“The first thing you have to understand about space is that it’s, like… really big.”
I remember when the trainer said that, as if it was a joke during the orientation course when I was scheduled for transfer from Thule Station to the Charon for my first ship-based tour. He said it with a smile because of course everyone already knows that space is big, but he went on to explain that the human mind doesn’t intuitively grasp the kind of bigness that space has. Sooner or later, whether during an EVA or transiting a wormhole or just staring out a window for too long, it hits you… and in that moment of dread and awe your monkey brain is left utterly unprepared to grapple with the immensity of it’s new context. The unknown stops being fearful for what it might conceal and reveals what the monster was all along – the proverbial ‘abyss’ staring back at you.
All seemed a bit dramatic at the time, but I think I finally get what he was talking about.
Anyway, when we came through into the next system there still wasn’t any sign of civilization. Not much here, but there’s a fast cycle wormhole on the other side of the system, and another on a medium cycle that’s about to open and only just under a day away, so we’re going to check that one out first.
We could tell from the sensor analysis that we were going to be cutting it close to reach this wormhole in time. We all had to pitch in to get this new ship there in time. Hendrick had the drive at full burn for most of the way – we took the absolute fastest route, but it wasn’t very safe or fuel efficient. Patrick redirected power from the weapons systems to propulsion. Newie tinkered with the engines a bit and found a way to widen the fuel injector “valves” for more flow. I popped by down in engineering and saw the tech he was working on, pretty gross stuff if I’m honest!
Sent a probe through the medium cycle wormhole just a couple hours ago. System on the other side seemed interesting, although it still didn’t match any of TIM’s records. Several notable planetary bodies, a bunch of wormholes, and what looked like drive signatures from ships active in the system. No telling who or what made those drive signatures, though.
Hungry. We had to start rationing yesterday.
To lighten the mood, we took a vote on what to name the ship. We settled on the Inanna. I like it but I can’t escape the gnawing feeling that it foreshadows something.
Sent a probe through the fast cycle wormhole today. System’s a dud. We’re going to have to face whatever’s in that other system. Hope they’re friendly.
Talked about quarter rationing this afternoon, but on the upside, we scanned an asteroid with large deposits of gold ore that’s basically right in our flight path. Gonna pick it up in case we need it to trade.
The others had the gall to tell me my hair is starting to look weird, as if they aren’t starting to look like drifters after a couple weeks roughing it! I guess it does seem to have changed color a bit lately. Seems… lighter, I guess? Probably from severe stress, maybe malnutrition.
Hendrick ran a medical scan again and started questioning me about my fingers. They’ve been kind of aching lately, but it’s hardly the most important thing on our plates right now! He said there’s something wrong with the bones. Said something about ‘claws’, which I think was supposed to be a joke, but it wasn’t funny.
Wormhole opens soon. I’m going to get some sleep so I don’t have to think about how hungry I am.
Last couple days have been huge, we made it through to the next system and there’s a whole civilization here!
It was all hands on deck while we tried to demodulate their communications signals, then make some basic sense of their language. Took everyone’s expertise, and I think most of us were basically running on empty, but we finally managed to make contact!
The closest ship was a lone trader. Not exactly a friendly guy, and we quickly found out that these people are pre-wormhole tech, so he either didn’t believe we were actually from outside the system or wasn’t willing to openly acknowledge it. We did eventually manage to make a deal when we figured out that they really value pure water. Doesn’t look like there’s much in the way of fresh water in this system, and their filtration tech isn’t very advanced. Gonna take a day to set up the full shipment, but we got a small box of what look like protein bars and let me tell you… Best. Damn. Food. I’ve ever had.
In hindsight, it was pretty dry and bland, but hey, when you’re hungry enough… everything starts to seem edible.
Dayan decrypted a lot of their broadcasts. Looks like they’re a pretty authoritarian people, but largely peaceful from what we can tell, which works out for us.
Not sure I want that last bit on the record, so I scrubbed it. Not sure how I feel about the last few hours, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
We traversed one of the wormholes from the aliens’ home and came through into a fairly sparse neighboring system. Since we had made contact though, we agreed that we should test out the Inanna’s weapons in this mostly empty space, so that at least we know what we’re dealing with if we get pulled into a confrontation. Patrick spent a good few hours blowing apart asteroids. Happiest I’ve seen him since… well, maybe the happiest I’ve ever seen him!
Transit time to the only interesting planet we’ve identified in this system is just under a day, so I’m going to get some rest.
Hands aching really bad now. May have to ask the Commander if he’s got any painkillers on the medvac, but I’m not sure I want to bring it up again. Might just try some stretching and massage before I go to sleep.
Video Entry: (Geneva’s quarters, room is dark with lights off)
30 seconds of heavy panicked breathing, followed by several minutes of quiet sobbing, then a smear of blood appears on the PDD camera lens just before an abrupt disconnect