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SPACEHOUNDS Chapter 1


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Engineering

 

The two women scientists poured over the readouts supplied to them by the mystery ship, not surprised by what they found but mystified by what they didn't.

 

They found detailed instructions and procedures for the equipment they knew yet nothing for those bits of technology that were new and unknown. It was like a puzzle and it was up to them to fit the pieces together.

 

Bridge

 

Ayato had returned to the bridge and his own set of mysteries. He had come to the same conclusion Rachel and Yseult had, and a step further. He opened his channel.

 

“It is a test. It shows us what we know already gives us access and instructions to do what we already can do with our own technology and knowledge but it teases more. It shows us things beyond us and asks us, 'do you understand?'. This ship is a test.”

 

He changes channel to call the Polaris. “Arjun, we need to see if we can secure the Polaris to this vessel I need you and Mr Todd over here.”

 

“Aye aye,” was the reply from the Polaris.

 

Excursion Bay

 

“I think I can help with that”. The Chief's voice clear and sounding as if she were standing behind the captain, came over the radio.

 

In the immense room full of Armored suits, Karen had removed her own armor when suddenly three beams of light came from the open torso and touched her, wrapping her in and envelope of light. She felt her weight vanish as she rotated and was drawn into the machine which in turn began to fit itself to her and close up, sealing her inside.

 

A moment of claustrophobic panic which passed as the solid wall in front of her became a transparent veiwport and an elaborate holographic HUD appeared in the her vision. With a series of experiments she found she could access the HUD simply by looking at the various 'buttons', she found she could move and with a little practice found that it was as easy as walking without her normal armor.

 

Sensors, Communications, Armor and something that in her world was still the province of fiction, Energy Shields. Weapons both Kinetic and Energy, were built into the suit and also larger more powerful versions of both could be attached to hard points or held and carried like guns in the armors 'hands'. The Armor showed her where these tools of destruction were stored in the bay and when she plodded over to the armory aside from the cannon, rockets, missiles and unknown ray projectors she found large Axes, Pikes and swords. Another bay held tools of all manners.

 

Aside from walking and she assumed running the Armor was also equipped with its own flight systems and life support form a good long time. It seemed that for all intents and purposes this Suit was a mini space ship.

 

It was then that she had heard the captains instruction to the first officer and remember some of the tools she had seen realized that she could solve the problem.

 

“I think I can help with that”, Karen smiled in her new suit of Armor as she started grabbing what she would need.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Beneath all the wonder of these wonderful toys, it worried Karen that they were being granted so many advantages. In her experience with the Corps, you were only issued what the higher-ups thoughts you needed to do a job and, more often than not, that estimate tended to be below the mark actual required to solve the problem at hand. And since she got involved in spaceflight? That went double with every pound on it's way to orbit costing money from the precious bottom line. 

 

Bigger gifts meant bigger problems, and Karen could only pray, and hope that someone was actively listening, at the back of her mind that they were up to the task this wonder ship promised was coming.

 

The fact they'd need to jury-rig an airlock was an anchor of familiarity, a sign the, what to call them, what to call them..? Ah, the Makers still had some restrictions in information and materials helped a lot. Soothed her nerves into problem solving mode. "Anyone over there not have experience wearing a spacesuit? Before I get lost seeing how deep this bag of tricks goes, rather go with the basic safety line soon as you position the airlock next to the entrance. Work on something more permanent next," she commented over the coms, grabbing a few units of good sturdy-looking cable and a wielder to do the job of spiderwebbing them together. 

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"It is being like the vessel, it can be showing us anything we can possibly be knowing at our current level of scientific development,"  Yseult agreed with Rachel in a hushed tone, her footsteps soft as she approached the globe at the heart of the structure, constrained by emerald... energy? Plasma? "But anything being beyond that, it is still locked to us."

 

The sable-haired scientist tapped her lips with a forefinger as she got closer to the globe, scrutinizing it with her bare eyes, squinting slightly against the verdigris light, trying to see what it was composed of. "Considering the singularity that is bringing us here, perhaps this is another, constrained specifically to provide power? Or something akin to a manufactured sun encased in the equivalent of a Dyson sphere to be producing energy by means of stellar nucleosynthesis?"

 

There was wonder and awe in the French woman's accented voice. One of the biggest constraints in spacecraft engine design was power consumption and the limits on how much fuel you could reasonably carry or collect. If one had access to what was practically unlimited power...

 

Yseult looked back towards the various tools and devices littering the engineering bay and began nodding. "The vessel, it is not telling us what we can not be knowing, but the tools, they are here for us to be learning ourselves, no? Allons-y."

 

Yseult glanced towards Rachel and shared a smile with the other woman, a smile of scientific exploration and discovery, and with sweeping gesture urged the woman to accompany her back towards the engineering and diagnostic equipment. They weren't the same as to what they were used to, being much more advanced and efficient, but their function was similar. Spectrometers, spectrophotometers, and mass spectrometers. Electron microscopes, electrometers, and magnetometers and more.

 

Yseult took the lead at first, setting up an analysis protocol as though they were in a lab - with all they had at hand, it wasn't far off - but though new to each other, she and Rachel were soon working in smooth conjunction as they tried to decipher the secrets of the vessels.

 

And slowly, but surely, they started teasing out those secrets. The emerald beams were some manner of force field - Yseult was reluctant to use the term, but she couldn't find a more precise one at the moment - that appeared to function across multiple dimensions, their exact properties able to shift in response to differing circumstances.

 

By what Yseult and Rachel could determine, the globe was a solid mass of ultra-dense matter, possibly Neutronium, or maybe Quark Matter or Strange Matter, or some combination of all three. Even now, study of the composition of Neutron Stars wasn't exactly vast. The energy field encompassing must be shielding the vessel from the... the Core's immense mass.

 

Studying the core and reflecting on what had affected the Polaris in bringing them here, a hypothesis began forming. "This, it is being the core of the vessel's drive, and it is being a zero-point energy source, I am thinking, considering the properties of field enfolding it, shunting the mass into neighbouring dimensions to produce energy."

 

"I concur, if for no other reason that I don't have another idea that comes close to fitting," Rachel said.

 

What Rachel noted first while Yseult was more involved in setting up the equipment was that as they arrived at correct assumption, the vessel's computer - it must be some manner of AI - confirmed it, unlocking the data in the database, as though turning over a puzzle piece, and letting them get another look at the complete picture. Thrills of excitement ran through both women, and they made more progress in determining what the vessel's drive did, if not precisely how.

 

It wasn't not a worm hole drive as had been theorized by scientists and science-fiction writers for decades. Rather than punching a hole between two points in space-time, it locks two points in space-time and compresses the space between the two. The vessel enters into place at one point, and travels between the two points until it is ejected. The amount of space compression determines how long it takes the ship to travel between the two points, and the amount of space compression is determined by how much power can be introduced into the system.

 

With a zero-point energy source, near infinite power meant near instantaneous travel. More importantly, if the compression drive functioned as she theorized, they weren't necessarily travelling speeds approaching or exceeding the speed of light, and thus had the worry of time dilation, but rather, were travelling a shorter distance to cross an exponentially longer one.

 

Yseult stared at Rachel wide-eyed. "C'est fantastique!"

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  • 2 weeks later...

With the Polaris docked in a makeshift fashion to the alien, in the unknown sense, ship, the rest of the crew of the Polaris were able to come aboard and add their own expertise to the exploration of the vessel.

 

Arjun joined Ayato in the command center, if that’s what it was, while Mr. Todd moved back and forth between the scientist in the drive section and the Armor bay, where Carrie had gone to run a physical on the Chief. After most of an eight-hour working period the captain called everyone to the dining area for a meal and to discuss their findings.

 

Using the Kitchen, after Carrie had made as thorough an examination as she could and giving the food stuff she tested a clean bill, Ayato prepared one of his gourmet dinners which to all present was indistinguishable from the real thing. When asked Carrie explained as well as she could.

“The food I tested, about two dozen items I requested from the Kitchen, arrived fresh and as far as my medical gear can determine it is real. I asked Mr. Todd to check the kitchen machinery to see if we could get to the base ingredient.” She smiled at the engineer.

 

“Well she asked but I couldn’t solve anything. The interface would not allow us to get samples of what they use to make the food. And I double checked her readings and ran them through the computers I brought in my luggage as well as the Polaris’s, and the food is what it claims to be, right down to the molecular level. This is way beyond any sort of bio-replication printing we can do back home.” He chuckled, “ Really this is Star Trek level stuff, if any of you remember that old show.”

 

Arjun let out a little laugh after he swallowed the bite of food he had just taken. “I do I used to watch that as a kid.” He speared another vegetable but did not take the bite. “It really creeps me out the way this thing only lets us know some of what’s here. I mean on the bridge I have found what the Captain likes to call the Tactical station. I just call them guns,” he laughs again then gets a serious look, “ The thing is armed to the teeth. There are energy weapons, Kinetic weapons, Missiles, and while I can select them even play with targeting. They have a nice little program like a video game. But I can’t access the systems to even get it to tell me what the weapons are, what sorts of energy, what are the kinetic weapons. Hell, it wouldn’t even tell me where the weapons are located on the ship.’ He seems frustrated.

 

“We have been having better luck with the drive, or we were,” Said Rachel,” It let us know new things as we figured stuff out the as soon as Yseult seemed to really get the picture it stopped helping.”

 

Everyone looked at Yseult, she put her utensils down and dabbed her lips with a napkin. “It was giving us things regularly as we figured them out but as soon as I realized that we could make a drive that functioned pretty much as we think this one does with our technology. It stopped. I had some calculations I wanted to do I input them, and the computers stopped responding with anything beyond the most basic functions we originally received. I have the Polaris running those calculations, but it will take a few more hours, I think.

 

“What are the calculations,” asked Ayato?

 

“Whether or not our math is correct and that we can create the compression phenomena with our drive, modified of course.”

 

“Mainly software, “ interjected Rachel, “But there is some structural modifications we would need to do both inside and outside and unless we can figure out how to get this thing to make the parts …” she lets the sentence drop off.

 

There was a some more small talk but soon the meal was done and Ayato told everyone to head back to Polaris where they buttoned the ship up for the night and went to bed.

 

Sometime latter a soft alarm chimed and woke Yseult. She sat up and checked her computer the calculations were done. As she read over them, she saw that her and Rachel were right they could do it if only they could make the modifications.

 

As she ponder waking Rachel, a sensation of strange weight alteration occurred and she pushed off to the view port just in time to see the creation of a hole in space which the great ship fell into and carried the Polaris along with it.

 

Spoiler

this is the end of chapter one I will post the beginning of chapter 2 soon.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The three stars orbited undisturbed as they had done for eons, the larger two class G and K respectively, form a Binary system, while the third a class M red dwarf orbits the Binary. All three play host to planets of various sizes and make ups though there are no gas giants in the system, neither large nor small.

 

At a point in space exactly at the center of a triangle formed by the three stars a gravitational anomaly occurred. While there were no intelligent sentient lifeforms present to observe this phenomena, the gravity wave created by the disturbance would be detected by the life forms of a nearby star in roughly 4.2 years.

 

There was not burst of light, no cascade of visible energy, there was only empty space suddenly filled. The great vessel appeared with no fanfare and no excitation. Its velocity was 48% less than that which it had attained at its previous location, it's course, if unaltered would carry it into the depths of the binary system. The tiny, in comparison to the great vessel, Polaris attached to the larger ship was going along for the ride.

 

The great vessel began to accelerated at an incredible rate, 500 gravities, a velocity which without the compensation field in which the Polaris rested, would have ended the lives of all aboard her instantly.

 

Alarms sounded through the Polaris rousing the sleeping crew and presenting them with the impossible.

 

Spoiler

sorry took so long. everyone is now awake because of the alarms. Yseult was wholly awake as was Arjun who was on watch on the bridge. none of you felt anything except Yseult and arjun who felt the gravity shift when the spatial hole was generated. those two observed the ship basically falling into the visible hole and with zero passage of time or even observation you were somewhere else.  i have answers to questions all you have to do is ask.

 

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Ayato's eyes snapped open at the alarm, and he grabbed his comlink.  "Arjun report!"  he didn't have time for niceties.   Keying it on, even as he pressed for the channel to the bridge on his view screen, moving to get dressed.
 

Arjun looks stunned, even as he quickly reports what the instruments were telling him "I'don't know! we were just going along as we had been when suddenly we picked up a huge gravity spike on our sensors and the whole damn thing fell into a hole and then just like that we were in a star system. We started moving and I mean moving toward what looks like a binary system and I don't know what the fuck this is..."  
 

Ayato happened to be looking at the screen, and the screen switches from showing Arjun's panicked visage to space outside the angle isn't perfect since it is from the front of Polaris but you can still see that the sphere of the larger vessel. The 'eye' of the sphere is open and emerald rays,  like solid beams are projecting out of the eye and then coalesce about 1000 meters in front of the vessel where they combine and from what looks remarkably like a basket. Looking closer, there was something held in the basket which is spinning rapidly. 
"We're still accelerating my math can't be right but if what our sensors which were never designed for this, are right, we are already up to about 450kps and accelerating at 4.7kps. Without knowing the mass of whatever that thing is, I can't be precise but that has to have under 450-500 gravities of acceleration. we should all be paste!"
 

"Alright Calm down Arjun.  I'm going to issue the order to have everyone begin moving over to the other ship for the sake of safety.   Prep the remote access link so we can cut systems on the Polaris."  He quickly brought up the shipcom, and made the announcement.  "Due to an extraordinary situation outside the ship, we are all moving to the other ship.  I want everyone at the hatch, suited up and with whatever essential gear and data you have.  This is not a drill."
 

He killed that channel and keyed another to the chief.   "Chief, I want you to prep us for emergency separation.   If things go bad we may have to cut the Polaris loose in a hurry."

He didn't like abandoning the ship, but with those sorts of forces in play, if there as a single even minor mistake, they would all die, in particularly horrific and violent fashion.

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And things had gone so well the night before.

 

"So, what music do you like, Carrie?" Karen offered to the medic helping her examine the alien super suit they'd taken as a prize. A Cap'n Ayato special in their bellies, the other woman had practically jumped at her suggestion of a joint examination of the piece of tech. Some pleasant chatter comparing toolkits (Ah, the Fluke 8080x really was a good piece piece of gear much as they'd practically had to murder an officer to order one in the Corps. Never had a better fusion of price and function been made...) and they had gotten to work, investigating ports and plugins and a dozen other blackbox wonders. But the best jam sessions hit lulls, and Karen wanted to get to know more about the other woman. Hence the question.

 

"Eastern European Synth Pop mostly. A little bit of everything actually long as it's not that trashy 'rock' coming out of Mars," came the answer back, prompting Karen to remind herself to quietly hide her collection of Barsoomorak if it ever got that far. And if her collection still existed. Smile straining at the edges, she was relieved as the scanner finished processing it's current task. Okay. Interesting. With these kinds of ergonomic sensors, she might even be able to get away with not using a contact suit...

 

Carrie prodded back, expression curious, "You?" 

 

"Heh heh. Yeah... You know, anything loud with a beat you can exhaust yourself to. Never can sleep well unless I've burned through the day's energy first. I've set up a small exercise room on the Polaris if you're interested, two person space that the company hasn't assigned a defined purpose yet," she shot back, nakedly deflecting the question with a change of topic and a grin.

 

The medic leveling 'hmmmed' at her in a all-too-suspicious way as if she saw right through her, "I see. I'll see if I can make time. Got a few books I'm working on simultaneously. And I have a feeling none of us are going to have much time to relax with all this."  

 

"You're probably right. Have much time off planet before this?" Karen volleyed back half on verbal autopilot as she set up the next test, plugging diagnostic tools into ominously compatable ports, grimacing inside as she hoped the question wasn't triggering.

 

If it was, Carrie was a better liar than the former marine was, shaking her head negatively. "Just a few orbital hops. You?"

 

"Enough. The number of people willing to pay to let me reup my operator's license updated once I got out of the service was basically the space industry, so space jockey I went without looking back. Say, look at this reading here. Do think..?"  

 

Staying up way too late (carefully) prodding the alien suit after that amid banter that tended towards pleasant, muscle memory had Karen scrambling into her contact suit even before her brain cleared enough to understand what Ayato was ordering. What. The. Hell. A protective denial welled up in her throat before she choked it down, a bitter backwash feelings born of endless hours making sure every joint and every piece of hardware aboard the Polaris was *just so*... And for what? To retreat to the mysterious ship that had apparently ran off with them? Again? What. The. Hell. 

 

She didn't trust her words right now, a litany of curses simmering on her tongue at a time when they might need every angel in earshot to come out of this whole.

 

"Aye aye, Sir," she permitted herself to answer, choking it all down beneath duty as she finished zipping up her contact suit and making her way down to her cargo bay to hop into her new suit, round up her tools, and see if the cleaver-like BFS she'd taken back with on her on a whim might do the job she was wishing she had a demolition expert on hand to do for her. Damn it.  

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The crew of the Polaris gathered at the airlock and crossed over in single file. It didn’t take long to notice a change the lighting on the giant vessel was different there was greenish tint to what had been a normal spectrum before. They made their way as a group to the control center and started making discoveries which were unsettling.

 

On the bridge on the great ship, which was speeding through the unknown star system, Ayato found that the ship no longer responded to his vocal commands and using the key controls also failed to illicit any response. Rachel and Yseult went to engineering and discover the same. The ship no longer recognized them. Even the kitchens failed to act on Ayato’s requests.

 

Back in the engineering section, the two human women could only observe but what the witnessed was fascinating. The front section of the sphere, which corresponded to the eye,  was open the space, yet the chamber was not in vacuum. The center piece where the tiny fragment had been held in force fields was now held some thousand meters outside of the vessel held in solid arms of force. If the engineer and scientist were correct in interpreting what they were seeing it was this which was providing the immense acceleration. According to the mathematical figures they could only read the object was being constantly driven away from the ships by the arms of energy and the ship was being drawn after it as it fell toward pulled by the ever growing gravitational pull of the object held in front of the vessels.

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"Jesus," Rachel blurted on seeing the operation of the drive. "That...we are going to have to do so much math to figure that out. Whatever it's using to keep the ship from just falling into the singularity isn't merging the frames of reference. That shouldn't even be possible, and...and this engine is exactly why. It's practically a perpetual motion machine."

 

She shook her head.

 

"And we've got no idea how to stop it, as it takes us halfway across the goddamn universe."

 

On some level Rachel was aware she should be a lot more scared and angry than she was, but she had already dealt with the idea that Earth was probably long gone way back when they'd first gotten dragged out to the alien ship. Nothing had fundamentally changed about that now. The scale of the dragging maybe...but to her way of thinking that just meant it was even more imperative that she figure out how to tame this ship. If she did, then Earth and much more would be at their fingertips. Fail, and the crew would be at the mercy of forces outside their comprehension or control.

 

"Is it weird that I'm kind of into this?" she asked, and glanced at Yseult with a wry grin.

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Ayato frowned as they had no control.  "We're just along for the ride now it seems."  he said even as others took up positions on the bridge.  "Monitor the situation and keep me up to date on any changes.   See if there's a way to insure the Polaris remains safe and secure, though I do think our benefactors have thought of that. "

As he sat there watching on the screen, he let out  a sigh.   "Way too many mysteries right now."    He hated the absolute lack of control on alot of levels, but there was nothing they could do but ride along for now.   He keyed his com again to the crew.  "Everyone pick somewhere and remain there for now.  We've got no response or control from the ship, so let's just stay where we've already been for now, and play things nice and safe.  When we get control back we can try to get a better handle on what's going on."
 

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The crew of the Polaris found places to watch the improbable journey of the giant spacecraft as it dove into the star system before them at a velocity greater than any they could imagine. Spiraling past planet after plant until it enters the inner solar system and suddenly all acceleration ceased indeed as impossible as it was to believe, all movement ceased as well.

 

The vessel had come to rest relative to three terrestrial sized planets, two of them in close orbit of the smaller secondary star while the third orbited the primary. The three planets were in positions as to form a triangle in which the ship and her captured passengers had stopped.

 

Shrill alarms sounded within seconds of the vessels stopping, issuing from the humans space suits.

 

“The atmosphere is changing!” Shouted Carrie as she slammed her helmet shut. The Other with ingrained training had done the same at the first sound of the alarm. “It is becoming highly toxic,” she said as the analysis came back on her hand computer.

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The former Marine laughed a touch bitterly, "Looks like this is our stop then."

 

Karen had had a feeling something like this might happen. She'd spent enough time being ferried around by Navy squids on ships she wasn't licensed to do anything on to recognize a temporary gig. The sheer amount of systems they weren't being access to meant that this ship, whoever had built it, was still following their orders, a glorified drone. Watching the atmosphere indicators in her suit go from green and promptly climb through orange into red, she shook her head and began heading in the direction of the airlock.

 

"I'd suggest we get what data we can in a hurry and relocate to the Polaris, Captain, just in case they are really serious about shoving us out the door."

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Ayato let out an exasperated sigh.   "What the actual Hell."   he was annoyed, but all the same he had a job to do.   "It looks like our benefactors are kicking us out.   Everyone back to the Polaris."   He could imagine the groans.  "Save any complaints for when the atmosphere isn't becoming increasingly toxic by the second. Let's move people!"   Even as he said that, he grabbed one of his dataslates from the Polaris, and made his way to the Airlock.  Arjun was already there.  "Go on ahead, get the computer booted and online.  I'll follow along once we get everyone else aboard.   Get scans of the planets if you can, we'll need to have some sort of destination in mind when we get there."  

His voice didn't echo much inside the helmet for his suit, and he was still frowning, even as his XO crossed over to get the Polaris online.   He stood there with  Karen and sighed.  "This is pretty crazy, but then everything about this trip has been."

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The crew of the Polaris dashed back to their ship as the ringed sphere slowly rotated. Arjun had run  straight to the control room before he even doffed his helmet, he activate the earth vessels recorders and sensors with deft movements of his gloved fingers over the controls.

 

 He was just in time to see the ship they were still attached to send some sort of energy beam flashing out at the planet in orbit of the primary then it began rotating again and as Arjun watched fascinated it aligned itself with one of the planets orbiting the secondary and again sent out it’s unknown beam.

 

By this time everyone else had entered the ship and the Chief was sealing the airlock. As Ayato entered the command center Arjun spoke, “The ship is sending some sort of signal to the three planets…”

 

Just then the Polaris lurched. The Officers looked at their screens and saw three Armored forms, just like the armor their own chief had adopted, hacking away the moorings attaching the Polaris to the great ship!

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"Karen cut us loose!"  he called out to her before the three armored forms could do any damage to the ship.   "He was at a loss for what was going on, and hoped that they'd find some answers on the planets they were being guided to.   It was fortunate that they'd restocked the ship while they could, but all the same they were still going to have limits.

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"Rgr, C'pn," Karen immediately responded in the isolation of her borrowed suit, stationed by the airlock.

 

The strange heavy-yet-graceful steps of the alien suit stuck with her as the air was sucked out of the chamber and the void came into view. Cha-chunk. cha-chunk. The noise of her boot magnets engaging and disengaging echoed through her armor as the glorified jungle gym linking the two ships shook and shuddered under the blows of the alien suits. Assuming it was just the suits, and not the other ship's actual crew. Hmmm. Philosophy later, demolition now.

 

She hefted the BFS she had looted from the other ship, smiled and got to work demolishing the framework from their end to match the efforts of the robotic trio, "Working the problem. Can anyone see if we have ETs in those suits or not?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Even as the Chief made her inquiry, sensor beams reached out from both the three suits cutting the harness on the giant ships side and Karen’s own. She could interpret most of what was scrolling from the read out, but she gleaned enough to see that no bio functions or life support systems were operating on the three across the void from her.

 

The four armored suits made quick work and in a matter of minutes the Polaris was cut free from the larger vessel and those three giants retreated back whence they had come, while the Chief continued cutting the remnants away from the Polaris.

 

Back inside Polaris….

 

“Everyone to your stations and strap in. I don’t know what that thing is going to do next, but we may have to do some evasive maneuvers,” said the captain over the internship. “Chief I want you back inside asap.”

 

“Aye, Aye captain.”

 

Arjun flick some switches and read his panel, “Yseult, I’m only showing sixty percent on the reactor. See if you can get it up to eighty please.”

 

“It’s moving,” Rachel’s voice cut in, “directly away from us at…Jesus it’s accelerating …at… I can’t even get a fix.”

 

They all stared out the port at the giant ringed sphere already it was just a speck and shrinking then it was no longer visible at all. A moment later the Polaris gravity sensors detected a large localized gravity wave. The ship had activated its drive and was no longer in their space.

 

The Polaris was alone in an unknown star system.

 

A few hours later.

 

It had been decided to set course for the nearest of the three planets which had an atmosphere and from what they could tell was breathable. Telescopes revealed a medium size Terrestrial planet, with standing water and clouds and what might be vegetation.

 

“Got good new and maybe not so good new,” announced Rachel, the flight navigator and general science officer. “Spectro analysis shows that the atmosphere is breathable and that the liquid is water. Or as Mr. Spock would say ‘It’s a class M planet, Jim.”

 

Some of the crew chuckled at the pop culture reference while others seemed puzzled. Arjun was one of the puzzled ones but he ignored it, “And the not so good news?”

 

“I know where we are.”  Rachel didn't immediately continue but she did have a smug look on her face.

 

“Well?”

 

“Sorry. We are at Alpha Centauri. Just a hop, skip, and a jump from home.”

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

"That's... Useful."

 

Karen's voice bluntly conveyed her doubt, arms crossing over her chest, down to a  'Devil Dogs' tanktop and sweatpants after a cathartic session with her punching bag, the ship in as good a state as she could make it without driving herself nutty looking for problems. The selfcare was more important when they were who knows how many years separated from their own time no matter how miraculously close four point something something light years was from home. Faint ache in her knuckles helped her stay centered as she digested what Rachel said, ponder in the silence.

 

"Right. Okay. So that's not... awful news. So. Someone would have yelped if they found evidence of *more* intelligent aliens or robots, I'd think," she drawled, running a hand through her blonde hair, "So... If we're that close... How about a reverse SETI search? Aim the antenna at Sol to see if we catch the last President's speeches and find out when we are as well as where we are?"

 

Her lips quirked, "It's not a completely stupid idea, right?"  

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  • 2 weeks later...

"No... " Yseult said, turning away from a monitor showcasing the approaching terrestrial body, and running her hands through her short, sable hair. "But close, it is being relative, no? Any signal we are catching, it is being more than for years out of date. Still, ascertaining this is being Alpha Centauri, we can calibrate for the distance, and determine if there is any noticeable time dilation due to relativistic shenanigans. Rachel, if you can arrange the sensors to be doing this, s'il vous plait? Regardless, with our Impeller Drive, even being inside a gravity well to take advantage of the Gravimetric Transducer, it would be taking seventeen years, approximately to be getting home."

Yseult let that sink in before adding, "If we are having enough fuel to manage the journey. Which we do not. Nor can we carry enough fuel aboard the Polaris if we could even find some way of procuring it." A faint upward curve of her lips broke through her reserved expression. "There is being another way home, I am believing." She nodded at Rachel. "Rachel and me, we are having enough of the data and the information and the mathematics, that fashioning a rudimentary compression drive, it is being possible."

Yseult glanced up and away as though looking for the far gone Alien Artifact, for the moment missing its marvelous fabricators more than its infinite knowledge banks. She turned back to the crew, tapping the monitor with a trimmed nail. "However, without the alien fabricators, we are needing to land on at least one of these planets and hope we can find the resources we are needing to build the components to make the extensive modifications to the drive."

Her expression went distant as she considered what they would need and what they would need to make, spinning her wedding band around her finger with a thumb. 
 

"Me, I am thinking on one of these three planets, we will be finding what we need, if we are diligent. I am thinking, this is being a test. The Alien Ship, it is bringing us close enough to home - distant though it may yet be - to a place where it may be possible to take advantage of what we learned, to make it the rest of the way on our own. There is design behind all we have been through, automated though it may be."

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"Alright, let's do a scan of all three planets, and make sure we can survive on them all.   We'll choose the most hospitable first, to confirm a steady supply of both foodstuffs, and fresh water.   I think everyone's about ready to have some solid ground underfoot for awhile.    After Confirming the ability to restock essentials, we can move on to trying to locate the resources for your modifications.   Doing the scans ahead of time while we're out here is best, since we won't just be guessing and wasting fuel.  We'll need to find a way to refuel as well, just in case."

He looked abit concerned.  "Do we have the tools to fabricate and implement the modifications?"   the ship had many tools and and all for for standard operation, but this was well beyond the norm, and that they'd be having to refine, fabricate and then actually implement the modifications to the ship, well, that was far beyond what was normally called for from a standard ship.   

"I don't doubt the abilities of my crew, but I do worry slightly over how exactly we're going to make this happen given what we've got on hand.  Still, it's better to give this a try than any other option we've got as things stand."

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  • 2 weeks later...

The two scientists took photos and made scans of the three planets with the instruments they had, but both acknowledged that they were truly inadequate compared to what they had seen on the great ship.

 

After a few hours they had determined that all three could likely support them with air, food, and water. There was no signs in the spectrographs of anything in the air that would indicate any industrialization and while still too distant for exact detail the photograph plates using the big telescope showed nothing which resembled roads or cities.

 

The two scientists concurred that all three planets were likely to meet their needs and with the instrumentation and time restraints they possessed they could make no further differentiation. All three were perfect for what they would need to do.

 

Mr Todd commented that they were too perfect. “What are the chances that the closest star system to our home would have not one but three habitable worlds and no Life” he said.

 

“Oh no there is life,” Rachel corrected the civilian engineer, “at least vegetation that much we can determine and probably animal as well.”

 

Ayato looked at the photo plates of the three planets “I'm starting to think Yesault may be right, that this is some kind of test.” He reached down and hovered his hand over the plates then picked one up and held it out to Rachel. “Set a course for this one and log names for all three. As soon as we have a course, we will make a fast drive and land on our new world. Arjun take care of that please. I’m going to get a message in the pipe back to earth using the Laser, Chief you can help me with that.

Yesault get with Mr. Todd and figure out what we need and how to build it. Lets get to it people.”

 

The crew of the Polaris got to it.

 

Twenty two hours later the tiny ship, no longer lost in space made the first landfall of a human being on an alien world.

Spoiler

Get with each other in discord and name our three planets :)... you can make any rp post you want for the 22 hour duration of the trip to landing. i'll give everyone a day or so if no one posts I'll start the next chapter where things will really get interesting...i think. any question you know how to get ahold of me.

 

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