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Shalidar13 t1_j6e9zf6 wrote

Being a shipbreaker isn't always a steady job. Most people prefer to use shipyards to condemn their ships, but it isn't surprising. They could get good rates, were generally easily accessible, and most of the time they would be alive at the end of it.

I didn't have a static base. I had a converted freighter, with all the space I could need. I hunted the stars, looking for derelict ships, and breaking them apart. But it was always a toss-up on whether or not it was a payday for me. Galactic law stated that if they have been abandoned for two standard years, they were free game. Anything less, and I had to contact the authorities first.

Not only that, there were occasions where survivors still existed aboard. If they were, I was under obligation to aid them, including towing their ship to a nearby system to get help. Sure, I got a bounty from it, but that was nothing compared to what I could get for ship parts.

After trawling through hyperspace, I found something worth investigating. An arcane based battleship, floating dead in the void. A brief scan showed there to be no life-signs or support aboard. Perhaps unsurprising, given the large hole where its command deck would be located.

I deployed my fey-spirit drones, letting them analyse its age for me. They could see its past, coupled with age-determining instruments could easily give me an accurate idea. Soon enough, I received a confirmation from them. This wreck, the Fractal Lance, was around five years old.

With that in mind, I gave it a structural scan. I identified multiple smaller power sources, armed but powered down chromatic lances, and an intact Possessed Crystal. These were the most volatile of areas, with any small mistake having a potential of major damage to my own ship.

First off, the power sources were likely linked to elemental planes. It was a standard solution in these arcane based vessels, drawing in their raw energy to power the ship. However, these were painstakingly produced, with careful balance between the planes, as well as wards to contain them. Damage to these wards would let loose untamed power, which could result in a portion of the ship around it being dragged into one of these planes.

The chromatic lances were standard long-range armaments. Enchanted with a mixture of chaotic magic, they would launch a projectile filled with its unstable power. Although powered down, the enchantments still lingered, holding residual strength. A misjudged cut could cause them to be launched, which would end badly for anything in its path. Not only that, if not carefully transported, they could break, which in a confined space with chaotic magic was a very Bad Thing.

Finally, the Crystal was delibrately possessed. Running a ship of this size required a lot of thinking power. The easiest way to do that was bind an Infernal being, and use it to control the ship. Various contracts would be used to keep it in place, however they were always with the Captain of the ship.

If the Captain was dead, it would be unchained. It would try and take over unprotected systems. I would have to isolate it, for proper disposal or re-binding. As much as I trusted my own bound Infernal, it was never a smart idea to be in a position to test them.

With the danger areas identified, I notified my constructs to begin the dismantling. As they did so, I took a copy of its backup computer records. Once in range of a command hub, I would provide them with the records. They could notify any family members of the crew, and officially list it as decommissioned over lost in space.


s-mores t1_j6eukci wrote

Ohh sweet I love the two steps of depth in tech discussions, enough to get a good idea and immediate innate understanding yet enough wiggle room for details and edge cases later.

Very sophisticated worldbuilding.


prejackpot t1_j6f3nzz wrote

Little mortal

The voice echoed in my skull as I floated through the long central shaft of the derelict. The etheric sails had been torn to shreds, first by kinetic blasts, then by micro-meteors, and finally by the ravages of time, leaving the ship becalmed in a distant orbit. The saltwater reactor had drained long ago; there was no power for the lighting strips, leaving the interior dark.

Creature of a diminished age, you diminish it more. You break what you cannot build.

The voice grew louder as I went up, away from the engine. Most modern ships house their daemon toward the center, where they can be protected and wired to every ship subsystem with the minimal length of copper wire. But old warships put their daemon at the prow.

Do you know what I was?

The lights snapped on with a flash. I blinked hard and whispered a ward. It was an illusion, but a strong one. I saw ghostly sailors filling the shaft carrying harpoons and wounded comrades; marines with spectral vibroblades. I couldn’t see out, but somehow I knew without a doubt that in the illusion, in the daemon’s memory, we were above Port Coriolis, on the eve of the fall of the Long Diet.

This had been a great ship once.

I could make you great.

The illusion shifted. Now the sailors were wearing modern uniforms; on their sleeve was the family crest, the one my grandsire had insisted we were entitled to. They cheered my name.

I double-checked the seals and wards on my suit, and then I pushed my way through the maintenance hatch at the prow. Towering beside me, bare-chested, spear in hand, was the ship’s figurehead — the ship’s daemon. Her eyes glowed red.

I could give you worlds.

There was no illusion this time; just a certainty that the ship’s daemon was right. I could fix this ship. My crew would follow me.

I felt a hunger for conquest, for revenge, and I couldn’t tell if it was mine or the ship’s.

“Boss, fuel tanks are detached, Dyan wants to know if you want to do the honors or if she can make the superstructure go boom this time."

This voice in my ear was concrete and familiar. I didn’t want to rule anything, it reminded me. All I wanted was a steady paycheck for my crew.

“Go ahead,” I radioed back. “Boom authorized.” And then I fired up my own torch, and started to cut.


Metalcastr t1_j6gza5r wrote

The hardest part of breaking ships is defusing them. Years of training and practical experience still meant multiple deaths a year, the tally increasing.

I was senior at 7 years. Lucky.

The battle-scarred indigo-purple ship changed colors depending on the angle of station lighting.

"Alright, ship. What are you hiding?". The only sounds were my suit breathing apparatus, and occasional radio chatter on the general band, from Station Ops. I waved the access key at the hatch; a metal playing card with the ship's name: The Stygian.

Shivers down my spine (which may actually be a auth scan, with these old ones). The door opened.

Inside, the Standby Power Fusion Reactor attempted to ignite and failed, causing reverberations throughout. Wall sconces lit with a blue flame; emergency magik. Engaging suit thrust, I entered.

Engineering. That's where I had to go, that's where any remaining power would be. Then the real work starts, dismantling. Each wall had a map, my suit's HUD did too. Passing each wall, there were dark stains. Pulling up the ship's history, there had been a hostile boarding. Rare, but it happens.

"Successfully defended, neat." The wiki article went into how several heroes defended the ship in hand-to-hand wand battle. Was a big deal, for its day. Almost there.

"Engineering. Fantastic." I used my access card, it failed. Time for manual bypass. Pulling apart the door panel, my own wand made quick work of the security codes, and I was in.

The ship responded.

"YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED HERE." A blue flaming skull appeared in front of the security console. A hybrid magic-computer, part AI and part soul, the ship's security system was designed to defend with psychology as well as advanced security tactics. Each ship was built with top-secret security defusal protocols, different per ship. I requested them from HQ.

"Hey, Kelvin, you there?"

"Yeah, what did you need?"

"I need the defuse codes for the Stygian."

"Oh, that one. Wow. You know they originally wanted to preserve it, but they already have several examples as museums. Let me request auth."

It was several minutes before a response.

"Okay, sending them over now. Be sure to repeat this exactly or you're going to have to exit and re-enter the room."

The codes appeared on the HUD.

"Thanks, Bob!"

"Anytime, Cynthia."

I began the sequence, the auth keywords in brackets.

"Oh ship. Your service in battle was [glorious], and the people you served live on to tell the [tale] of your [glory].

[do a dance, doesn't matter what kind]

This was new. I did a little dance and spun around.

"Oh [great] ship, you may now rest, your service is over. Authcode [1884656399 Alpha Delta Sierra Ampersand Oscar Octothorp 550272].

[You may rest.]

With wand ready, the skull faded out and my wand absorbed the last vestiges of power. The wall sconces went out, and the wand glowed bright. The next ship would receive this power and memory.

"Base, I have it. The ship is safe for decom."

"Great, we were concerned the security system would activate, it got James last week on the Intrepid. Thankfully the system didn't have enough power left, and he's fine now."

"Heading back, see you in a few."


AslandusTheLaster t1_j6k4ru9 wrote

We'd set out on our journey with modest hopes. Make some deliveries, do a bit of trading, maybe explore some under-examined parts of The Void. This mission wasn't meant to be a grand, ambitious quest, it was a glorified road trip with some side hustles along the way... But apparently, that was still a bit too close to the sun for the IVC Icarus, because we were caught up in a Void storm and were left adrift.

I didn't even know if the rest of the crew was still alive. We'd been stuck in separate chambers when the hull was breached, and the life support rune matrix had given out two hours ago. However, just as the air was starting to get thin in the room I'd been stuck in, a knocking came at the door.

"Hello? Anyone in there?" a voice called out.

"What? Who's out there? The ship's life support is down!" I said.

"Oi, look alive gents, we've got a live one in here!" the voice said, clearly directing their words to someone else. Then they shouted back at me. "Do you have a breathing apparatus in there?"

"I used most of my mana reserves trying to save the ship, I couldn't power one even if I had it," I said.

"Boys, fetch an emergency apparatus from the stockpile!" the voice said. A minute or two passed before they pounded on the door again and said. "Hold your breath, buddy, we're cracking in."

I drew a breath quickly, and braced myself as they rammed their way through the door, allowing the air to escape despite the runes that had been keeping it contained. On the other side stood a woman in outdated imperial garb, flanked by several men wearing an assemblage of clothing from random places, in various states of repair.

"Knock knock," she said, tossing an amulet to me. I caught the piece of metal, and immediately felt a pocket of air form over my body, protecting me from the cold caress of the Void.

"Thank the gods you arrived when you did..." I said. "So who are you?"

"Ship crackers, junk filchers, scrap collectors, whatever you want to call it," the woman said. "We saw this derelict vessel floating about, and figured we might be able to get a good haul from it. Turns out it's fresh enough to have warm bodies in it, who knew?"

"So, not an imperial rescue team. I suppose that was too much to hope for," I said. "Have you found anyone else?"

"A few frozen corpses, and one comatose kid, but there are a few rooms we haven't searched yet. Come on, let's get you somewhere that has... You know, air," she said. She turned toward the man wearing a plaid vest and tricorn hat. "Bertie, check the next one while I escort our new guest..."

"Right away, Ma'am," the man said, walking over to a janitor's closet. If there was any more than a single servant in there, they were unlikely to have survived.

The posh woman led me through to a large fissure in the ship, with a door pressed against it into a different vessel. She the way into the halls of a somewhat past-its-prime ship full of random bits of treasure and memorabilia.

"What the hell is all this?" I asked.

"Loot, plunder, treasure... What's it look like?" she asked, continuing down the hall.

"Loot? Plunder? What sort of operation is this?" I asked.

"What do you mean what kind of- Oh, wait, you haven't pieced it together yet, have you?" she asked. "The name's Alexandria Torrentia Polypheus Renholt III, better known as Queen Tor-Pol."

"Queen T- Oh... Shit, this is a pirate vessel isn't it?" I asked.

"The best pirate vessel, thank you very much. You're aboard the Intrepid Valor," Tor-Pol said.

"Right... So what happens next?" I asked.

"Well, once we've found all your ship's personnel, living and otherwise, we'll remove any equipment and magical devices still in working order. Once those are out, we'll strip any valuable scrap from the ship, such as the rune conduits and burnt out rune matrices, then figure out whether it's worth dragging the remaining hulk in to be refitted or dismantled for parts, or if we should just leave it to fill some of the Void's endless hunger," Queen Tor-Pol said.

"I was actually more curious what would happen to me and my crewmates," I said.

"Ah, I see. Well, that depends on who you are..." the Queen said, pausing for a moment. "...That's, uh, that's your cue to tell me who you are..."

"Oh, sure. I am Velsor Tinnarus, Operations Magi of the Imperial Void Crawler Icarus. No, I did not get a vote on the name of our vessel, nor is the irony lost on me," I said.

"Ooh, Magi, eh?" Tor-Pol said. "Those are some valuable skills. Probably worth a pretty penny to ransom back to the Empire, or you could stick around and help out our little operation. Plenty of coin to be had, and we typically don't have imperial enforcers kicking in our door."

"Pretty piss poor at their jobs then," I said.

"Aye, more invested in crushing their own people than the actual outlaws, they are, but that's none of my business," Tor-Pol said with a shrug as she stepped into what appeared to be some sort of mess hall. She turned toward a young man wearing a striped shirt and a neckerchief. "Chauncy! Fetch our guest some bread and wine! And don't let him out of your sight, I've got to go oversee the rest of the search!"

"O-okay, Ma'am!" the young man said, stumbling over a chair as he tried to walk toward the barkeeper without turning his head away from me.

"You can relax, Chauncy! There's nowhere for me to flee to anyway!" I called after him.

"Right-o. Well, if all goes well more of your crew might be alive, but if I were you I'd start figuring out whether you want to join us or not. In any case, I'm off," Tor-Pol said, heading for the door.

I sat down at a table and waited for Chauncy to bring the food he'd been told to provide. The wine was foggy, probably a cheap Merlot from the look of it, and the only serving receptacle he brought was a shallow trencher and a cup, both made of wood. The "bread" was a ship's biscuit, as hard as a rock and about half as palatable, so I poured a bit of the wine onto the dish and let it soak into the bread.

"So, uh, how did you get stranded?" Chauncy asked.

"Ah yes, the one subject I was itching most to discuss at this exact moment," I said, narrowing my eyes at the young man. He shrunk back under my gaze, and I relented. "But I suppose it's worth at least venting a bit..."

I told the young man my take on events. How the Captain decided to chart a course directly through a boulder ring instead of going around as I had advised, acquiescing to the helmsman's insistence that "he could get us through" and that "it would be faster". By the time we'd gotten through, our defense system had burned through a quarter of our mana preventing the drifting stones from ripping us asunder. "No problem", they had said, "there's a rest stop in the next realm", but the station we reached had recently fought off a Void Dragon, so they didn't have enough mana in reserve to sell us any. Such was an ever-present risk in the Void, and the reason I didn't want to spend our energy unnecessarily.

We had trekked on, and found another crew in need of help. However, the captain didn't deign to wake me up, so I slept through the entire operation and we missed the chance to siphon their mana cores before leaving. By the time we docked next, we were at half of our max capacity, and said dock didn't have a mana station. We set out on the excruciating next leg of the journey, and ended up stuck in a time anomaly for a week, by the end of which we were so low on energy that we had to choose between keeping the lights on or keeping life support running...

"So what did you do?" Chauncy asked.

I stared blankly at him for a moment before saying, "Believe it or not, we elected to continue breathing and burned candles for light instead. Suffice to say, by the time the Voidlings showed up and breached our hull, the situation was basically doomed already. I swear, if there's any justice in this world the captain had better be among the bodies..."

As if on cue, a voice called out from the entryway into the mess hall. It said, "Velsor! Thank goodness you made it!"

"God dammit..." I said. I turned toward the boisterous man in his Imperial Naval Officer's uniform and said. "Hello, Captain."


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