FTL: One Pilot’s Life

Log 1: Today I crossed the airlock into The Kestrel with a holotape full of information. I carry the Federation’s last hope against the partisan Rebellion. I don’t know why I’m starting this logbook–it isn’t to brag. It isn’t to talk about how I am going to save us all, though I hope to. It is to document my journey. It is to document my crewmates. It is to solidify this mission so it is not lost in time.

Supplies are dwindling. Capable crewmembers are scarce. Kara, a noted shield specialist, volunteered for the mission. Remo, literally the least-qualified member of his training cohort, also volunteered. I have placed him in the weapons room. They both understand that this is, at best, a one-way trip.

We set out together. The stars bled into lines; waves and particles.

Log 2: We came out in range of large cluster of rocks–probably from the collision of one or more planetoids. There was a ship wedged in the cluster. They radio’d, identifying themselves as unallied with the Rebels or the Federation. They asked us to free them. I gave the order to Remo and braced myself for the ship to be destroyed. Somehow he did it. I read a laugh and several whoops throughout the ship when the pirate’s ship flew free of the rocks. The mission will continue. I have faith in this crew.

Log 3: I have hired on Yeoz, an Engi mercenary from a orbiting supply depot. I needed another crewmember, of course,  and the Engi are noted for their technical abilities. But that wasn’t the only reason I spent my credits to hire Yeoz. I could see that he was smart and stuck. The Rebels are coming. I’ve heard of the prison planets, the camps, the burnings. It is worth any price to save someone from that.

Log 4: Our first Rebel scout ship. I could hear them screaming over the radio after we breached their hull with the repeating laser. We traveled on.

Log 5: We have explored asteroid fields and fought drones too close to suns. Yeoz almost had to blow the engine to get us out of the gravitational field. We made it though. The mission is so important. There is an immense weight on us. We all feel it. It gives us purpose.

Log 6: The days slide together. Drones throw themselves at us. We glide from sector to sector, always barely a few nodes in front of the Rebel front. I wonder what happened to that shop? Was it torn apart for scrap?

We spent a long time in a nebula. Nothing outside the ship except possibility and dark purple cloud. Radiation. Asteroids. Pirates hiding in the deep. It wasn’t all bad–we appeared at a node just as another ship was breaking apart,  a hit and run by some unknown assailant. We pulled in close, hoping that the drive wouldn’t go before we could pull away. It didn’t, thankfully. We got a read on the sensors. We pulled the bay close and sucked the lifeform in–a slug named Kusy. It has been a great addition to our crew–his psychic ability to see the insides of other ships has proved invaluable in the nebula. I offered to leave it at the next station, but it didn’t want that. I got a warm feeling when I told it that we were doing something important. This mission makes sense; it is bigger than us. It fills me with hope.

Log 7: Accosted by a black market ship. Didn’t want to anger them, so I blindly bought a weapon that shoots incendiary bombs. It might prove useful–our repeating laser isn’t performing as well as it used to.

Log 8: Gunned down a Rock ship as it tried to navigate through a nebula. I don’t think it even picked us up on its sensors before we sawed through its shields.

Log 9: Remo is dead. We were searching a starship’s ruin, looking for salvage or living crewmembers in stasis pods. An asteroid cut between the ship and Remo. Kara boosted back, but Remo…he fumbled with his controls for too long. His line snapped. There was no way to retrieve him. I had to make a show of struggling to turn the radio off as he screamed. In truth, I understood the decision I had to make. It was hard, but there was nothing else. There was one way. He was closed off to us. There’s a mission to be done. The choice was simple.

Log 10: Things have turned around. We have been flooded with opportunities to help–it has erased the hole where Remo was, at least superficially. We encountered a planet ravaged by a plague, but Yeoz was able to help stall the disease’s advance. We found a marooned ship and guided them to the closest depot. Good things. Valuable things. The Federation would be proud if the Federation wasn’t disintegrating at the speed of light.

On top of everything else, we have hired on Matt, a Rock troop. He has experience with weapons systems. The crew will forget about Remo soon enough.

Log 11: We found another ship lodged in a cluster of space rock. I carefully explained to Matt how we had saved the ship at the beginning of our journey. He nodded. He understood. The rock disintegrated under the force of our laser, but large chunks broke off and slammed through our shield, scraping across the hull. There was no radio signal in the dust cloud. We waited for the debris to clear. There wasn’t a ship anymore. This doesn’t bode well for the rest of our journey.

Log 12Another victory, this time over a slaver ship. They signaled us over radio and attempted to sell one of their possessions to us. I won’t have any of that, despite what Kara and Yeoz have to say about safety. The Federation does not allow slavery. I powered up all of our weapons–the laser blasted through their shield, and an incendiary bomb to their engine room kept them immobile. As soon as the battle began they surrendered, transferring the slave they had on board to us. Her name is Emma, a human.

We idled and waited for the slavers to use their drive. It didn’t happen. They never radio’d for help. A fire raged in their engine room, spreading over their entire ship. It crumbled as we watched out of the forward viewport. I kept my smile inside.

Log 13: Asteroid field. Hull breaches. Last log. We tried. We tried. Jettisoning this recording and the information. Pick it up. Take it whe–

The mission



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