This is our Tales From on FTL: Faster Than Light, continuing the story of Captain Ryan and the Kestral, after the mission is continued with the the exploits of Captain Kadreal. Follow the series here.

The fall of the Kestrel came as grim news. Luckily, we weren’t far behind when the beacon drifted through the emptiness of space, pulsing slowly into the darkness. My crew and I discovered it, and an encrypted package meant to be delivered to the Federation fleet on the other side of the galaxy. It seems only fitting that an ultra-secret mission such as this should fall on an ultra-secret ship such as ours.

We are experimenting with stealth technology. The main power of our ship rests in its cloaking device and its engines, which allow us to better dodge incoming shots. Our sensors allow us to scan nearby beacons and give us a general idea of what’s waiting there. We’ll move silently through space and complete the mission that Captain Ryan, a former friend of mine, was unable to carry out.

I turn to my crew. “Tai Yi, we need you on weapons. Geryk, you’re on shields.” They both nod and without a word head to their respected stations. This ship wasn’t exactly designed for combat, so we’re going to need a shield generator and better weapons if we’re going to survive this mission. Meanwhile, I’m going to put as much power as I can into our engines and flight controls, and hopefully that will allow us to dodge oncoming attacks.

Our first jump leads us to an Auto-Scout drone patrolling near a sensor station. There could be useful intel in there, so we move in to attack. I direct power to our Dual Lasers, which make quick work of the ship before we can take any damage.

The station has valuable intel on this sector. We now know the location of all stores and places where enemy ships may be hiding. Before moving on, I decide to give our reactor a bit more juice—enough to charge our Mini Beam and Dual Lasers simultaneously without pulling power from the engine.

We find a Rebel Fighter approaching a small refueling outpost, its weapons charged but not firing. It’s a powerful looking ship, but I decide to intervene. Our sensors show us two human fighters ready to beam aboard. This gives us the initiative to prepare. “Tai Yi, Geryk, get ready for a fight,” I say over the intercom. “Rally near the weapons room. Lay into them for a bit, heal up, then let them have it again. I’ll need to stay with the flight controls.”

Their ship has a level 1 shield, and if our Mini Beam is going to be of any use their shields will need to go down. I aim the Dual Lasers at the shields. The Mini Beam I aim at their weapons.

The enemy fighter beams into our engine room, and soon Tai Yi and Geryk on on him. One punches the poor fool, while the other shoots him. He doesn’t last long. Meanwhile, lasers have set fire to their shields and the beam has set fire to their weapons. The two remaining rebels try to put out the fire. They won’t last long in there. They have no med-bay, so I turn the beam and the lasers to the room they’re in. We may be able to take out the crew without destroying the ship, which means we can possibly salvage a bit more from this battle.

They make a run for it. One heads for the flight controls, the other for the engine—presumably to hit their FTL and escape, but to no avail. The next shots blast their ship to pieces. We collect what we can from the wreckage.

A voice comes over our comm system. “The pompous bastards expected free service just because they defeated the Federation. Take this for the help.” The nice thing about helping a refueling station is they have a lot of fuel, and they give us four much-needed units of it.

Our next stop brings us to an advanced Rebel automated ship waiting near a small Rebel space-station. Our sensors tell us the station is actually a storage vessel for military goods. This is interesting. The drone is likely a dangerous opponent, but luckily our ship has a cloaking device.

We slip by unnoticed, and after rummaging through the station, find something very useful: a Halberd Beam. These things take a lot of energy and charge very slowly, and when it’s ready to fire you point it at whatever you want to explode, and it does.

With 76 scrap we head to a nearby store. They have nothing of particular use—not that we can afford at least. Shields are our top priority, but at 150 scrap, even if we sold every weapon we have, we still couldn’t get it. We have plenty of fuel, and with no drone control or missile pods, nothing else in the shop is of any interest. I buy 1 unit of fuel to make up for the stop and head on.

We pick up a distress signal. It seems someone, or something, has activated a distress beacon on a nearby moon. We detect a single life form down there. It could be risky, but I decide we should investigate. We land on the surface and find a colony that appears to have been attacked only recently. There’s a lone survivor among the wreckage. I consider asking him to join our crew, but this isn’t a fighter. This is a civilian who just suffered a loss and I agree to take him to home to his family on a nearby planet.

The family is overjoyed at seeing their son again. They repair our hull as a note of thank you, and we depart. Of course, our hull had taken only minor damage, and we could have really used another crew member, but a the value of a kind deed far outweighs any material interest.

We find another shop, but its wares prove as worthless as the last shop. The overly-expensive shield generator seems to mock me from the electronic list, and we head on.

Not far from the station, our comm systems fizz to life and a voice shouts, in what sounds like a Spanish accent, “Haha! I am the dread pirate Tuco, prepare to die!”

Well… if they insist. I power up the weapons. I’ll take out their shields first, then hit their weapons with the Mini Beam. After that, I’ll target whichever room the two crew members flee to. After a couple of shots, a voice again comes over the comm system, “You have made your point, we are beaten. Take these and leave us to our shame.” They try to send over a few missiles, a drone part, and a bit of scrap.

Given that we have no use for missiles or drone parts, and they offer barely any scrap, I opt to finish the job, which brings us some fuel and a bit more scrap.

We arrive next at a heavily populated sector, when we catch a transmission from a merchant mass-broadcasting a request for a mercenary ship to come help him. I’d hate to do the work of a mercenary, but we need supplies. I respond to the call. “Your ship seems reasonably equipped…” says the merchant. “A freighter carrying a shipment of my goods is a week late. The fools flew through a pirate-filled sector in their haste and I fear for the cargo’s safety. I’m looking for a less incompetent captain to investigate.”

It sounds like his former crew was killed, and he’s worried about his cargo… spoken like a true space merchant. But I decide to help anyway. If this really was the work of pirates, at the very least we can prevent something like this from happening again.

“At least you’re confident, for what little that’s worth,” says the merchant. “Here is their last known location.” He sends us an update on our map system in the next sector.

The Rebel fleet is gaining fast, but with time for one more jump, I decide to check out a nearby beacon where we detect a ship is waiting. As soon as we arrive, we get a warning that a ship is moving in on us with weapons hot. It’s a Slug Interceptor. Nothing to be concerned about.

They set a small fire in our ship and damage our med-bay. We take two shots to our hull. I open the doors and the fire goes out quickly. Their ship, meanwhile, is quickly destroyed by our weapons.

I decide to make the jump to a Rock-controlled sector. They typically don’t like other races entering their system, but I’m hoping we can coax one or two of them to join our cause. Rock people make useful crew members since fire doesn’t harm them. They can quickly stomp out even a whole room engulfed in flames, and they’re also tough fighters who can save a ship from any… unexpected visitors.

To be continued…

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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