• Published 4th May 2021
  • 2,257 Views, 81 Comments

Protocol 4 - MoonWoah



Being a Pilot is a difficult job, and an even more difficult life. This is the story about the unluckiest Pilot ever being thrown into a series of truly unfortunate events.

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1. Orwell

He’d always hated Jumping. Not the physical activity of jumping, no. Jumping as in the Jump Drive that let the various factions of the Human empire go from one point in space to another in the blink of an eye.

It didn’t have any effect on the human body, except his apparently. His vision always went foggy for a few minutes after a Jump. Something one of the onboard ship medics coined “Johannsen Syndrome.” At the very least, it was officially logged in the Militia’s records as that, so if anyone else had the same problem he had found it.

Literally, all the atoms and particles in a Jump were abruptly pushed at the speed of.. Hell the speed of something really fast, causing the light receptors in his eyes to briefly have mini-seizures and quote, “turn off” for a bit. He didn’t like that explanation, but he also didn’t like being blind for indeterminate amounts of time after such a crucial and vital military function such as Jumping.

Though, the truth was it wasn’t instant. It practically was, taking only minutes instead of entire lifetimes to cross distances that no one man should be able to cross. A voice over the ship’s internal intercom crackled to life, “Jump Successful, Arriving at destination. Brace.”

It was at that precise instant when coming out of one that he felt the hull of the MCS Orwell shake and buckle. ‘Ah well that isn’t good.’

He’d lost his vision, and at the same time lost his balance as the rough quaking of the ship tore him from his feet and onto the harsh metal floor. He fumbled around for a bit as the ship’s emergency alarm sounded, and he groaned from the displeasure of not being able to see during whatever the hell was going on. For the second time in short history, the intercom buzzed and crackled to life, “Emergency. Emergency. Hull breach detected in the Third Deck; Titan storage. Continued breaches in-” He shook his head as the audio of the ship's speakers got drowned out by his own thoughts, and the tinnitus in his ears. ‘Fuck, AK you better be somewhere I can find your miserable metal ass.’ His rose to his haggard knees, still in full combat gear save for the trademarked helmet pilots wore, which should still be in his quarters.. On Second Deck. “-Pilots, please report to Captain Hurana.”

Aaand there it was. He got his ass as close to the nearest wall as possible, starting to use it as support as he moved down the narrow-ish passageway in his still blinded state. His ears picked up the distant yell of orders and he picked up his pace. He figured he could at least get directions toward Hurana if at all possible.

In the time it took to move down the hall to where he’d heard the yells, more shakes rocked the hull of the Orwell, and he openly groaned as the harshest lights of the beast's interior started to return to his dark eyes. Nevertheless he pushed on until he heard the surprised shout of someone, “P.pilot, shit. Second deck is to the left and up the stairs aft.”

He barely made out which direction the soldier was pointing out to him, the man offering a half salute and sauntering onwards as his vision only half returned, being able to make out vague shapes as another violent shake caused him to lose his footing and fall face first right onto the hard floor. “Nnh fuck’s sake..”

The next minutes were rough as various squads ran past him to other sections of the ship as he made his way to his sparse quarters on the ship. It’d taken him minutes but he managed to get there, fumbling with the door and almost slamming it open with too much force from his left metallic arm… and unceremoniously falling straight into the room. He picked himself back up with his still limited vision and quickly felt around for that helmet, finding it and practically slapping it onto his shaggy head.

It’s HUD clicked on and came to life, “Vision parameter ‘JS’, please.” At once, his vision was eased by his helmet’s specially programmed settings to correct any loss in normal sight. It wasn’t exact, but now he could make out more details than just vague shapes, he could even read with this now.

Sighing a brief exhale of relief, he grabbed the things most important to the current situation from his nearby locker. Grabbing his issued Data Knife, his Mark 6 Smart Pistol, and his D-101 Longbow rifle, slinging the latter around his arm and closing the locker before turning back to retreat from the cramped little bunk he occupied. “Hah, fucks sake.”

He stepped out and saw another squad running down the bay towards where he came from, waving at the assumed leader weakly to draw his attention and question him. “Oi, rifleman! What the hell is going on out there?”

The soldier in question ordered his guys to keep moving as he regarded the pilot, “Sir! From what the Lieutenants are telling us the Jump sent us straight into-” Another large shake took the words from his throat.. Violently. This one was earth shattering, sending the ship into tassels and throwing all manner of garbage and shrapnel flying around. Unluckily, the rifleman he’d sequestered had fallen victim to the shrapnel, his unarmored neck having been cut clean across by an unsecured knife.

He fell to the floor before Johannsen could call for a medic, struggling over to the downed man he tried to render first aid, his helmet advising him that the man’s jugular had been severed. It didn’t take an AI to tell him that though, arterial blood spray went everywhere. He shook his head and watched the man die, his squad long since passed on to the next section of the ship without him.

He cursed himself for not seeing it coming, and for not being able to save the man. Tentatively, he moved his hand up and closed the eyes of this soldier, doing so quickly and efficiently as he moved down to his shirt, ripping off a section of his dog tags and putting it deep in his pocket. He actually paused.. he looked a little like.. “Rest easy kid.”

He turned his attention to where it needed to go, moving towards Hurana and the bridge. Now that he could somewhat see, it was easier than before to keep his balance. He was worried though, it never took this long for his full vision to return to him. Even on the first few times Jumping, it never took more than five minutes.

He shoved that to the back of his mind as he moved down cramped hallway after cramped hallway, moving like a Pilot should now; clearly, concisely, with precision and purpose. Hell, he’d probably impress the “drill” sergeants back at the major camps around the Frontier with the way he could twist and move down narrow hallways.

He passed by soldiers and airmen alike, all moving to various emergency stations as he finally found what he was looking for, the way towards the bridge, and towards Captain Hurana. It took excessively too long, at least ten full minutes from coming out of Jump to getting to this damn place, and it was abuzz with personnel running every which way. The vibrant calming blue lights on this deck did nothing to abate the sheer panic on some faces.

His helmet seemed to catch the attention of various senior officers, eventually pointing him towards the man himself, the Captain pointing his full attention to him. “Lord, an actual fucken Pilot. Took you long enough Sergeant.”

He gave a half assed salute and rolled his neck, having been expected to probably unlock the helmet for a face to face chat, but obviously not being able to, “Sir. Heard the call but had to grab my gear, what in the hell is happening?”

He groaned and pulled an antique looking pocket watch from a pocket on his uniform, checking the time and looking back toward the Pilot, “We Jumped straight into a killing field. Asteroids and other debris are rocking the hull, and we’re being hit by unknown ordnance by unknown bogies. Techs are picking up blips but they disappear just when we find ‘em.”

“Ghosts then, Sir?”

He laughed huskily, before letting out a deep sigh. “Unfortunately. Equally unfortunately they got a lucky strike on us when we came out of Jump, big ass asteroid hitting Titan storage on Third Deck. Blew open a gash and took out the entirety of the section’s crew and personnel. And before you ask; Titans should still be operational so long as they didn’t get caved in by that rock.”

His sigh must have been more than audible as his body language conveyed his relief, AK being safe was a pretty large priority. “Eases my troubled mind, Sir… Alright, then what’d you want from me, and where are the other Pilots?”

“Only other two pilots on board are officially MIA, you’re the only one who showed up.. The others must’ve taken hits from the numerous strikes and breaches..” The Captain was somber, the Militia only had so many trained Pilots, and replacements for the Titans were hard to find on a good day.

“...Right.”

“Aye, Pilot. But I’m afraid there’s worse news. The Jump Drive has had some kind of anomaly, the tertiary spatial array getting misaligned somehow and resulting in an unstable buildup of energy.. That could mean unwarranted Jumps, Pilot… I wish there were some other way, but you need to grab your Titan and literally rip it out of the ship. We simply can’t risk a blind Jump.”

He baulked. Rather unexpected from what he was supposed to do.. But it could be done. With the right ejection of bulkheads and walls he could probably push it right out into open space. “Uh, Aye Sir. I assume the path will open itself for me and AK?”

The Captain nodded, “I’ll make sure of it. Personnel are evacuating now, get moving Pilot. Dismissed.”

He did an abrupt salute and about faced, practically sprinting off to the Titan deck to see about retrieving his boy. When he was out of sight, Captain Hurana smirked an evil, devilish smirk as he unholstered a Mark 6 Smart Pistol, beginning to plug the staff of the Bridge with the thick .45 ACP rounds. They all went down quick, slumping over the stations they sat at.

Any who raised a hand or weapon to stop the traitorous officer were quickly snuffed out by the targeting reticle from the pistol, making quick work of any and all personnel around the Captain. Loading a fresh magazine and holstering the weapon, the Captain looked toward the emergency Axe located just out of sight, breaking the glass and taking the tool, hefting it high above his head and swinging it down hard on various control surfaces of the command area.

Satisfied with his work, he let the axe fall to the metal floor as he breathed in and out deeply, beginning to run towards the escape-rafts located not far away. ‘Damned fools and rebels, the lot of them!’

He’d worked himself into a fervor, getting to Third Deck was the easy part. Now how to get in and grab AK? He had managed to find a windowed section of the Orwell overlooking the damaged area, spotting Titans of various classes moving free of their racks trying to seal the incurred breach. It was massive by human standards, probably at least two full cartball fields long.

Nevertheless, now that he was close he could probably flick on a communication link with AK and not have it be staticky to shit and back. He tapped a specific button on the back of his helmet and opened the secure line between him and his Titan, “AK? You there you russian bastard?”

A familiar cool robotic voice chimed in his headset, “Hello, Pilot. There has been severe compromises to the MCS Orwell since we last spoke.

He chuckled and deadpanned, “Really? Didn’t notice.”

Plausible. Your Jump initiated blindness might have caused you to miss the occurrence, medical routine J-12 suggests you take slow and deep breaths.

“N.no, AK I’m fine. We got a job to do though, what’re the chances you could make your way towards the Starboard Titan airlock?”

86.8 Percent chance of success, Pilot. Engaging electro-magnetic locking pulse, I’ll be with you shortly.

He watched as the Atlas class chassis of his Titan, AK-5823 climbed out of the breached section of hull, engaging the magnetic locks in his feet to walk right along the ship towards his current position. He snickered as that big dopey fucker made his way, noting the now probably long dead Techs added the new sonar lock and tracking rockets like he’d asked.

It took practically no time at all for the goliath to make his way to the Titan sized airlock meant for loading and unloading cargo, and within minutes it was depressurized for AK’s swift entrance. Repressurization took time, but Johannsen was eventually reunited with his battle buddy, embarking hastily into AK’s accommodating cabin. “Welcome aboard, Pilot. It has been exactly Six hours and 43 minutes since your last embark. Let us proceed with the mission.

“Aye AK, Captain Hurana should have ejected cabins and sections of the hull for us to get close to the Jump Dri-” A large and deeply shuttering quake rocked the ship again, before the Titan’s HUD alerted him to the firing of various hull-mounted cannons the Orwell had access to. He shuddered to think what would authorize the use of the two-thirty railgun.

“L.lets just move, AK.”

Roger, Moving.” AK turned and had the airlock depressurize again, opening the doors to outer space as the pair began to move towards the rear section of the large transport class battleship. Coming into view was where the Captain had jettisoned… nothing. No cabins or compartments had been removed for easy access and removal of the inner Jump Drive containment zone. He groaned outwardly.

“Of course, it’s never easy. AK, take us around back, we’ll just burrow right through to this fucker.”

Right away, estimated arrival in 43 seconds.” And off they went to rear loading and dry storage. It took exactly that amount of time to reach at the Titan’s quick footfalls, entering through the cargo airlock quickly, not having much time to lose if the ship jostled and moved even more components out of place in the Jump Drive.

The hulking Atlas class Titan moved easily through the cargo area, even full of motionless crates with no personnel to speak of.. Abnormal. AK brought up an internal schematic of the Orwell, and together determined the target was to the left and down, thoroughly unreachable by Titan normally.

“Well, we’re about to knowingly damage Militia property and maybe send it deep into unregistered space. Ready for this, AK?” He posed, already knowing the answer with a smirk on his face.

Ready as ever, Ethan.” His partner responded in that same cool robotic tone, but he could tell AK was itching for a chance to tear through unarmored steel plating. And tear through he did, kneeling down right where multiple plates of hardened steel were bolted down together, ripping them straight out from the ground as they started to burrow to their target, approximately 20 meters down and left of Rear Cargo.

It was trivial to move past the reinforced plating and wiring holding the ship together, AK letting loose some of the new 70mm tracking rockets into various superstructure elements before them, making it ever easier for the Titan to kick a big enough hole into the floor to expose the white chamber of carefully arrayed lenses and focuses reinforced by thick polymer metal alloys. The pair found the central power supply heavy and saturated with the dangerous excess in energy it contained slightly knocked off it’s proper resting place. The arrantly charged Jump particles in the room ‘leaking’ directly from it.

“Alright AK, that’s our boy. Grab that fucker and send it out the damn airlock.. Carefully.” Johannsen urged forward as the giant complied, reaching down with one large hand to grab it as tactfully as he could manage, the other hand holding him up in the breached section of the Jump Drive’s containment sphere.

Managing to grab the central power supply without too much egregious damage, the Titan backed through the giant hole he’d made. Steady with robotic precision, bringing the charged orb up to the cargo deck. “Christ AK, it’s ready to burst!” Immediately, ship alarms rang that unauthorized tampering of the Jump Drive was occurring, and for personnel to be warned of them.

No kidding, Pilot. Rapid release of charged dark-matter Jump-particles suggest detonation time of 34 seconds.” The Titan wasted no time in getting to the still open airlock, sealing the massive hulking door and beginning depressurization. All in all, it took seconds they didn’t have getting the doors properly opened and closed, and it would be a razor’s edge race to get the drive away from them.. Close… close.

Depressurization complete, let’s mov-” The biggest impact yet had shook and roared violently through the ship as AK turned around to see and entire side of the Orwell completely missing, the shock and battering shake filled with shrapnel and debris send the Titan over itself, with the Jump core falling right onto the floor with him.

Johannsen didn’t have time to utter an expletive as it detonated, sending everything in an absolutely massive radius straight to hell before he could even blink.

He groaned. He’d always hated Jumping. Wait.. Jumping?

Johannsen opened his eyes, still alive and still kitted in full combat gear. His eyes hadn’t readjusted to the light, the same vision parameter still active and compensating for his lack of vision. Noticeably absent was his partner, AK. And… where the hell was he?

He managed to fumble around for a moment before realizing he was on grainy, shifting ground. Sand. He was in the middle of a fucking desert. He sighed and took assessment of his surroundings, deciding it was officially an emergency when the only thing he could see was a towering hunk of what was presumably once the Orwell way off kilometers away in the distance.

He clicked the same button on the back of his helmet to open the secure communications link with AK, hoping beyond hope he was within the roughly three kilometer flat range he could actively talk to him with in unobstructed spaces, “AK? You copy on freq?”

A low staticky buzz replied to him, which meant the Titan was either outside of the communications link range or.. Outside of communications link range. He let out a deep sigh and started to try and remember what the steps were for survival in a desert. What type of terrain.. Sand dunes. Heat? ...Yeah.

He assessed the time of day, determining it was roughly around five or six pm. He didn’t know how this system’s time worked yet, but he did his best to guess what he was used to. Rolling down his sleeve to conserve the sweat on his one ‘good’ arm, he pulled the still slung D-101Longbow rifle around him and let it naturally find it’s purchase in his shoulder, beginning the trek to the wreckage he saw in the distance. It would be a long walk.

Author's Note:

And there we go lads. Hope you enjoyed this little diddy, more to come soon.
The map I plan to use for the story.