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-CONTACT – A FUCKEN CONTACT!

-Get to the shields, I’ll keep the weapons primed. We’ll take their weapon systems out.

-WE’RE DEAD, WE’RE FUCKEN DEAD! MAXIM WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE SHOT IN THE FACE! IT’S VACUUM FOR US!

-Nathan. Calm down. It’s unmanned. Focus on keeping the shields charged and we’ll make it out of here still.

-I FU- I alright. Fucken alright. Shields nominal, missile incoming.

Artiom felt the ship quake as the missile’s blast tore a hole in their shield. With the shield upgrades they’d picked up it must have been a warhead more powerful than any Federation standard ship to ship missile. Fleeing from an enemy fleet and then meeting this monster hulk. An AI from a long dead civilization patrolling the nebula endlessly, for all time.  The odds had never been tipped in their favor from the start – but this- what the fuck?

His fingers tapped the console keys with focused frenzy. Ion blasters first, disable shields, then blast their weapon system. Disable their lasers and those goddamned payloads of death. Nathan was doing a good job with keeping the shields up. They were taking hull damage at a steady rate, but at least the shield generator was recharging quick enough to ward off any critical damage. They might still make it. They just had to manage their power levels carefully.  Cut the power to the medbay, feed power to the weapon systems. Artiom was one with the machine. The movement of his hands churned out red, flashing destruction from the bow of his ship. He was a god. His Kestrel’s laser beams cut a deep swath into the rogue AI’s hull and its weapon systems powered down. 

-Their weapon systems are down, Nathan. We’re taking out their shields.

-Roger!

Gotta be quick. Don’t let it repair itself. Get to work. Artiom keeps his focus primed, feeding a continuous stream of weapons fire on the enemy ship. They’re gonna make it out. One final laser blast. The weapon recharges for what seems like an eternity. Just five seconds more and we’ll turn the AI into space dust. Four. Soon. Three. A flashing light. What is happening? Two, the AI’s missile bay fires. One. Our hull can take it. Zero. Fire. The laser cuts another deep swath into the AI ship causing a chain reaction of explosions inside. 

-Nathan, brace yourself!

The missile hits the starboard hull. Everything around Artiom is flashing red. 

-ARTIOM, FIRE! FIRE!

-I’ve bloody GOT IT NATHAN! Get the extinguisher, go GO!

-Med bay on fire, we have to put it out!

Nathan and Artiom arrive at the medbay with fire extinguishers in hand. The whole room is ablaze. With the training engraved into their bones they quickly seal themselves into the shield bay. Artiom presses wildly at the console venting out the air from the burning compartments. When he looks back to Nathan he notices the streak of red painting a line on the wall down towards where he Nathan is sitting. Something sharp is jutting out from his chest.

-My mum used to tell me about the stars.. They’re souls from …

Nathan’s voice trails off as the last breath leaves his lungs. Artiom is gutted. It doesn’t matter though, there’s shipwide damage that must be repaired. If he waits too long the enemy fleet catches up and they get him, and the information they’re carrying. Artiom starts the repairs. There used to be three of them on the ship but now there’s only him. He spends hours fixing consoles, restoring the power grid, getting the systems back to a somewhat operational state. Last is the weapons bay. Just as he is about to have balanced the power output of the lasers he sees a flashing red message. As an explosion rocks the aft section of the ship he lets out a sigh. Fire. Again with the fucking fires. He runs into the oxygen plant and sees that it’s ablaze. It’s inactive state meaning life support is down, meanwhile the ship is taking catastrophic damage from fire. He must vent the fires. Vent the fires, in the oxygen plant, while there is no life-support. Shit. In the adjacent room to the life-support section he starts the process. Vent air, just enough for the flames to die out. Not too much or there will be no air for him. 

The ship sighs as air is vented out into the dark void of space. Artiom rushes in as soon as the fires have died down and starts his repairs. After some time he starts feeling more strained. Tired. He feels like it’s time to have some rest. Just a tiny little bit of rest he tells himself. He sits down on the floor and looks at a picture of a woman. He can’t quite recall who it is, but it makes him feel safe somehow. 

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