Void Boarding

A fight for even ground...

Mute watched the station shrink as his shuttle ventured further and further away. He watched the incoming and outgoing traffic, vessels from countless species transporting goods, or in desperate need of fuel. He hated them for being able to leave. He watched his family die on that station. Now he was the only human left.
He walked to the opposing side of the pod and checked the navigation panel. A red dot marked his destination, a plague ship of Silieu origin drifting in the void. When he was close enough to board, he sealed his suit, gathered his sanitization gear, and braced himself for the moment of contact. A sudden chirp from the panel drew his attention. The red dot moved, dropping down and under the trajectory of the shuttle. He floated right over his destination.
After a second attempt at boarding, it became clear that someone was still alive on the ship. On the third attempt, after accounting for potential directions of motion, the pod made contact with a loud metallic bang despite the ship's attempt to avoid it.
They didn't give him a rifle. All he had was a torch. He lacked a universal translator. He couldn’t call for help or advice on how to proceed. The pod sealed itself against the hull, and the door opened. He cut into the hull of the vessel. They'd kill him if he came back empty-handed.
He entered the ship, the cut section falling to the floor with a bang. He struggled to see. The occasional flash of light illuminated the room, but even it was dim. The ship likely had little power left. He saw trash piled in the corners of the vessel. A cot, faded and worn from use, sat unmade near the far wall. He found this strange. This was a military science vessel from the look of it. No silieu soldier would neglect to make their cot.
His breathing grew heavy as he took another step forward. Before he could announce himself, he noticed the corpses floating about the ship. He scanned the room, and when the lights flashed once more, he found himself staring down the barrel of a silieu pistol.
     
Boarding an enemy ship is one the oldest tactics used in void warfare. It can be done in countless ways, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.   It's an effective way of leveling the playing field when faced with significantly more advanced technology, and can prove highly lucrative provided one follows protocol. Neglecting safety can often result in your vessel becoming the next Plague Ship .   The process is simple enough: find an enemy ship, keep a select group of adrenaline junkies among your crew, cram them into what is basically a portable airlock, and hurl the boarding pod at the enemy ship. If they get inside, and neutralize the enemy crew, then congratulations. You've got yourself a free ship. This is fine on paper, but in practice, things get more complicated.
 

High risk

Boarding is highly situational. It's often more efficient to destroy a ship than board it. In large scale combat encounters, boarding is suicide. There are simply too many things that can go wrong. Corvettes are almost impossible to board due to their maneuverability, and larger ships usually have drones, picket ships, and other smaller vessels that can eliminate boarding pods with ease.   Depending on the target, successful boarding is often a game of numbers and time. The more targets you give enemy weapons, the more time it takes to neutralize them. Dummy missiles, mines, trash, and more are used to cover a boarding party during their approach.   Why go through all the trouble? Boarding can prove profitable in numerous ways. An enemy vessel could have advanced technology. Taking over a vessel means you have something to sell, either as a whole or broken down for parts. I've heard tales of assassinations and kidnappings on luxury cruisers as well. Then again. Boarding could easily be a last ditch effort, should your vessel be severely damage and beyond repair.

A careful balance

Boarding can turn the tide of battle in some cases. Even with a skeleton crew, most ships will function. Boarding pods are vulnerable, and all technological advancement concerning the tactic focuses on defending these pods.   The smaller the pod, the harder it is to target. At the same time, you want to board an enemy ship with as many combatants as possible. Boarding led to the widespread adoption of security personnel on voidcraft. They are literally there for no other purpose than to defend against boarding and to mount boarding parties themselves.   All of this needs to be accounted for, and this doesn't even cover training and outfitting for members of the boarding party. Once the pod is launched, those inside are on their own. You can cover their approach, but they have to know how to operate the pod, and may need weapons training. Then again, cyberwarfare training may be a good option. Why bother with a fire fight when you can hack ship systems and vent the next room before entering?
   

Methods and counters

Scavengers use boarding pods more than anyone else. It's easy to get aboard a stationary and docile target. Pirates are a close second, as they seek to make a profit from every encounter. Despite this, these groups rarely find themselves advancing boarding technology. Boarding can be done by cutting into the hull, or simply placing a breaching charge if one lacks subtlety. More advanced pods and shuttles have their own means of cutting into the hull that are much quicker than doing it by hand.   While pirates and scavengers tend to use outdated pods, the Eden refuse to use pods in the first place. The Eden are awfully full of themselves when it comes to warfare, and maintain elite units trained to board enemy vessels, alone. They use specialized space suits to sail through the void, one soldier versus the entire enemy crew. You’d be surprised how often that can be enough.   This method works surprisingly well for them. A single person is hard to target with most ship fitted weapons, and can wreak havoc without even entering the ship by cutting into critical sections of the hull. While effective, this method is remarkably slow. The silieu, however, used much larger and heavily armored shuttles. While much riskier, vessels boarded would fall in minutes.



Don't miss

A common problem with boarding pods is their design. Boarding pods can be recovered, but it's likely they will be destroyed. This can get expensive. A well-designed pod is not easily replaced, which leads to sacrificing functionality.   Many boarding pods lack engines of their own. Most of the time, they use basic thrusters. Thrusters are good for adjusting alignment, and slight changes in trajectory, but few can get you back to your ship if you miss your target. Don't miss.   Missing a target means the pod will continue drifting, indefinitely. Thrusters can slow you to a stop, but this won't help you if the ship you came from gets destroyed. Missing a target usually guarantees a slow death for those aboard. Then again, I suppose it's one way to eliminate problematic members of your crew.
Mute ducked out of the way, screaming as the pistol fired, "Wait." He couldn't tell if the pistol lowered, but he savored every second as if it was his last. When the shooter spoke, he couldn't help but shudder.
"You're human?" she asked.
Mute couldn't believe it at first. He failed to recall the last time he heard his language from anyone other than himself , "Yes. I'm a scavenger from a space station not ten thousand kilometers from here."
"A space station?" She asked. The lights flashed again, and he finally had a moment to see her. Brown eyes, human eyes, stared back at him. The woman wore a grimy gown, her brown, shoulder-length hair cut with little skill, obviously by her own hand and without the proper tools. “Take me with you, and you can take what you want. Not my ship." She replied.
“Deal,” He said with a nod. He rushed forward and tapped along the walls. He found a hollow panel, removed it, and started pulling wires, circuitry, and anything else he could find from inside. “How long have you been stuck here?”
“Too long. I ran out of food maybe a few days ago.”
“Damn. Quite a while then.” He said. Military ships always carry a surplus of food. He stepped back inside the shuttle, and the woman followed. He set the salvage in a nearby crate and turned to look at her. She was thin, but almost too thin. "What are you doing on a Sileu ship?"
“They captured me after boarding my ship, experimented on me,” she replied. The woman sat on the floor and covered her eyes, shielding them from the harsh lighting. “My guess is they were trying to create antibodies for whatever it is about human physiology that makes them sick.”
“So you were in the war then?” Mute asked.
“The what?”
He cocked his head. “The first war. It's been a few years in local time. The silieu tried to purge humanity, and ended up getting purged themselves.”
“Years?”
“You seriously didn’t know?” Mute said. "I guess that's understandable. We voidborn are often out of the loop.”
“I'm not voidborn. I was born planet side.”
“You’re kidding me.” Mute replied with wide eyes. He rubbed the back of his head. “Bringing you to the station may be a problem then.” “So you’re leaving me here?”
Mute laughed. “I haven't seen another human in so long, i'm not sure I care. I don't like them enough to leave you here, but try not to start an epidemic if you can.”
She nodded and smiled before giving a reply, "I’ll do my best.”
The man gestured to himself. “Mute.”
her voice broke as she replied, "Caydie."
He walked to the back of the shuttle and grabbed a suit and uniform like his own. “Here. Put this on while I strip a few more things, and we can get you fed.”

Comments

Author's Notes

Archivist Trigger Commands
The Archivist is capable of responding to "queries." Using the following commands, one can request information, and The Archivist will respond.

  • Pose Query: [insert topic here]
    Express desire for information
  • Focused Query: [insert topic here]
    Ask for more information on a subject related to a posed query.
  • Forced Query: [insert topic here]
    Demand an answer if refused and the Archivist is capable of answering.


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3 Mar, 2021 19:50

How did I know that Caydie would be the one aboard the ship?   Also, I guess I was wrong; it was practical for the enemy to take prisoners after all!   Also, any character I made in this universe would probably be a big fan of boarding parties. I also love the sheer number of options you have when firing a single boarding pod; you can equip your boarders with anything and the likelyhood is that they can deal some serious damage once they get aboard. Boarding pods just generally make space combat way more interesting in my opinion.

3 Mar, 2021 19:55

Afterthought: do pods exist that can puncture any part of a ship's hull and turn it into an improvised airlock? The seal wouldn't have to be perfect; just good enough that you can exit the room before the oxygen leaks out. And I guess in case the aliens don't breathe the same as you do you'd probably need spacesuits half the time anyway...

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
3 Mar, 2021 19:55

YESSS, i mean it is a little predictable now that the reading order is in proper alignment. The articles even have a previous and next article, now XD   totally agree on it being way more interesting, especially from a scientific point of view. Space combat is boring when science is considered. Everything would be automated and calculated with computers. Boarding is so much more tactile, i suppose. even one person can just wreck a ship if they board in the right place. It's kinda empowering lol

3 Mar, 2021 21:54

Ah ha! I had a faint suspicion as the article went on that it might be Caydie on the ship. Very exciting development! I was wondering if she was truly alive as another article had suggested. Can't wait to learn more!

~TimeBender~
Master Monkos
Andrew Booth
4 Mar, 2021 01:33

I legit got chills at the ending.... she lives.

Creator of the world of Mythia, where writing is magic!
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
4 Mar, 2021 20:01

She does! I hope it felt earned. Most of the articles were written out of order so I was worried it may not have had the desired effect. Either way, I'm glad it seems to have made an impression. Getting chills is definitely a good reaction XD thanks so much for the kind words!

5 Mar, 2021 09:35

God what a dumbass I am, I completely forgot Caydie was the one in the plague ship vehicles article! Thats why her name was so familiar! Gosh, I'm glad she managed to survive so long... How long has it been?   Wonderful article, and really interesting too!

Author of Interarcanum.
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
5 Mar, 2021 10:13

No worries. I was being sneaky. Lol. Alot of people seem caught off guard that the fiction on the articles are connected. So she died roughly four years ago. But not earth years... oof. I really gotta figure out how time works on a galactic scale. Something that happened 5 years ago on Safeharbor could be older or more recent depending on where you are but that physics I dont want to use lol in earth time, let's call it a year to two years from Being captured to being rescued.

5 Mar, 2021 16:50

I'm a wee bit behind, but I'm going to try and get you a bunch of comments over the course of this weekend. Since this was the more recent article, here we shall begin:   "advantages, disadvantages, risks and rewards."
Did you want to list each of these or highlight their parallels? To me, it first read as a parallel listing as advantages and disadvantages are basically the same thing as risk and reward. If this is your intent, the bit should read: "advantages and disadvantages; risks and rewards." However, if your intent was to list it as 4 different items make sure to use that Oxford Comma so that it's clear which you originally wanted.   "Then again. Boarding"
This should be a comma as "then again" is a phrase, not even a clause. It also creates a more clear transition between the relativity of the prepositional phrase and the intended correlating clause.   "They are literally there"
Weird word choice. Using "literally" weakens the sentence. There are stronger words that you could use to emphasize the one-note purpose of them. Additionally, "literally" can sometimes be taken as sarcasm and, thus, makes the sentence a bit awkward to read at first. Maybe try something like "Their presence on voidships is entirely based upon the practice of boarding" or just remove the "literally" from the sentence,   Sending problematic crew members away in boarding pods is a very callous thing to do. It does fit, though, as this form of humanity is pretty much on the brink of extinction in a universe where they no longer are at the top. Interesting article, exploring a lot of interesting ideas. I love the image of an Eden single-handedly boarding an enemy ship and wiping out the crew.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Aesontis
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
5 Mar, 2021 21:32

oooo, well said. yes i shall take care of those typos. All valid.   It is pretty callous, of course that's the archivist and his dry sense of humor. I doubt many would resort to it, but it is an option. Also yes. The Eden are scary, Thank you so much!

Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
29 Mar, 2021 00:20

THE SNEAKY REVEAL HUH?   And glad to see another article going more in=depth on an oft handwaved aspect of sci-fi!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
30 Mar, 2021 01:42

Yup! Been plotting it from day one tho I havnt been all that secretive lol i definitely wanted this to have some science behind it for that very reason. It's hand waved all the time yet has some awesome potential for writing. Thanks so much for the all comments man. I appreciate it! I'll hit you back soon.

Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
23 Apr, 2021 09:55

Yay! Caydie gets rescued. I knew it was her on that ship. Once again, a wonderful article. I am really enjoying the entire story from beginning to end.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
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