Particle Tracks

Newton Class Starship
MSCV Empiricist
Hyperbolic Stellar Escape Trajectory
12 AUs from HD189245
October 2219

The Empiricist fell back into spacetime after forty-three days in warp. The technicolor warp tunnel vanished from the wallscreens to reveal a pale and troubled young sun wandering by itself in the dark vastness of space. The system was empty and quiet: no planets, no ships, no nothing. Ivy Czininski sighed and took a sip of her coffee, banishing the momentary surge of adrenaline that her body always generated when they came out of warp into an unknown situation.

“It’s quiet?” Ivy asked the ship.

“Confirmed commander, no identified or unidentified points of interest flagged in the system,” the ship said to her.

“Drop anchor?” Joy Icaria asked her, referring to the deceleration burn that would drop them into orbit of the star.

“Let’s not waste the fuel,” Ivy answered, “I don’t plan on staying for long if there’s nothing to look at. Vedika, spool out the antenna, we’ll see if anyone here has anything interesting to say.”

“Aye commander,” Vedika Srivastava replied, activating the sequence on her bridge console that now automatically deployed and engaged the hyperspace sensor array. The hyperspace window popped into existence inside it’s containment unit and the cable unspooled a bulb of sensors into the window.

“And we’re live,” Vedika said with a smile as data started coming back.

“Emmy, put the science team on the bridge intercom, Jimmy, you’re dismissed for now,” Ivy said, stretching her arms and legs without leaving her chair.

“Kestral, how’s the other side of space looking?” Ivy asked once the connection was established.

Quiet and gassy as ever,” Kestral Schiaparelli replied from the main lab, “Margaret’s going over the alien internet again, seeing if we can’t measure a parallax and get a distance measure on one of these sources.”  

“Alright, keep at it,” Ivy said.

Should we test the butterfly net?” Cale Rouschev asked from the science lab.

“Is it finished?” Ivy asked, turning to Vedika; she was overseeing that particular project.

“It should be,” Vedika replied, “but hyperspace is still an unknown unknown, and we might get some weird exotic particles that could damage the containment units, so we should take it slowly and carefully.”

Yeah, that’s why I said test it, not turn it on and immediately go frolic in the fields with it,” Cale answered, “It should be ready to go.

Vedika shrugged, “It’s up to you Ivy.”

“If you say it’s ready to go then let’s test it and see what happens,” Ivy said with a shrug, taking another sip of her coffee, “Carefully of course.”

“Alright,” Vedika replied with a nod, “Cale, you’re good to go, pop the second portal and spool out the net, let’s see what we reel in.”

Copy that,” Cale confirmed. He activated another hyperspace portal in a separate containment unit, and began the automated procedure which would unfold a large lightweight scoop through the new window.

I can confirm visual deployment of the butterfly net,” Kestral said, watching the sensors on the hyperspace mast.

“Can we put that on the wallscreens actually?” Ivy suggested, “There’s not much to look at in real space at the moment.”

Emmy wordlessly obliged her request and real space vanished, replaced by the strange red orange glow of hyperspace. The omnipresent clouds of various gasses created the impression of being ensconced in an endless skyscape, lit not by stars but by the fading afterglow of the creation of the universe.

“It’s kind of spooky,” Ivy said after a moment, taking a sip of her coffee.

“If you want to get real spooky, I can do you one better,” Vedika chuckled, “Emmy, play one of the alien internet files we think might be audio.”

The intercom began emitting a series of hooting shrieks and howls that quickly gave Ivy a bad case of goosebumps, “No, stop, enough of that,” she said with a shake of her head, turning off the audio with her implants.

Vedika laughed, shaking her head and taking a sip of her own coffee, “Space is a creepy place sometimes,” she said. Ivy shrugged and said nothing in response.

The conversation fell away and Ivy found her eyes drawn to the wallscreens. The backdrop of hyperspace was faintly unnerving, and very much outside her reference frame, but she tried not to let it bother her too much. It was just more space. Ivy finished her coffee as the ship continued to slip along in relative quiet, coasting across the system on its hyperbolic trajectory. The view into hyperspace slowly shifted, clouds of gas slipping past the sensor pod as the hyperspace gateway was dragged along by the ship.

Ivy’s vision suddenly narrowed as she thought she saw a brief flash of light in the clouds of gas, like a flicker of distant lightning. She blinked, unsure if the vision was real or imagined in the unsettling quiet.

Did anyone else see that?” Kestral asked over the intercom.

 

Yeager Class Special Operations Cruiser
MNCV Sally Ride
Docked at Vorota Station
Ceres
October 2219

The datamancer stalked down the gangway, coffee cup in hand, magnetic boots anchoring him to the deck, cloak billowing ominously behind him in the low gravity of the station. Jacob Chryse was in foul mood. The events of the Ceres incident, forty years gone, hung ominously over his head like a thunderstorm about to break. His ghost, the young martian officer who’d picked him up from a restaurant in Sacra Mensa, floated nervously along in his wake, sensing his foul mood.

She was smart to heed his mood, because depending on her opinions regarding what had happened all those years ago, she might warrant being the target of his ire. He knew her name now, it was Riley Acidalia, she was a first lieutenant assigned to babysit him. His security clearances had been upgraded for the mission, and he could now see the callouts for every military member he’d encountered thus far. He still wasn’t sure who Weaver was, but at Rank 12 she could frankly be whoever the fuck she wanted, and Jacob would be clueless.

He continued stomping down the corridors, making a beeline for the command center of the Vorota station. Vorota was the romanization of the russian word for gate; it was a small station, constructed on the outside of Ceres in the midst of the 2176 incident. This was ground zero, this was where the decisions were made that killed over a million and a half people. The gateway between life and death, Jacob loathed Ceres.

His security clearances peeled open the doors on the command center, and he stepped into the room, immediately interrupting the already ongoing conversation.

“Somebody stop what you’re doing and give me a situation report,” he said letting quite a bit of his anger leak into his voice.

An older, balding man stepped up to him, a callout identified him as Station Commander Aleksandr Levinski, leader of the Martian mission on Ceres since 2203. “And who are you?” He asked sternly.

“Get on my level you scrubs,” he grumbled, using his now nearly unlimited military network access to force a premade callout describing him, his rank, and his purpose on the station into all of their implants. He took a sip of his coffee as the collective population of the room stumbled from the sudden imposition of information onto their visual fields.

“Now somebody tell me what’s happened since the October 1st general report to the Martian Naval Corps Central Office stating that the UN outpost remained out of contact, please,” he stepped into the middle of the room, letting the aura of his presence percolate outwards into every corner of the space.

“It’s been quiet,” Aleksandr said with a grumble, “It’s been quiet since September 19th when the UN outpost on the far side of Ceres went dark.”

“It’s been quiet for forty three years,” Jacob argued, “ever since a million and a half people starved to death on this rock over a six month period.”

“With all due respect to the dead, I was referring to the situation within the period you specified,” the commander responded with a grumble, pulling himself back down into his seat and buckling himself into it.

“So noted,” Jacob dripped, taking a sip of his coffee, “So you’re reporting zero noticeable activity in the UN compound since september, it’s completely dark, the lights are off, nobody’s home?”

“There’s been some low level activity,” Aleksandr admitted, “nothing like usual patterns for a populated station, it looks more like it’s in low power mode.”

“Great,” Jacob said, “I’m taking all of that data, anything else of note?”

“Like I said,” Aleksandr said, “It’s been quiet.”

“Great, you’re useless,” Jacob stated, taking another sip of his coffee before whirling and marching from the room, dragging Riley along behind him.

“That was rude,” Riley told him as he walked away down another corridor, heading for the station’s server bank.

“I don’t care,” he told her, taking another sip of his coffee.

“I mean it,” she told him, “Those people are just trying to do their jobs, none of what happened here is their fault, you have no reason to take it out on them like that, the Ceres incident was forty years ago.”

“Aleksandr Levinski is eighty six, you’re seventy five, you were both old enough to vote in 2176, so do tell me how it wasn’t your fault,” he sneered.

“What and you didn’t vote for the excision of Ceres? You really going to play that card?” she argued back.

“No, I did, we all did, this is all of our faults,” he said, “The Ceres, ‘let’s not call it a genocide because we did it.’ Not to mince words, but it was genocide.”

“It was forty years ago,” Riley told him, “There’s nothing we can do about it now.”

“You’re right,” Jacob told him, “But immortality makes people want to forget the bad parts of the past, so they can erase their personal sins from history, and this is something that nobody deserves to forget.”

He opened the hatch to the server farm and strolled through the security checkpoint, taking in a breath from electric feeling of massed electronics. Riley started to say something to him, but he held up a finger to silence her while he worked. He remotely accessed the administrative controls to the server cluster and disabled remote access before plugging himself into the physical system and engaging network security lockdown protocols that the data architects had cooked up in the last few weeks to defend the system against HENGE.

“There’s phase one completed,” He said to both Riley and the local instance of THEMIS in the server farm.

Themis displayed the word VERIFIED across his HUD and moved his mission progression forward to phase two.

“Making people feel guilty about a mistake they made decades ago is still an asshole move,” Riley complained.

“I don’t care,” Jacob told her, “What I care about, is analyzing our limited data on this rock, and determining as best we can whether or not the daemon has started dismantling the asteroid for resources, so I can know whether or not we’ve missed our window to avoid scenario A18.” He accompanied his proclamation by assaulting her visual field with a large quantity of sensor files from the last several weeks. He dumped a learning algorithm he and the data architects had made into the server and told it to go forth and sort, then started looking through the compiled sensor data on a large multi-element graph for anything particularly egregious.

“You’re an ass,” she told him, wandering off into the server banks.

“I still don’t care,” he called after her.

 

Fabrique Intersolar Deep Space Station
FI-ISCU Pioneer
Elliptical Orbit
30,000 kilometers from Aldebaran b, Aldebaran
October 2219

The arrival of the Europan Security Services destroyers precipitated what was, from Owen McGregor’s perspective, a very odd sequence of events. The captains of the security services ships had quickly negotiated a handoff of executive authority from Doug Farragut and Gyeong Huygens to Anthony Faraday, the captain of the ESSV Animal Farm, via the local declaration of martial law.

That had been followed shortly afterwards with an intense verbal confrontation between Doug and Kaito Pendragon in front of captain Faraday. Various threats of arrest were lobbed around, first by Doug claiming Kaito had violated the company nondisclosure agreements, then by Kaito claiming that Doug and Zephyr were acting in willing violation of the international statute on outside context problems. It had quickly boiled over to draw in Owen, Dianica Botheys, Alicia Arrari, Gyeong Huygens, and Jinxiang Roe, in an elaborate series of back and forth shouting matches over communications channels before Owen, Dianica, and Doug managed to get everyone into the same room.

An uneasily silence loomed over the proceedings, with Captain Faraday occupying the position at the head of the table that Zephyr typically sat in, and Captain Thelonius King stealing Doug’s usual seat, displacing him to the far end of the table.

There was a period of intense quiet as everyone pulled up files on their datapads and implants, sipped coffee, or shifted holographic images around on the table before them. It was like a storm about to break, no one was sure who should speak first, waiting tensely for the first crack of lightning to strike.

Captain Faraday sighed and stood up, leaning on the table, palms flat to the surface as all eyes were quickly drawn towards him.

“I cannot begin to fully express the seriousness of this situation,” He said solemnly, “You’ve all seen the video footage, a lot of you were there first hand, people have died. But that’s just the tip of the asteroid, this is all part of something much larger than the Hyades expedition, larger than this company, hell, it’s larger than the whole of humanity.”

“I think we understand the stakes,” Doug replied, his voice calm and icy.

“You do not have the legal or scientific standing to make that claim!” Kaito shouted, the storm finally breaking.

“Contact with alien life is not an OCP by default!” Doug shot back. “You can’t hold us in contempt of the statute just because we found aliens!”

“Just aliens?” Alicia jumped in, “Do you fucking hear yourself Doug? We’re so gods damned far past just aliens it’s not even cute anymore, stop trying to play coy.”

“Nobody is fucking playing coy Alicia!” Doug said, “We made a realistic and reasonable risk assessment of the circumstances and weighed in favor of making contact, stop fucking insinuating we’re trying to sneak by enforcing the statute, Zephyr reported the existence of alien life as soon as we knew about it!”

“Oh, and how convenient that she decided to leave right before the ESS showed up, what fortuitous and coincidental timing. Surely no one had planned for that occurrence!” Kaito sneered.

“That does look pretty bad Doug,” Jinxiang said nervously, drumming her fingers on the tabletop.

“Look,” Doug offered, trying to paint up a new narrative from the one Kaito was putting forth, “Zephyr launched the Better Margins after making the determination that the aliens we encountered were not yet able to be deemed an OCP, and that we should forward onward everything we have on them, and then go to collect more data.”

“You don’t fucking get it do you Doug?” Alicia said, “You don’t get to decide that it’s not an OCP. You have three captains and now the Europan Security Service telling you it’s an OCP.”

“We have done nothing wrong!” Doug insisted, “We have acted in full accordance with international law and reported everything as it occurred.

“That’s not correct from where I’m sitting,” Captain King said, speaking up for the first time, “From where I’m sitting, it looks like you’re trying to deny Captain Nesco, Arrari, and Pendragon’s legal authority to declare an outside context problem, insisting that since the company never formally declared an OCP that they acted in compliance of the law, but I am telling you now, that you and Zephyr Athabasca will be going to trial in Annwn City for knowingly violating the international statute on outside context problems.”

“Then this meeting is over, and we’ll see you in court,” Doug said calmly, pushing his chair back and starting to stand.

Sit. Down.” Captain Faraday barked suddenly, his force of voice pushing Doug back into his seat. “You are being relieved of command of this station effective immediately. Commander Huygens will take over all operations in Aldebaran. Captain King and I will be going after your CEO and bringing her back, at which point she and you will accompany us back to Sol to stand trial.”

“Well is that all?” Doug asked flippantly, “Because, if that’s all, then I’m going to go, since I apparently have a court case to prepare for.” He stood up again, and Faraday sighed and waved him out. Doug motioned to Jinxiang and the two of them slipped out.

Captain Faraday leaned heavily against the table, “I’m sorry to have to put you all through all of this, but your bosses really haven’t left me much of a choice. We’ll be out of your hair soon and you can get back to your mining.”

“Actually I was hoping I could bring the Stoneburner and come along with you,” Kaito offered, “My wife is on that ship and I’d very much like to ensure her safety.”

Captain Faraday sighed again, shaking his head, “You people are unbelievable. Do you have any idea what sort of situation this?”

Kaito snorted, “Do I? No, but having lived through it once already, and I bet I have a bit more of no idea then you do at this point.”

“This could become a military situation, your ship will be shredded,” the other captain argued.

“If it becomes a military situation your ship won’t stand a chance either.” Kaito replied, “I saw what these guys do, what they’re capable of, and nearly died for the trouble, and that was when they might not have even noticed we were there. You don’t want them to notice us.”

Captain Faraday shook his head and fell back into his chair, “Look, you’ve been a great deal of help to us here Captain Pendragon, and I’m not going to tell you that you can’t help rescue your wife, but it’s your funeral.”

“I understand that,” Kaito said, “no one will come who doesn’t want to be there, we’re just going to help you get our people back, I’ll defer to all your instructions while on that mission.”

“Alright,” Captain Faraday said with a roll of his eyes, “If you really want to come, then you can come.

Δ

The Stoneburner, Animal Farm, and Gravity’s Rainbow cut away from Pioneer station in quick succession, releasing bolts, clamps, and gantries and falling down and away from the spinning ring station. The three ships rotated themselves around in space, firing maneuvering thrusters to bring their bows around towards the Hyades for their pre-warp burn. The main engines kicked in and the vessels rapidly accelerated away from the station. The vast spinning structure of human engineering dwindled to a smaller and smaller point of light against the yellow orb of Aldebaran b as the ships pulled up out of the gas giant’s gravity well. The individual cloudtops in the planet’s atmosphere shrunk down into a striated matte painting as they continued to gain distance. The vast world had shrunk on the viewscreens to the size of a beach ball by the time Eleanor Murphy called for main engine cutoff. Owen stabilized himself as the gravity fell away, and took once last look at Aldebaran b before the three vessels vanished down their warp tunnels.

 

Dirge Singer class Heavenly Container of Life
i34_2015 Lament for Lost Worlds
Hyperspatial Transit Trajectory
Hyperspace
October 2219

Jean Paolini followed Kilitotik down the mountainside, walking behind the huge furry creature, moving through the ruts eir passage carved into the snow. Together, the pair of them descended the ridge toward the alien village. Kilitotik said little, and something felt vaguely ominous about the procession. She had never figured out exactly why it was that Msipek had wanted to keep her hidden so badly, but the creature’s desire made Jean nervous.

They were nearly halfway down the side of the valley to the village when they ran into Msipek, who, upon realizing Jean was with Kilitotik went into something of an uproar.

“Stop! Stop Kilitotik! Met’lan stands poised to be invaded by Kiynhas!” Msipek hooted, eir voice translated voice through Jean’s earpiece.

“Where is this army?” Kilitotik demanded, standing before the other creature.

“Kilitotik is as Kiynhas through the poison of the Jvanti. Met’lan must not fall, Kilitotik must be as Markeesh,” Msipek hooted.

“The poison of the Hrururen is of the nation of Msrabat,” Kilitotik insisted, “The coming of the human is a tiding of the ones who came before. Gistipikt spoke many truths, but was touched by the nation of Msrabat.”

“Jean is Yumrin Kilitotik, do not be as Asixwish!” Msipek said.

“Msipek is Utolo, Jean will come with Kilitotik, stand aside Utolo!” Kilitotik said with a loud hoot, before proceeding forwards.

Jean looked to Msipek and theatrically shrugged, she had no idea if the creature understood her gesture. “What does Jean do here?” She asked the brown furred creature.

“Jean will come with Kilitotik!” The black furred creature responded, whipping around and shouting. “Do not be as Athali on the plain, the City of Stairs stand before the Aunjin and the humans, Jean must come with Kilitotik!”

“Jean must be as Yumrin for the safety of Met’lan!” Msipek cried.

Jean sighed, looking between the two creatures. She knew she couldn’t just live with Msipek forever, especially after the Ouoasha incident, she was still inside the Kiwawentoa’s giant puzzle box, and she needed to keep moving forward, but the decision was hard, and she froze for a moment, struggling to continue standing as the choice clawed its way out of her mind.

“Jean will go with Kilitotik,” she said softly, “Jean is sorry Msipek, but whatever the poison of the Hrururen is, hopefully this suit can protect Jean.”

Msipek tooted out a defeated groan that the translator did nothing with, and fell into formation with Kilitotik and Jean as they proceeded down the hillside. The ground grew steep, quickly, And Jean eventually had trouble staying affixed to the hillside, she had started to slide down away from the pair of Aunjin when Kilitotik reached out with an arm and deposited her onto eir back among the various weapons and supplies.

After that, the journey proceeded much more quickly. Kilitotik was able to move down the cliff like it was a level surface, paying seemingly no attention to the near ninety degree angle as Jean clung to eir back in utter terror.

The alien village grew in size and scope as they closed the distance, and soon they were on near level land amidst clusters of yurts. The village was cacophony of alien hoots and shrieks, which her implant managed to translate about a third of into mostly unintelligible references that hurt her brain to focus too much on.

“Make way for Kilitotik of the Aunjin and Jean of the humans!” Kilitotik proclaimed as they neared a huge yurt at the center of the village. “Kilitotik and Jean seek an audience with the high leader!”

“Who are these humans?” A voice said into her earpiece, she had no idea who it belonged to.

“The humans come from the The Lands of the Gods, uplifted into Atatop by the Ones Who Came Before, Jean crossed through the Gate of Msiper, which was once closed and is now open, Behold!” Kilitotik reached up with a forelimb and deftly plucked Jean from eir back and deposited the much smaller human on the ground before em.

“Hello, we come in peace?” Jean asked.

An Aunjin larger than Kilitotik or Msipek, clad in russet fur peered down at Jean from the stone steps of the large yurt in the center of town, “This is Jean of the Humans from the gate of Msiper?”

“Um, yes?” Jean asked, “Jean thinks so.”

“Kilitotik saved Jean from the Ouoasha at the ridge of the Msiper Gate,” the warrior Aunjin proclaimed proudly.

“Does Kilitotik speak the words of the kingdom of Qetlal?” The large creature asked Jean.

“Uhh,” She had no idea what ey were asking, she suspected ey were asking if Kilitotik was telling the truth, but wasn’t really sure, “Kilitotik saved Jean from the Ouoasha on the ridge,” she said finally, simply repeating Kilitotik’s assertion.

“Then it is as Gistipikt foretold, the opening of the Msiper gate is at hand, the long exile of the Aunjin is at last at it’s close!” The large one tooted. “The Festival of the Forest!”

A great cheer went up in the crowd, and Jean was once more swept from her feet. Only Msipek seemed reticent to join in the sudden outbreak of celebration, ey simply stood watch quietly over the proceedings, eyes cast to the snow.

 

Newton Class Starship
MSCV Empiricist
Hyperbolic Stellar Escape Trajectory
12 AUs from HD189245
October 2219

“This is the 301st staff meeting of the 11th mission aboard the MSCV Empiricist, mission date is October 14th, 2219 by the Martian Standard Calendar,” Ivy began at the daily senior staff meeting. The conference table was jittery and anxious, electric with the energy of their discovery. Ivy took a sip of her coffee and continued, “Attending the meeting today are Mission Commander Ivy Czininski, First Officer Lieutenant Commander Joy Icaria, Chief Pragmatist Vedika Srivastava, Pragmatist Cale Rouschev, Chief Science Officer Kestral Schiaparelli, Chief Linguist Margaret Armstrong, Chief Medical Officer Orion Warrego, Chief Engineer Orel Shaw, and Conscience Evangeline Daedaelia. The topic of the day is what we’ve been calling the Unidentified Hyperspace Object. Kestral, you may began.”

The Androgyne lurched mechanically to eir feet, taking in a breath before starting the slideshow with eir implants and launching into the briefing, “At approximately 1900 hours shiptime yesterday, shortly after coming out of warp into HD189245, we detected an anomaly in hyperspace located at what we believe to be about two thousand AUs from the ship, in the direction of the galactic center.”

The wallscreens shifted from wood panelling to hyperspace before the main screen section behind Kestral boxed in a particular region of the hyperspace sky in time to see a series of brief, intense flashes of light through the clouds.

“We’re not sure exactly what those discharges are, other than highly energetic radiation bursts across a wide swath of the electromagnetic spectrum, including visible light,” Kestral continued. “Shortly after the bursts there was this,” ey pointed with eir thumb as a brilliant, sustained light source began to shine through the dense clouds, like a star had been born in hyperspace.

Ivy felt the rumblings of a headache beginning and she took a sip of her coffee as she watched the light source flickering ominously through the gas and dust.

“So what is it?” Joy asked.

“We have no idea,” Vedika admitted.

“We have some theories,” Cale added in.

“Theories,” Vedika insisted, “We know the rough position from the motion of our ship, and we know that it was a highly energetic event.”

“How long does it continue for?” Evangeline asked, noting that the light source was still visible over Kestral’s shoulder.

“About two minutes,” Kestral answered, eye glanced back at the wallscreen in time to see the light blink out, as if a switch had been thrown.

“It’s also worth noting, whatever this is, it’s putting out signals and radio and microwave frequencies,” Margaret said softly, “It’s in communication with the alien internet.”

“So it’s a ship?” Joy asked, “Did we just see a maneuvering burn?”

“That’s my theory,” Cale said, “And I’m sticking to it.”

“We don’t have enough data to say that with certainty yet, but the information points that way,” Vedika grudgingly admitted.

“Yes,” said Cale, “And I ran the numbers, and based on the energy discharge assuming uniform gas density and correctly calculated distance, if it’s a ship, it clocks in at somewhere around two hundred solar masses and has a diameter wider than the orbit of Saturn.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Joy told him.

“Is it though Joy? Is it really?” Cale asked. “We’ve met aliens, we’re looking at hyperspace right now, is it really that ridiculous?”

“Yes,” Joy insisted, “Even if it does turn out to be true, especially then.”

“Moving along,” Ivy said, “Can we get a better look at it?”

“We can try,” Vedika suggested, throwing up a new image overlaying realspace and hyperspace together. “Every point in real space corresponds with a point in hyperspace, but hyperspace is much more compact, so multiple points in real space correspond to the same point in hyperspace.”

“Can we do this in a language other than math?” Ivy asked as she continued nursing her coffee.

“Hyperspace is about a thousand times smaller than real space.” Vedika said, “which means that the event we saw two thousand AUs away in hyperspace corresponds with a point about thirty light years away from here, in the direction of the galactic center.”

“Is there a star system near there?” Ivy asked.

“There is,” Cale said with a grin, “HD179949, forty nine days out from here.”

“Whatever it was might be long gone by then,” Vedika admitted.

“Still,” said Ivy, “It’s the first real lead we’ve got, it’s in the direction we’re headed, let’s check it out. Cale, pull in the periscope and the butterfly net, Joy get Jimmy the new set of warp coordinates.”

“Kestral, do you have everything setup to do the analysis on the gas we pull in with the butterfly net?” Vedika asked.

“Yeah,” Kestral said, “It’s all set up, we can retract at any time.”

“Alright, let’s get to it, and let’s get out of this system,” Ivy said, “meeting adjourned.”

The senior staff all quickly withdrew from the room, leaving only Ivy, and Evangeline, who lingered behind as the others all slipped out.

“Did you need something?” Ivy asked the Conscience as she sipped her coffee.

“Something about this doesn’t sit well,” Evangeline admitted, taking a seat at the now empty table next to Ivy.

“Is that an actionable ethical standpoint?” Ivy asked raising an eyebrow.

“No, no,” the Consciousness chuckled nervously, “It’s just a feeling in my gut, like we’re about to stumble into a wild animal in the ancestral environment.”

Ivy looked out through the wallscreens into the expanse of hyperspace, “The ancestral environment,” she said softly.

“It’s just a feeling,” Evangeline insisted, “But’s like…”

“A sense of looming disaster?” Ivy offered.

“Something like that, yeah,” she nodded.

Commander we’re ready to go here when you are,” Joy said over the intercom from the bridge.

“Emmy,” Ivy said to the ship, “Switch to real time exterior view.”

The ship wordlessly obliged and adjusted the wallscreens to display the still quiet system.

“If it’s any consolation, I frequently feel that way too. We’re off the edges of the map,” Ivy said too softly for the feeds to pick up, “here there be dragons.” she closed her eyes for a moment and took a breath. “Warp!”

On the bridge, Jimmy Alderson punched in the premade sequence and the Empiricist leapt out of spacetime in a flash of technicolor light.

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2 thoughts on “Particle Tracks

    • Personally I think the story might have a few too many angles/perspectives or some of them are depicted in unnecessary detail. Too much decompressed storytelling

      Mostly I have beef with the teenagers building a shuttle. I just fail to see how its possibly going to be either plausible or significant enough to warrant the amount of space it has received.

      Another thread I feel is too detailed is the human on the “alien refugee ship”.

      Love the “you are ants in the way of a mining operation” setting of the story though.

      Like

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