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1089327 No. 1089327 ID: 681cb5


These are the voyages of the starship The Shed Scale. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly come where no one has come before!

It’s a small thrust for you… but a huge plunge for Sakkilian kind!

Wiki and previous threads: https://questden.org/wiki/Starlight_Afterglow
41 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
No. 1090784 ID: eb0a9c

"Gold Claw is dead, and thus, so is your word."
No. 1090788 ID: 19ea25

You can never trust a pilot.. Even if you've already trusted Eki... and gave her a suit of power armor... And basically want to give her the good old xenos go.

Anyways. This might be a good lead, and if not we can always deal with more potential issues down the line. I'd say see where this might go.
No. 1090790 ID: 273c18

Aren't these guys con artists? You can potentially come to an arrangement but they're not all getting let go BEFORE you confirm the intel is correct.
No. 1090815 ID: 2a82d3

Trust your instincts on this one. Think about what he gets out of this, as this is prime blackmail material. Even if the rest of the deal is on the up and up, they can still either leverage it against you to do what they want or make harder for you to cozy up to more legitimate authorities.

Deal's not even that great. The location, you can get by interrogating the crew. The password would be a nice bonus, but you're not above mounting rescue operations without it. He's going to have to try harder than that to save his shell.

For one, swearing an oath to, for all you know, an infamously greedy arsehole doesn't mean much. If that oath to Keki's old Lord, a "loser" to many but respectable to a known few, that could be interesting to watch. His reaction could tell you all you need to know.

Here's a counter-offer: Provide leniency to his crew, presumably merely following orders, but be effectively disbanded. The captain is the one you can't afford to spare. You don't get promoted to running a group of greedy arseholes without being really into the greedy part. (Hence sideeye into what he gets out of it.) His (being made) example should be enough to spare the rest. I'm sure any of his crew within earshot would appreciate the gesture. The rest can find either honest work, or maybe find a new banner to rally behind.
No. 1090830 ID: 5ebd37

We already got a pirate on crew, who gave us the location and codes to the black market. And he might tell his friends not to attack us, but that doesn't mean they'll listen. He's got nothing, and we can't reform all the pirates we meet.
No. 1090861 ID: 47ab62

It would make more sense to let him leave after going to the market and confirming his info is good. Wouldn't do to get a false password on false lead and let him laugh about conning you as he flies far far away.

That said, I get the feeling that letting them go would just see them go back to taking slaves and living in a way that hurts everyone. There needs to be a better solution.

Hmm. This might have promise.

How about this: If that captain's info is good, his crewmates will be permitted to either join your ship's crew, or be let off at the next planetary colony you stop at. The captain will remain in the brig until such a time that you determine what would be best to do with him, be it to treat him the same as his crewmates or to turn him over to those that would execute him for his crimes.
No. 1091834 ID: 681cb5
File 171675139617.png - (62.12KB , 700x550 , 13.png )

>You can never trust a pirate… Even if you've already trusted Eki... and gave her a suit of power armor... And basically want to give her the good old xenos go.
So far Eki have behaved herself… and she’s clearly just a young lass who got lost on the way. She just needed somewhere to fit in, a place for her cog to spin in the machine.
>We already got a pirate on crew, who gave us the location and codes to the black market.
Indeed, Eki told us both about the location and the code, though you’ve started to suspect that the code at least might be faulty. This black market is supposed to be secure, so why would a green pilot who’s barely seen any action know how to access it? But back to the matter at hand, Captain Mandible here doesn’t need to know that you already know the location. He’s more useful being ignorant of that fact.
>Think about what he gets out of this, as this is prime blackmail material.
…blackmail? To who? For what? They are pirates, no one is going to believe their word… not to mention, you’re not doing anything illegal.

>"Gold Claw is dead, and thus, so is your word."
Gold Mandible: “What?” the way he looks at you make it clear that he believes you’re extremely dumb, “Pirate Lord Gold Claw is fine. What are you going on about?”
Zento: “I’ve heard the Pirate Lord was lost to the IOD, Captain.”
Gold Mandible: “…you’re talking about Krem, barnacle brain.” he roll his good eye as he goes on, “Besides, the IOD are cunning enough to not make an asset like a Pirate Lord walk the airlock. They will either use him in parlay or…” the Kelshin visible shudders, “Give him a fate far worse than death.”
Zento: “Krem isn’t Gold Claw?” you raise an eyebrow, “There is more than one lord?”
Gold Mandible: “Of course, you stupid land-”stopping himself before further insults leaves his mouth, he sighs and activates something on his cybernetic eye, “Just, watch this.”

The cybernetic eye lights up and starts projecting an image of the stars up in the air above the two of you. If you’re not mistaken, it’s the star cluster that was marked as the Kelshin Free Ports on the galactic map you have. But before you can confirm it, five symbols appear. A golden claw, a red drop of liquid, a purple shield, two blue bubbles and finally some green kelp.

Gold Mandible: “Behold, the five lords of the Kelshin Free Ports!” there is a glee in his voice as he continues to bellow, “Each in control of their own pirate fleet, ready to sail the seven star clusters!” Pointing towards the Golden Clawed symbol, it lights up as he explains, “We have the Flashy Freebooters, the golden fleet of traders and merchants!” followed by the red symbol, “Bloody Buccaneers, who are known to raid far away from the Free port shores!” and the purple one, “The Proud Privateers, who keep order and law in the ports.” Gold Mandible then points towards the blue one, with the bubbles and says, “The Mad Marauders, whose are experts at quickly collecting slaves on the space routes.” and then the last symbol lights up, the one with the green kelp, “And finally, the Cunning Corsairs, who are adapt at finding and collecting anything illegal or exotic. They are the one that runs the black market, by the way.”
Zento: “I see… five lords you say?” not surprising that their way of government would be splintered, “Then, what if I ask you to swear on the name of Pirate Lord Krem? The one that’s been captured?”
Gold Mandible: “I… would rather not…” he sighs loudly, “But fine, if that is what it takes. I swear on the pirate code and on Pirate Lord G- …Pirate Lord Krem, that we will honor our agreement.”
Zento: “…still, wouldn’t it be easier to just get the location and code by interrogating your crew?”
Gold Mandible: “Oh please. Do you think my crew actually knows the real code? They probably think the whole Huffi-Muffi-Guffi is the true code.” he waves his golden claw in front of you, “Not to mention, Captain, you’re clearly too honorable for something as disgusting as torture, no?”
Zento: “Perhaps… but my security officer isn’t.” you look over towards Dante, making sure that the Captain follows your gaze, just as your son make an arc of lighting shoot out from a clearly overcharged stun rod, “So…?”
Gold Mandible: “…I do not buy your bluff, Captain.” his eyes pierces your soul… and he’s right, you will not torture anyone, even a slaver pirate, “Not one bit.”
Zento: “Then how about this. A counter offer.” taking a step back, you make sure to talk loud enough for the whole brig to hear, “I provide lenience to your crew. Any one of your gang will either be allowed to become part of my workforce, or they will be let off at the earliest planetary colony we find.” before turning your attention back towards the pirate captain, “Meanwhile, you will stay here until we can confirm that the code you give us is the correct one.”
Gold Mandible: “KEKEKE!” with the exact same laugh as Eki, Gold Mandible smirks at you, “Do you honestly believe my crew would just abandon me like-”
No. 1091835 ID: 681cb5
File 171675140542.png - (103.94KB , 700x550 , 14.png )

Pink Kelshin: “I wouldn’t mind changing ships.” a pink Kelshin pipes up, “I’m a mechanic, if you need one.”
Brown Kelshin: “And there is none who can face me when it comes to the sabre and boiler!” the brown, clearly battle hardened prisoner behind the captain adds, “I am the warrior you need, Cap’n,”
Silky: “Oh, are sharing our cog functions?” Silkpalm joins the conversation all the sudden, “I’m a masseur, and a well-greased one at that.”
Purple Kelshin: “Wait, we’re like… getting paid?” a very indifferent voice is heard, coming from a purple Kelshin, “Like, I’m a communication tech or whatever…”
Gold Mandible: “Hey, stop it! You’re not selling yourself into slavery for a few creds like some cheap prostitute!”
Zento: “We do not use slaves, Pirate.”

Pink Kelshin: “Well, if you want a prostitute…” the pink one winks at you, “I can suck your dick, big lizard man.”
Brown Kelshin: “…I can plow your bum?”
Silky: “Feel free to plow my bum if that’s what you want, Big Cog~”
Purple Kelshin: “…like… I wouldn’t mind getting double penetrated by you and that other big, black lizard guy or whatever.” the purple crab looks at you with an bored expression, “It’s not like I have anything better to do…”

Giving them all a glare that would kill lesser Sakkilians, Captain Gold Mandibles is clearly furious at his crew.

Gold Mandible: “You’re part of my pirate crew, and that’s final!” he spits out, “Or you won’t get a share of the booty!”
Pink Kelshin: “Our pay sucks! I rather work for the big lizard man. They at least have a nice, big ship.”
Brown Kelshin: “Hey, the code to the black market is Huffi-Muffi-Guffi! Now hire me, you scallywag!”
Purple Kelshin: “You guys are like… I don’t know… kind of hot or whatever?”

Zento: “I see that your crew is very… ah… loyal, Captain.”
Gold Mandible: “Oh shut your mandibles.” after muttering a few curses under his breath, he continues, “My offer still stands. It’s the only thing I can really give you.” The captain sighs, “Let me go and you’ll have both the location and the code for the black market. The real code.” before giving and angry glare at the other Kelshin around, “As for my crew… I don’t care what happens to these backstabbing, scurvy crabs!”
No. 1091837 ID: 273c18

We'll have to give Eki first refusal on the question of any of these shitheads joining the crew. She knows them best, so she'll know how trustworthy any of them are, and we don't want to make her miserable by hiring pirates that she hates.

We should also generally discuss the deal with her. Would she want us to take the pirate captain's deal?
No. 1091840 ID: 19ea25

That was quite fast.. I guess sometimes a legal life is just all one needs, given that their race just got screwed in general going by what Eki has said.

Though get Eki in here. She'll prolly be the best at gauging them.
No. 1091850 ID: 2a82d3

>…blackmail? To who? For what? They are pirates, no one is going to believe their word… not to mention, you’re not doing anything illegal.
"Blackmail" may be too strong a word for it, but folks are not going to trust you with bounty jobs if you get a reputation for being "soft on crime". Then again, failing to deliver on the mission is probably why Gold Mandible's crew (whose mission was "get rich") turned on him.

Speaking of, it sure looks, to everybody, like he's changing allegiances. Why else would he directly swear an oath to another Lord? Especially one who can't enforce it. (Indirect means would refer to the Pirate Lords as a whole, the alliance between the two, or a shared event between the two.) The IOD are probably are the lookout for any remaining loyalists looking to spring their boss out, and they don't seem like the kind to take chances. It sure would be bad they hear about him, but rumors do like to spread. Taking that kind of risk is worth a compliment.

Let's make his release contingent on making that official. You don't want to let a slaver go free, and now you're not going to either way.
No. 1091862 ID: 5ebd37

More and more diverse crew members is good, but its contingent on two factors. Firstly, do we have the manpower to keep them under surveillance until we can trust them? Secondly, will having more Kelshin cause conflict with our current or possible future Raolme crew?
At this point it's probably worth it, but we should decide now if this will be our practice with prisoners going forward.
No. 1093301 ID: 681cb5
File 171918018308.png - (89.42KB , 700x550 , 15.png )

>"Blackmail" may be too strong a word for it, but folks are not going to trust you with bounty jobs if you get a reputation for being "soft on crime".
Getting a reputation for being merciful and just is not something that you would scoff at.
>We should decide now if this will be our practice with prisoners going forward.
While we should try and be consistent, each prisoner must be judged individually. Situations change, after all.

>We'll have to give Eki first refusal on the question of any of these shitheads joining the crew. She knows them best, so she'll know how trustworthy any of them are.
You decide to call Eki on the comms…

Eki: “This is Ikekeki speaking.” the Kelshin voice says through your comm, “Oh, ‘Cap! Of course I have time for you! KEKEKE!”
Tozlan: “Who is it?” you hear someone say in the background, “Is it Zento?”
Eki: “It’s the captain, yes.” Eki returns her attention to the you, “Huh? That was just Tozlan. We’re making some sugar kelp candy. What was that? The pirates? What about them?” You explain the situation to her, “Weren’t they a bunch of Freebooters? They can’t be trusted. At all. Not like a Bloody Buccaneer like myself. KEKEKE! Just throw them out the airlock.”

You try and ask what she would say if she ignored her obvious bias.

Eki: “Well, I mean…” the sound of her scratching her chin with her claw can be heard, “I guess the lower ranked ones are like me, you know?”
Tozlan: “Just toss those scum suckers out of the airlock already, geez.”
Eki: “They’ll probably gladly join our crew if you show off the pool room... and the pay… oh, and the food. Having a constant supply of fresh food is amazing, sir.”
Tozlan: “I still say to toss them.”
Eki: “As for the Captain. Yeah, no, don’t trust him. Just have him tossed out the airlock.” She jumps slightly as she hears your next suggestion, ”Eh? Bringing them to the colony? That’s a bad idea, sir! At best he’ll get a slow, agonizing death by being boiled alive… or he’ll be given over to the IOD and… *shudder*”
Tozlan: “Hey, that sounds like a great idea!”
Eki: “Shut it, eel face.”
Tozlan: “Make me, mandible mouth.”
No. 1093302 ID: 681cb5
File 171918019414.png - (87.64KB , 700x550 , 16.png )

Suddenly, the alarm flares up, bathing the whole ship in a blinking red light as it blares loudly.

Eki: “Huh? Why is everything red all the sudden?” the shrimp looks around the now crimson room, “Is someone stealing our booty?”
Tozlan: “It’s the alarm, you nitwit!” Tozlan hisses, “Gah! I hate loud alarms!”
Eki: “Oh! Finally something exciting! KEKEKE!” dropping what she was doing, Eki quickly scampers towards her closet, “Let’s go, you slime eating planetlubber!”
Tozlan: “Sod off, you scum sucker.”
No. 1093303 ID: 681cb5
File 171918020549.png - (138.06KB , 700x550 , 17.png )

Zento: “Attention Crew, this is Captain Zento!” you bellow out through the ship wide comm system, “Everyone, to your combat stations now! This is not a drill!”

As you run at a full speed towards the bridge, with several of your soldiers behind you, you pass by Commander Doxy holding up her data pad.

Zento: “What is the situation, Commander?”
Doxy: “Something is pulling us out from Hyper Space, sir!” she gasps, “We’re flying right into an ambush!”
Zento: “Do we have any information about the culprit or their motive?”
Doxy: “Um… well, we did get this message just now…” the pink Sakkilian almost trips as she tries to show you what’s on her data pad, “Look.”
No. 1093304 ID: 681cb5
File 171918021650.png - (129.91KB , 700x550 , 18.png )

The screen flickers for a bit before an image of some kind of tree sculpture comes into view. It isn’t until it starts to speak that you realize it’s actually a living alien on the other end.

“Attention unidentified ship, heed this message!” it demands with pride and confidence, “This drone fleet speaks with the voice and authority of the heralds of the gods, the IOD Collective.” Moving its arm slightly, it lifts a polished alien skull into view, and it start to clean it as the tree continues, “You are currently in possession of IOD property. That ship, as well as any others from outside the galaxy, may not be approached for any reason. Nor will any kind of interaction with them be tolerated.” You watch as the creature taps on something out of view, its gaze moving away from the screen for a moment, “In addition, your ship does not respond to standard Collective identification transmissions… and is therefore deemed to be… independent. This is not permissible, only subservience shall be tolerated.” moving its attention back toward the screen, it smiles, “You are commanded to relinquish the ship as soon as you leave hyperspace, and flee by whatever means you have. Cooperation will be rewarded with… ah… one hour head start, before the hunt begin.” before it is replaced by look of disappointment, “Disobedience will be punished.”

And with that the screen flickers off once again.

Zento: “...would it be possible to reply?”
Doxy: “Sorry, sir, but no. Any message we send will arrive after we do.”
Zento: “We can only assume they will begin hostilities immediately. What is the status of their fleet?”
Doxy: “There are five ships, sir. One medium sized one and four small.”
Zento: “And our own?”
Doxy: “One second, sir.”

“We have three cruisers ready for deployment, piloted by Tes, Eki and… um… a Scarlet? Who is- Never mind. The cruisers are small, lightly armored ships designed to attack targets at extreme distances. Of course, seeing as they are pulling us into their ambush, they’ll probably put us in their own optimal range.”
“Then we have a Raolme Defender, piloted by Tozlan, Rosewater and that Raolme slave we rescued. While its range is abysmal, its frontal shielding is far beyond anything we can field, sir.”
“Finally, we do have that Kelshin Pillager we stole; our sole medium classed ship, though we lack a crew to fly it. It needs at least a crew of five that can breathe underwater, sir.”
“Another option is to use the Shed Scale cannons for support fire, but that would leave us open for counter attacks. Remember, this ship is currently not able to withstand any kind of enemy fire.”
“All in all, we’re outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered.”

Doxy: “So status: Not very good, sir. We have ten minutes before we arrive, so we better come up with something quick, sir.”
Zento: “Indeed…”
No. 1093306 ID: c5529d

I guess since the odds are heavily stacked against us, we'll just have to do what they say, and hope we can outrun them when they start hunting us during the headstart.
No. 1093307 ID: 273c18

We are only slightly outgunned. As a last ditch measure we give the pirates their ship back so they can help (they sure won't have any other option against the IOD), though we do tell the lower ranking crewmates that they have open offers to join our crew.

Hmm, I wonder if they really need their captain to fly that thing? We could be their captain instead, remotely?

Anyway, that means we have one medium ship and three small, plus the Defender, PLUS the main ship which we will have a hard time using for support fire... I wonder if we could put the Defender in front of our main ship so we can give support fire without risk? Yes, that seems like our best plan. Use the Defender as a mobile shield, it won't need to attack at all unless something comes close to it at which point our main ship stops firing and focuses on defense so the Defender can handle the bogey.

With that plan, the odds are in our favor.
No. 1093317 ID: eb0a9c

Throw the pirate captain back into their ship (with weapons disabled) and set it to autopilot until they can figure out how to counter-hack. That should be enough of a distraction to fire up the FTL.
No. 1093331 ID: 5ebd37

Getting the pirate crew back in their ship, minus the captain and maybe plus Eki, would have no downsides I can see. Offer them a huge bonus if they help us fight.
Either they do help and give us a medium ship in the fight. Or they flee, and draw one or two enemy ships away. Either way we benefit.
No. 1093334 ID: 2a82d3

>Getting a reputation for being merciful and just is not something that you would scoff at.
Nor should you. I suppose being arbiter of the galaxy isn't the worst career path. Just keep through records in case anyone accuses you of being unfair.

Make scans of the incoming battlefield your top priority. There could be obstacles you can use to block or hide behind, like asteroids or nebulae. Even if they know the field better than us, we can still make an educated guess on where they will move to attack and deploy our units to counter that.

Their commander seems to be under the impression we're just Kelshin pirates that don't understand what we have on our hands, and is underestimating us accordingly. The longer they stick to that impression, the better it can work out for us. Thus, there's a chance they could believe it if we fake compliance for a trap. Have our medium ship, with our Kelshin recruits*, split off while the other four play dead. Even if our bluff is called, the main ship will be more likely to follow the bigger one since it's likely they'd believe we would rig our treasure to detonate when up close. Especially when they believe it's a Freebooter* ditching it out of spite. "If we can't have our treasure, no one will."

*bribed by candy from Eki

> We could be their captain instead, remotely?
By proxy could work. Eki is loyal, and technically has captain experience.
No. 1093343 ID: 27e140

Welp, guess we're inducting the pirates in trial by fire.

Relay the current situation to the pirates. The ship is about to be attacked by an enemy who has left no avenue for peaceful resolution open. Fleeing will only delay what they've deemed inevitable, and if The Shed Scale goes down then so will your prisoners. You need the Kelshin Pillager to stand a chance in the upcoming fight.

Still, even if you were to bring Gold Mandible as well (big risk, with him on the ship with his crew they're very liable to flee), that's still only 4 members of the 5 man crew you need. It isn't good enough.

You're going to need Eki to join in. It's unavoidable if you want to stand a chance here. Check with the other water-breathing slave who isn't already part of the Raolme crew as well, Togo. You need to know if they're capable of joining the crew on the Kelshin ship or not.

If they can, great, that's your five. Get someone else to take Eki's spot on the cruiser and give it your best shot.

If not, then the only option that leaves is to strike a deal with Gold Mandible. Keep your offer simple, with no room for negotiation: If he helps you, and doesn't try to take his ship and flee immediately afterwards (as you'd need to get Ikekeki back onto The Shed Scale first), you'll set him free, and pay him for the information he offered before.
No. 1093344 ID: 273c18

Those slaves we rescued might be able to serve on the pirate ship as well, we should check in on them to see if they have skills which would be useful there.

Instead of using Gold Mandible as a captain, we could promote one of the other low-ranking pirates... I guess we'll have to make a quick judgement on how to distribute our acquired talent.

We really shouldn't put Gold Mandible back on the ship. If the pirates survive the fight then they will almost certainly flee afterwards with him in charge, and we can't allow that. Eki probably has the right of it, we should grant him a merciful death.
No. 1093709 ID: 681cb5
File 171995435210.png - (65.56KB , 700x550 , 19.png )

>I guess since the odds are heavily stacked against us, we'll just have to do what they say.
Giving up the Shed Scale is not an option. Without the capital ship we’re as good as dead, even if it will take some time before we realize it.
>Their commander seems to be under the impression we're just Kelshin pirates that don't understand what we have on our hands, and is underestimating us accordingly.
This is something we can take advantage off. They are expecting close combat ships, while ours are best at extreme ranges. If anything, the fact that they don’t know what our specs or tactics are do put us in a slight advantage here…

>Make scans of the incoming battlefield your top priority.
Doxy: “There are no large planetoids or other debris detected. It looks like they wish to face us on an open battlefield.”
>Welp, guess we're inducting the pirates in trial by fire.
Zento: “We need more manpower. Commander, release the pirates from the brig.” you rub your chin for a moment, “With the exception of the Captain.”
Doxy: “Sir?” the Commander asks, her voice betraying her uncertainty, “Are you sure?”
Zento: “Put Eki as captain in the Pillager and man it with the pirates. Oh, and that Kelshin slave we saved.” Giving her a smile, your try and assure her, “Eki is loyal, so I am sure she will not lead them astray.” though as those words leaves your mouth, you decide to add some extra meat on the stick, “Though be sure to offer them all a huge bonus if they fight… as well as further employment.”
Doxy: “Will do, sir.”

Zento: “As for the Raolme…” pushing a few buttons, you bring up the specs of their ship, “Put their Defender in front of our main ship. That way we can safely provide cover fire without risking the Shed Scale itself.”
Doxy: “Will do, Command.”

Zento: “Everyone, get ready to deploy.” your voice is confident as you command the crew, “We are about to enter a battle zone.”

The hyper jump suddenly ends, leaving you floating in a black void in the middle of nowhere. Before you can even act, you can see that several ships are leaving your hanger, ready for battle. Right as you’re about to address them, you’re suddenly getting a message from an unknown vessel. It’s the Drone Commander… or whatever they are called.

Drone Lord: “Oh, how adorable. You wish to face us in-“ they stop in their gloating and starts typing something, “Wait, what the frost are those ships? They are not available in my database? You clearly aren’t Kelshin…“ Looking directly at you, they ask with a voice chilly enough to make you shiver, “Just who are you, who is about to face the bitter cold of winter?”
Zento: “This is Captain Zento of the Shed Scale.” you tell them, “This ship is not stolen, nor do we intend any hostilities against the IOD.” As you speak, you slowly turn the ship so that its main cannon will face them, “Can we solve this diplomatically, instead of with bloodshed? Is there anything we can do to appease you?”
Drone Lord: “A barter, you say? I do love a good barter…” they rub their shin for several seconds, before bluntly answering, “But no. The gods has spoken.” With a press of a button, you watch as their weapons starts powering up properly, “We will try to take you alive and unspoiled, reptile. Surrender now, or face your-”
No. 1093710 ID: 681cb5
File 171995436572.png - (63.57KB , 700x550 , 20.png )

Eki: “Captain, come in!” Eki’s voice suddenly interrupts the both of you, “Can you hear me?”
Zento: “Eki?” you’re about to yell at her, but you manage to steady yourself, “Stop broadcasting this publicly.”
Eki: “That’s Captain Eki too you, landlubber!”
Drone Lord: “What is this?” the tree creature is just as surprised as you are, “You are Kelshin pirates after all?”
Zento: “Captain Eki…” you sigh, “What is it?”
Eki: “I’ll give you some advice, Cap’.” she raises one claw and adjust her hat, the very same hat that she once gave to you. After tapping it twice with her claw, she cackles, “Never trust a Kelshin Pirate! KEKEKE!”
Zento: “What?”
Eki: “So long, you scurvy crabs! KEKEKEKE!”
Zento: “EKI!?”
Doxy: “Um… sir…” you watch in terror as the Pillager ship makes a 180 and flees the battlefield, leaving you and your small ships alone to face this superior opponent, “She just broke all communications and left formation.”
Drone Lord: “Drone ship 3DD-K4, pursuit that ship and mark it.” the drone lord commands coldly, “Do not engage.”
No. 1093711 ID: 681cb5
File 171995438717.png - (63.83KB , 700x550 , 21.png )

Drone Lord: “*Snort!* Gahahaha!” suddenly they burst out laughing, their voice now filled with warmth and cheerfulness, “OH GODS, it’s summer all over again!” Taking a moment to catch their breath, the living tree smirks, “Did you just lose most of your fleet power by trusting pirates?” try as they might, they can’t stifle their laugh again, “PIRATES!? *Snort* ehehe…”
Zento: “Well… fuck…”
Drone Lord: “Maybe you should reconsider my offer of surrender, hmm?”

They giggle as your monitors lights up with warnings, displaying the fact that both their weapons and shields are charging at maximum, ready to engage at any moment.

Drone Lord: “You are kind of cute when you’re angry.” the tree creature observes, before stating, “Surrender immediately and I will spare your crew, reptile.” Leaning in slightly, they give you a slight smile, “As for you, I think I will keep you as a personal pet.”
No. 1093713 ID: eb0a9c

All units, aim for the main ship. Our best shot at surviving this is to destroy the controller. Only aim for the drones if you think you can remove them from the fight.
No. 1093714 ID: c8380b

Is it too late to follow after those pirates?
No. 1093715 ID: a3f3c1

Get your some of your sensors on the ship. It completely out of character for eki to flee from a fight. She's up to something...
No. 1093716 ID: 273c18

We didn't have much choice. Nobody else could've manned that ship properly; we simply didn't have enough water-breathers. At best we could've put a mixed crew in there and then we'd risk a mutiny due to racial tensions. Let's hope Eki is planning a sneak attack of some sort. If not... well, then we've at least gotten rid of a traitor.

Let's hope our advantageous ship composition will win the day. Open fire as soon as they come within range.
No. 1093717 ID: 2a82d3

>she raises one claw and adjust her hat, the very same hat that she once gave to you
That's a sign she wants you to trust her. She's either getting reinforcements, or more likely sneak attack the medium ship from behind. It's open space after all, not limited by your screens.

We'll need to stall as long as we can, though. Delay negotiations by claiming to check that she hasn't left any more surprises on our ship. Alternatively, launch a surprise attack to thin their numbers.

Morale is shaken, regardless. Negotiate in open channels to have inspire them.

>“Surrender immediately and I will spare your crew, reptile.” Leaning in slightly, they give you a slight smile, “As for you, I think I will keep you as a personal pet.”
Three problems with that:

1. Your crew will have strong objections to their new accommodations, as "slaves".

2. Your technology is the most advanced in the sector, if not the galaxy. You shouldn't let it fall into the wrong hands. It could be your species' only legacy.

3. You'd rather have her call you "pet" over him.
No. 1093719 ID: 27e140

Yeah, I don't buy it. I don't think Eki is honestly betraying us right now. Not because I cannot envision a world in which she would, but because it wouldn't be to her benefit. This is a no-prisoners situation, and the enemy has made it clear that they want EVERYONE here dead. Fleeing would buy her time, but with our weak defenses it wouldn't be long before she's dragged back into combat. Unless they really are just THAT confident that they can lose the drone ship that's tailing them and get away, I don't buy it.

It's the right move here anyhow. We're outclassed in terms of weaponry, so we need to retake the advantage by reworking this into some form of ambush. What we need now is to buy time for Eki to come back, preferably while sacrificing as few resources as possible.

You're gonna have to take the crew's morale into account though, as it'd be bad to have more of them flee because they think the fight is truly lost, or questioning your judgment and going against orders. Make sure you get the message out to them as quickly as possible, else they're liable to break the deception.

Stall for as long as you can by discussing the terms of surrender. Ask for time to deal with rowdy or mutinous crew members, ask what fate your crew will be met with, request special treatment for certain crew members (probably the pregnant ones), etc. Meanwhile, keep everyone needed for the fight on standby.

This does mean going all in on something you can't confirm: Ikekeki's loyalty. If you're wrong, it'll cost you everything. Realistically though, if you're wrong, the fight is already lost, so it's a gamble worth taking for you.
No. 1093720 ID: 5ebd37

This is sub-optimal, but still a good outcome. We've traded a ship that would have been mothballed for one less enemy to worry about. And it seems likely Eki is planning a sneak attack, after all that's what a dashing pirate captain would do.
Plus now the dronelord thinks we're incompetent and will underestimate us. Keep playing up that angle with desperate pleas while the smaller ships engage.
No. 1093806 ID: 681cb5
File 172022201749.png - (81.19KB , 700x550 , 22.png )

>Now the drone lord thinks we're incompetent and will underestimate us.
…considering what just happen, they might be right though.
>That hat is a sign she wants you to trust her. It seems likely Eki is planning a sneak attack, after all that's what a dashing pirate captain would do.
You’re right. Eki wouldn’t betray you, would she? No, the Kelshin ships are designed for ambushes, so she’s probably setting up a trap right at this moment. You just need to trust her…
>Morale is shaken, regardless.
The Sakkilian will fight to the end… but the same cannot be said for the Raolme crew. You do not know how they handle setbacks like this, though you’re sure they aren’t as hardy as us Sakkilians.

>We'll need to stall as long as we can.
Zento: “I wish to negotiate our surrender.”
Drone Lord: “You are in no position to do so, meatsack. Surrender or die.”
Zento: “I will not allow my crew to become slaves! Release them and I-”
Drone Lord: “They won’t be slaves. They’ll be drones. Mindless drones ready to be used.”
Zento: “…that’s even worse. Can’t we-”
Drone Lord: “I tire of you, Reptile. I have stated my demands.”
Zento: “Surely we can-”
Drone Lord: “No, kill them all.”

All three smaller ships immediately charge forward, shooting out some kind of green energy that quickly ensnares one of the cruisers.

Zento: “All Cruisers, focus target on the smaller ones, free that ship!” one of your screens lights up, showing that the larger ship is charging a powerful beam weapon and aiming it directly at the bridge you’re sitting in, “Tozlan, I need cover. Now.”
Scarlet: “AAH!!” an unfamiliar voice rings out over the comms, as you watch one of the cruisers get pulled away towards the enemy by those strange green beams, “I can’t control my ship!”
Shal: “GOT ONE!” two laz shots hits one of the smaller ships, making it explode.
Tescia: “Central target naturalized. Next target is marked.”
Tozlan: “Defender intercepting Hunter disintegration ray.” the Raolme barely have time to get into position before a purple beam hits it… to seemingly no effect, “98% of damage negated successfully.”
No. 1093807 ID: 681cb5
File 172022203001.png - (82.23KB , 700x550 , 23.png )

Eki: “Surprise!”

Out of nowhere, as if appearing from thin air, the Pillager ship that Eki is piloting is suddenly behind the enemy and bathes it in blue hot plasma.

Drone Lord: “GAH! Where did you come from!?” the tree creatures fail around as their bridge get coated in a green, oscillating light, “All ships! Defend me! Defend your master!” Of course, as they are distracted, you take the opportunity to nail them with your twin Laz cannons.

Scarlet: “I CAN’T MO-“ one of the displays changes color to red, indicating that you just lost someone. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten, Scarlet Woolchest… whoever you were.

Tescia: “Second target naturalized.” as revenge, a second of the smaller ships explodes right as it’s about to turn around to aid its leader, “Moving on to the next.”
Tozlan: “Intercepting!” another beam hits the defender, and just as before they absorbs it, “Shield at 34%, I don’t think we can safely take another hit!”
Shal: “Thanks nerd!” the Wroknir hybrid cheers over the comm, “I owe you one!”

Zento: “Good work everyone. We can-” Suddenly, the whole ship shakes and several alarms starts blaring, “What just happen!?”
Doxy: “We are being attacked, sir!” the smaller Sakkilian informs you, “A small ship just introduced the brig to hard vacuum!”
Zento: “Dammit, we don’t have any point defense there!” flipping a switch, you announce to the rest of the fleet, “Attention! We need protection! A small ship is attacking us from the side!”
Tozlan: “I’m on it, friend.” you can hear Rosewater in the background getting excited, “We’ll hunt that prowler down!”
No. 1093808 ID: 681cb5
File 172022204021.png - (71.39KB , 700x550 , 24.png )

Drone Lord: “NOO!” you can hear their captain scream, “I CAN’T LOOOO-“ before getting cut off.

You’re unsure what’s happening over there, but you think Eki is winning?

Tescia: “Third target naturalized.” Tescian’s voice is completely monotone, even as she lights up one of the ships with hot Laz death, “All smaller ships destroyed.”

Tozlan: “Target fried!” the last of the smaller ships disappears from your sensors, “The Shed Scale is secure, friend.”
No. 1093809 ID: 681cb5
File 172022204861.png - (57.88KB , 700x550 , 25.png )

And with a final hit with your twin cannons, the large ship breaks apart and explodes.

Zento: “All ships, report.”
Tozlan: “Defender pilot Tozlan reporting in!” the Raolme are the first to answer, “Shield completely depleted and some minor damages, but we’re fine otherwise, Captain.”
Tescia: “Tescia here. No damage to report.”
Shal: “I’m fine, I’m fine! Just a few cracks nothing more.” you can hear her tap her stone fingers against the console before asking, “Who did we lose?”
Zento: “Ensign Scarlet Woolchest.”
Shal: “Who?”
Zento: “I am not certain either, but I’ll make sure to honor her memory.” looking over the ship list, you notice one that hasn’t called in yet, “Captain Eki?”

Eki: “YAAARH!! KEKEKE!” her laughter is so loud it makes the speakers vibrate, “We caught her, Captain! We caught the big fish!”
Zento: “You did what?”
Eki: “Their captain, captain!” you can outright hear the crab grin, “We sucked her right out from the bridge! Got her right here with a few of those drone slaves she was using!”
Zento: “That’s fantastic news, Eki.” while trying to get diagnostic on her ship, you ask, “And the Pillager? How bad is it?”
Eki: “Oh, it’s not that bad. We just lost one cannon… and about a third of the interior was just ripped apart into molecules. Though, we’re fine. I’m pretty sure only one of us died. Disintegration, I believe.” you can hear someone arguing on the other side, “No, wait, there she is. She’s just getting crushed under a bunch of steel, but she’ll live. So, what’s your orders, Capt’?”

…well, this went a lot better than expected.
No. 1093826 ID: 273c18

The brig got penetrated. We had prisoners there. I don't care about the pirate captain, but we had a civilian in there! Get a ship on the outside to rescue the civilian if he got spaced, and repair the breach! ...huh, is the hull repairing itself?

Send security to check the brig; if the pirate didn't get spaced then he might have escaped, in which case we need to hunt him down before he can do anything.

Order everyone on the Shed Scale to remain on alert until we have both prisoners accounted for. All our standard ships, scan the general area to check if there's any more small enemy craft we need to deal with. Eki, return to the Shed Scale for repairs and medical attention. Also tell her next time she needs to pull some stunt like that we need a code phrase so everyone knows what she's up to.

Once we're sure the area is secure, we can start salvaging enemy craft. Watch out for traps. Any captured drones should be sent to medical/research to be analyzed to see if we can free them.
No. 1093828 ID: eb0a9c

Loss still hurts, but it was a good deal. We lost a crewmember and some prisoners and took out a whole patrol in exchange.

Have each ship quickly triage the situation. Seal the brig to prevent further casualties, but concentrate on scavenging the dead. If the I.O.D. placed acquisition denial self-destruct systems in their ships, you will only have a limited time before those things explode. You kept their captain alive though, so you can quickly leverage her life for some temporary shutdown procedures.
No. 1093840 ID: 5ebd37

Seal up that brig, maybe the prisoners can be resuscitated if we're quick.

Is there any sign if the enemy sent any signals during the fight? Or if any part of their ships are transmitting now?

>Any captured drones should be sent to medical/research to be analyzed to see if we can free them.
We might be able to use our personality generation tech to give them new lives. A rebirth. Better than being a drone at least.
No. 1093924 ID: 0d1c28

Make sure prisoners are okay, such pointy cuteness should be protected
No. 1093947 ID: 2a82d3

Check for casualties. If a civilian dies on your watch, along with this Scarlet Woolchest (we hardly knew ye), you might need Union Leader Tara to smooth things over, along with this . Doubly so if it turned out they were both from the same ship.

>“Their captain, captain!” you can outright hear the crab grin, “We sucked her right out from the bridge! Got her right here with a few of those drone slaves she was using!”
Excellent. They will be nicely tortured... by our prosperity, culture, and creativity. The arts have always been a classic method towards freeing the mind. If you can't find an artist, musician, or entertainer among the civilians, the colony planner has not done their job.

The captain may be a tough nut to crack, though. Those privileged folks able to find satisfaction in their work will not be easily impressed. No offense to the Kelshin.
No. 1094184 ID: 681cb5
File 172082984045.png - (61.48KB , 700x550 , 26.png )

>If the I.O.D. placed acquisition denial self-destruct systems in their ships, you will only have a limited time before those things explode.
Tozlan: “While my momma said to never approach IOD stuff, these aren’t IOD ships, friend.” your resident reports in, “These scum suckers might IOD battle thralls, but the IOD would never hand over their tech to them, even if it’s their self-destruct devices.” He gives you a tooth filled smile, “Besides, if it was booby trapped it would already explode, right?”

>Is there any sign if the enemy sent any signals during the fight? Or if any part of their ships are transmitting now?
Doxy: “No sir, we didn’t detect any long distance messages.”
Zento: “…then they sent a message before we even arrived.” you rub your chin, “They knew we were coming, so they’ve bound to have reported our presence already.” Leaning forward, you lay the tip of your snout onto your clasped hands, “It’s just a matter of time before someone comes and check why they haven’t given a follow up report yet. As soon as the hull is repaired and all evidence of our presence has been eradicate we leave. We cannot stay here a minute longer.”
Doxy: “Yes sir.”

>The brig got penetrated. We had prisoners there. I don't care about the pirate captain, but we had a civilian in there!
Doxy: “The security station as well all the cells closes to the hull were completely destroyed, as well as half the cells on the other side as well.” she gives you a little smile, “Luckily, our one prisoner, Kin Silkpalm, just happen to be in one of the three cells that survived… and thanks to the force gate still being active he wasn’t introduce to hard vacuum either.” The smile slowly turns into a frown, “While Silkpalm has successfully been rescued, I can’t help but feel we forgot about someone in there? We did let all the pirates out, right?”
Zento: “…Do not worry.” you say as you watch a familiar body slowly drift through space right outside where your window camera is pointing, “Everyone of importance was let out of the brig.”
Doxy: “…you’re probably right.” she perks up again, “Still, while the hull will soon be repaired and fit for a hyper jump, we will lack a brig for some time.”

>Start salvaging enemy craft.
Doxy: “The two cruisers have successfully harvested most of the useful material they found, sir.” Doxy taps her datapad a few times, “But our readings of the craft is a bit... odd?”
Zento: “Odd?” you raise a single eyebrow, “How so?”
Doxy: “It’s mostly organic material, sir.” looking up from the pad, she clarifies, “As in… it wasn’t made out of metal but… well, the best way I can describe it is that the ship was alive.” There’s a beat before she adds, “Before we blasted it, that is.”
Zento: “Hmm, interesting.” Living ships? This is indeed odd… “Still, we can use the organic materials. Gather as much as we can carry.”
Doxy: “Of course, sir.”
No. 1094185 ID: 681cb5
File 172082985480.png - (184.11KB , 700x800 , 27.png )

>Make sure prisoners are okay, such pointy cuteness should be protected.
Zento: “How is the prisoners Eki captured fairing?” you ask, “I do hope that such cuties haven’t been harmed to badly?”
Doxy: “Cute?” Doxy smirks, “Really sir?” Shaking her head, she starts reading from her datapad, “We captured their captain as well as three drones, all of which have gone through a basic medical scan and seem to be healthy, though currently unconscious.”
Zento: “Excellent. Then they will be easily tortured...” the commander gives you a dangerous look, “By our prosperity, culture, and creativity.”
Doxy: “Of course sir.” she rolls her eyes, “Lt. Tozlan has written up a short report about their species, if I may sir?”
Zento: “You may proceed, Commander.”
Doxy: “Their species is called the Ek’tall, and they are living fauna not dissimilar from trees. The one we captured is a young female, no more than 25 years of age, or 30 if you count something Tozlan called… ah… ‘plant period’?” she shrugs, “They are all religious fanatics, their whole species being part of something called ‘The Church of the Five Eyes’, whose most important creed is that all none Ek’tall life in the galaxy needs to be purged.” Doxy looks you in the eyes, “So you can understand that they’ve never been very friendly… but apparently they were among the first species subjugated by the IOD, with them seemingly willingly becoming their battle thralls.”
Zento: “I see. Make sure that medical and research gets a hold on those drones, in case we can still save them.” you lean back into your chair, “As for our fair captured captain, send her to the brig.”
Doxy: “The brig is destroyed, sir.” Doxy bites her lower lip, “We don’t have a place to lock her up, sir.”
Zento: “Oh right…” now that will be a problem. We can’t just have her move around the ships freely, can we? “Then I’ll simply have to figure something else out.”

Looking over the scan Vex made, you can’t help but be fascinated by this strange new form of life. A body made out of what can only be described as wood, with even leaves growing on their body. A sharp beak, horns and four eyes makes them look strange… though the strangest part is their legs, as they are apparently tree roots that they use like spider legs, skittering along as they move.

Doxy: “Oh, and I just got those reports you requested, sir.” she sees your confusion and adds, “The ones from Doctor Vex and Security chief Dante?”
Zento: “Ah, yes, their reports.” you still have no idea what she’s talking about, “Send them to my terminal.”
Doxy: “Here you go sir.”

First you take a look at your sons Dante’s report. It’s barely a sentence long.
“Wroknir are made of stone. Security needs Shockrifles. – Security Chief Dante.”
Your son Vex report on the other hand is 32 pages long, written with small text and filled with diagrams and statistics. How did he even find the time to write this? Leafing through it, the get the gist that it’s about that dead Raolme we found and something about cybernetics? Whatever he actually wanted to say is a complete mystery to you…
No. 1094186 ID: 273c18

>no brig for the captive
Put her in a stasis pod? ...if that will work on her, anyway. An alternative... we could chain her up in one of the dorms, or... does the medical wing have a quarantine zone with forcefields for keeping patients isolated?

Go talk to Vex in person so you can get his report explained. The request for shock rifles is pretty straightforward, how do we get those?
No. 1094188 ID: 8f9bc4

Huh, so the living ship was also an ek’tall? It sure doesn't look like one. Because if it wasn't, then they needed to purge that life form, then just like, float through space themselves. That's how it works, according to their religion, right?
No. 1094189 ID: 273c18

Oh, don't forget to salvage the pirate captain's corpse. If you're squeamish we can leave the organic material but that claw has got to be worth something, and the cloth can be recycled. Hey, I wonder if we can hand in the claw for a bounty? It's proof we killed him. Maybe we can keep his head too if needed.
No. 1094192 ID: a7a180

Just put them in a pot in the hydroponics bay.
No. 1094193 ID: 5ebd37

We have a Kelshin corpse, and pieces of a Kelshin ship. We should leave some scraps to make it look like pirates ambushed the thralls.

Stasis will do for a makeshift brig. Once the hull is patched we'll at least have three cells.

Do you have someone science-minded that you could quietly pass Vex's report to to have summarized?
No. 1094209 ID: 2a82d3

His report was so curt, it makes you wonder. Have there been any incidents with Wroknir on board yet? They've been pretty docile, and obedient, so far. Has he been getting along with them? He doesn't seem very sociable. Being prepared is one thing, being prejudical, on the other hand, might need you to mediate (or help him make friends to be less paranoid). Shock rifles are lower priority at the moment anyway.

He'll be much more busy with security detail over our captive captain. If we can't bring her to the brig, bring the brig to her.

On that note, in case it wasn't apparent we have bigger issues, Silky is free to go.

He's your next stop. If cybernetics is involved, maybe we'll get somewhere with our own cyborg. Not to mention find out what happened to whatever rebellion there was in this galaxy.

Actually, have Dante escort her to the medbay. For one, we need to be sure she couldn't hijack our systems if she's put in a stasis pod. For another, we could actually parley now.

>Drone Lord
Reassure your commander that you're not the kind to open relations without taking precautions. It's just a hunch that they may be more alike to us than we're comfortable with. We'll know for sure when we see they see us cannibalizing their living ship, and how amenable they are to it.

>Living ships
It's a shame we could find a way to capture one for Doctor Vex to study. Are they also conscious? Sentient? Are the drones we see something akin to an immune system, or digestive tract? Is their religion a way to justify their hyperactive base instincts?

>‘The Church of the Five Eyes’, whose most important creed is that all none Ek’tall life in the galaxy needs to be purged.
>they were among the first species subjugated by the IOD, with them seemingly willingly becoming their battle thralls.
Of course they plan to eat the IOD last, if they couldn't eat them right away. It's also in the master's best interest to maintain the Church to keep them in line.

One way around this is to become an honorary Ek'tall somehow. You hope it won't involve doing or wearing anything embarrassing again. (It probably will.)
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