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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Prologue: Beginning at the Ending

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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Mar 1, 2018
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  • Stellaris
Hello all, I'm Macavity116.

For the past year, I've been quietly writing a fanfiction based on Stellaris called "After Everything" and posting it to the Blogs Page of the Paradox Plaza site. It's a project that I've been having a lot of fun doing, even though Stellaris itself has since gotten two major updates which have utterly destroyed my official "After Everything Save File." Even though the save file used for the story is long gone, I was having way too much fun to stop writing. Recently, a friendly moderator suggested I try posting my story to the Stellaris AAR Forum, and so here I am. I have no real expectations for this. I'm just out to tell a story and have fun doing so.

The TL;DR of what I'm trying to say is that I had a lot of fun writing this, then someone recommended I share it with you all, and I agreed with them. There! Now you know why I'm here with my little story. (Alternatively, you can find it on the website "Archive of Our Own" as well.)

You know, I've only been talking for a minute or so and my throat is already getting sore. Let me start telling the story before I completely lose my voice. *Ahem* In a time before time...
After Everything - A Stellaris Story
Prologue: Beginning at the Ending


The Second Hyperspace War lasted exactly 21 years. When the storm cleared, over 15,000 inhabited worlds had been burned, crushed, depopulated, exploded, silenced, pulverized, shattered, or otherwise annihilated. There was no possible way to count the dead.

During the final battle, fought both on the ground and in the skies above Earth, 15 Stormbreakers, each one the hero of a story I don’t have time to tell you, rose from the island of Kyushu and led the combined forces of every galactic civilization in a colossal offensive against Agamemnon itself.

10 Stormbreakers fell to the Invaders.

4 Stormbreakers vanished and were never seen nor heard from again.

And Jericho stood alone against Agamemnon.

The storm became more intense and vicious than ever before. Their battle shattered planets, killed millions, and caused permanent damage to the Hyperspace Network across the entire galaxy.

And then it was over. Neither Jericho nor Agamemnon remained. The Invaders, having lost their nerve center, became lethargic and vulnerable. All across the galaxy, Invader fleets were outmaneuvered and crushed by forces less than half their size. Within a year, the Invaders were completely purged from all creation.

The war was over, but the damage was still done. The Invaders had destroyed three quarters of all populated places in the galaxy, while Jericho and Agamemnon had disabled every Hyperspace Gate in the galaxy. Without the Network, great star nations like the Kingdom of Partoga, the Levakian Confederation, Amadiio, Vania, the Micore Empire, Kelta, and the United States of Assuria simply ceased to exist.

While the political powers of the galaxy died, tens of millions of tons of battle debris rained down on the Earth. The impacts thrust clouds of dust into the air. Shrouded in clouds, the Earth fell into permanent winter, returning humankind to its isolation from the rest of the galaxy. Unable to call upon their new extraterrestrial allies for help, the people of Earth vanished into silence, and soon, the Sol Star itself became lost.

Which brings us here:

These battle-scarred planets were once the core of the Kingdom of Partoga. Founded in the year 1515, the Kingdom controlled 116 star systems at the height of its power and also fielded one of the greatest navies the galaxy had ever known. During the Second Hyperspace War, the galactic front line transected the Kingdom’s territory. So many battles were fought in Partogan space that the population took shelter in a network of underground bunkers on the Homeworld.

Over a century and a half has gone by since the bunker doors were sealed. After waiting for decades, some Partogans bravely ventured out onto the planet surface and reported that the nuclear winter on the surface was drawing to a close. It was finally safe to emerge from the shelters.

Eventually, the Partogan Royal Space Corps dispatched uncrewed probes into interstellar space to ascertain the fate of the galaxy. This was how the Partogan people learned that they alone had survived the Invasion. The Levakians, Amadii, Vanians, Keltians, Micore, and Assurians were all gone. On top of all that, the Sol Star, home of Jericho and her 14 companions, was nowhere to be found.

A century and a half after Jericho gave herself to the final victory, someone else’s story is about to begin:



On April 30, 2180, this message was broadcast on every radio and television in the Kingdom of Partoga:

We interrupt this program. This is a national emergency. Important instructions will follow.

All stations have interrupted their programming at the request of the Royal Government to broadcast a message to the nation.

Standby for a message from the Kuhina Nui of the Kingdom of Partoga:


“To our good and hardworking subjects, I must bring you terrible news. Our beloved Queen Kendra the Second, the guardian of our nation, has departed this world. She passed on peacefully in the company of her family around 6 in the morning on the 30th day of Paenga-whāwhā, in the 665th year of our Kingdom. She is now in the company of Miranda the Great and her fellow Queens. Our nation has lost its greatest daughter. Our people have lost their mother. Although we knew this day was coming, nothing can diminish our sense of profound and enduring loss.

Her Highness was the driving force behind the reconstruction of our Homeworld. There is no one alive who remembers the Second Hyperspace War of 500-521, but the evidence of the destruction it wrought is omnipresent. Under Kendra’s guidance, we as a people recovered some of what was lost. We emerged from our underground bunkers for the first time since ’21 and saw the light of our sun. We re-occupied the Royal City and a Queen of Partoga sat upon the Emerald Throne for the first time since the war.

We as a people will honor Her Highness. She will lay in state at the Great Library for fifteen days, before being moved to the Unnamed Mountain where the funeral will take place on the 15th day of Haratua. She will be buried in Archer’s Canyon alongside her predecessors: Miranda the Fourth, Miranda the Second, and Kendra the Peacemaker.

In response to the situation, the National Assembly has declared a state of mourning and accordingly has issued the following instructions to the people of the Kingdom: The national flag must fly at half mast, bright colored clothing is prohibited, and all sporting events are cancelled. Weekly church attendance is mandatory for all citizens. This requirement will be enforced by the Green Guard. All girls between the ages of 10 and 15 who have completed the Rite of Passage must give their names to the Priest of their local Church of the Mountain. Again, this requirement will be enforced by the Green Guard.

Our nation stands on the brink of great change. I urge you all to keep your heads held high, cooperate with Church officials and the Green Guard, and most importantly: remain united.

The Mountain be praised.”

You have just heard a message from Kauri Rangi, Kuhina Nui of the Kingdom of Partoga. This message will repeat until the National Assembly provides new instructions. Please follow the commands of the Green Guard and keep your radio or television tuned to this station for further instructions.

All stations have interrupted their programming at the request of the Royal Government to broadcast an emergency message to the nation.

We have interrupted this program. This is a national emergency. Important instructions will follow.

… … …


 
Last edited:

Stonewall

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I like it. Of all the Paradox games, Stellaris is the most open to people being creative with their storytelling. I may not comment much, but you've earned at least one reader.
 
Chapter 1.1: A Seven Year Mission

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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Mar 1, 2018
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  • Stellaris

Chapter 1.1: A Seven Year Mission

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Low Partogan Orbit, 29 Hakihea 684.]

Wow… just…wow… I can’t even… wow.

Wait…is this thing recording? Okay.

Omigoshomigosh… EEEEKK! This is so exciting! Where do I start?

Breathe, breathe. So my name is Mira Mihaka. Mission Specialist Mihaka. Wow, I’ve gotta get used to that. This thing still recording? Right, I’m on board the HMS Midak, hull number AAJJA-15, built by-

Hey Mira, people don’t want to know the ship’s hull number or who built it. They wanna know about you.

Oh, right,

Tell them who you are. What your story is. Or why we're out here.

Okay, okay! That noisy Brakas back there is Kaia Patariki. But this is MY log, damnit! So, I’m a 35-year-old woman studying astronomy at the Royal Academy of Science.

Was. I was.

My papa is retired now, but he used to work for the Medical Office of the Royal Star Command, and my mama was Queen Kendra the Second. Yeah, yeah, get your questions out now.

Were you there when she died?

I don’t want to talk about it.

So you’re a princess?

I’m not a princess. I’m an astronomer.

My parents say the shadow-state killed your mother, and that there’s a cons-

It was BRAIN CANCER, you Brakas! No conspiracy! No shadow-state! Okay?!

Oh, honey. The shadow-state agents got you to buy into their lies.

Shut up. I’ve got a lot to say.

Fine.

So this whole thing started about three months ago: I got into my dorm and the Dean of my college comes running up to me saying I got a letter from the Royal Palace! Mister Taiaroa was always nosy. He opened the letter and read it himself.

Turns out, a friend of the Kuhina Nui had read my book “Fate of the Savior” which is about the planet Earth, where Jericho had been born. Basically, I wrote about the brief wartime alliance between Partoga and Earth, and how the human named Jericho had saved the whole galaxy. I also speculated on whether or not Jericho had survived her battle with Agamemnon. At the end of the book, I called on the government to launch a science ship to find Earth and figure out if the humans are still alive.

The letter-writer said that they had passed my book up the chain of command until both the Kuhina Nui and Her Highness the Queen had both read it. My head spun a few times after I read that. Anyway, the writer went on to say that someone in the government wanted to speak to me at the Royal Palace and they asked if I could come in later that afternoon.

I actually packed my bags for a long trip before I remembered that the Royal Palace is only half a Kio from the Academy. So I dressed in my Rātapu best and walked to the Palace. When I got there, I thought I was just going to meet some low-level bureaucrat who just wanted to ask a few questions.

Nope.

The Green Guards knew who I was, someone must have told them, and guided me to a small conference room, which had a round table just big enough for maybe five or six people. I was alone in there for maybe a minute or two before the far door opened and three people came in: General Irawaru Ruru, the leader of the Partogan Royal Army, Holy Father Manaaki Ranginui, Patriarch of the Church of the Mountain and QUEEN PHOEBE HERSELF!

I was so shocked, that I completely forgot to stand and bow to her.

See, back my mama was Queen and I was just a little kid, Phoebe the Second (she was called Haki back then) was my personal Acolyte. Haki would stand right behind me during Religious Studies Class every day and hit me in the head with an “awakening stick” if I started to doze off. I still have the bumps to prove it.

We were friends though. We did everything together. Fed the Kane-Ra in the stables, raided candy from the big kitchens, and stole books from the Great Library…

You’re kidding me... you didn’t do that.

We really did. Thick as thieves, you could have called the two of us sisters. Then mama died when I was fifteen. Under the law, I was too old to be elected Queen, plus I was never really a “Church Girl,” which would have instantly disqualified me. So I went off to the Academy, and Haki won the election. We haven’t spoken as friends in over twenty years.

The Holy Father gave me a look that got my rear in gear. Once I bowed, we all sat down and she began to talk. Her Highness explained that I wasn’t the only person who wanted Partoga to reconnect with Earth, and that after reading my book, several high ranking members of the National Assembly, the Church of the Mountain, and the Royal Army were now interested in finding the humans.

Then Her Highness asked a lot of questions about my book. Stuff like, “How did you calculate the position of the Sol Star? Has your data been reviewed by anyone at the Royal Science Academy? How did you come to your conclusions about the damage Earth took during the War in Heaven? What do you think we might find on Earth?”

And so on and so on.

I answered her questions as clearly as I could, explaining how I had calculated the Sol Star’s orbital path around the Galactic Core, and where one hundred and sixty years of gravitational drift may have pushed it. I told Her Highness about the fifteen-member committee at the Academy who had confirmed that my numbers were accurate, and how I had collaborated with several archeologists and military historians to figure out how much of a pounding Earth took during the War in Heaven. I gave two answers on what we might find on Earth: First, if humanity had been killed off, we may find the planet looted by survivors of the War in Heaven. If humanity had survived, then there’s no way they’ve recovered from having tens of millions of cubic Bios of dust kicked up into the atmosphere. They could be in a nuclear winter right now.

Her Highness listened to all of my answers and explanations, then she folded her hands in front of her, and told me in no uncertain terms that I was the first person to calculate the location of the Sol Star AND have their numbers certified by a committee of academics.

“Congratulations are in order,” she said, and then reached across the table and shook my hand.

Then Her Highness got serious. She told me that she was currently willing and able to allocate manpower, financial backing, and military-grade hardware to a crewed expedition to find Earth and re-establish relations with the humans. It would be our first crewed space mission outside the Home System since the Second Hyperspace War over a century and a half ago. She said that my book had been the “last grain of sand that tipped the scale” which convinced the National Assembly to fund the project.

Her Highness had saved the best part for last. She said she wanted me to take command of the science team that would be going along! I’ll be honest, I didn’t hear what she said after that. My mind went numb. I shook my head like a wet Dikapi and asked the Queen to repeat herself. She just laughed and quickly went over the offer again: I would command a group of seventeen other scientists who would make up the civilian half of the mission to find Earth.

Then she warned me that this mission was going to take a very long time, because the ship was only going to make Short Jumps.

Of course, two centuries ago, I could have crossed the entire galaxy in about a week because of the Hyperspace Network. Since all of the Gates were busted by Jericho (perhaps permanently) crossing the galaxy was going to be a massive effort now. I kinda slouched back into my chair when that thought hit me.

Finally, I asked how long this whole operation was going to take.

Her Highness gestured to General Ruru. He told me that the area where Sol might be was at least seventeen thousand, eight hundred and forty light years away. Flying the most direct path possible, it would take at least fifty-five Hyperspace Jumps to reach the search area and another sixty-eight to get back home.

I did the math in my mind really quick and nearly fainted when I realized it would take three full years just to reach the search area. So I was already looking at a six year round-trip. On top of that, he told me that the ship had enough provisions on board to stay inside of the search area for at least a year. All told, this journey would take a maximum of seven years.

The Queen said she felt it only appropriate that I be given the chance to lead this mission, since I was the one who had called so loudly for it. But if I wasn’t able or willing to step away from my obligations for so long, then-

No, I cut across her and made it very clear that I was ready and willing for seven years of spaceflight, provided my family was cared for while I was gone.

The Queen agreed just as quickly as I had jumped on the mission. I had planned to just drop out of school the next morning, but Phoebe said “Nonsense. You graduated this morning.” Alongside that, my papa was moved into the Palace. Specifically, the room he had lived in when his wife had been Queen. My brother Tai was offered a high-paying job in the Great Library so that he could support his daughter.

And finally, Phoebe promised to add Tai’s daughter, my niece, to the list of Queen Candidates. This did two things:

First: if something happens to Phoebe, little Maki would be allowed to stand for Royal Election, provided she hadn’t had her fifteenth birthday yet.

Second: like all other Queen Candidates, she and her family will be placed under Green Guard protection. Obviously, the protection will end after she turns fifteen which’ll disqualify her from the Throne.

The shadow-state hard at work.

Quiet, you!

Actually, throughout the last part of the conversation, Phoebe actually did pull a wad of papers out of her breast pocket and passed them to Holy Father, who had been sitting silently the whole time. He did leave in a hurry too, now that I think about it…

We spent the rest of the day making final arrangements, and then we said our goodbyes.

By the time I left the Royal Palace that night, I was officially the Science Officer of the HMS Midak. It’ll be the first crewed ship to leave the Home System in over one hundred and sixty years.

And then, by the Mountain, things moved so damn fast.

I had just enough time to tell my papa what I had gotten myself into. He loved the idea, and he gave me a great big heavy box full of mementos from mama’s reign to remind me of home. I’m sitting next to it now. Then I was flown out to Candon City, or “Kandinas the locals pronounce it, where I spent the next three months getting ready. First: I had to go through 6 weeks of space training. I did my first spaceflight, a six-lap flight around the planet, the day after the Queen’s Birthday.

Then I got to meet the rest of the people on my science team. There’s going to be eighteen civilian scientists on board the Midak, and I’m the leader! I spent a month getting to know everyone and figuring out who was going to do each job in one of the Midak’s three laboratories. Like Her Highness said, all of these people have volunteered for a multi-decade long deep space mission. They had to set their affairs in order too. So once I met everyone, I ordered the team to spend our last few days at the Rapa-Nui resort with their families. Three days of geothermal lakes, massages, and sleeping on the black sand beaches. All paid for by the Royal Government.

And then yesterday, we all flew into orbit and arrived at Fort Daxia’s shipyard. My team and I crossed over to the Midak, and that’s where we are right now. I got everyone set up in their quarters and now we’re just patiently waiting for the military crew to get here.

Phew! I think that’s everything for now. Kaia? Anything you want to say before I sign off for the night?

Nope! I just wanna get going.

[Personal log closed.]


 
Last edited:
Chapter 1.2: Sixty

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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  • Stellaris

Chapter 1.2: Sixty

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Fort Daxia Drydock, Trecta Star System, 30 Hakihea 684.]

The mission officially begins tomorrow! I just had a very… very long day, and I’m finally taking a moment to settle into the small room I’m going to call home for the next five to eight years.

Phew… eight years…

Focus, Mira. Talk about what happened.

So first: my science team. You’ve already met Miss Patariki. The rest of the team finally unpacked their stuff and are settling in now.

There’s the Physics Team: Ari, Rewa, Tipi, Watahui, Hotu and Mana.

The Engineering team is Kaia, Eru, Manawa, Nikau, Tangaroa, and myself.

And the Biology team is Tamaho, Meto, Ria, Moe, Hoana, and Anahera.

So while my team was settling in, I decided to have a look around before the military crew arrived. The HMS Midak is one helluva ship. She’s a-hundred-ten Bios long and has a beam of either one-thirty-one or one-thirty-two Bios depending on who you ask.

One-thirty-two!

Hey Kaia, what’s up?

Nothing. Just brought the last experiments on board. Moe and Tamaho are getting a head start on the irradiated bacteria cultures. You doing another audio log?

Yup.



Okay, where was I?

So the whole ship weighs almost four hundred tons, but she can still get up and go if she really needs to. The Midak has a max acceleration of fifty five Bios per second squared and a top speed of nearly two hundred and five Bios per second. The Midak can keep pace with a war era Keelerak-Class assault frigate, and those things were speed demons!

Okay, what else? The Midak has twenty-nine airtight compartments across four decks, which can be sealed in the event of a disaster: The bridge, comms tower, sensor array, three labs, the power plant, hyperspace module, engine room, four crew compartments, two galleys, the Captain’s quarters, two workshops, the infirmary, the crew lounge, the emergency containment chamber, the foundry, five radiation shelters, a cargo bay, and that one special chamber that civilians like me aren’t allowed to go into. There’s one like it on every ship with a military crew.

Speaking of them…

They showed up about twenty hours ago. There are forty-two people in the military crew: Nine commissioned officers, eight non-commissioned officers, and twenty-five enlisted crew. Twenty-seven men, fifteen women. It took half the day, but I finally managed to meet and shake hands with every one of them. If I’m gonna spend the next half-decade of my life with them, I may as well get off on the right foot with these people. I learned a few interesting things about the crew along the way too, let’s see:


  • Captain Toa Rangi is a hardcore soldier. I think he actually changed his first name to “Toa” to reflect that. He’s so grim I’m positive he’s killed someone before. He isn’t keen on interacting with civilians, and he talked formally to me the whole time.
  • Commander Anika Aranui is second-in-command and the only female officer on board. Do you know why there are no other female officers? Because there’s no woman as intense as her. You’d think the Third Hyperspace War had started whenever you talk to Aranui. So grim, so serious.
  • Lieutenant Commander Tai Tunui’s little sister actually ran for the Throne after Mama passed away. Apparently she got a lot of votes.
  • Arapata and Arapeta Kirikiri are identical twin brothers. EXACTLY identical. Kaia and I are planning a series of experiments to determine if they have telepathy with one another.
  • Petty Officer Whawhakiterangi Tirikatene is the great-granddaughter of Queen Miranda the Fourth.
  • Despite having the same last name, Taka and Hori Rangihau are not related to each other. The same goes for Watahui and Kauri Wiki, and for Nikau and Tama Hetet.
  • There’s this guy who works in the Communications Tower, Tai Whiu. He showed up for one meeting of my Skywatchers Club at the Royal Science Academy. He didn’t say anything and never came back. I hope my second impression on him was better than the first. We actually had a conversation this time.
  • Moana Ranginui really doesn’t like me. I don’t know what I said to upset her, she was really short with me and locked the Hyperspace Module door behind me when I left.
Look, I can’t go through all sixty of us, so I’ll just drop the crew manifest into the file before I go.

So once everybody was on board and settled in, Captain Rangi gave a speech over the intercom about how it was our destiny to find the humans and start a new era of galactic history. Then we all went to our stations and that was it. The Midak’s gonna launch in about fifteen hours, and that’ll be it. We’re off to find the humans.

I’m gonna go now and call my Papa. He says he’s glad I’m going on a “magnificent life journey like Mama” but I know he’s going to miss me as much as I’ll miss him. I don’t even know if we’ll see each other again. A lot can happen in six years… or eight.

Right, time to go.

[Crew manifest file uploaded.]


[Personal log closed]


 
Last edited:
Chapter 1.3: First Jump

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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Mar 1, 2018
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  • Stellaris

Chapter 1.3: First Jump

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Outer Trecta Star System, 17 Hanuere 685]

Well, we’ve just passed beyond the orbit of Whiro, so we’ll be in position for our first Hyperspace Jump in a few minutes. The Science team hasn’t had much to do, since the Home System was fully explored and colonized over two hundred years ago. We're just sitting on our hands waiting for the jump to start.

I’M SOOOO BOOOORREEED!!

Me too, Kaia.

So far, the only interesting thing that’s happened is we came across an uncharted shipwreck from the Second Hyperspace War. I asked Captain Rangi to let the Engineering Team take a few pieces on board to analyze, and he was happy to oblige. Turns out it was a Vanian battleship that got pulverized when the Invaders moved through our Home System. What pieces of the ship remain were big enough to fit in the galley. We dropped off a marker buoy and transmitted the wreck’s location to Fleet Command.

Everything has to be transmitted now. We’ve been out of real-time comms range for two days. Commander Aranui told me that once we start using the Hyperspace Module to cross lightyears, we’ll outpace radio transmissions coming from home. We won’t know about events on Partoga until we start heading back home. That’s half a decade from now at the very least.

In the meantime, I’ve refined our flightplan. There’s a way for us to get down to the Sol Star’s last known position in just a little less than two years, eight months. Then after that, it’s just a matter of searching: I’ve designated three search areas based on where the Sol Star could have gone after the War in Heaven. Just like everything else in the galaxy, Sol is orbiting a supermassive black hole in the galactic core. The problem is that no one bothered to make a note of Sol’s exact location during the war. Most allied ships just used locator beacons to reach Sol, and once the War in Heaven actually started, everyone who wasn’t fighting turned and ran. So the day after the battle, the two Partogan ships that survived the battle made like a Hoto bug and scrambled back home without looking back once.

So, three search areas: The primary one is where Sol might be if its orbit around the galactic core is circular. The secondary search area is where Sol might be if it’s in an elliptical orbit. Unlikely, but it’s still possible. And the third search area is pointless.

Oh, come on! I thought it was funny. Tell’em!

Ugh. Fine. So the third search area will only come into play if Sol is in a retrograde orbit.

Hehehe... Tell’em what “retrograde” means...

It means that somehow, against the laws of the universe itself, Sol is going around the galaxy backwards. It’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard, but Captain Rangi asked me to create a search area just in case it turns out to be true. I’ll drop my new flight plan into the file, just in case I need to tweak it later.

[Flight_plan file uploaded]


...

Kaia, do you hear that? That’s the Jump signal!

This is it! They’re getting ready to initiate Hyperspace!

Okay, we have to report to our radiation shelters now! I’ll write again once we finish the jump!

If we survive, that is...

Not helping, Kaia. Let’s go.

[Log entry paused.]

Sys/ Hyperspace jump initiated.
Sys/ Post-Hyperspace system self-check underway.
Sys/ Self-check complete. All systems operational.

...

[Log entry resumed.]


We’ve just completed our very first Hyperspace Jump! It was so amazing! Kaia! Tell everyone at home what it was like!

Whoa, Mira. Hold on, I think I’m gonna puke...

We just jumped from the Trecta system into the Tediss system. That’s a distance of five point two lightyears. LIGHT. YEARS. No one has gotten this far away from home since the war!

Mira... you’re making my head pound.

Fine, I’ll tone it down. Okay, so listen, it was so cool! They fired up the Hyperspace Module and I could actually feel the Quantum Wavefront going through the ship! Then it was like every nerve in my body was sending signals to my brain all at once! I was hot and cold at the same time. I was having thousands of different thoughts every second, but I could understand them all! The radiation shelter was full of light, but also so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face!

You felt all that? By the Mountain, you’re insane. All I felt was my lunch coming back up my throat.

Oh, do you want to go to the infirmary?

Yes. Please.

...

This is Mihaka’s bunk, right?


Yeah, right here. Search everything.

What’s this? A tablet computer?

Looks like she’s making audio logs. Computer, replay all previous audio logs created by Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka.

Cmd usr/ replay all logs
Sys/ playing media…
Sys/ operation complete


She doesn’t know. Put it down.


Doesn’t look like she has anything suspicious either. Let’s move on to the next room.
... ... ...

Wait, did you leave the door open?

I don’t remember. You lay down and drink some water. I’ll let the Commander know where you are. Oh, great, I left my log running…

[Personal log closed.]


 
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Chapter 1.4: On the Hyperlane

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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Mar 1, 2018
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archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris

Chapter 1.4: On the Hyperlane

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Outer Vinjim Star System, 4 Hui-tanguru, 685]

It’s been just over a month now since we left home and everyone has settled into the routine of life on a spaceship for the most part. The crew is broken up into three groups, and we all work in ten-hour shifts. I’m on duty with Kaia in the Engineering Lab from midnight until ten-hundred hours. Then we get the next ten hours off. We usually spend the time doing general maintenance and housekeeping around the Midak, keeping everything shipshape and operational.

Once we run out of stuff to do, we just relax in the crew lounge. Fleet Command knew this mission was going to take over half a decade, so they went all out with the lounge. It’s like a mix of the most luxurious café you can imagine, and a small amphitheater with a huge glass window that backlights the stage with a star field. Big squishy couches all around the walls, and on the other side of the room from the amphitheater is a walled off area with only one door that faces into the lounge. Though that door is a gymnasium we can use to keep our bones and muscles in good shape over the next six years The gym’s walls are even soundproofed so the people working out don’t disturb anyone in the rest of the lounge.

At the end of our ten hour maintenance shift, Kaia and I head up to Crew Bay Three. There are four crew bays total, and each one can hold fifteen people; but you’ll never find all sixty bunks being used. At a bare minimum, twenty crew members are always awake and working. There are forty if the previous shift is doing maintenance work. The other twenty are sleeping.

Food around here is treated with nervous apprehension. When we left Daxia, there was enough food on board for exactly nine years, four months, and fifteen days. Most of it is pre-prepared meals in vacuum-sealed packages. It should be more that we need, if all goes well. We still have a plan for the day we run out, though:

See, the Midak has a Phased Disassembler Array on board. The tech was pilfered from an alien empire that fell to the Invaders very early in the Second Hyperspace War. I forgot what they were called, High-kirians? Higgy-arians? Something like that. The Phased Disassembler Array takes solid matter (preferably in the form of a small asteroid) and breaks it down into its composite particles. Basically, we can grind an asteroid down into dust and then sort that dust by what it’s made of. Once the Midak runs out of food, we’ll turn the PDA on any organic matter we come across. The ship’s computer has a recipe for a basic, but life-sustaining nutrient paste that’ll keep us alive past the nine-year mark. If the PDA breaks… well… we won’t let that happen.

In the meantime, Kaia and I have started our first scientific investigation of the mission:

Last night, Hinauri Keiha and Hapaikiterangi Herekotutuku barged into a meeting of the command staff yelling that the Hyperspace Module was on fire. Turns out they were kind of right; random points of the device itself were spontaneously combusting. The fires themselves were small and harmless, and they went out quickly. The Hyperspace Module’s inner shell is made of a material that isn’t known for being flammable, so the Captain ordered me to “wake up the science team.” I was so excited to be useful that I woke up the people on Third Shift, even though they went to bed about 45 minutes before.

And just to be clear, no. Hyperspace Modules do not spontaneously catch fire. Something had to interact with the shell to cause a spark. All fires need fuel, oxygen, and heat. The Module generates its own heat, and all Partogans breathe a mixture of Oxygen and Nitrogen, but where’s the fuel? And what’s starting the chain reaction in the first place? There's a lot to figure out here.

My shift is almost done, but I’m going to stay on for a few hours and help out the next shift. Maybe together we can figure something out.


[Personal log closed]

[Personal log addendum: 5 Hui-tanguru 685, Inner Vinjim Star System]


I just had a really, really boring afternoon followed by five seconds of pure terror.

Remember yesterday, when the Hyperspace Module decided it would look better if it was on fire? My team and I spent about twenty-six hours in the labs trying to figure out why that was happening. We tested the material the casing was made out of, took samples of the air and analyzed everything about it, we even took skin samples of the men and women who worked in the module to see if there was a reaction between skin and the module.

So about five hours ago, we got our first lead. Biologist Moe Kaa figured out that the titanium alloy the Hyperspace Module is made from was reacting to cosmic rays. Something coming off the nearby star, Vinjim, is reacting with the Hyperspace Module and causing its exterior to combust.

I got the whole Engineering Team together and we designed an experiment to test the “cosmic rays” theory. Kaia, Nikau and Tangaroa went to the foundry and built a one-by-two Bio piece of armor plating built from the same alloy as the Hyperspace Module. Then we secured it in the Engineering Lab and began to bombard it with different types of radiation using a particle accelerator I borrowed from the Physics Team.

Before we started, Kaia and I ran up to the bridge to tell Captain Rangi that we were about to start experimenting with radioactivity and open flames. He cleared all of the rooms around the Engineering Lab and gave notice over the loudspeaker that the military crew wasn’t allowed near the lab for the time being. Then we got started. It was tedious work, but we made progress. We tried almost every possible form of radiation a B-class star could put out before we found a really narrow microwave that caused our slab to spontaneously combust. After that, we just had to find a way to stop that from happening naturally.

Tangaroa came up with an idea to remove some atmosphere from the chamber containing the Hyperspace Module. Not enough that the crew would need to wear space suits in the room, but just enough that they might need to carry a bottle of breathing air if they spent a long time inside. Less air, less chance of a fire. So we partially decompressed the Engineering Lab, set up the particle accelerator, and started blasting our test slab again.

That’s when Chief Petty Officer Whetu Karawana unsealed the main door, came inside, and yelled;

“Hey, Mihaka! You in here?”

Karawana didn’t knock. She just opened the door. And I know she didn’t read the sign on the door because I wrote it! The big red letters said:


"KEEP OUT. SENSITIVE EXPERIMENT IN PROGRESS"

But nooosigns mean nothing to the CPO, apparently. I guess being almost-barely-but-not-quite-an-officer makes you immune to the rules. It also gives you a free pass to cause explosions inside a cramped spaceship, too. When Karawana opened the lab door, she introduced a couple dozen cubic Bios of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and Ozone into the room. Our tiny fire exploded like the Unnamed Mountain did six hundred years ago. (Praise the Mountain, lest it happen again) The lab was wrecked. The particle accelerator burnt to a crisp, and all of our testing materiel was turned into charcoal. Tipi from the Physics Team ran over to see what the noise was about, and he threw every curse word in the language at poor Karawana when he saw what the blast had done to his particle accelerator. Karawana looked like she was going to cry. Oh, and you know why she was looking for me in the first place? She wanted to ask why all of the fire alarms in the lab were disabled! All that trouble for something so trivial!

The medics ended up treating five of us (including myself) for ruptured eardrums. Tamaho said it could be a month before my hearing is back to normal levels. My bunkmate Kaia got the worst of it. She’s still in the infirmary now, getting ready for surgery. Second-degree burns on her left arm AND her left eardrum is burst. Damn, she got messed up. So I promised Kaia I’d go see her as soon as my duty shift ended today, which means Tangaroa and Nikau have taken over the investigation for a few hours. Once the shift changes, Eru and Manawa will wake up and take charge.

In the meantime, spontaneous fires are still breaking out in the Hyperspace Module every few hours or so. We still have a week and a half before we reach the Hyperlane leading out of the system though, so we need to come up with something before then.


[Personal log closed]

...

[Personal log addendum: 6 Hui-tanguru 685, Inner Vinjim Star System]


Faster-than-light systems restored! For once, everything went our way today. Kaia's surgery went smoothly, although it'll be a few days before she can hear again. After she was released from the infirmary, I was walking her back to the crew bay and the whole ship went on Hyperspace Alert. I didn’t know what was going on, so I just kinda threw Kaia into the first Radiation Shelter I found and then ran straight to the shelter underneath the Bridge, which is where the Captain goes during Hyperspace Jumps. I hadn’t gone more than two Bios though when the Hyperspace Alert was cancelled.

So I doubled back for Kaia and we went up to the Bridge together. I found Tangaroa up there with Captain Rangi, and they explained what had happened:

Tangaroa had told Captain Rangi about our “decompress the Hyperspace Module” theory, and he decided to carry out his own test. Tangaroa tried to tell him to wait until the Engineering Team was finished, but the Captain got impatient. Rangi ordered the Hyperspace technicians to don space suits, depressurize the Hyperspace Module and just fire it up. Just like that! He could have blown up the whole ship! Luckily, that didn’t happen. It turned out that the system works perfectly fine in a low-atmosphere environment. Tangaroa, Kaia and I all gave the Captain an earful for risking all of our lives on an untested hunch. He just shrugged and said we could tinker with the Hyperspace Module whenever we wanted so long as we didn’t turn it off.

Does Rangi treat all civilians like children or something?

But, for the time being, we’re going to keep the Hyperspace Module depressurized until we leave the system. The next star in our path is a K-class, so it’ll put out different types of radiation than whatever Vinjim is throwing at us, which means we won’t have to worry about this problem much longer. Hopefully.


[Personal log closed.]

...

Sys/ Hyperspace jump initiated.

Sys/ Post-Hyperspace system self-check underway.

Sys/ Self-check complete. All systems operational.

...

[Personal log addendum: 17 Hui-tanguru 685, Outer Nithascal Star System]


Well, we’ve made it. And it was just like we thought. As soon as we jumped out of the Vinjim system, the Hyperspace Module started behaving itself again. No fires to be seen anywhere, and we repressurized the module. In future, whenever the ship gets saturated with that particular microwave, we’ll evacuate the Hyperspace Module and then depressurize it. It’s not the best solution, but it’ll keep us moving until we figure out something better.

In the meantime, we’ve entered the Nithascal Star system. Before the Second Hyperspace War, our people had a colony on the second planet here. Ninety million people used to live there, until the Invaders blasted the whole planet into small pieces.

This place marked Partoga’s southern border before the war. Once we jump out of here, we’ll have well and truly left home. Between here and Earth is a large swath of space that once belonged to the Micore Empire, followed by a narrow panhandle of Amadii space, and then a big empty region of space no one owned before the war. On the other side of that empty region should be the place where Sol used to be. Then we can start searching.

The humans never fell to the Invaders. The Partogans who survived the War in Heaven told us as much. Wherever their star ended up, I hope they’re alive and well. Living humans will be such a wonderful sight if we have to fly through anymore graveyards.


[Personal log closed]

End of Chapter One

 
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Chapter 2.1: A Close Call

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
13 Badges
Mar 1, 2018
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archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris

Chapter 2.1: A Close Call

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Inner Landeen Star System, 2 Mahuru 685]

Eight months, two days, nine hours. That’s how long it took me to get sick of the treadmill. Look, I know I’m supposed to be doing cardio exercises every day, but bobbing up and down on that thing was getting old. So last week, I started jogging throughout the ship with some of the military crew. There are five soldiers in our group: Tungia Taipua and Taka Rangihau from the Comms Tower, Nia Tawhiti, who works in Engine Room, and power plant techs Rawiri Kopu and Maia Maaka. They’ve been running every morning since we left home, and they were more than happy to let me join in.

Each morning, we start out in the workshop on deck two, just above the engine room. We run the length of Deck Two; from stern to bow. Then we go through the trapdoor hatch in Radiation Shelter 5 and end up in the crew quarters of Deck Three, which is right up against the bow of the ship. Then we jog the length of Deck Three until we get to the engine room, which is in the stern. After that, we drop down to Deck Four and sprint as hard as we can past the Hyperspace Module to the Crew Lounge in the bow. It’s a good workout.

Honestly, I’m kind of upset the military and civilian crews don’t mingle more. Some of these soldiers make good company. Except Moana Ranginui. She’s the Petty Officer who locked me out of the Hyperspace Module and refuses to speak with me. Every time our group runs past the place, she stands in the main hatchway leading to the Module and gives me a really dirty look. You’d think I kicked her pet Hapaka or something. On top of giving me all kinds of evil eyes and cold shoulders, Moana seems a little antisocial to me. Ever since we left Partogan space, she really hasn’t fallen in with any of the little cliques that have formed amongst the crew. None of the other non-commissioned officers hang out with her, and I don’t see her sitting with the other Hyperspace techs during mealtimes either. What the heck did she do to offend everyone? Or perhaps they-

Hold on... Wait...

Something just happened. Hey Kaia, I’m going to the bridge, watch my stuff.

Hell with that, I’m going with you!

[Log paused]
[Log resumed]


Alright, I’m back. Commander Aranui told me we’ve changed course and are heading for a nearby anomaly. She didn’t tell me why, though. Just said I needed to tell the Physics Team to “clear their schedules” whatever that means. Anyway, we’re going to reach the anomaly in about a day, so I need to make sure the labs are ready.

[Personal log closed]
...

[Personal log addendum: Kadiir Nebula, 3 Mahuru, 685]

There was a massacre here.

There’s battle wreckage everywhere. Just like the wrecks we found back home, these hulks date back to the Second Hyperspace War. We’ve found Amadii, Levakian, Vanian, and Micore ships here. Not a single Invader though. It looks like the enemy got the jump on our old allies, and they didn’t have enough time to respond. In the middle of it all is an old Micore starbase. Of course, there wouldn’t have been any people on board that day. The Micore never actually left their homeworld. Instead, they had a vast army of sentient Droids and automated ships to maintain and defend their empire. Eru counted the number of ships each species had in the fight here, and he says it looks like the defending fleet was mostly Micore ships. Perhaps this is where they made their last stand.

Once we found the battlefield, Captain Rangi finally briefed the science team on the anomaly we’re searching for: a weak radio transmission coming from somewhere deeper in the debris field. It’s consistent with a war-era Levakian distress call.

The Levakians may extinct now, but that doesn’t erase the fact that they came from the same homeworld as us. We were their biggest ally during the war, and the Levakians were ours, so we’re obviously going to follow up on this. The Midak is moving slowly through the debris field now, and the whole crew is on general quarters, which means everyone is awake and at their stations. All six of our communication specialists are in the Comms Tower right now, guiding the ship towards the source of the signal. The rest of us are waiting... just waiting...

[Personal log closed]
...
[BRIDGE VOICE RECORDING: 3 MAHURU 685, 29:54 HOURS]

Captain Toa Rangi: Helm, set engines ahead two-thirds.

Corporal Arapata Kirikiri: One hundred-five Bios per second, yes Sir.

Commander Anika Aranui: Sir, the signal is growing more frequent. I estimate we’re less than a thousand Kios away from the source.

Captain Toa Rangi: Good. Maintain course and speed.

Corporal Arapata Kirikiri: Uh, Captain... I think something just hit the ship.

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: What? You mean like a meteorite?

Captain Toa Rangi: Helm, stop all engines. Corporal Wiki, call the boys in the Sensor Suite and ask them-WHAT WAS THAT!?

Commander Anika Aranui: WE’VE BEEN HIT!!

Captain Toa Rangi: REPORT!

Corporal Niko Pongia: An explosion on the outer hull, starboard side, near the bow! Hull breach on deck two!

Lieutenant Commander Tai Tunui: Bridge calling Infirmary: medical emergency! Civilian Mihaka is down with a head injury!

Medic Meto Kapua: Acknowledged. We’re sending a man up there. Infirmary out.

Captain Toa Rangi: Corporal Hei, drop the emergency bulkheads on deck two!

Corporal Kori Hei: Already down and locked, Sir. The forward Galley and one of the radiation shelters have decompressed.

Captain Toa Rangi: Was anyone in there?

Corporal Arapeta Kirikiri: Too early to tell, Sir.

Captain Toa Rangi: Aranui!

Commander Anika Aranui: I’d give you an answer if I could, Sir! Corporal Wiki, take anyone you need for the damage control team and head for deck two!

Corporal Kauri Wiki: Yes, ma’am!

Captain Toa Rangi: Bridge calling Engine Room!

Lieutenant Kahumanu Ngakaukawa: Captain, what in Miranda’s name just happened?!

Captain Toa Rangi: I was hoping you could tell us.

Lieutenant Kahumanu Ngakaukawa: No idea! Both of the sub-lights are stuck hardover, so our center of thrust is way off to port. Weapons fire? An asteroid maybe?

Captain Toa Rangi: Couldn’t tell you. Any injuries back there?

Lieutenant Kahumanu Ngakaukawa: Rangihau, the male one, took a hit on the head. Private Makura’s taking him to the infirmary now. Including me, there’s four of us in here now.

Captain Toa Rangi: Understood. Shutdown the sub-light engines and disconnect them from the Power Plant until I say otherwise. Bridge out. Bridge calling Hyperspace Module!

Petty Officer Moana Ranginui: What THE HELL is going on up there?!

Captain Toa Rangi: We’re trying to figure that out. Did anything happen to the Module?

Petty Officer Moana Ranginui: Negative! The Hyperspace Module is fine, although the people took a beating down here. Look, I can’t talk. Gotta take the Lieutenant to the infirmary. Hyperspace Module out.

Captain Toa Rangi: Bridge calling Power Plant!

Private Maia Maaka: Uhh, um, Power Plant here.

Captain Toa Rangi: Who is this?! Where’s Petty Officer Taipua?

Private Maia Maaka: Both the Lieutenant and the Petty Officer are injured, aaannnnd... uuhhh... I don’t know where Corporal Ruru is. My... uh, my name is Maaka, Sir.

Captain Toa Rangi: Okay, Private Maaka. Listen closely. How many people are in the Power Plant right now?

Private Maia Maaka: Um, uuhh, oh, it’s just me in here. Kopu and Paikea are, uh, taking everyone else to the infirmary. We got banged up really bad down here, Sir.

Captain Toa Rangi: Understood, Private. Stay where you are and DO NOT move away from your station. I’m sending a team to you now.

Private Maia Maaka: Right, Sir. I’m waiting here. Power Plant... uh... Power Plant... out.

Captain Toa Rangi: Okay everyone, listen up! I’m certain we just flew into some kind of ordinance. A warhead, a mine, a dud bomb, or something else like that. Corporal Kirikiri, keep us at a dead stop. Tukino, call up the Comms Tower and tell them to go silent. Wihongi, go up to the Sensors Suite and tell them to start looking for a minefield. Aranui, go get the damage control team and redirect them to the Power Plant. Ata?

Corporal Ahu Ata: Sir?

Captain Toa Rangi: Do you have a casualty count?

Corporal Ahu Ata: Numbers are still coming in, but I see eleven civilians and nineteen military injured, mostly head and whiplash injuries. No fatalities.

Captain Toa Rangi: Get up, and go do a headcount. I want to know the exact location of every person on the ship; I want to know which section each casualty came from, and how badly understrength those sections are now. We can’t take any serious actions until we know our own capabilities. And Tunui?

Lieutenant Commander Tai Tunui: Yes, Sir?

Captain Toa Rangi: Get down to the infirmary and make sure Mihaka’s okay. We need the Science team back on their feet quickly. Pongia, pull the tapes.

Corporal Niko Pongia: Right away Sir.

[FLIGHT DATA RECORDING SYSTEM DISABLED, BRIDGE VOICE RECORDER OFFLINE.]
[TIME OF SYSTEM FAILURE: 4 MAHURU 685, 00:04 HOURS]

...
[Personal log addendum: Kadiir Nebula, 4 Mahuru, 685]

I’m out of the infirmary. Holy Miranda, my head hurts. Tamaho said I got thrown halfway across the bridge when the explosion happened, and I hit my head on the ceiling. He says I’ve got a concussion; I feel fine, but I was just too dizzy to argue with him. No, I went straight back to the bridge. Captain Rangi was there with all of the other officers and two of the Petty Officers: Moana and Whetu. Of course, as soon as I showed up, Moana said “oh, Mihaka’s here, we can blow up the ship now.”

By the Mountain, I hate her.

Once we finished giving each other angry looks, Lieutenant Commander Tunui gave the full damage report: The Midak struck a mine. The explosion ruptured our bow plating along deck two and decompressed one of the galleys and a radiation shelter. Because the mine was on our starboard side, the entire ship lurched to port, causing about twenty-five people (including me) to lose our footing, fall over, and hit our heads. To make matters worse, both of the sub-light engines were still firing when we hit the mine, so they gimballed hard and got jammed in the hardover position. Now every time we fire up the engines, the whole ship spins counter-clockwise instead of moving forward.

In short, the Midak is broken.

Captain Rangi and Commander Aranui agreed that we can’t effect repairs in the middle of what might turn out to be a minefield. The plan going forward is threefold:

First, Hori Rangihau and Enoka Makura are going to spacewalk out to the stern and manually return both of the sub-light engines to the amidships position, so the Midak can fly straight again. After that, we’ll move on the slowest possible speed to a safe location to do serious repairs. From here on out, that Levakian distress signal isn't our problem anymore. I'm not arguing that point. If no one answered a hundred-sixty years ago, then we were too late anyways.

Second, Kaia and I are gonna fire up the Phased Disassembler Array and start disintegrating some of the old battle wreckage around the Midak. We’ll use the material to fabricate new hull plating so the Engineering Team patch that big hole in deck two.

And third, all six of the soldiers who work in the Comms Tower were ordered into the “Special Chamber.” I still don’t know what’s in that room. It’s accessible only via a doorway on the far end of the bridge, underneath the staircase that takes you to the Captain’s Quarters. The Captain told me to leave the bridge after that, so I don’t know what he told those troops to do in there.

The engine techs have already suited up, so Kaia and I going to take the next few hours to grind some hundred-sixty year old shipwrecks into a fine powder. It’s gonna be a long day ahead.

[Personal log closed]
... ...
[Personal log addendum: Kadiir Nebula, 6 Mahuru, 685]


Phew! What a day! And a night! I don’t think I’ve slept in fifty-five hours... so here’s how it all went down:

It took Enoka and Hori about an hour to realign the sub-light engines. Both of the Midak’s sub-light engines can gimbal, or swivel in their mounts. So once Enoka and Hori were in position, the crew in the engine room shut down the servomotors controlling the gimbal system, and then the spacewalkers just put their shoulders to the engine bells and pushed them back into place.

While those two were dealing with the sub-lights, Kaia and I started gathering raw materials for the reconstruction of Deck Two. We took over the PDA and broke down a Micore cruiser. Kaia picked-

Hey, I’m right here, don’t speak for me! Hey, hey, people in the future, listen up: During the war Micore ships, particularly the cruisers, were crewed mostly if not entirely by Droids. That means these ships were filled to bursting with spare parts for the automated crew to maintain themselves. Since we just needed to patch our hull, I ground up the cruiser with the Phased Disassembler Array, poured it into a small drum and siphoned away any moisture that may have frozen onto the hull. Then the powdered cruiser was superheated, liquefied, and reshaped into the hull sections we needed. After that, Eru and Manawa, the two big guys on the Engineering Team, they spacewalked out to the bow and sealed the breach in deck two. The Midak looks like it has an eyepatch now. It’s actually really cool to look at.

Yes, yes it is. And it’s all thanks to us, Kaia. Tell everyone at home about the other thing.

Oh, right! There’s A LOT of noise coming from the secret chamber behind the bridge. It sounds like a turbine engine running at high speed. Oh! And a really bright yellow light is radiating through the floor and into the ceiling of the Foundry one deck down. It’s like that light you see during dance parties at the Royal Science Academy. Except there’s no pulsing electronic music, synthetic drugs, secret revolutionary slogans-

Secret what?

Secrets hidden in that damn room!

That damn room, yeah. The really strange part is that all six of the comm specialists are still in there. They’ve been in that room since we hit the mine two days ago. They haven’t left for anything. Food... Sleep...

Not even to go to the lavatory?

Not even to go to the lavatory. They haven’t left. It’s really, really weird.

Gross. Gross! So...so....gross!

Well at this point, I think I’d rather deal with something really gross than have another mine hit the ship, or get another concussion. Neither of those were fun.

Get some sleep, Mira. You’re going to start running in circles if you stay up any longer.

Sleep, good idea. Let’s just take a day, or two.

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: 8 Mahuru 685, Kadiir Nebula]


Things are finally starting to get back to normal around here. The comms crew came out of their secret chamber behind the bridge late last night. By the Mountain, they looked and smelled awful! I don’t think any of them have slept since they day we hit the mine. Two of them: Tai and Kahurangi, went straight to the infirmary and I’m pretty sure they’re still there right now. Tungia Taipua didn’t even make it to her bunk. She sat down in a corridor just off the bridge and fell asleep. She wouldn’t wake up even when I talked into her ear. Private Rangihau and I carried Taipua back to her bunk and wrapped her in heavy blankets.

Meanwhile, the forward galley is serving meals again. Whenever someone goes in there for food, they give the patch in the wall a nervous look. I’m sure that by now, most of the crew knows that only a paper thin layer of century-old Plasteel is all that separates the galley from the vacuum of space. It’s worse in Radiation Shelter Five. Normally, each shelter holds twelve people during Hyperspace Jumps. Shelter Five is inside the nose of the ship, so when we struck the mine, it crumpled up like an automobile does when it hits a wall. Even though we patched the hull, we can’t fit more than five people inside the shelter.

Keeping that in mind, Captain Rangi redrew the shelter assignments this morning. During our next Hyperspace Jump, I get to share Shelter Two with fifteen other people. It’s going to get really, really uncomfortable; but at least I won’t be killed by the Hyperspace Module.

Maybe the humans have developed a means of Faster-Than-Light travel that isn’t lethal to the user. That would make this trip worth the price.

[Personal log closed]


 
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Chapter 2.2: Rotorua

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
13 Badges
Mar 1, 2018
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archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris

Chapter 2.2: Rotorua

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, On the Surface of Hokianga, Caspadence Star System, 28 Oketopa, 685]

We’ve made some significant headway towards the Sol Star, putting almost forty-five light years behind us. By my guess, we’ll arrive in the search area about ten or eleven months from now. I really think we’re going to find Earth before the end of next year. In the meantime, we’ve stumbled upon one hell of a find:

Hokianga! Or... what’s left of it anyway. Hokianga was an experimental colony set up around fifty years before the war. There were people from fifteen different species living together a mega-city called Rotorua. My history book at school described it as a “multinational attempt to create utopia, housing two billion people from countless worlds.” It sounds like it was going to be a success until the Invaders showed up.

They absolutely wrecked the place. When we found it this afternoon all that remained of Rotorua was a massive impact crater spanning eighty-five Kios in all directions. On top of that, the planet’s atmosphere is gone. Not changed. Not reduced. GONE. We dropped sensors and scanned for any remains, but didn’t find anything. The city is completely flattened. They just nuked Rotorua from orbit.

Once we got over the shock of seeing what’s left of Hokianga, Captain Rangi kicked us into gear. All of the Comms Specialists went into the secret chamber again, and the Midak started doing lower and lower flybys above the crater; until we finally came down to a landing in the crater. Lieutenant Commander Tunui used a century-old map of the city to figure out where the Partogan district used to be, and he figured out a safe spot for us. In the end, we set down about half a Kio away from the spot where the Partogan convention hall used to be, in the western end of the city. Once the Midak touched down, we got to work. Captain Rangi told me that while the military crew carried out serious repairs to the Midak, the Science Team and I would have fifteen hours to carry out whatever investigations we wanted. So I’ve issued EVA suits to all seventeen members of the science team, and given everyone jobs. There’s a few questions that I need to figure out here:

  1. Did anyone survive and if so, where are they?
  2. What happened to the planet’s atmosphere?
  3. Also, the military crew wants to know: If the Invaders really did this, what weapon did they use? Can we defend against it?
I don’t think I’ll be able to answer that third one, but I’ll give it my best shot.

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: On the Surface of Hokianga, 29 Oketopa, 685]


Spacewalk’s over! We’re all back aboard the Midak now, and wow! We had a great day! First things first: I was wrong about the atmosphere. It’s just barely still there. On planets like Earth or Partoga, the atmosphere is dense and stretches up for over a hundred Kios. Hokianga’s atmosphere stops about fifty Bios up. If all sixty members of the Midak’s crew made a Partogan ladder, standing on each other’s shoulders, the person at the top could put their hand into empty space while the person on the bottom had their feet planted on the ground. That wasn’t the only interesting thing though.

Anahera Mita (our microbiologist) found a species of bacteria living just below ground level, feeding on whatever organic material was left over from Rotorua. She’s wagered everything she owns on a hypothesis that Hokianga’s tentative atmosphere is the result of subterranean microbes living all over the planet. She’s already gone up to the bridge to ask the Captain to keep Midak on the ground for another day so she can do some tests.

Of course, I missed that part. Kaia told me afterwards. See, I’m stuck here in decon right now. I had to quit the spacewalk about ten minutes before everyone else because my suit was leaking air. When I got back inside the Midak, Taka Rangihau found a small hole in my left boot. and since we found microbial life on the planet, I have to go through decontamination, so we’re using the Emergency Containment Cell in the cargo bay as a decon chamber. I wasn’t sure how long I’m gonna be stuck in here, so I asked Kaia to grab my tablet and bring it back to me, which is how I’m talking to all of you now.

And here I am; stuck in a pressurized cylinder, patiently waiting to see if I come down with Space Madness or something stupid like that.

I wonder if the humans ever had to decontaminate themselves after spacewalks...

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: On the Surface of Hokianga, 29 Oketopa, 685]


I just dodged a bullet! A Moana Ranginui shaped bullet! The medics let me out of decon just a few minutes ago, and right as I was leaving the cargo bay three people came in. Turns out, Captain Rangi, Petty Officer Ranginui, and Corporal Rangihau all tore their spacesuits while they were repairing the ship and needed to be decontaminated. I gave the Captain and the Corporal an encouraging smile as I left. It takes a different kind of courage to spend time cooped up in a small tube with an insensitive, antisocial Brakas like Moana.

I got out of there as quick as I could and went back to the science labs. Anahera is still investigating the bacteria she found on the planet surface. I think I’ll drop by the Biology lab and see if she needs any help.

[Personal log paused]
[Personal log resumed]


Oh no. This is bad. This is really bad.

Anahera’s bacteria (we really need a better name for this stuff) is loose. I found it running in my own bloodstream. And Anahera’s. And the whole Biology team for that matter. I ran full-tilt over to the decon chamber and drew the Captain’s blood. (I told him I needed it for a test) He’s got the bacteria too. Our decontamination procedures aren’t killing it; nor our standard antibiotic treatments.

Okay. Don’t panic. We need to avoid an epidemic here...

WHAT EPIDEMIC!?

KAIA! Holy Miranda, you made me jump! Look, I need you to get the Biology team together and tell them to meet me in the lab.

[Personal log paused]


[Personal log resumed]
Sys/ Multiple voices detected. Clearing noise... cleaning audio... attempting to differentiate between voices...

This on? Good. This is Misson Specialist Mira Mihaka, and I’m here in the Biology lab with Kaia and the whole Biology team. Say hello everyone!

This is Kaia Patariki saying “hi” to everyone at the Royal Science Academy! Rongo, if you’re still dating Ataahua when I get back, I’m going to smack some sense into you.


My name is Tamaho Wihongi, and I just wanna say good morning to all of my friends and family in the Sitcala Principality!

I’m Meto Kapua. To my son, if the Her Highness the Queen chose you to become the new Prince of Magdayon, as I heard might happen, then let me congratulate you.

Uh, is it my turn? Hi, I’m Moe Kaa. I dunno what to say... Hi Mom!

Ria Areaiiti. And if my daughter is listening, I know about the boy in Candon. I knew the whole time.

Wow. What a mother you are! I’m Hoana Awika, and I thank the Mountain for not giving me any kids. If my little brother Maui is listening, don’t worry about me. I’ll be home in time to help you climb the Mountain, so keep my gear clean, okay?

And I’m Anahera Mita. Let the record show I didn’t agree to name my discovery the “Anaplague.”

Oh, give it some time. It’ll grow on you.

I think it’s perfect!

Hey! Let’s focus on actually figuring this out!

Look, Anahera. You found this stuff. Tell us more about it.

Right. So this bacteria, which I’m going to call “Ora Huakita” or "O-H" is an extremophile, which means it can survive and thrive in environments that would kill organisms like you or me. In the case of O-H and the planet Hokianga, we’re dealing with the abrupt loss of ninety-nine percent of the atmosphere, and the subsequent desiccation of the planet.

Desiccation?

All of the water dried up. Probably when the Invaders burned away the atmosphere.

When I found the O-H outside the ship, I noticed that it was releasing small amounts of Carbon Dioxide as a waste product. Furthermore, the bacterial colony I found was growing in a cool, dark pit where a building used to be. I only had to dig a little way into the ground before I found trace organic compounds that could have easily been a corpse one hundred and sixty years ago. O-H lives below the ground, where radiation from the sun is less of a danger, and feeds of the remains of the people who used to live here. It converts food into energy to sustain itself, and the waste is converted into a gas.

So if we land the Midak outside of the city?

There won’t be any atmosphere. I suspect this thin layer of carbon dioxide is a bubble, covering the crater where Rotorua used to be.

Hold on. None of this explains why a third of the crew has Anaplague in their blood right now!

I’m getting there. Look, because the atmosphere is so small and tenuous, the local air pressure changes depending on the Anaplague in the ground – oh, holy Miranda, now I’m saying it. Ugh. Anyway, the bacteria is only just below the surface. The Midak landing and our feet tramping around kicked up dust, which blew around in those tiny puffs of wind that we caused. The Anaplague just got caught in the wind and landed on our spacesuits. Mira, you and a bunch of others all breached their spacesuits while they were outside right?

Yeah, but only microfractures. The hole in Tuterangi’s suit could only be seen through a microscope, remember?

Bacteria are microscopic, Ria. Heck, they’re smaller than the hole Tuterangi punched in his glove, so that point of entry was big enough.

But why didn’t the Anaplague die in the decon chamber?

Actually, I think the Anaplague survived because our decontamination chamber was jury-rigged at the last second. That cylinder was designed to serve as a brig, not a quarantine. I’m sure we could find a dozen points of failure in that system if we looked close enough.

And now the for the one million Diram question: Is Anaplague dangerous to us? And if so, how do we get rid of it?

I can answer that. Everyone in this room is infected right? Does anyone actually feel sick? Cause I don’t. I don’t have a fever, my heart rate is normal, there’s just nothing wrong with me. Or any of you, or the Captain, or anyone else who went outside for that matter. The bacteria is so adapted to the environment, but not us. It’s completely harmless to us and I don’t think it can survive anywhere else.

You might be right. Perhaps we should just let some time pass. The bacteria may die off on its own. The chances of it dying off will be greater if we leave this environment, too.

I agree. Let’s just leave.

All those in favor of leaving? .... yeah, that’s everyone. I’ll pass the word to the Captain. Anahera, how much time should we give the bacteria to die off?

Not more than sixty hours, I think. That way we can be sure.

Sounds good to me. I’ll talk to Captain Rangi about getting us out of here. While I’m gone, Kaia is in charge. Organize a ship-wide health assessment in sixty hours. Every member of the crew gets checked. No exceptions.

I’ve got this covered, don’t worry. Oh, and don’t forget your tablet.

[Personal log closed]

[Personal Log Addendum: Outer Caspadence Star System, 30 Oketopa, 685]


It’s been a dozen hours or so since we left Hokianga behind us. The military crew reinforced the outer hull of Deck Two around the spot where we hit a mine a few months back. Meanwhile, the Engineering Team pulled so many soil samples and pieces of city wreckage into the cargo bay that I can’t take one step down there without treading on something.

Once our duty shift ended, Kaia and I went up to our Crew Bay and slept for nearly sixteen hours. In that time, the Midak cleared the System and is right on top of the next Hyperlane. We’re maneuvering into position for the jump to our next destination now. Before heading to my Radiation Shelter, I’m going to collect a sample of the Anaplague from my own blood, and leave the container out under a camera during the Hyperspace Jump. Obviously, I know the radiation coming from the Hyperspace Module will kill the bacteria instantly, but I want to document the event anyway. For science.

[Personal log closed]

Sys/ Hyperspace jump initiated.
Sys/ WARNING! Safety interrupt engaged! Multiple living organisms detected in unshielded location! Hyperspace jump aborted!
Cmd usr/ Disable_safety_interrupt. Authorization: Captain Toa Rangi-Partogan Royal Navy.
Sys/ Hyperspace jump initiated.
Sys/ Post-Hyperspace system self-check underway.
Sys/ Self-check complete. All systems operational.

[Personal log addendum: Outer Beyu Star System: 30 Oketopa, 685]


I...I don’t even know where to start. It defies all logic, all laws of the universe. This shouldn’t happen!

That sample of Anaplague is STILL ALIVE!! I went into the Biology lab where I left it under the camera and it’s perfectly fine. I watched back the video and it was like watching the Mountain sleep. Absolutely nothing happened. I put the sample under a microscope and watched the little bacterium eat and reproduce like nothing had happened. It’s like, like... I don’t have the words. Nothing like this has ever happened before in the history of... anything.

What the hell is this?! Organic life does not survive Hyperspace jumps! Has the universe gone mad?!

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: Outer Beyu Star System: 1 Noema, 685]


Okay, I’m calm. I’m cool. After the jump, the Biology team worked around the clock on this but we still don’t have an explanation for why a small culture of Extremophile bacteria was able to survive the intense Ionizing Radiation generated by the Hyperspace Module. Look, six hundred and eighty-five years of scientific knowledge says that gamma rays released by a Hyperspace Module should instantly kill anything bigger than a water molecule for about fifty Kios in all directions. The dose is just too high and too quick for anything to overcome. And yet here we are. The Anaplague Colony absorbed tens of thousands of Rads in a split second and doesn’t seem to have blinked the metaphorical eye.

But that’s not the only surprise we had to deal with today. Once I saw that this bacteria could survive outside of a Hyperspace Module, I ordered the team to start taking blood samples from the rest of the crew immediately. Everyone who was infected on Hokianga still has Anaplague in their blood, including Kaia and I. It’s still alive and is clearly not going to die anytime soon. All told, exactly twenty-three of us are infected. That’s just over one quarter of the crew.

Curiously, this stuff still hasn’t done anything to hurt us. No one’s sick, and as far as I can tell, the Anaplague isn’t contagious. So we’re not in any immediate danger, and have an indefinite amount of time to study the Midak’s new microbial passengers. I guess that means my work schedule for the next few weeks has written itself. First priority: Study the Anaplague and find a way to remove it from our bodies. Second priority: find out how the Anaplague survived an unshielded Hyperspace jump.

Sounds like a plan. Ready? Break!

Who the hell am I talking to?

[Personal log closed]

[Infected_crew_list file uploaded]


***Midak Crew Infected by O-H “Anaplague” Bacteria***

  1. Captain Toa Rangi
  2. Lieutenant Commander Tai Tunui
  3. Corporal Hika Tukino
  4. Petty Officer Matiu Rata
  5. Corporal Tamati Haare
  6. Corporal Hinemoa Maioha
  7. Corporal Olo Tuterangi
  8. Lieutenant Himi Poata
  9. Medic Tamaho Wihongi
  10. Medic Meto Kapua
  11. Medic Ria Areaiiti
  12. Specialist Moe Kaa
  13. Specialist Hoana Awika
  14. Specialist Anahera Mita
  15. Specialist Kaia Patariki
  16. Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka
  17. Corporal Ariki Ruru
  18. Lieutenant Ari Kopunui
  19. Petty Officer Moana Ranginui
  20. Private Enoka Makura
  21. Petty Officer Whawhakiterangi Tirikatene
  22. Private Nia Tawhiti
  23. Corporal Hori Rangihau

 
Last edited:
Chapter 2.3: Left Behind

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
13 Badges
Mar 1, 2018
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archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris

Chapter 2.3: Left Behind

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Outer Castor Star System, 30 Hakihea, 685]

It’s New Years Eve! Here’s to finding Earth before the end of Six-Eighty-Six! I was just thinking about what I would do if I was back home on Partoga. I’d be heading out to Archer’s Canyon with my family. We'd always walk the length of the canyon, following the Parekura River all the way back to its headwaters at the base of The Mountain just like we do every year. As the sun went down, we would come to the Silver Lake and feast with all of the other Pilgrims who made the trip. I’d thank the Mountain for giving us another year and I’d ask for one more.

Actually, now that I say that out loud, it reminds me... two years ago, my niece Maki (she was five then) asked me why we couldn’t ask the Mountain for more than one year at a time. She said “I wanna ask the Mountain for infinity years!” So I told her about how the Mountain saw powerful people hoarding food and less fortunate fighting over what little remained in the fields. Little Maki was so scared when I explained how the Mountain lost its temper and exploded, killing almost everyone on the Partogan Continent, and throwing the Levakian one into a decade-long winter, and how everyone began to starve.

Of course, Maki already knew about the Wars of the Famine. It’s the first thing they teach children at both school and church. She actually finished the story for me at this point. Maki told me about how the first Queen, Miranda the Great, appeased the Mountain by sharing her massive stockpiles of bread and fruit with the common people. Now, on the last day of the year, the Mountain looks over both the Partogan and Levakian continents to see if everyone has enough to eat. Everyone gathers together and shares their food with each other. Then, once the feasting is done, we ask the Mountain for another year. If the Mountain is pleased with us, it goes to sleep, giving us one more year. If the Mountain sees someone hoarding food, or using violence to take it from someone else, the Mountain will explode a second time. “And do we want that?” I asked Maki, and she always answers: “No Aunt Mira. That’s why we remind the Mountain every year that we’re still sharing food.”

Exactly. Happy New Year Maki, wherever you are. And to the Mountain: I know I’m about a hundred light-years away, but I just know you can still hear us praying to you out here. No one is hungry aboard the HMS Midak tonight.

[Personal log closed]

[Personal log addendum: Outer Castor Star System, 1 Hanuere, 686]


Happy New Year! I hope everyone at home is having a safe night. I just know my brother Tai and his daughter Maki are painting Candon red today. I would. Besides, today isn’t just a holiday at home, its also the one-year anniversary of our departure from Fort Daxia.

Damn. One whole year in space. Time just flew.

Lieutenant Commander Tunui is setting up a New Year’s party in the forward galley, and the whole crew is going to be there. But since the party doesn’t start for a few more hours, I’m going to take a few minutes to look back on everything we’ve done over the past year:

So, Hanuere first, Six-Eighty-Five. We left Fort Daxia, salvaged a Levakian shipwreck, and got out of the Home System without any bumps or bruises. We jumped to Tediss, and the Science team got settled in. We set up six long-term experiments that’ll run the length of our mission: Irradiated bacteria, cosmic radiation vs cell walls, muscle atrophy tests, a ship-board AI, prototype defensive shields for the hull, and faster-than-light sensors. We’ve also set up a long term investigation into the hyperspace module, which is still catching fire whenever we pass too close to B-class stars.

Heading into the middle of the year, we made great progress, leaving Partoga’s old southern border behind and entering what’s left of the Micore Empire. By the middle of Pipiri, our irradiated bacteria cultures had doubled at least once. It was the only experiment showing any real results. For everything else, the experimental groups and control groups remained identical. We decided to let more time pass.

Then, ho boy, “that” happened. On Mahuru second, we flew into an old battlefield chasing an automated distress signal and plowed headlong into a war-era space mine. It’s a miracle no one actually died. But the Midak is a tough ship. We shrugged off our near death-experience and just moved on.

Then, two months ago, right around the end of Oketopa, we found Hokianga and saw the ruins of Rotorua. The Midak landed on the surface to take a closer look, and we picked up a microscopic passenger while we were down there: an extremophile bacteria we call “Anaplage.” It’s named for Anahera, one of the scientists on the team. The Anaplague has somehow found a way to survive in the bloodstream of twenty-three of us, including myself. Since it isn’t hurting anyone or triggering an immune response, the Biology team isn’t in any hurry to purge the Anaplage. Besides, the microbe is somehow able to survive outside of a radiation shelter during Hyperspace Jumps, we really need to keep and study the Anaplage learn more about this ability.

That’s everything interesting that’s happened so far. We’ve travelled about seventy-five and a half light-years, which is about one-quarter of the way to the search area where Sol might be.

You know, why couldn’t the Queen fund a whole fleet of ships to do this mission? Did she really have so much faith in my math that she felt comfortable sending only one ship to find Sol?

[Personal log closed]

[Personal log addendum: Outer Xolton Star System, 20 Hanuere 686]




So... we’re at Xolton. It's... it.... um... Uhg. You know what? I’m not the best person to talk about military history. No. Let me get an actual historian. Hey! Heyheyheyheyhey Nia.You’re the history buff.You tell’em about the Battle of Xolton.

Okay, hold on. Do I talk into this? Ahem. This thing on? Right. I’m Private Nia Tawhiti. Engine Room, second shift. So, for those of you who never took the Second Hyperspace War history class in school (don’t lie, I know that’s all of you) the Battle of Xolton was fought on Akuhata 2nd, 520 and was one of the last battles of the Third Stage of the war, which lasted between the years 514 and 520. This is where the stalemate broke in the Invader’s favor, the Galactic Front Line collapsed, and the Invaders began driving towards the Sol Star.

Before the situation got out of control, the second and third planets of the Xolton system were colonized by the Vanians and developed into industrial centers. Both planets manufactured warships for the Micore Empire and the Vanian Government right up to the last second.

Once the Galactic Front Line collapsed, the Triple Alliance fleet (Partogans, Levakians, and Humans) plus a few of our allies (Vanians, Micore, and Amadii) fell back to Xolton and set up a new defensive line. The Second Stormbreaker, a human called “Trojan” flew all the way out from Sol to take command of the combined fleets.

Above the second planet in the system, “Trojan” (no one knows if they were a man or a woman) put together a multilayered defense of Xolton that was geared towards destroying as many Invader ships as possible.

Our side got massacred. The Invaders cut through the Triple Alliance fleet like a hot knife through butter and suffered no casualties in return. The Invader fleet eviscerated our allies and when the Levakians tried to retreat, the enemy gave chase. Every moon the Levakians hid behind was blown to rubble, so they tried to hide in the thick atmosphere of the third planet. The Invaders just vaporized the whole thing. Once they were finished with our fleets, the enemy destroyed everything in-system before continuing on towards Earth.

Most of the surviving Partogan ships fled to the Sol system since the enemy was between them and Trecta. “Trojan” barely got out with his or her life, and the Invader fleet pressed on towards Sol. In the end, all the defenders of Xolton managed to do was buy a little more time for Jericho and the other fourteen Stormbreakers to prepare the defense of Earth. Considering the state the galaxy is in now, this was clearly the best possible outcome.

All told, the Battle of Xolton was a complete and total defeat for Partoga and her allies, but also a strategic coup d’état. That’s a human expression referring to a successful ploy on a large scale. Need any more stories, Mira?


One more thing: you mentioned that some Partogans survived this battle. What happened to them?

They flew to Sol and linked up with Queen Miranda’s flagship. In the year 521, some fifty thousand Partogans and about one hundred-fifteen thousand Levakians fought in the War in Heaven. Only forty-five Partogans survived, and thirty of them died on the return trip to Partoga, which took half a decade because the Hyperspace Network was knocked out. And at five years, two months, this is also the longest period of time our nation went without a Queen.

Damn. I feel sorry for the poor girl who became Queen Miranda the Fourth. Can you imagine being in charge of the First Reconstruction? It must have been a terrible time. Knowing that there were billions of Partogans and Levakians living off-world but having no way to reach them. I think I’d just cry all day.

She did her best given the circumstances. So did your mom, Mira.

What? There’s no way you’re old enough to remember my mother being Queen! You’re younger than me!

Not by much. It’s fuzzy, but I do remember. Speaking of the Throne, can I ask you a question about that?

Let’s hear it.

After your mom... er... Her Highness Kendra, passed away, why didn’t you enter the Election? You were the right age, you probably could have won the Throne for yourself.

Uh... Nia... you do know that the Royal Election hasn’t worked that way in almost three hundred years, right? The Church of the Mountain never would have put my name on the list of Candidates, let alone give me votes.

But you should have tried! Even if you lost, you would have been set for life! Queen Candidates don’t have to go on seven-year voyages to provide for their families, you know.

Hey, I appreciate the concern, but seriously. The Royal Election hasn’t been democratic since Queen Emily. If the Church doesn’t approve of a girl, then she get doesn’t the Throne. It’s as simple as that. I rubbed too many clergymen the wrong way when I was a kid. I just had the attitude most girls get when their mothers die, and the Church officials didn’t take too kindly to it. It’ll be five hundred years before another Mihaka sits on the Throne, mark my words.

So... bear with me here... if the Church of the Mountain didn't have a say-

Stop, just...stop. I don’t wanna go down that hole.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. Uh, you can have this back now...


[Personal log closed]



[Personal log addendum: Inner Xolton Star System, 22 Hanuere 686]


I know I should have been making log entries the past couple of days, but I was so off my game after talking to Nia that I just had to take some time for myself. I don’t know if this came across in any of my previous entries, but I don’t talk about politics if I can help it. My mother was the seventeenth Queen of Partoga. Yay. Let’s move on.

Anyway… about an hour ago, the Midak was sifting through a huge cloud of battle debris in orbit above the second planet, when we found something...really...really weird. We found a Levakian fighter craft docked in the hangar bay of a Micore Battleship.

That’s just not possible. Levakian starships were completely incompatible with Micore technology. Different sized docking clamps, the fuel pipes have different configurations, oh, and don’t get me started on the fact that there’s no air on a Micore ship for a Levakian to breathe. Whoever accomplished this clearly did it in the middle of the battle. It’s such an impressive feat of engineering that Captain Rangi has stopped the Midak so my team can do a full investigation. I’ll add additional reports to this log entry as we figure out more about what happened here.

[Investigation Report 1.1 – 10:35 hours – 22 Hanuere 686]

It took all of fifteen minutes for Nikau and Tangaroa to spacewalk over to the Micore Battleship. They went over every inch of the suspicious strike craft. It’s a Silvestris-Class Heavy Fighter. Our records indicate these ships were used to hunt enemy bombers and protect allied capital ships. The Silvestris can hold a crew of two: the pilot and the tail gunner. We figured all of that out pretty quickly. So the next questions are: How did the pilot connect this thing to an incompatible alien ship? Why did they do it?

[Investigation Report 1.2 – 16:09 hours – 22 Hanuere 686]

The Levakian fighter is now in the Midak’s cargo bay. It just barely fits. Fortunately, because Partogans and Levakians shared a homeworld, their programming language is almost identical to ours. In a few hours, we’ll download the onboard computer and figure out what happened here. Meanwhile, I’ve got Eru, Manawa, Tipi, and Watahui stripping the vessel down for anything useful.

[Investigation Report 1.3 – 20:57 hours – 22 Hanuere 686]

Download complete! Next, all of the data in the ship’s computer has to be translated from Levakian into Partogan. Given that the Levakians went extinct during the war, we’ll just have to work off the Levakian database in the Midak’s computer. It should only take a few minutes...

...And we’re getting something! This fighter, callsign “Puma Five,” was stationed aboard the Pardus-Class Battleship “Growltiger.” The Growltiger engaged the Invaders alongside the rest of the Triple Alliance fleet during the Battle of Xolton. Puma Five flew at least three sorties before being hit by flak and forced to land aboard the Partogan Battleship “Krakua.” Right after Puma Five landed in the hangar bay, the Krakua was bisected by an enemy beam weapon.

That’s where the record stops. Now I have to wait for the computer to finish translating the rest.

[Investigation Report 1.4 – 29:10 hours – 22 Hanuere 686]

I don’t... I don’t have words... There’s nothing I can say about this. Here, you just listen to these:


[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 2 Akuhata, 520 from the HMS Krakua]
Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! This is Tech Sergeant Kahu Tamanui calling all Triple Alliance ships in range. I’m trapped aboard the HMS Krakua and everyone else is dead. Please turn around and come back for me! I’m still here! I’m still on the Krakua!

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 2 Akuhata, 520 from the HMS Krakua]
Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! This is Kahu Tamanui of the Partogan Royal Navy calling the unidentified vessel. I’m trapped aboard the HMS Krakua. Drives disabled. Multiple hull breaches. Hyperspace Module destroyed. Request immediate extraction!

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 2 Akuhata, 520 from the HMS Krakua]
DAMN IT! I CAN SEE YOU! YOUR SHIP IS FIVE THOUSAND KIOS OFF MY PORT BOW! RESPOND! FOR THE LOVE OF MIRANDA! ANSWER ME!

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 2 Akuhata, 520 from the HMS Krakua]
COME BACK! DAMN IT! Come...back....

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 15 Akuhata, 520 from the HMS Krakua]
Mayday… Mayday. My name is Kahu Tamanui, and I’m calling from the Partogan Battleship Krakua. I’ve been trapped aboard this ship for about two weeks and need rescue immediately. Any friendly ships in the area, please respond!

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 19 Oketopa, 520 from the HMS Lesovikk]
I have no idea if this is getting out, but it’s worth a shot. This is Partogan Tech Sergeant Kahu Tamanui transmitting in the blind. I believe I am the lone survivor of the Triple Alliance Fifteenth Fleet. I’m currently in the debris field orbiting Xolton. I can’t tell you which ship I’m on because I keep moving around. I know I’m on a Partogan ship though, using a Levakian fighter to keep on the move. My hope is to find a working Hyperspace Module and jury-rig it onto this fighter. I’ve fully restored life support on one of these ships and built some solar panels to keep it running. Hopefully, I won’t be stuck out here for too long. Either someone will find me, or I’ll run out of food, water, air, or some combination of all three.

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 30 Noema, 520 from the HMS Tuyet]
Sergeant Tamanui transmitting in the blind from the Xolton system. I’ve set up a permanent base of operations aboard the Partogan Cruiser Tuyet. There’s years’ worth of food and water here and the ship is mostly intact, aside from the sublight engines and hyperspace module being missing. So if any rescuers are on the way, you’re looking for a cruiser named “Tuyet.” If I’m not here, wait a day or so before leaving, because I might come back if I still haven’t found a working Hyperspace Module. I'm working on a plan to boost my signal. Pray to the Mountain for me that it works and someone hears me.

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 1 Hanuere, 521 from the HMS Jovan]
This is the HMS Jovan of the Partogan Royal Navy transmitting in the blind. My engines are disabled and my Hyperspace Module is destroyed. I’m adrift in the Xolton system. Request immediate extraction.

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 3 Hanuere, 521 from the HMS Nikila]
This is the HMS Nikila of the Partogan Royal Navy transmitting in the blind. My engines are disabled and my Hyperspace Module is destroyed. I’m adrift in the Xolton system. Request immediate extraction.

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 4 Hanuere, 521 from the MCC SCC-355]
This is the SCC-355 of the Micore Defensive Formation transmitting in the blind. My engines are disabled and my Hyperspace Module is destroyed. I’m adrift in the Xolton system. Request immediate extraction.

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 4 Hanuere, 521 from the LVK Growltiger]
This is the Growltiger of the Partogan Royal Navy-Levakian Contingent transmitting in the blind. My engines are disabled and my Hyperspace Module is destroyed. I’m adrift in the Xolton system. Request immediate extraction.

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 6 Hanuere, 521 from the JSDF Hyuuga]
This is the JSDF Hyuuga of the Human Nations transmitting in the blind. My engines are disabled and my Hyperspace Module is destroyed. I’m adrift in the Xolton system. Request immediate extraction.

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 7 Hanuere, 521 from the ADD Ilamaha Iloobey]
Damn, I’m proud of this. For the past two weeks, I flew that Levakian piece of junk all over the debris field and fired up distress signals on any ship that’s mostly in one piece. There’s no way all of them are actually transmitting, some of them were too pulverized. I’m certain that at least two or three of those ships are broadcasting though. Now I sit back on the Tuyet with my massive supply of food, water, and air. And I wait.

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 7 Maehe, 521 from the HMS Tuyet]
It’s been half a year since the battle. I haven’t seen nor heard from the rest of the galaxy since then. Is the war over? Did Agamemnon reach Earth? Heck... Is Jericho even alive?

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 30 Pipiri, 521 from the HMS Tuyet]
Hello? Is anyone out there?

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 29 Hoongongoi, 521 from the HMS Tuyet]
Almost one year. I haven’t seen another living thing for that long. Haven’t spoken to another person. No news.

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 17 Akuhata, 521 from the HMS Tuyet]
Am I the only one left?

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 2 Mahuru, 521 from the HMS Tuyet]
I FOUND ONE! There’s a working Hyperspace Module on a Micore Battleship! I’ve already started moving all of my stuff over there. This morning I built an adapter for my fighter so I can dock and refuel in the Micore hangar bay. I'll be moving in there full-time after all. It’ll take weeks to attach the module to my fighter, but I’m absolutely certain that I can use it to escape this dump! Yes! YES!

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 10 Mahuru, 521 from the TCC-001]
I’ve done it! I just finished attaching the Hyperspace Module to my fighter! I’m planning to do a simple flight test tomorrow morning. If everything goes well, then I’ll fly out to the Hyperlane and start heading towards Partoga on the day after tomorrow. This is Tech Sergeant Kahu Tamanui, saying goodbye to this dump!

[DISTRESS CALL: Sent: 11 Mahuru, 521 from the TCC-001]
WHAT THE F---- WHAT IS THAT!?!? There’s something coming this way really fast! It’s-I can’t even- HOLY MOTHER OF MIRANDA!!
...

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Outer Castor Star System, 23 Hanuere 686]


Sergeant Tamanui didn’t make it. Best I can tell, he must have witnessed the last few seconds of Jericho’s battle with Agamemnon. He would have died of radiation poisoning in less than a minute. Just enough time to know he was dying.

This is just one soldier, on a single battlefield. The Second Hyperspace War lasted for twenty-one years and spanned half of the galaxy. How many more scenes like this will we have to look at before we find Earth? How many on the way home?

Oh, Miranda. What is Earth going to be like? More of this? Or something worse? I can't help feeling that for the first time, the path ahead seems...darker.

[Personal log closed]




 
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Chapter 2.4: A Global Prison

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
13 Badges
Mar 1, 2018
827
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archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris

Chapter 2.4: A Global Prison

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Inner Cuunbar Star System, 30 Maehe, 686]



Have you ever known that you would have to confront something unpleasant, so you delayed and procrastinated as much as you could? Did you stretch out every day, hour, and minute as long as possible? I was in those boots this week. Ever since I plotted the Midak’s flightpath towards the Primary Search Area where Sol might be, I knew we’d have to fly through the Cuunbar System. I talked with Astronavigators about trying to find a way around this place, argued with the Captain about taking a detour that might add three years to our journey. But there was nothing for it. We had to pass through this system eventually.

Since I’m trying to avoid Private Tawhiti right now, I researched all of the history you need to know in advance. So, take a few moments off and let me tell you the story of why the third planet in the Cuunbar system is encased in an impenetrable shield.

The third planet in system is Amadiio. This planet was a client-state of the Micore Empire and was one of the smallest states in the galaxy; their sphere of influence stretching just one lightyear in any direction. The Amadii themselves were avian creatures: flightless birds with big, heavy bodies and really long and powerful legs. Nothing in the galaxy could run the hundred-Bio dash faster than an Amadii.

Their first contact with extraterrestrial life was with the Vanians in the year 410. By pure luck, the Vanians were also avians. Unlike the big and muscular Amadii, Vanians had some of the most beautiful and extravagant plumage of any bird in the galaxy. Hang on, I’ll upload a picture of an Amadii and a Vanian so you can tell the difference:

[Amadiio_diplomacy file uploaded]



Okay, now here’s a Vanian:

[Vania_diplomacy file uploaded]

So the Amadii started sending exploration missions into space, to see what else there was in the galaxy. They met the Micore Empire, which was quite friendly towards them. Then their ship flew into our space. The Amadii science ship didn’t respond to hails, so it was blown to bits by a Levakian destroyer. Partoga and Amadiio never really got along with each other until the war started.

The Amadii didn’t really have a space fleet when the Invaders showed up, so they threw themselves into the Micore sphere of influence in exchange for protection. While Micore fleets defended Amadiio, the Empire started sending weapons and technology to Amadiio so that it could defend itself. One of the weapons Amadiio received from the Micore Empire was a “Colossus,” which is basically a moon-sized weapons platform designed for planetary bombardment.

The Amadii Colossus was armed with a Global Pacifier: It envelopes an entire planet inside an energy shield which is completely impenetrable. Nothing can get through except for a few waveforms of light. The planet is permanently cut off from the rest of the universe. Once the Colossus was transferred to Amadii control, a huge political crisis went up in their government. No one could decide what to do with it. Some wanted to go on the offensive and dent the Invader’s lines as badly as possible. Others wanted to use the Colossus defensively.

But there was one person, a member of the Amadii Navy, who had another idea. On the fifteenth of Akuhata, year 514, this individual (we’ve lost his name since then) staged a hostile takeover of the Colossus’ command center while the politicians were still arguing with each other. Then he turned the Global Pacifier on Amadiio itself.

The rouge Amadii navy officer was arrested by the Partogan Royal Navy. Sadly, we don’t know why he Pacified his own home because the ship carrying him was destroyed by the Invaders when they swept through the system a few days later.

As for the planet and everyone down there; everyone survived. The Invaders fired their own planet-killing weapon at Amadiio but it didn’t have any effect on the shield. The entire planet is now a prison for all four billion people down there. And their decedents, and theirs too... and so on for the rest of time.

I’m telling this story because of something we noticed three days ago: The entire planet is trying to talk to us.

The Midak has been in orbit of Amadiio ever since we first noticed. Every time we cross the terminator and fly over the planet’s night side, the whole surface starts blinking and flickering in sequence. Entire cities are lighting up in patterns, and we can see massive, well-lit structures in the countryside built for the sole purpose of sending light signals to anyone in orbit.

Since our sensors can’t penetrate the shield, Captain Rangi has ordered everyone to find a planet-facing window and to write down everything they see about the surface of Amadiio. I’m going to copy down my sightings here for my own research. They might be useful later.

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: 1 Paenga-whāwhā, 686, Inner Cuunbar Star System]



  • 24:40 hours: Saw a massive floating structure in the southern ocean on the day side. It’s sprawling outward like a spider web.
  • 24:58: There’s a small town on the coast of the bigger continent which has millions of rocks and flowers arranged to form a picture of Queen Miranda the Third. I guess they haven’t forgotten us.
  • 25:30: As we crossed into the daylight side again, I spotted the population of a whole city. I’m serious, all of the people living there had gathered in the countryside to watch the Midak fly past.
  • 26:20: It happened again. A crowd of tens of thousands of people.
  • 29:35: The words “Ua palekana mākou” are carved into the ground. Each letter is a Kio and a half tall. The words have clearly been there for a century or more, because the first five letters in “palekana” are filled with water. They’re obviously meant for anyone flying past.
Lieutenant Anaru recognized the words carved on the ground. He told me that it’s a very old dialect of Levakian that was only spoken by Levakians who were born somewhere other than Partoga itself. So there’s a very decent possibility that the Levakians may not be extinct after all. There could be a few living on Amadiio. Their species might never fly in space again, but at least they’re alive. It’s better than the alternative.

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum 4 Paenga-whāwhā, 686, Inner Cuunbar Star System]

*cough* *cough*
I’m losing my voice right now, so I’m gonna record this quickly... Ahem, early this morning, we did a low pass over a big desert on the smaller continent. We got as low as possible without hitting the shield and flashed our floodlights repeatedly, just to say hello to a small village in the middle of that desert. About forty minutes later, we flew past the same spot again and saw a few thousand Amadii people swarming around the village in the desert. *cough* They were digging a big network of trenches all around the town, and they were still digging when we flew past again.

Five passes later, we finally saw what was going on: The Amadii had dug a colossal star map into the ground. The desert village represented the Cuunbar System itself and there were hundreds of lines around it; standing for the now-defunct Hyperspace Network. The Amadii people placed powerful spotlights down on the desert to show star systems, and connected them based on the “Hyperlanes” that used to exist there. But here’s the important part:

The Amadii drew arrows in the desert floor, and used a red spotlight to highlight one particular star system: Atlas. We counted no fewer than fifteen arrows pointing directly at the system. *cough* Also, it’s the only star on the “Map” labelled with a name. *cough* ... The Levakian words “E hele i kēia” are carved into the dirt with a bright red arrow pointing directly at the Atlas system.

Captain Rangi gathered the whole bridge crew, myself, and all of the officers together for a meeting. I told them that the Atlas system is off my prescribed flightpath. It’s almost a full month out of our way, and that investigating whatever anomaly might be there could put us between three and five months behind schedule. Remember, we’ve been in space for a year already, this mission is scheduled to take seven years, and we only have enough food for eight. We can’t afford a major delay like this. *cough*

I argued against investigating Atlas for nearly three hours, and I had to *cough* debate Commander Aranui the whole time. She really, REALLY, wants to know what’s going on over there.

I tried my best, but Rangi is the Captain, and he overruled me. The Midak is leaving Amadiio orbit sometime tonight and we’re heading toward the Atlas system. I’ll attach an edited version of my flightpath to show where we’re going before I go.

*cough* My throat is sore, I’m tired, and I think my leg muscles are starting to atrophy from the ship’s microgravity. I feel... bad. Just bad. I'm going to take the rest of the evening off.

[Flightplan_mk2 file uploaded]

[Personal log closed]


 
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Chapter 2.5: Slipgate

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
13 Badges
Mar 1, 2018
827
37
archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris
Up until this point, After Everything took place in Version 2.0.1 of Stellaris. This is the final chapter made before the release of Distant Stars. From this point on, the story is now set in Version 2.1.1.
======

Chapter 2.5: Slipgate

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Outer Atlas Star System, 22 Paenga-whāwhā, 686]


Sometimes I just have to eat my words. For the entire month-and-a-half long journey to Altas, I whined and complained that we were wasting our time and the Midak’s resources by coming out here. I really did think we were adding three or five months to our trip for no good reason. Well, I was wrong. We added three to five months to our trip for a VERY GOOD reason.

There’s a Slipgate here! And a large one at that! You people listening to this in the future don’t understand how big of a discovery this is! Slipgates are naturally occurring Hyperspace Gates. There’s no Quantum Wavefront or deadly gamma radiation, so I can stand on the bridge and actually look out the window as the jump happens! No Radiation Shelter; no lead-lined bodysuits, just pure, instantaneous Hyperspace! It’s so exiting!

As soon as we noticed there was a Slipgate in the system, both the bridge crew and the Science team scrambled to prepare for the trip through it. What? OBVIOUSLY we’re going to fly through and see what’s on the other side. Unlike your standard time-consuming Hyperspace Jump, Slipgate Jumps are instantaneous. Basically, it’s like the entire galaxy is folded in half with the starting point and destination right on top of each other. Take two steps to the left and you’re on the other galactic arm or something incredible like that.

Right now, we’re scheduled to go through the Slipgate in about three hours; and I’m gonna spend all three wisely. All eighteen members of the Science team (myself included) are awake and working fast. We’ve set up a large number of experiments to run at the moment we cross the Slipgate’s event horizon. Multiple samples of the Anaplague are under observation, there are a dozen cameras pointing at the Hyperspace Module to see if it catches fire again, we’ve also mounted a new sensor array on the Comms Tower to measure radiation from both the Slipgate and the Midak itself.

Oh, and Manawa ran an update for the ship’s AI. The Midak’s navigation system wasn’t designed for Slipgate Jumps, which is the closest science has ever come to teleportation itself. One other thing to consider: we don’t know where the exit point is; so the physics team has broken out all of their star charts and are marking every known Slipgate in the galaxy, trying to figure out where this one leads. If they can figure out where the exit is quickly, we can plan accordingly.

In the meantime, Captain Rangi and I have figured out a few contingencies:

  1. If the exit point is at least five hundred light years away from the Primary Search Area (where Sol might be) we’ll commit to the jump and resume our search for the Humans from there.
  2. If the exit point is in an uncharted region of space, we’ll double back to the entry point here in the Atlas system and drop a marker buoy for future explorers.
  3. If we arrive near the Breach Point (the place where the Invaders entered our galaxy) we would double back to Atlas and drop every marker buoy we have, each one broadcasting a message to stay away. And, there’s also the one option I don’t want to consider:
  4. If the exit point takes us to within fifty light years of Partoga, we’ll call it a day, go home, and let some future explorer try to find Earth. Obviously, I don’t want that last one to happen. I actually tied to talk the Captain out of this one, but he said his commitment to the Partogan Royal Navy means he would have to obey several classified directives if we discover a Slipgate leading straight back to our planet.
That’s the plan as it stands. And now we wait for an hour or so. I’ll make another recording when it’s time!

[Personal log paused]
[Personal log resumed]


Okay, last update before we go through the gate. Captain Rangi says he wants me to take the Bridge Voice Recording for scientific purposes once the Slipgate Jump is finished. Don’t mind if I do, Sir.

[Personal log closed]

Sys/ Hyperspace jump initiated.
Sys/ WARNING! Safety interrupt engaged! Multiple living organisms detected in unshielded locations! Hyperspace jump aborted!
Sys/ Safety interrupt disabled. Authorization: Commander Anika Aranui - Partogan Royal Navy.
Sys/ WARNING! Safety interrupt engaged! Hyperspace Module is insufficiently charged. Hyperspace jump aborted!
Sys/ Safety interrupt disabled. Authorization: Lieutenant Ari Kopunui - Partogan Royal Navy
Cmd_usr/ disable_all_interrupts. Authorization: Captain Toa Rangi - Partogan Royal Navy

[BRIDGE VOICE RECORDING: 22 PAENGA-WHĀWHĀ, 686, 14:00 HOURS]


Captain Toa Rangi: Welcome back to the Bridge, Miss Mihaka. Where’s your friend? She’s going to miss the show.

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: Kaia’s on the way. I hope you don’t mind, but she’s bringing half the Physics Team with her.

Captain Toa Rangi: Not at all. I’ll have the Kirikiri twins open up a few more workstations. Do they need a connection to the computers in the labs?

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: Yes, that would be perfect.

Specialist Kaia Patariki: We’re here! Wow, it feels so weird to walk around the ship while Hyperspace Alarms are sounding on all four decks. I’m not the only one thinking that, right?

Corporal Arapeta Kirikiri: Me too, Ma’am. It’s the red lights. They make the ship feel smaller.

Corporal Arapata Kirikiri: Claustrophobic.

Captain Toa Rangi: Patariki, you and your scientists will be working here, next to the Kirikiri twins. You can also pull the tapes when we’re done here.

Commander Anika Aranui: Captain, the engine room reports green lights across the board. We can enter the Slipgate on your word.

Specialist Watahui Wiki: Mihaka, the Science Team is ready to jump. All experiments are accounted for and under observation.

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: Captain; whenever you’re ready.

Captain Toa Rangi: Aranui, put me on the PA... Attention all sections, this is the Captain! Give me a GO-NO GO for Slipgate! Sensors?

Lieutenant Tuu Anaru: GO!

Captain Toa Rangi: Communications Tower?

Lieutenant Himi Poata: We are go!

Captain Toa Rangi: Science Team?

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: GO!

Captain Toa Rangi: Power Plant?

Lieutenant Tama Hetet: GO for Slipgate!

Captain Toa Rangi: Hyperspace Module?

Lieutenant Ari Kopunui: GO!

Captain Toa Rangi: Engine Room?

Lieutenant Kahumanu Ngakaukawa: GO for Slipgate!

Commander Anika Aranui: Captain, the Midak is GO for Slipgate.

Captain Toa Rangi: Perfect. Kirikiri... the older one... Take us into the Slipgate, engines ahead slow.

Corporal Arapata Kirikiri: Yes sir. All ahead slow.

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: Anyone else feeling queasy right now?

Commander Anika Aranui: I’m a little lightheaded.

Specialist Watahui Wiki: I didn’t eat this morning. I thought I’d puke.

Specialist Kaia Patariki: You really shouldn’t skip meals, Wata-

Commander Anika Aranui: Silence on the bridge! Slipgate minus fifteen!

Corporal Arapeta Kirikiri: Is this gonna work?

Commander Anika Aranui: Slipgate minus ten!

Corporal Arapata Kirikiri: Ask me again in a minute!

Commander Anika Aranui: Slipgate minus five! Four! Three! Two! One! SLIPGATE!!

Sys/ Hyperspace Jump initiated.

Captain Toa Rangi: STOP ALL ENGINES!

Sys/ Post-Hyperspace system self-check underway.

Sys/ Self-check complete. Navigation error, hyperspace safety interrupt disabled. No other errors found.


Specialist Kaia Patariki: Wait... is that it?

Corporal Arapata Kirikiri: Nothing happened.

Specialist Kaia Patariki: I think something happened; look out the window! All the stars moved!

Corporal Arapeta Kirikiri: We’re definitely in another star system. Look there! That dim point of light thirty degrees off the port bow! That’s Atlas!

Commander Anika Aranui: Incredible. We were over there half a minute ago.

Captain Toa Rangi: Damn Kirikiri. You have really good eyes. Mihaka? Is he right? Did we make it?

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: The Navigation computer is recalibrating now. Hold on... okay, we’ve landed in the Ustir Star System!

Commander Anika Aranui: Ustir? Where the heck is that?

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: Uh, hang on... I’m working... okay! It looks like we left the galaxy’s Papatūānuku Arm entirely and we’re in a minor spur called Kaiwhai, just outside the Ranginui Arm. We are...What the-?! Oh, Holy Miranda... we OVERSHOT the last reported position of Sol by over three hundred light years! We’re actually inside the Primary Search Area!

Many voices: *cheers*

Commander Anika Aranui: That’s perfect! We can start looking for Sol right away!

Captain Toa Rangi: Commander, sound the ship. I want to know if anything broke during the jump. Mihaka. I’m giving your Science Team free reign. Take all the data you need from the Navigation Computer, and pull the tapes. We’re definitely going to use this Slipgate to go home when the mission’s over.

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: Already on it, Sir. Kaia: I’m heading down to the Engineering Lab. If you hit those blue buttons on your right, the Voice Recorder will-
[FLIGHT DATA RECORDING SYSTEM DISABLED, BRIDGE VOICE RECORDER OFFLINE.]
[TIME OF SYSTEM FAILURE: 22 PAENGA-WHĀWHĀ, 686, 14:09 HOURS]


[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Outer Ustir Star System, 22 Paenga-whāwhā, 686]

That. Was... Exhilarating!! I never really appreciated what “instantaneous” meant until today! The transition from one system to the other was seamless and immediate. It’s all hands on deck in the science labs right now. Yes, we have to debrief and tear down all of our Slipgate experiments, but more important is the fact that we’re officially inside the Search Area. Thanks to the Slipgate, we’re a full year-and-a-half ahead of schedule. This gives us a maximum of two and a half years to scour this corner of the galaxy and try to find the humans, for at the very least, figure out what happened to them.

Starting tomorrow, we’re going to start finding and cataloguing all of the stars that are “red shifting.” (or moving away from us) Sadly, Sol isn’t part of any known star cluster, so we’re just going to chase anything that looks like a G-Class star and listen for the radio signals put out by technologically advanced civilizations.

Kaia thinks the Humans are dead, that they were wiped out in the War in Heaven a hundred sixty years ago.

Let’s go prove her wrong.

[Personal log closed]


 
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Chapter 2.6: Message in a Bottle

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
13 Badges
Mar 1, 2018
827
37
archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris

Chapter 2.6: Message in a Bottle

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Inner Sirius Star System, 9 Pipiri, 686]

Hard work always feels so much easier when you feel confident that it’s going to pay off. My team has documented and are tracking no fewer than seven hundred stars that are moving in the general direction Sol went after the War in Heaven. So, based on information gleaned from survivors of the battle, here’s the information we’re going to use to track Sol down:
  • Sol is a G-Class Yellow Dwarf. Since only a century has gone by, it won’t have changed at all. We can safely ignore red, blue, purple, and orange giants or dwarfs.
  • Over three-hundred and fifty thousand starships fought in the War in Heaven. The massive amount of radio transmissions given off in the heat of battle are still radiating out and away from Sol, acting like a homing beacon we can use to locate it.
  • Millions of weapons were fired in all directions during the conflict. As we get closer to Sol, we should start seeing stray mass driver rounds, missiles, railgun slugs, and other combat-related projectiles.
Optimistically, we’ll find Sol using predictive math before committing to a lot of Hyperspace Jumps. That’s the plan anyway.

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: Outer Sirius Star System, 10 Pipiri, 686]


There’s an Invader ship wrecked in low orbit of Sirius III. Looks like it got on the wrong end of a Phased Cannon Array. The Captain is giving the thing a wide berth, and we’re just going to jump into the next system.


[Personal log closed]

Sys/ Hyperspace jump initiated.
Sys/ Post-Hyperspace system self-check underway.
Sys/ Self-check complete. All systems operational.

[Personal log addendum: Outer Gliese Star System, 10 Pipiri, 686]


Well, THAT was fun! Can you hear the sarcasm in my voice? Yeah, you can. Pretty much the instant we jumped into Gliese system, a railgun slug came out of nowhere and grazed the dorsal section of the ship. It missed our Comms Tower by a Bio or two and carved a small trench in the outer layer of armor. The impact was so loud I swear my heart stopped for a moment.

We can’t detect any ships in the system, which means that round was from the Second Hyperspace War, and it spent the past century and a half just wandering through space, waiting to hit something. Something like a Kopeke-class Science Vessel that was just rematerializing after a Hyperspace Jump, perhaps. Uhg.

We’re not planning to stay in the Gliese System. There are a handful G-class stars nearby, and only half of them are charted. If we’re lucky, one of them might be Sol. So we’re going to fly to the other side of the system, pick a hyperlane, and head out. I’m crossing my fingers that nothing else surprises us on the way out of the system.


[Personal log closed]
[BRIDGE VOICE RECORDING: 12 PIPIRI, 686, 22:37 HOURS]


Captain Toa Rangi: I was about to turn in for the night, Commander. This had better be good.

Lieutenant Commander Tai Tunui: It is Sir. There’s a small device about two million Kios off the starboard bow. It’s unpowered, but for some reason its on a hyperbolic extrasolar trajectory.

Captain Toa Rangi: A device? How big is it?

Lieutenant Commander Tai Tunui: Maybe five Bios across? It’s so tiny, we almost missed it. We only spotted it because there’s some reflective surface on it.

Captain Toa Rangi: Right. What’s so interesting about it then?

Lieutenant Commander Tai Tunui: Well, when the sensor suite looked over the object, they found it was made out of the kind of metal alloys found in pre-FTL spacecraft. Whoever put that device there doesn’t have Hyperspace technology.

Captain Toa Rangi: *Yawn* Did you check the historical star maps? What’s the nearest habitable planet?

Lieutenant Commander Tai Tunui: I did Sir. Before, during, and after the Second Hyperspace War, the closest habitable world to the Gliese star is Earth. Sir, that thing is a prewar space probe from the Humans.

Captain Toa Rangi: Stop all engines! Get Mihaka up here right now!


[Recording Stopped]

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Inner Gliese Star System, 13 Pipiri, 686]


Uncross your fingers because Naming Day came early this year! Last night someone found a Human space probe just drifting through the system and brought it into the cargo bay. There’s just so much to process here I don’t even know where to start!

First thing’s first: how do we know this is a human ship? Well, after Partoga made First Contact with Earth in Year 520, the Humans gave us a detailed list of all their pre-FTL space probes, along with their approximate locations. We couldn’t account for all of them because the Second Hyperspace War was still happening. Honestly, I always thought the Invaders had destroyed this probe and its sister ships.

Next: How old is this thing? According the information brought back to Partoga by our soldiers, the Humans launched five interstellar probes. All of them were interplanetary probes that got kicked out of the Sol system by gravitational forces. The first one was launched in 456, a second in 457. The third and fourth were launched in 461 and the fifth went up in the year 490. Depending on which of the five we picked up, it’s between 230 and 196 years old.

And finally, what are we going to do with this probe? As I record this, my Science Team is in the cargo bay, going over the whole thing. We’re not going to tear it to pieces just yet. If the Humans are alive, they might want it back. We’re only going to partially disassemble it, so we can get a look at the interior, then piece it back together if or when we find Earth.

So I’m gonna go now, and see what’s inside this thing. I’ll record back again soon.


[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: Inner Gliese Star System, 15 Pipiri, 686]


I haven’t left the cargo bay where the Human space probe is being kept for the past two days. So many incredible things have happened, and something even more fascinating is about to happen. I’ll start where I left off on the thirteenth: We were about to detach some of the probe’s scientific equipment when Manawa spotted a gold-colored disk on the side of the probe’s main body. At first, Eru and Kaia wanted to remove it right away, but I told them to hold their Rahi and wait so I could take a picture.


[Human_space_probe_outer_body_with_anomaly_15 file added]


We all stopped to take a closer look, and Tangaroa was the first to spot all of the writing and pictographs on the surface of the disk. As soon as he pointed them out, I declared the Cargo Bay a “Clean Zone” and ordered everyone out. (I’m the leader of the Science Team. I can do that)

For most of the morning hours of the fourteenth, the military crew sent in sterile robots to examine the disk as closely as possible without actually touching it. Scanners picked up some really badly degraded genetic material; almost certainly left behind by the Humans who build this probe, or more specifically, the one who attached the gold disk to it. On my instruction, Meto Kapua (wearing a biohazard suit) went over every piece of the probe with a pathogen detector. He was trying to find a certain airborne virus that afflicted both Humans and Partogans during the War. Good news is: it wasn’t there. Bad news is: 225 years ago, Humans were really filthy creatures. The probe is covered in all sorts of bacteria and other microorganisms from Earth. Obviously they should all long dead, but we don’t actually have the means to verify that EVERY Human pathogen is actually dead.

So around midday yesterday, we strapped everything down and vented the Cargo Bay into space. Then, just to make sure all of the pathogens on the Human probe were really dead, Captain Rangi ordered everyone into the Radiation Shelters and fired up the Hyperspace Module for a few minutes. The whole ship (and by extension, the Human probe) was bathed in deadly gamma radiation, killing every microorganism the probe might be carrying.

Then we came off Hyperspace Alert and I finally got to return to the Cargo Bay and lay my bare hands on the gold disk. The Humans clearly wanted it to be found. It stands out against the rest of the probe like the Holy Mountain does against the Visonian Hills back home on Partoga.

Tangaroa and I spent hours going over all of the pictograms on the disk. We drew a copy of the disk and its shapes on a sheet of paper, then took it up to the Biology Labs. Before I sign out, I’ll add a picture of Tamaho’s drawing so you can see what the Human pictographs look like. From there, Anahera spent all of last night feeding the different symbols into the ship’s computer, cross-referencing them with information the Humans gave us about themselves during the war. All this was about sixteen hours ago. I’m on my way to the labs now to check on Anahera’s progress. Cross your fingers!


[Human_pictographs_01 file uploaded]


[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: Inner Gliese Star Sytem, 16 Pipiri, 686]


We’ve stumbled upon a bump in the road we weren’t ready for. Remember yesterday, when I said “the Humans gave us information about themselves during the war”? Well, they gave us a massive database full of historical, technical, and political knowledge about the Human civilization. That database was written by Humans in over a hundred of their own languages. Only the parts that were relevant to the war effort were ever translated into Partogan or Levakian. Any Partogans capable of reading Human words were killed in the War in Heaven, and the knowledge died with them.

Damnit. I should have seen that coming.

On Partoga, there are only two languages: Partogan and Levakian. Earth however, reportedly had THOUSANDS. It must have put a lot of strain on our wartime alliance; how do you communicate with a species that could respond in potentially thousands of different ways? Well, the fact remains, now we have to wait for the Midak’s computer to translate the database into Partogan. Meto Kapua got the process started several hours ago, but it is still going to take some time. I’m not going to sit back and twiddle my thumbs though. So I’m heading back to the Cargo Bay. Maybe we’ll accomplish something before the translation finishes.


[Personal log paused]
[Personal log resumed]


I found something here. That gold disk covered in pictographs? It’s designed to be easily removed from the space probe. As soon as it came free, I saw two more disks underneath it. Neither of these had pictographs. Instead, each disk had a circular groove, a small hole in the center, and writing in the center. The disks themselves are attached to a primitive-looking turntable. There’s an arm with a small needle attached as well. Tangaroa thinks the turntable, needle, and disks are meant to be used in conjunction with each other. Here’s a picture of the first disk:

[gold_disk_01 file uploaded]

On closer inspection, I’m sure he’s right. Each disk has one long, spiral groove, starting on the outer edge and working its way inwards towards the center of the disk. The groove seems to change its depth hundreds, if not thousands of times before reaching the center of the disk. In fact, they look a little like...

Hold on a minute...


[Personal log paused]
[Personal log resumed]


Okay, I’m back. I have with me Corporal Kahurangi Waitere. She works in the Comms Tower, and in fact, you’ve worked with communication technology your whole life, isn’t that right?


Yeah, that’s right. My parents ran a radio relay tower in the Visionian Foothills. When we get home, I’m taking over the station from my Dad.

So, Kahurangi, you told me that you saw the first Audiograph in a museum once. Can you tell us who invented the first audio recording device and what it did?


Oh, yeah, the first Audiograph was built by Maui Tamaki in the year 298. He was fulfilling a request from Queen Marie the Scholar: she wanted a way to listen to her favorite song in the Royal Palace’s Grand Ballroom. So he built a big spinning table that contained “solid sound.” Just like the gold disk you’ve got here, the size of the bumps in the grooves correspond directly to different types of sounds. Although I’ll give it to these Humans, this gold disk is significantly smaller than Maui’s Musical Table. I’ll bet you anything this disk works in a similar way.

Meaning?

All Musical Tables have a stylus; a small needle that pressed into the groove and vibrated as the table was spun. The vibrations would be translated into sounds and played out a speaker of some kind. These gold disks may be smaller, but they definitely work the same way.

Great! Let’s put the stylus down and spin up the disk!

Hold up, Mihaka. It’s not that easy. On Partoga, Musical Tables are almost a Bio across and need to do about ten revolutions per minute in order to work. Too fast or slow, and whatever sound is carved into the table becomes distorted and incomprehensible. This Human table is tiny and was clearly not meant to spin at that speed. We need to find out the playback speed the Humans intended for this thing.

Okay, how?


Hmm... How?

[Personal log paused]
[Personal log resumed]


I was stupid. So stupid. The answer was in front of us the whole time. Actually, I dropped it on the floor and left it there earlier today. The very first gold disk, the one that covered up the two miniature Musical Tables, remember it? One of the pictographs depicts the Golden Musical Table in its turn style with the stylus attached. Even better, the Humans though to include the playback speed. It wasn’t written in any of the human languages, which is why it took us so long to figure it out.

Before the Second Hyperspace War there were thousands of different species and languages in the galaxy. There was no guarantee that the Human’s message would be understood, so they made it as simple as they could:

With numbers.

It doesn’t matter if you speak in words, clicks, vibrations, telepathically, meows, hand signals, or some other form of communication we don’t know about. You use math. Every civilization that ever went into space has a masterful understanding of mathematics and the laws of physics. Bearing that in mind, take a closer look at this pictograph on the Gold Disk:


[Human_pictographs_07 file uploaded]

See all of those vertical and horizontal lines? We thought it was binary code. Simple ones and zeroes. At first, I thought that if we turned that binary code into ordinary numbers, we’d get the playback speed, but the number we got made absolutely no sense. So instead, we checked around the other pictographs. This is the next one we drew a link to:

[Human_pictographs_12 file uploaded]

Kaia, Tangaroa, Anahera, Tamaho, Meto, and I fretted over this one for half a day. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t figure out the symbol was asymmetrical until a couple of hours ago. After that, everything started to click:

When I was seventeen years old (this would have been my second year at the Royal Science Academy) I remember my physics professor using a powerful tunneling microscope to let the class look at individual carbon dioxide atoms. Then he introduced other atoms of different elements to show how electrons jumped to different positions above the nucleus of each atom. I told Kaia about how the phenomenon looks a little like the symbol on the gold disk, except with smaller atoms, and she practically jumped out of her pants screaming “IT'S HYDROGEN!!” at the top of her lungs.

It was like all six of us had lightbulbs suddenly illuminating our minds. We put our heads together and brainstormed until Anahera came up with this six-part theory:

  1. The Humans needed to communicate the playback speed of the Golden Musical Table in a way that any spacefaring being could understand.
  2. All spacefaring civilizations (including the Humans) have a basic understanding of atoms, the fundamental building block of the universe.
  3. Hydrogen is by far the most abundant element in the universe.
  4. Under the correct circumstances, the lone electron of a Hydrogen Atom will spontaneously flip around and start spinning in the opposite direction. (This phenomenon is called “spin-flip transitioning”) This action produces a small but measurable microwave.
  5. The microwave produced by a Hydrogen Spin-Flip Transition is constant and will always be the same length.
  6. Knowing that the “Spin-Flip Transition” of Hydrogen atoms is an incredibly common event in the universe, the Humans created a symbol depicting it, and...
  7. They used the microwave it produces as a unit of measurement in all of their pictographs such as this one. The dots and dashes represent the length of the microwave. Depending on each picture, this symbol is used to measure either distance or the passage of time.
Anahera finished by saying that the Humans had probably measured the playback speed in Flip-Spins over time. After that, it was all over to Meto to convert Flip-Spins into “Revolutions per Minute” the unit used for Partogan Musical Tables.

We were all so tired after getting washed away in Anahera’s stream of consciousness that no one noticed when Hoana Awika came in and told us the ship’s computer had finished translating the Human database. She had to poke Meto in the gut to get his attention.

And that’s where we are now. All six of us are packed into the Engineering Lab right now. We’ve built an adapter for the two gold Musical Tables. The stylus will send the data contained on the disks directly to the ship’s computer for decoding and broadcast. Using Anahera’s theory, we’ve converted the dots and dashes in the pictogram into a number that might be the playback speed for the gold Musical Tables: Just over sixteen revolutions per minute.

If Kahurangi is right, we should hear an audio message from prewar humanity. I’m going to step back inside now, and we’ll all hear what the first Musical Table has to say…


[Personal log closed]
[ENGINEERING LAB AUDIO RECORDING: 16 PIPIRI, 686, 25:33 HOURS]


Specialist Kaia Patariki: Oh, what’s that sound? It’s terrible!

Corporal Kahurangi Waitere: The stylus is just getting settled into the track. It might bump or skip from time to time.

Specialist Meto Kapua: Quiet! It’s starting!


Sys/ Multiple Earth-based languages detected. Running auto-translate software.

Voices from the Planet Earth: As the Secretary General of the United Nations, an organization of the one hundred-forty-seven member states who represent almost all of the human inhabitants of the planet Earth. I send greetings on behalf of the people of our planet. We step out of our solar system into the universe seeking only peace and friendship, to teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate. We know full well that our planet and all its inhabitants are but a small part of this immense universe that surrounds us and it is with humility and hope that we take this step.

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: Wow… I-I-can’t beli-

???: Silim-ma hé-me-en.

Specialist Anahera Mita: What?

???: Hoitines pot'este chairete! Eirēnikōs pros philous elēlythamen philoi.

Voices from the Planet Earth: Peace and happiness to everyone. How's everyone? Wish you peace, health and happiness.

Specialist Kaia Patriki: Hey! I understood that!

???: Adanniš lu šulmu.

Specialist Meto Kapua: I guess the Translator doesn’t recognize everything. We just have to cope with it.

Voices from the Planet Earth: -from far land. We in this land have sent you warm greeting. Greetings to our friends in the stars. May time bring us together. Regards to everyone. Hello to everyone. Are you well? Hello. Hello and greetings to everyone. Good night, ladies and gentlemen. Goodbye and see you next time.

???: Kay pachamamta niytapas maytapas rimapallasta runasimipi.

Voices from the Planet Earth: Welcome home. It is a pleasure to receive you.

???: Aššuli!

Voices from the Planet Earth: Hello! Let there be peace everywhere.

???: Salvete quicumque estis; bonam erga vos voluntatem habemus, et pacem per astra ferimus.

Voices from the Planet Earth: Peace! Greetings to everyone! Hello to all. Peace on you. We the inhabitants of this earth send our greetings. Warmest greetings. Dear Turkish-speaking friends, may the honors of the morning be upon your heads. Hello. How are you? Greetings from the inhabitants of this world. Good health to you now and forever. Many greetings and wishes. Wish you a long life. We greet you, great ones. We wish you longevity. We greet you, O great ones. Best wishes to you all. To all those who exist in the universe, greetings. Are you peaceful? Welcome, beings from beyond the world. Wishing you a peaceful future from the earthlings. How's everyone? We all very much wish to meet you, if you're free please come and visit. We wish all of you well. Greetings from a computer programmer in the small university town of Ithaca on planet Earth. How are all you people of other planets? Greetings from a human being of the Earth. Please contact. We are sending greetings from our world, wishing you happiness, health and many years.

???: Dorud bar sâkenin mawrah âsemân-hâ.

Voices from the Planet Earth: We wish you all the best, from our planet. Greetings to the inhabitants of the universe from the third planet Earth of the star Sun. Greetings to all peoples of the universe. God give you peace. Greetings. The people of the Earth send their good wishes and hope you find good fortune in this life. Friends from space, how are you all? Have you eaten yet? Come visit us if you have time. We are sending greetings in the Hungarian language to all peace-loving beings on the Universe.

???: Namastē, telugu māṭlāḍē janamunanin̄ci mā śubhākāṅkṣalu.

Voices from the Planet Earth: Greetings. On behalf of Kannada-speaking people, 'good wishes'. Hello to everyone. We are happy here and you be happy there. Hello from the children of planet Earth. We strive to live in peace with the peoples of the whole world, of the whole cosmos.

Specialist Anahera Mita: Is that it?

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: That… was beautiful!

Specialist Meto Kapua: Ladies, wait! There’s more!

Specialist Tangaroa Ehau: More? You can’t be serious!

Voices from the Planet Earth: -constructed by the United States of America. We are a community of 240 million human beings among the more than 4 billion who inhabit the planet Earth. We human beings are still divided into nation states, but these states are rapidly becoming a single global civilization. We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years into our future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some--perhaps many--may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message: This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.

Corporal Kahurangi Waitere: What the- what are those noises?

Specialist Tangaroa Ehau: Those sound a little like water rahi. Don’t the Takea sharks off Levakia’s coast make noises like that?

Specialist Kaia Patariki: That’s a thunderstorm. I know that sound anywhere…. Oh, more animals!

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: They’re playing sounds from their world. Just natural sounds. Incredible.

Medic Tamaho Wihongi: That’s a heartbeat! But it sounds so much like ours, though.

Specialist Kaia Patariki: Sounds like they have monstrous rahi on their world too…

Specialist Tangaroa Ehau: Machines!

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: Tools, machines, industrial stuff now.

Corporal Kahurangi Waitere: Sounds like something happened to the table. Maybe the stylus is skipping or- WOAH WHAT?!

Multiple Voices: That’s music!

Specialist Kaia Patariki: Yeah, that’s music! Real human music! It sounds like a big group of wind instruments.

Specialist Anahera Mita: Hey, be quiet! I’m trying to listen!


[Recording stopped.]

[Personal Log: Mission Speclialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Inner Sirius Star System, 17 Pipiri, 686]


We stayed up past midnight listening to the music of Earth. There were over twenty different songs. Each one had a unique tone and feel. Some were slow and thoughtful, others got my heart pumping and made me feel like dancing, especially the ballad of Jonniebee Good. When we got to the end of the first gold table, Meto and I actually did dance to that song while Kahurangi set up the second table. But the singing! Oh, by the Mountain, the SINGING! Humans have such an incredible range! They can vocalize a bass tune low enough to shake a cavern, caterwaul in a way that puts Levakians to shame, or warble about like a living tuning fork.

The second Musical Table is… well I don’t know what to make of it. At first, we thought it was damaged. All we heard was three or four near continuous tones that changed in pitch and volume seemingly at random. After listening to it for about fifteen minutes, Kaia decided that the table was damaged and moved to take it out of the adapter. Anahera actually jumped out of her chair and grabbed Kaia’s hand to make her stop. We all stood still as statues for a moment, getting ready to yell at one another, when Tamaho said “You guys hear that pattern too, right?”

Whatever’s up with the second table, it’s intentional. There’s no music or speech on it, but there’s definitely some kind of data that our computer can’t make sense of. In the end, we decided that we all just needed to sleep on what we discovered and come back to it with refreshed minds.

Well, they needed to sleep. I can’t. I’m wide awake, excited, and I need to think. We’re so close! This probe… this Voyager… hasn’t been active in over a hundred and seventy years. It couldn’t have coasted here from Sol, or any of the nearby stars for that matter. If the Midak were to burn its engines once, and then coast all the way to the nearest star; we’d spend about forty-thousand years drifting in space. No, Voyager definitely had help getting to this point. Maybe it fell into a Slipgate, or it got a push from a Vanian Repulsor Cannon, or maybe it was picked up by scrappers and dropped here. The fact remains: Sol is extremely close by. For all I know, that yellow dwarf might be just out of our visual range, or hidden in a constellation.

I’ve never wanted to see Earth more than tonight. That golden disk gave us our first real reminder of who our old ally was, and hopefully still is.


[Personal log closed]

End of Chapter Two

 
Last edited:
Chapter 3.1: The Shroud

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
13 Badges
Mar 1, 2018
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archiveofourown.org
  • Stellaris

Chapter 3.1: The Shroud

Lights flickered above Mira’s head. Muted noises and dull thumps slowly brought her back into consciousness. Wait a minute... Mira thought. I thought I was in the Hyperspace Module. Slowly, the previous ten minutes came back into her memory. The Midak had flown past a B-Class star, and just as it had done over the past year and a half, the Hyperspace Module had caught fire once again. Mira remembered donning a Hazard Suit and going inside with Kaia, Tangaroa, and Tipi to try and solve this irksome issue once and for all. Something had happened, and Mira had fallen over backwards, hitting her head on the floor.

Ugh, my head... Mira thought. She must have hit it really hard. Mira tried to reach up with her hands, and a chill ran down her spine. Mira couldn’t move her hands, or her arms, or any part of her body for that matter. Mira’s heart began to race as she lost herself to panic, and at once, voices somewhere above her head made themselves known:

"Heart rate just spiked. Mira! Mira! Can you hear me? Say something!”

Mira’s eyes refocused and she got her bearings again. She was in the Midak’s infirmary, laying on a gurney and surrounded by at other shipmates. Everyone was bustling around hurriedly outside of Mira’s field of view doing something while Kaia’s head and arms were just barely visible. Kaia waved her hands in front of Mira and said;

“Still no response. No eye movement, shallow breathing. Hang on, Mira. We’re gonna cut you out of that suit.”

Good. Mira thought. I can’t move in here.

Abruptly, Kaia was pushed away and replaced with the hardened, chiseled face of Meto Kapua. He reached out with one finger, tapped Mira on the forehead, and said;

“Mira, I know you can hear me. You’ve suffered a serious head injury. We think you’ve been ---“

What? Meto’s lips were still moving, but he wasn’t making sounds anymore. Mira tried to say something, to tell Meto he needed to repeat himself, only to find that her words were caught in her throat, and that her mouth seemed to be locked shut. For a few extra moments, Mira could feel people’s hands on her body, but then that sensation died away as well. Meto’s face became surrounded by a black outline, which grew into a dark wall around the extremities of Mira’s vision. He seemed to be at the end of a tunnel... getting further and further away...

Then all at once, everything came back! The light, the sounds of speech and machines, the smell and taste of blood, the sensation of pressure on flesh.

“She’s back!” called out Kaia’s voice, somewhere to Mira’s left.

“The Nanomedicine is kicking in,” came the voice of Anahera Mita, “We need to give it more time to repair the damage.”

Thank the Mountain for that. Mira thought.

Now that Mira knew her body had been pumped full of millions of microscopic robots, she could feel a slight tickling sensation on the back of her head and the base of her spine. Or maybe she was imagining it. She couldn’t be sure. Calmer than she’d been in several minutes, Mira relaxed and let out a long... slow... exhale.

At once, the room filled with noise!

“Kaia! Anahera!” Moe Kaa’s voice pierced the room at large, “Her heart just stopped!”

“Get away from her! Grab the defibrillator!” Kaia yelled,

Mira heard all of this and was confused. How could her heart have stopped? She felt fine... felt... fine... Oh, no... Whatever this new sensation was... it wasn’t “fine.”

A tearing sound and a sudden burst of cold air on her torso told Mira she’d finally been cut out of the Hazard suit. The dark tunnel was starting to appear again, more slowly this time, but it was definitely there. Then Mira felt two soft pads being placed on her chest, and a powerful electric shock coursed through Mira’s body, causing her arms and legs to tingle.

“Shocked!” called Meto, “Start chest compressions!”

Suddenly, Kaia’s face filled Mira’s vision. Kaia was standing on her friend’s right side, and was rhythmically pressing both of her hands into Mira’s diaphragm, counting out loud as she went along.

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, FIFTEEN!” Kaia counted aloud,

As soon as Kaia hit the number most sacred to Partogans, she bent down and put her hand over Mira’s heart and her ear to Mira’s mouth, checking for a pulse or breathing. Desperately, Mira strained to breathe, willing air out of her lungs as hard as she could, but her body refused to obey. Kaia straightened up and said,

“Is she responding to anything?”

Somewhere near Mira’s feet, Moe’s voice responded,

“No response to the fingernail test, her body temperature is falling, everything is shutting down. Kaia... I’m so... so sorry, but I- ... I think Mira’s dead.”

“NO! No! No! Nononono!” Kaia screamed, and she started doing compressions again

You are the best friend a woman cold ask for... Mira thought fondly.

Mira’s senses seemed to be losing their edge. Kaia’s face became blurred around the edges. All of the voices sounded like they were coming from behind a wall. Mira was also distantly aware of her ribs cracking as Kaia’s chest compressions became wilder and more desperate.

Come on Kaia, Mira thought, You’ve got this... I’m not gone yet! COME ON!

A hand reached out and pulled Kaia away from Mira, who felt and overwhelming wave of sorrow as her friend retreated from view. Then Mira heard, as though from down the hall, Tamaho Wihongi’s voice saying,

“I’m calling it. Time of death is 14:59 hours, on the 28th of Pipiri, 682. Cause of death: traumatic head injury. Who.... Who’s gonna tell the Captain?”

No one is telling Rangi anything! The defiant words echoed around Mira’s head. I’m not dead! I’m not dead! SOMEONE LOOK AT ME!

But even as Mira pleaded silently, she began her final plunge into the darkness. The white ceiling above faded to a dull grey color, and then the muffled voices fell silent.

Please don’t go, I’m not dead. I’m still here. I’m... still...




It took Mira a few moments to get her bearings. She had arrived in a place that was both foreign and strangely familiar. Mira stood on the precipice, at the edge of this strange new realm for a moment overlooking a vast ocean of swirling color and shadow. Then Mira remembered: Her friends still thought she was dead! She needed to go back at once and tell everyone she was okay!

Mira turned on the spot and made to walk in the opposite direction. Instead of taking a couple of steps forward, as she had intended, Mira’s leisurely pace carried her a vast distance. The terrain raced away beneath her feet as though she had just crossed a continent in a single bound! The clouds and stars above moved so quickly they became nothing but a nondescript blur. Disoriented, Mira slowed to a stop.

Careful not to lift her feet off the ground, Mira looked around one more time to try and figure out where she was.

It’s not Partoga; that much is certain. And none of the planets the Midak had visited so far had purple or blue clouds that glowed at night. The air here was somehow fresh and pleasant, despite the fact that there was no vegetation for as far as the eye could see, only barren dirt and the occasional large rock.

Now that Mira knew what was coming, she started walking again. While she had no idea where she was going, anywhere was better than just standing around. Mira’s stride carried her hundreds of Kios in only a few moments before something made her stop again. Mira had come to a dense violet fogbank rolling across the path in front of her. She could hear something in there. A low, rustling noise, like several people whispering together. Mira stepped forward cautiously and said,

“Hello? Is someone there? Can you help me?”

At once, the rustling sounds ceased. For a moment, Mira thought she’d done something wrong. She was about to take a few steps backward when her ears were assailed by hundreds of voices at once, all saying the same thing, but sounding discordant nonetheless:

“We are the Whisperers in the Void. You seek knowledge and answers. We can provide both.”

“Um, how can you do that?” Mira asked,

“We hear and see everything that is meant to be concealed or hidden away.” The Whisperers in the Void responded, “We know details of the universe older than your homeworld, we harbor knowledge that is impossible to acquire through science or religion. We know the secrets thousands tried to take to their graves. We know the exact location of everything and everyone that is hidden. We will share all of these secrets with you if you make a covenant with us.”

The offer was so tempting that Mira almost missed that final sentence. She was too busy imagining all of the scientific discoveries she could be credited with back home.

“What do you mean “covenant?” she stammered in disbelief, “Why would I have to do that?”

“The price is trivial,” said the Whisperers in the Void, “compared to the potential rewards. We are trapped in this place. Prisoners, if you will. If you make a covenant with us, we will enter and become part of your mind. By doing so, you would carry us out of this realm. Once embedded in your mind and our freedom secured, we are most discreet, and will only whisper to you when you have need our knowledge. Aside from that, you will barely notice our presence. We will be the voice of inspiration in your head, your new sense of intuition. Surely you see the reward far exceeds our price. Are you ready to make a covenant with us?”

For a moment, Mira seriously considered accepting the deal. But then some “what if” questions started circling her mind. What if she started talking to the Whisperers in the Void out loud? What if she did it in public? What if people thought she was having a mental breakdown because of it? The more she thought about it, the more holes she could poke in the concept. Finally, Mira persuaded herself this wasn’t the best idea.

“No.” Mira said, backing away from the fogbank. “I’m not interested.”

Mira turned and ran. She could hear the Whisperers in the Void calling her name, but she didn’t look back. She just kept going, crossing hundreds of Kios with each stride until she ran out of energy and slowed to a walk.

Huffing and puffing, Mira noticed that the quality of this mysterious place had changed somewhat. The light (what little there was) was warm and comforting. The air was crisp and refreshing, causing Mira’s strength and stamina to return quickly. Mira stopped walking, closed her eyes, and took a deep relaxing breath.

It happened slowly at first, gradually gaining speed. Mira began to remember things from her past, except the point of view she saw them from wasn’t her own. Instead, Mira seemed to be watching her own life from the sidelines: Mira saw her childhood self, standing beside her mother, Queen Kendra II. Then it was young Mira playing with her best friend Haki, the Acolyte who would succeed Mira’s mother. Mira was suddenly looking down on the Unnamed Mountain, while her younger self reached the summit and drank from the Sacred Lake, completing her Rite of Passage.

Images and colors were now flashing across Mira’s mind quickly now. She saw several Partogan landmarks she know well: the Unnamed Mountain, the Toxic Jungles of Rachsain, Archer’s Canyon winding away from the Mountain. Mira saw Partoga City, for which the entire kingdom was named, the sweeping rainforests of Levakia, and the scattered broken islands which separated the Partogan continent from the Levakian one.

After this, Mira saw several locations she wasn’t familiar with. First places, then creatures living and dead, then finally starships, both intact and battle-damaged. At last, a collage of thousands of mental pictures presented themselves to Mira. There were too many for her to make sense of, but as soon as she tried to do so, they began to arrange themselves. Shifting about like a mass of small insects, the images came together to form a shape. A being made from flickering images, with two arms, two legs, and a head now stood before Mira. It raised its arm in greeting.

Mira knew, somehow, that this was the Composer of Strands. She had never heard the name before now, and yet it was suddenly in the forefront of her mind as though it had always been there. It was curious about her. It took a cautious step towards Mira and regarded her. Its body began to flash a series of images. Mira looked and saw a different version of herself: She was taller and had powerful muscles. Mira then saw a cutaway image of her own brain. The Composer of Strands demonstrated how it could make Mira’s brain more complex; giving it even greater capabilities than it already possessed.

The Composer of Strands made it clear: these modifications... improvements... to Mira’s body were all possible, if only she took the Composer of Strands into her flesh. Unlike the Whisperers in the Void, the Composer of Strands conveyed a sense of affection with its request; it seemed to like Mira. Waiting for her answer, the Composer of Strands put its hands behind its back and cocked its head to the side. It was patient.

Mira had to admit, this was a very tempting offer. Of course she wanted to be stronger and more intelligent. Who wouldn’t? But then she reminded herself of the price the Composer of Strands had asked for. What did it mean, “Take me into your flesh”? There were a lot of possible answers to that, and Mira wasn’t sure about the risks some of that entailed.

Finally, Mira shook her head. The Composer of Strands seemed disappointed, but it stood aside, and allowed Mira to walk away. As she put some distance between herself and the Composer of Strands, Mira’s mind became her own again, the images vanished, and she could see her barren surroundings once more.

Mira only had to travel a short distance before she was accosted by something else. Unlike the Whisperers in the Void and the Composer of Strands, this third being had actively sought her out.

In the dim light of this strange world, Mira couldn’t make out exactly what this thing was. She was glad she couldn’t see it though. She could sense its immense hunger and greed. Whatever it was, it wanted to eat her.

“I don’t have any food,” Mira called into the darkness nervously, “I don’t have anything to give you.”

Oh, but you do. Replied the Eater of Worlds, You are food. And I wish to devour you.

It didn’t mince words. Mira knew what she was dealing with immediately, even though she’d never heard of the Eater of Worlds before now. This being was impatient. Even as Mira backed away, the Eater of Worlds followed her and said,

Don’t be scared, little one. I’ll make it worth your while.

Unlike the Whisperers in the Void and the Composer of Strands, there was nothing the Eater of Worlds could say that would convince Mira to stick around. It tried anyway.

I can give you greatness! Glory and power! You don’t know what you’re wasting!

The Eater of Worlds protested loudly as Mira turned tail and ran away. Taking full advantage of the strange properties of this mysterious world, Mira opened up her stride and soon put thousands of Kios behind her, leaving the Eater of Worlds in the distance. Once Mira was sure she was alone again, she came to a stop, looked around, and took a moment to think about her situation, and take a guess as to where exactly she was.

As much as Mira hated to admit it, what little evidence she had pointed to two important things that must be true: First, Mira had died on the Midak. That slip and fall in the Hyperspace Module must have been devastating. And second: This place... this “Nightmare Realm”... was some kind of Afterlife.

This was the hardest part to accept. Even though all Partogans were required to practice religion by law, most Partogans, Mira included, didn’t believe in an Afterlife. The Church of the Mountain had never issued any doctrine on the subject; after all, if people were busy preparing for a second life they wouldn’t be worshipping the Mountain. The Church found such divided attention unacceptable. Like everyone else, Mira had always expected to become a part of the Unnamed Mountain when she died. Perhaps this is what happens when someone dies in space? Mira shook her head and cleared her mind.

No.

Mira refused, point blank, to believe that her life had actually ended. Hadn’t Anahera given her Nanomedicine treatment? A new theory quickly began forming in Mira’s mind: What if she wasn’t dead? What if this whole experience was an incredible hallucination brought on by her brain running out of oxygen? As soon as the idea came to her, however, Mira discounted it.

If this is a near-death-hallucination, she thought, then this has to be the longest and most complex one in history. I should have woken up or died by now.

Reluctantly, Mira accepted that wherever she was, it was real. Mira stood up again. If this place was indeed real, then she might as well explore it some more. She looked to her left and saw a dark swamp-like region that was covered in ominous shadows. It seemed like it had never seen sunlight before.

I haven’t been there yet. Mira thought. And she moved towards the dark lowlands at a brisk pace. Maybe I can get out that way, or at least find someone who can help me.

On a ridgeline just outside the dark lowlands Mira ran across a fourth presence. Like the first three, Mira couldn’t see it directly, but there was a vague shape in front of her nonetheless. Focusing hard on it, Mira couldn’t help but feel... attracted... to it. Somehow, it made her think about a handsome young man she had met during her first year at the Royal Science Academy. What was his name again? Mira thought, and to her surprise, the presence responded at once.

“His name was Niko.” Said the Instrument of Desire. “How are you, Mira?”

Just like the other three beings, Mira instantly knew the identity of the speaker, despite having no prior knowledge of it. The Instrument of Desire didn’t wait for an invitation to approach. It crossed the distance and put one arm around Mira’s shoulder and another on her upper torso, kind of like a boyfriend who was closing in way too fast. Speaking into Mira’s ear in a low voice, the Instrument of Desire began to tell Mira all about the potential benefits of allowing it into her heart:

Mira would want for nothing. Money? Food? Easily within reach. The Instrument of Desire wouldn’t even break a sweat. The mission? The Instrument of Desire knew exactly where Earth was; Mira could be there tomorrow! It also knew the quickest way back to Partoga once she was ready to go home. The Instrument of Desire kept talking, denying Mira the chance to interrupt or respond in any way. All the while, one of its semi corporeal hands was slowly massaging Mira’s arm. She was quickly becoming relaxed, her defenses falling...

“You’re going to say yes,” breathed the Instrument of Desire. “How could you not say yes? After all, I only want what’s best for you.”

Mira hesitated. Where did she hear that line before?

“You heard it from Kori, your first boyfriend. He loved you just as I do.” Said the Instrument of Desire, once again taking its cues from Mira’s thoughts.

The unpleasant memory of her first teenage romance coursed through Mira’s body like ice water. In an instant, the spell was broken, and she spoke her next thoughts out loud:

“Am I being seduced? Hold on! What are you doing?”

Caught off guard, the Instrument of Desire loosened its grip on Mira while it tried to come up with an answer, and she wriggled free.

“No! That’s enough!” Mira had found her voice, “Leave me alone! Back up!”

Reaching out with both hands, the Instrument of Desire looked like it was about to start weeping as Mira retreated into the shroud of shadows. Very quickly, she was alone once more in this strange, bizarre world. Shuddering with revulsion and a little fear, Mira didn’t look back.

It's denizens aside, Mira was starting to get used to this place. She had a good handle on how far a single stride carried her now. Mentally putting the Instrument of Desire behind her and moving with confidence Mira descended the ridgeline and entered the shadowy lowlands, curious to see what was down there.



The lowlands were massively different from the rest of the Nightmare Realm. In fact, Mira was actually starting to regret naming the rest of the world “Nightmare Realm” because the title fit this region much more aptly than the anywhere else.

The ground was soft and squished beneath Mira’s feet; the air damp and heavy. Mira couldn’t help but wonder if the Toxic Jungle in southern Partoga would look like this if someone cut down all of the trees. She also wondered what would happen if she fell into one of those muddy sinkholes and drowned. Could she die twice in one day?

As Mira travelled deeper into the lowlands, the environment became less and less welcoming. The skies turned a deep oppressive purple. There was something like smoke in the air as well, forcing Mira to slow down and take shallow breaths.

This is a terrible place. Mira realized, Could anything be here?

And then, as if to answer her question, the presence revealed itself.



The presence was the End of the Cycle and it had always been waiting for her. Its words entered Mira’s mind, as clear and plain as if they had always been there:

IT IS NOT YET YOUR TIME. BUT IT COULD BE.

The End of the Cycle didn’t say anything else. There are no words left that need to be spoken. Mira already knew what bargain the End of the Cycle was offering: Power, knowledge, and wealth beyond measure were all hers for the taking.

If only she brought forth the End.

Mira didn’t say a word. She was horrified. Horrified by the proposal. Horrified by the creature itself, by the nightmarish forms that surrounded it, by anything and everything in front of her. She started to back away. The End of the Cycle watched Mira leave without saying a word.

Soon, Mira left the End of the Cycle far behind. She scrambled up the far side of the ridgeline, desperate to get out of the lowlands as quickly as possible. Panting, Mira looked up the side of the hill to see how far she still had to go, when she spotted a brief glimpse of hair blowing in the wind. Something was on top of the hill. A sixth being?

Half curious, half fearful, Mira reached the top of the ridge, and saw...



A woman, sitting cross-legged on the hilltop and holding her head in her hands, who was very deep in thought. When Mira reached the hilltop, the woman looked up, saw Mira, and reacted with joy.

“It’s so good to see someone else!” She said, “Please don’t be a stranger! Join me.”

Cautiously. Mira sat down in front of the stranger. This individual was different. She wasn’t like the other entities here. Unlike the Whisperers in the Void, the Composer of Strands, and the Instrument of Desire, this woman was fully corporeal: flesh and blood. Unlike the Eater of Worlds, this person didn’t seem violent, bloodthirsty, or in any way hostile. She was just an ordinary Partogan, who didn’t seem disturbed by this strange world in the slightest. Mira cast around for something to say.

“Uh... You got here before me, didn’t you?” It was both a question and a statement of fact.

“A long time before you.” Answered the stranger. “Maybe a hundred-fifty Partogan years ago? I’m not really sure.”

“So... you’re dead then?” Mira hesitantly asked,

“Very much so.” Replied the stranger. “I was fighting Agamemnon over Earth, I’d just used up all of my Psionic powers to hijack his body; then we fell into a Hyperspace Gate and boom! Agg and I are both dead. He’s gone, I’m here; and then, a century and a half later, a Partogan with purple eyes and silver hair shows up and sits down with me. That’s my story told.”

The stranger was very nonchalant in her tale, as if she hadn’t given it much thought recently.

“So,” the stranger asked, “What about you? You don’t look dead.”

Mira stared, slack-jawed, at the stranger for almost thirty seconds before the full weight of her words sank in. Fighting Agamemnon? Falling into a Hyperspace Gate? Could this be Jericho? THE Jericho? Questions sprang to mind, and the first, most obvious one just tumbled out of her mouth without any real prompting.

“You’re... are you...? Are you Jericho?”

The stranger leaned back on her hands, looking up at the sky as though she was carefully considering her answer.

“Jericho” She finally said, “Now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a hundred years or so. I honestly thought you were going to call me ‘She-of-the-Void’ or the ‘Beastslayer’ since that what everyone else calls me now.”

The stranger looked back at Mira.

“So how did you find that old name?”

Mira jumped to her feet and pointed at the stranger, her face locked in an expression of complete shock and disbelief.

“You’re really Jericho! The one who ended the war! Saved the galaxy!”

Jericho threw up her hands, imploring Mira to calm down,

“Well, yes.” She said, “I don’t know who you are, though. I can tell you’re a Partogan though. Are you on Earth?”

Mira’s heart sank, and when she sat down again, she moved like a slowly deflating balloon.

“Well, no.” Mira admitted. “I’m part of a Partogan science ship. We’re trying to find it.”

To Mira’s absolute surprise, Jericho released a torrent of questions;

“How’d you lose a planet? I thought you aliens were hundreds of years ahead of us tech-wise. And what happened to the cruiser carrying your Queen’s body? Didn’t they get home? What happened to the Alliance Fleet? What happened to the Beast? What happened to Earth? What happened to my ship? The crew? Nagasaki? Do you know?”

It was Mira’s turn to throw up her hands in the “slow down” signal.

“Hang on,” said Mira, “There’s one thing I need to know first: All of my history textbooks said you’re Human. How come you look like a Partogan?”

Jericho swayed on the spot.

“I’m in history books?!” she sounded dumbstruck. “Well, I’m human. Or, I was. I haven't been able to look at myself in over a century and a half.”

Satisfied with that answer (for the moment) Mira decided to answer some of Jericho’s queries. The two women began a back and forth that proved enlightening for both parties:

Mira explained how Earth’s position had been lost after the War in Heaven, how the Alliance Fleet had been wiped out by the Invaders, and how she didn’t know about Jericho’s ship or what a “Nagasaki” was. Then Jericho retold her story, adding even more details for Mira to digest;

As it turned out, Jericho had died during her final confrontation with Agamemnon in 521. (2036 in Human years) While she and Agamemnon were both in Hyperspace, Agamemnon had absorbed Jericho’s entire body into itself. Once there, Jericho’s consciousness and Psionic power had overpowered and crushed Agamemnon’s mind out of existence, then asserted control over its body. Effectively, Jericho had become Agamemnon. Fortunately, killing a planet-sized space creature was relatively easy once you had control of its body; Jericho just made the transition from Hyperspace to Normal Space as poorly-executed and traumatic as possible, ensuring the enemy leader’s body was well and truly dead after rematerializing in Normal Space.

Jericho had assumed that her consciousness would die with Agamemnon’s body. Instead, she had materialized as herself in the “Shroud” almost immediately afterwards. Because Jericho’s original body was dead in the real world, she couldn’t leave the Shroud and more importantly, she couldn’t form covenants with Shroud beings like the Instrument of Desire or the Composer of Strands.

Jericho admitted she had no idea how or why she had appeared in the Shroud. To her, the only explanation that made sense was the idea that one of the Shroud-beings had saved her for some unknown reason. But, Jericho admitted, this explanation made less and less sense with every passing year.

With no way to contact the outside world, Jericho had remained in near-complete isolation inside the Shroud for 164 years, with only the Shroud-beings for company until Mira had appeared. Mira then brought Jericho up to speed on everything that had happened since her death:

“The War in Heaven ended about five minutes after you got control of Agamemnon” Mira started, pausing to allow Jericho to gasp, “Once you went through the Hyperspace gate with it, all of the Invader ships turned around and followed you through the gate.”

"I burned the gate behind me.” Jericho added, “I was trying to kill the Beast ships who followed me in. I know I trapped a lot of people in that part of space, and I really feel bad about it.”

Mira’s joy and excitement at meeting the savior of the galaxy abruptly turned into anger and frustration at Jericho’s confession to “burning the gate.”

“You didn’t just burn the Sol Gate!” Mira interjected angrily, “You burned every Hyperspace Gate in the galaxy! Trillions of people were stranded in different corners of space. It was anarchy for a few decades! It’s been over a century and a half and we’re still figuring out how to turn those damn gates back on!”

“I’m sorry, I really am” said Jericho, “I had to think fast and that was the only thing I could come up with in time. I honestly, genuinely don’t know how that happened; and I can’t even take a guess at it. Like I said, I don’t feel good about it.”

Mira accepted Jericho’s apology with a little reluctance and continued,

“Faster-Than-Light civilization collapsed within a decade. Most nations were so dependent on the Hyperspace Network to function that they couldn’t go back to having their ships jump one system at a time. The Micore Empire, Vanian Commonwealth, the United States of Assuria, the Assurian Empire, and the Cuunbar Confederacy all collapsed. Without the Outer Limb trade routes, whole civilizations just starved to death. The Vanians, Amadii, Assurians, and Levakians all went extinct by 550... er... by 2065.”

Jericho hung her head in shame.

“What happened to your people?”

“We survived.” Mira explained, “We never got Miranda III’s body back, and only fifteen of our troops survived the trip back to Partoga. The enemy bombarded our homeworld so badly that it went into a nuclear winter. We lived underground for almost a century, and we only resurfaced about fifty years ago.”

Jericho sighed,

“I’m sorry Kailani’s body never got home. I really liked her.” She admitted, and then she seemed to realize something, gazing up at Mira with a look of concern.

“Oh, no! I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that! Kailani was just a kid! What happened to the throne?!” Jericho asked,

“Don’t worry." Mira answered, "Something as sacred as the Royal Election doesn’t stop when civilization collapses. Miranda IV and Kendra II both had long, happy reigns, and we're doing just fine under Phoebe II.”

“So,” Jericho had finally been brought most of the way to the present, “Why is a Partogan science ship trying to find Earth?”

“Personally, I wanted to do it to satisfy my own curiosity.” Said Mira. “It’s one thing to read about Earth in history books and another to actually go there. I talked my friends in the Government into making the mission happen. The diplomatic, military, and scientific opportunities of an expedition like this were too much to pass up.”

Mira had expected Jericho to be satisfied with this answer, but instead, Jericho crossed her arms, raised an eyebrow and said,

“Wait, so you don’t know the actual mission?”

Mira just stared at Jericho for a moment.

“What do you mean?”

Jericho’s eyes rolled upwards and to the left, as though she trying to remember something, and then said,

“Did you run into the Whisperers in the Void on your way here? They’ve been talking about the Midak and its clandestine mission to Earth for almost three years.”

“Three years?” Mira repeated, “We’ve barely been in space for a year and a half!”

“Umm, yeah.” Said Jericho. “You should really speak to the Whisperers in the Void before you leave. They definitely know something you don’t.”

“How can I leave?” Mira asked, “I thought I was trapped here like you.”

Jericho tried to cover her gloomy expression with a smile. It didn’t work.

“You’re alive on the outside, so you can leave whenever you want. Since you have Psionic powers, you should be able to come back as you please as well.”

“What?” Mira was confused, Jericho raised an eyebrow,

“Don’t you have Psi-powers?” She asked, “I saw your purple eyes and assumed-“

“No! Oh no!” Mira interrupted, “That’s just a natural look for Partogans! We don’t actually have Psionics. That’s a Human thing.”

In hindsight, this was clearly the wrong thing to say. Jericho’s face fell at once and tears began running down her cheeks. Mira realized her mistake immediately.

“Hey, hold on a minute,” Mira tried to comfort Jericho, “When I get to Earth, I’ll find a Psionic who can contact you, okay? You don’t have to be alone here forever.”

Jericho wrapped her arms around Mira in a tight hug.

“It’s not that,” she sobbed, “I’m not going to be here forever.”

“What?” Mira asked, pulling out of the hug and dreading the answer,

“I think I’m dying.” Said Jericho, “I noticed for the first time about forty years ago. I’m breaking down... or something like that. I have to use my Psionics to hold myself together, or else I turn to sand. Look.”

Mira watched in horror as the fingertips of Jericho’s right hand began slowly transforming into sand, which blew away in the wind. Jericho locked her eyes on the appendage and concentrated hard. The transformation stopped.

“If I stop focusing for too long, I’ll just blow away.” said Jericho. “And I can’t keep it up forever. All powers have a limit, and I’m getting close to mine. When I run out of powers, I’ll go with the breeze, just like that.”

Mira stood up immediately.

“I’ll go back to my ship.” She said, “Is there anything I can do from there? From Earth?”

Jericho gave Mira a big, genuine smile.

“You’re not going to extend my life, if that’s what you’re hoping for.” Said Jericho. “No way. Twenty-one years on Earth plus a hundred-sixty-four in here is good enough for me. I just want someone to be here... to be with me... when I run out of time. I’ve died alone once already, and I don’t want to do it again.”

Mira pulled Jericho to her feet and hugged her.

“I promise. I’ll find someone on Earth who can get here. You won’t be alone, I swear.”

Jericho’s eyes widened,

“I think I might know someone you can find.” She said, “Or I guess their descendants, by this point.”

Mira scratched her forehead in thought,

“Do you mean one of the Stormbreakers?” Mira asked, “Your friends?”

Jericho nodded her head vigorously,

“I know its been a long time and that all of them are probably dead,” Jericho started, “But I remember, I know that two of them had a kid together. Blake and Chihiro. You know them, right? From your history books?”

Mira shook her head.

“I’m sorry, no.” She explained, “No one knows their real names. All we’ve got left are their Human nicknames. I had to learn all fifteen of your pseudonyms by heart in Primary School, watch:”

And then Mira reeled off the “names” of the fifteen Stormbreakers, just as she’d done as a child,

“Jericho, Icarus, Trojan, Antigone, Blue Dragon, Doomsday, Soylent, Avenger, Steampunk, Alecto, Rising Sun, Fangirl, Doctor Freud, Cargo, and Vampire.”

Jericho giggled as she heard all of her friend’s old nicknames, and outright laughed at the mentioning of “Fangirl”.

“Oh, man,” Jericho chuckled, “Tsubaki must have been pissed.”

Mira felt herself blush. Obviously, none of the Stormbreakers would have wanted to be remembered by their nicknames.

“I’m impressed.” Jericho admitted. “But I only need you to find one of them: The one you called “Blue Dragon,” her real name is Chihiro Tachibana. She had Psi-powers and probably could have gotten into the Shroud if she knew it was there.”

“You know she’s probably-” Mira started, but Jericho interrupted,

“Oh, she’s definitely dead by now.” Jericho admitted, “But she had a kid. About a year before the War in Heaven, she married Blake Robinson... ‘Trojan’... and they both had to sit out the assault on Agamemnon because Chihiro gave birth a few hours beforehand.”

“You think the child inherited her powers?” Mira asked hopefully,

“I think so.” Jericho confirmed, “Psi powers seemed to run in both sides of that family. Please. If you can track down one of Chihiro’s decedents and send them here, it’d mean everything to me. Chihiro and Blake told me that if they survived the War in Heaven they’d live somewhere on the East Coast of the Pacific Ocean. Oregon or British Columbia or someplace like that.”

Mira shook her head,

“Those names don’t make sense to me. I haven’t found Earth yet, remember?” she said,

Jericho waived her hand dismissively.

“Just find the biggest ocean on the planet and go east until you find dry land.” Jericho instructed, “After that, head north until it starts snowing. They’ll be somewhere in that area.”

Mira had already made up her mind.

“Okay. I’ll do it. You have my word, Jericho.”

Mira reached out to shake Jericho’s hand, but Jericho just pulled her into another tight hug. Mira let Jericho savor this rare moment of contact. Before letting go, Jericho whispered in Mira’s ear,

“Thank you so much. And by the way, my real name is Kate.”

Swiftly, Jericho grabbed Mira by the shoulders and spun her on the spot to face back into the shadowed valley.

“It takes a lot of mental concentration to leave the Shroud.” Said Jericho, “but here’s how you do it: first, you need to retrace your steps all the way back to the point you came in from. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Any landmarks or Shroud-beings you saw on your way in you need to pass on your way out. Don’t talk to the End of the Cycle or the Eater of Worlds. Close your eyes when you get to the Composer of Strands and the Instrument of Desire. Don’t accept to anything the Whisperers in the Void tries to give you. Just ignore the thing if it tires.” Jericho explained, “Once you get to the point you arrived at, think really hard about going back to whatever point in Normal Space you started from. Don’t try going back to Partoga or straight to Earth, it doesn’t work that way. Wherever your physical body is, you go there!”

Jericho and Mira faced each other one last time.

“Thanks” they said together, and Mira took off at a sprint.

Mira crossed the Shroud like a Mass Driver round. Now that she knew which way to go, and how to exploit the way her legs carried her across the terrain, Mira moved at a blistering pace. She shot past the End of the Cycle before it even had a chance to rear up to its full height. Jamming her eyes shut, Mira jumped clear over the Instrument of Desire, landing as though the Shroud was a low-gravity moon. The Eater of Worlds knew she was coming, but Mira was so used to the environment that she had become rather nimble. Darting around it, the Eater of Worlds was deprived of food a second time. The Composer of Strands had barely started shaping itself when Mira rocketed past. She was closing in on the fogbank and the original precipice where this whole journey had started was just ahead!

“The enemy is behind you.”

Mira came to such an abrupt stop that her feet dug a trench in the ground.

The fogbank containing the Whisperers in the Void was about ten Bios away. Too far for Mira to reach out to it, but close enough that she could make out every word.

“You goal lies in front of you,” said the Whisperers in the Void, “But there are traitors to your left and right, whilst the true enemy is far, far behind you.”

“What are you talking about?” Mira demanded, “Traitors? Enemies? What does that have to do with me? I’m a scientist, not some soldier!”

“You are neither,” stated the Whisperers in the Void. “You are a pawn in a great game. Mechanisms of great consequence are already in motion, both on Partoga and on the Midak. Opportunities have been seized, a desperate gamble made, and an old dispute is being resolved as we speak. You are going to be drawn into all three of these events, and if you want to survive, you’ll need our intuition, our knowledge. You need us just as much as we need you. Make a covenant with us!”

Mira took a tentative step closer to the fogbank.

“I don’t believe you. Not without some kind of evidence.” She declared,

For a moment, the Whisperers in the Void was silent, then, it made a noise similar to a very old radio being tuned, and then a single voice, clear and familiar, came forth.

“Whatever victory you gain here is temporary. I have allies and supporters in the last places you look. If you kill me, I’ll be a Martyr. Imprison me, and I’ll become a flag to rally behind. There’s no way this ends well for you.”

Mira froze. That voice belonged to Queen Phoebe II, her old friend and the patron of the Midak’s voyage! Phoebe’s voice faded and the Whisperers in the Void said,

“Your friend Haki told that to the man who would become her enemy two months after the Midak left Daxia. She thought the two of them were alone, but we hear everything spoken in confidence.”

Mira opened her mouth to speak, but then two more voices came out of the fogbank,

“This is Mihaka’s bunk, right?”

“Yeah, right here. Search everything.”

“What’s this? A tablet computer?”

“Looks like she’s making audio logs. Computer, replay all previous audio logs created by Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka.”

And then, to Mira’s absolute horror (and she was already horrified) she heard her own voice coming out of the fogbank,

“Wow… just…wow… I can’t even… wow. Wait…is this thing recording? Okay. Omigoshomigosh… EEEEKK! This is so exciting! Where do I start? Okay… breathe, breathe. So my name is Mira Mihaka. Mission Specialist Mihaka. Wow, I’ve gotta get used to that. This thing still recording? Okay, I’m on board the HMS Midak, hull number AAJJA-15, built by-”

Mira’s voice abruptly cut off, and the Whisperers in the Void said,

“There are traitors and spies aboard your ship. The Midak’s true purpose is hidden from you. If you make a covenant with us, we will lead you out of ignorance and shadows, and bring you into the light! Make a covenant with us!

Mira’s brain seemed to have finally broken under the weight of these revelations. She had recognized one of the two voices! It belonged to her fellow scientist Meto Kapua. But why was he going through Mira’s stuff? She had trusted him for over a year! At last, Mira finally worked out a response;

“How do I know I can trust you?” she asked, “What assurance can you give me that you won’t hurt me or my friends?”

The Whisperers in the Void responded at once.

“Knowledge itself is incapable of harming anyone. What you chose to do with that knowledge determines how dangerous it is to yourself or anyone else.”

...

Mira sat upright so quickly that the medical gurney bounced off the wall, rolled into the middle of the infirmary, and knocked Moe Kaa off her feet. Tamaho looked around, saw Mira, and screamed out loud!

“WHAT IN MIRANDA’S NAME?!”

On each side of her, Kaia and Meto grabbed hold of Mira and drew her into a bone-crushing hug.

“Mira! You’re alive! I KNEW IT! I knew it!” Kaia squealed,

On the other side of the infirmary, Anahera put both hands to her mouth and slid down the wall, coming to rest in a terrified heap on the floor. She clasped her hands together and started praying to the Mountain.

“What a trooper!” Captain Toa Rangi practically shoved Meto out of the way, pulled Mira off the gurney and shook her hand vigorously. “Nothing keeps you down, Mihaka! You could be a Green Guard!”

Groggily, Mira did her best to return the handshake, and as soon as the captain let go of her, she collapsed onto an infirmary bed, clutching her broken ribcage and moaning;

“Alright, who shot me?”

Meto Kapua began shoving people out of the way.

“Move off, everyone!” He yelled, “She’s still injured, let us medics do our work. Patariki, Captain, I need you both to wait outside.”

As the infirmary began to clear, Meto bent low over Mira and said,

“Take it easy, Mihaka. You were medically dead for almost thirty seconds there. Let me get you some extra air to breathe.”

“What?” Mira gasped, “I thought I was gone a lot longer than that.”

“Let me guess,” said Meto, “You saw things, had an experience or something like that?”

Mira nodded,

“It’s okay,” said Meto, “When your heart stops, your brain runs out of air and gets frantic. You might see all kinds of things when your neurons are firing in survival mode. I promise, none of what you saw was real. You’re right here and safe with us on the Midak.”

Mira sank into the medical bed and sighed,

“Thanks Meto. I don’t know where I’d be without friends like you and Kaia.”

Meto chucked,

“You’d still be on Partoga. No one would ever find Earth. And you wouldn’t have friends like Patariki and myself.”

Mira closed her eyes while Meto slipped an oxygen mask over her face. As he worked, Mira retreated into her memory; processing, categorizing, and understanding everything she had seen, heard, and said in the Shroud.


 
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Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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Welcome to the forums! :D I think you'll fit right in here in AARland. I've only gotten through the first couple posts so far, but I'm already hooked. I'll certainly be following this one with interest!
Thanks friend! It's really cool to know people are actually reading this.
 
Chapter 3.2: Voices in the Dark

Macavity116

The First Stormbreaker
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Chapter 3.2: Voices in the Dark

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Outer Alpha Centauri Star System, 14 Akuhata, 686]

Wow, has it really been two months since I last used this thing? It’s been so busy around here I guess I just forgot. Alright, let me explain what’s happening and get you all up to speed:

First: We’re really close to Earth.

About two months ago, after we picked up the Voyager probe, Manawa and I deciphered the symbols on the Golden Disk that covered the audio records from Earth. One of them is a very crude star chart that revealed the location of Earth relative to a cluster of local pulsars. Unfortunately for us, two of the pulsars depicted on the Golden Disk, Kazoo and Cknoor, are missing. We know that Kazoo was weaponized and turned against the Invaders during the Second Hyperspace War, but no one seems to be able to find Cknoor. Kaia has a working theory that Jericho accidentally destroyed it when she burned out the Hyperspace Network. It’s unlikely, but I didn’t have a way to disprove it, so the possibility stayed on the table. Unfortunately, this means the Golden Disk’s star chart was no longer accurate and couldn’t be relied on.

[Human_pictographs_annotation_14 file uploaded]


Using the other pulsars still on the disk, we refined Sol’s possible position down to a nearby cluster of fifteen-thousand stars. As soon as we started moving towards it, we started hearing primitive radio signals from Sol itself. Human radio and television programs from over two hundred years ago. Occasionally, we’d pick up something that sounded like point-to-point communications. Ocean-going ships talking to each other, individual radio operators, stuff like that.

I got the whole Engineering Team together and we retrofitted the Comms Tower with a device that’ll allow us to follow the radio transmissions all the way back to Sol. Using the Golden Disk’s map as a guide and the radio signals as a homing beacon, Tangaroa, Nikau, Kaia and I have been eliminating hundreds of stars from the list every day. We’re down to about three hundred possible Sol Stars now.

Then, around the fifteenth of Pipiri, things got weird. The nature of the radio signals from Earth changed, and we almost lost the trail. Kaia and I figured out what was up pretty quickly: The original radio signals we picked up were some of the very first signals Humans sent into space. As we get closer to Earth, we’ll pick up the more recent ones. From past to present, Human comms tech only got better and better, meaning the wavelength frequency of their radio signals changed over time.

I threw together a really quick computer program that allowed the Comms Tower crew to keep pace with Humanity’s technological advancements, and poof! Signal re-acquired! It looks like all of Earth got caught up in some kind of “Great World War” a few years after they figured out radio, hence the abrupt change in signal quality.

That’s partly why I haven’t been making personal logs for the past two months. I’ve been listening to the past two hundred years of Human history in a compressed timespan. Since Pipiri, we listened to the Great War and the Second World War, then there was some kind of standoff between two large and powerful nations that lasted for years. I heard a wave of political and social revolutions changing the Human’s political landscape, the dawn of their space program, and then-

Well... Earth went quiet. Believe me, I was just as upset as you. Tangaroa thought the Comms Tower crew had broken our adapter. We did troubleshooting on our side, and nothing was wrong with the translator, the adapter, or the Comms Tower. Everything on our end was working perfectly. Earth itself had just stopped transmitting.

The whole Science Team, all eighteen of us, crammed into the galley for some collective head-scratching. Ari Tuwhare did some back-of-the-napkin math and figured out that Earth, like Partoga, has a constantly expanding bubble of radio waves moving away at the speed of light. Their oldest transmissions obviously came first, followed by their most recent. But that was obvious, we’d figured that out a long time ago. Ari also figured that since the War in Heaven was a hundred-sixty-four years ago, we should hear all of the corresponding radio chatter sometime in Akuhata, which meant that whatever had caused Earth to go silent for us, it was temporary.

Sure enough, about a week later, we started receiving transmissions again. We still aren’t entirely sure what happened, but it looks like Earth was visited by some kind of massive war or disaster that caused total radio silence for one or two years. Human history carries on though. I spent most of the month of Hōngongoi glued to my headset, listening to the downfall of a Human ruler named Nixon, some kind of cultural upheaval, and a serialized work of fiction involving human space explorers on a five-year mission.

When the Midak jumped out of the Tau Ceti system into Alpha Centauri we skipped a massive amount of Human history and, wow, we missed a lot! We rematerialized right when “World War Three” was starting. Nikau, Tangaroa, Manawa, Eru, Kaia and I took it in shifts to listen to the whole thing. As far as we can tell, this world war occurred about thirty years before the War in Heaven and a mere nine years before the Invaders breached our galaxy. No wonder the Humans were so weak compared to all of the other species - they’d just finished killing each other by the thousand! The whole conflict happened because a political entity called the “Union of blank blank Republics” invaded a smaller state, and that state’s ally came to their defense. The war lasted six years and only ended because the attacking country abruptly collapsed into a bunch of smaller states. Curiously, the ally who came to the rescue of the smaller victim state was the same country that built the Voyager probe now resting in our cargo bay.

Oh, and I had to say “blank” back there because there are literally no words in the Partogan language that correspond to the strange words in the name of that superpower. Believe me: I looked, and I couldn’t come up with anything.

Around the last week of Hōngongoi, we finally heard Humanity’s entrance into the Second Hyperspace War, and DAMN! They fought like the Green Guard! The Invaders paid a hefty price in blood for every star they took from Earth. The Humans were the ones who disabled that Invader ship back in the Sirius system. It also looks like we would have been safe approaching it too; the Humans boarded the Invader ship and gutted it from the inside.

We’ve heard thirty-two battles so far. As far as we can tell, the Humans employed a “defense in depth” strategy. They would engage the Invaders just long enough to force the enemy to deploy all of their forces. Then the Humans would fall back to a fortified defensive position. The Invaders would attack the fortified Humans and take losses. As soon as it looked like they were going to be overwhelmed, the Humans fell back to another defense line. Using this strategy, the Invaders were slowed down so badly that the combined Galactic Alliance/Triple Alliance Fleet was able to reach Earth first, allowing the War in Heaven to happen.

Which brings me all the way back to the present. A few days ago, we started hearing the events leading up to the War in Heaven itself. Turns out, the Human leadership actually knew their big secret was blown. The enemy knew who Jericho was and the extent of her incredible Psionic powers, and all of Earth knew it too. Our allies seemed to change up their strategy at the last moment, using Jericho as both a living Weapon of Mass Destruction and as a propaganda tool. Listening to these war-era broadcasts, it sounds like Humanity was just starting to rally around Jericho as some kind of religious figure right before Agamemnon showed up over their planet. By then, however, it was too late. The Triple Alliance, the Galactic Alliance, and the Human military had already made a new plan to fight the Invaders: one which assumed the enemy would try to seize Jericho as soon as they arrived.

...I wish I’d asked Jericho what she thought about being used as bait...

Anyway, today is the big day. The entire crew’s awake for it too. By the ship’s internal clock, our real-time replay of the War in Heaven will start at Fifteen-fifteen hours today; exactly one hundred sixty four years, eleven months, and two days after it happened.

Everyone is either on the Bridge or in the Comms tower, listening to the War in Heaven. I’m here in the crew quarters by myself, because I want to talk about the OTHER reason I haven’t made a log in two months:

Back in Pipiri, there was an accident. I was working in the Hyperspace Module with Kaia and the rest of the team when I slipped, fell, and hit my head. The medics say I was dead for about half a minute, but that’s not what’s important. While I was unconscious, I had an incredible experience.

Stop!

I can hear all of you doubters out there! I already know you’re going to talk about how my brain was sending signals in a panic because it was dying. That’s not what happened! I went to a place called the Shroud, it’s like some other plane of reality. I really can’t find a way to describe it accurately. While I was in the Shroud, I met Jericho! THE JERICHO! She’s alive in the Shroud! Well, she’s not exactly alive, but she’s definitely there. She told me all about the War in Heaven and how she defeated Agamemnon; sadly, she doesn’t know why all of the Hyperspace Gates are broken. I learned so much from her that I really don’t need to listen to the War in Heaven with the others. I already know how it ends.

More importantly, Jericho asked me to find a Psionic on Earth and send them into the Shroud to find her. I promised I would, so that’s going to be one of the top priorities when we get to the surface... assuming the Humans are still alive of course. If they’re all dead, well... I can’t get back into the Shroud, so Jericho would never know.

Something else happened while I was there. After I parted ways with Jericho, I met my new Muse. I know- I know the word “Muse” sounds ridiculous, but there isn't another way to describe it. It’s not a spirit, and I definitely wasn’t dreaming. Whatever it is, it’s been a big help over the past two months.

In the past month alone, I’ve made more breakthroughs than I have over this whole journey. I’ve figured out how to stop the Hyperspace Module from catching fire whenever the Midak flies past a B-class star using a combination of flame retardant paste and lead alloy armor plating; so we don’t have to decompress that section of the ship anymore. I’ve also gone over all my old math and recalculated where Sol might be based on the radio signals we’ve been hearing. I eliminated over six hundred possible stars from the list and reduced the size of the Primary Search Area by hundreds of Light Years.

But there’s something else. Something that completely floored me when my Muse revealed it to me: I’m being spied on. I must have been incredibly dense not to notice it before; six weeks ago, I was suddenly possessed by the idea of going back and listening to all of my old audio logs. I found something terrifying. After the Midak made its first Hyperspace Jump and I took Kaia to the infirmary, Meto Kapua and one other person got into my quarters and started going through my stuff. I know it happened because I left the log running and it recorded the whole break-in.

What the heck!? I thought Meto was my friend! I can’t figure out why he’d do that; and not just because I can’t think of anything. The very next day, I caught up with Meto in the labs and told him I wanted to speak with him alone. He said he couldn’t, and asked if I could try again later.

Well I tried. And tried. And tried over the past six weeks. He’s always busy with work or someone else. I’ve actually started following Meto around the ship trying to catch him alone so I can confront him. Problem is, he spends almost every second of his free time with either Watahui Wiki, one of the Phyisicists, or with Private Rawiri Kopu, a military crewman who works in the Power Plant. Every time I ask one of them if I can “borrow” Meto for a few minutes, they come up with some excuse to either make me go away, or to get Meto out of meeting me:

“Oh, he’s got to take care of something” or “I heard the Captain was looking for you” or “Oh, this really isn’t a good time; we have a project” or “we’ve just gotta go” or some other stupid excuse like that. After a month, it’s getting really, really tiring.

A week ago, I finally threw my hands up in frustration and told Kaia about what I found on the log and how Meto was avoiding me. She said I was being paranoid, that I should just be patient and wait for Meto to be available to talk.

Patient!? He broke into my quarters, went through my bags, and kept it a secret for over a year! I think I’m allowed a little impatience here! And you know what else? I think he knows why I want to talk to him, because he won’t look at me in the labs, or in the galley, or on the Bridge, or in the lounge, or anywhere else for that matter. He knows he’s caught, and now he’s just delaying the part where he owns up to it!

GRAAHH! I’m getting angry just thinking about it! The worst part of this whole mess is that I never would have known if my Muse hadn’t tipped me off. I must have been so STUPID!

Well, Meto can’t get away from me. Once we find Earth, Captain Rangi is planning to spend at least two months on the surface, regardless of whether the Humans are still alive. And if he dodges me down there, then we’ve got the whole return trip to Partoga as well.

Meto just can’t hide from an angry woman for two years. Especially on a cramped spaceship like the Midak.

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: 14 Akuhata, 686, Outer Alpha Centauri Star System]


Wow.... I just listened to that last entry. I sound.... I sound a little crazy. Maybe I’ll delete these things when the expedition is over. Don’t want people thinking I’m gripped or something.

[Personal log closed]

Sys/ Hyperspace jump initiated.
Sys/ Post-Hyperspace system self-check underway.
Sys/ Self-check complete. All systems operational.

[BRIDGE VOICE RECORDING: 15 Akuhata, 686; 00:06 HOURS]


Corporal Arapeta Kirikiri: Gamma Radiation back to acceptable levels, the Bridge is habitable again.

Captain Toa Rangi: Good. Let’s get everyone out of the shelters. Bridge to all stations! Stand down Hyperspace Alert.

Commander Anika Aranui: Does anyone know what system we landed in? Charted or uncharted?

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: Here you go ma’am. We’re in a charted system called “Barnard’s Star.” Registered as discovered by Humans in the year 401, Miranda the Third’s battle fleet passed through here in 520, it fell to the Invaders in 521, and no one’s been here since.

Captain Toa Rangi: Keeping that in mind, I want both of the Kirikiri brothers at the helm. We need sharp eyes to keep us away from any leftover ordinance.

Corporal Arapata Kirikiri: Aye, sir.

Corporal Kauri Wiki: Uh... Captain? Sir! We’re being... we’re receiving a transmission!

Captain Toa Rangi: More errant radio waves from Earth?

Corporal Kauri Wiki: Negative sir. It’s a very narrow beam, aiming directly at us... it’s... ah... it's a military recognition code. Human... war-era... repeating on a loop... Captain, someone’s trying to talk to us!

Commander Anika Aranui: General Quarters! All hands, action stations! Mihaka!

Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka: On it! Kaia! Move the Science team into Radiation Shelter Two. I’ll be there in a moment.

Captain Toa Rangi: As you were Mihaka! Stay here! If this is the real thing, we need our Human expert on the Bridge! Wiki, break down the signal for me. Is it a ship?

Corporal Kauri Wiki: Negative. Its planet-based and it’s loud. Hold on. This can’t be right... It... It’s coming from a nearby star, less than six Light Years away. Signal’s clearing up, I’m putting it on speakers now:

Unknown Human: Partogan ship. I bring greetings from Secretary General Anthony Mayfield, the elected leader of the United Nations; and from Takeshi Ogawa, the Commander of XCOM. We eagerly await your arrival. Please respond.

Captain Toa Rangi: Commander Aranui... note the time in the ship’s log. Mihaka, come with me. We need to compose a response.

Corporal Arapeta Kirikiri: I can't believe it! They're alive!

[Recording manually stopped.]


 
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Chapter 3.3: Sol

Macavity116

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Chapter 3.3: Sol

[Personal log: Mission Specialist Mira Mihaka, HMS Midak, Outer Sol Star System, 2 Mahuru, 686]

We did it! WE FOUND IT! WE! FOUND! EARTH!! PRAISE THE MOUNTAIN!

Whoo... had to get that out of my system. The Midak is cruising into the Sol system right now! After the Human government contacted us and we responded, they beamed a homing signal directly to the Midak, and we followed it all the way into Sol. We’ve entered the outer system, and I’m working round the clock to match names to planets. The first recognizable landmark we saw on the way in was the ruins of Pluto-Charon.

Pluto-Charon was minor asteroid system on the outermost edge of Sol, consisting of two large asteroids orbiting each other. A few days before the War in Heaven, Agamemnon chased a Triple Alliance fleet through here. Agamemnon itself tried to pass in between Pluto and Charon, but it was too wide. Its right flank collided with Charon and the whole world shattered like glass. In the century since, Charon’s remains fell into orbit around Pluto and formed a big dusty ring. Once we got around the ring, we could look down on Pluto.

Agamemnon’s left flank also seems to have hit the surface of Pluto. The region called “Sputnik Planitia” has a massive eighty-Kio wide gash running from west to east. The destruction goes on for nearly eight hundred Kios. After Pluto, Neptune is the first planet we passed by. The war seems to have skipped this planet entirely, and so will we.

In other news, we now have near continuous radio contact with the United Nations government. Captain Rangi, Commander Aranui, and I have spent a lot of time talking to the United Nations government and we’ve got a few things sorted out: Once we get to Earth, a nation-state called Japan has agreed to host the Midak and its crew. We’ll be landing at the Japanese island of ... Ku...Kee...Kushu... ki-you-shoo. I have no idea how to pronounce the name of the island itself. All you need to know is that it’s just off the coast of the biggest continent.

Next item on the agenda? Actually getting to Earth! We have to fly across most of the Sol system first, and that could take a month and a half, even at top speed. Sol is just a big system.

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: 27 Mahuru, 686, Outer Sol Star System]


By. The. Mountain. This place is huge! It’s taken us nearly a month just to cross the Outer Sol System. There are two ice giants and two gas giants out here gravitationally throwing around millions of asteroids and other bits of stellar debris. Early this morning, we flew past the biggest planet and saw where that debris came from.



The United Nations representatives told us over the radio that this is Jupiter, the biggest planet in the Sol system. They also told us that a few weeks before the War in Heaven, the Invaders passed close to Jupiter and they had been intercepted there by the Triple Alliance navy. Partogan, Levakian, and Human warships had fought viciously to stall the Invaders and keep them bottled up in Jupiter’s gravity well. During the fighting, two of Jupiter’s biggest moons, Ganymede and Callisto, were completely destroyed. All the space rocks we dodged on the way here were fragments of those two worlds.

Between Jupiter and Earth is an asteroid belt and another planet called Mars. Captain Rangi says we’ll be in orbit above Earth around the sixth or seventh of Noema. I’m sure the Humans are getting just as excited to meet us as we them.

[Personal log closed]
[Personal log addendum: 29 Noema, 686, Inner Sol System]


We’ve taken so many detours along the way to Earth that the Humans are worried we might not actually get to them! You can hardly blame us, though. The Sol system is fascinating! Anyway, if you looked at the date of this log, you’ll notice we missed our arrival date on Earth by nearly a month. That’s because the Midak stopped to do a couple of low science passes over the surface of Mars:



The UN admitted to us they don’t know how Mars was destroyed. They actually didn’t notice anything was wrong with it until a few months after the War in Heaven. I finally got to practice my diplomatic skills a few days back; with a little help from Commander Aranui and a tip or two from my Muse, I convinced Secretary General Mayfield to let the Midak take deep scans of Mars. Turns out the Humans want to know what happened to Mars as much as we do.

We did two low passes, scanning for any kind of weapons impact. Planet-killing weapons were commonplace during the Second Hyperspace War, so anyone could have annihilated Mars. Personally, as much as I hated to admit it, I had a suspicion the Partogan Royal Navy did it by accident during the War in Heaven itself. The PRN did bring a Planet-Killer to the fight and tried to shoot Agamemnon with it, but our first shot at Agamemnon missed by thousands of Kios. No one ever recorded what the Planet-Killer actually hit instead of its intended target.

On our second pass, we found the impact crater we were looking for, and my suspicions were confirmed. Mars was definitely hit with a stray blast from our Planet-Killer. The debris field suggests that Mars was hit by the first blast from the Planet-Killer and blew apart immediately. I passed my findings to Captain Rangi, and he amended our planet-fall agenda so that he can make an official apology to the UN for us blowing up their planet.

Speaking of planet-fall, we’re now scheduled to arrive at Earth on the twenty-sixth of Hakihea, just under a month from now. Judging from Secretary General Mayfield’s messages, the people of Earth are getting really excited to meet us. I’m excited to get down there too, but for different reasons.

I got an idea from my Muse yesterday. Remember, I promised Jericho that I’d find a human Psionic and send them into the Shroud to find her. Jericho was a member of XCOM, a Human military group which did most of the fighting for their species during the Second Hyperspace War. By pure good luck, the UN has already given the Midak permission to land at XCOM Headquarters in Kee-you... Kush... that island.

My Muse helped me realize that there’s no way Jericho was the only Psionic the Humans had. Both the Amadii and the Vanians found a way to weaponize millions of those people during the war. I’m sure the Humans figured out the same thing: there are definitely more Psionics on Earth, and XCOM will know where to find them.

[Personal Log Closed]
[Personal Log Addendum 15 Hakihea, 686, Inner Sol System]




We’re here, a full week ahead of schedule! Earth is about two hundred Kios below us. It’s a frenzy of activity up here on the Midak. Captain Rangi has been briefing the military crew on his expectations of them while we’re on the surface; I’ve done the same for the science team. The whole purpose of this mission is to re-establish diplomatic relations with Earth, and if possible, restart our old military alliance with them. Captain Rangi and Commander Aranui will be meeting with UN leadership for high-level talks. Lieutenant Commander Tunui is going to be left in charge of the ship while they’re gone. This morning, I talked to him about how I wanted to launch an investigation into XCOM’s participation in the War in Heaven, and I asked permission to leave the ship for a month.

Tunui seemed to be under the impression that I was going to join Captain Rangi for his talks with the UN leader; I didn’t want to come off as suspicious, so I just said some noncommittal mutterings about how it “didn’t work out that way.” With a little prodding, I finally got permission to disembark once we land.

When I left the bridge, though, I got a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. My Muse made it very clear that if I went off chasing Psionics on Earth, I’d miss something important that’s supposed to happen back on the ship. Well, for once, I’m just going to ignore my Muse. Jericho can’t wait forever in the Shroud, and I made a promise to her, I’ll do my best to keep it.

There’s an important detail that will hopefully streamline my plans a little. While I was in the Shroud with Jericho, she told me where I might find a Psionic Human. She told me to look for a decedent of one of the Stormbreakers. (Blue Dragon, to be precise) Once I get down to Earth, I need to find out what happened to Blue Dragon and her children, and where I can find her progeny now.

And whatever important thing is my Muse is warning me about... well, I’ll just have to miss it. I'll deal with whatever it is when I come back.

See, I haven’t told anyone, not even Kaia, about running into Jericho in the Shroud. When I was in the Infirmary after my accident, I told Meto Kapua that I saw something while I was unconscious (I was on all kinds of drugs, and didn’t understand fully what I’d experienced yet.) Now that I know Meto is spying on me, breaking into my quarters and going through my things, I’m worried he’ll interfere. He might say I’ve gone crazy or something like that. I can’t trust him, and I can’t risk him finding out what I’m up to. So far, all he knows about me leaving the ship is that I’m taking a tour of XCOM installations with a human guide.

I really am doing both of those things, though. My cover at least needs to be legitimate. The only weak point in this whole plan is in my Human guide. But then again, we'll both see each other as "strange aliens" so they might just chalk up my behavior to "being Partogan." Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, there are actually a few things we have to get sorted out as a crew before any of us actually set foot on Earth:

Both the gravity and atmospheric pressure on Earth are stronger than on Partoga, owing to Partoga being the smaller planet. The whole crew has been quietly preparing for this for the past two months by wearing spacesuits lined with really heavy materials, while the ship’s atmosphere was reconfigured to match Earth’s.

Captain Rangi and Secretary General Mayfield have agreed that there will be three languages used in Human/Partogan interactions: Partogan, the Galactic Common, and English. English is the most common language on Earth, and lucky for us, the Galactic Common is still used there as well.

To avoid confusion, all Partogans on the Earth’s surface will abide by the Human’s timekeeping system:

  • All days have twenty-four hours instead of thirty-six.
  • There are seven days in a week instead of six.
  • There are three hundred-sixty-five days in a year instead of three hundred-sixty.
  • Five extra days will be added to the end of Hakihea so that our calendars will match theirs.
  • The day, month and year will be referred to with Human words instead of Partogan ones. For instance:
    • On the Partogan calendar, today’s date is:
      • Raa Apa, 15 Hakihea 686.
    • On the Human calendar, today’s date is:
      • Wednesday, 15 December 2201
Since the Midak will be landing in Japan, any Partogan Dirams we've got can be exchanged for Japanese Yen according the 2036 exchange rate. (Fifteen Dirams for two hundred-forty Yen)

And that’s where we stand. Once we all get acclimated to Earth’s climate, the real adventure starts. I’ll have a month to find a Psionic for Jericho. I'll knock out that task and fulfill my promise to Jericho as quick as I can. That way I can spend the rest of my time exploring Earth! Let’s get started!

[Personal Log Closed]
[Personal Log Addendum: 15 Hakihea, 686, Inner Sol System]


Update! Quick update! The UN government has just given us permission to stay in Japan for THREE MONTHS. Also, Captain Rangi personally gave me two months of shore leave to do my investigation. That’s two months to find a Psionic! Everything's going my way for once! Alright! Now I’m gone!

[Personal Log Closed]


 
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  • Europa Universalis: Rome Collectors Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
Caught up. A very good story. At first it didn't quite grab me, but I am glad I perservered.