Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Zero Wing, and never will. That belongs all with Sega, Taito (game made in 1989), and all other companies that might have something to do with this title all contained therein. Also, I thought I wouldn't have to give this sort of disclaimer, but apparently a lot of people have their minds in the trashy gutter on this site. THERE IS NO IMPLIED SLASH CONTAINED IN HERE! NONE AT ALL!! AT ALL!! Sheesh, people can be friends without doing that crap, you know.... :P
The alarm suddenly went off, klaxons clanging throughout the room. The captain slowly opened his eyes, then shut them tightly. "It's too dang early...."
He reached out his hand and slammed it on top of his alarm clock. He lied there quietly in his mostly metal-clad room. It had been over a year he had been on this expedition. The ship had been out acquiring research for their revolutionary ship design--mostly for the precise manipulation of artificially magnetic fields, as well as emulation of any technology it might come across. It was like the computer controlling the ship was actually becoming a living, thinking entity, it seemed. It was officially labelled the "Zero Wing Project"--the "zero" denoting its now current prototype stage. Some, though, had grown close to their work on the ship, and had gone as far as to give it a nickname, lovingly calling it "Zig" or "Ziggy" instead.
The captain sighed to himself. As much as he would try, he couldn't escape it. Even in space, you can't escape the morning. He slicked his blonde hair back, and got up, getting on his identifying blue uniform with his rank attached on the lapel. After a quick "breakfast" of synthetic coffee and a plain donut, a luxury acquired at the last rest spot, he leaned over to check the calendar. August 11th, 2101. It would only be a few more days until they were all finally back on Earth...when he could finally see his family....
Their research vessel was small in comparison with other ships out there in the Earth federation's fleet, but he always thought it to be inconvenient it took as long as it did to reach the bridge from his room just walking. Unfortunately the higher-ups never did want to spend the extra money on lifts--or decoration, for that matter. The walls were grey, mostly reflective and metallic, with lights lining the upper corners from one end of the corridor all the way to the end. Section numbers written in large, bold, black characters were branded on the wall evenly as he made his way down.
An elevator ride and some more walking later, he finally arrived at the bridge. More dull grey interior as well as the darkness of space displayed on three giant screens at the front of the room greeted him. Everybody turned to face him as he entered, each giving their own curt greetings as he entered.
"'Morning," he replied. Right on time. 9:00 exactly.
He made his way over to the central chair, positioned slightly higher than the rest of the bridge, and sat down. A technician came over, carrying some notepads scrawled with what looked like chicken scratch to the captain, but he knew it was...probably...important.
The technician smiled broadly. He was an Asian man, wearing a headset with a bendable microphone, just like everybody else there did, and also the trademark blue uniform...just like everybody else.
"Things with the Zero project are going quite well!" he started out. He then went on to talk about the reactor core or fusion or something...the captain didn't really care. He simply nodded as he continued to speak the technological psychobabble jargon, making a weak facade that he understood, much less cared, what he was talking about. He never wanted to go out on this mission anyways, but Earth had thought this project would be a vital keypoint in future military projects, and that it could "unleash an explosion of possibilities", or something like that. He didn't care, though.... Everything had gone sour over a year ago after his compatriot, Lieutenant Cats, had died in an alleged accident aboard the ship.
A horrible way to start the expedition out, he thought. They had been close, him and Cats, and he was the only reason he agreed to undertake this mission in the first place. But now...he was dead. Aside from sheer boredom that he had faced during this time, he also lived with the guilt of his death. He had been haunted with the obligatory "what if's" that usually come with another's death, but he always had to undertake those inner demons quietly and secretly--there were too many people counting on him now; he couldn't let guilt hinder his ability to command.
The captain's attention finally returned as the technician was finishing up, talking about a supply ship that had left earlier that morning. He blinked. Something seemed wrong here.
"I don't recall hearing about any supply ships scheduled for today," he said slightly wary. There weren't supposed to be anymore supplies delivered for the remainder of their trip, especially in this desolate portion of space.
"It surprised us too, sir," the technician replied calmly, "but he did bear with him a proper entry code. It was properly encypted and certified--priority A Earth Sphere Alliance."
"Did you check the cargo?"
"Yes, sir. It was also properly authenticated and certified. It was delivered from the last post we had departed from. ...un--fortunately, we were unable to determine the nature of its contents. There were a few large crates, odd-looking technological gadgets, many of which contained black boxes which we were told our scientists would understand. Apparently it was a late delivery which was never sent with the normal supplies."
The captain sighed to himself, giving a small nod. "Black boxes" were something he never understood. If something was that technological, why shouldn't it be able to be disassembled?
Before he continued with his round of routine questions, a sudden explosion rocked the bridge. Everybody was thrown from their seats, and the captain landed on the floor, catching himself with his hands before hitting. Immediately the sirens started going off and the front screens turned a flashing red. Everybody and any loose items started floating upwards in mid-air.
The captain grabbed the armrest of his chair and pulled himself back in, buckling himself in securely. "What happened?!" he barked out over the pandemonium of the room full of technical agents. One of the mechanics onboard put a hand to his earpiece, listening intently, then turned to face him with a panicked expression.
"It was a bomb!" he yelled back, attempting at maintaining his cool. "A bomb was set up inside the ship!!"
"Damage report!" the captain yelled.
"Decks two through five have sustained heavy damage," another called back. "Decks one and six minor splash damage. They're...they're quickly losing oxygen. Deck seven is mostly unaffected; access and air loss have been cut off by the emergency storm doors. The bomb seems to have come from the main docking bay. All ships contained therein are all lost. The main lab here on deck seven is undamaged, but has been isolated as well. Main reactors are now offline. Artificial gravity and...life support...are currently on hold."
"We're all going to die here, aren't we..." the captain grimly thought to himself.
An operator, now seated and buckled in at his station, turned around. "Sir! We're...we're getting a signal. A communique from an unidentified source!"
He turned back, nimbly dancing his fingers across the console in front of him, calling out as he did, "Main screen turning on!"
The holograph projector amidst the front three screens crackled to life, bringing a staticcy picture into focus. The captain gripped the sides of the chair, staring disbelievingly at the picture in front of him. An image of a man wrapped in a purple cloak with most of his flesh missing. In its stead only were machines, mechanical implants with small LED's blinking on and off. Aside from the shining green hair standing straight up and half of his face, he saw nothing else organic. But that portion alone...that part of his face.... It couldn't be. They had sent his body out into space when had died. Was it possible that...
"It's you!!" the captain shouted out.
"How are you, gentlemen!" Cats responded morbidly cheerfully. His voice was different; it was not the same as the captain remembered it. It sounded artificially produced and completely soulless.
"All of your base is now ours," he continued. He narrowed his eyes, lowering his head slightly and smirking darkly. "You are now on the way to destruction."
The captain lurched forward in his seat, his grip on the chair tightening to the point of his knuckles turning white. "W-what'd you say?!"
Cats smiled a broad, toothy grin in reply. The captain looked back up at him. "Cats, how could you?! I...I thought you were dead!"
"Oh but I was! But you see...some roving pirates found my floating casket, knew who I was, and as you can see...I'm once again of the land of the living."
The captain shook his head and looked back to the projection of his former friend. "But...why?! Why did you do this to us?!"
The projection tilted its head, looking away a moment, then back at him. "...you see, old friend, the Zero Wing, the 'Zero project', is actually a craft which is being designed to specifically combat our forces. The ability to adapt to any and all situations, mainly ones where facing off against more technologically advanced foes, is a key strategem in the design. What we can use...so can it. And we can't let anybody get the upper hand on us.... We might as well stop this before any more are built; we can't let this get out of hand, mm?"
He again grinned broadly. "...but unfortunately, it's sad that all said research was stored alone on your ship. It really is a pity that you're here...but no hard feelings. We're just destroying the project...but since you all are here, you're going as well."
He narrowed his eyes, regaining his smirk. He brought out one of his hands from beneath the extensive cloak he wore, making a small gesture, only the fingers baring any actual skin. "You don't have any way of surviving this, so you had best make the most of your time." His cacaphonic laughter then echoed throughout the room over the speakers, his shoulders rising and falling with each outburst.
"Cats!!" the captain yelled out as the image blipped out. He froze in position for a moment, then leaned back, folding his hands in front of himself, going into deep thought. The technician turned around to look at him, a wild fear in his eyes.
The captain looked straight ahead at the flashing red screens, while the sirens slowly faded from his hearing. There wasn't too much he could do. All escape ships were taken out. There was nothing to do except wait as the chain reaction reached its pinnacle. There was nothing to do to save themselves...
...but at least something could possibly be saved.
He looked at the technician, then forcing the words out, "We shall launch the 'zig'."
Somebody tapped some keys and three different angles of the experimental ship came into view. It was a stout ship, colored a dull metallic yellow, its corners were rounded out coming to a peak at the stubby front end. A pilot clad in a tight white space suit came onto the screen in the position of a salute. His helmet was already on, the blue visor revealing nothing but his eyes, with a tuft of hair covering the left one.
The captain nodded to him, returning the position of the salute. "Son, you know what you're doing. Take the 'zig' and move it out of here."
The pilot nodded in response and ran for the ship, getting to the side of the cockpit, grabbing hold with one hand, and jumping in. Behind him, shielded behind protective glass, a team of scientists scrambled about a room, pressing buttons and pulling levers, disabling the final safety locks. The small ship hummed to life, as the various diagnostic screens with their information displays blinked and lit up.
Meanwhile the captain watched as the ship turned around, aiming for the long entry way. He felt the ensuing explosions finally kicking in. He looked at the tiny ship, and with a voice racked with emotions, he uttered out, "...for great justice."
A scientist pounded a large red button and the ship suddenly was launched forward by the platform on which it sat. An explosion then ripped through the bridge and through most of the rest of the ship. As the "zig" launched forward, a hungry, bubbling fire raced towards it, racing it out of the ship.
Then, it suddenly was outside the ship, rocketing into space. Behind it, its former base finally had taken enough punishment and exploded out, sending a giant shockwave that violently shook the small experimental craft. Debris flew everywhere, and immediately the pilot took into action. Judging from the information he was given on the 3-dimensional radar, he quickly dodged around it all as it flew towards him.
After a few moments of frantically dodging his former home as it was lobbed at him...suddenly it was quiet. He took a breath and let it out heavily, his firm grip of the controls finally relaxing. His downcast eyes finally looked up, and there in front of him were scores and scores of Cats's ships.
In A.D. 2101, a one-man war was just beginning.