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.

We arrive in a Zoltan-controlled system. They’re typically a friendly race, and I’m hoping that if things are looking bad, Arries, our Zoltan crew member, can smooth things out.

We pick up a distress signal soon after arrival. It’s coming from a nearby moon. We detect a single life form below, and go down to investigate. We find another colony left in ruins. Again, we find only one survivor. This one seems strong, however, and I ask him to join our crew—an offer he gladly accepts as long as he can “get off that rock.”

I assign Charlie to the flight control room to serve as my co-pilot. If any enemies beam in here, we’ll have a better chance of fending them off, and it’s always nice to have some company.

We pick up another distress signal. We move close, and a deep Rock voice comes over the comm system. “Hello. We used our last FTL fuel to jump to this station,” he says. A burned husk of debris and warped material floats nearby. “As you can see the war must have spread to this sector,” he says. “We’ve been stranded ever since.”

With 14 units of fuel and a store nearby, we could spare some to help a fellow traveler in need. I send over three units of fuel, and after giving a word of thanks, they send over 45 scrap as payment. The scrap more than pays for the fuel, and I accept the generous gift.

I stop by the store next. They have two crew members up for hire, one Zoltan and one human. I consider hiring the Zoltan, but then again, we already have six crew members, and if anything we could use a few combat specialists—maybe a Rock or Mantis. I buy a couple units of fuel, have our hull repaired, and head out.

We encounter another ship of slavers. They hail us and offer a slave for 50 scrap. They’re in an Energy Bomber, with decent shields, but I decide to open fire regardless. They have a boosted shield, so I aim the Dual Lasers at their shield controls and charge up a Small Bomb to teleport into their weapons room.

After we get past their shields, their shield control room catches fire and their weapons go down. They surrender and offer a slave as payment, noting as the last ship did that if we destroy them, all the slaves will die anyway. I accept their offer and they beam aboard a Zoltan named Butters. He must have done something pretty mean to earn that name.

We find a Zoltan research facility at the next beacon. They claim they’re doing a study on genetic distortion from stasis sleep and prolonged FTL travel. They ask to scan my crew and after I agree, I wonder for a moment whether our frequent FTL use has caused any permanent damage…

It’s a trap! As soon as we dock, pirates dash onto our ship and an Energy Fighter appears on our radar. As if trying to say they’re sorry, the Zoltans from the station yell in the distance, “We’re being held hostage!”

I send Geryk and Adnan, the team from the engine room, to take care of the raiders. They kill the human raider, but the Zoltan beams back to the enemy ship. Meanwhile, we’ve taken down their shields and I turn our beam and lasers towards their weapon room. It’s not long before their ship blasts into several pieces, its crew set to drift in the cold of space.

“Thank you for rescuing us!” the Zoltan from the station say, as they approach us. “They held us hostage to ambush unsuspecting passersby. Please, take this.” They bring an Anti-Personnel Drone aboard our ship, as well as some fuel, a missile, and some scrap.

“I’m just glad to know the whole ‘genetic distortion’ from FTL travel thing was a hoax,” I say to the Zoltan, laughing.

“Yes, a hoax, haha,” one of them answers back. They cast nervous glances at each other.

We move on, and catch a glimpse of a strange signal coming from a nearby space station. Suddenly our sensors shut off. Someone’s jamming them! An alarm goes off. Raiders! But with the sensors down, we can’t tell where they are. I open up the intercom. “Everyone pair up and patrol the ship. We have intruders onboard.”

I look to Charlie and he nods back. Suddenly, I hear what sounds like a woman’s scream in the distance. “It’s Butters! He must be in trouble!” says Charlie.

We run to the cloaking control room where Butters is stationed. We open the door and find the rest of the crew already well into the fight. Charlie runs in. With the room packed, I wait outside.

The fight proves too much for my crew, however. They retreat one room back. Arries and Butters, our two Zoltan crew members, flee to a safe corner of the ship, and we follow soon after. The door to the med-bay begins to glow red as the raiders try to break through. We tremble, realizing our own frailty.

Two raiders burst in and run past to the sensor room where the Zoltan are hiding, yet to our surprise, the Zoltan take them down quickly. The other two rush in and follow the same path, only to be taken down again by our Zoltan warriors.

We repair the ship and move on. I’m glad to find a shop nearby, and when we land I finally purchase a Drone Control system for 80 scrap. I use the remaining scrap to repair our hull.

Our next jump brings us to a very angry crew piloting a Rebel Rigger. “Federation scum!” they yell over the comm system. “We’ve waited a long time for this.”

This looks like a powerful ship. They have a drone control system which quickly dispatches a Combat Drone armed with a beam that will slowly zap us to smithereens if we don’t do something about it. Their other gun is a powerful looking beam. These two weapons quickly set fire to our med-bay and cloaking control room. I aim our lasers and Small Bomb at their drone control room, and it goes down in one satisfying blast.

Yet their crew manage to get all these systems back online before we can do much damage. Our crew, on the other hand, run frantically around our ship trying to put out the many fires that have engulfed our engines and other rooms. Our hull is taking a beating. I don’t often do this, but we won’t survive this fight unless we retreat, and with our engines on fire and barely online, I hit the FTL and transport us to a nearby beacon.

We find ourselves at a quiet part of Zoltan space and find an ancient Zoltan wise man who claims he can harness the power of a spacial rift. This ability also seems to have driven him mad with power. “Choose your doom,” he demands. We can choose between death by Mantis, death by Slug, or death by Rockman.

“I choose death by Slug.” I nudge Charlie and we have a good laugh.

Then we detect a wormhole opening up, and a Slug Light-Cruiser begins attacking us from the other direction. My laughter turns into me choking on my own saliva.

“Do not be fooled, Federation, by a soft underbelly,” says the mad Zoltan.

We take a brief beating, with our engines still on fire and our hull nearly destroyed. Yet our engines sputter back to life and as soon as our FTL Drive is fully charged, I jump the ship to a nearby shop. We have no scrap, but I sell off an Anti-Personnel Drone to get the hull repaired some.

It’s only now that I realize we can’t make it to the exit beacon into the next sector without running into the Rebel fleet. Wonderful…

I turn on the Hull Repair drone and as it fixes up our ship a bit more I turn on the Dual Lasers and aim them at the Rebel Elite Fighter. It does nothing, other than power down their shields briefly.

Luckily, it seems they can’t land a shot. They only detonate one bomb in our med-bay before our FTL systems are charged enough to jump. We journey again to a Rock-controlled sector.

To be continued…

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