This short story is part of Galactic Chronicles, an ongoing space opera based on our multiplayer campaign in Paradox’s space grand strategy game, Stellaris. Events and characters, while embellished heavily in some cases, are based on actual events and characters encountered during gameplay. These entries do not have to be experienced in a specific order, but the “Earth Standardized Solar Date” header will indicate where in the galactic timeline a particular entry falls.
This story concerns the Athirova, a race of spiritualist, warrior monk-ruled Avian aliens from the planet Ayaal. Learn more about them here.
[EARTH STANDARDIZED SOLAR DATE 2209.10.22]
“Two arms, two legs. Warm-blooded. Physiology similar to the subterranean milk-feeders on Ayaal.” The Kasnave’s medical chaplain gestured in his flowing clergy robes at an animated scan of the being pulled out of the unidentified vessel mere hours ago. “Cause of death seems to be asphyxiation due to life support failure. May Harmony rest its spirit. It’s hard to tell due to the mummification, but it’s possible the creature died decades or even centuries ago.”
A dozen command staff and science officers were gathered one level above the mortuary shrine where tests were being done on the alien, and purification rituals enacted to ensure a Disharmonious spirit did not still linger. First Seeker Xaka still walked with a cane, even two years after the encounter with the void beings.
“The vessel is very small,” the First Stormguide commented. “It seems almost too small to have been intended for a return trip. Why would they launch one of their own to another star system without any way to bring it back?”
“Maybe it was a criminal,” Kalax, a hard-beaked monk and the head of the Kasnave’s new security detail, interjected.
“You really think they would have wanted rid of him so badly that they would build a personal vessel capable of one-way weft travel?” Iyara, now the Director of Science for the entire Kasnave mission, returned skeptically. “Seems cheaper to just bore a cell into the bottom of a mountain and throw away the key.”
“Are we certain the creature inside also built the ship?” The air seemed to go out of the room any time the First Seeker spoke these days, so uncommon was the occasion.
The chaplain stumbled a moment, then spoke. “I-It’s certainly plausible, based on the size of the brain case. We believe we are dealing with something unique up to this point. Another sentient, biological species distinct from our own.”
Excited murmurs banished the reverent quiet until Xaka raised his foretalon to command the attention of the room.
“The Sa-Raaya must hear of this immediately. And all attempts must be made to locate the origin point of this vessel,” he decreed. “The holy texts of our people have always suggested that we are not the only children of the stars. And it is increasingly becoming my suspicion that we cannot find the answers we seek alone. Do we have any information on where it came from?”
Iyara clamped her beak tight in a pleased expression. “Whatever it is made the voyage far too long ago to find any ripples in the weft, at least locally. But my team has narrowed the likely departure systems down…”
She trailed off, seeming slightly deflated for once as she glanced over the readings on her handheld terminal.
“Ka-Iyara?” Xaka asked when she had been silent a few, long moments.
“Yes…” she blinked a few times, then slid the terminal across the table, disrupting the hologram of the dessicated alien. “The problem is, most of these stars lie across darkspace, outside the range of our current modulators.”
Xaka took a moment to read over the data, then clicked a talon on one entry in particular. “And this one?”
Some optimism returned to Iyara’s expression. “That one is particularly promising, at least in that I think we can get there. Maybe. It’s a G-type main sequence star. Yellow dwarf. Known as Nakhana to our astronomers.”
The First Stormguide leaned over and wrinkled her face in displeasure. “That’s… near the theoretical bounds of how far our generators can project, even with the new calibration matrices. Well beyond what we’re approved for. Even if we could make it, it would be the longest weftstorm jump ever attempted.”
“And when we left the Sky Mother behind on our first voyage through the weft, that was also the longest jump ever attempted,” Xaka intoned with an air of daring that had come effortlessly to him before the incident. “If it is possible, then we shall go.”
Explore more Galactic Chronicles.