The Huntress Prologue
*FUEL RESERVES BELOW 2%. EMERGENCY FUEL TANKS ARE EMPTY*
"I know that already! Go to HELL, you stupid thing!"
*I AM A MACHINE. THE ONLY PERSON ON THE SHIP WHO MAY END UP THERE IS YOURSELF WHEN THIS SHIP CRASHES*
The pilot's hand slowly edged towards a compact blaster on the table, even as she cursed a certain somebody for buying that aftermarket personality matrix' communication module. It had a sense of humor that she wouldn't wish upon a tribble, let alone herself. Unfortunately, she'd thrown out the old communication module and hadn't had time to buy a new one yet
*VIOLENCE WILL ONLY HASTEN THE DEMISE OF THIS CRAFT*
She gave the speaker a slightly twisted grin. "Oh yeah, but since _you're_ part of this craft... besides, I'll feel much better this way..."
*RECOMMEND IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY LANDING* the computer suggested, almost sounding hasty.
"Don't you think I'd _love_ to do that? But WHERE?!?"
*UNCHARTED PLANET NEARBY*
Reluctantly, the pilot lowered the weapon and sat back down in the command chair. The details were already appearing on a screen to her left. The planet was an M-class plane, the conditions nearly perfect for her, if a little hot. If she could land there, she would be delayed several days, until she could find something to use as fuel. But she didn't have much of a choice right now...
Buckling into her seat, she turned off the life support and gravity systems to conserve power. The spaceship went almost completely silent as the engines were reduced to an idle. Up ahead, the target planet loomed, slowly growing larger as the spacecraft coasted in under its own momentum. Already, the entire forward window was occupied by its presence. She could only hope that her ship had enough fuel to perform a landing that would let her survive.
Several moments later, the front of the ship began to heat up from air friction.
*ALERT* the computer's voice rang out.
*Heat shields are deactivated. Entry heat may ignite fuel*
She cursed. "But I'll run out of fuel if I turn them on!"
*FIFTEEN SECONDS UNTIL FUEL REACHES CRITICAL TEMPERATURE.*
And that meant that the ship would never even have a chance to land. It probably wouldn't do much for her in the beauty department either. Although she wouldn't be around to complain.
"Put heat shields to 25%," she ordered.
*NOW FORTY SECONDS UNTIL CRITICAL TEMPERATURE.*
"Can this ship land by that time?" she demanded.
She tried again. "Heat shields to 50%. Is the fuel okay now?"
*SEVENTY SECONDS UNTIL-*
"I don't care!" she snapped. "Is the fuel okay?"
"Then find me a good landing spot."
*INPUTTING DIRECTIONS TO LANDING SYSTEM NOW.*
A screen in front of her flickered on, giving her a readout on several possible landing locations. After briefly looking between them, she chose a large plains area. A smooth landing would be both appreciated and needed right now. She was already descending at two or three times the recommended speed, in an effort to reduce the amount of air time.
The ground was approaching fast. Maybe too fast.
*WILL THE SHIP SURVIVE THE LANDING?* she asked, her hands rapidly playing over controls, trying to keep the ship stable enough to land.
*ODDS ARE TERRAIN DEPENDANT. FLAT AREA RECOMMENDED.*
"No kidding," she muttered, pulling the nose of the plane up. The area was small, and there was a forest in front of it. If she fell short... things might get bumpy.
The atmosphere was rather thin compared to other planets she had experience with, and the spacecraft had never been properly shaped for atmospheric travel. As a result, the ship's descent was rapidly progressing from 'unadvised' to 'unhealthy'.
*FUEL HAS BEEN DEPLETED.*
Her face paled. "But you said the ship could make it!"
*DEPLETED FUEL CANNOT CATCH FIRE.*
The screens in front of her flickered as the main power went off-line, replaced with the emergency battery's power. She was going to fall short.
"If I live through this, I'm going to melt you down!" she swore, desperately grabbing for a helmet and putting it on.
She had just thrown down the clear visor when the ship hit a tree. Things went downhill from there.
She wasn't sure how much later it was, but eventually, she awoke to a bright light glaring down through her eyelids. After some experimental shifting, she determined that her arms and legs had feeling and could move. That known, she immediately used one hand to help shield her eyes from the glare, the other to ease herself to a sitting position. The feel of the metal floor told her that she was no longer sitting on the command chair. Indeed, she couldn't even find the command chair nearby.
Her eyes rapidly adjusted to the excess of light, letting her size up her surroundings. She _was_ on her ship still. The cockpit was about ten feet away now, the chair about ten away in the opposite direction. Whatever the crash had involved, it had been bad enough to separate the two of them. Using a shelf to brace herself, she gingerly got to her feet, immediately feeling lightheaded. She felt sore all over, but nothing was broken. But a bruise or two might yet make themselves known.
Making her way to the front of the ship, she removed the helmet from her head, noting several dents in the surface. Once again, she breathed a silent prayer of thanks to whatever had kept her alive this far. The computer screens were blank, informing her of several possibilities. One, she'd been out for so long, the battery had run dry. Or two, the ship had been damaged badly enough that the power conduits had been wrecked.
"Hey, computer?" she ventured.
Her face lit up in a smile. "Wow, never thought I'd be glad to hear _you_, you piece of crap. What's the status of this ship?"
*NON-REPAIRABLE. ESTIMATED SALVAGE VALUE OF 45000 CREDITS.*
She winced. "That bad, huh? What still works?"
*PERSONAL WEAPONRY ABOARD IS INTACT. TOP PORTION OF HULL IS INTACT. REAR FOOD STORAGE IS INTACT BUT POWERLESS. POWER GRID IS SEVERELY DISRUPTED.*
"Could be worse," she admitted. "How much power does this ship have left?"
*ESTIMATE 5 HOURS AT PRESENT CONSUMPTION.*
"Fine. What about the sensor grid?"
*UNKNOWN. NO POWER.*
"How about information on this planet?"
*SCARCE. NON-FEDERATION CONTROLLED. ORBITING LARGE ENERGY BODY OF UNKNOWN NATURE. NO FURTHER DATA.*
"Any civilizations?" she inquired.
*Go on standby mode," she ordered, "until I get the sensors working again."
Squeezing out through the mangled doorway was a task onto itself, but after several attempts, she eventually managed it. Thankful for her short frame, but resolving to lose some weight in the future, she carefully stepped out what remained of the left wing. Ten feet of it had been torn off in a messy fashion and was nowhere to be seen in the area.
As for the area itself, it was forest. And nothing but forest. Aside from a long pathway behind the ship, courtesy of the route her ship had taken to land' here, everything was green. Many of the trees had to be hundreds of feet tall, and thirty feet around at their base. Interspersed among the giants, assorted smaller trees tightly obscured her view beyond a few hundred feet. Occasionally, a creature would fly overhead, letting out a squawk of indignation. For all she knew, she had just bulldozed its nest into oblivion during her miserable excuse for a landing.
No signs of any development.
With a sigh, she forced herself to concentrate on the task at hand. She needed to get the sensors operational. With luck, they would be in working condition, only needing power. Once they were working, she could locate a city and get her hands on some parts and materials, to repair her ship. If it was possible. If she lucky, this planet would have a well-developed enough level of technology that she could just buy a new ship and just leave her old one behind. She had the finances for it, the only issue was whether they would be worth anything to the culture that inhabited this planet. IF a culture inhabited this planet.
Carefully, she made her way down to the ground, aiming for the outside access to the sensor system. Each step felt rather light, as though she had lost half her body weight. Lighter gravity, she guessed. The vast majority of planets had a lighter gravity than the planet she'd grown up on. It came in handy a lot of times. Like now.
After some rather undignified ground crawling, she managed to get herself under the ship, facing the sensor array panel. The protective panel itself had been torn off, hinges and all, but it seemed to have kept the internals from harm. Unfortunately, several handfuls of wiring had been attached in such a way that they would travel with the panel as it swung downwards. Their absence suggested that they were still attached to the panel, wherever it was now.
She sighed again. Time to start finding parts.
It was almost two hours later that her work finally showed signs of success. Actually, she had been somewhat fortunate to have gotten the work done so quickly. A lot of the parts she had used had been taken off other devices, and a lot of them had been buried in wreckage. The lighter gravity had been a bonus when it came to shifting heavy objects around.
*POWER RE-ESTABLISHED TO SENSORS* the computer informed.
"About time," she muttered. "So what's their condition?"
*SHORT-RANGE SENSORS AT 50%. LONG-RANGE SENSORS ARE INOPERABLE.*
It could have been worse. But not much. "Scan the surroundings and tell me what you see."
Several beeps ensued, followed by a *SPECIFY DESIRED DETAILS.*
"The nearest developed area with a repair bay," she muttered.
"The nearest source of parts?"
"Well, how about the nearest city with a big power plant?" The surest sign of high-technology was that it required a lot of power.
She swallowed at that. "How about... any power plant?"
"You gotta be kidding me! There's got to be a power plant somewhere around here!"
"How about some life forms?" she inquired weakly. It would be just her luck to crash-land on a planet with no life on it...
*NUMEROUS LIFE FORMS WITHIN SENSOR RANGE.*
She let out her breath, abruptly aware that she had been holding it. So there _was_ life here. "How about intelligent life? Any signs?"
*EVIDENCE OF INTELLIGENT LIFE WITHIN 30 KILOMETERS.*
Now the important issue. "_How_ intelligent?"
*ESTIMATED TO BE BETWEEN 3.2 AND 3.5 ON THE FEDERATION INTELLIGENCE SCALE.*
"You've got to be KIDDING me!" she finally protested. "You're telling me they don't even have _electricity_?"
She slumped down, fortunately landing on a bench. She was screwed worse than she'd thought. She could have taken the prospect of having to repair her ship. She might even have been able to stomach being killed in the landing. But... to be stranded?
She was screwed with a _white-hot_ poker to be exact. Her ship had a few hours of power left, and the only intelligent life around still hadn't thought of the electric lightbulb. To be exact, they still had 0.5 to 0.8 points to make up on the Federation Intelligence scale before the light bulb happened. Her knowledge that this typically represented about 30 or 40 years wasn't very encouraging. She had a hunch that particle accelerators and microchromatic deflector screens would be scarce as well.
"Seeing as I'm screwed, anything else interesting around here?" she muttered.
*PLANET EXHIBITS SIGNS OF HERALDIC USAGE.*
That was worth noting. It was considered rather outdated, but heraldry could do a few interesting things outside of normal technology. There were some interesting weapons around that used heraldry as their basis. "How much usage?"
*ESTIMATED TO BE BETWEEN 9.1 AND 9.3 ON THE FEDERATION HERALDRY SCALE.*
"You've got to be KIDDING me!" she exclaimed.
A flicker of hope ignited in her heart. With that level of heraldic usage... perhaps some improvisation could occur. "Anything else of note?"
*SPACESHIP IDENTIFICATION BEACON DETECTED.*
Her mouth suddenly felt dry at that statement. Someone else was here. Someone with a spaceship. "Where?"
*BASED ON PLANET'S MAGNETIC OUTLAY, NORTH OF PRESENT LOCATION.*
*UNKNOWN. E.M. INTERFERENCE FROM NEARBY ENERGY BODY PREVENTS ACCURATE ESTIMATE.*
"What's the identification of the ship?"
*FEDERATION REGISTRATION NUMBER NOT FOUND. TITLE OF SHIP: HEARTBREAK HOTEL. PRESENT OWNER-*
She felt her mouth go dry. "No way..."
*-ERNEST RAVIEDE, MEMBER OF TETRAGENES EXPLORATORY SOCIETY.*
It was him. She had experienced the biggest stroke of luck ever. All this mess... and she'd finally crashed her ship on the same planet as the man she was chasing. And why not? He'd been exploring heraldic civilizations... and this planet seemed a goldmine in that respect.
"YESYESHOLYSHITYES!!!" she yelled in elation. "I found the son of a bitch!!!"
I can't seem to find any fan fiction for this RPG. Anybody out there? Hello? Moshi Moshi? Get off your lazy ass and start writing. Please?
Feedback wanted very much - email@example.com
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