The Atlantean Federation - Cover

The Atlantean Federation

Copyright© 2024 by KKindle

Chapter 24

Everyone considered it for all of half a micron, before finally agreeing that now was as good a time as any.

As Cricket piloted the Galatea to Rift 13, while Mark filled everyone in on all the information Cricket had collected and what he had extrapolated from it.

It appears every 12 to 14 days in the same spot, then it travels along the edge of the sensor network at sub-light speed until it reaches a certain point, then turns out of scanning range and returns later at the first location.

They had speculated that it might be some sort of merchant ship following a trade route, but if that were the case, why hadn’t the seeding ships found any planets?

Today was the 12th day, so that little ship could show up at any moment.

They could focus the sensor and scanning array on the Galatea, which extended the range greater than the individual sensor beacons, so they moved in the direction the ship always appeared from. If they encountered the ship, they could always turn and follow.

After nearly 12 centares of heading that direction, they detected Rift 27. Mark smiled, knowing his rift seeding experiment was still working, and that the crew of the Atlantia had yet another window to return home.

He then thought maybe instead of a merchant trade route, they were using the rifts as a transportation corridor? That theory made little sense though, since there were no planets detected anywhere around here and travelling at sub-light speeds, the range within 14 days would be quite limited.

Upon detection of Rift 27, Cricket deployed the 16 seeding ships they always kept at the ready and began making a new set. One ship went directly toward Rift 13 to connect the two regions, although it would have only taken a secton or two of natural expansion for the network to expand outward enough to link into the network at Rift 13.

After waiting around for several centares, everyone got bored since there was still no sign of the mystery ship and they could wait for up to 2 more days.

Knowing the point where the mystery ship was always last detected and knowing they now had a working hypothesis about the path the mystery ship was taking. They headed for the exit point and start looking for a rift or planet in that direction.

In FTL, it only took centons to reach the mystery ship’s last detection point. Then, just like the first time, they started heading the direction they thought the mystery ship left.

Fortunately, not long into their journey, the mystery ship appeared on the sensor network. It hadn’t come through Rift 27, so that trashed the hypothesis of that rift being the route they were using. That’s the problem with 3-dimensional space—if your trajectory is off by even a fraction of one degree in any direction, by the time you’re any distance out, you may be way off from where you intended. Plus, there was no guarantee that their trajectory was straight from wherever they came from.

To eliminate any further assumptions, they decided to just wait for the ship and then follow it.

The mystery ship hadn’t changed course or done anything different, so either it didn’t realize the sensor network was now monitoring its route, or it simply didn’t care. Either way, now that it was travelling through monitored space, they were learning more about its trajectory.

With nearly a day to wait for the ship to reach them, they watched some movies, caught up on outstanding correspondence, made some meals, watched some movies and played various games before ending the day with a round of strip golf, which culminated in an orgy on the green.

When they woke up the next morning, Cricket informed them they were now tailing the mystery ship. They all congregated on the bridge and watched the tiny little ship as it led them out of the sensor range. Mark tried to hail it again, but got no response.

The mystery ship was tiny, roughly the same size as the craft the Magellan used when they got lost in space. So that ruled out being some kind of merchant trading vessel—it was simply too small to carry cargo or over two passengers. In fact, they doubted it was even manned. So they speculated it might be some sort of patrol ship, considering it seemed to follow a pre-programmed route and it was not responding to any hails.

After several hours of following the tiny ship, Rift 32 came into range and the tiny ship proceeded directly into the rift. They couldn’t risk following the ship into the rift, so they deployed the seeding ships and began making another set while they proceeded back to where the mystery ship appeared near Rift 27. Cricket then lined up the Galatea with the updated route information and started tracking it back.

As they focussed the scanners forward, they detected Rift 34 after a little more than a centar into their trip.

Rift 34 was cause for celebration as that number answered many questions! It meant the rift connections were consistent. A great relief to know that Derek and the crew of the Atlantia would definitely follow the same path as the rift seeders and now they had many more points at which the crew could return home. Logic also dictated that if the mystery ship kept coming out of Rift 34 and then going back into Rift 32, Rift 33 was in the middle and likely near the mystery ship’s home planet.

Since they had just started making a new set of seeding ships, they simply waited until one was ready and sent it off directly toward Rift 32, just in case other ships were going between those two gates on more direct routes.

Since they did not expect the ship back for another two sectons, they proceeded back to Norsvund’ka for the announcement.

Upon returning to Norsvund’ka, they took a shuttle over to the orbiting embassy.

Something had to have changed, as there were far more people visiting than Mark expected. The last report had showed that the embassy had received very few visitors, but now there was a constant flow of shuttles arriving and departing and there were thousands of little grey people wandering around—including all the Eminences.

They saw Mark and the gang and immediately came to greet them. Eminence Soriya, acting as their leader, maybe having sex, had imbued a new level of trust with her?

“Welcome back, my king and queen. As you can see, your embassy is gaining popularity. It was actually through the interviews with some of our cultural icons that have brought this on. They asked to use the Zero-G park for some scenes in an upcoming movie and they mentioned it in our social networks. Any announcement we do now will probably not affect the popularity of your embassy. Did anything productive happen with the planets you were going to visit?”

“Actually we didn’t end up visiting those, a mystery ship showed up and we went to go talk to them. We still haven’t contacted it yet, but we tracked its full route and can monitor their entire route. We also found some new rifts. The mystery ship arrives at Rift 34, then travels around to Rift 32. So logically that would put Rift 33 in the middle and likely whatever planet they are from. I’m still not ready to go through the rift myself, but I’m coming up with a plan for doing some reconnaissance.”

“That’s wonderful news! You will soon meet them, and since you’ve mentioned you face some of the same issues we do when meeting new civilizations, we would like to request accompanying you when meeting the makers of the mystery ship. Is that something you would consider?”

“Sure, why not? We’re all on the same side and we have similar goals. I have no problems if you want to be there when we meet new civilizations.”

“Wonderful! We will meet and choose two candidates to accompany you.”

“The mystery ship should return in 12 to 14 days, but we’ll notify you as soon as we detect it. I would recommend choosing your candidates sooner rather than later and make sure they’re ready to go on a moment’s notice. Surely the owners of that ship are intelligent and they must realize that we’ve been tracking and following their ship. They could send something else through that rift at any time.”

“We shall meet immediately. Thank you, my King.” Soriya said before bowing and walking toward the administrative section with the other eminences.

Mark and the gang toured the embassy, stopping to talk to all the staff, then eventually sitting down for a meal at the bar.

When the eminences found them, they were watching a professional golf tournament taking place at one of the Rifterville courses at Thulark. It was nice to see Thulark growing in popularity and the Rifters finally having a home.

Soriya stepped forward as the spokesperson of the group again. “We have made our selection. It really wasn’t a hard decision, and it was unanimous. Our senior ambassador has always been Junga. He and his assistant, Jehanna, will accompany you. The chances of you meeting new civilizations is far greater than ours, so Junga was the logical choice and since Jehanna is his also wife, it was also the logical choice.”

Junga and Jehanna both stepped forward and bowed to Mark and Annabelle. “Would you mind if we moved our belongings to your ship? We have lived on the Mtozny’k so long that we actually do not have a permanent residence. We simply stay at resorts on our downtime. Everything we own is on the ship, although by human standards, we have little in the way of belongings.”

“By all means, we have plenty of space and our living quarters in the Galatea are quite expansive. You should find living with us quite comfortable, and if there’s something you would like changed in your residence, Cricket can easily make the adjustments.”

“We shall begin packing at once. Thank you, my King and Queen.” Both bowed and began walking toward the departure exits.

Soriya smiled. “They are both looking forward to spending time on your ship.” Then, with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her lips, she whispered directly to Mark and Annabelle. “I know I enjoyed spending time on your ship.”

Liyana asked, “Since we don’t need to make the announcement anymore, do you have a museum or video footage of what your planet was like before they built the ring? I’d like to create a video to show other cultures what they can do to save a planet.”

Soriya answered. “Yes, of course. We have videos of our past. It’s taught in our history education, but we also have museums that show our entire history. In anticipation of our allegiance with the Federation, we have already collected videos and information for you, which brings about our request. Since we have not met with great success meeting other cultures, we would like to ask if you could put some information into your library so that everyone can learn more about us, in hopes that as our citizens travel throughout your Federation that they don’t get treated the way we have in the past.”

Liyana was quick to respond. “Actually, you would already be treated normally most anywhere in the Federation, especially at the planets that have been part of the Federation for thousands of yahren. They would all have much experience in interacting with different races and cultures and their populations would already comprise many species. The areas to be concerned about are young planets still transitioning into the Federation. All would have experienced other species by now, but there may be pockets on those planets that are still stuck in their old ways. Security would protect you, of course, but the experience might not be as pleasant. Planets such as Earth and Braga, where only small parts of the planet have joined the Federation, would be advisable to stay within Federation controlled spaces.”

Mark laughed. “Even on Earth, there are some places where I won’t even go—and I was born on that planet.”

Most of the eminences laughed at that. “It still surprises us you meet with the same conflict that we thought was specific to us.”

“It’s not specific to you. Humans are strange creatures. They can be very intelligent and capable of great things, but many are just too lazy to use common sense, making them gullible and, therefore, corruptible. Then, even if you show them the error in their thinking as disproved by both science and logic, they simply dismiss it as you trying to brainwash them.” He then paused and let out a sigh. “Sadly, despite the overwhelming amount of bullshit dispensed by governments, the media and the uneducated, common sense still doesn’t grow in everybody’s garden.”

The eminences laughed at the agriculture reference as they thanked Mark and the crew for allowing their ambassadors to accompany their adventures and looked forward to the people of their world interacting with other species on Norsvund’ka and elsewhere in the Federation.

The source of this story is SciFi-Stories

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