Trapped in the Nebula

A Smith and W'sin Adventure

13 min read ~ Feb 6, 2023 ~ storysci fipulpai

Trapped in the Nebula

This authorized but unofficial story was written as an experiment using ChatGPT. You can read more about the process if you’re interested. Otherwise, enjoy what a couple of hours of hand-holding an AI can net you.

You can download an epub of this story too, if you like.


Smith and W’sin were two of the most notorious adventurers in the Garm. They were known for their quick wit, cunning, and their ability to handle any situation thrown their way. At least, that’s what they’d tell anyone who’d listen.

Smith was in the pilot’s seat, flying the Praxis, their trusty spaceship, into the heart of a gaseous nebula. “I have a good feeling about this one, W’sin.” Always the optimist. “We’re finally going to strike it rich.”

W’sin was in the co-pilot’s seat, scanning the instruments. “Yeah, if we don’t get vaporized by a supernova first.” Always the skeptic." I hope you have a good insurance policy on this heap, Smith."

Smith just laughed and kept flying, unfazed by the negativity. They were searching for a hidden derelict pirate booty vessel, a legendary treasure trove of wealth and power that had been lost for centuries. They had followed leads, rumors, and legends for ages, and they finally had a solid lead. They were confident that this was the one, and they were going to be the ones to finally find it.

Their journey to find the derelict vessel full of treasure took them deeper into the gaseous nebula, and their ship, the Praxis, hummed with excitement as they closed in on their goal. But as they entered the area where the booty was said to be, their excitement was quickly replaced by confusion as they found themselves surrounded by strange, glowing particles, and not the treasure they were searching for.

“What the hell is this?” W’sin muttered as he gazed out the cockpit window.

Smith shrugged. “Looks like we took a wrong turn somewhere.”

As they navigated through the strange particles, a large vessel loomed ahead of them, and they quickly realized that this was no ordinary pirate ship.

“This is it!” Smith said, his eyes shining with excitement. “The derelict vessel!”

W’sin raised an eyebrow. “Looks more like a science lab than a pirate ship.”

Smith nodded, his smile fading. “Yeah, you’re right. This isn’t what we were looking for.”

Then something strange happened. Their instruments started to go haywire, and the ship’s systems started to shut down. Smith tried to keep control, but it was no use. The Praxis was being pulled in by an unknown force.

“What the hell is happening, W’sin?” Smith shouted.

W’sin was frantically trying to bring the systems back online. “I don’t know, but it’s not good. We’re being pulled in by something, and I can’t seem to stop it.”

Smith tried to use the thrusters to fight against the force, but it was no use. They were being pulled towards a massive object that was slowly coming into view.

Smith and W’sin were shocked as they approached a massive vessel with towering spires and gleaming metal. It was unlike any other ship they had ever seen.

Its sleek metal exterior shimmered in the nebula’s dim light, and its massive size loomed over the adventurers as they approached. The vessel was equipped with cutting-edge technology, from its advanced propulsion systems to its complex network of sensors and experiments. As they entered the vessel, they were struck by its grandiose design, with towering chambers filled with gleaming machinery and intricate arrays of pipes and cables. Everywhere they looked, there was evidence of the vessel’s incredible scientific capabilities, and they were awestruck by the scale of the operations taking place within its walls.

“What the hell is this?” W’sin muttered.

Smith was equally puzzled. “I have no idea.”

The Praxis was being pulled towards a landing platform on the side of the research vessel. They had no choice but to land and see what was going on.

As Smith and W’sin disembarked from the Praxis, they were met by a group of Canis. They were covered in fur, had large, floppy ears, and big, friendly eyes. They were the survivors of the research vessel, and they were overjoyed to see Smith and W’sin.

“Thank the stars you’re here!” one of the survivors, a creature named Difo, exclaimed. “We’ve been trapped here for so long, and we thought we were going to die. We haven’t seen anyone new in so long.”

“What happened here?” W’sin asked.

“We came seeking the vessel of legend, the vessel of wealth. But when we arrived, we learned the truth. This vessel is not a ship of wealth but of scientific research,” Difo began. “Operated by ancient robots designed to run experiments and derive objective truth about the psychology and drive of organic life. But the experiments had a darker purpose - to trap and study life that entered the nebula by putting them in mortal peril.”

W’sin raised an eyebrow. “So, we were just lab rats to them?”

Difo nodded. “Yes, and the traps and obstacles were all part of their experiments. The booty was just a lure, a distraction from the true purpose of the vessel. I am happy to have someone new to talk to. But I’m sorry new friend, that you are trapped here.”

“What do you mean we’re trapped here?” asked Smith, his voice growing tense.

“The vessel has magnetic locks that automatically lock down all incoming ships,” explained Difo. “And eventually, the robots will destroy your ship. Or turn it into a giant drone for a new ‘challenge’ for the next poor souls to stumble upon this nebula.”

W’sin’s eyes widened. “What do you mean ‘destroy’? We have to get out of here!”

Difo shook his head. “It’s too late. The locks are unbreakable, and the robots will stop at nothing to protect their experiments.”

Smith sighed, running his hand through his hair. “Well, they’ll only get the Praxis over my dead body.”

W’sin chuckled. “That’s the spirit, partner.”

Smith and W’sin stood in the dimly lit corridor for a moment, taking in the reality of their situation.

“We have to find the control panel to the magnetic lock and destroy it,” W’sin said, his voice determined. “That’s the only way we’re going to get out of here.”

Smith nodded, his hand automatically going to his weapon. “Yeah, and I’m not going to let those robots take us down without a fight. We’ve faced tougher odds before.”

W’sin smirked. “You mean like that time on Tarsus IV?”

Smith chuckled. “Okay, maybe not tougher odds, but we can handle this. We just have to find the control panel.”

They set off, Smith’s hand never leaving his weapon, scanning the walls and floors for any signs of a hidden panel or switch. As they walked, they could feel the pressure of time ticking away. They had to find the control panel and destroy it before it was too late.

Smith and W’sin moved quickly through the winding corridors of the science vessel, dodging laser fire from the relentless robots that still roamed the ship. W’sin took the lead, his agility and quick thinking allowing him to outmaneuver the deadly blasts as he called out to Smith.

“Smith, I think I found the control panel!” he shouted, pointing to a large computer terminal up ahead.

Smith followed close behind, his hand hovering over the grip of his trusty sidearm. “Lead the way, W’sin. I’ve got your back.”

As they approached the terminal, a group of robots emerged from a nearby doorway, their glowing eyes fixed on the duo. Smith didn’t hesitate, pulling his weapon and firing a barrage of shots at the robots as W’sin advanced toward the terminal.

“It’s like we’ve stepped into one of those Idaho Johnson holovids!” Smith quipped, his positive attitude never faltering.

W’sin raised an eyebrow. “Let’s hope we don’t end up like him.”

“I don’t recognize the sequels as canon,” Smith sniffed.

But despite their witty banter, the two adventurers were all business as they navigated their way through the dangers. The fight was intense, and they used every trick in their arsenal to take down the robots. They slid under laser fire, rolled out of the way of crushing blows, and blasted the robots with lightning-fast speed.

W’sin reached the terminal first. When Smith got there, he heard his partner muttering.

“Come on, come on,” W’sin said, fingers flying over the buttons as he tried to override the magnetic locks holding them captive.

The robots advanced, their metal frames clanking and grinding as they closed in on Smith and W’sin. These robots looked different. Smith’s shots ricocheted off their armor, leaving only small scorch marks in their wake.

“That’s not good.”

“Smith, I need a little more time!” W’sin called out, his eyes never leaving the screen in front of him.

Smith gritted his teeth, taking a step forward as the robots closed in. He raised his weapon, ready for one last stand.

Suddenly, W’sin smacked his forehead. “Smith, you’ve got the explosives, right?”

Smith barked a laugh. “Oh, of course.” He dug into his backpack, pulling out a small, sleek package. “Always prepared, my friend.”

W’sin chuckled. “Good. Then let’s get this over with.”

Smith quickly attached the explosives to the control panel and stepped back. “Ready when you are, W’sin.” A grin spreading across his face.

W’sin simply nodded, his usual stoic expression giving way to a small smile. “Let’s get out of here before the whole place blows,” he said.

Smith and W’sin raced through the labyrinthine science vessel, the explosions they had set ticking down with each passing second. They had barely made it past the traps and obstacles, there was no shooting the shiny robots that deflected blaster fire.

“These bots are like mirrors!” W’sin yelled, dodging laser fire as they ran.

“We gotta make it to the Praxis, fast!” replied Smith, his blaster in hand.

The duo darted down the metallic halls, their hearts pounding in their chests. The sound of the robots’ footsteps echoed behind them, closing in fast.

“Just a little further!” Smith yelled, leading the way.

Smith and W’sin emerged onto the landing platform, panting and sweating. W’sin turned to the survivors and called out, “Alright folks, time to pack your bags and hit the road! The party’s over and it’s time to get out of here.”

Smith chimed in, “Yeah, listen to the bird. We’ve got a ticket out of here, but it’s one-way only. So, let’s go!”

The survivors quickly gathered their things and made their way towards the Praxis, with Smith and W’sin leading the way.

Sounds of metal clanging against metal echoed through the halls. Smith and W’sin spun around, weapons at the ready. Suddenly, a towering robot lumbered out of the shadows, its mechanical arms reaching out to grab one of the survivors.

“Watch out!” Smith yelled, training his blaster on the robot.

W’sin sprang into action, drawing his sword and cutting through the robot’s arm. The shiny mirror armor couldn’t deflect a sword. The survivor scrambled free as the robot stumbled back, its systems failing.

“Come on!” W’sin yelled, grabbing the survivor’s hand and pulling her towards the Praxis. “We’ve got to move!”

Smith and W’sin ran down the hallway, herding the survivors ahead of them. Behind them, they could hear the robots lumbering after them, determined to stop their escape.

As they reached the steps of the landing platform, they could see the Praxis waiting for them. But before they could board, another robot appeared, blocking their way.

“Get on the ship!” Smith shouted, firing his blaster at the robot.

W’sin sprang forward, his sword flashing as he fought to keep the robot away from the survivors. Smith covered his back, firing shot after shot at the relentless robots.

Finally, they made it to the Praxis.

“Everyone on board!” W’sin shouted as they boarded. He and Smith rushed to the cockpit, fumbling with the controls as they tried to get the ship off the ground.

“Come on, come on,” Smith muttered under his breath as he pushed buttons and flipped switches. The Praxis hummed to life, the engines sputtering before finally roaring to full power.

Just as they were about to take off, the ship shuddered and the sound of explosions echoed through the vessel. The survivors cried out in fear, but Smith and W’sin were ready.

“Hold on!” Smith shouted over the din as he pulled back on the controls. The Praxis shot up, the magnetic locks releasing their grip. The ship broke free from the derelict vessel just as it exploded in a massive ball of flame, the shockwave rippling through the gas cloud.

And just like that, everything was quiet.

The Praxis floated free in the smoky ruins of the once mighty science vessel. The battle was over, the survivors were safe, and the vessel was no more. Smith and W’sin took a moment to catch their breath and reflect on the journey they had been on.

“Well, that was a wild ride,” Smith said, wiping his brow. “I never thought we’d end up saving the galaxy from an army of ancient scientist robots.”

“You got that right,” W’sin replied, his sarcastic tone in full swing. “Who knew our search for pirate booty would turn into such an epic adventure?”

The survivors approached, their tails wagging in gratitude. “We are forever in your debt,” Difo said. “You saved us from a fate worse than death; Intense boredom.”

Smith and W’sin grinned at each other, their expressions full of pride and satisfaction. “It was our pleasure,” Smith said. “Besides, what’s a little danger and excitement for two adventurers like us?”

W’sin chuckled. “And let’s not forget the reward at the end of it all. I’m sure there’s a bar in some corner of the galaxy that’ll buy us drinks for life for this story.”

The group laughed, a sense of camaraderie and victory filling the air. As they made their way out of the nebula, they couldn’t help but feel that they had become more than just partners on this journey - they had become friends.

The engines of the Praxis roared to life as they sped off, heading towards the next adventure that lay ahead. Who knew what the future held, but one thing was for certain - Smith and W’sin were ready for anything.