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LTFC - May 2017 - Information Edition

#1
Take part in the discussion --> here
Only submissions in this thread, please.

Heyaa!

Welcome to the 15th edition of the Limit Theory Fan Contest! This month will be about "Information". It doesn't necessarily have to focus completely on information and information mechanics, but it must openly feature the topic in some form. Be a little creative, and I'm sure you can come up with something awesome. :) Everyone can make as many admissions as they like, but only one can be the "official" admission by which you are judged.

This contest will have 3 prizes for the top three submissions, and each entrant can only win one prize. If there are less than six entrants, only two prizes will be given out. If there are less than four entrants, only one prize will be awarded. If there are less than two entrants, no prizes will be given. Selected prizes will be taken from the pool, and winners can choose between them. First place gets first pick.


The objective: Create art about Limit Theory.
This could be in written form as a story, lore, or a detailed idea for a mod. It could be visual like a gif, photoshop or video. Or even audio - anyone up for a bit of stand-up about Limit Theory? These are just a few ideas off the top of my head, but I'm sure you guys can think of a lot more. It is fine to use other games' assets in your submissions, as long as your work is your own.
Rule of thumb: "Does it spotlight Limit Theory?"


Prize pool: Depending on the number of submissions, two to four prizes will be randomly selected from the pool for the winners to choose from. The remaining prizes will be held over for next month. This gives all winners prizes to choose between, with the first place winner having first pick between them all. This should ensure everyone gets something they enjoy. The prize that is not chosen gets returned to the pool for the next month, and the pool is refilled to six items, randomly chosen from a list. If an item is declined by the last-place winner two months in a row, it is removed from the pool to keep things fresh.


The rules:
  • The artwork needs to be about Limit Theory per the objective.
  • Everybody is free to enter but can only submit one entry to the contest. You are free to change or replace your submission for as long as the contest is open.
  • If you have submitted more than one work, you need to be very clear about which one you're entering. If there is any doubt, the latest entry in the forum thread will be judged.
  • You cannot submit something you've already submitted to a previous LTFC. Submitting things you plan to (or have) submitted to other non-LT contests is discouraged.
  • All contest submissions have to be made as a reply to this thread.
  • Submitting a prize does not exclude you from having a submission scored.
  • Judges are not barred from making a submission themselves, but their submissions can't earn prizes. If they would like their submissions to earn prizes, they cannot act as a judge for that month.
  • The contest will be open to new submissions until Thursday, June 1st, 23:59 GMT.
  • Discussion about this contest or submissions can happen here.
  • Any prizes are yours to do whatever you want with them. You can even give the prize to someone else if you'd like, and they don't have to be from this forum.
Note: if you're using another site to host content, make sure the title and comment displays that it's part of a contest submission. This is to avoid future Googlers from becoming confused when looking for official content.


Judging:
Our panel of three judges will evaluate the submissions based on the following criteria:
  • Originality: 30%
  • Aesthetic: 25%
  • Details: 10%
  • X factor: 20%
  • Realism according to the LT universe: 15%
And most importantly: Have fun! :thumbup:

You seemed to have forgotten what year it is, so I tweaked it for you. - Grumblesaur
Have a question? Send me a PM! || People talking in IRC over the past two hours: Image
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Post

Re: LTFC - May 2017 - Information Edition

#2
... :ghost: ... First? :wtf:

Please enjoy!
____________________________________

Meeting in shady places


The door slid shut behind me with a hiss and a clacking noise that might stem from a lack of maintenance.
Looking through the dimly lit bar I was greeted by loud music blaring from the speakers, a thick smoke screen from the numerous patrons taking in any number of dubious substances and, finally, a distinct smell of rust.
Everything befitting an old, worn-out station in some backwater sector that no-one bothered with anymore.

"Meet me in 5 days on the Station "Hauler's haven" in the "Bright Future" at 13:25 local time. First look for the tall muscle head with the artificial right arm and the tattoos in his face. Then proceed as we'll instruct you at a later date."

Thinking back to my informants instructions I sat down opposite to a literal monster of man fitting the given description, ordering a beer. Not that I was even remotely thirsty...
"Damn that cursed blockhead for convincing me to bus the coordinates of that asteroid from him!"
I mumbled with a sigh, just loud enough for the assumed bouncer to hear it.

"Bad day, boy?"
The man snarled at me before changing to a smirk.
"Ya should've known not to believe a random drunk! Tell me what ya found there. Pirates? Mined wrecks? Space-whales?" His smirk widened.
My forehead crumpled into a irritated frown on that.
"Friggin' rubber ducks!" I spat out according to my instructions. "And a frozen goat, damn it all!"
Muscle head gave off an amused growl as he grabbed my ordered drink, downing it in seconds.
"Lemme show ya somethin' good, boy." I started to loath that smirk of his.

Standing up, we went over to a door leading into a short hallway. A few doors, one lamp and even more rust.

"You got it?"
My contact growled as he patted me down, pulling everything from my pockets and dumping it into a box.
Nodding, I only pointed at an inner pocket of my coat. After finishing his check, the man pulled out the envelope from said pocket, smirk widening once again as he looked inside.
"Very good, boy. Boss is waiting."
And with that, I was pushed into the next room.

The light was set up to only illuminate my side which made it hard for me to make out my informants shape on the other side of the table.
A slight metallic glint flashed as he shifted his position. Artificial limb? Gun? I felt the sweat accumulate on my brow.

"Well." He said with a cold voice.
"I hear you fulfilled your part of our little...deal. I guess, you expect something from me now, right?"
My mouth turned dry, brow twitching before I could suppress it. He wouldn't...right?
Another shift in his posture, another glint. Just as he continued with a bemused tone.
"Very well, I shall do my part."

A data stick and a PDA slid over to me. After I made sure that those were indeed the bought informations, I looked back to my opposite.
He was gone. All that was left was a note next to the box with my possessions.

"Leave"

A shiver went down my spine. When did he disappear? Why didn't I notice?
Grabbing everything, I made sure to leave with haste. Before he might change his mind.

-------
The door creaked as muscle head entered the room where I had the meeting before. Laying down the video glasses and the microphone, he grabbed the foldable mannequin with a chuckle.
This was fun every single time!
"Prepare everything." The info broker said to one of the supposed patrons of the bar.
"We'll send out the decoys and leave once it's clear."
Nodding.
"Understood, sir!"



______________________________


As always, experimenting around a bit. Coupled with a bit "Writing for writings sake!"

Thanks for reading! :wave:
Last edited by F4wk35 on Tue May 23, 2017 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
Apparently, sometimes stuff might happen.
Post

Re: LTFC - May 2017 - Information Edition

#3
Paper is a luxury, earth has become a barren city and trees are nowhere to be seen. Real paper uses trees from specialised tree farms and is expensive.
The elite has adopted the use of paper media to show that they excel above the others, much like you see people ride fancy, expensive cars today.
While paper newspapers are thus not affordable for the general populace it is something that every person of the elite has, if you can afford a large bundle of paper each day you are elite.
Because of this reason numerous newspapers are also producing paper versions of their newspapers (as opposed to electronic distribution or plastic sheets) to distribute to the elite.
Most of these newspapers also have different designs compared to versions that are distributed on more traditional media (such as holopads), they feature a classic, authentic newspaper design and are in greyscale, this is seen as "more civilised by the elite".
In the included link you can find an example of the frontpage of such a newspaper.

Newspaper
(PDF here but apparently it has some errors compared with the word version)
LT Wiki | IRC | REKT Wiki
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Idiots. Idiots everywhere. ~Dr. Cha0zz
Post

Re: LTFC - May 2017 - Information Edition

#4
Finally got an idea to use some assets I was anyway working on. But due to lack of time, no comics, just a still image.

Here is my entry for May:
Spoiler:      SHOW
Image Here is a scan of the alien symbols done by the university of Dzugard III, where the chair for ancient civilisation made a field trip twelve years ago:
Image The mystery was however not solved.
Here a link to the usual version with (this time only slightly) more pixels.

And there is a real message hidden in the code - so good luck for those trying to find the hidden meaning. First to solve the riddle gets a signed copy emailed to his address and a forum post acknowledging his genie :twisted: .

This time, no assets borrowed, all original... except the font for the secret message, which I will cite in a spoiler as it may help deciphering:
Spoiler:      SHOW
Zephyr Jubilee, by NAL
...and as a bonus, because I could not decide which image to use, another shot at the factory :wave: .
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Post

Re: LTFC - May 2017 - Information Edition

#5
With just about 24+ hours to go I finished on time... :ghost:

Here my rather long text entry for this FC, divided into five chapters:
Reading your enemy


Chapter I - "Report"
Spoiler:      SHOW
On-board a 2-manned Krasnyy-faction fighter in Lykiba-system
Copilot talking to pilot

We've just received additional information on the freighter our scouts are tracking in the Canolah-system.

- Did they get confirmation whether or not the freighter is carrying Magnodium?

Yes, they confirmed it. Not only did they managed to scan the cargo, they also intercepted a transmission saying it's going to fly through the Lykiba-system to the Xrnygne-system.

- Alright, tell them to stand down and stop contacting people, this is now classified matter. We don't want anyone knowing about this rare cargo.

Of course. I'm also going to request our main fleet from the adjoining Marovella-system to send some frigates, because the freighter, even though without escort, is equipped with a decent shield and some anti-fighter rockets.

- Do that. And have them set up an ambush near the jumpgate so they can destroy its engine and weapon-systems with their long-range railguns without giving it a chance to flee. In the meantime I'm going to contact the local station so they don't panic because of our friends jumping in.

Why is Magnodium so valuable anyway?

- It's a rare metal that withstands quite the heat and pressure. It can hold highly concentrated plasma but the fabrication process is so difficult only a few faction know how to handle it. I've seen it being used for plasma-fusion cores and for explosive bombs. Since the local military is currently looking for such metal, we're going to 'acquire' the cargo of the freighter and sell it for a high price.

And the military is currently just a couple of systems away, most likely the target destination of the freighter.

- Selling the Magnodium would also improve our relations with them, we don't want to have them 'clearing' these sectors...

Chapter II - "Contact"
Spoiler:      SHOW
Within the management-module of the station in Lykiba-system
Communication officer talking to head of security

We just received a message that the Krasnyy-pirates are going to move two frigates into this sector from Marovella.

- Why so sudden? What is their objective?

They are going to ambush a ship which will come out of the Canolah-jumpgate soon.

- Is it on of our own ships?

No, it is not. Seems to be a total outsider.

- Using our system again to stage an ambush... Tell them to stay in the vicinity of the Canolah- and Marovella-jumpgates or they will be considered a threat. Any bribe for us?

The usual. Also a request to stop outgoing traffic, probably to not warn that coming ship.

- Our long-range communication-arrays are broken since months, but sure, lets have the pirates continue to pay us for shutting them down.

As long as they don't bother to check. Wait, I'm picking up a strange signal... Another fleet just jumped into our sector. A carrier and a couple of corvettes coming from the Xrnygne-system.

- What?! Whose faction do to they belong to?

Looks like the Melyna-faction though I'm not sure. They usually don't fly near these remote systems.

- First pirates, now a battle fleet... Issue a warning to all miners and guards to stay clear of the jumpgates until things have calmed down.

Do you think they belong to the ship the pirates are targeting?

- I dunno. But one thing for sure, it's not coincidence that they've appeared at the same time as them. Putting the system on lock-down a second time this week, the miners won't be happy...

Well, we're doing our best to keep them safe from the Krasnyy-pirates and by making deals with said pirates the miners are relatively safe considering the outer realm of space we're in.

- You're right. But two fleets at the same time... so much for trying to rest today...

Chapter III - "Order"
Spoiler:      SHOW
On the bridge of the Melyna-carrier
First officer talking to captain

Captain! There are pirates!

- Why would there be pirates in such a poor system?

No idea. But they have taken position close to the jumpgate the Magnodium-freighter will come through. Think they know about it?

- Probably... there doesn't seem to be anything else around here to get. Normally I would engage these frigates but these railguns mounted on them look worrying.

Sadly our intel is dated but it indicates that there are three more of these and all of them are equipped with advanced railguns. The others probably going to arrive soon thanks to our entrance.

- Any chance of updating said intel? Like requesting information from the station?

The system is on lock-down. I don't think the station would respond given the current situation. How should we react towards the pirates?

- What is their reaction? Any hostility?

The fighters surrounding the frigates have changed formation, but the frigates themselves still seem to idle around with a low core output.

- Prepare all bombers for launch!

But we're almost out of Magnodium-bombs. There's only enough to load 4 of them.

- Right, that's why we're capturing this freighter to begin with... Then only launch these 4 bombers and have the others prepared but still in the hanger.

The tactical officer just informed me that we would most likely win a confrontation, but end up losing half of our corvettes.

- They would die protecting the bombers against the pirate-fighters I assume?

Yes, because most of our bombers would attack with just regular ammunition so they need quite a number of hits on the enemy frigates to inflict damage. Not only that but we can't move the carrier to close for support until the frigates are dealt with since it would get torn apart by the railguns.

- Got it. Make sure the carrier always keeps a minimum distance of twice their range. And instruct everyone to not engage until ordered to do so. I don't want any unnecessary loses.

On it. Should we avoid battle or is the cargo worth the possible losses?

- Good question...

Chapter IV - "Prediction"
Spoiler:      SHOW
On one of the Krasnyy-frigates in Lykiba-system
Weapons officer talking to helm

The Melyna-ships are taking battle position and they are launching plasma-bombers. Shouldn't we boost our core now?

- They're not moving towards us yet, right? I suggest we wait a little longer. If they decide to attack we have our core running at 110% before they even get close.

But aren't they here for the freighter as well? They move in as soon as the freighter enters the system.

- I hope they don't. Otherwise the freighter might slip through during the battle. Or worse, it gets completely destroyed including the cargo. Also don't forget the last battle we had. We lost a frigate and two more were hit pretty bad. They're still not really battle-ready, only fixed on the surface.

And scans indicate they still have a bunch more plasma-bombers ready to be launched.

- I would like to suggest sending some fighters in to make a deep scan of their weapon-loadout and how many of their bombers carry plasma-bombs, but they would likely take that as an aggression.

Let's not do that. Instead what if... hm... I guess the best course of action would be to directly communicate with them and avoid battle altogether... don't wanna lose no more frigates.

- Splitting the spoils before they figure out our fleet is not as strong as it looks? Think it will work?

They'll respond. By the looks of it they don't want to risk losing their ships.

- How do we divide it?

I'll try for 50-50. They probably want more since they have the stronger fleet, but we have the advantage of standing close to the Canolah-jumpgate.

- The local station might want some compensation since the entire system is on lock-down and the miner transporters can't move.

Make sure they continue to block outgoing communication. We don't want the freighter to turn away.

Chapter V - "Deceive"
Spoiler:      SHOW
On-board the freighter in Marovella-system
Cargo supervisor talking to intelligence officer

Looks like I owe you 100 credits. Never would have though we need less than 20% of our expected profit to get across all these systems.

- Well, we're not at our destination yet, but yeah, the worst part is behind us.

Obfuscating our cargo as contrabands so local pirates aren't confused as to why a freighter is travelling through pirate territory instead of independent space is clever. No one here seems to double-check the scan results saying it's contrabands. And the anti-fighter rocket launcher scares them of anyway even thought we didn't bought a single rocket.

- We still need to bribe some of them like the scouts so they don't report us to the adjoining Lykiba-system where the main fleet is at.

So we got across the most difficult system-group and avoided two factions by nothing more than spoofing our travel-information. Respect for your work!

- Tricking the pirates wasn't to difficult, but I had to send quite the 'compensation' to the intelligence assistant of Melyna to 'update' our expected travel-route.

Not much compared to what the costs of mercenaries would have been. Good enough offers would have been more than 70% of the profit.

- It's all about knowing the enemy's hierarchy and information handling. Injecting a small piece of intel in the right place can move entire factions multiple systems.

Glad it worked out, the Melyna-faction was tailing us since quite some time.

- They were waiting until we travel through less civil space to strike, so I set them up with the Krasnyy-pirates in such a system.

As I said, excellent work. What's left of our route?

- After these pirate-sectors there's Xrnygne where we stay hidden in the giant nebular and after that we're going to be in military space getting protection thanks to our cargo.

Do you think the pirates and the Melyna started fighting in the Lykiba-system?

- Not likely, there would be a lot of distress and communication between all these fighters here otherwise.

Makes you wonder how these two faction will react once they noticed they got tricked? Would probably be nice to watch.

- Hopefully we're no longer around when that happens...
Post

Re: LTFC - May 2017 - Information Edition

#6
The First Exercise

A group of ten shuttles floated at the assembly point over Mizar 4. Lightning storms lit up the planets atmosphere, the flashes highlighting the mountainous terrain. Cadet Maria Espinosa stared out of the window, wondering when the exercise was about to start.

Across the shuttles cramped cockpit, Cadet Michael St. Claire fidgeted, bouncing a ball off the ceramsteel hull. The thudding noises had been irritating after five minutes, now after forty five minutes they were infuriating.

"Emperor's balls, could you stop that!" Espinosa shouted, throwing a nutrient bar at St. Claire's head. He laughed and ducked, the nutrient bar bouncing off the hull and floating towards the ceiling. The bouncing ball didn't miss a beat. Cadet Douglas' Merryweather's earnest face popped out from a hatch on the floor.

"Something the matter, Maria?" he said, smiling.

"Ugh, just St. Claire being St. Claire" she replied, running a hand through her long dark hair. "I swear he was born bouncing that ball."

"Ah." Merryweather lifted himself out of the hatch and turned to face St. Claire "Give it a rest, Mike. Looks like everyone is here now... Soon you'll be too busy shooting at our classmates."

St. Claire caught the ball adeptly, grunted, and stared out of the window. Espinosa looked to Merryweather, smiled and mouthed "Thanks". With a wink Merryweather reached into the hatch, pulling out the helmet for his spacesuit. He then closed the hatch and took the pilots seat, strapping himself in and putting his flight helmet into a container next to him.

Merryweather grabbed a headset from the control console in front of him and tapped the ship intercom button. With a smirk he spoke into the microphone "Milly, looks like it's almost time."

The door to the rear crew compartment opened and Cadet Camilla Pelton announced her presence by sighing "Don't call me that...". Merryweather grinned at her and laughed "Sure thing, Cammy." he replied. She merely rolled her eyes.

Plonking herself down in the co-pilots seat, she looked at the ships clock and frowned. "The commander should be here by now." She said half to herself.

As if to answer, a large, elegant looking ship jumped in with a white flash and came to a halt in front of the assembled shuttles. Its nose was a mass of communication and detection systems and gun turrets lined the top and bottom of the hull. Launch tubes were placed at regular intervals on the sides of the ship and a larger landing bay could be seen underneath.

The now familiar bellow of "Cadets!" came though the cockpit speakers, making the four crewmembers jump at the sudden noise. A screen on the centre console showed static for a moment, and then the grey-haired visage of Commander Strauss came into view.

"Welcome to Mizar, ladies, gentlemen and Cadet Preston. Sadly for you, this wonderful star system is merely a stop-off on your mission, your very first liiiiive exercise! But don't worry, those of you that survive have been cleared for shore leave on Alexandria Station afterwards. If any of you win, well, the rest will buy your drinks. Any of you die, we'll mourn you. Unless you're Cadet Preston."

Strauss's face on the screen faded and was replaced by a ship schematic.

"As you may have noticed, you lucky folks have been issued with A-22 Pegasus assault shuttles. Great little ships, Pegs, and popular too at least until they started deploying the frakking Windrider class. Now nobody wants them anymore and that makes me sad. Plus, these are some specially modified Pegs: They're stealthed against both RADAR and LIDAR, carry plasma cannons and have this nifty black paint job. Ha, well I say they carry plasma cannons, that's all they do; they've not actually been armed. This is an exercise, remember?" Strauss made sure to emphasise the words 'specially' and 'modified'.

The Pegasus schematic shrank and moved to the top left of the display. Beneath it, a system map appeared on the screen.

"Your mission is as follows: Your ships, lovely as they are, only have enough fuel for one jump. You will make that jump over the miniscule distance to Alcor. Now, Alcor is a waste of Deuterium and vacuum, but somewhere in the system is a lone fuel cell, with a beacon broadcasting its location. One of the teams will retrieve it, and then jump back here. Of course, just finding it is far too easy... There will be patrols and all sorts of nastiness with the system. I will be overseeing from the cruiser
Valeria.... And perhaps joining in the festivities."

The map disappeared and the Pegasus schematic reappeared on the screen. "Your ships have had their flight computers programmed to simulate any damage your ships take. Similarly, your weapons are..... Where's that button... Ah.. They're now active and configured for training mode. Any damage you inflict will be treated the same by other ships. I dare you to try your luck against the Valeria."

"I've selected crews based on their experience so each flight crew has a wide range of skills at their disposal." Strauss started laughing "Actually, that's bullshit; I assigned you into groups that would fail in the most comical way possible. You don't get to choose your crew in the Imperial Navy, you work with what you're given. And who knows, maybe some of you will prove me wrong."

Strauss' face reappeared on the screen.

"Now this isn't a team exercise: Only one flight crew can win. If you misjump, there's a QE communicator onboard; just contact the Valeria and we'll refuel you. It'll cost you time, but you'll still be able to jump to Alcor." Strauss put on his most sadistic grin "Unless you're Cadet Preston, of course."

"What has he got against Preston?" Espinosa muttered to St. Claire. "Long story." he replied with a snort.

Strauss continued his monologue "I've assigned commanders to each crew based on who I think is the best suited to lead. If your name is on the following list, congratulations on your ever so temporary promotion: Ahmed, Allen, Chen, Leigh-Smythe, Pelton, Pres-... Hahaha no, Singh, Smith, Wolf, Wong and Zachariah. You have 15 minutes to prepare yourselves for jump but may jump at any time after..... Now. Good luck cadets."

With a raised eyebrow Pelton stared in disbelief at her crew then smiled "Alright, let's get to it, see if we can work out where we need to go."

She stood and ushered them to the rear of the cockpit where the ships navigation section resided. Merryweather removed his seatbelt with rueful grin and headed to the back.

Tapping a panel on the edge of the reflective navigation table, Espinosa brought a map of the Alcor system up onto the screen. Alcors primary and secondary stars were gleaming brightly in the centre, the orbits of the planets surrounding the paired stars with green concentric rings. A blurry grey ring indicating an asteroid field between the 5th and 6th planets.

Pelton stared down at the map. "Alright guys, we need a plan. Espinosa, you're a local, any ideas?"

Espinosa poked an outer gas giant planet with the label 'Alcor 7', causing the screen to zoom in and highlighting its stormy surface "Local-ish. What about jumping straight here?" She said "it'd be sheltered from anyone in the inner system, then we can work out where we have to go from there."

"It's far out, though." Merryweather replied thoughtfully "We're hard to detect, but if the objective is in the inner system or the far side of the star, well, that's a long way to go at subluminal speeds."

"What about here?" Pelton said, tapping the screen to zoom out, then tapping the third planet. The screen zoomed in to show a rocky world of middling size, with a large moon in close orbit.

"That's Damocles." Espinosa replied "The moon is known as 'Sword', named after some ancient Earth figure. Sword is extremely close to its Roche limit, it's reckoned it'll break up within the next 400 years."

"Fascinating." Said St. Claire, grinning maliciously.

"If you don't have anything useful to say, be quiet." Pelton said "That is the kind of twisted place that Strauss would put the fuel cell, I suppose. But is it too obvious?"

"Obvious, maybe." Espinosa said "But there's also an observation platform in orbit, about the only notable fleet presence in the entire system. If they're in on whatever Strauss has cooked up, it's the perfect way to get taken out of the running."

Pelton stroked her chin and sighed "How about the asteroid field then? We'll be impossible to detect and we can travel around the system?”

"Sorry to interrupt, but the other shuttles are starting to jump, Camilla." Merryweather said, studying the space outside the ship. Turning to the navigation table, he frowned "What about a jump near...." Merryweather tapped the map, bringing up Alcor 1 ".... The inner planet. With the planet in front of us and the star behind us, we'll be hard to spot. And we'd be centrally placed."

"Alcor's got pretty high emissions, though. It might interfere with our sensors and communications." Espinosa replied.

"Alright, we need to decide. Or, rather, I do." Pelton said "You've been even more quiet than usual St. Claire. Could it be that, for once, you don't have anything to contribute?"

St. Claire started laughing. He smiled, the picture of innocence. "I was quite enjoying watching you flail around like people who'd been spaced. And while I'd dearly like to see you all fail, I don't particularly want to be a part of that. Want to hear a secret?" he drawled "I took a look at Strauss' plans for the exercise and downloaded them to my tablet." He brandished the offending item, tapped the screen a few times, then held it to the navigation table. There was a chime and an overlay appeared on the map.

St. Claire pointed at the navigation table "So the yellow lines are patrol routes, red dots are mines and automated turrets. And the red line is the patrol route of the Valeria." He then pointed at a green dot "This is where the fuel cell is located. You'd know that on system arrival because of the beacon, but no harm in knowing before we start, right?"

The rest of the crew just blinked as St. Claire continued "Now the beacon is near Alcor 4, a short distance from one of the moons: Well, I say moon, it's more a pebble. The planet is visited by patrolling ships every 15 minutes, the next one arriving and departing, ooh, 12 minutes from now. There are a couple of orbital defences, nothing we can't handle if we get the drop on them. And finally there are also some reasonably sized chunks of rock in the area that'd provide a bit of cover. I suggest we jump in on the far side of that moon, then sneak around, destroy the defences before they see us, then go enjoy our free drink at Alexandria Station."

"Huh." said Espinosa.

"Er..." said Merryweather.

"Well then." said Pelton "I guess that's a solid plan as any..."

St. Claire merely nodded smugly.

"Alright then." Pelton said, tapping jump coordinates into the navigation table. "St. Claire, you're on weapons duty. I remember you showing some skill in that. Merryweather, as ever I want you flying. Espinosa, I want you at the tactical console. Keep us safe if you can." She finished tapping in the details to the navigation table then headed to the copilots seat at the front of the cockpit.

"Valeria's just jumped," Said Merryweather "Looks like just us and one other shuttle are still here."

Moving like they now had a purpose, the crew prepared themselves for the mission. They all put on the helmets of their flight suits, took their assigned seats and belted themselves in. Pelton tapped the ship intercom and intoned "All hands prepare for jump." St. Claire scrunched up his face in disgust and spluttered "But we're all here! In this room!"

"Aaaand that's why I'm in charge... Professionalism." Pelton replied smugly. The nutrient bar bounced off her helmet faceplate with a bonk and floated towards the ceiling.

"Seriously." she sighed, tucking the nutrient bar into a pocket in her flight suit. Looking at Merryweather she asked "Pilot status?"

He looked back and gave her a grin "All good. Ready to jump when you say the word."

Turning to Espinosa, Pelton said "Tactical?"

"All systems nominal. Shields are running, currently at 0.001% of overload. Phase field charged and ready for when we jump. Jammers ready." Said Espinosa.

Finally Pelton turned to St. Claire. "And you, Sun Tzu? Weapons status."

St. Claire nodded, now all business. "Forward plasma cannons charged and ready to fire at your order. Dorsal and ventral turrets set to automatic targetting." He grinned wickedly "Sir."

"Alright then." Pelton said, bracing herself in her chair "Jump!"

The crew felt the strange lurch that happened during a jump. Then the starfield outside the cockpit changed with a flash and Alcor 4 appeared, its surface a mixture of purple and grey illuminated in the light of Alcors primary star. A mixture of meteoroids and asteroids were scattered around the arrival zone, with the smaller of Alcor 4's satellites floating several kilometres away.

"Contact with the beacon." Espionsa said "It's just a few clicks away. I see two turrets. They're scanning, but all this debris has us covered."

"Alright." Said Pelton "No time for subtlety, a patrol will be on its way soon. Merryweather, take us in. St. Claire, destroy the turrets."

A chorus of acknowledgements sounded in the cockpit and there was a low rumbling as the Pegasus surged forward. St. Claire tapped a button on the side of his helmet, a heads-up display descending in front of his eyes. "Targetting. Merryweather, line us up with the one on the left." he said.

"Roger." Merryweather replied, pulling the joystick to the left. The ship responded quickly, and the crew were rewarded by a chime in the cockpit, indicating that - had this been a real battle - the turret would have exploded in a cloud of molten metal.

"Nice shot!" Espinosa exclaimed "The other turret is about to fire, shields are ready but we won't.. Hold on. Antimatter flare, looks like we've got company." Espinosa said "It's coming from behin-... Awww hell."

"There you are! Better late than never!" The all too familiar voice of Commander Strauss emerged from the communications console. A hostile contact alarm started to shriek as the Valeria pulled out from behind an asteroid, ponderously turning to face the Pegasus.

"Shitshitshit!" Yelled Merryweather, slamming the joystick forward and pushing the Pegasus into a steep dive. An alarm started to blare more insistently as the Valeria’s weapons locked on.

Strauss waved from the screen on the command console "Now I could strap myself into a fighter and chase you down personally. But I've got a cruiser and all that entails at my command." With a touch of the theatrical he roared "All batteries, fire at that Pegasus!"

Lights inside the cockpit flickered as the Pegasus flight computer recorded simulated hits. Espinosa started rattling off a damage report. “Shields are breached, there are holes everywhere. The bottom turret is destroyed, top turret is locked at a 252 degree rotation. The port engine’s leaking antimatter, I’m shutting it down and venting the fuel. Oh, and we appear to have lost a wing.”

“Evade!” Pelton shouted. The crew rocked in their seats as Merryweather threw the ship into a spin, neatly dodging between two meteorids.

The rumble of the engine suddenly became a spluttering noise, the Pegasus losing thrust and starting to tumble. Merryweather hit a control and the ship righted itself sluggishly. There was more laughter from Strauss, then suddenly with a chime the ship systems shut down entirely and the Pegasus started to drift. Grumbling to himself, St. Claire dug out his ball and began to bounce it off the hull.

----

After a few hours of drifting in a darkened ship the Valeria reappeared outside. With a hiss of static the communications console lit up and Strauss' grinning face appeared. "Awwww, shit. You're all dead." he gloated "Well, metaphorically speaking. Looking at my console here it seems I hit your antimatter containment and you all got vapourised."

Strauss could be seen turning off-screen and tapping a console. Instantly the lights came on within the Pegasus and manoeuvring thrusters halted its drifting. Strauss turned back to face the screen.

"Here's the rub. St. Claire, the idea of taking my plans was in fact a very good one. But you must be denser than Neutronium if you believed I wouldn't have some kind of security in place. And your ‘hacking’, if that’s what you call it, had all the subtlety of a nova bomb."

Strauss' face on the viewscreen was obscured by his data tablet.

"Let's see here... System logs... 13th May 3532 CE.... Oh, here we are. Quoth my logging software: Data transfer to tablet, serial number 92347-SOT-125, user ID xXxClaireyBoyxXx. That's you isn't it? Oh Emperor's teeth that ID is golden, you won't hear the last of that. Anyhow, luckily, I had your ship extra specially modified, unique to the entire Imperial Navy in that it has a nice worm inside its flight computer. I knew exactly where you were going as soon as you tapped in the destination, knucklehead."

Strauss' face reemerged from behind the tablet and he started rattling off names. "That said, you were the least awful of the teams. Cadet Smith chose to jump between Damocles and Sword and his ship was torn apart by tidal stresses. The crew were lucky to make it, though I think 2 hours of floating in space while hanging onto a piece of hull has dampened their enthusiasm for spaceflight. Chen and Leigh-Smythe jumped into the asteroids and Chen's ship suffered micrometeor damage. Leigh-Smythe stopped to assist and we caught them both simultaneously."

"Ahmed, Wolf and Wong were all caught by the inner system patrol ships. Zacariah actually did reasonably well, he lucked out and jumped near the beacon, then proceeded to use Alcor 4 as cover; You may have seen him. But he mistimed things and was caught by a patrol. Allen jumped to Alcor 7 and tried to cross the system as fast as she could: Yeah, we got her good. Singh's currently in close orbit with Alcor with fried electronics. We'll retrieve her next."

Strauss put on a mock sad face "Sadly, Cadet Preston survived the mission, but what didn't survive was his status on my shit-list. Congratulations Cadet St. C-... Ha, Claireyboooooi ex ex ex, that prestigious spot is now occupied by you! Now then, you have permission to dock in the Valeria's ventral bay. I look forward to you reviewing your performance in the Jack on the Middle Horse on Alexandria Station. The drinks are on your classmates...."
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Re: LTFC - May 2017 - Information Edition

#7
And now, for the results of the May 2017 "Information" competition!

This month, we have only two prizewinners, due to fewer entries. The available prizes are:
  • Reassembly
  • Kane & Lynch collection
  • Super Hexagon
The first place winner is: HowSerendipitous, for his entry The First Exercise - with a score of 85!! (However, as he received first place in the previous month's edition, the second place winner may pick first this month, as per the rules.)

Second place goes to:
  • CSE with a score of 82 for his entry Information Is Not Knowledge!

The runner ups are (in order of submission):
Comments of the judges in order of submission*:
Fawkes:
  • Intriguing. I would've loved to have read more of this story! You set up an excellent atmosphere. I really enjoyed it. It was far too short, but take that as a compliment.
  • It's well-designed, even if unoriginal. Loved the REKT references! However, the perspective doesn't change where it should (in the very end, it continues as if from the eyes of the main character while it should be third-person), and the dialogues are still a bit unnatural (although clearly an improvement upon earlier works).
  • A fun story and enjoyable read.

Cha0zz:
  • A really neat idea. The news items themselves instantly give those Freelancer vibes, it's great! The design can be better, though; Microsoft Word limitations show themselves clearly here.
  • Absolutely loved the callback to your previous submissions!
  • The text justification makes this almost unreadable to me. It's a very neat idea, though I have to question the ethics behind mentioning a judge (T. Vieno) in your entry. ;) I still took no points off for that, however.

CSE:
  • Nicely done. Sadly the code was illegible to me, even when zoomed in.
  • I took a solid stab at deciphering this, but was unable. While I was frustrated by this, it was still a lot of fun, so you have that to your credit. Still, it would've been nice to know what it was. :P I feel like I'm missing an important part of this entry.
  • Haven't tried deciphering it; I just assume it's the usual CSE's punchline that's hidden there :) The sheer quality of the work is astounding. My only problem is that all the gorgeous tubes take the focus away from the topic of this contest.

Lyyrae:
  • I can't seem to get used to this style of writing. After a while it becomes hard to remember who said what.
  • The idea is very good and very, very LT. The implementation suffers from two things: the first is characters explaining to each other how the universe they live in works (it makes it sound artificial, non-living), and the final reveal not being forceful enough to impact the reader.
  • Not entirely original, but cleverly written, and I very thoroughly enjoyed it. Excellent first entry! One well-laid plot twist after another. I have no complaints.

HowSerendipitous:
  • Well-written, with wit and humor, there's nothing negative I can say about the story, apart maybe from being a bit confused by the amount of characters introduced all at once.
  • I wouldn't want to be on Strauss' shitlist! Great read!
  • Not an entirely unexpected plot twist, but I very much liked this piece. If this was part of a novel, I'd eagerly read the whole thing. Unfortunately, I doubt you have the time or reason to write a novel, so I'll have to be satisfied with what I have.
*(comments on each are in random order to keep judges anonymous, and I may have edited a few comments slightly to further this)

A detailed overview of all scores can be found here.

Prizes will be handled in the comments thread. Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to the other judges and everyone that participated!
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