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Subject: 001. A first time... rss

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Gen 14, c-date 9746.14.

I wake up very startled and confused. I look around, and I don't recognize the place. It's not where I was when I came to upload my memories. The place stinks to cleansing chemicals, the air is humid and warm. The light is intense, it looks like a laboratory, a hospital or a morgue. I'm naked and alone. I close my eyes again, wondering what could be happening. I take a few deep breathes, open my eyes again, it's all the same. I'm inside this glass tank, but it's open. I slowly sit up and look around. I recognize the Academy logo on the door. Then my brain starts connecting the information: I'm inside the regeneration tank. Immediately I conclude the obvious. I failed and I died in space. I'm not me, I'm just a clone, I don't exist anymore... and yet, I feel as alive as I ever felt, I feel like I'm myself, I feel like I'm the original one. As sure as I feel that, I also know that I'm not. I get dizzy and nauseous. I want to cry in anger, revolt against those that tricked me into accepting to be cloned. How could they? How can I live knowing what I know? I feel dirty, disgusted by my own body, I want to peel it off as if I don't deserve to have this body, I don't deserve to be alive and to pretend to be him.... to be me. I want to shout, I want to break things, I want to go back in time and give up this cloning thing. It's simply not right. I shouldn't exist, I shouldn't be here. I clench my fist hard and... it feels so weak. My hands are weak, I'm all weak.
My body feels weird. It's like I never had any pain or disease, and at the same time as if my brain is assimilating every centimeter of skin that my body has, feeling textures and temperatures and pressures everywhere. I close my eyes again, and start to accept the truth. These are the consequences of my own decision, in the end.
My memories are so fresh. I don't remember dying or anything, that's the good side of being a clone that they promise you. But still, I feel very bad. It's the worst feeling I ever had in my life.

After a few minutes, I get up and see some clothes next to me. I put them on, they fit perfectly. They have it all prepared for when you wake up, apparently. I check the c-date. More than a month has passed. That's bad. Based on the rate at which people do missions, it means I'm maybe the fourth or fifth clone on a row. As I make my way to the door, I wonder if I was really ready for the deep space, if I'm not a big failure unable to succeed in missions and maybe in a few days I will just die again. I toss away these thoughts, they are useless at the moment. I get out of the biolab, and go to my quarters. I stop in the cafeteria to grab a snack and something to drink. I decide it's best to review my failed missions, that will take a few hours. The guarana drink shall help me concentrate. I will probably have another mission in a few days, so I decide to get started as soon as possible.

I check the database: 5 failed missions. I choose the latest one, and read the specifications. I was alone, in yellow uniform, commanding 3 androids. Not a smart decision from the commanders, I wonder if they are short on experienced recruits. I check the android models, they are of the type that is fast but not as smart. I wish they would let us choose the android model that goes with us. I check the sector to explore: it's one of the new sectors. There wasn't much information about it a month ago, but with the data that was collected while I was being repeatedly cloned, they were able to conclude that it's a dangerous sector. Mostly populated by threats categorized as "Red", the worst out there. I already feel sorry for my previous clone, but it all makes sense. Cloning is more expensive than building androids, so if the mission is bound for failure, it's better to send only one human. And to use someone less experienced, leaving the experienced people to go on missions that might succeed. I press the play to start reviewing what happened.


As usual, it all starts with everyone together on the bridge, right after the jump. I don't like to talk to the androids by serial numbers, so I always assign them names before we jump to hyperspace. The blue android I called "Glas", the green android I called "Lila" and the red android I called "Akairo". As expected, as soon as we arrive, the computer voice announces: "Enemy activity detected." As I said, I'm not one of the most experienced explorers out there. But I've had my number of missions already. I know you can't afford to wait for the computer to say who is the enemy, you must act as soon as you arrive.
On my command, Glas goes down to the main reactor, Lila operates the damn computer to avoid that stupid screensaver, and Akairo recharges the shields in the central zone, as I rush across the red door.
The computer voice announces the first problem: "Time T+2, Internal Threat: Pulse Cannon Short Circuit". Nobody can fix that alone, so I tell Lila to join Akairo downstairs, and Akairo recharges the main reactor while it waits for Lila. Their task for the next couple of minutes will be to fix the short circuit. My eyes are filled with anxiety, as I wait for more enemies to show up.

The computer doesn't take long, its voice announcing the next threat: "Time T+3, External Threat: Jumper in zone white". Akairo is still on the bridge, I tell it to shoot. I hear explosions, the floor trembling beneath my feet, I check the damage report: the short circuit spread part of the energy transfered to the heavy cannon during the shot, damaging the sensitive circuits of the gravolift in all zones. The gravolifts are no longer operational, I hope we don't need them. At least the cannon worked, we hit the bastards with our most powerful cannon the minute they got in range. They get badly damaged, but of course it was not enough to destroy it. It's never that easy. They fight back, shooting us, but our shield is able to absorb it. I check the enemy info, they are the type that jump left, which means they will eventually jump sideways to our port side, within range of the cannon in the red zone, where I am. I'm already waiting for them, hand in the trigger. Suddenly I hear the loud fizzling sound of electronics failing. I check damage reports again, the short circuit damaged the heavy cannons in my zone and in the white zone, and the light cannon in the blue zone. I call Lila in the communicator: "What the hell is going on down there? Aren't you guys fixing that fucking short circuit?". A calm voice replies: "Almost there, sir." These androids with no emotions make me even more nervous. The mission just started and things are already looking bad.

And they don't get any better, when the computer voice comes in again: "Time T+4, External Threat: Polarized fighter in zone red". I see them in the radar and I fire. Their shield technology is good and my cannon is damaged, I can see they got only a minor damage. Meanwhile in the bridge, Akairo operates the computer to avoid the screensaver again. I hear Lila's voice: "Short Circuit fixed, sir". "Come help me in the red zone NOW!", I shout back.

Before I hear any reply, the computer is giving me more bad news: "Time T+5, External Threat: Jumper in zone white". Jumper again? I check the enemy info, this one will jump to the starboard, the other side of the ship. That's bad, nobody's there. I tell Akairo to shoot again, hitting the first Jumper, while I shoot again the Fighter in front of me. Akairo has better luck than me, I can see the Jumper exploding in the monitor while again I barely damage the Fighter. They shoot back, disabling the shield on this side of the ship, fortunately the ship itself doesn't get more damaged. Maybe the second Jumper realizes the power of our central cannon, because they jump sideways to the other side of our ship right away. They shoot us, disabling our shield, but fortunately producing no damage. Now I have no shields in the red and blue zones, and one incoming threat on each side. I clutch the panel in front of me in anticipation of all the damage that the ship will take.

I'm giving instructions to Lila and Glas, when the I distantly hear a voice saying: "Time T+6, Serious Internal Threat: Cyber Gremlin". I'm ready to ignore that, when I look to the side and I see the creature right next to me. I want to kick it, but it would be useless, only the battlebots can do real damage to these robotic pranksters. At least I know it won't attack me either, they are programmed to disable our systems, not to attack people or androids. That is, until the time we jump back. At this point, I would be glad if I get to jump back home, but my hopes are fading fast. The info panel shows me that Lila is recharging the reactor in zone red below me, and Glas is also there, shooting. I shoot together, hoping to kill the persistent Fighter once and for all. While I see the Fighter exploding in the monitor with the combined shot of both the heavy and the light cannons, I give Akairo the instructions to remotely shoot a rocket. By the time I'm done, I feel the ship trembling again and the alarm going off: the damn Jumper shot us in the blue zone while manouvering and jumping over to the red zone, hitting us in both sectors. I can see the reactor failsafe kick in, limiting its capacity to a little less energy in order to remain operational, in both the red and blue zones. Akairo's rocket will get that bastard, I think to myself.

I tell Lila to go recharge the central reactor, while me and Glas shoot together again. Akairo moves to the blue zone, while I see the jumper get pulverized when the rocket hits it at the same time as our laser shots. I hear the gremlin trying to drain energy from the reactor, and I feel a glimpse of satisfaction knowing it's already empty, the last drop of energy being used to destroy its jumper friends.

I almost click my heels 3 times at the thought that all enemies were killed, except for that almost harmless Gremlin who I know won't prevent us from going back home, when I freeze to the bones with the computer's voice: "Time T+8, External Threat: Sealed capsule in zone blue". Glas springs towards starboard and I go to the bridge, when the communications go down. These capsules are small, fast and well protected, hard to destroy. I can't tell Akairo to wait for help and not waste energy shooting it: there's only static in the communicator.

On my way I stop to operate the stupid computer. How I hate that, the screensaver in these ships is the greatest design flaw. But it's there and I'm here, and it has to be done. As I activate the computer, I see the Gremlin entering the bridge. It almost feels like it's following me. I imagine it as a turtle and me kicking it upside down. I know life doesn't work that way.

Communications come back. I shout to the androids that we need to destroy that capsule. The gravolifts are not working and I have to go downstairs to shoot the pulse cannon to help stop the capsule. On my way down, communications go down again. Who knows what the androids will do. At this point in time, I wouldn't expect any more problems to show up, it's almost time to jump to hyperspace and back home. But I hear the computer: "Internal Threat: Breached Airlock". What the hell is happening! I rush downstairs. When I get to the main reactor room, I rush to the cannon trigger while checking the info panel to see what's happening. I find out that the androids were trying to destroy the capsule as I had told them we had to: Glas shot the 2 remaining rockets while Akairo was shooting the heavy cannon, and Lila recharged the blue zone reactor and is now shooting the light cannon. All to no use: the capsule had reached us the moment I started moving downstairs. That's what caused the airlock breach. I shoot the pulse cannon in fury and disbelief. The gremlin disabled the operation panels in the bridge and went to the blue zone, and the red doors are sealed. I hear one more explosion in the red zone, the damage report says there's structural damage. Of course the structure got damaged, we have a breached airlock! There's no more time to do anything, I hear the signal to jump into hyperspace. I hope again that we can reach home, hoping that the red zone will hold on. I get myself in hyperspace position, knowing that the androids will do that too: they are programmed to. I hear the engine humming ready for the jump, followed by three consecutive explosions in the red zone. I look to the camera contemplating death, the video ends.


I feel my eyes lightly watery. So close to surviving. Dang! I hit my clenched fist in the desk. I know what happened: the breached airlock got serious and damaged the hyperspace engine. Then the black box got ejected into hyperspace back here. That clone didn't make it. That's why I'm here, a brand new clone. He might even still be alive, for a few more hours, knowing that there's no rescue. I hope not, I hope some other enemy showed up and ended my previous clone's misery right there. I feel bad for him. I know he only lived for a few days, and that was his first mission.

I go out to take some fresh air, and think that I'm still alive, for now. Maybe that snack wasn't such a good idea. I will try to remember that next time. There are 4 other missions to go over, but I don't feel like reviewing them now. I should have about a week before they call me to my next mission, so maybe I'll leave it to tomorrow. I think I'll make a videocall with my sister. I miss her.

solo mission
Tracks: red 1, white 5, blue 6, internal 7
Threats: T2 pulse cannon short circuit, T3White jumper left, T4Red polarized fighter, T5White jumper right, T6 cyber gremlin red, T8Blue red sealed capsule calls breached airlock
players actions:
blue: E, B, A // A, , >, C, C, A
green: C, E, A // A, // B, >, A, B, A
red: B, -, A // C, A, remote rocket, > // A, A, A, A, A
yellow: , C, E, A, A
("E" is elevator)
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Jack Spirio
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Re: A first time...
I already feel sorry for my previous clone, but it all makes sense. Cloning is more expensive than building androids, so if the mission is bound for failure, it's better to send only one human. And to use someone less experienced, leaving the experienced people to go on missions that might succeed.

this was just awesome
but the rest was also great to read, so keep that good work
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