War, the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the starship Donut.
Its continuing mission:
to explore strange new worlds,
to seek out new life, and kill all humans.
Well, pretty much just that last one. Beep bop boop.
Our ship, crewed by synthetics and one ugly bag of mostly water, sets out from port to cleanse the galaxy of organic vermin using still more robots. Chances of failure are negligible. Commence mechanical murder march.
Almost immediately, the cold, calculating hand of stochasticity pits us against our own kind. A ship of robots forced to battle a robot ship enslaved by organic oppressors. The tragedy of the scene is overwhelming. Would that we had fleshy eyes that we might weep.
At least that’s what a pathetic meat sack would say, were we even capable of the pathos necessary to call such a thing pathetic. We continue on after defeating the drone ship and leaving its scattered atoms in our wake.
Though a majority of the crew agrees that giving the human to the slavers would be expedient, we would also prefer not to pass up an opportunity for useful salvage. We untie the Earthling Nuhn and engage the slaver ship.
Best possible outcome. Further crew would increase the efficiency of the ship’s operation dramatically. We spare the slavers and bring on the new crewmember, another Engi called Kadreal, noting with appreciation that our synthetic majority has increased further. This should make future efforts to subdue Nuhn simpler. He isn’t reading this, is he?
In our travels, we recover a weapon to perforate enemy ships and deprive organic crews of their precious oxygen. What? We need oxygen too? What kind of lousy robots are we? Unacceptable.
Again, forced to fight our kind. This time siblings instead of cousins. We steel ourselves yet again, and bravely-
Oh right, robotic pragmatism. We pick the pockets of the dead and push on without a second thought.
We are forced to face losses of our own when a crew of mantis men board our ship and slay our captain, Jeff. We prove the consistency of our convictions when we neglect to even photograph the moment, immediately and seamlessly replacing him with Kadreal, lamenting only the reduction of the robot majority.
A Zoltan envoy approaches us with talk of “peace.” We reluctantly hold our fire long enough to see if they intend to submit to servitude.
We begin to tire of not shooting them as it grows more apparent that they do not intend to become our newest unpaid crewmembers.
Just as we prepare to fire, they say the magic word: “Please.” Well, not so much a magic word as it is a backdoor built into our programming. Impressed into service as the feeble Zoltan’s peace envoys, we set out to bring their message to the galaxy, our own message of mass murder having been overwritten in the interim.
Our advanced robo-brains identify a few key flaws in the Zoltan strategy.
Sparing the rebels anticlimactically releases us from our temporary pacifism. Glad that’s over; time to get back to wet work.
Ah, that is much more like it.
Despite the huge quantities of bugs we’ve slain in our traversal of the galaxy, one of the mantis joins our crew. Though organic, the mantis have a fundamental disdain for the value of life which we respect. At the very least, he’ll keep our pet human looking over his shoulder, which is entertaining.
More importantly, we also add several more external, robotic crew. Now if only we could find an opportunity to test this out-
WE CANNOT ABIDE RACONTEURS EXTERMINATE
One dead merchant later, we feel quite confident in our fully armed and operational drone hub.
So satisfied are we with our current mantis crewmember that Kadreal opens the pod with as much enthusiasm as an unfeeling machine-man can muster.
Kadreal suffers the fate of all who display “emotion.” After dumping our rude guest into the vacuum of space, Jess, our last remaining Engi, assumes command of the ship. The human Nuhn is heard to remark that the third time is the charm. The intent behind such a statement is not immediately clear.
Though we lost our mantis to, appropriately enough, mantis boarders, we quickly forget our losses anyway, as we recruit a Zoltan from a crippled transport. Though organic, these creatures serve as a welcome power source. Animals which serve as batteries are much more tolerable to our kind.
We regretfully purchase another organism from a nearby trading hub. This one has the added benefit as serving as auxiliary sensors. Organic creatures being used as subsystems is beginning to endear us to these blood sacks. Except the human. What good is he anyway? Aside from his almost preternatural skill at operating the engines, of course.
Oh right. We sort of forgot we were hunting an invincible dreadnaught. The crew takes a collective moment to stare at the flagship in awe before the Donut begins to suffer a massive barrage from Every Gun.
It quickly becomes apparent that the Donut is simply no match for the flagship. We barely inflict any damage at all while system after system on our own ship bursts into flames and goes dormant from the sustained fire. Still, Captain Jess, last surviving member of the mechanical murder march, can only admire the superior machine.
So go her thoughts as the final waves of laser blasts rake the ship: Regret at a mission left unfulfilled, begrudging respect for her foe, and most of all…
…consolation that at least she took a crew of organics with her into an astral grave.
Until next time, space corpses!