Chapter 2 - A Thirst for Knowledge
The Admiral stood looking out at the cosmos, making clicking sounds while thinking of the time it had spent aboard that life-saving vessel. Thousands of years had passed in what seemed like the blink of an eye. It clasped its hands behind its back, staring off into the void while contemplating its purpose and direction. Its second-in-command was in full control of the vessel and the fleet group itself, while the Admiral took leave to redirect its thinking toward the possible options to be implemented in directing the fleet to new, possibly inhabited solar systems.
While looking out the window, it paced back and forth as a cascade of dust and light from newly forming stars washed across its field of view, creating a blend of beauty and space. The vastness of the cosmos was daunting; the species had only discovered a small portion—so small, in fact, that it did not even register on the space-time-map display. A three-dimensional hologram of the solar systems projected them in the center of the room, whereby the Admiral could walk around the map to look upon it from various vantage points.
It knew of the unlikeliness of finding any others of its species due to the very fact that millions of years had transpired and many of them had dispersed across numerous solar systems; however, it was his task to find and recreate his civilization, to regain the glory and prestige it had once known.
The Admiral waved its hand and a communication port opened in front of him in a virtual display of the ship’s status.
“Yes sir.” A communications officer announced.
“Prepare a scouting party for the planet located ahead us.”
“Yes sir right away.”
“Have any of the scout robots reported back?”
“Let me check sir and I will report back immediately.”
“Thank you.” The Admiral said and waved his hand to shut the communications link down.
The beings that periodically visited him had indicated the possibility of other intelligent beings scattered throughout the universe. In addition to finding his species and recreating his civilization, as a secondary purpose, he was to look for, identify, catalog, and collect samples of each of these other intelligent entities. Additionally, a third protocol was initiated - to send down modified construction bots to build and maintain stargates the visiting entities would eventually use.
So with those mandates, the Admiral considered its options, its re-connection with its kind, and the possible discovery of a new intelligent species.
“Sir there are new reports from the robots.” The communications officer announced.
“Send out more. We must find the others of our species and continue to look other intelligent life.”
“Yes sir.” The communications officer said as he saluted.
The ship logs were vast and meticulous in their accounting of the disbursement of that species throughout the known galaxy. In each case, there were no new intelligent beings discovered; however, that did not preclude the possibility that perhaps conscious carbon-based entities had been manufactured in the meantime. Also, it meant the Admiral and its fleet would have to increase their search parameters in an ever-widening circle of discovery. Upon approaching each planet, probes were sent down to investigate for intelligence and construction bots were deployed to the surface to begin constructing the stargates for teleportation. It took time, and the Admiral was loath to split up the fleet, so a gradual and methodical progression prevailed.
Long-range probes had been sent out hundreds of thousands of years prior with the express purpose of discovering and cataloging all known habitable planets and then returning once any intelligent civilization was found. To date, none had returned.
That fact was by no means a defeat; in the Admiral’s mind, it was not even a setback. It was yet further reason to continue with the mandate, strengthening their resolve to see the orders through to the end. The Admiral had witnessed far too many events throughout its lifetime to become discouraged by a lack of results. So it carried on day cycle after day cycle, celestial year after celestial year, millennia after millennia, searching, exploring, and collecting with no thought of ever stopping.
It turned and began to walk around the hologram of the space-time map. It was focusing its attention on a cluster of solar systems located off to the upper right of the fleet’s current position. They had not explored that region of space, and no probes had ever returned from it. The admiral pointed a finger towards the area and uttered some clicks through its resonance chamber, and the location turned blue with a course line inserted for visual effect.
The Admiral turned to look out the windows again, and shortly, the view began to blur, then extended streaks of light started smearing across its field of sight, indicating the formation of a warp bubble. The warp drive initiated with the jump taken. It would take multiple successions of jumps and possibly their traversal through many wormholes to get to the destination; those were part of the fleet’s life.
It was a hive of activity as the beings bustled about, preparing for the arrival of the fleet in that new portion of the galaxy. They were used to the requirements and procedures of each successive jump, knowing what was needed to fulfill their respective roles. It was nothing new to them. There was no need for hope as there was no need for despair. They took whatever life gave them in stride and as their purposeful destiny. After successive jumps and the discovery of new wormholes and other space anomalies, the fleet finally approached the galaxy in question.
The Admiral looked toward the hologram of the galaxy and stared intently at the region the fleet needed to explore. He clicked out a command and the hologram zoomed in to the solar system the fleet now occupied.
“Vice-Admiral please report.” The Admiral said.
“We are located in the Homs Galaxy, within the U84001 solar system. The scouting party is ready to depart at your command. We immediately sent out scout probes. They had detected life on A259 a rocky planet with a diameter of 18,579 pintas units. What is your order commander?” The Vice-Admiral asked.
“Send the scouting ships.” The Admiral stated.
“Yes sir. Right away.” The Vice-Admiral said with a salute. The celestial system was on the outer edges of the galaxy’s spiral arm. It was a small solar system of no significance. There were five gas giants, three rocky planets, and an inner ring of asteroids separating the two groups of planets. The gas giants acted as buffers against the interstellar debris that randomly shot through the solar system. The rocky planet third from the sun had a golden hue of orange and yellow tinges outlining a blue sea of water. Brown, yellow, and purple landmasses occupied various points throughout the oceans with white clouds of vaporous substances floating above them.
The fleet warped to the outskirts of the asteroid ring and probes were sent out to explore the three planets in question, with the Admiral waiting patiently for their return.
Four cyclical days later, the first probe sent back its findings of the usual, dust-filled, rocky planet of reds and browns with no other resources to be found. The second probe sent back its results of a rocky, methane-filled giant that had an atmosphere of acid and ammonia. No life was evident. The third probe sent back a message of identified life it cataloged along with a plethora of vegetation. That seemed to be promising, so the Admiral ordered a scouting expedition to be assembled and sent to that planet for further investigation.
The scout ships were squat rectangular variants based upon a transport style typical to scouting expeditions. Fifty marines, ten scientists, and five aircraft-support personnel, along with captains and co-pilots, were loaded onto the shuttles of which three were sent out along with five fighter-support aircraft. They rocketed out of the ship in the standard military formation and headed off toward the planet with no fanfare as if this was an everyday, ordinary occurrence.
The flight from the asteroid belt to the planet at forty thousand miles per hour lasted eighteen cyclical days. Once the spacecraft reached the world, word was sent back requesting clearance to enter the atmosphere and land at the designated location. Once the Admiral gave the authorization, the scouting party flew through the planet’s atmosphere and continued with its journey.
Because the atmosphere was a hydrogen/helium one, the sonic boom that followed the spacecraft was created at a much lower speed but had a much higher sonic wave intensity. It shook the transports and jolted the occupants. Eventually, the spacecraft gently settled onto the planet’s surface upon a hill overlooking cliffs that jutted out toward a sea.
It was a beautiful view of swaying golden-purple and bluegrass like structures in the breeze as a thick, spongy type of vegetation protruded from a stock of dark, trunk-like appendages standing nearby. As the aircraft landed, the plantlike animal picked up its attachments and promptly moved off toward the cliffs to re-establish itself further from the spacecraft.
The scouting party disembarked, moving toward the center of the circle the three aircraft created when they landed. The team leader went through the purpose, procedures, and time frame involving the scientific members and ordered them to be back within twenty celestial days to egress the planet. The escort aircraft flying above the transports continued scanning for intelligent life, but none were found.
“Ok. All of you gather around for a briefing. We are here to collect flora and fauna we are not here for a vacation. Gather your stuff and organize up into your groups.” The Sergeant said.
Everyone nodded and began the process of getting their equipment loaded onto the smaller land vehicles. A group of two scientists and five marines headed out in a northwesterly direction from the landing party and proceeded to drive twenty-five pintas units of distance before setting up camp to continue with their scientific studies. They had situated themselves on a series of hills overlooking a long valley in which numerous herds of various types of indigenous biological life grazed. Through a method of telemetric nanotechnology, they were able to observe the behaviors of those life-forms. It was decided to collect a number of the various animal life for continued analysis and study.
Soon enough, the time was up, and the scientists had to pack up their belongings and head back toward the shuttles with the marines and the captured life-forms in tow. All the groups converged on the shuttle-landing area approximately within the same period. To a certain degree, it created some confusion and disorganization; however, it was soon worked out, and all the samples were put into one shuttle while the scientists and marines boarded the other two.
The expedition headed back toward the fleet under fighter escort, taking another four days to reach their respective ships. It was a typical expeditionary strategy used tens of thousands of times already throughout the fleet’s existence. Identifying, cataloging, studying, classifying, and cloning were the usual processes involved in dealing with all new creatures found throughout the various solar systems. That was their purpose. It was their reason for continuing.