Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Warning

This is my entry to the Inspired By Images Of Eve Competition 2. More details and links to all entrants can be found at Starfleet Comms

A ships sensors receive a positive sea of data every couple of seconds. The quantity of information is mind boggling, and if delivered directly into a normal human's brain, they would surely succumb to a massive brain aneurism or something else equally unpleasant and apocalyptic for the individual involved.

Brain ImplantsAs a matter of fact, this information IS delivered directly into a brain. Not a normal human's brain though. This information is delivered into the brain of an immortal; one of the pod pilots. Not just any pod pilot either. This particular pod pilot and I happen to be one and the same.

My augmented brain can not only successfully receive this data, it can organise it, sort it, sift it. I can plunge into the flow of data, pierce the skein, and look beyond the obvious. This data set comprises trillions of pieces of data, but I am only interested in one in particular. And there it is: that one, shining, point of data that I have been trawling this solar system for. This point in space, captured by my sensors, is the location of another ship. The pilot of which is an enemy, and one I would dearly like to introduce to my ships weapon systems. With a pulse of my thoughts I set my ship calculating angles, relative speeds, distances and a hundred other factors needed to make the successful warp jump that will take me to my target.

As the warp engines engage I mentally flick through the ships systems, ensuring their readiness for the coming battle. The glowing nexus of energy that surrounded the ship like a second skin, the shield, was fully powered. I went over every nanometre of the thick armour plating that made up the second layer of defence. Other than micro fractures that the stresses and strains of interstellar travel inevitably incur, the overlapping plates were free of any imperfections that my enemy could exploit. The hull, the skeleton of the ship if you like, was likewise free of imperfections.

The various enhancements I had fitted to the ship were active and fully functioning. Armour repairers were primed and ready to combat any damage with a flood of nanites. Hardeners subtly altered the molecular composition of the armour to increase their resistance to different damage types, reducing the electrical and thermal conductivity, increasing flexibility to better absorb and dissipate kinetic energy, and realigning plates to deflect explosions. The electronic warfare modules were all reading nominal, and were primed to disrupt and interfere with the targets systems. Turrets were loaded and zeroed, the magnetic fields that would propel the slugs to their target were reading stable.

The ship was ready, a weapon forged with war in mind; it was also a sublime confluence of power and wild beauty.

As the warp engines powered down, ready to deliver me to my target, I felt the familiar rush of adrenaline and other hormones, that set my heart racing and would make my reactions lightning fast. If the fight started to go badly it wouldn't only be natural chemicals flowing in my blood stream.

The ship decelerated and my target came in view for the first time. A sleek, shining spear of a ship, designed to invoke fear in the minds of enemies. To me, the shape of the ship gave me information; it's design, system specs, and capabilities. My targeting systems were already locked on to the ship, the computer calculating range, velocity, angular velocity, and many other values that allowed it to track the vessel with my ships turrets, and ensure good clean hits. I had come out of warp at close range and my electronic warfare was engaged immediately. The warp jammer did its job, and scrambled the warp engines to prevent any escape. Other systems affected the ships propulsion, and interfered with the calculations my enemies own ship was processing so that its turrets couldn't accurately track me.

With my prey snared, my weapons tore into it. The shield was weak, and it was overloaded and shorted out. The ships real defences lay in the armour, as did mine. The antimatter slugs hammered into the armour and slowly began to chip away at it.

My enemy had not been idle this entire time, he had responded in kind.

My own shield had collapsed in a very short space of time and my armour was being eaten away. With a mental pulse I activating my repair systems. Holding tanks containing nanites in suspension released the seals and allowed this liquid to flow across the surface of my ship. It was directed to any damaged areas and flowed into cracks and pits, repairing the damage I had sustained. The impacts wracked my ship, sending concussion waves through the suspension fluid in my pod. The armour repairs were taking a heavy toll on my ships power core, and the levels of energy stored in the ships capacitors were dwindling fast. My mind zipped to the capacitor injectors installed in my ship, and I got an extra burst of energy.

This was a tougher battle than I had expected and my mind was rushing from system to system, managing power flow, checking calculations, predicting enemy movements and tactics. My armour repairer wasn't coping with the incoming damage, it received some extra juice to force the nanites to repair more rapidly. I also shunted more power to my weapon systems to finish this fight quickly. Modules can only put up with the extra power I was forcing into them for a limited amount of time. The additional heat that is produced is too much for the ship to deal with and it can result in damage or even complete destruction of the module involved. It requires careful management to ensure this doesn't happen.

It was a tense battle, our ships evenly matched, but this stalemate couldn't last forever. One of us had to crack.

Ship ExplodesI started to gain the upper hand and the read out on the enemy ship was showing catastrophic damage to its armour, my weapons had blown great rents, and were in the process atomising what little remained. The slugs started burying themselves in the internal structure of my enemies ships before detonating. The shattered pieces of bulkhead, flash frozen corpses of the crew, and the internal atmospheric gases spurted like blood out of the wounds in the side of the ship. It began to list to the side, veering seemingly out of control. Another volley from my guns ripped into the ship eliciting another spray of debris out into space. Some of the holes I had blown in the ship were large enough for me to see right into the interior of the ship. I could see internal fires flickering in the depths, like jewels glimmering in a dark cave. Smoke, fumes, and crystallized liquids form a sickly miasma around the ship, it is in its death throes. Another volley from my weapons assault the ship, the kinetic energy imparted by the impact sending the ship spinning away from me. One of the solid slugs obviously hit something vital as internal explosions blossomed all over the ship, blowing out clouds of debris.

It's then that, near the front of the ship, several areas of the hull are punched away by rapidly expanding gases, and the pod of my enemy is jettisoned out of the stricken ship to safety. Before my targeting computer can get a lock on it, the pod is shunted into emergency warp and escapes. The now pilotless ship finally succumbed, and blossomed in a beautiful explosion as the power core went critical.

The shattered corpse of the ship, barely recognisable as such for very little remains, floated in space as a warning to others about venturing into my territory.