Command Bridge of the Pining Blizzard, De Valtos Privateer Military Warship overlooking De Valtos Prime
“Captain,” said the Templar command officer hotly, “I believe it prudent that we initiate combat-ready protocol immediately.”
“I second that prudence, captain,” replied First Mate Orwell almost immediately.
“What the hell?” said Captain Darcy Clemington. “Are you all fools?! Of course it’s prudent! All hands to battle stations, immediately! Open all gun ports, including the aft decks! I want them manned by people, not by AI.
“Get all crews to the engineering bay and have them ready to make immediate repairs. Evacuate the cargo bays and prepare to jettison every spare bit of matter we’ve got. Evacuate all outward decks from all nonessential personnel! Pray to whatever God you believe in, and keep your shit together!”
Captain Clemington stared blankly into the forward space monitoring cameras, the obedient sounds of those around him fading to a high-pitched scream. All words left him. All thoughts escaped from the conscious portions of his mind. From the periphery, that creeping fear began to assimilate into his nervous system once again—that fear that he might see her again.
Or, in actuality, that fear that he might not.
Yet, that fear had entirely vanished more than fifty years ago, in 76.9AE.
Yes, goddammit. He saw it with his own eyes; he saw it as if it were happening all over again. The clock was 7:42pm Earth Time. The temperature of the bridge was 22.9 degrees Celsius. Humidity level 60 percent. The ship’s external Geiger counter was ringing so loud he thought his brain might implode.
There were three torpedoes left, two shrapnel and one nuclear. Fifty percent of the ship’s hull was compromised. Seventy percent of the operating crew were deceased or otherwise incapacitated. Two engines of an original thirty nine roared their feeble attempt to thrust the vessel forward. Two escape pods remained.
Darkness covered the bridge; red emergency lights flickered on and off. Bridge command officers yelled orders throughout the ship; Captain Clemington paid no heed to a thousand different alerts exploding across his internal command interface (ICI) from the ship’s mainframe.
The ship was completely fucked. Yes, he already knew that. No shit.
But the one thing left to do, he didn’t need the ship all in one piece to do it.
A lance of shrapnel had mortally pierced the body of the armament officer on duty at the bridge, so Clemington tossed him out of the way and made a wireless link to the weapons systems which, by some miracle of God, were still registering as functional.
He armed the nuclear warhead and the two shrapnel-implosion devices, bypassed all safety procedures and timed them to detonate alongside the ship’s forecast path, at the point of convergence. He forced the two remaining engines to maximum power as he kept pressing the vessel forward to ramming speed.
This close to the vicinity of that enemy, even though they may have had the most powerful military vessel in this whole galaxy, there would be no escape, not even from his insignificantly-sized warship.
There was never escape from Captain Clemington, Holy Titan of the De Valtos Syndicate, and for a very particular reason.
The joke wasn’t on him. No, for he had a bitter and terrifying habit. Covertly, he had ordained the clearing of the contents of the standard tactical nuclear warhead torpedo; then, he had ordained the replacement of them with a moon-slayer class nuclear avalanche generator–the kind used for bursting apart one-hundred-kilometer diameter asteroids into micro particles.
Within thirty seconds, an explosion which should have immediately blinded, sun-burnt, and flayed alive the eyes, skin and bodies of any living creature within ten thousand kilometers exploded, raking a nearby planet with the shock wave and demolishing an entire city it its wake.
When he woke up in the De Valtos Prime Research Laboratory nearly a year later, he found that he had a completely new nickname: the “Undead Prince.” He had survived not only a blast which leveled a city fifty-five thousand kilometers away, but a cybernetic reconstructive surgery which had never before succeeded on over seventeen thousand research subjects.
Fifty years ago, he had survived that incident and, after having made every attempt, he had finally succeeded in forgetting about that day.
Not even the largest star vessel of the Syndicates could survive the close-proximity explosion of an asteroid buster. Not even by a miracle of miracles.
So, why was it that, as he looked on at this present day, he once again stared into the face of that thing?
She floated so marvelously, in all of her glorious splendor, hovering just above the geostationary orbital lines of De Valtos Prime. There she was, a living ship, an entity known as “Perun,” which had sailed through the galaxy and caused no end of troubles for the Syndicates.
The first and last, the only Z-Class vessel ever to be created–or perhaps birthed–and no one knew if there was a single crew member or even a pilot on board the warship, or were she had come from or where she was going or what her insides looked like or what she was capable of.
He wanted her dead. Dear God, he wanted her dead, and he wanted the ashes of her disintegrated hull cast to the four corners of the galaxy. He wanted to make her into star food. He was the only one who could do it.
“Captain,” said the communications officer, “there are thirteen S-Class vessels moving to intercept. De Valtos warships.”
“To intercept who?” he replied.
“Half are moving to us, the other half to the Z-Class.”
“Order them to stand down. We have the situation fully under our control. If they won’t listen to the command of a Principle Titan Officer, then threaten them thoroughly. Armament Officer, how many torpedoes do we have left?”
Armament Officer Gerald Winstanley sat up from his external interface. “Fifteen, sir.”
The captain smiled to himself. He chuckled. He burst into cackling. He hushed the entire bridge to frightening reticence with shrieking laughter, as if all his life had been one giant irony, as if his only reason for existence—to defeat that Z-Class—although having for a long time been dead, had now rekindled his blazing love of life.
It wasn’t that surgery fifty years ago; it was her resurrection which was his true rebirth!
His grin did not give away an iota of his inward thoughts, but it gave away enough madness to assist those around him in decoding it: “You survived an asteroid buster; that much is evident. But, so did I. Let’s see which one of us can survive fifteen nuclear avalanche generators!”
“Prepare to fire ‘torpedoes!’”
(This work is a light fanfic based off of the Star Trader RPG universe, a Trese Brothers production available on all mobile platforms.)