AN: Here is the filler chapter. R&R your opinions about the possible answer for the last question in the chapter.
A massive, brick-like 4-km long spacecraft was floating at appropriate distance from Lakfakalle military docks with two smaller vessels nearby. Unlike other ships presented not so far, those ships had clearly different design in comparison to standards of the Empire with letters on hulls from old, almost forgotten and practically dead, language.
"It seems that we have been paid for our troubles," – Hyun-Ae looked at the large sum that appeared on her account. Of course, the Humankind Empire of Abh was not foolish enough to give access to their network nor Spacy command was stupid to allow unknown code to run on military vessels processors. Additionally, Abh programs were not compatible with native operation systems of New United Nations. Without source code it took some time to create crude virtual machine for Yutu to run on "Chang'E" computers.
The Empire paid hefty sum of 775 million of their native currency, skarr, for development of new laser cannon for Star Force. Considering that basic needs for one adult could be satisfied by mere 20-30 skarr per month, including food, shelter and clothes, it should be enough to buy some materials and supplies on the imperial market to support colony on Gizel I. Pavlov had some troubles to settle up on the planet. Being very close to Earth made it easy in terms of life-sustain but on the other hand biological hazards raised to enormous levels. Because of this, it was never fully colonized in their own time line. It was something, she had forgotten because of her lack in medical knowledge.
"Should we ask for Abh terraforming ships?" – According to the gathered data, the Empire was able to terraform celestial objects of Earth-group into habitable planets with their terraforming technology which was still under development in New United Nations. The cost for one ship was astronomical though – "Nah, what we need are materials for medicine, everyday clothes and food, a lot of food…"
The 497th Research fleet could produce enough to feed, under strict supervision and ignoring the taste, around million and half people. However, after the initial incidents, the most vulnerable part of the fleet, after fragile research equipment, were gardens and farms.
Any imperial goods, which would still need to pass quarantine procedures but procuring them would be faster and would not divert resources that were needed to build defense grid, which as it was now, had been the first priority.
Another option would be request food from the 118th Zentradi Grand Fleet, which was pointed out by Mira and was rejected by Pavlov for some unknown reasons. Lt. Commander to Hyun-Ae surprise didn't object that decision.
"Incoming transmission from NUNS "Star Express I", astrogator A.I. on the line," – The first, test Planar vessel of New United Nations arrived safely to Lakfakalle without suffering any malfunctions during its travel from the Aptic system.
"Star Express I" was an experimental ship with design very close to "Megaroad 2" colony ship but unlike her ancestor, it was constructed as cargo ship with almost hollow hull and minimal defense options. Built from simple titanium and steel alloys with ECA support, it was cheap and easy to produce vessel for trade. And the most important it was almost completely compatible with the Abh vessels in technological base.
"Anti-matter fuel chambers seems to work bellow expected values but still somewhat acceptable," – Reading reports, Hyun-Ae focused her attention to energy efficiency of Planar travel. As predicted by "Yutu", energy per parsec for the same mass, was 88 percent better in comparison to Fold technology – almost ten times efficient. The downside was speed and convenience. Unlike modern Fold drive, which required only proper coordinates to travel, Planar drive required point of entry and exit, the Gateways also known as Sords. As witnessed by Aptic defense battle, it was major weakness of Planar drive and the main reason that massive international wars were rare in the past of this timeline.
"The imperial docks inquire if we require their help "Star Express 1"?" – Both "Chang'E" and her escort Battle Classes were able to properly dock with Abh, or any other great nations, docks or shipyards because difference in standards. "Express" line-up of ships, however, were designed with that in mind. After all, New United Nations planned to use them as the essential portion of their trade fleet with the Humankind Empire of Abh and other great nation if opportunity would present itself. For this, they were designed with minimal use of OverTechnology.
"No, we don't need their help," – For now, "Chang'E" would be the one to refuel experimental cargo ship in her test run across Abh controlled space – "Connect me to Hecto-Commander Atosuryua instead…"
Several minutes later another beautiful face appeared with wavy blue hairs. It was Hecto-Commander Atosuryua, who seemed to be quite surprised to be called directly.
"Hecto-Commander Atosuryua greets Your Highness!" – Despite initial surprise, as the proper Abh officer, the woman saluted to Hyun-Ae and moved straight to business – "I heard Your Highness need something to discuss with me?"
"No need to be so stiff, Hecto-Commander. I am not your superior," – Hyun-Ae looked at lights of Lakfakalle behind reinforced glass of the bridge and walked closer to the one at the front. The holographic screen followed her precisely – "I have been informed that your Assault Squadron is assigned to escort me to any planet under imperial control?"
"Yes, Your Highness… Did you decide on your destination?" – The girl felt that this Hecto-Commander looked very similar to her subordinate that she had been acquainted with.
Hyun-Ae put her palm on the thick reinforced glass and slightly turned her head toward the screen, meeting the woman on other side of line eye to eye – "Yes. Actually, I have several points of interests that I want to visit."
Days ago, she got some data from one of probes that "Chang'E" had covertly sent to explore nearby star systems beforehand. Though, not in the star system but in interstellar space, that probe found a massive ship, likely a generation ship from Earth. According to gathered information, the generation ship was of earlier designs, without cryo-chambers for colonists. The data was confirmed by the probe right before she returned on the ship.
It was unlikely that anybody was alive because, after traveling for more than one thousand years, it fusion reactor was in disrepair and its output should have dropped dramatically. Ship engines were dead for a long time already – they were no significant heat signatures. However, while it was unlikely for anybody survive there were still chances. Colonists could develop or complete researches of their own cryo-technology and use it to preserve themselves.
Hyun-Ae herself was alive right now because in the past she had been put into experimental cryo-sleep in order to prevent her illness terminal stages.
The deep silence on the line and slightly frowning face of Hyun-Ae was not something that Loy Atosuryua liked to see on her communication screen. That kind of expressions of her superiors usually meant a lot of troublesome affairs. While the princess of New United Nation was not her superior in any sense her Assault Squadron was ordered to follow her whenever she want in Abh controlled space.
"Hecto-Commander, how many crew members of your team are experienced in salvage operations?" – Prolonged pause ended, after the girl turned her head toward holographic screen.
"Salvaging operation? Like… Looking for survivors and important data from abandoned or destroyed ships?" – It was not a job of Assault Ships to perform that kind of operations. On other hand, while Star Force had dedicated teams to do this after major battles, every ship had a proficient crew of engineers and medical personnel that could do this if it was needed.
"Yes… I was informed about the generation ship that drifts in space not so far from there. I want to look into this matter…" – While her ship was fully autonomous and even could manufacture androids, it was impossible for A.I. to act the same way as humans – "I don't have engineers and more importantly my ship lack medics…"
"Well, I understand… But… Your Highness, that kind of missions should be performed by planetary administration," – The regulations were strict, aside rare occasions like it happened in Aptic System, Star Force would not be used for investigation in star systems. Those regulations were made like this to avoid corruption and power abuse by military as much as possible.
"I understand that rules are rules. I will send you all information about my findings," – Hyun-Ae really understood that military laws were written in blood and was prepared for some bureaucracy – "One of your ships would be enough. Well…" – She made a pause – "The ship is there in outer space, approximately 3 light years away from our current position without any Gateways… Sords… In close proximity."
"Could Your Highness request your nation to assist in this mission?" – The woman could not understand why it was really needed for Abh presence in such situation. It didn't make any sense because it was too far away from space controlled by the Empire.
"I could…" – But Hyun-Ae knew that Pavlov couldn't really spare any of their personnel under current circumstances. It was partially just her own selfish desire to look at derelict ship after all. Mira would likely help her if she had asked but it seemed that annoying acquaintance had some troubles with Zentradi on her hands – "It just something like this would take some time and I don't know how long…" – Waving her hand the girl finally came to conclusion – "Forget it, Hecto-Commander… It is really a job for somebody more trained in such mission…"
"I am glad that we came to the same conclusion," – With a mild smile, the Baroness Atosuryua responded – "Your Highness said that you wanted to travel to a system under imperial control. I presume that previous request wasn't included in that statement?"
"Ah… Thanks for reminding me about it. Sometimes my interests get better of me…" – For Loy, it looked more that Princess Yi had been just plainly bored – "I want to procure some provisions…"
"I think you should rest, Deca-Commander Abriel?" – With concern in her voice, Hyun-Ae looked at sluggish Abh girl that had entered the bridge moment ago.
"Is it an order, Your Highness?" – Lafiel asked the foreign princess while she tried to keep her balance intact, slightly wavering with each step. Her greenish face was filled with stubbornness and determination.
"No… Well, you can do whatever you want, Deca-Commander. Just don't get yourself more ill…" – Sighing, Hyun-Ae turned her head toward screen and started to read various reports about the derelict ship around 0,7 AU from the current position of "Chang'E".
After the dialogue with Hecto-Commander Atosuryua, as the representative of New United Nations, Hyun-Ae decided to travel to one of many agricultural planets in the Empire, to get some provision for their colony on Gizel I. Because of difference in speed, the Assault Squadron was divided into two groups: "Basroil" would travel inside "Chang'E" via fold space to the destination system in order to buy necessary goods while other five Assault Ships would escort "Star Express 1" through Planar Space.
It was possible to use enormous, both by Spacy and Star Force, inner space of the Fortress Class but it had been denied by HQ for safety reasons. Even more, Hyun-Ae found that almost all warehouses inside her ship was filled with experimental military androids, Destroids, Ghost fighters and even mobile fortification points for anti-boarding duty. That was why it was decided to transport provisions to Aptic System on "Star Express 1".
Who would have guessed that after several seconds in Fold Space, Abh crewmembers on board of "Basroil" would get sick, including Lafiel, Sobaash and Ekuruya. Yutu came to conclusion that Abh space-sensitive organ was the main reason for their current condition. Even normal humans would sometimes feel discomfort during folding process after all. The questionable part was that Hyun-Ae's curiosity led them to the generation ship 3 light years away from Lakfakalle first. Because of this, they were submerged in the superdimension only for 9 seconds.
"Captain, I think you should rest and get better," – Samson, who was wandering around the bridge and looking at holographic screens, built-in monitors and very sterile looking panels here and there, turned his head and advised his superior in slightly fatherly tone – "I and kid will inform you if something important happens."
"I agree with Her Highness and Samson, Lafiel. You need to rest. After this, we could decide our next action," – Slowly and quietly, Jinto was trying to persuade the Abh girl while holding her shoulders and looking into her eyes. He thought that this grown up Abriel princess was doing this because of her pride and nothing else, something he got accustomed by being close to her for a while.
"I am really alright. A little nauseous but overall everything is alright. No need to worry, Jinto… Supply Officer Lynn," – Lafiel pushed Jinto from her and glared at her Chief Engineer, who wholeheartedly was examining new machinery and electronics without touching anything, like a proper specialist – "Chief Engineer, what is the crew doing now?"
Raising his head, Samson chuckled and waved his hand in careless manner – "They are working with new laser cannons," – He nodded toward another young girl on the bridge, who sat in captain chair and was checking something on her screen – "It will take some time so why not to start earlier since we have nothing to do… It saves me time to deal with their boredom as well."
"It is against regulation, Chief Engineer…" – It was forbidden to install new modules and equipment outside specialized Imperial Shipyards and Docks. It was not a matter of saving money but a question of security – "Stop… Chief Engineer… I… How long I was sick?" – Lafiel sensed in tone of her older and reliable, though sometimes very talkative, subordinate that she was out for some considerable time. Enough, for the crew to get bored.
"Sorry… Because of my carelessness you were unconscious for six standard hours…" – Hyun-Ae put aside her work and turned her head toward the group of people slightly below her position. She stood up and walked closer to them – "Med bay sent reports about condition of your crew, there are not abnormalities. They should wake up soon. No need to worry… And I still suggest for you to rest, Deca-Commander Abriel."
"I grateful for your concern, Your Highness. But I am feeling well," – Despite her slightly sick appearance Lafiel really felt more or less normal. Under normal circumstances, she would think that it was a provocation of sorts but with current situation, it likely was just an accident – "When does Your Highness think to continue?" – Outside was darkness of space with a very weak dots of light – stars, without any planet in vicinity. Clearly they didn't get to their destination.
"After I find a way to ensure that you and your fellow Abh won't suffer from our way of space travel," – Actually, considering that the sickness was Abh specific organ which allowed them to claim that they were better suited to rule in space, Yutu proposed to put all Abh on board into cryo-sleep. It was really ironical to Hyun-Ae's taste – "As for the time being, how about helping me a little with exploration of the derelict ship not so far away?"
There was nothing that Lafiel could do. They were in the middle of nowhere, on foreign ship with faster than light travel that made Abh uncomfortable and sick. A total disgrace for the Empire. Jinto carefully examined her face, waiting every second for her sharky remark but to his relief the Abh girl turned to Samson and glared at him – "Chief Engineer, how long it would take to prepare "Basroil"?"
"Do not really know… Maybe another day or two…" – The bulky man scratched his scalp and added – "I think we could just seal some sectors of the ship and go like this in a few hours… Doubt that derelict ship would fire at us. Never heard about it," – Samson thought that they had to be as far away from those flying graveyards as possible. No one knew what kind of exotic death await them on them. Add that he had already satisfied his adventure spirit during Aptic recon mission on the same ship he currently stood.
"Well, I don't really want you to get close to this thing," – It seemed that those people got the wrong idea – "I need your expertise in machinery," – There was limits of how much can be done with A.I. support, especially without experts in different fields knowledge. She waved her hand and ordered – "Yutu, display "Mugunghwa" on strategic screen and all information that we found about her."
A massive holographic projection appeared in the middle of the bridge. It showed a a very unusual spacecraft. The part, which could be considered bow of the ship, had a spherical buldge with thick shaft that was going out of it. There was wide rotating ring connect to the shaft right behind the bow. According to the data it was the entirety of the ship that was rotating instead of how visually only rings were slowly turning. On the other side of the shaft was several spheres and protruding tubes, probably engines.
"It seems to be a generation ship of colossal proportions without artificial gravity system," – Hyun-Ae pointed at rotating rings – "I believe that this part of the ship is the main living quarters while the reactor and engines should be at the aft… If all gathered information is right, reactor is still functioning but it lives its last days…"
"Do you think… Does Your Highness think that colonists are still alive?" – Jinto asked while looking at the holographic projections. Long time ago, his ancestors braved space on the same type of ship and ended up on Martin.
"It is hard to tell," – It was really impossible to tell unless one could get inside or "Chang'E" with her advanced scanners could examine the ship from closer distance – "Even if somebody is alive, we need to repair this thing. Based on data it seems to be primitive fusion-nuclear hybrid reactor…"
"I have a question, Your Highness…" – Samson slightly raised his hand and pointed at the engine and reactor part – "Do we really need these? I think it would be better to just cut them off and supply energy, if it is really required from your ship?"
"Samson, would this really solve the problem?" – Jinto thought his friend forgot something. It looked as the easiest solution but his intuition told him that it was not as simple as it seemed to be.
Instead of answering the question, Hyun-Ae slightly waved her hand to zoom in the part of the ship in question. Then she moved her finger and turned image, showing engines exhaust.
"Engines are working. Their thrust is weak, just barely enough to deal with some gravitational pull from distant stars. Still, it could create some complications if we try to divide the ship into two halves," – To make it even more troublesome, while there was no much volume "Mugunghwa" was really long. It was longer than "Chang'E" in Battlecruiser mode. Prolonged time in space made its hull structurally weak.
"Hmm… I would suggest to drop this operation, based on the regulation of Star Force," – For Lafiel it was obvious that there were no benefits – only dangers. With this in mind, if she was in command, she would withdraw – "However, it could be different for Your Highness… Your nation science moved further in comparison to the Empire…"
"Ladies… I think you both concentrated on the wrong side of the coin," – Samson felt that there was some kind animosity between two girls, two royalties of different nations with different principles – "I want to point out… We should confirm if this "Mugunghwa" is a ghost ship or not…"