Casual Play Astrogation

Zeta Tuttle Obanth 2s (Xanthi)

Space flexes, flares back to darkness and stars as you slide out of between-space and into the normal flow of space-time. Almost immediately, your ship's integrated intelligence kicks up flags, warnings– two ships, unknown design, unknown species, bearing down on you.

You don't wait– you turn immediately and hit the throttle to full in opposite direction. Sensors track the ships as they follow, their weapons fully charged, one trigger-pull away from firing. The weapons are of some unknown type, but the data you're getting is impressive enough that you doubt you could withstand even one shot. A burst of garbled sound comes across on all frequencies, and as you kill the scans, the integrated intelligence sifts through the messages pouring into the comm, tries to translate them, make sense of them.

Five minutes. That's how long it takes for your ship's phasedrive to cool down, recharge. Only five minutes.

But with a pair of alien warships chasing you, fully intending, as far as you can tell, to reduce your ship to a puff of ash and vapor, it feels like an eternity.

And then you realize– somehow, for some reason, they aren't chasing you anymore.

Scanners come alive again, reach out for the ships, find them cruising slowly back toward the place where you jumped into the system. Their power signatures are low, spike suddenly almost the instant your scans sweep across hull. In seconds, they're turned toward you again, weapons hot, thrusters screaming.

You do the only thing you can think to do. You kill the scanners, turn, watch as the ships slow, wait, then drift away again, ignoring you. Something about your scans– something put them on guard. Curious, you study the data you've already collected, try to make sense of it.

And then your ship's integrated intelligence calls your attention back to the messages still pouring through the frequencies, hands you a janky translation matrix that seems to do the trick, mostly, gives you the basic message:

“Unknown alien ship. Cease fire! Cease fire or we will be forced to destroy you!”

It doesn't make sense at first. You check the translation for alternate wordings, find none. The message seems to be pretty clear– and then you realize what happened, what went wrong.

Passive scans, basic data collection– none of that sets the ships off. Visual inspection, that kind of thing– they don't seem to notice it. It's only when you start shooting exotic particles at their hulls to check the data that comes back with the bounce that they wake up, come after you. A simple misunderstanding, then. Aliens unfamiliar with humans mistaking sensor scans for weaponsfire.

From there, interaction comes easy. You end up sitting a couple thousand kilometers from one of the warships, staring it down, trying to assemble an apology in the language of the race you've offended. Fortunately, they're a friendly and patient race (mostly) so you're able to salvage what turns out to be a first contact situation without it ending in a declaration of interstellar war. In the interests of friendly relations, you exchange several hundred exabytes of network data with them, get an entire cultural database on their species in return. When all is said and done, you leave with a better grasp of their language and their ways, upload your integrated intelligence's homebrew linguistic toolkit to the network (along with a few final notes for anyone who might meet this species in the future) then construct a functional goodbye. The captains of the ships wish you well in your travels, and as you spin up your phasedrive, bounce back into between-space, you smile, eager to see what wonders, what new species wait to be discovered just around the corona of the next star.


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