we make a plan for A-3123Y while we are gone? I don’t want it to be alone, or idle. Probably be best if it didn’t try to work on the manufactory alone but getting everything needed for that would be a good idea. Even transporting those items to Ackman.”

[Informative: SubCore A-3123Y is fully capable of carrying out independent orders. Recommend a comprehensive priority list.]

Alex looked at her datapad and started jotting some notes down.

 

|A-3123Y Important Task List|

|Get required goods for Manufactory ready|

|Finish full schematic for A-3123Y orbital|

|Ensure safety of all personnel on orbital|

|Make sure everyone has good food|

|Increase mining and production operations|

|Integrate with sector economy|

|Produce income stream for Starlight Revolution|

|Try to be discreet and not draw too much attention|

|Build more ships for economic and defense purposes|

 

Alex finished and offered the data pad to Elis, “What do you think?”

“You put food higher than mining and production operations?”

“Well, it’s the most important thing for people I think.”

|A strong foundation|

|Built a kingdom majestic|

|With kebabs and cake|

Elis looked like she was going to fall over, “Oh my gosh, it is seriously learning from you. This is going to turn into a comedy act if it wasn’t already one.”

Alex narrowed her eyes and stuck out her tongue at Elis, “There is nothing wrong with Kebabs and Cake!”

Elis shook her head, “I’m not sure how well a fully automated station is going to be taken. We had plenty of them in the Federation of course, but when the NAI war started… well most of them turned. I noticed that a lot of automation that we used to enjoy is… done manually now. They have almost twice as much crew on the ships for example.”

Alex winced, “How do they fit everyone in the ship? I can’t even imagine if the Tears had a full complement… where would we store all our extra gadgets and bullets?”

“Hot bunking, extra crew quarters in dead spaces, larger food storage. It’s a lot of extra non-combat mass to keep us humans alive in a tin can these days.”

“I think it will be alright… we have already demonstrated the cargo and combat drones. I think everyone has just assumed its Federation tech and not a NAI running things. I mean, to be fair, it is FedTech. Just the intelligence running it is a bit smarter.”

Elis nodded, “That’s why I’m not against it. Plus, unless you want to run away from everything, our course is sort of already set.”

“You’re right. I don’t want to go into hiding or anything. Honestly everything has been a lot of fun, minus those black ops goons we still can’t figure anything about.”

Elis nodded, “Things have been going well. I’m not sure how fast we can put a team together, but I think we do need more hands. Even if it is just because the three—four of us can’t think of everything.”

“I’ll look over those resumes after we eat.”

“Speaking of… I think the pizza is done!”

An excited Alex jumped out of her seat to come help take it out of the oven, “Yay!”

 

USD: 5 days after entering Starlane to Nu Crateris

Location: Enroute to Nu Crateris, Starlane, Tears of Fire


 

[Notice: Starlane departure in one minute. Expect minor turbulence on arrival.]

“Roger that, Nameless. Is it going to be as dull as entering the lane?”

Elis spoke up, “Usually it’s a bit more dramatic. I’d watch the hull cam.”

Alex pulled up one of the outer hull cameras. The blackness that existed beyond the ship was nearly absolute, but on the observation deck she had stared out into it long enough to think she had seen some small hints of roiling purple clouds in the dark.

The camera wasn’t detailed enough for that. At least that is what she hoped it was, and not just her seeing things.

[Notice: Transition imminent.]

Alex put her hands on the arms of the captain’s flight chair and waited.

A slight shudder ran through the ship, and Elis’s prediction proved to be true as the camera lit up in a display of color. The ship’s D-field turning from the faint blue shimmer into a brilliant set of colorful hues shifting from blue to yellow and finally red.

There were no flames, and suddenly the intense dissipation of energy on the D-field evaporated, sending a sea of tiny little motes of light and energy floating off into space behind them.

“Well, that was pretty.”

[Informative: All systems nominal, beginning system scan with passive sensors. No nearby objects detected, arrival distance 768 million km from 92 Pegasi ingress point. Displaying astrogation data now.]

Alex’s eyes turned toward the CIC’s main display.

The sun of Nu Crateris, a rather unassuming G2V Yellow Main Sequence star, filled the center of the map. Circling it in various orbits mostly along the orbital plane were numerous planets and moons.

Three small rocky planets were shown to be in quick orbits much too close to the sun to be habitable. The fourth, Dedia IV, was their destination. A fifth, larger rocky planet with no hydrosphere orbited a little further out. The atmosphere was thin and it was far enough away that the temperature during the day was barely above freezing.

Closer to them was a small gas giant, that had at least two dozen smaller moons orbiting it chaotically. A massive debris cloud ringed the giant, the result of two moons having collided at some point in the past. Numerous small planetoid chunks were highlighted in red to indicate decaying orbits that would terminate with them impacting their parent within a hundred to thousand years.

In the outer reaches, there were three smaller ice planets, with one or two moons each. They were barely large enough to not be considered dwarf planets.

Alex turned her attention back toward their destination, Dedia. Raising her hand she highlighted the planet and the screen zoomed in, a map of the continents appearing and lots of information about its topography.

The planet was covered by 60% liquid water that formed massive oceans. There were three major continents which were broken up by massive mountain ranges in the center of each one, with large river networks flowing out from them.

Alex flipped the map view to a geopolitical view, and several areas were highlighted in various shades of red to blue.

The colony was entirely situated in a small area on one of the continents near the equator. The largest city marked by a vivid red circle, and a marking indicating various manufacturing facilities along with a space elevator that could facilitate transfers between orbit and the ground.

That was likely going to be useful for unloading, Alex realized.

The map zoomed out further to an orbital view and highlighted an object in orbit around the fifth planet. The label read ‘Crateris Station’ with an infographic indicating a population of fifty thousand people.

Elis spoke up, “Nameless, what do we have for system traffic?”

[Informative: Ninety-seven small vessels have been recorded. Three super freighters are outbound and on course for the 92 Pegasi jump point. Multiple freighters are in orbit in proximity to Dedia Prime’s space elevator. There is also a small stream of traffic between the planet and Crateris Station.]

“Set course for Dedia Prime’s space elevator. Maximum burn. If you can try pinging the elevator station with a tight beam, see if you can get the governor on the line so he knows we are on the way.”

[Affirmative: Raising AM Bi-phase Linear Drive power to maximum in gradient steps to reduce hull stress.]

[Notice: Fuel reserves will be depleted upon arrival to approximately 25%. A full speed return journey will not be possible. Recommend replenishment.]

Alex looked over to the communications console, “Elis, let’s figure out where they sell the gas here while we wait for a response.”

Elis nodded, “Sure thing, let me see what’s on the system infonet.”

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A note from Erios909

Thanks for reading!

If you are enjoying the story, please leave a comment, rating, or review! They help the story out! And I love you for them!

I can't promise to respond to every comment, but I do read them all, and feedback is appreciated. Always remember that the this is essentially my first rough draft of the story with no real editing and only a loose plot outline. (Sorry! It's not a novel, its a webnovel and I am writing it as we go! And I'm hardly perfect!) 

Enjoy some fanart

Drones:

The finger monster:

 

Sorry, the pizza was too hard:

 

Next: Chapter 35 – Enroute to Dedia IV

See you space core...


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Erios909

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

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