ANDROMEDA GALAXY, QUADRANT 1, SECTOR 3, SYSTEM 3226
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Maia. One of the only 4 known habitable planets to host interstellar civilizations in the galaxy. Their technologies are very advanced; a Type 2.4 Civilization who colonized its local sector and regions of Sector 2 and 4. The people who inhabit the planet—with all of its technological and scientific marvels—are Maians.

They have a very rich history. Since the presence of intelligent life, war had been their nature. They were born warriors. They are a civilization with over 30 thousand years of war history, and they are pretty darned good at it. They conquered other planets with relative ease. Colonies began to fight each other. Interplanetary, then, interstellar wars were fought. Only one remained in power eventually: the Maian Empire, their home government.

When warp drives were invented, Maians were no longer constrained within their home system. They could freely explore their sector and conquer new ones without wasting lots and lots of time. 15 years away became 1 minute. Soon, Sector 3 was theirs and theirs alone. Attempts to expand were made, but the fact that transmissions can't go faster than light in that time made it nigh impossible. In the end, the Maian Empire was only limited to Sector 3, with no sure way to leave it without making independent colonies to explore them.

Their main enemy is the Roen Federation, a more advanced civilization with FTL communication and better FTL drives. They hold Quadrant 3, parts of Quadrant 4 and 2, and a few colonies in Quadrant 1. If that wasn't enough, the Roen Federation harasses Maian ships who've gone too far from their territory. Tensions were mounting between the two, and with no way of communicating with them, they are on thin ice. It could be any moment when the Federation strikes and destroy their civilization.

Fortunately, they are not alone.

For there is also another advanced civilization not found or known in the galaxy. One that could change the fate of the Maian Empire and the Roen Federation forever.

The Milky Way Civilization.


MILKY WAY, ARC 7, SOLAR SYSTEM
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Earth. It is in many ways similar to Gaia, the only differences is that they are a Type 2.7 Civilization whose had relative peace for nearly 1,000 years. Earth's inhabitants are called Terrans. They have control over most of the galaxy, and with nothing much left to do, a few groups had experimented with intergalactic travel.

They have a very powerful FTL system, capable of traversing the entire galaxy in less than a week. It was developed 4 thousand years ago, though, so it is not new technology. Over time, it has been improved from fusion reactors to mini-black holes to antimatter. As the power usage grew, so did the maximum potential speed. At present, the maximum potential speed is 2x10¹⁹c.

Those select groups decided that certain elements like Kerlevium (unbihexium) could be used to provide the power to push the limits of FTL and make intergalactic travel as quick as getting from Earth to The Great Mining Colony, which takes 15 minutes. However, they never came to fruition, simply because Kerlevium is too rare to find in quantity and too costly to produce.

Until they had a breakthrough. A recently discovered element, Glieseium (unseptnilium, eka-livermorium), was made. It was a very reactive element, was relatively easy to make, and had the highest energy potential, third only to antimatter. Unlke antimatter, however, Glieseium can produce power twice—one from initial reaction and another from the ejection of Dark Energy, which boosts the craft by 1,000,000-fold. Thus the resulting potential will increase to 4x10²⁵c.

They installed the Glieseium Warp Drive onto an armed cargo ship and aimed to the most sensible destination: Andromeda, the nearest galaxy.

Little do they know, they will meet one of the least expected objects to encounter.

An alien battleship.


THE MILKOMEDAN ODYSSEY
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[Milky Way, Neptune Interstellar Spaceport, 6,392 AD, November 5]

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SCF-138 "DeepWhale"

Cpt. Drake Johnson POV
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It was an exciting moment.

For the first time, I am putting my life on the line with untested technology.

It scares me.

However, I can't show that to any of my crew members or the media. It would've humiliated me at best.

In the cargo hold are 2 SRF-255 Scout Fighters for self defense and reconnaissance, provisions to sustain a crew of 12 for 5 months, and several primitive technologies placed in tungsten-carbide boxes. As well as some beds and clothes.

We boarded the ship, getting ready for the promised 15-minute trip to the Andromeda Galaxy. We took our positions and prepared to warm up the drives.

We flipped the switch.

"When," I said to myself, "I count to 15 without the ship blowing up, we would be the luckiest bastards in the entire galaxy." 15 seconds passed, and the ship was fine.

Because the drive hadn't started yet.

Then, I heard the familiar whir of the Alcubierre drive. Why in the world would they use old technology as a basis for the intergalactic trip, I wondered. I asked my fellow technical-mechanical engineer David Hudson about it, and he said, "I don't really know. Probably they did that so maintenance would be slightly easier?"

Partially satisfied, I told the crew to strap in in preparation for the jump. Claire Marie Amelin, my girlfriend and pilot of this ship, activated the inertial dampers. I rested my hand on the warp lever.

"Ready?" I said. Everyone confirmed, and I pushed hard. As the stars began to blue-shift instantly, then disappear to a black tunnel, we set our course for Andromeda.

I got off the seat for some important matters, left the bridge, and checked the cargo. "Crap," I said, "They forgot one box! Ah well," as I went to the pantry to eat something. I took one of my 10 ration boxes, opened it and took from in it an old type of sandwich, which I then unwrapped. Apparently, it was called a "hamburger", which confuses me, since there is no ham on the sandwich. Nevertheless, I was about to take a bite when I heard a voice which I can never mistake for anyone else.

"Eating already?" my girlfriend asked. "It has been only 3 minutes into the trip, and you are hungry?"

"Sorry," I said to her. "I really should have eaten breakfast before I got here." Dammit, I thought.

"Very well then," she replied, walking towards her designated pantry. "Guess I will have to eat with you."

"Didn't you already eat?" I asked her in confusion.

"I missed breakfast because I woke up late," she said. "I really must have not gone to that mission. Took a toll on my stamina."

"Oh, then I guess it wouldn't hurt."

We sat down on a small wooden crate nearby. Who still uses wood as a material? Anyways, We decided to have a nice little chat.

"So, what was the mission?" I asked.

"Well, I was tasked to hunt some pirates transporting the volatile Hyperium (ununenium, eka-francium)," she began to tell. "Since this element is very explosive under any form of contact, it was stored in jars of liquid helium. So shooting their ships down would be very risky, as we could lose the very precious material. So we tried a different approach. We took a captured ship so that we could enter undetected."

"Very interesting," I added. "Continue."

"It was effective. We managed to steal back 3 of the 4 containers before we were found out. It would have been simple to just escape the ship immediately, but I was itching to retrieve all four. I located it myself as my teammates covered for me. Just as I grabbed the container, I was cornered by 4 pirates. They were all armed with stun guns. I just barely escaped the room with my life. When I returned to our ship, we gave the order to destroy the ship. However, without me noticing, I dropped the container back in the ship. So I lost it."

"Wow," I said. "Some adventure. I am so jealous."

"Got a story to tell too?" she asked. I had no other interesting adventures—at least those more interesting than her predicament. I'd give it a shot though.

"Well, as I was heading back to base, I just so happened to meet the pirates. I knew they were the same ones who were smuggling the Hyperium, so I went and took an SF-95 Stealth Ship to follow him in silence. Apparently, they were still trying to decide where to go. So I decided to try and intercept them at their location. I warped to the planet Balkea in the Balkean system, as one of the possible locations. I was really lucky, as I saw the ship exit just 17 meters left of me. I moved away just in time to prevent detection. The pirate ship sent out a small transport ship twice the size of my Stealth Ship. I followed it through the atmosphere, up until it landed near a black market site. Undercover, I followed them trying to sell the sole container of Hyperium. Instead of ratting them out, I decided I'd just buy it from them. I won the bid, got the container, and headed towards my ship. They must have found out, because 6 of the pirates began chasing after me. 'Shit!' I said, as I started up my ship. I managed to take off just as they began firing shots at me. Not only that, they must have also contacted the rest, because I had a whole pirate ship tailing me. It took a while to escape, but I eventually lost them. I just warped back to the ship. It was enough adventure for me."

"So you have the Hyperium?"

"I forgot it at home..."

When I then saw that the ETA was 2 minutes, I told her we should get back at the bridge. She said okay, and followed me. We strapped in just in time for the exit jump.

"Well, here we go!" she said before exiting in a foreign galaxy. Andromeda.


[Andromeda Galaxy, Unknown Region, 6,392 AD, November 5]

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SCF-138 "DeepWhale"

Pilot Claire Maria Amelin POV
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It was a very wonderful sight. The stars look very different here than from back at Kiol, my home planet. My partner couldn't agree more, as well as our crew members.

"So, Drake, what do you think?" I asked him.

"It sorta looks like the Milky Way, but denser and more yellow." he replied.

Still, since we were in uncharted territory, I told the weapons officer Qing Sheng to fortify thermal and kinetic barriers as well as to arm the railguns.

But he asked why. Clearly, he did not exactly see that it could be dangerous, so I told him that we are in uncharted territory and we should be prepared for the worst. Reluctantly, he then complied.

Drake afterward gave me a stern look. "What?", I asked.

"Well, for one, I should be the one to give the order," he replied. "And before you tell me, I know. I was just about to speak up when you gave that order. You shouldn't have done that."

"Augh!" Frustrated, I decided to try and check the systems. Sub-light drives, check. Life-support, check. Gravity, check. Sensors, che—

I noticed 4 blips on the screen. Clearly, they weren't one of ours, since this is the first and only ship to cross the intergalactic boundary. I decided to try a diplomatic approach, since they could be friendly. Quickly, I told Drake about the sensors, but since he was presumably still annoyed with me, he didn't listen. I had no choice but to take control over the communications module and broadcast a friendly signal in as many Terran, then random frequencies. However, it seems they weren't responding. Desperately, I decided to take one of the Scout Fighters to try and make some form of contact.

"What the, is that our Scout?" the radar operator said.

"Claire!" Quickly, Drake followed suit, boarding another Scout just to catch me. It was a bit too late for both of us. Before I could open diplomatic relations, the 4 ships began to open fire. Streams of weapons I have ever seen before came towards us at blinding speeds. I just managed to angle myself right at the same moment to make the beam deflect away from the ship. The Scout Fighter was damaged badly. The contacts were hostile, and I was stupid to try to talk to them. I sent a message immediately to the rest of the crew, and with a strong voice, I said, "OPEN FIRE ON THOSE SHIPS!"


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Roen Federation

Apex-class Destroyer
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When we noticed a disturbance in Quadrant 1 Sector 25, closest sector to Gaian territory, we thought it was a new superweapon created by them without our knowledge. They sent us and 3 more to go and destroy whatever the weapon was.

We got to the destination safely. We decided to check our scanners to check what the weapon may be. Turns out it was a small cargo freighter, or it looked like one. It was as armed as a frigate, with 2 fighter complements in their bays. We decided to try and take them by surprise but was ourselves taken aback when we received a transmission in a language that is very foreign. We couldn't translate it though, and assumed they were acts of defiance. Worse, they could have been threat messages. So we activated our weapons and aimed at the first fighter to advance. We decided a warning shot would do to scare them from trying to attack us so we fired a low-pulse energy beam at the fighter. Should it have missed, it would have also hit that frigate. What we saw was different.

The fighter began to maneuver, as if to act as a shield for the frigate. They seemed to be very stupid, only for the beam to hit the fighter and deflect away from both the fighter and frigate. We thought it had scared them to stop trying to attack us and was about to gain communications when we saw several flashes of light from the frigate. We were confident that our shields would hold up, only for the ship to shake, and for us to hear incessant tapping against the hull. The shield! Why didn't it stop the weapons? Desperate, we fired back at the frigate with maximum-power pulse beams. When the beams hit the ship, we were overly surprised at how effective our weapons are. So we began to charge another maximum-power beam when 12 small drone-like objects came toward us. We started to maneuver, trying our hardest to even avoid the objects.

But no, the objects followed us, and when they hit we suffered from a hull breach in the front, where the sensors are located. The others had it worse. One had its main drive disabled, another one in which the bridge was destroyed, effectively out of commision, and the last with its weapons systems damaged beyond repair.

We tried to fire the pulse beams still at half-charge, but the ship escaped. Judging by the anomaly spikes. we assumed it had come from its FTL drive. The question is, why is its signature different? What new method had they discovered? And because these signatures matched, where did it come from?


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SCF-138 "DeepWhale"

Cpt. Drake Johnson POV
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"I don't care, we will go to those coordinates."

"But Drake, we aren't even sure if there are hospitable races here.

"I don't care! We will jump to those coordinates no matter what. Now, strap in."

Being first in command is very taxing. Firstly, you have the greatest responsibility of keeping your team, whether it be your crew, business, or some random group. Second, you have to be dominant, yet still passionate. If all you do is bark out orders, many will get annoyed with you. But sometimes, compromises must be made.

Anyways, the encounter was very sudden. Scout-1, which Claire took, was badly damaged. Her shields were out. "Shit!", I said. I then heard her scream "OPEN FIRE ON THOSE SHIPS!" She went underneath DeepWhale to dock as our Gar-99 railgun point-defense system fired; our fixed heavier guns weren't pointed at them, and they wouldn't fire since the systems couldn't focus properly. Anyways, when we both managed to dock and get back to the bridge, I had Qing to arm 12 Collider Torpedoes, powerful antimatter-based weapons that should cripple even the toughest ship.

It was set to 3 torpedoes per target, so when we launched them, they began to form 4 groups for the four ships. We were desperate to escape this predicament, so we set up a quick jump to another part of the Galaxy. It took less than 2 seconds, but we were far from harm, except we were then greeted with a huge spacedock in orbit around a greenish-blue gas giant.

The spacedock was so big, it encompassed the entire planet. There are 4 evenly spaced clusters of what I can assume are where ships are made. Since we are, after all, a cargo ship, we thought could slip by and try to make peaceful contact while being able to learn about the new frontier.

Turns out we were wrong.

About 100 drones came out as we landed on the designated area. They must have thought we were carrying contraband or something. Or maybe because they saw munitions and weapons installed on our ship.

Or maybe, they thought we were one of their enemies trying to conduct espionage. The drones began to scan the surface for anything that could resemble what we had encountered. We were safe, since they found nothing. Then, a gate opened. From it came 10 armed humanoid beings heading towards us. I had my translation book ready in case we were to try and talk to them. I called my girlfriend and David to follow me to the exit door. Since we don't know if the area is hospitable for us, we put on our S-201 EnviroAdaption Suits and stepped into the airlock.

We are ready for anything. And now, this is it. A point of no return. If we die, we die. The other 9 people would just return home, hopefully not recounting the events that may happen.

We opened the door.

We saw them, and they saw us.


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Maian Empire

Nouläian Orbital Spacedock
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Our team was nervous. An unknown ship had landed in our spacedock. I was worried that it could be a Federation ship in our territory. But then, they could be defectors and would like to share information. No, that would be very unlikely. Anyway, we donned our TZ-007 Special Forces Body Armor and held the PR-76 Plasmic Torch Rifle. Not our standard gear, but it is our best bet if they turn out to be hostile.

"Hey, Li-in Dan," said Li-am Pen, my friend from the military academy not far from this planet, "do you think they'll be friendly?"

"The drones picked up no sign of anything from the Federation, so maybe," I replied. "However, one can never be so sure."

"OPENING GATE! OPENING GATE!" called out the warning voice. The gate opened, revealing a design I had never seen before. We marched onward. When we reached the assumed entrance, we stopped, aimed at the door, and waited until we heard a hissing sound emanating from the ship. The door opened. 3 strange beings, oddly shaped like a Maian, came out wearing strange orange loose-fitting suits and a helmet with a see-through visor. Immediately after they stepped out, they had their hands up while talking in some unknown language. We had almost no idea what that meant, so I kept aiming at them. However, one of ours charged in.

"Wait, stop!" I tried to call, but he had already cracked one of the unknown's helmets, incapacitating him. In response, another, apparently female, charged right at the offender, also knocking him out. Before any one of my comrades engages, I told them to stand down as I lowered my weapon.

"But, why? They attacked us!" Li-am Pen asked.

"It was clear we attacked them first. We don't want any unnecessary bloodshed. Besides, they are probably civilian, judging by their clear visor."

They finally lowered their weapons.

So I tried to talk to them. It was immediately clear, however, that they have no idea what I am saying, so I just decided to prompt them to follow us. As we walked, they began to chatter in the same language as earlier. I just decided to shrug it off, since it will be a while before we could even really communicate with these newcomers.

I led them to a living chamber, told then to be comfortable, and left with the door open, so they won't get the wrong message.

Now, I had to report back what I had just encountered. What were these people? Why do they look so much like us, but a bit shorter? Their technology is also different; their language foreign. They didn't also seem to get out of their suits. Can't they breathe our atmosphere? So many questions that cannot be answered yet.

I went to a transport tube to the military office. I have my report fleshed out in my head. I have doubts, however, that they will believe me. It is worth a shot though.


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Inside the Spacedock

David Hudson POV
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The first thing that happened after I stepped out is I got knocked out.

Next thing when I woke up, I found myself in a bed in a very alien-looking room.

Even before I got up, someone said, "Good, you're awake."

"Uhh... where is your helmet, Claire?"

"Scan showed that the atmospheric composition is identical to that of Earths, at a slightly lower pressure though. Same oxygen-inert ratio."

"So, I can take off my helmet?"

"It's fine. You'll find it cold, though, so I recommend you keep your suit."

"That's great."

I got out of bed, walked around, and got bored. I decided to exit the room to grab my LS-D1 HCE device from my bag in the ship. I just call it a music player, since that is what I use it most for. I hadn't even gone 10 meters away when someone spotted me. I heard him say something before chasing after me. I guessed it meant "Stop right there!". So I had to run. I never knew which pad we landed on , so I tried random areas and hoped to find the ship. All while being pursued by personnel. I passed by several rooms, presumably for storage, until I got into a crossroad. Both corridors looked the same, so I took my chances and went left. To my luck, it was the right one. After running a while, I saw to my left-hand side several gates that led to the landing pads.

I went to a gate which I assumed was where we landed, and opened it. To my dismay, it was empty! Had they already left, or did I enter the wrong one? Before I could think any more, I felt a tingling on my back. "This cant be good—" and I promptly got knocked out.


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SCF-138 "DeepWhale"

Weapons Specialist Qing Sheng POV
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I don't know why, but something didn't feel right. After I saw David being knocked out, I was worried this would become a firefight when Claire hit the offender hard. Luckily, they all stood down. One of them, presumably the leader, motioned them to follow him. Drake went ahead, while Claire dragged David along, literally. The remaining 8 was tasked to search the ship for contraband, or at least that was what I thought. When they entered and went straight to the bridge, it made me nervous. What will they do to us. I prepared myself my resting my hand above my pistol holster, waiting for them to breach. Instead, they tapped the door 4 times. I guess they were friendly, so I opened it. When I did, they spoke a language not even our translators could work out, so I assumed they wanted to communicate.

I said "Hi, my name is Qing Sheng, one of the 12 people of our crew" in English, Chinese, and Russian, hoping to be able to communicate. He couldn't understand me either, so just motioned us to follow him. We reluctantly agreed, and hoping that they don't take apart DeepWhale for 'research' purposes.

We were split into 3 groups. I was lucky to be paired with my sister, Qing Fen, who is a skilled navigator, and the systems officer. Then, we were led to a living quarters. Based on his actions, he was asking if we would be comfortable living in the area. I nodded in agreement, and entered the room.

The room was very spacious. It could fit 10 people comfortably, and it was like a small house in look and feel. I decided to look for something comfortable to sit on. Then, I pulled out my multipurpose tool, activated it, and then spoke to it.

"So, first day in the Andromeda Galaxy. When we got here, it was a surprise to see the galaxy from inside. It almost looks like the Milky Way from this perspective. However, for a reason that was made apparent later, the pilot Claire asked me to arm weapons and raise shields. After that, we encountered 4 alien warships apparently with hostile intentions. Claire tried to talk to them, but was fired at instead. She saved both DeepWhale and herself as she deflected the fired beam. Afterward, she gave the order to fire at will. Only our point defense railguns were ready, but surprisingly still effective at damaging them. However, they fired back and bore through our shields. In a desperate attempt to escape, Drake decided to jump to a different area not far from there."

I continued, "When we exited, we encountered this huge orbital spacedock that encompassed a greenish-blue gas giant. Since we were in a cargo ship after all, we thought we could slip into the dock without much military resistance. When we landed, however, 100 small drones began to scan our ship. Afterward, 10 humanoid aliens clad in military armor came out and stayed at the door. Drake, Claire, and David decided to go first, but one of them knocked out David. In return Claire knocked out that same person. I was worried that it would turn into a firefight, but the leader stopped his teammates. The leader then instead motioned for them to follow him. I had no idea what to expect when he also asked them to search the ship for more people, but the leader sure didn't want to hurt us. In fact, he assigned is rooms to stay in, like this one, where I am staying. Turns out they weren't too bad when you get to understand them. I have yet to learn about them since we couldn't understand each other, but we hope that we may have good communications in the future. Qing Sheng, out."

I put back the device into my pocket, then stood up. When I looked left, I saw my sister. Shocked, I almost fell onto by back. "What were you doing just standing there?" I said.

"Dunno, I just overheard you speak into that recorder earlier," she replied. "Care to tell me about it?"

"It was just... I was recounting the events that had happened."

"Oh... okay then, I'll make the bed. Wanna come help?"

"Sure." I followed her to the area in which we will be sleeping. We set up the sleeping area, fixed it, and then proceeded to lie down. I also called the systems officer if he was sleepy. He said he wasn't, so we didn't bother force him. Hopefully, the next day would be very productive.