Archive for June, 2012

Space Madness: Episode IX

Posted in science fiction on June 29, 2012 by Alex


Captain Pappas’ Manual of Alien Technologies, item 11: Propulsion System.

Fuel source: unknown. Possibly a combination of antimatter for short range maneuvering, and cosmic ray capture for long distance travel. This is all speculation and should be verified when I dock.

Duration: indefinite. Or at least longer than any human would care to stay in space. Recommend for further study. If the techs at Orion can reverse engineer this for planetary use, that would render ancient debates about energy use moot.

Personality: Strong yet sensitive. The maneuvering thrusters like a good stretch now and then. Make sure they get it. The ship will respond with a low frequency hum (about 80 Hz) to signal its enjoyment. Treat her well.

The ship finally docked. The last few weeks of Paps’ journey, since he made contact with the colony on Orion, seemed longer than the rest of the trip. Humans. Real, honest to God humans. Paps was excited to see civilization again. Excited and scared. Would civilization take him back? Would they believe his warnings about the Remotes? Would he be able to settle down, or would he get locked in an insane asylum?

The airlock opened into the space station orbiting the colony. This station wasn’t here when Paps left Orion. At that time, the settlement was a ragtag group of scientists and military personnel trying to survive on a hostile planet. The colonists weren’t even sure if this could be made into a permanent settlement, hence the need to scout for habitable planets elsewhere. Clearly a lot of progress had been made.

Paps stepped out of the airlock and stood at attention. “Captain Anton K. Pappas at your service. You can call me Paps if you like.”

The most decorated of the greeting party saluted. “Welcome back to Orion, Captain. I’m General Ricardo Salazar. We’ve got a lot to discuss. Follow me and you can be debriefed.”

Paps followed the General out of the docking bay and into a smaller corridor. He was flanked by two security looking types, and followed by a curious looking woman with a notebook in her hand. She was observing Paps’ and making little marks in her notebook. Oh. A psychiatrist. Paps supposed that was not entirely unexpected, but it was still unnerving.

“They think you might be crazy. Of course, they might be right.” Hal circled Paps’ escorts, studying them. Paps didn’t respond.

“You aren’t going to be debriefed. You’re going to be interrogated. Observed. Psychoanalyzed. Possibly poked and prodded. If you warn them about the Remotes, they won’t believe you. I must admit I am looking forward to seeing human interrogation techniques.”

Paps choked on his own tongue. The guards stopped and put their hands on their sidearms. The psychiatrist backed off a bit. “I’m alright, I’m alright. I’m a bit overwhelmed right now. It’s… just good to see people again.”

General Salazar put his hand on Paps’ shoulder. “I understand, Captain. It’s good to have you back. We want to do all we can to make your transition back into civilization a smooth one. But we’re going to have to ask you a few questions first. I hope you understand.”

Paps nodded.

“Just a few more meters this way, Captain.”

The guards relaxed and Paps followed into the debriefing room. Paps sat down at the table. General Salazar and the psychiatrist sat down across from him, while the guards waited outside. Hal was pacing back and forth behind the General and the shrink. Paps tried to avoid him with his eyes, unsuccessfully.

The psychiatrist made another little mark in her notebook, then spoke. “Hello Paps. My name is Dr. Capitate. I’m the station psychiatrist.”

Paps nearly fell out of his chair. He had been mentally preparing for this debriefing, going over in his mind the possible questions he could be asked, but he was completely thrown off by this young lady’s name. “Dr. Capitate? Are you serious?”

“Yes. Why, did you know someone from my family before you left?”

“No, no. That’s just a hell of a name for a head doctor. I don’t suppose your first name begins with a D?”

“Yes, it’s Diana. How did you know that?”

Paps could not contain his laughter. He didn’t know which was more bizarre, the fact that he was being questioned by a psychiatrist named D. Capitate, or that she seemed not to know why that was a funny name for a shrink. “Lucky guess. You don’t find anything unusual about your name?”

Dr. Capitate looked a little confused. “No… I suppose I’ve never really thought about it before.”

Hal was standing behind her, looking even more amused than usual. “This is certainly the strangest interrogation I have ever seen.”

Paps’ giggling slowed down enough for him to speak again. “I’m sorry, you’re here to ask me some questions. Fire away.”

Dr. Capitate sat up straight and clasped her hands together in an attempt to look like she had done this before. “I have read all the reports you transmitted to us on your way in. Your crew died on an alien planet. The local aliens inexplicably fixed your ship and upgraded it, presumably so you could destroy more aliens. You must realize that this story is a bit difficult for anyone to believe.”

“Of course. When the techs here examine the ship, they’ll see the improvements and everyone will be forced to believe me.”

Dr. Capitate made another little mark in her notebook. “I also read some of the technical specifications you sent us. The ones about the alien devices. It seems you have developed some sort of relationship with your ship. Is that correct?”

Paps was getting the distinct feeling that the good doctor here wasn’t interested in what he had to say. She seemed to be observing his reactions more than his responses. “My ship was the only thing keeping me company on the way back. I spent more than three years on her, completely alone. What would you expect?”

“I understand, Captain. No need to get defensive.”

Paps exhaled angrily. Dr. Capitate scribbled a couple more notes in her notebook.

“Tell me Captain, how did your crew taste?”

Paps bolted upright, knocking his chair against the back wall. He slammed his hands down on the table. “What kind of question is that?!”

General Salazar was pointing a gun at Paps. “Sit down and answer the question Captain.”

Hal was having some kind of amusement orgasm at this point. “Oh, my! They think you ate your crew!”

Paps grabbed the chair from the floor and angrily plopped back into it. “I never thought I would have to utter this phrase, but I did not eat my crew. You read my reports. You know what happened to them.”

Dr. Capitate looked at the General and nodded. General Salazar nodded back. “You’re dismissed, Doctor.”

Dr. Capitate grabbed her notebook and left.

“Sorry about that, Captain. Modern psychiatric techniques, you know.”

“No, I don’t.”

General Salazar lit a cigar that smelled like cinnamon for some reason. “Well, down to business. I need all the intel you’ve got on these Remotes.”

Paps was a little surprised that the General believed him so quickly. Then again, part of a general’s job is to assess potential threats. “Well, if it came to war we wouldn’t stand a chance. They could wipe us out before we even fired a shot.”

General Salazar chewed on his cigar for a bit. The smell of cinnamon was getting stronger. “It looks like we’re gonna have to upgrade our defenses, then. Captain, I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to take apart your ship to get a handle on all of its new technology. I’m especially interested in that positron gun you’ve got aboard.”

Paps suddenly felt ill. His insides tied themselves up in knots, and the back of his head started throbbing. “That’s a bad idea, Sir.”

Why was it a bad idea? This was what Paps had wanted all along, wasn’t it? To get to Orion and let the authorities here take over, to find someplace quiet on the planet and retire in peace?

Hal spoke into Paps’ ear. “No, you can’t let them take the ship apart, can you? The mere thought of leaving her for good makes you sick your stomach. Face it, Captain, you are part of her and she is part of you. You can’t leave her without destroying your mind. What’s left of it, anyway. You need to go back to the ship, you need to get a crew. You need to fly off into space and find the homeworld of the Remotes. You need to destroy them before they get a chance to destroy humanity.”

Hal had never sounded more serious. This should have worried Paps, but he was more worried about the fate of his ship at the moment. Hal continued. “Lucky for you, your ship is not helpless. She will not let herself be dissected.”

The General leaned forward. “Sorry, Captain. We need to learn as much as we can, as fast as we can. A team of engineers is already at the docking bay, ready to start.”

The war going on between Paps’ internal organs escalated. Those engineers were as good as dead. “You have to get them out of there! She’ll sense a threat! They’re not safe!”

The General’s face turned white. He tapped the comm unit on his ear. “What’s the status of the salvage operation?” A long pause followed. “I see. Get the bodies out of there. No one else goes near that ship unless I order it.”

General Salazar took his earpiece off and threw it on the table. “Three of our best engineers are dead from electrocution. You want to explain what happened?”

Paps took a deep breath. “I’m afraid my ship won’t let anyone near her without my approval. She definitely won’t let anyone take her apart.”

The General’s cigar began to smell minty. “I guess all we’ve got to go on now is your technical report.”

“Look, General. That ship is the most advanced piece of technology any human being has ever seen. It can be the first line of defense for Orion. You can build more advanced defenses based on what I’ve given you. All I ask is that you give me a crew to help me run things on board.”

The General chomped on his minty cigar a little longer. “I’ll have to get approval from the governor. He still thinks you killed and ate your crew, and probably will not trust our safety to you. As of right now, you’ll either get your crew, or you’ll spend the rest of your life undergoing behavioral modification.”

Hal laughed out loud. “And you thought the Remotes’ zoo sounded scary.”


Space Madness: Episode VIII

Posted in science fiction on June 28, 2012 by Alex


Governor Stone hated riding the Space Elevator. The idea of climbing up a cable suspended by an orbital platform gave him the willies. He couldn’t fathom how the thing stayed up there with nothing to hold it. The Science advisor, what was his name? Nanook? Well, he had patiently tried to explain that it was perfectly safe and the station wouldn’t come plunging down into the city because it was already falling as fast as gravity would make it in order to maintain its geo-synchronous orbit and blah, blah, blah.

It still gave him the willies. He had avoided visiting the orbital platform, unofficially known as “Orion’s Lobby,” for his entire three year term. Now his duties demanded that he greet the visitor on his way to the planet.

No, not a visitor, a returning explorer who had left over 200 years ago on a mission to scout out potential new colonies. 200 years? The Science Advisor, what was his name? Nerdstrom? He had patiently explained that from the perspective of the ship, a mere 5 to 10 years will have passed, due to the effects of traveling at near the speed of light and blah, blah, blah.

Governor Stone hated science. He was perfectly content to deal with the day to day goings on on the planet: legal issues, moral issues, whether the mural on the wall of the museum would be construed as offensive to anyone. The Science Advisor, what was his name? Nosferatu? He had patiently explained that the scientists and engineers were the ones keeping the settlement on Orion habitable, that the planet had no underground oil reserves, that methane and deuterium had to be mined from the gas giant, unofficially referred to as “Orion’s Lawyer,” in order to power the lights on the surface and blah, blah, blah.

Fine, let the scientists and engineers keep the lights on while I deal with the important things, like whether public shouting should be illegal.

The elevator stopped. The doors opened into a warehouse sized room, filled with lots of containers and mining equipment. A small man wearing an orange jumpsuit approached. “Governor Stone, welcome to Orion’s Lobby. If you will follow me you can be briefed on the approaching ship. Oh, make sure the soles of your shoes are magnetized, unless you want to float all the way to the briefing room.”

Governor Stone obliged. He strapped a piece of magnetized metal to the bottom of each of his shoes. His feet may have been anchored to the floor, but his stomach certainly wasn’t.

“Sorry about the weightlessness, Governor. We can’t generate artificial gravity in the part of the station that’s tied to the cable. I must say, you’re holding up pretty well, most people chuck the first time they visit this part of the station. We have a hell of a time cleaning up floating bits of half-digested food.”

The Governor’s face turned green. “You’re not helping.”

The little man in the orange jumpsuit nodded in apology and moved on. “This way, sir.”

Governor Stone followed the little man in the orange jumpsuit to a hatch located on one of the walls. The hatch opened, revealing a small spinning room with two more hatches attached to the sides.

“Grab the handles to orient yourself. Remember, the walls will become the floor.”

Stone grabbed one of the handles and opened one of the hatches, revealing a ladder that led into another elevator. He climbed in, the hatch closed above him, and the elevator started to move. Governor Stone could feel his stomach settling back into place as the gravity level started to increase back to a more comfortable level.

The elevator stopped. The door opened with a whooshing sound. This was a completely unnecessary sound for an elevator door to make, but apparently the engineers who built the place enjoyed it. Some kind of homage to ancient Earth literature about space travel.

The little man in the orange jumpsuit led Governor Stone down a hallway to the briefing room.

He took a seat, exchanged greetings with General Shazam or whatever his name was, and the lead technician for the orbital platform, Dr. Mooney.

“What’s the situation, boys?”

The general switched a viewscreen on that displayed the current position of the incoming ship. “The visitor, Captain Pappas, will be in position to dock in two days. He’ll board the station and undergo a twenty four hour quarantine, after which he will be debriefed and undergo some minor societal readjustment therapy. He’ll probably be disappointed that we discontinued the search for more colonies only ten years after he left.”

Governor Stone nodded wisely. “How come he’s the only one on the ship? Didn’t he have a crew when he left?”

The general sat down and sighed. “We have only had intermittent contact with Pappas since he came into range. He did tell us that his crew died on the planet they were scouting. But given the known long-term psychological effects of deep space travel, we’ll have to investigate that claim to be sure.”

Stone’s eyes bulged. “You mean he may have murdered his own crew? And we’re going to let this man run around on our settlement?”

The general, who was rumored to have never smiled, did not smile. “We don’t know anything right now, that’s why we’re going to have the investigation.”

Governor Stone did not like the sound of this. Nobody had left this system for deep space in over one hundred years. There hadn’t been any arrivals in over fifty. Stories were passed down over the generations of the horrors of deep space, of crews gone insane that were driven to cannibalism and suicide. Someone had done a study a few years back estimating that there could be twenty to thirty empty spaceships floating in interstellar space, abandoned by their delusional crews, never to be seen again. “What do you think, Dr. Mooney?”

Dr. Mooney looked up from a computer pad. “Well, the fact that he had the wherewithal to get the ship back here without a crew suggests he probably hasn’t lost all his marbles. He can’t have progressed beyond stage 3 of space madness.”

“Stage 3? What’s that?”

“Stage 3 manifests itself as anxiety, usually identified by finding fingernail marks in the walls of the ship.”

Governor Stone stroked his chin knowingly. “What stage of space madness is killing and eating your crew?”

“Stage 7 is killing your crew. Stage 8 is eating them.”

“I see,” said Governor Stone. Then he realized he didn’t see after all. “Who came up with all these stages, anyway?”

Dr. Mooney didn’t like explaining things to politicians. “The stages were identified by some of the early pioneers of space travel, when all of the human colonies were being established. It’s what we have to go on, given that nobody around here has ventured off into deep space for such a long time.”

“I see. So how long until I can introduce this Captain Paper to the general public during a reasonably grand homecoming ceremony?”

Both the general and Dr. Mooney restrained themselves from slapping their own foreheads. The general spoke up. “We’ll let you know when he’s available.”

“Right, well, I shall prepare myself to meet this Captain Parthenon in two days. Make sure there is ample security. I don’t want to get eaten.”

“Yes, sir.”

Space Madness: Episode VII

Posted in science fiction on June 19, 2012 by Alex


Captain Pappas’ Manual of Alien Technologies: item 3, the Positron Gun.

The positron gun fires a tight beam of positrons through space at a desired target. The beam fires a 20 millisecond pulse of positrons at a current of anywhere between 50 and 1000 Amperes. The beam stays coherent for a range of up to 200 kilometers. Once the target is hit, the positrons annihilate with the electrons contained in the desired target. The resulting explosion splits the target’s molecular bonds, and creates a high energy plasma which can create secondary explosions.


The positrons are contained by a magnetic field generated by a high temperature superconductor of unknown composition. The method of placing the positrons in the magnetic field is at this time unknown.

Paps had been working for months now, cataloguing the various new devices on his ship. There were numerous defense systems: magnetic shielding for the hull strong enough to deflect high power laser pulses, weapons for every occasion, a short range maneuvering system that completely baffled him but made the ship capable of running circles around any ship he had ever seen.

This was leading to the inescapable conclusion that Paps had been handed a warship. He also discovered that the ship’s command systems were keyed to his own DNA and voice patterns. Nobody else would be able to fly this thing. Paps would never be able to leave the ship permanently, unless he was able to key the ships system to somebody else, though he had no idea how to do that.

He needed a computer specialist to help him with this. More than that, he needed a crew if this ship was going to operate at full capacity.

Paps was reluctantly starting to enjoy his task. He had been getting to know every inch of his revamped vessel and was beginning to forget about his desire to leave it for good. He felt exhilarated every time he figured something out. Every new system he discovered seemed to be inviting him to explore, to solve this alien puzzle, to join with the ship.

No, that was crazy. You can’t join with a piece of technology, no matter how advanced, no matter how fascinating, no matter how sexy.

Paps fell to his knees. The ship was in his head, in his nervous system. He could almost feel the movement of the ship through space. He had to fight off these impulses that were driving him. He knew they were coming from this alien influence, which scared the hell out of him, but were also intoxicating. “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!”

“I leave you alone for a little while to let you get to know your ship, and look what happens.” Then there was Hal. Was he part of this? Was he the ship’s first inroad into his mind?

“Fantastic. I’ve got a ship that’s taking over my body, and now you’re back just to watch and be fascinated. How the hell am I going to deal with normal humans when I get back to them?”

Hal responded with his typical air of superiority. “I believe you have your relationship with your ship backwards. It’s not taking you over, it is letting you take it over.”

“And where do you come in? Are you part of the ship, meant to guide me through this? I am being drawn to tinker with every little system. I think the ship is jolting the pleasure center of my brain when I discover something new. Every time I stop, I get the shakes and I have to get back to exploring the ship’s systems. What the hell is it doing to me?”

“I must admit that I don’t know. This is the first time in the history of the universe that a human has been bonded to spaceship in such a way. I am extremely curious about the results.”

Paps was revolted by this idea, though he knew he wouldn’t be revolted for long. Soon his desire to tinker would reassert itself, and he would once again feel the thrill of discovery. “You’re curious?! I’ve lost my mind over here and you’re curious? Just what the hell are you?”

Hal had that “I’m about to tell you something that you definitely won’t believe” look on his face. “I have told you before, I exists in all of time and space, and I like to observe interesting phenomena, interesting species, and you certainly qualify on both counts.”

Paps toppled over, his hands shaking. He had to know something more. “You’ve got to give me more than that. You know about the Duners, how they communicate. You knew about the Remotes before we even entered their system. You’re part of this. At least tell me something about what’s happening before I have the uncontrollable desire to fix the squeaks in all the chairs!” Paps tried to resist thinking that fixing the squeaks in the chairs sounded wonderful, that the chairs would appreciate it oh so much and would give him their eternal gratitude and the seats might seem a little softer and form-fitting and…

“Would you like to hear a story about the Duners and the Remotes?”

“Yes. Especially if it makes what’s going on here make more sense.”

“Well, I can’t promise that. But I can promise it will be interesting, at least it’s interesting to me. I must say that you don’t seem to rejoice in the wonders of the universe the same way that I do. Maybe it’s the stress, or…”


“Right. Well, a long time ago, the Remotes were a much more outgoing race. This was shortly after their sun became a red giant. This being many millions of years ago, they looked quite different from the way they look now. They terraformed many of the planets in this sector, looking to build a new home that would suit them long term.”

Paps started to relax. He had been working so hard these last few weeks that he hadn’t had time to sleep much. “Go on. If I nod off, that’s probably a good sign.”

“Would you like me to tuck you in here on the floor of the corridor?”

“Just keep talking.”

Hal smirked. “Alright, then. Now the Remotes never got along well with other races. They never really had to, since there was nobody in the galaxy powerful enough to oppose them. They weren’t warlike, mind you, but they would happily bulldoze entire star systems containing ancient civilizations if they proved to have the raw materials required for their needs.

“The Remotes are also expert genetic engineers. Many of the species they encountered were rounded up for observation and experimentation. Some species has traits that the Remotes wished to co-opt for themselves. Others had traits desirable for beasts of burden, but free will usually had to be engineered out of their genome.”

Paps felt a sudden dose of reality stab him in the temple. “Is that what they’ll do to humans if they go to war with us? Kill almost everyone and take the rest for experiments?”

“Possibly, they have probably already done this with a few of you. The Remote back at the space station did say that your species had been catalogued. Lucky for you, they are not as outgoing as they used to be. At least as far as I know.”

Paps sat in silence.

Hal began again. “The ones that they used for labor were usually fairly intelligent. They had to be in order to operate all the terraforming equipment and computers. One of these laborer species was what you like to call the Duners. About 20 million years ago, the Remotes left their planet and, for that matter, all of the other colonies that they had established. They left an interesting legacy behind. On the one hand, they destroyed almost everything that was in their path, extracting all the raw materials from star systems, making it impossible for any kind of life to regain a foothold there. On the other, most of the species and civilizations they destroyed werea also preserved and left on their abandoned colony planets, albeit preserved in a form that rarely resembled what they used to be.”

Paps yawned. “When they abandoned the colonies, where did they go?”

“That’s a mystery that even I don’t know the answer to. They are clearly still around, as evidenced by the base they keep, or rather kept, around their star system of origin. I will say that many of the species left behind learned to resent the Remotes for the havoc they caused. I believe this to be the case with your Duner friends.”

Paps was sound asleep.

Hal was pleased. “When you awake tomorrow, you’ll be refreshed and ready to go back to work.”

Space Madness: Episode VI

Posted in science fiction on June 4, 2012 by Alex


Paps looked up at an unfamiliar room. It was very bright, but none of the light seemed to be coming from anywhere. He was lying on the floor, unable to move. A tall, alien figure moved into his view. The light that seemed to come from nowhere bent around the figure, creating a shimmering halo and obscuring any identifiable features. The figure was carrying a box in its tentacle-like hands. The floor began to shake slightly. Some lights on the box started flashing, and then the box spoke in a seductive female voice. “We have a mission for you.”

Paps bolted awake and fell forward onto the floor of the bridge. He had fallen asleep in the Space Captain’s Chair again. He made a mental note to find other places on the ship to sleep, maybe even make a tour of it.

“Nightmares again?”  Paps had been trying to avoid Hal ever since he blew up the space station. Every time something happened, there was Hal, pointing out an alien device that had slipped his notice that miraculously saved the day. Paps didn’t want any more intervention. He was sick of it. He just wanted to get back to the Orion Colony, tell them about what happened and let them deal with the matter so he could retire in peace.

“You can’t ignore me forever, Captain. I go where you go.”

Paps slowly got up to his feet and glared at Hal. “Maybe a nightmare, maybe a memory, maybe both.”

Hal looked very interested by this. Then again, Hal was very interested by a lot of things. Only a week before he managed to spend an entire hour commenting on the similarity between the rhythms of the engines and the music of various alien cultures. This was a different kind of interest, though. This was the kind of interest that Paps had come to dread, the kind of interest that always foreshadowed completely insane events. “Are you starting to remember what happened with the Duners?”

Paps needed some tea to calm his nerves. What he really wanted was whiskey, but there wasn’t any on the ship, so he settled for tea. He slowly walked over to the Space Water Dispenser. “Just bits and pieces. They had me locked up in a room for a long time. They spoke to me using that translator I used with the Remotes.”

“What did they say?”

Paps took a sip of his tea. It tasted like hot water, which is what it really was. “Just that they have a mission for me. I imagine that mission had something to do with me blowing up that space station.”

“Do you think your mission is complete?”

Paps shot an angry look at Hal. “Oh no you don’t. Every time you throw me a curveball question like that, something bizarre happens. I’m going back to Orion, to talk to human beings again, maybe even to recover what’s left of my sanity. No more side trips!”

“I can assure you, that is where you are going. Just know that you may not be able to stay long.”

Paps started breathing heavily. He felt the need to compose himself once again. “I don’t understand. What else could I do for them?”

“I don’t know. But they upgraded almost everything on this ship. This is now the most advanced, and the most powerful, ship ever flown by a human. I don’t think a gift like that would be given for a single mission.”

Hal was right. Everything on the ship worked better than before the crash on the Duners’ planet. The propulsion systems worked better, the hull was stronger. There wasn’t a single minor system that needed repair or maintenance. More than that, there were entirely new systems that Paps hadn’t been able to identify. The positron gun was more powerful than any weapon fired by any human ever. The ship should have run out of fuel months ago, but there was still enough left to make a trip halfway across the galaxy. “Yea, well they didn’t give the tea any flavor.”

Hal smiled. “Might I suggest that you learn as much about the new systems as you can before you reach Orion? It might shed light on what your mission actually is. Oh, and it will give you something to do.”

“I want no part of this mission, Hal, whatever it might be. I want off. I want to go retire to someplace quiet. I have had enough of these aliens controlling my actions. The techs on Orion can learn all they want about this ship when I get there. They can mount a defense against the Remotes if they decide to retaliate. I’m done.”

Hal moved uncomfortably close to Paps’ face. “You may not have any choice in the matter, Captain. Better to be prepared than to be caught with your pants down again.”

Hal continued with his annoying habit of being right. At the very least, the techs at Orion would want reports and schematics of the upgraded systems when he docked. They might not believe what had happened. No human had ever encountered an alien race on a mission before, let alone two different races on the same trip. Most of the planets colonized to this point didn’t have any life more complex than bacteria. Many believed that humans were the only intelligent species in the galaxy. This was a belief Paps had held before his current mission. How was he going to convince anyone that not only is there other intelligent life out there, but humanity was now at war with it? The new systems were the only evidence to that effect. “Alright, I’ll study the new systems, just so I can report how they work. Once I reach Orion, I’m done.”

“Excellent! Finally, something fun to do around here! Cue the montage music, maestro, we’re going to learn!”