Rebecca had pulled Candy out of the lab area and gathered her team, “I know you’re all worried about the new Furren, but we have a mission to get back to, if you think you’re ready?”
“The new shipboard lab is ready, with more than enough samples to keep me busy for a month at least,” Wendy nodded. She was excited, like a kid in a candy store. Even the school’s state-of-the-art lab had nothing on what the Science guild had given her and Brie to work with “As a bonus I can help Brie with her analyses as well.”
“Wendy, I don’t want you to solely rely on that sweet corn stuff as your test base. We should try to find other sources to make fuel from as well.” Rebecca nodded.
“Agreed. Even if it appears to be limitless now, it would be dangerous to assume it will always be.” Wendy answered. “The Science guild is testing soil samples to maximize growth potential and plant new fields as well.”
“As far as Expedition Team 1 has been able to gather it seems that it mostly self replenishing as long as you replant it and leave the old growth alone for awhile.” Rebecca nodded, “But that isn’t 100% conclusive either.”
“Sort of like,” Hailey said, “How in World of Warcraft, if no one hits a node for a while, sometimes it becomes a rich node, but then it goes back to being normal again.” She laughed, adding, “Oh, and we’ve already had the “is this a simulation” discussion - conclusively, it isn’t.”
“It may feel like it because we can sail to distant points really quickly, but the ocean has what I call living currents.” Rebecca said. “There have been people who tried to sail on their own, before the Explorers’ guild was founded, who were lost for months, only to discover they were barely a week out if they had followed the currents instead of fighting them.”
Wendy nodded. “Given the evidence I’ve seen so far, I’d lean more toward a theory involving the planet as a living being than a simulation - but that’s pure speculation too.”
“We’re unsure how big it is either, but so far it seems much much larger than Earth.” Rebecca nodded, “If we could get like a GPS satellite into space we could really know.”
“Hmmm,” Wendy said thoughtfully. “A rocket powerful enough to even just lift a single person to the upper atmosphere may be out of the question for now, but if we can create the right mixture in a massive enough quantity, we could theoretically put a small object in orbit.”
“That’s assuming we don’t cross the weight threshold,” Brie nodded her agreement. “Once we’re there it would just fall right back down again, but it’s a sound theory for certain. I’ll provide you what data I can regarding atmospheric composition and gravitational information.”
“Good keep working on the fuel and a theory on how to do that.” Rebecca said with a small laugh. She had no trouble keeping up with the conversation, even if it was lost on Hailey. “The guild has rebranded our ship class. We’re now a Scientific Exploration Ship which grants us longer exposition times.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Rebecca,” Wendy said sheepishly.
“Why?” Rebecca grinned, “I’ve wanted more off Dock time.”
Brie giggled, whispering, although Hailey and Candy had no trouble hearing her, “Rebecca’s a scientist too.”
“I heard that,” Rebecca laughed. “I studied marine biology in college, but I was also a soldier in the US Army. I guess traveling abroad has always been in my blood. Either way, I’m excited.”
Ella nodded, “So before we got a full team we were only allotted 1 day out, but when we got our full team we got 4. Now that we’re a science vessel how long can we be out for now?”
“Now that we have a way to stay in contact with the main island, one month within radio contact. If we have to stray beyond that, it’s 8 days before they send a team to look for us.”
“The radio has the added benefit,” Candy said, “That we can immediately contact the colony for a rescue ship if either we get into trouble, or if we find another survivor. We won’t have to turn around and go home to take them back right then and there.”
“Survivor contact is common. it happens like babies are born on earth damn near.” Rebecca laughed.
“Speaking of babies,” Candy grinned as she took out Hailey’s phone. “Hailey let me borrow this to take some baby pictures.”
“Cute, but I definitely have the maternal instincts of a piss ant.” Hailey laughed, “I was talking with Wendy about the time we had to watch a 6 year old girl, and I made her cry.”
“She peed on Hailey,” Wendy blurted right out.
“She fell and hurt herself, I figured what the hell I can carry her, she had an accident, and ruined my favorite shirt, I swore at her hardcore.” Hailey shrugged.
“Riiight,” Candy said, “Okay, I’ll be handling any babysitting requests,” she teased and giggled, giving Hailey a kiss on her cheek. “Just kidding. They grow fast, and Furren kits are hard as hell to hurt.”
“They’re very flexible,” Ella giggled. “Watching two play, you’d think they hated each other, but then they’ll get up, dust each other off, and run off to get food.”
“Issa said she was going to live near us anyway.” Candy said with a big smile. “And the Jaquie is moving here as well. So there will be other Furren here to help her.”
“Nyla, the midnight black furren mentioned coming temporarily to help raise the kits too,” Brie nodded. “I believe she said something about being a former schoolteacher.”
“Hey!” Amber called as she ran to catch up to them, carrying a basket on her back.
“Hey Amber.” Hailey waved.
“I’m glad I caught you before you left,” she said as she slid the basket off. “Garlic bread from Erick’s, and some new samples the Science guild wants you to test, while they’re having me test similar samples here, so we can compare notes when you guys get back.”
“Are... you feeling okay?” Candy asked.
“Just a little itchy,” Amber nodded. “I must have gotten into something I’m allergic to. I’m using the ocean water as the base for a balm like Doctor Lynn told me to, though.”
“It might be that or something else.” Hailey nodded. “Thank you for the Garlic Bread, that stuff is amazing.”
Amber grinned, giving Hailey and Candy a hug. “Thanks for saving me. I’ll be by the radio at the requested times for our first session. I left myself notes to remind me.”
“Good,” Candy said, grinning. “I don’t know what therapy is like for humans, but I promise you’ll enjoy my sessions.” She winked, waited for Amber to leave, and then laughed. “I just hope nobody else is listening in, or they’ll get an ear full of blue.”
Brie laughed, “Actually they’d have to have Hailey and Wendy’s Walkie Talkie app to listen in. Or an earpiece like yours I believe? I’m not familiar enough with Traxian technology to posit with certainty, only base my assumptions on previous experiences.”
“Oh,” Candy laughed as they boarded the ship. “I had it set to broadcast on all possible wide band frequencies, no encryption. I was practically screaming my location to anyone with a tracker or with a receiver turned on.”
“Ah, Well anyway, we’re running ship to ship and ship to colony transmissions encrypted with 6,800 bit encryption.” Brie replied.
“God,” Wendy giggled excitedly as she looked out across the water. “I feel like I’m in an episode of Star Trek. You know, one of the ones where they’re dreaming about the age of sail on the holodeck,” she giggled.
“You know what I wish I had.” Hailey laughed, “My damn iPad and laptop. it was my social life pretty much.”
“And now Hailey’s going to get hit in the head with one,” Candy giggled. “Wendy told me about the note from the... You know what, I’m just going to call them gods,” she laughed. “Custodians sounds mean, and they’re hardly overseers. Besides, that word has a negative connotation in Furran society. Gods can be good or bad, but these seem to care.”
“Yeah, I agree.” Hailey nodded, “I think I will start calling them gods as well. But she has a point. If you see a large, flat rectangle come flying out of the sky warn me so I can duck,” she laughed.
“So, Captain,” Wendy said, trying hard not to giggle, “Are we charting a course south again?”
“East this time actually, Expedition Team 1 found a second exit from the lip.” Rebecca grinned.
“Now I know the uh, gods,” Ella said, testing out the word for herself, “Are actively involved in terraforming the world because the other colony searched for years for an exit, and now there are two.”
“I think this planet changes to fit our needs too.” Brie spoke up. “Except the areas we’ve all explored.” she paused, “It seems those self replicating trees, are new, like they didn't exist till we found that island.”
“And that corn crop came up in an area where the other colony had previously written off as nothing but empty beach,” Karen nodded.
“I’m rethinking my theory on them trying to keep us here.” Brie nodded. “If the gods wanted us to stay they wouldn’t have put us on a world that tries to accommodate us so easily. It’s more likely they’re trying to help us, and are learning as they go, the same as we are.”
Candy giggled. “Well, Furren gods are far from perfect, so that seems logical.”
“I think these beings are new, they have no idea yet how things work.” Brie nodded. “Wendy and I were talking about this earlier, about how we think that they got their hands in the ancients experiments without knowing anything.”
“We somewhat suspect that this planet might have been the original test area. I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually find some signs that intelligent life existed here once.”
“So in essence you're saying this is the Garden of Eden?” Hailey asked.
Wendy nodded. “Exactly. That of course opens up a whole new realm of questions, and we may be completely wrong.”
“That doesn’t make sense though, the bible says the Garden had no evil or killing, I’ve seen birds of prey kill fish.” Hailey laughed.
Wendy nodded. “Like I said, it opens up a whole new realm of questions. I’m not comfortable with the idea that humans only exist because of some ancient “creator” yet, either. I used to be an Atheist,” she laughed.
Brie nodded, “I don't think our common ancestor was created by a being, I think it mutated from something else that existed here and whatever beings decided to take us from here and experiment with us..”
Candy nodded. “Okay, since I know nothing about humans, I have to ask, do you have um... primal cousins that still exist, that aren’t as intelligent as humans, but that share a common ancestor?”
“Gorillas, monkeys, there’s hundreds of other primate species on Earth,” Rebecca nodded.
“Goren is what we’re supposedly evolved from.” Brie nodded, “Both Furren and my species. Or, at least a common ancestor. We share 98% similar DNA with them despite their intelligence being... primal at best. We have some primate sub-species on both our planets as well, much like Hailey mentioned having Goren - or lynx - on Earth. Probably other predatory cats, too.”
Ella laughed a bit. “Supposedly my people are related to direhorns, which I can see. They have a hide almost as tough as steel, just like us.”
“Well,” Wendy giggled, “Here’s hoping we find some evidence! I’m still not convinced Aria isn’t part of the same race, but at the same time, I agree that she’s not in on the joke. What did you think of her, Ella?”
“Honestly,” Ella laughed, “I thought she was a human until you guys clued me in. Her surface thoughts were... excitable, like she was always in a great mood, but other than that she seemed like an upbeat human.”
“I talked with her at length,” Brie said. “She told me how, despite the Admiral’s comments, she really did crash land here, but it appeared as if she was brought down by the gods because of the way her warp engines work. She quite literally fell out of a wormhole.”
Ella nodded, “Her Ship's technology is beyond anything we have in the Galactic Trade, and I didn’t recognize the language on her ship's computers either.”
“Luckily,” Wendy said helpfully, “Her sublight engines could be converted to act as conventional propulsion engines. Brie already repaired them. Man oh man though, I could spend months talking to that woman.”
“I know, right?” Brie laughed. “She’s so friendly and open about everything - even the things she doesn’t know.”
“You know though, all these races, all your races, make me happy though. Back on Earth.. We think we’re alone in the universe.”
“Hey, yeah,” Wendy said, “With all these races that we’re related to, sharing common DNA markers and all, how is it that none of you has ever visited Earth?”
“Not sure. You guys might be at a different end of things then we are?” Brie shrugged. “Do you have any star charts of everything near your system?”
“I had an entire map of the known galaxy on my hard drive,” Wendy frowned. “But that’s probably a bajillion miles away now.”
“Me too.” Hailey nodded. “I think I have Endless Galaxies on my iPad as well.”
“It’s also possible that the GTC bans interference since Earth is a sublight culture. They try to avoid meddling in the affairs of non-space faring peoples,” Candy said thoughtfully. “We’ve only been part of the GTC for a few hundred years ourselves, and even then, we were indirectly introduced through the Traxians.”
“Oh!” Wendy nodded. “Yes that would make sense, especially if this GTC has a lot of power.”
Ella grinned. “Brie’s people don’t call mine ‘The statue that you should not piss off’ for nothing.”
“There are many, many species members, but Ella’s people are natural leaders, mediators, and they’re next to impossible to kill with conventional weapons.”
Ella laughed, “That and we’re next to impossible to bribe, my species was the first to develop intergalactic travel as far as we can tell. We made first contact with a few sub-light races that were just beginning to explore outside their solar system, and the GTC was born from that.”
Brie nodded, “Regarding the non interference laws, though, it’s best to leave a species to learn. Artificial acceleration is dangerous.”
“A lesson we learned the hard way with the Xyk’tali,” Ella sighed. “We, as in our ancestors of course,” she quickly added. “This is all ancient history, for us.”
“Reptilian race of people, they killed themselves off because of GTC interference.” Brie nodded.
“Oh, I remember this from my intergalactic studies class,” Candy nodded. “Their culture was so deeply steeped in the fervent, religious really, belief that they were the supreme beings in the universe. When their leaders learned that there were others, they chose annihilation over accepting that they weren’t alone.”
“Sounds like humans to me,” Wendy sighed.
Hailey laughed, “Yeah, I think it’s a good thing you guys are waiting to visit us. We’re so xenophobic with our own species it’s not funny.”
Rebecca nodded. “If Hailey showed up on earth looking like she does now, people would either assume she’s wearing a costume or, if anyone did ever figure out she was an alien, she’d be on a dissection table faster than anything.”
“Exactly.” Hailey sighed. “But this isn't the reason I don’t want to go home, and this planet isn't either, exactly. I’m excited actually, to be an explorer of something new.”
“Agreed,” Wendy giggled as she leaned on the rail, watching their whale friend jump out of the water nearby. “Even if we do find a way off, this will always be home. We’ll just explore space next, instead of just the islands.”
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