Handle with Care
Vicia pulled on the tiller, shifting the ship to the left narrowly missing missile fire. The hull of the ship smashed through a sand dune. The impact threw sand in all directions blocking her vision briefly.
“More energy to the thrusters!” Vicia called.
Widow looked down at her screen. She calmly adjusted the levels in both thrusters. The ship lurched forward with the extra power. In the engine room, Raala noted the extra power demand in the system and adjusted accordingly as to not overheat the core. Beside her, Consensus stood at one of the consoles. It turned quickly to one of the power cells and ejected it from its container. Steam bellowed out of the cylinder opening.
“Enemy on port side,” Miru reported. Her physical body was present in the BNC. Repaired from her brush with severe radioactivity, she looked good as new. “Shields holding at 90%. Current speed at 100 knots.”
Vicia circled around to face their opponent, “Give me more lift.”
Widow added the extra oomph from the underside thrusters. Just enough to gain the requested height.
The enemy ship fired at them. Several strong cannon shots struck at their shields. Vicia looked at the screen around her, each showing a view outside the ship. On her left was the portside view and on her right was the starboard side. Ahead of her was a view of the bow. Each screen was comprised of several outer hull cameras working together to give a comprehensive view around the ship. In order to look behind her she had to briefly look over her shoulder out the windows.
“Shields down to 75%,” Miru reported.
She looked to her left, the enemy ship was recharging for another attack, “Find me a weak point!”
Naryxea rolled her eyes. She leaned forward and circle her finger around the screen. A scan started and before long, the results were at hand. Without turning around, the asari reported, “It looks like the only weak spot is directly head on.”
“Hm,” Vurtak smirked. He stood arms crossed as he stood in a corner, “That’s suicide.”
“That’s were their shield is weakest,” Naryxea shrugged.
“We’re going in!” Vicia shouted. She activated her communications, “We’re taking them head on.”
Raala looked up at Consensus. They just became the easiest thing for the enemy to attack. The engine room was just below the nose of the ship.
The flaps over the geth’s head moved slightly before it got back to work, “Let us hope that the enemy has poor accuracy.”
“As long as the shields hold, we should be fine,” Raala said, more to herself than to the geth. Louder she said, “Prepare to reroute power to the cannons. I’ll start to charge the torpedoes.”
“Affirmative,” Consensus stated.
Vicia got the enemy ship right in the center of her forward view. The ship shot at them decreasing the integrity of their shields.
“Cannons online,” Miru reported.
Vurtak pushed himself off the wall, rolled his shoulders and clapped both hands together. He sat at one of the consoles, “Bout time we had some actual fun.”
The krogan manned the weapons. He fired around the ship, dropping its shields slowly with each hit. The two ships got so close to one another, Vicia was forced to move to one side. Space between the two ships was only a few feet. The ship shook as if it suffered a heavy impact. Both ships shields had slammed into each other.
“Shields at 40…35…20…holding at 20%,” Miru looked down at her screen. “We need extra power to the shield generators.”
“We need more power to the cannons,” Vurtak grunted.
Naryxea agreed, “Their shields are at 10%. We’ve got a chance if we just overpower them.”
Raala chimed in over the comms, “We need to escape. Put the energy into the thrusters. We can’t rest a direct attack.”
“And run like a coward?” Vurtak raised his voice, “Sure, this was a stupid idea but you can’t just runaway like white bellied varren. You charge head on! Finish them off in a barrage of cannon fire!”
Miru disagreed, “The best defense is the best offence. If we are going to have the best chance, we need to build our defenses.”
Vicia grunted in frustration and pulled hard on the tiller. The ship banked a hard left. Wisps of sand danced as they barely touched the dunes. Again, the ship was in view. It turned more slowly than the agile ships. The intangible is unstoppable.
“Reroute power to the cannons, prepare the torpedo,” Vicia ordered.
Miru turned in her seat, “That will take too long to charge. We won’t be able to get a shot off.”
“We only need one,” Vicia said. “It will be enough power to take out the shields and destroy the ship.”
Raala shook her head. Then she started barking orders, “Balance the energy draw! Don’t let the core overheat! Find another cooling rod and pop a heat sink. Keep the pressure low!”
Obediently, Consensus followed orders. It pulled out another cooling rod, steam franticly escaped. Placing the spent rods in a cooling unit, it pulled out two more and reinserted them into the panel in front of the core. The dial on the temperature gage dropped slightly.
“Keelah se’lai,” Raala muttered, “We can’t do much more than this.”
Consensus nodded, “The system needs a rest. There is too much power draw.”
Raala pointed at one of the many consoles, “Deactivate all nonessential systems. We need the extra power.”
The ship barreled toward the enemy ship at around 115 miles per hour with only 20% of its shields. Shots were fired from the other ship, further dropping the shields. Both torpedos on either side of the ship charged up slowly. As the distance between the two ships decreased the torpedo charge increased.
Vicia’s eyes darted to the corner of her screen, waiting for that 100%. Suddenly it came.
“Target locked! Fire!” She called.
Vurtak pressed a button on the screen. The ship rumbled as two darts of blue light speed away toward their target. Vicia allowed herself to smile. They had won. But before she could celebrate the enemy did something unexpected.
They did the same.
Two darts of light raced toward them. Vicia pushed on the tiller, forcing the ship right. But it was too late. The distance between them wasn’t enough to dodge. A blinding light took up the entire screen. The ship shook from the impact. Then…darkness.
Soon the lights turned back on. Vicia growled in frustration and stepped off the platform. The others in the BNC sat quietly. No one said a word. On every screen before them were the words “Simulation Failed”. Even those below received the bad news.
“End of simulation,” KIDD’s voice echoed over the intercom. The VI’s voice was that of a young male. It seemed to be accessing more and more of the ships functions since Raala had uploaded it. “Exiting simulation mode. Reverting systems to normal.”
The core calmed down and the fusion energy remained intact. All the error messages on the screens and warnings on the consoles disappeared. The weapons were never actually fired. There was no enemy ship. In fact, the ship was still half stuck in a mountain of sand with its starboard wing partially damaged.
This was their fourth loss in a row and it was quickly getting old. It was their third day of living on the ship. Vicia had implemented a routine. Wake up, eat breakfast, simulations, ship repairs, eat lunch, more repairs, more simulations, eat dinner, free time, lights out. They had followed it for three days since their first night on the ship.
Miru had stated that she had found ship simulations and recommended that they go through a few. Vicia agreed. She stated that they should get to know the ship and how it functions and how it handles. But as time went on, the simulations got harder to beat.
Vicia was the first to speak, “Miru, create a synopsis on the last mission. Dinner is in ten minutes. We’ll meet in the crew quarters. Vurtak, Widow, you’re on guard duty.”
Silently, Widow stood. She walked to a corner foot locker and retrieved her sniper rifle. Vurtak followed after her, arming himself with his hammer and a shotgun. Together they headed toward the top deck.
Naryxea rolled her eyes. She stood up and faced Vicia, “Well, that was fun. Maybe next time we can get annihilated in real life! Wouldn’t that be just great!” Without waiting for a response, she laughed and walked out of the BNC.
Vicia waited a moment before leaving as well. Miru sat and analyzed their previous simulation while comparing it with their previous results.
Downstairs in the engine room, Raala sighed. She and Consensus quickly finished up balancing out the system before walking down the hall toward the elevator. When the doors opened, they were on the first floor. They walked aft in silence and entered the crew quarters.
Vicia held two tubes of dextro-protein paste in her hands. She handed one to Raala, keeping the other for herself.
“We’ll get the hang of it,” Raala said, trying to be positive.
Vicia nodded. She forced a smile, “I know. I just hope I don’t kill us outside of the simulations.” Her smile faded, “What I’m most worried about is our food supply. There should be enough food for the others. Especially, after we turn the lower research lab into green house. I just don’t know how were going to get much food for us. Miru said that she was working on a solution. As a medical unit, she’s the most qualified medic and scientist.”
“I just hope she doesn’t end up poisoning us when she does,” Raala stated plainly.
Vicia shook her head, “You really don’t like synthetics, do you?”
“Liking them doesn’t matter,” Raala opened the protein paste. “I just don’t trust them.”
A curious look came over Vicia’s features, “So why the name KIDD?”
Raala shifted anxiously, “I actually based it off a program I made when I was nine. I wasn’t the best speller then and I thought combat was spelled with a ‘k’ and not a ‘c’. By the time I was old enough to learn my mistake, the name stuck: KIDD. It stands for Combat, Intelligence and Defense Database.”
“You made a VI when you were nine years old? You parent must have been proud,” Vicia shook her head in disbelieve.
“They weren’t,” Raala stated.
Vicia, seeing Raala’s discomfort, decided to change the subject, “Consensus is almost done with the wing. Once he’s done, we need to figure out a way to get out of this sand pit.”
Raala nodded, “I’ve got a few ideas.”
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