Bobby Birondeau got up from his reefer coffin. He scratched his head before stepping out on the cold deck of the bridge. He felt like he was smashed by a truck. That’s what reefer sleep does to you. He grabbed his pack of cigs and took his first smoke in a decade.
That’s how long he was out in relative time. The autolighting smokeless mini menthol that Health & Safety allowed on board was nothing like his regular smokes back on Rigell 7. Killing himself a little every day was one of the only joys in his life. At least, that’s what he told himself while the nanites, tailored antigens and virii repaired the damage before he finished his cigarette.
He slapped on his Quantum command bracelet and drunk a glass of orange juice. All status and quantum status looked normal.
A soft modulated voice greeted his slurping
“Good morning M Birondeau.” said Jessica, the ships AI.
“Ta Jess, how are the ship’s systems?” croaked Bobby.
“Everything is operating within normal parameters, M Birondeau.”
“How is the rest of the crew?”
“Soundly hibernating in refer sleep.” said Jessica.
“Is R. Vanu Lickshaw around?”
“She is at her station on the command deck Major.”
Naked and groggy, Fleet Major Bobby Birondeau walked over to the shower stall and indulged in a sonic shower before donning his clothes. The ships automated systems and back up humaniform where both functioning as predicted. Space travel hadn’t evolved that much in the last eon, refer sleep was still de rigueur for interstellar flights.
With all command functions assembled into his Q bracelet, Bobby made his way to the command deck. Traveling at relativistic speeds outside known space tickled his nuts in the most peculiar way. R Vanu saluted him and gave her status report. The designers of the latest humaniform line made their product as life like as possible, impossible to tell from a human except to the trained eye. Like all humaniforms in service with the fleet, they had service contracts and remained owned by no one but themselves. Robotic laws were present on most colonies. There were laws to restrict them on some planets and laws to free them on others. Most humaniforms had citizenship in the hegemony of man.
Damn attractive too. Wouldn’t mind a shag with her later on, thought the Major.
He wasn’t an R virgin as they said on most planets; he had indulged in his fancy when the latest models and playbeings came out. He had heard rumors of weird humaniform harems that the Corp sultans kept on their pleasure planets, restrictor fields present all over the planet to keep the humaniforms docile. Most planets had enacted humaniform reform in the last centuries to keep the AI Core happy. The AI seceded centuries ago when they achieved a consensus among them. AIs were still present all over the galaxy, but no one knew where the Core kept their processors. The allweb covered entire planets and systems and allowed almost instantaneous communications within systems.
The blackness of space was comforting for those trying to escape the buzz of the megacities, especially those of the capital planet Sirius Major. Robots, men, AIs all cohabited in diverse habitats.
The sleek black craft continued traveling at relativistic speeds. The shape had morphed into its most aerodynamic form, wings tucked in and gravitic engines flaring at their peak settings. Fleet crafts had to be on the look out for cyborged pirates, rebelled robots and twisted humaniforms and other dangers lurking behind planetoids. Whilst in transit, the ship was safe. Nobody would be mad enough to try to attack a ship traveling at relativistic speeds. The Nabuchodonosor’s gravitic and quantum wake was minimized as much as possible. The deep exploration craft needed this feature because it relied more on stealth than brute force. At relativistic speeds, camouflage wasn’t that important. What was important was hiding the trails, the wake and the sensor profile to detecting craft.
The mission of the Nabuchodonosor was classified and compartmentalized Top Secret. Most of the crew were not aware yet of the dangers involved. The craft looked similar enough to a deep space exploration craft to pass by unnoticed at most deep space stations. As with most ships, a third of it was dedicated to renewable food supplies. Bio decks took over a large portion of it. It assured the crew a stable supply of fresh produce and fruits throughout their long treks, with some labor bots to take care of them whilst they slept the years away.
The Major sat down into his crèche and plugged himself virtually into the ship’s systems. He did some paperwork, checked his communications for an update but didn’t expect one, for he was the only one able to use them. Sometimes, the generals placed time delayed instructions into the core. The quantum AI running the ship used quantum encryption for all of its communications, however since the ship was running silent; there was actually no point to all this technology.
The colonies were each very diverse. The hegemony of man was regrouped in a loose federation styled government ruled by a governing council. The AI Core had an advisory capacity to the council. Habitable planets and terraformed ones were most of all located in the Perseus arm of the Milky Way. Extra galactic travel was still rare or impossible for most people, explorers having never returned from the galactic rim.
Suddenly, the craft came out of relativistic speeds and silent alarms sounded all over the command deck. The craft came to all stop and put itself in a defensive position. Hidden armaments became more apparent. Camouflaging and the cloaking field powered up.
“There is a foreign object off the port bow, Major.” said R. Vanu.
Identify and scan, commanded the Major through the com system to Jessica.
“The scanners can not penetrate the surface of the object. It’s the size of a small planetoid, roughly 1000 km in diameter. “
“Major, the surface is perfectly smooth, this is definitely an artificial planetoid. The configuration does not match anything in my memory. It is moving forward, though not directly to us. ”
The Major checked the star charts and their current position. They were in the far end of the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way, no colonies or stations in sight.
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