Musings from the office of an exploration vessel's captain.
The date is 2.9.2776. This may take some time to reach you
Have you ever traveled by way of spaceship out of the star system and looked at a view of the planet you’ve left from far, far away?
It’s tiny, isn’t it? If you can still see it, that is.
Heavily bodies—planets, moons, even stars—are so massive, so colossal that they dwarf our tiny forms; our largest structures orbit these bodies as flies around a mountain. Tiny and insignificant. And yet, from a certain distance
planets, moons, and stars
are just dots.
Tiny and insignificant.
The black is so vast. Before we knew we could, how did we ever think we could cross it?
The current date is 29.8.2776.
I am in the deep of it now. Unfortunately, this portion of space is very sparse in human settlement. Well, it should be completely void of human settlement, but assuming still that Captain Verity is being truthful, I’ll use the word “sparse”.
Because of that, there aren’t any hotspots out here. The nearest network buoy is not for several systems over. Alas, even FTL transmissions may take a while to reach you. This is not a very great spot maintaining a journal like this and for that, readers, I apologize.
I visited a planet yesterday. It was tidally locked. I descended alone to the equator and watched furred, bio-luminescent beasts walk on the line between light and darkness. It’s a sight you’d pay to see.
If you’re receiving this far later than this date: How have you been?
In our time adrift the cosmos, the human race has explored and colonized an enormous quantity of worlds. However, if you consider the size of the universe, humanity hasn’t even made a scratch on the surface of it. Not that any of it matters, because the scale that the empire of man thinks in is the human scale. And relative to our size, we’ve done a lot.
The coordinates Captain Verity gave me lie fairly deep into the boundaries of uncharted space. Obviously I shouldn’t trust such an obvious trap but
what do I have to lose?
I’m always out here anyway. In the dangerous parts of space. The unknown. If I die I’ll die exploring.
That’s why I’ve already set a course for those coordinates.
If something happens to me, I’m sorry.
Landed on a planet today.
Yes, just because I’m chasing weird conspiracies and ghosts doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten my real job. It was a small planet, and the life was mostly microorganisms and vegetation.
There was this plant that grew fruit. Considering there wasn’t much of anything to eat the fruit, it was an odd thing. Perhaps there were creatures I hadn’t encountered. Day two will net an answer to that conundrum, I’m hoping.
Its skin is a nice shade of blue and look rather delicious; dissection revealed a juicy, but somewhat pulpy yellow-white interior. But standard protocol says you don’t eat anything off a newly discovered world until it’s been thoroughly tested and examined.
For obvious reasons.
I received a message on my private mail account about 0700 hours ago. It was from the captain of the Fish Out of Water. It is as follows, minor edits done by myself:
<REMOVED>, Captain, E. C. Pytheas
I understand you’ve been asking about us. Don’t act surprised. You think you’re the only one who can gather information? We’re explorers. It’s what we do. You and I both know that. You’ve stumbled onto my little project, I see there. Fine. Go ahead and rouse up the locals some more for me.
Did you even try to learn why they rebelled? Did they tell you the truth? The same truth that I told them?
We are not alone. We are not alone.
But if we don’t act. If we don’t DO something. We will be. We will be and we’ll bear the burden of the universe alone. With blood on our hands and knives in our own backs.
Here you will find answers: <REMOVED>. Trust me. We can be allies.
Verity, Captain, E. C. Fish Out of Water
Human beings are the least predictable aspect of the universe.
Planetary exploration? We’ve got that down to a science. We practically know what to expect when we find a new planet. Sure, there are always new and exciting things, but they generally can be categorized.
We have created computers with the ability to match or even surpass human thought processes. There are artificial intelligences that can perfectly match human thoughts and even emotion, or at least the appearance of it.
But still, it is difficult to know what man is capable of. To know what could motivate a man to do something, to know why we do many of the things we do.
Of course, I’m no psychologist, but I think sentience makes us the wildest factor in the universe.
The captain of the Fish Out of Water had been on this planet spreading some sort of odd propaganda. Things about government oppression and censorship and lies. Things about killings. About genocide. Had she gone mad? Had she learned something? I cannot say. But she managed to rally a group of people in a bleak section of space who were already tense to their breaking point with dissatisfaction. Truth or lies, it didn’t matter. It was enough.
An explorer sparked a rebellion. Over what, though? That’s what’s still unknown to me.
My calender tells me that today—no, yesterday—was the millennial anniversary of the founding of a nation called the United States of America.
Do people still celebrate things like that? Earth-nation-specific holidays?
Still though, it’s fascinating. A thousand years ago, people were founding nations on a single world; exploration consisted of sailing a ship only a couple thousand kilometers across a body of water. It was microscopic. Significant, yes, but tiny.
The oceans were our first cosmos. Our first grand frontier.
Revolutions are planet-sized. Take this, for example. I heard that one of the leaders of the uprising on this planet, now a political prisoner, had broadcast his message in 8 major cities across the planet. It’s not a very heavily populated planet, so I’m sure you can infer that it was pretty much wordwide.
It’s been a while. Sorry. Developments have been fast and frequent and as such updates have been sporadic.
I’ve been asking around more about the Fish Out of Water. I’ve been reluctant to surface on the recuperating planet that the ship visited, but for the past week or so now I have been in orbit of it’s natural satellite.
I even reported to headquarters and received some startling news: the Fish has not been heard of in over a month. What this means is that sometime after leaving this planet, it vanished. Went into hiding? Possibly. Destroyed? Also very possible. Either way, it’s dropped off the map. I’m sure many of you readers understand this, but space is vast and even in the more densely populated sections are impossible to fully regulate.
If something happened to the ship and her crew, there’s likely no way of finding out. Unless there’s somebody who knows exactly what happened.
I’m going to apologize again but for a different reason: I’m sure many of you are reading this because you’re interested in space exploration and I’m boring you with fruitless chases and ghost ships. But bear with me here, please. I have a feeling we’re about to make a great discovery.
Have you ever had that terrible feeling associated with happening upon information that causes both understanding and confusing at once?
The Fish Out of Water was in this area of space on a rumor that a nearby planet had sentient alien life. We get rumors like this all the time, and I suppose I don’t need to tell you that they are never true.
But hunches, rumors, anonymous tips, these direct us to planets in our sectors of space, if we’re so inclined to give them any thought at all. Personally, I would never fly across the galaxy on a rumor. It would be a waste of time and money. Foolish.
That’s why I’m skeptical. The captain of the Fish Out of Water isn’t foolish, for as much as I know her.
The story gets stranger, though. Remember that planet I offhandedly mentioned last week? That rebelled and was silenced? It appears the Fish Out of Water had made a little voyage in that direction as well.
Of course, it’s not unusual for an exploration vessel to stop by a local populated planet; I do it all the time, and would have had the Backalley not been closer. But what’s odd is that supposed strife was still in progress when my fellow explorer stopped there. And if she’s anything like me, she would already know that a rebellion was going on just by probing for info on the Backalley.
Why would an explorer visit a a planet in the middle of a civil war?
Criminals are smart. Don’t ever doubt that. It is hard to be a criminal—even harder to be one in space—without knowing. And the longer you’re in the business of the illegal, the more you come to know.
But information doesn’t come cheap. Especially the type you learn from being a criminal in a backwater system like this. Or traveling the seedy parts of the known galaxy.
With a little money, you can learn that a governor from the nearby system owns part of a drug-running establishment. Or that a semi-local celebrity often comes to the Backalley for drug-binges, gambling and prostitutes. Or a planet in a nearby system tried to stage a rebellion and secession but was immediately quashed by the navy.
Or there are things I care about, like that the Fish Out of Water exploration vessel passed through here only a month ago.
The Fish Out of Water is captained by a colleague of mine, a fellow graduate of the academy. We aren’t quite close enough to be called friends but we are on friendly enough terms. Nevertheless, exploration vessels have a sort of an unspoken rivalry.
It’s logical, if you think of it: we want to be the ones to find a planet first. If there’s something amazing on it, of course we’d want to be credited for that discovery. And while there isn’t exactly perfect guidelines of where to go, we still give eachother some space, or there will be unnecessary competition. This is generally my territory. There should be no reason that another exploration vessel is in this sector of space.
Unless they’re looking for something specific out here.
I think I shall stay a while longer to see if I can get more information on the Fish Out of Water.