Chapter 2 — …and the Angel’s in the Artifacts
Faith surveyed the damage to her Hurricane. The robot repairing the hull damage seemed to be having some difficulty and sounded a small warning noise, alerting one of the TRI-Dockman. A nearby mechanic stood from his duties of what looked to be eating his lunch, wiped his twelve grimy fingers on the TRI-Dockman’s uniform he was wearing, and approached.
“What in the world’d you do, lady?” he said, his voice thick with Kapenjan accent. He, like most dockmen, had been genetically altered to have two opposable thumbs, somehow this made working on the robots that actually did the repair work easier. He brushed one of his hands along the huge rip in the hull. The metal had peeled outward, being the exit wound from a blast the ship had taken from the other side. He indicated the repair-bot with his free hand and said, “They ain’t programmed to fix things laik this lady!”
Faith pulled back her hood and removed her flight goggles to get a better look at the dockman. The JOSSH on her optical enhancer said his name was Oriao Senyi. “Tell that to Rollio,” came her reply, “He´s the one who shot me up just outside the docking bay.”
“An’ you made it away? You must be one heck of a pilot lady!”
Faith shook her head quickly sending the black curls of hair tumbling out of the hood. “No. Just lucky, someone came to my aid, didn’t have time to see who. How soon till the repairs will be finished anyway? I have an appointment to keep at Solrain Core.”
“Shouldn’t take too long. I´ll just load’m in yer cargo bay so theys can pretend theys doin it right.”
Faith gave a quick noncommittal nod, already tired of talking to the ´official´. She spent the next hour wandering the corridors of Tripoint station, and pondering her waking-dreams. ´Strange allies. I don´t know if those really were Hyperial ships. I’ve heard rumors of what they looked like during the Faith Wars, but…if it was Pre-Collapse then…they were ours. The same I guess…we were once the same.´ Slightly comforted by some measure of a resolution, she let her thoughts on the past rest.
Once the Faith´s Hurricane was repaired, she departed for the Depot, completing one last mission there before heading over to meet her squadmate Iwakura at Solrain Core. A quick mining session in the Quadrangle, and Faith was on her way. While passing through the Long Walk, a message sounded on her comm from Pilot Aerarii of Starfire squad.
Aerarii: Anyone scouting for artifacts in this sector?
Faith chuckled to herself, she always did the same thing when she went scouting as well. The jumpgate to the Depot rapidly approaching, Faith refocused her concentration on avoiding the aptly named “petals” and preparing to jump.
As Faith pulled into the docking bay of the Quantar Depot, her private comm crackled as Aerarii hailed her. “Odd,” she thought, “what’s he want?”
Aerarii: What’re you doing?
Faith: I’m docking? Why? How’s the artifact hunting going?
Aerarii: Docking? Wha? You’re not artifact hunting too?
Faith: Ah, no, not quite outfit for it. Hold on.
Faith finished putting the Hurricane into the docking bay.
Aerarii: Gosh you sure are lucky!
Faith: Yes, I’ve been told that. I assume you found something?
Aerarii: I just found an arti, not thirty seven K from your position.
Faith: Huh? I´m in the docking bay of the Depot.
Aerarii: You pulling my leg? You’re on my radar right here. Hurricane right?
Aerarii: Rank of Crusader. Title of Grandiose Combat Specialist.
Faith sat upright quickly, both confused and surprised.
Faith: What?! I´m telling you I…Grandiose Comb…that’s not me. That can’t be me. I’m just a miner.
Aerarii: I’m telling you, you’re sitting right here. Led me right to the Arti.
Faith: I…I’m on my way I guess….still in Long Walk?
Was someone playing a joke on her? Or was there actually another her out there, one that TRI had dubbed an expert in combat? She had no time to waste, so ignored docking procedures and flew back out the way she came in, almost colliding into a docking Breeze. She quickly turned the Hurricane (well as quickly as one can turn a Hurricane) towards the Long Walk jumpgate and tapped the acceleration vector up to full throttle and opened the afterburners to full power.
Upon arrival in Long Walk she was greeted with the dismal comment:
Aerarii: It. er, you is gone, just vanished. Something you´re not telling me here Faith?
Faith was speechless. She return-jumped back to the Depot, and re-entered the docking bay. So many strange things had gone on recently, and all she found comfort and understanding in was the simplicity of just being a miner. Which was something that was gradually being denied her…
“I’ve got to get to Iwakura, I know he’ll at least have some sort of explanation for what’s going on,” Faith explained to herself as she climbed into the cockpit of her ship, once again a Typhoon. Her fingers brushed through the upgraded controls. She had decided to spend the several hundred thousand credits upgrading to the holographic controls to help keep the fluid ‘phoon in control. Her optic enhancer flashed with ships data:
Ship Name: Persona
Featherfire 1: Operational…….Featherfire 2: Operational
Banker 1: Operational…………Banker 2: Operational
Sport: Operational……………Shepherds 1&2: Operational
Knocker: Operational………….Haven: Operational
Spore: Operational……………Duelist: Operational
Witness: Operational………….BCU-Quan: Operational
Faith quickly brushed away the next few warnings, telling her that there wasn’t enough power to the systems with those weapons installed. “If I bothered to fire more than one at a time, that would matter, wouldn’t it?” She asked the computer, happily accepting its silence as a response. She cleared the ship for take off and was soon on her way to Solrain Core.
Enroute to SolCore, she was anonymously hailed by a Solrain vessel.
: So I heard you´re looking for Arti-disks.
Faith: Who is this? Where´d you hear that.
: I happen to have one for sale, if you´re interested.
Faith: Well, I. Of course I´m interested, how much?
: Depends on how badly you need a fix.
“This person knows too much about me,” Faith thought. She looked around at the faint green holographic controls that surrounded her. “I´’m no good in this ship unless I get one of those disks…”
: How does fifty thousand sound?
Faith: What quality is the disk in?
: Well, not the best condition, but well, I do have other interested parties. I´ll take my wares-
Faith: No wait! I. sure. Where can we meet?
: Wake station will do nicely.
Faith quickly brought up the nav-computer´s controls and plotted the quickest route to Wake station…Iwakura was going to have to wait. Before she had even turned the ship, the anonymous salesman hailed her again.
: I´m cutting my asking price in half. I just found a gold arti. Looks like you are good luck, girl.
Faith: Yeah, been hearing that all night.
Faith re-engaged the graviton engines and sent the Persona hurtling towards the Jumpgate…
After picking up the relatively poor condition artifact disk from the rather unscrupulous Solrain pilot, she returned to her original task of meeting up with Iwakura. When she arrived at the Core Station, she found a note waiting for her at the promenade. A quick glance at the handwriting confirmed it to be from Iwakura.
Faith, I´m afraid I got tired of waiting, I´m hunting flux down in Amananth space. Join me if you still want to talk.
“Perfect, my favorite place in the five systems…,” she thought, “Why can’t Iwakura use the comm like any civilized person? I mean paper? Come on.”
Figuring she’d have plenty of time to muse on Iwakura’s antiquated communication skills on the journey, she ran back to the Persona and hurriedly prepared for departure. Faith wanted to be sure that the artifact disk was safely nearby in case of any sort of trouble during the trip, and put it behind her seat and strapped it down securely.
Along the route, she saw what looked to be a Solrain Navy heading down to where she could only guess was Evening’s End. “Will those guys never get a rest? Well, I guess they’ve got their wars to fight, and I’ve got mine.” She steered clear of the area and went through unreg space to get to the Last Parsec. The closest thing labeled as Amananth space.
Eager to see her friend and squadmate, Faith decided to take a shortcut through Aman hook despite its usual heavy conflux activity. Sure enough, while on her way to the Gyre jumpgate, her radar picked up what looked to be a C7 Manta on an interception course. “Last time I took on one of those, I had a skilled fighter pilot with me…I …I can’t do this alone can I?” she pondered, doubt paralyzing her at the controls.
“I have to test myself,” she thought and then spoke aloud, “I am the weapon,” reciting the common saying of her people. She brought the Persona’s firing arc to bear on the C7 and began to close.
She waved her hand through a green holographic cylinder floating to her right, bringing up the targeting computer and powering up the twin Featherfires. She hastily positioned the targeting reticle over the opposing ship and pushed the throttle to maximum acceleration. Once she had closed to five thousand meters, she brought her hand quickly down through the missile firing orb, intending to keep the Manta occupied with a couple of Purgatories.
A pleasant voice echoed on the inside of the cockpit saying, “You have no missiles remaining, Please return to the nearest TRI station and re-arm yourself.”
“WHAT?!” was Faith’s devastatingly witty reply. Her ship rocked and shields flared as the Manta’s accuracy was brought to bear. “Shields at 60%,” called the calm voice again, announcing status that was well known to the occupant of the Persona. Faith looked over her shoulder at the PC disk and reasoned, “You better work now, or we´re both space dust.”
Faith got what she wanted. Her optic enhancer scrolled incoming data as the data disk begin to whine and whir in an attempt to begin working again. Faith’s eyes fluttered for a moment before she found herself back in the Dervish. Outside her starbord window, she could see a richly vegetated planet. The thick green jungle planet´s atmosphere sat not but four thousand clicks from her position. Behind her loomed the massive and oppressive Uirio vessel known as a Tyrant. The black formless shape of its living hull lunged forward trying to engulf her Dervish and devour it with its anti-matter core.
Thinking quickly, Faith accelerated towards the planet, hoping to skip off the atmosphere and change vectors quickly. Her maneuver succeeded, but brought with it a heavy penalty to her shields. The internal displays showed 20% remaining. She quickly rolled the Dervish to the side, spinning out of the way of Tyrant as she deflected off of the atmosphere. The Uirio slowed down enough that she was able to get far enough away to reorient the Yuria pulse laser, and engage the monster properly.
The void Tyrant stretched itself out and lunged forward, looking like a giant primitive spear with intentions to impale the Dervish and its pilot. Faith let the Dervish drift backward for a few clicks and just watched the Tyrant waiting. “You want to joust don’t you? Heh. I bet you’re going to turn down aren’t you?´ she thought to herself and angled her ship for a dive in preparation. When the distance to target was at the proper 4000 clicks, she flipped the triple Silence engines up to full power. Faith groaned under the gravity strain, and pondered of the Uirio, “I suppose the upside of being a space Xenoform is that you’re immune to all the gravity changes huh?” She managed to bring a hand up and gesture to the Tyrant, calling it down to meet her as she knew it would.
Sure enough, Faith knew the tactics of the Tyrant properly. Hoping to avoid collision itself, it began to dive, ready to let the shard anti- matter that made up its shields eat into the Dervish. Right before the bristling negative energy of the Uirio vessel would’ve cut into hers, Faith released the charge on the pulse cannon. A bright white torrent of energy buckled into the Tyrant’s shields and it spun away from her, out of control. “The downside of being a space Xenoform is of course, being shot hurts a hell of a lot.”
The stunned creature shook off the shock and made ready for another pass. Six passes later, the shields of the Uirio Tyrant were down, and Faiths were fully recharged. Another two passes, and the Tyrant splintered into the nothingness from which it had formed.
The vision vanished as quickly as the remnants of the destroyed C7. Faith breathed a sigh of relief, giving only a glance behind her to confirm that the data disk was shutting down. “Thank you…,” she murmured to the dying disk and resumed her journey. Faith was relieved and troubled. She had the power to battle within her, and it was what felt like memories from an earlier time, but she still had no answers as to why, and where this all came from. Maybe Iwakura would have some answers. In his own way, he always did.
>Personal Log H57t-10b
Okay! Finally made it to Amananth(and yes, the computer still calls me Project FAITH, whenever I dock. What weird people these are here), what a day. I suppose I should list all the things that happened, but I can’t now, I have to keep moving. Iwakura is playing some sort of game with me, and staying just ahead of me. I´m off to meet him at the Great Venture Belt….I don’t know why he’s gone there, but I have to see him and ask what’s going on.
He’s the only person I think I can turn to for help. I got word from Brother, Governor Neamru II of Tripoint station, that TRI has released more information about me to him, so I’ll have to stop by there and see what they have for me.
To really know about my past…to know who I am…and why I have these memories of Pre-Collapse Era. To know that I …existed before TRI. To know me.
May the peace of the heart light my path for I know not where I travel, and may the spirit of my being pull me onward though I stop in doubt. May Courage protect, Wisdom enlighten, and Faith encompass all.