DISCLAIMER: I do not own FTL: Faster Than Light.


PART I:

THE PURSUIT AND DESTRUCTION OF THE GFS CORDOBA


The Invincible rocked as a salvo of missiles raked the upper hull. The now-altered trajectory of the vessel was corrected automatically by the navigation computer. Similarly to the ship, the captain ceased the rotation of his chair and moved his attention to the viewscreen. A window of zoomed-in footage of their quarry was connected by a line to the speck in the distance that was their prey.

"Fire a full salvo as soon as the tubes are loaded-" The captain said before switching his attention to the helm, "after the salvo, move us into position so that our battle cannons can be put to use."

"Aye, sir!" The Helm and Weapon officer replied in unison.

They had been chasing this ship, the Cordoba, for nearly two days. It was badly damaged during the battle of Sector GX1-5C and had cornered itself in this system. Well… as cornered as one can get in space. It's only ways out were through a dense asteroid field, a nebula, a pulsar, or past the Invincible. Instead of risking the nebula, easily the safest of the available options, the battered Cordoba dug in its heels and came about for a fight. Well… more of a curb-stomp battle.

The ten missiles flew from Invincible's tubes and sped off into the distance, appearing shortly after in the window where they collided with Cordoba, blowing chunks of armour off the hull.

The captain looked at his personal screen. Most of their systems were down now. That last salvo had knocked their missile control offline. Only the engines and life support remained intact. The once mighty dreadnought Cordoba was now completely defenceless. A grim smile touched his lips. Their doom was in his hands. He turned to his communications officer.

"Hail them."

The captain of the Cordoba answered the hail and appeared in another window on the viewscreen. She was pale, almost sickly, sweat was running down her face, darkening the pale bluish-mauve uniform around her neck, and her hair was messy and unkempt. In fact, most of the crew, who were visible in the background, were in similarly ill states.

"Captain Owens I presume?" said she, her calm and steady voice contradicting her frightful appearance.

"Indeed." Owens replied, "I've hailed you to issue a request for your unconditional surrender captain..."

"Borushko."

"Right." He turned his head to cough lightly so as to rid himself of a tickle in his through. "Do your surrender captain Borushko? This needn't get any messier than it already has."

"What will happen to my ship and crew?" She asked, voice still holding steady.

"The data logs will be downloaded, the human crew processed, Xenos executed and the ship scuttled." He replied matter-of-factly.

Borushko glanced back at a distressed looking Zoltan officer. "We will need a moment to discuss this," she said.

"You have one minute," Owens stated before giving the communications officer a signal to cut the feed.

"Our batteries are fire ready, sir." The weapons officer reported.

"Lock onto the Cordoba's Life support" Owens stated, "perhaps it will scare them into submission and end this matter cleanly."

"Sir! I'm detecting another vessel!" Yelled the weapons officer.

"Sir! The Cordoba has come about and is heading straight for us." Called the helm. "It also appears that the smaller ship is being screened by the Cordoba."

"Fire the cannons!" Barked the executive officer.

"Firing now, sir!"

The battle cannons blasted their volley. Two shots missed with the other two striking the prow. Massive chunks of ship blew off into the void, yet there was no slowing.

"Fifty-thousand kilometres. Forty-thousand-nine-hundred kilometres. Forty-thousand-eight-hundred kilometres. Forty-thousand-seven-hundred kilometres." The navigation officer listed, voice growing more and more panicked as the Cordoba closed the gap between itself and Invincible.

"Those psychopaths are trying to ram us!" the executive officer exclaimed. "Helm, get us out of the way!"

"Belay that order," Owens ordered sternly, "Lieutenant, direct all fire at the breached sections of the bow, then fire the cannons and keep firing!"

"Yessir!" The weapons officer responded.

The cannons unleashed another volley, all shots hitting the now much closer Cordoba. Chunks of armour, hull, and systems flew from the detonations, yet the ship still continued to charge indefatigably. A pang of worry had hit all but the captain at this point.

"They are going to hit us, sir." the executive officer whispered in Owens' ear, which he promptly waved off without regard.

"Cordoba's ETA?" Owens asked generally.

"At current velocity, six minutes." The navigation officer responded.

"When will the next volley be ready?"

"Two minutes, sir."

Owens leaned to the side, resting his chin on his hand, calmly staring at the viewscreen and its display of their rapidly approaching doom. The executive officer's eye began twitching at this nonchalant display and he grew only more agitated by the second. The cannons fired again, smashing against their target with ferocity, which yet still moved toward them.

"Sir!" The executive officer protested, he'd had enough of being a deer in the headlights, "the ship will-"

"Let the cannons do their work, Commander!" Owens retorted.

The palpable panic among the crew made the air seem thick. Many a cold sweat broke out as all eyes were fixed on the viewscreen, watching the Cordoba, which was mere minutes away from them and closing in fast. The desperate crew of the battle cannons doing their best to ready the cannonade under the immense pressure of their quickly approaching death.

The cannons sounded once more, the twisted and scorched superstructure blasting into nothingness. The battered and blackened husk of Cordoba still yet nearing its gruesome end at breakneck pace.

The executive officer was at wit's end. Face as pale as a ghost in a flour mill yet also cheeks reddened with pent-up frustration and rage. The man was both boiling and frozen at the same time. The inside of his cheek chewed so hard it drew blood.

"ETA?" Owens called to the navigation officer.

"Four minutes thirty seconds." She replied, voice quaking.

"Cannons?" He called to the weapons officer.

"Three minutes at least." He replied, also visibly distressed.

Every second was agony. A tangible pain. Torture in its truest form. Time seemed to pass more slowly here than in the grasp of a black hole. Those of the crew who were of a faith were making peace with their deities. One noncom had huddled himself in his chair sobbing quietly and a rating next to him patted his back in comfort. Many who join the Navy believe that they've come to terms with their potential demise, only to break down in the face of it.

The cannons fired. Their shots true. From Cordoba's heart came a hellish fiery blast as the main reactor destabilised and the already taxed hull and keels broke. Large shards of steel-titanium shrapnel blew out in all directions. Chunks of ship deflected off of or skated across the Invincible's shields. The small vessel being screened by the now shattered dreadnought was sent spinning off into the distance, masked by the sheer amount of dying lifeforms and shards of ship nearly its size and mass. The bridge crew stood agape. A broad smile grew on Owens' face. He checked his watch.

"One minute twenty seconds to spare!" He declared happily, giving a loud singular clap.

No one registered this remark. They were currently finishing the final scenes of their life which had yet to pass fully before their eyes, as it had been doing so for the past ten minutes. The captain, triumphant in his stalwartness, stood and stretched out his arms.

"I think we could all use a short break." He stated jovially. He patted the executive officer on the shoulder, "take the chair, Commander. Settle everyone down and then join me in my ready room."

He relieved himself from the bridge and its still traumatized crew.


The executive officer's face was in his hands. He was still recovering from his staring contest with death.

"What's your preference, Gregory?" the captain started, "bourbon or rye whiskey?"

The executive officer lifted his face to meet the captain, who was holding two crystal decanters of liquor. All the rage that had subsided with the shock of victory suddenly began to boil up again. He stood slowly, hands firmly pressed to the desk to support the rising. He met his eyes to Owens'.

"We. Nearly. Died." His low voice quaking.

"We nearly die every day!" Owens laughed. "Escaping from the grasp of death is what makes life worth living and victory draughts all the better."

Gregory breathed in deeply. Trying his damnedest not to yell his following words. "This was excessive and unnecessary." His voice began to turn into a quiet growl, "we could have moved and still have won."

Owens set the decanters on his desk, sat in his chair, set his fingers in a triangle formation, and thought for a moment. After a few seconds of tapping his fingers together, he looked up at Gregory.

"I trusted the aim of our targeting computers and gunners. I did not believe that we were in danger." He started calmly. "They were getting closer and closer. Their trajectory was easy to calculate. Other than those first two shots, they all hit true. I firmly believe that we wouldn't have needed that last volley if those first two shots had hit." He reached into a drawer on his desk and retrieved a pair of whiskey glasses. "Now back to my original question. Bourbon or rye whiskey?"

Gregory slumped back into his chair. This was not the first time he had this talk with the captain, and he felt it was also far from the last. Once again, in this game of words and emotions, he had lost. The complaints and worries of the crew and himself bouncing off the impenetrable mind of captain Owens.

"Bourbon," Gregory answered defeatedly.

Owens poured the drinks from the decanter and raised his glass.

"To the rebellion!" He toasted.

"To the rebellion," Gregory responded half-heartedly.

They sat in uncomfortable silence for about three-quarters of the decanter. A detail of the battle had been wriggling in the back of Owens' mind for a while now. He didn't bring it up earlier due to Gregory's foul mood. It was always best, he felt, to let him cool off before returning to business.

"That small craft being screened by Cordoba. What was it?" He queried.

"Hm? Oh!" Gregory needed to snap back to attention. "The craft? Uh… It was a small shuttle. Three-person, according to Lieutenant Jones. It was sent flying off after the explosion."

"I see…" Owens responded. "A bit odd that it had left the dreadnought when it did though, isn't it? And it was being screened, which is also a bit odd."

Gregory shrugged "maybe they were worried about us shooting it?" He guessed.

"I… suppose..." Owens agreed. It didn't make much sense but it was as good a guess as any.

There was a pause.

"I should probably return to the bridge," Gregory said, standing up.

"Right. Have the helm set course for the main fleet and inform me two minutes before arrival, Commander."

"Yes, sir."


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hello everyone. I hope you enjoyed the story. I would appreciate constructive criticism if you have any to give. We always need FTL stories.