This is our Tales From on FTL: Faster Than Light played on Normal difficulty, following the story of the Kestral’s overly heroic captain, Ryan, and his brave crew, Mange and Nazia. Follow the series here.

Our hull is at 75%. We have four missiles, a safe amount of fuel, and a few drone parts which I doubt we’ll use here. Myself and Nazia are all that remains of the original crew of the Kestral. The death of Captain Ryan sent a shock through us, one that served to wake us to the reality of the mission we carry. Our newest crew member, a former Mantis slave by the name of Vincent seems all too happy to be here with us. I suppose anything is better than the horrors he escaped.

We have just entered an uncharted nebula in sector 5. We look out the windows of the ship and we see nothing but the dense purple smoke that fills this erie place. It seems as though haunted by lost ships and misguided souls, those who wandered unheeding into its clouds of mystery. But now we too move forward into the unknown.

At first we see only more of this gloomy emptiness. Its silence palpable. The second jump brings an interesting sight though. A black market weapons trader contacts us over the intercom. He tells me of dangers that await in the nebula, stories likely told only to convince me to purchase his unknown weapon. He wants 65 scrap for it. We only have 61. I think for a moment. We could attack him or move on. I can only imagine where he obtained this weapon. It also goes nearly without doubt that with the Rebel fleet right on our heels, this weapon, whatever it is, will be in their clutches, either at the price these traders asks, or at the price of their lives.

I decide to open fire. My hope is that a few shots will convince them to surrender whatever weapon they’re holding. “Nazia,” I say over the comm system. “Put everything we have at their shields. After the first volley, direct everything at the weapons. After that, keep the Heavy Laser on the weapons, but turn the Burst Laser at their shields again.”

The plan is going well. We reduce their shields one level. The next volley brings down two of their three guns, and they seem unsure of where to direct the remaining power. We watch two guns protrude and retract from the hull, but by the time they decide, the third volley works its charm. Their weapons go down completely. A voice fizzles over the comm system. “You are considerably more well-armed than I would have thought. We surrender,” it says. Unfortunately the wares they present are measly and the weapon that this is all about is not included in their offer. I feel bad, but we continue our assault. Before the battle is over, however, our readings show that all life has left this ship. The crew dead from our attack.

We take what we can. The weapon they spoke of is nowhere to be found. Was it a trap all along? I’m afraid we’ll never know. We leave the ship floating as yet another ghost in the darkness of this nebula.

After a jump with seemingly nothing around, the next reveals a Mantis Scout. As we navigate blindly, we nearly crash into each other. “Pah! This transgression will not be overlooked,” a voice growls over the intercom. “Nebula, very dangerous. Next time, humans all die.”

I’ve never been one for threats, and with consideration for the unwary souls who may fall victim to this ship and its heartless raiders, I decide to attack. “There won’t be a next time. Open fire!” I say over the comm systems. Vincent takes the controls beaming with a vengeful pride.

I take a look at what we’re up against. This ship is armed with two lasers similar to ours, a Mark II and a Mark III. Our shields won’t take much from that. Anything they target will go down fast. “Nazia, redirect energy to the Small Bomb and Burst Laser Mark III,” I say over the intercom. “Bring their shields down first. Target their weapons after that.”

The plan works beautifully, but our lack of missiles means it only lasts for a few rounds. We have taken only minimal damage, but their weapons are down completely and their shields are down to level 2. We hit their weapons with all we have and the Mantis ship explodes. We collect some much-needed supplies from the wreckage, including a couple of missiles and three units of fuel.

After making a jump to the next beacon, we find a Federation ship hiding nearby. I go to contact them, but before I can they fade into the nebula. A trap? A ghost? Curiosity gets the best of me and I decide to follow them. We fail to find the ship, but instead find what they were likely hiding from. A Rebel Fighter comes at us ready for a fight. It only has level 2 shields, so I assume its power is in its weapons. “Hit their weapons with everything we have, Nazia,” I say over the comm system. And she does, but to no avail. All our shots miss, but theirs do not.

A missile smashes into the engine room, shaking the ship with its blast. The engines are down completely. The room is on fire. I wouldn’t risk sending anyone into that inferno, however, so instead I use open the hull doors to suck out the flames. I direct the energy formerly used to power the engines and turn on our Defense drone, which with any luck will stop any more missiles from hitting us like this.

Although our drone is making quick work of its missiles, the Rebel Fighter is doing a number on our ship with its lasers. Nazia and I rush to fix our oxygen systems after a burst of lasers blasts into the room. Our shields are down completely. The room is on fire. The med-bay and sensors are out. The drone is down, its controls shot. But worse still, our engines are down with the hull doors still wide open, and with our door systems down as well we have no way to enter the room and repair the engines. In other words, we cannot escape this battle.

Our hull can only take three more shots and that’s the end of our mission. I redirect power to our Small Bomb, still hoping to take out their weapons and buy some time, but I can see that all three guns on the enemy ship are fully charged and ready to fire. Nazia and I try to put out the flames in the Shield Control room, and we look at each other, knowing our inevitable fate. “It was a pleasure serving with you, Magne,” she says. There is no fear in her voice. Her face is kind and solemn. I smile back at her.

About The Author

Joshua Philipp is the founder and editor of TechZwn.com. He's also an award-winning journalist at Epoch Times.

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