Three days later, Jolan woke up. He had stayed on ‘Earth’ the whole trip, despite Cian insisting he needed to log in to take his supplements and eat. He felt weak and a bit ill, so he made his way to the mess. He scarfed down some emergency rations and drank his supplement. He really should have logged out before now, he felt like crap; but being stuck on the ship with Cian was boring. Once he was done, he went to the bridge. Jolan didn’t expect to find what he did on the bridge.
There was a movie playing on the ceiling – a projector was covering the entire ceiling of the bridge with a high definition image. The speakers that normally transmitted warnings and communications from other ships were set up as a surround sound system, providing sound better than most theaters that Jolan had visited. On the screen was a huge team of different species from some fantasy story – what looked like elves, dwarves, humans, and some kind of reptile people – working together to fight off a horde of undead monsters. The action kept jumping between several different groups that were charging in and cutting down the undead.
Cian was sitting back in a reclined pilot seat, adjusted to lay all the way back, covered in a blanket from his bed, absently munching on a tray with a variety of snacks in it. Purple chips, dried watermelon, some kind of dried blue fruit, and what looked like purple french fries. Most of it had been eaten. He had a big metal canister half full of an iced beverage with a tube for a straw. His eyes were a bit bloodshot and it looked like he had been there for a while.
“Whoa. What’s all this?” asked Jolan.
“Oh hey man. I decided to take a break and watch some tv. I found this show in the records. It’s really cool.” said Cian.
“Are those chips and french fries?” asked Jolan.
“Oh, I found some of those root vegetables in the pantry. They taste like potatoes, so I made chips and fries. I needed a snack for my movie. You can have some if you want. You can reheat the fries. The chips are still good, but the fries don’t taste as good cold.” said Cian.
The scene on the television flipped to another action sequence with a zombie leader effortlessly cutting down the good guys, until a woman in silver armor stepped forward and dueled him in a dazzling display of skill. After a few tense minutes, she decapitated the undead leader and the scene switched to another group desperately fighting a hulking monstrosity made of countless bodies.
“What are they doing?” asked Jolan.
“Oh, you wouldn’t get it. I’m on season eight already.” said Cian.
“Uh, okay. Dude, season eight? How long have you been watching this?” said Jolan.
Cian looked at the time. “Oh. Huh, we’re only a few minutes from Weave exit. Little over three days? I’ve been stopping to eat and take my supplements. This show is really interesting.”
“You didn’t sleep?” asked Jolan.
“I can sleep after I find out what happens next!” said Cian.
“Dude. We’re only three minutes from Weave exit. How much of the show is left? Are you even going to be able to land?” said Jolan.
“I’ll be fine. It’s a good show! Besides, you didn’t even log out for three days. You’re messing up your recovery by not eating and taking your supplements. But you’re right, I better turn it off and get us ready to land. I can watch more later. They still have a bunch of seasons!” said Cian.
Cian turned off the show and hopped up. Crumbs and bits of food fell out of his blankets. He flipped his chair back up, then grabbed a tool and put a bolt back into the chair to put it back in an upright position. He rolled up his blankets and tossed them back in the captain’s quarters and grabbed a vacuum to clean up the mess. By the time he was done, the ship had left the Weave and was floating at the edge of the WL-1026 system.
A bleary eyed Cian and half-starved Jolan sat at the bridge and set a course back to the Rising Star. It was already heading their way and they would meet in five minutes.
A familiar voice came over the communicator. “LT Flying Brick, this is the Rising Star. Welcome back! How did your mission go?” said Bann.
“Rising Star, you know you never actually told me the name of the ship until we left and heard it from the controller?” said Cian.
“What? No. Surely I… I mean, I must have told you when… but. Huh. I guess you’re right. Well, now you know! So, about your mission?” replied Bann.
“It was a success. We had a little excitement on our way in, but our visit to Yang Station was fine. We went a little over budget, but were able to acquire all of your list.” said Cian over the comm.
“Excellent news! How” began Bann.
Jolan interrupted, talking to Cian without the comm being on, “It was fine? I was beat up by a talking alligator!”
Cian gave Jolan a dirty look and tried to listen to what Bann was saying.
“…you? Our monetary resources aren’t what they once were, but if you truly acquired everything then we can definitely compensate you for anything additional that you spent, plus a suitable payment for the job of course. I honestly did not expect you to be able to acquire the entire list in a day on the station. You were even able to locate the engine coils that we need?” finished Bann.
“Okay, so you want me to tell Bann that you paid a pair of working girls and their guard to beat you up? I thought maybe you would want to keep that one under your hat.” said Cian to Jolan.
“Oh. Uh. Good call.” said Jolan.
Cian turned the communicator back on and replied to Bann, “We spent 11 million. Most of it went toward the metals and alloys you needed, but we were able to acquire the parts list from a used parts dealer. He sourced the coils you needed from some heavy cruiser engines he had strapped to the hull of the station.”
“Wonderful! Just wonderful! Come back to hangar six and we can go over the details and get you paid for your exemplary work.” said Bann
“Okay, heading to hangar six. Has Vanna woken up yet?” asked Cian.
The line was silent for a moment before Reema’s voice came over it, “I’m afraid that Vanna is still in a coma. It’s hard to tell with this kind of injury, we don’t have any way to know how long it may be before she wakes. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”
“Okay. Thanks for letting me know. She just needs more time.” said Cian.
The Rising Star slowed and turned. Hangar six opened.
Cian carefully maneuvered the ship into the open hangar. It was even tighter than the docking bay before, but he managed to line it up and begin easing it in. Then he tried to open the landing gear. The front landing gear let out a screeching noise and the instrumentation for it started flashing red. The panel slid open, but the leg that was supposed to support the front of the ship didn’t extend at all. He tried it again and it didn’t do anything.
“Rising Star, we’re experiencing a problem with our forward landing gear. It won’t extend. Please advise.” said Cian over the comm.
“LT Flying Brick, this is Rising Star control. Please stand by.” came the reply.
“This is definitely not my fault.” said Jolan.
“Okay. What kind of drugs did you take to get you to that conclusion?” said Cian.
“Dude, it’s totally not my fault the landing gear broke! It’s like a standard malfunction or something.” said Jolan defensively.
“This is Rising Star control. It looks like you took some serious damage to your front landing gear. Just take her in slow and don’t put her down all the way. Shut off your thrusters and our team will place some supports with magnetic locks on your hull. Once they are in place, you can land normally.” said the controller.
“Confirmed, heading in slowly now.” said Cian.
“I’m sure serious damage to the landing gear is totally routine and happens all the time.” said Jolan, looking nervous.
Cian chuckled as he followed their advice and eased the ship in.
Once they were in place, someone in a suit with a maneuvering pack jetted out of a maintenance hatch on the side of the hangar towing a couple of big metal legs with multiple beams holding the foot to the mounting portion. He maneuvered under the ship and attached them to each side with a clank that reverberated through the ship. Once that was done, he quickly jetted back to the side of the hangar and clipped himself to a bracket on the wall.
“This is Rising Star Control, you are free to take her down. Easy does it. We will re-engage gravity once you have touched down.” said the controller.
“Definitely not my fault.” repeated Jolan.
Cian carefully brought the ship down, the back gear touching just before the front supports. The thrust gently pushed the ship against the floor of the hangar.
As soon as the ship leveled out against the floor, artificial gravity re-engaged. The two supports at the front of the ship groaned under the weight, but held. The hangar doors closed and the room began to pressurize.
“This is Rising Star control. Excellent flying. We will have a team take a look at the landing gear. You are free to disembark as soon as pressurization is at acceptable levels.” said the controller.
Two minutes later, Cian and Jolan opened the door. Bann, Kodai, and a team of people rushed into the hangar and came over to the ship. The Rastlin technician they had met before, Ridlana, was with them – along with a mix of Celdurans, Erisians, and Boralans. They went in the ship and began cataloging the parts and supplies.
Ridlana waved discreetly as she walked by and started opening and examining boxes of metal.
Cian gave her a small wave back.
“Ah! What a beautiful sight! A ship full of supplies! Are those the engine coils I requested? And a whole box of coolant pumps! No more scrounging for widgets and gadgets and cannibalizing our weapon systems to keep the engines going! And metals, so many metals!” exclaimed Kodai. He was almost in tears.
Bann had a big smile on his face. “See, Kodai? I told you trusting them would pay off! Excellent work my friends, excellent work! I was worried someone might have attacked or followed you, seeing as you came from and left to a Wasteland system.”
“They did! We kicked their asses!” exclaimed Jolan.
Bann finally really looked at them and did a double take. “Oh. You were attacked? Are you alright? Do you need medical attention? You look ill!” He tapped his ear and spoke over his communicator, “Reema, we need a medical team down here.”
“Er, no need. We just, uh, didn’t sleep well on the way back.” said Cian. His eyes were even more bloodshot now.
“Oh. I see. I see. Well, we will let the medical team check you just to be sure, yes? You may have picked up a virus or other pathogen on the station. Your nanites should clear it up, but it could be contagious in the mean time. What is the story of this attack?” said Bann.
“Can’t you see they’re exhausted, Bann? Let them sleep! Debrief them tomorrow!” said Kodai.
Reema came into the hangar with two of the people who Cian had been seeing caring for Vanna before. They were both Erisians, an older man and a young woman, and had medical bags with scanners and diagnostic equipment.
The tall, older Erisian man pulled out a scanner of some kind and worked it up and down Cian’s body, then did the same with Jolan. “No viruses detected. Gut flora looks normal. No harmful bacteria or parasites detected.” said the man.
“Should I run a tox screen?” asked the woman, who was at least a foot shorter and several decades younger.
“No need, we’re just tired.” insisted Cian.
“Now now, young man, let us do our job.” said the older Erisian. He nodded at the woman.
The younger doctor ran another scan with a different tool over Jolan, frowned, then ran it over Cian. She turned to Cian first, “You check out okay. You just need some sleep.” then she turned to Jolan, “You have low levels of toxic heavy metals in your system, including lead and cadmium. You’re going to need treatment.”
“What? How did that happen?” asked Jolan.
The older doctor interjected, “Were you exposed to industrial fumes of some kind? Did you come into contact with any unusual substances?”
“Um… I just smoked some cigars. And I had a few drinks.” said Jolan.
The younger doctor frowned. “Were the drinks brightly colored, or did the cigars emit unusual smoke?”
“Um. The drinks were glowing purple and orange, and the smokes were neon colors.” said Jolan.
The older doctor spoke again, “Don’t consume unlicensed alcohol and drugs! Goodness knows what they put in those things to make them appealing! Did you even ask what the ingredients were?”
“Um, No? They tasted good.” said Jolan.
The older doctor looked offended. “Tasted good enough to put you in an early grave! Come, come, follow me to the medical bay. You’ll need extended treatment for heavy metal poisoning! Why, you’re lucky we have advanced medicine onboard. If you were in a backwater fringe planet they wouldn’t be able to treat this.”
The two doctors packed up their equipment and walked out.
“Well. See ya, I guess I’m poisoned.” said Jolan as he sheepishly followed them.
“Dang. Get well soon, man.” said Cian.
“So, about that attack?” said Bann.
“Let him sleep, you mind leech!” yelled Kodai.
“I’m glad you’re safe, Cian. May I walk you to your room?” said Reema.
“Sure. Sleep sounds good.” said Cian. The drowsiness was catching up to him fast and he staggered a bit as he followed Reema.
Reema made small talk about the goings on of the ship and told Cian about her plants.
Cian didn’t pay too much attention, just nodding and smiling when it seemed appropriate.
Soon they arrived at Vanna’s room.
“I assume you still wish to stay in the same room as your friend? Or would you prefer something more private?” asked Reema.
“This is good. Thanks Reema. Good night.” said Cian. He quickly entered the room and closed the door. He spent a minute checking on Vanna, then lay down and quickly fell asleep. He didn’t even bother taking off his boots.
Cian woke as a young Celduran man was replacing a tray next to his bed. The table hadn’t had a tray when he lay down, but now the man was taking one away as he placed another down.
Seeing his confusion, the man spoke “Sorry for waking you, sir. I was told to bring you lunch and take away your breakfast dishes.”
Cian groggily rubbed his eyes before replying, “Oh, no problem. Thank you for bringing me food. I think I slept through breakfast.”
“Yes sir. I took the liberty of bringing you iced coffee with your lunch. The packets next to it contain sugar and creamer. If you would prefer tea, I can provide some.” said the man.
Cian sat up and smiled. “Whoa, you guys have coffee? Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
“Ah, I believe Bann informed us that you would prefer tea. Something about your cultural heritage and being English?” said the man.
“English? Wait, he thinks I’m British?” Cian said, laughing. “Let me guess, his cultural research indicated that all English people drink tea?”
“I am not sure of the details. I am glad you are happy with your beverage. I have more work to do this afternoon. Have a good day.” said the man.
“Hey, thanks. Uh, I didn’t catch your name?” said Cian.
“Westic, sir. Have a good day.” said the man as he exited the room.
Cian called after him, “Thanks Westic! You too!”
Westic had left a glass cup and a carafe of iced coffee. Cian quickly prepared his coffee and pulled the cover off the serving tray. A steaming hamburger with purple fries awaited him. He couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he drank his coffee and ate the burger.
A nurse came in to check on Vanna with a small cart in tow. She quietly went to Vanna’s side and gave her a cursory examination, then turned to Cian. “I may be misunderstanding your relationship, but I believe Vanna would like some privacy for my duties. Among other things, I will bathe her.”
“Oh. Right. Guess I’ll take the rest of this with me.” said Cian. He ate his last few fries and grabbed what was left of his burger and coffee and left the room. He headed toward Bann’s laboratory.
Bann was at a console looking over data when Cian entered. He perked up and set his research aside as Cian walked in. “Cian! Just the man I wanted to see. Are you ready to talk about your mission?”
“Sure.” said Cian.
An uncomfortable moment of silence passed until Bann spoke up again. “So. You were attacked?”
“Yeah. We had a ship of humans attack us in a patrol ship. They saw us exit Wasteland space and assumed we had valuable cargo. Me and Jolan killed them and boarded their ship. Jolan had a hacking device and used it to take control of it, so we flew both ships back to the station.” said Cian.
“I see. You killed a ship full of humans? Did you not think to attempt to capture any of them? They are your people, after all, if we can devise a way to disconnect them from the system, we could use the same method that we used to free Jolan.” said Bann.
Cian shrugged. “They tried to kill us. I tried to capture the last one, but she shot Jolan. They’ll respawn, we wouldn’t have.”
“Hrm. Very pragmatic of you. I suppose my fear that knowing the truth would reduce your combat effectiveness was unfounded. Still, if we wish to free your people and stop the Dromon, we will need to begin severing more of the humans from the system.” said Bann.
“I want to stop the Dromon too, but converting random pirates and cutthroats to my cause won’t get me very far. I need firepower. I need a better understanding of these powers of mine, and I need a combat ship. I don’t want to be a galactic cargo trucker forever. I need Vanna too, she knows way more about this stuff than me. I don’t even know how to pilot a combat ship or a fighter.” said Cian.
“Alas, we cannot provide you a proper combat ship. The only vessels we have onboard are fighters and cargo ships. Our forces have been in decline since our exile to the Wastes. Without your supplies, we would have soon needed to disassemble even more of our fleet for parts. The other Heralds capital ships are in similarly dire straits.” said Bann.
“Yeah. I guess I need to set my sights a little lower until I have the capital to buy a real warship.” said Cian.
“Speaking of capital, I took the liberty of depositing your pay into your account. You exceeded our expectations on the supply run, we didn’t expect the entire list to be fulfilled on the budget provided. According to Kodai, despite going a million over budget, you sourced everything at an excellent price and managed to fulfill our entire wish list at a rate lower than he expected.” said Bann.
“Oh. Great. I figured if I could get everything it would be better, even if I did go over budget.” said Cian.
“If it had been up to me, I would have sent you with a larger budget – but trust is something that Kodai does not give out lightly. Your performance has greatly improved his opinion of you.” said Bann.
“That’s good. Who exactly is in charge around here, anyway? I thought you were the captain at first with the way you spoke to the others, but if Kodai decided the mission budget…” said Cian.
“Ah. Kodai, Reema, and I are all of equal rank. Kodai handles engineering and defense. I handle diplomacy and tactical planning. Reema is over our medical and science departments, except for the Weaveborn research. We have all had to adapt after losing our admiral and much of our command staff. The Heralds command structures have been a bit chaotic since the war with your people began.” said Bann.
“Oh. How many of you are left? The lore that the Dromon push is that you infest the Wastes.” said Cian.
Bann laughed. “Hardly. We have a few dozen heavy carriers like this one scattered throughout the Wastes and a number of smaller vessels, but communication is difficult with the nature of the Weave out here. I don’t know how many are left, but we miss more and more scheduled rendezvous. We once had a large fleet of these ships. They aren’t designed to be warships, but ships of exploration with hangars for survey and scouting vessels. The few warships we have aboard were gathered in haste as we fled, or salvaged. In our early years we had quite a backing among the Republic and the Coalition. Even a few private investors among the Dromon were among our supporters. We commissioned quite a fleet over the years, but it was always geared for exploration.” he said.
“How long have you been with the Heralds?” asked Cian.
“All my life. My grandfather was among the founders of the Heralds, fifty nine years ago. My father served until his death. I was raised aboard a vessel like this one, tinkering with artifacts and learning to chart the Wastes as soon as I could talk.” said Bann.
“Wow. Were a lot of your crew raised on these ships?” asked Cian.
“No. Few were. Most came and went between expeditions, keeping family on various worlds. It’s them that this exile hits the hardest. Especially those with family on Dromon colonies – tens of thousands were slaughtered wholesale by the humans in the first six months of the war. Even those on Republic and Coalition worlds have had to go into hiding. Most here haven’t seen their families in two years.” said Bann, frowning.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to steer the conversation to such a sensitive topic.” said Cian.
“It’s okay. It’s good that you know the history.” said Bann.
“Why doesn’t the Republic do something about it?” said Cian.
“They condemn such actions and hunt the humans who perform them, but they refuse to condemn an entire people. Many of the humans have proved peaceful, setting up shops and factories and commercial ventures on worlds throughout the Republic. They might act differently if they knew the extent of the Dromon’s control, but proving that to the right people would be difficult. I don’t even know if it would help us, as it would tip our hand and have the Dromon working on a counter to our methods.” said Bann.
“I see. Do you think they could stop us from freeing people?” said Cian.
“I don’t know. I barely understand the process myself. I don’t believe the nanite replacement would be effective without a disconnect, but I still don’t know how to trigger one outside of orchestrating a dead thread. They may have ways to disconnect you and others that we free if they could detect you, which would prevent your developing your powers further.” said Bann.
“I don’t even know the extent of these powers or how to really use them.” said Cian.
“Ah, but you know more than I. Your healing abilities are remarkable. Even without your active powers, the nanite-based healing that all humans possess is incredible. I haven’t seen your other abilities, but the effect of your gravity control is evident all over the crushed ships we salvaged. And the ability for you to switch bodies? It implies that your entire consciousness can survive in the nanite swarm outside of a living host, at least for a time. The potential of this technology truly lives up to your class’s name. If you can develop it and recruit more of your people with these gifts, you would be a mighty force.” said Bann.
Cian frowned. “The ability to switch bodies… disturbs me. Taking control of others is odd enough, but this body feels like me. I know it’s not even my original one, but…”
“I understand. It’s an unusual technology. But you can’t leave potential on the table. You must learn to harness it. One day, you may suffer fatal wounds, and the ability to survive outside your body may save you.” said Bann.
“But would it still be me afterward? Am I even the same person I was? What about the soul?” said Cian.
“Your soul is you. The spark that makes you, you. I didn’t know you before, so I can’t know for sure, but you seem … whole? I would expect someone who had retained memories without that spark of life to be less, if that makes sense. I’ve seen cloning experiments and tries at making copies of people. They never end up the same, even if you artificially inject memories and knowledge. The spark is different. Immature, less whole, less complete. Childhood nurtures the soul as much as the mind, and creating artificial adults has never ended well. The Weaveborn had thousands of years of experiments and studies in this area. If anyone could master soul transference, it would be them.” said Bann.
“You’re right. I won’t discount the ability. Maybe you can help me learn to harness the potential of my nanites? There may be other functions and abilities that I haven’t even discovered yet.” said Cian.
“Certainly, we can…” Bann started to say before he zoned out for a moment, focusing on something else. He looked troubled. “Shit. We have to get to the bridge. Come with me.” he said before tapping his communicator, “Affirmative. On my way.” He ran down the hall.
Cian moved to follow him, “What’s wrong?”
An answer came over the ship’s speakers, “All hands to battle stations! An unknown fleet has entered the system!”
Support "The Weaveborn Saga [SciFi, LitRPG]"
Hello! I'm Paul.
I have been writing bits of things for years for mods, tabletop games, to entertain my three awesome kids, and just for fun - but I haven't ever taken my stuff to a wider audience. This particular story has been rolling around in my head since right before Covid happened and I have been working on and off to actually put it on paper in between working overtime and working side gigs to pay the bills. The few people I have shown my stories to seem to think they're pretty good, so here I am. I'm taking the plunge and hoping for the best. Who knows, if this works out maybe I can quit one of my jobs and have more time to write?
Anyone can read my stories, but advanced chapters are available on my website for Patreon supporters at Weaveborn.com.
I post chapters twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays.