8-Bit Software Online Conversion

Just to make this story a bit unusual I'm using a few well known ST+ related names as characters in the story, including my own. Tales From The Frontier *********************** 'The Giant Thargoid Eye' Chapter Two - 'Pete's City Ship' By Martin Wilson The Convar inner system has become a cloud of dust and light. Moving within the cloud are super-dense segments of the inner cores of the twelve inner planets. The Convar star has lost part of its body to create a smaller mass of star matter now orbiting the main star. Convar 14 is being bombarded with fragments. The outer system has lost the pattern of their orbits slighly due to the gravity of the system now being quite different. Convar 13 has simply gone. There is a hint of the red colour of the planet that was, in the huge cloud of the inner system. Just outside this orbit, eleven black ships are escorting a Mongoose class Anti-Hyperspace vessel. A giant ship. Pete Augustin takes another sip of a rather fine wine. He's having what he calls a 'Lazy day'. Last week was a good week. He'd managed to destroy eleven Panthers and gain a lot of very high quality jewellery. He's just hyperspaced back into Vantar and is making his way to his home world of Paneer. Hopefully he'd meet up with his good friend Dave Hollis and find out what the Federation are up to. For the moment though he decides to take a look round his ship. To most pilots this would be a pointless and uninteresting exercise but Pete's ship is rather spacious to say the least. Pete is a man who's flown just about every ship there is but to his mind the bigger the better. So after a long and very successful career as a pirate he has become the only known person to fly a city ship solo. This isn't the normal non-hyperspace self-supporting 50,000-people carrying non offensive version. After years of modifying its become a hyperspacing, fuel thirsty, 1 person (and 50 droids) totally offensive and rather menacing version. When you fly a ship like this you're in constant need of supplies. Hence the need to commit piracy against only the very largest ships. It makes no sense to waste your time on a Cobra. Its really a Panther or nothing. This has meant Pete's become quite popular with the pilots of small craft and they often do little fly-by tributes when they encounter Pete. Panther owners are less than pleased. They like to think of themselves as pretty damn unburstable. However the City ship's huge triple thrusters, 12 large plasma accelerators and a pinpoint hyperspace device (so that it can appear right next to you) has always been a bit of a bummer to Panther pilots. Unsurprisingly you don't get many Panthers in the systems around Vantar. Vantar itself is an independent system with no alliegances and Pete Augustin is only allowed here on the condition that he protects Vantar's independence and doesn't pirate within the system. An arrangement Pete is more than happy with. The story of how Pete could afford a City ship is of course not relevant because he stole it. The only ship he ever bought was an Asp for scrap value. He spent the early years of his adult life fixing it up back on Charlton. Only to take it up out of the atmosphere and be shot down within the hour and crash it in one of Charlton's oceans. He managed to use the escape pod before the ship sank. Which he landed down in his back yard. Since then every ship he's had he has stolen. The City ship he now has was in the process of being delivered to Riptay to save the people there from their moon which had a collapsing orbit, due to an asteroid hit. Pete managed to get on board the craft with his army of illegal fighter droids and kill the pilots. He then flew the craft out of the system. Escorted by a lot of interplanetary shuttles containing a lot of angry people. It didn't take long though before they ran out of fuel. Most of these craft drifted for a while, then the passengers suffocated due to a lack of oxygen. One poor person landed his craft on the moon and could be heard over the airwaves suffocating during the actual collision. Not the most tranquil of ends. Pete took the City ship out far between the systems (at non-hyperspace speed) where he'd left his Panther. It stayed there where no one would ever find it for months and Pete would constantly upgrade it whenever he could source equipment. His greatest find was an Empire scientific vessel. It was disguised as a Hydrogen tanker and put up little ressistance to the lasers of Pete's Panther. He managed to get a whole lot of research droids that were drifting in the debris afterwards. These became part of the community on Pete's City ship. He only needed to suggest possible improvements and they would work on it. Many suggestions never bore fruit but a few did. After some time Pete's ship became a legend. With incredible armaments and intense shielding this was one hell of a ship. Superior to anything officially known. Unofficially there was the large military vessels of either side which realistically would be equal or superior. Pete's walking down the shopping complex on his City ship. Totally deserted as always. No droids come here. The walls around him have realistic animated views of famous tourist attractions from many different planets. He never bothered to switch them off. They didn't need much power. Quite a nice one today of a red mountain with pink clouds passing by it's top. He goes into one of the transport shuttles that ferry people around the ship and selects the hospital. He never actually bothered to change any names. In fact the hospital is next to an outer wall and thats where he's got one of his Large Plasma accelerators. He watches as the walls outside the shuttle flash by. The shuttle stops and he gets out. The droid responsible for the plasma accelerator looks at him. "Weapon operating at maximum performance" it says. Pete looks at the gun. The droid says "I'm operating at maximum effienciency". Pete "Yes thats fine, I'm just wandering about for a while". Pete leaves and goes out into the corridor. He goes into the research department and the sound of activity fills his mind. Droids are pacing across the room with various mechanical parts. Other droids are drilling. Mini robots working on high precision components are on the worktop on his left. Microrobots looking like dust can be seem swarming around over components on the worktop. This worktop circles the whole room. He steps inside and gets the attention of the commanding research droid. "Ready to Obey, what can we design for you?". Pete "Oh... nothing I'm just looking round, time on my hands and all that". Droid "right sir, something to entertain you". Pete "no,no I don't need anything, just concentrate on that new plasma thing you were on about". Droid "Thats finished sir but its rather unstable and we can find no way of making it safe so we haven't mentioned it. We're now developing an escort platform so that it can be mounted away from the craft at a safe distance so as not to cause harm to this ship if it explodes". Pete "excellent solution, I'm impressed". Droid "good Sir I'm glad you approve". Pete "So how much better is it?". Droid "Well, since its going to be escorting the craft at some distance I thought we'd remove all safeguards and we've managed to make it twelve times as powerful as the old large plasma accelerator. It should take out a space station with full shields in twenty shots". Pete "How effective against this City ship?". Droid "No effect sir". Pete "What, no effect at all?" Droid "Yes sir, we have uprated this ship's shields to reflect the plasma flow within 0.1 of a second by creating a shield tunnel that sends the flow back on itself". Pete "You guys really know your stuff". Droid "May I mention something we'd like to develop that you haven't suggested yet?". Pete looks a bit surprised and answers "Err.. I didn't think you could come up with your own ideas". Droid "Its not our idea, we managed to unscramble a Federation coded message that read of a Mongoose class vessel which could force other craft into hyperspace and drop them back into normal space in places where they would be destroyed, like near stars". Pete "Oh my God!, Jesssuss... drop everything else and get working on some way of preventing it being used against this craft". Droid "No need sir, its not capable of hyperspacing this craft due to it's size, its only of use against small to medium size craft, it also needs the craft to be hyperspace equipped as it remotely activates the hyperspace engines by hyperspacing energy within the hyperspace engine but the technique is only effective on small craft because of their single hyperspace engine and thinner hulls.". Pete "I see well thats alright then, not quite as bad as it first sounded". Droid "There is one precaution I would recommend. Normally when you get to Paneer and park along side the space station you take the Imperial Trader to dock with it. I suggest you take something else which isn't hyperspace equipped". Pete "Have I got anything that isn't hyperspace equipped?" Droid accesses main ship computer and views the City Ship's docking bay "I can't really see anything, what about that old Viper in the corner?" Pete "I'm not going in there, the coppers are all mushed up inside its a right mess, theres a load of gold in there but I'm waiting until they decompose a bit more then the automatic chemical sprinklers will come on and clean out the ship for me, at the moment they still look too much like people and so its prevented from cleaning" Droid "I could clean it out for you". Pete "No to be honest I wouldn't want to fly it over anyway, I hate Vipers, once I get the gold out its going to be dumped straight away. They're all speed and no handling". Droid "What about if I remove the hyperspace system from the Trader?" Pete "No better not I might need that later just in case, you never know. This ships pretty strong but its not invincible" Droid "Well sir I really don't know" Pete "Hey wait a minute I've got an idea that theres some small craft that came with this vessel" Droid "I'll take a look sir, at the manifest.... yes but they are very small" Pete "How small?" Droid " Well put it this way, you don't ride inside but sit on top in a vacuum suit." Pete "It sounds pretty dangerous" Droid "Yes sir but its better than burning up in a ship heading straight for a star". Pete "agreed, its only 30 seconds of danger anyway, I'll risk it". Imagine your head securely clamped in a vice with the handle being suddenly tightened to cause a massive but dull sensation of pain and then for it to untighten to quick relief, and with this cycling every second. This is the sort of headache that Dave is experiencing. "Someone shoot me please..". The Thargoid standing over Dave "I thought you wanted to live". Dave's eyes suddenly open and the memory of events suddenly come back to him. Still a bit giddy he grabs on to the Thargoid's legs and pulls himself up until he is facing the top of the Thargoids chest and then takes two steps backwards. "Whats happening?". The Thargoid looks at Dave "I've sent the message and two Thargoid fighters are coming to meet us". Dave looks out the cockpit window "This system seems vaguely familar". The Thargoid nodding his head slightly "Yes it should be its the Vantar system, I don't know why we're here it must be some sort of malfunction but I can't explain it". Dave "No worries this couldn't be better, set a course for Paneer". Thargoid "No". Dave "Why? Oh wait I know, I'd actually forgotten for the moment that you're a Thargoid, look I know we can't go there because they will kill you but I'm still not convinced that the Thargoids coming won't kill me". Thargoid "Yes its difficult I know but this craft is heavily damaged I don't think you'd make it to the space station anyway". Dave "Yes, good point but..., well... I know if I can send a message to Pete, I'm sure he'd come and his ship is pretty damn rapid". Thargoid "No, he's as likely to kill me as anyone else". Dave "If I ask Pete not to kill you then he won't, its that simple. Look howabout we get that message off and whoever gets here first either Pete or your Thargoid chums gets to sort this situation out, you got your message off earlier so its more likely to be the Thargoids anyway. The risk of me being killed by Thargoids is probably the same as you being killed by Pete. Thargoid "Well I don't like the idea really but its fair, ok". Dave reaches for the communications panel he sets the encryption code for one used between Pete and himself "Pete this is Dave, I need urgent assistance, I'm at the edge of the system, reference 110004005,445644,33546443 please come immediately. If you see any Thargoid vessels in area do not attack, I'll explain later". Pete is in the main hangar of his city ship and has just found a knife after a long search. Side doors to the hangar open and a droid-controlled transport vehicle drives in and approaches Pete. Droid "Here it is sir, I brought the red one as you didn't say a preference" Pete "Red, I wanted the blue one right at the front, the one I could see on the monitor". Droid "Oh I've always liked red myself" Pete" You should not have any preferences in colour" Droid " I never expected to be carrying cargo about. I am programmed for hair styling and clothes alteration" Pete "oh right you're one of the droids who actually came with this ship. Well it doesn't really matter, I'll be crashing this one anyway I expect, you may as well go back for the blue one". Droid "Right sir unless you prefer the yellow" Pete "BLUE!". The droid uses the mini crane fitted and lowers a large box to the ground and drives off the way he came. Pete sticks the knife into the box and starts cutting it away from the contents inside. Within two minutes he's unwrapped it completely and there in front of him is the Realspace 2000 (The spacebike reborn!). Pete reaches for the manual and sits down to read it: The Realspace 2000 is the bike of your dreams. Experience speeds in excess of any other non hyperspace craft. Take 90 degree turns that will astound other space faring vechicles, use the latest compact pulse lasers to take out your enemies. Enjoy space, Enjoy Life. Instructions. The Realspace 2000 needs no fuel and is self maintaining. It has no user servicable parts. In event of fault ... Wait a while and it should be fixed. Faults take a maximum of 2 hours to repair. Controlling the 2000 Move Handlebar left to move left and move handlebar right to move right. To go up and down. Use feet to move height bar up to go up and down to go down To go faster and brake. Simply put pressure on throttle handle either side of handlebar to go faster and release to stop To shoot. Look at craft in question and say the word fire. The inbuilt computer will monitor your eye and mouth movements automatically. Do not use the word fire over the communication system without first pressing the guns disable button in the middle of the handlebars. Don't forget to put it on again later although it will automatically switch on when laser activity around your vechicle is detected. Docking. We at Realspace believe anyone can manually dock a ten foot long space craft without need of a docking computer. However the "Help I'm Lost" button will take the craft at full speed to the nearest space station with the strongest beacon signal, however docking must be manual at arrival. Please note the Realspace 2000 may not be liable to parking fees in many stations and so can actually enter through minor doorways of many space stations quite legally. In high traffic systems the station controller will normally encourage this. The Realspace 2000 does not have shields but automatic fast avoidance so if the bike moves suddenly left don't be surprised to see laser fire to your right. This has been shown to be very effective. A shield unit can be fitted but requires an improved power unit. This spec is for military bikes normally and therefore it is illegal for us to sell it directly to the public. However kits are available to upgrade the spec and if fitted yourself this is legal. On a final note. Avoid going near gas giants as the Realspace 2000 has no protection against radiation or the suit damaging elements that the atmosphere of these planets contain. Remember ride fast in a Realspace! Pete closes the instructions. "Sounds easy enough, if I put my hand there and foot there" Pete climbs onto the bike. The Realspace "Welcome to your first trip on this Realspace, You are currently in a docking bay so it will manoeuvre at low speeds only" The bike lifts up about two feet in the air. He gently flies it round the bay "This is easy". He flies it back to it's origin. Pete releases his grip on the handlebars and the bike quickly lowers down again. Pete dismounts and walks back to the doorway that will take him back to the control room. Before he gets there the droid drives up with the Blue Realspace "I've got the blue one sir", Pete "fine, unpack it will you and place it next to the red one I'll be back later" Droid "Right sir". The City ship is nearing Paneer and Pete sits down at the control console for the final approach. He opens communication with Paneer station. The comms terminal display switches on and the face of Chris Holland the station controller appears "Hi Pete, you better park close we are getting some strange reports in about all sorts and we fear that this system may be about to be attacked, its just a guess but our instruments have detected some sort of disturbance at Convar. Massive particle streams have been coming from there. Also ships mining in the area have not returned. There's also been reports of federation military craft and THARGOIDS!". Pete "Oh I know about the Federation already Daves gone to Convar to investigate a squadron of Black Federation ships plus I know that a Mongoose class vessel is in the vicinity as my droids have unscrambled a message" Chris "Oh dear, we may be on borrowed time, typical my Lion's got major engine problems too, I'll just have to hitch a lift with someone if we have to bail out of this system" Pete "I'm planning to stand and fight if necessary but worse comes to the worse I'll tow the station out of harm's reach" . Chris "There ain't many pilots who can say that, thanks" Pete "I just hope Daves alright especially if there's Thargoids around" Chris "Yes two Vipers got caught in a skirmish with a Thargoid, one got blown to pieces almost instantly, the other was given long enough to eject, in fact he reckons the Thargoid actually redirected his escape capsule so as not to collide with an asteroid" Pete "Strange days indeed" Chris "We've also had other reports of Thargoid craft entering normal systems and hunting out specific targets who are mainly some of the better pilots" Pete "Perhaps they're testing the skill of our pilots" Chris "If they are we're doomed as they've got every target they've gone for. Not only that but the craft seem better, they look the same but firepower and shields seem stronger and actually piloting is far more imaginative and hard to second guess". Pete "I don't know what they're up to but they must be working to some sort of plan" Chris "Yes I'd put money on it". Pete "Am I cleared to dock". Chris "Yes we've got a nice big bay ready for your Imperial Trader" Pete "Don't need it, I'll be coming over on a Realspace" Chris "What, one of those weedy little spacebikes" Pete "Err.. yes I'll tell you why when I get over there" Chris "That should be interesting.... Hey wait a minute it sounds like a coded message is coming in..... we can't descramble it, is it meant for you" Pete "Probably, I'd better go and check it out, seeyah". Pete disconnects his connection with Chris and descrambles the message "Pete this is Dave, I need urgent assistance, I'm at the edge of the system, reference 110004005,445644,33546443 please come immediately. If you see any Thargoid vessels in area do not attack, I'll explain later". Pete dashes to the main cockpit seat.