Casual Play Astrogation

Psi Iambartiana Jakobs 7g (Lycaeus)

There's a rattle and growl as between-space breaks open around you, yields to the speckled darkness of stars and void. Your ship's integrated intelligence handles the deceleration skillfully, turns your eyes immediately toward a tiny dark worldlet floating just inside the fumbling reach of a pale white star.

Sensor readings come in immediately. Like slipping into a warm bath, you start sink into the data feed, but something pulls you back, pulls your attention toward a ship in low orbit around the worldlet. The signal it sends is quick but insistent, a ping on a narrow band of Terran frequencies. No data, just a precise string of primes to let you know that the ship is there.

Curious, you turn your sensors on the ship, immediately ID it as a small, one-man survey vessel, maybe three or four hundred years old. Queries directed at the ship are answered with a string of permissions for limited file access– the silent, star-faring equivalent of I'm busy, but feel free to amuse yourself with the photos and books in my lobby. Everything that's there has been synched with the network, so all you really get out of it is a loose history of where the ship has been– and it has traveled extensively. Flitting from world to world, the ship has cataloged countless points of interest throughout the known universe, has seen things no one else ever saw before, things no one has seen since, except in the feed recordings uploaded to the network by the pilot of the survey ship. Curious, you speed over the data. It's like a resume, like credentials, and you can't help but be impressed.

And then, without warning, the ship turns and slips back into between-space, leaves you alone with the tiny worldlet. Reflexively, you check the network, look into the details on the system. The scan feeds are still coming in, finishing almost the instant you access them, but you quickly realize that there's nothing of interest here, not really. The worldlet is nothing more than a small chunk of rock and ice barely retained by a bright, earth-sized star. A few pieces of dirty ice float in the void between the two, unremarkable and tainted by too much ammonia and carbon dioxide to be worth harvesting. No metals, no mining rights worth claiming, nothing to colonize.

Leaving the preparations for the jump back to between-space in the hands of your ship's integrated intelligence, you take a moment to float, look out at the endless night, the stars. The survey ship's record crosses your mind again, and for a moment you wonder if someone might encounter you in a few hundred years, might marvel at the places you've been, the things you've seen. Will you still be out here among the stars then? Will there still be new places to visit, new things to see?

Undoubtedly. Space is vast. Space is infinite. There will always be something worth seeing, always be something new waiting to be discovered.


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