Chapter 8 – 31557600 seconds
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Hello! Welcome to the chapter 8, the plot thicken more and more.

What was Sylvia doing for those two years, chilling out in the florida sun? Let's find out!

It's a long chapter and you'll know why! I tried to do my best technobabble, a lot of suspension of disbelief is needed here to accept the explication as real.

And yes relativistic notion of simultaneity is confusing even for our cutest genius (because i write them, and it is confusion to me but that's a secret)

Chapter 8: 31557600 seconds

Aarin’s POV

Just before the capture

I watched as Aria left for the restroom, a thing about fixing her makeup, and resumed my discussion with Sylvia,

- “So you’re thinking we can overcome the power issue with linking the fusion sublight drive to the FTL core?” they asked

We were discussing about Sylvia’s idea to improve the drive, we repeatedly failed to link human technology to the union’s for the past five months, mainly due to a power problem, even with my admittedly oversized FTL drive for a vessel of my class we were hitting theoretical limit of the energy concept itself, with how much this drive needed. So we were trying to find ideas not only to increase the energy throughput of the reactor powering the FTL drive but also ideas to go beyond the concept of energy and spacetime itself.

- “It should significantly increase the energy available to the system but we need to do more research, we need something transcending space-time, and unfortunately for us, such a thing is a theoretical framework, not an object we can buy at Walmart” I chuckled after this joke, I started to think I was mastering the human art of joking.

Letting Sylvia finding the right high heeled shoes for them and their best… lover dress I checked my phone which pinged me a second earlier.

- “Sylvia, come here now, we must regain the shuttle now!” I said, as calmly as possible to avoid attracting unwanted attention

- “What about Aria?” they asked panic slowly rising in their tone as they figured out the situation

- “She’s already off-planet.” I said, gravely, and they nodded.

A few seconds later (and two stolen pair of shoes later) we were in the shuttle, good thing we took the short range personal transporters Sylvia and I developed in the last months, they was a real genius and I needed that genius now, badly, considering what just happened to Aria.

- “So basically we must wait here until they quit orbit ??” Shot Sylvia angrily, I understand them to be honest their lover was just kidnapped by an elite team of alien right before their nose

I was furious at myself, I let them get her on my watch! Had we not reacted earlier we would be into a room being debriefed, i felt guilty too, they probably were looking at me and not her but i knew i couldn't just turn myself in, one they wouldn't just free Ariana and second even if they did she would be stuck in an alien world as she probably knew too much for the Union to feel comfortable release her on earth.

- “Yes they are on the planet, they can’t detect my ship because it’s parked on the moon, with anti detection fields activated, for the same reason they can’t detect this shuttle, but they can detect the ionic traces of a fusion reactor so we must not move until they leave orbit, the ship’s sensors are passively relying information to me so we will now when they’ll leave.”

- “You were able to detect the attack because of Aria?” They asked

They was surprisingly calm given the situation after the initial shock and panic of their lover's capture faded, to be fair they probably was scared but the amount of love they felt for Aria transcended fear and a vibe of determination was radiating off of her.

- “Yes, she has a microscopic tracker, invisible to them too, I know the scientist who designed them he’s not a pro-military guy so he did not share his data with the Navy” I said, thinking fast on how to save her before they left orbit, even if I knew it was impossible due to their firepower advantage, my ship do not have weapon on it.

One hour later my phone pinged and I announced the news to my young friend, now

- “I’m sorry Sylvia they just left orbit, let just rejoin the ship to think” We sigh together, this was going to be tough

Sylvia’s POV

On the ship

We were just docked that Aarin threw himself off his chair and rushed in the bridge, he accessed his desk and just threw everything on the floor while insulting himself and the military, I decided to respect his reaction and just step away without closing the door.

My lover, my best friend, my world, was just gone, taken by the Union’s military because she was helped by Aarin. Everything happened so fast. I decided to speak with the ship’s AI to blow off some steam and try to think about something else.

- “Hey ship” I said, my voice betraying my feelings,

- “Hey Sylvia, I’m sorry for what happened to your lover, I’m sure we will find a way to find her and save her” she said softly

- “Thanks you, I’m tired of calling you ship what about a name? For you I mean not the ship.” I asked genuinely.

I saw the blob of information before me changing, indicating me that she was thinking about it, this artificial brain was a miracle a technology and may be a great help for our theories.

- “Eleanor” she said matter-of-factly

- “That’s a cute name” I said, smiling, to the newly named Eleanor, I was sure that if she could blush it was the thing I just saw in the reaction of the blob of blue and black code projected by the ship’s holographic projector onto the main bridge holographic screen. Which was a sphere and not a screen. Well a spherical screen. Advanced tech was so weird sometime

- “And I have an idea to name the ship” she said rapidly. I was intrigued why changing the name? Well they were officially fugitive now so using the same registry number was not a good idea

- “Which is” said Aarin, closing the gap between he and I.

- “Rogue Science Ship I” she said and she added “Informally named Ariana Rescue and Investigation Association, the ARIA” we both nodded and approved the change in the rosters, we then proceed to destroy any tech that was designed to send positional data to the Union, we wanted to avoid being detected as much as possible, we were fugitive now, and highly researched.

I didn’t took time to process the loss of Aria, but I might not have lost her yet, the probability of a death penalty was really low and in theory we just had to jump in union central, beam her up and blitz the military ship to safety. Easy

- “Aarin” I said, he turned, “We need that damned drive to rescue her, and there’s no way you’re sending me back to earth now” I said, determined to win, to rescue my lover and to beat the Union at their own game. We were gonna win no matter how much time we need to spend.

- “Yes Sylvia, we will rescue her that’s not an option” he said, as determined as I was, good, because we will gonna need as much determination and luck as possible.

The plan was simple, first we are gonna enter a low earth orbit, from there we’re taking the shuttle back to earth and will talk to my parents, they could be in danger too so they need to be evacuated for safety, this however, proved to be a task more difficult than I originally thought.

- “Mom! I tell you it’s real! Aria is off-world, in custody, we need to go now or we’ll be the next” I pleaded to mom, Aarin was out convincing my father, who was still at work on the other side of earth.

- “Sweetie, it’s not possible." She paused looking intensely at me.  "But I think you’re genuinely thinking that this is real I’ll call the hospital you may have a really high fever or other kind of delirium, I don’t want you to suffer.” mom said, calm, she then picked up her phone calling the hospital.

This was bad, I needed to convince them they couldn’t just let them on earth. Thankfully I recognized the high pitch of an incoming short range transportation and relaxed.

A few seconds later their father along with Aarin materialized just in front of Sylvia’s mom, who just let her phone fall as the call was automatically cancelled.

- “Honey, I think we must leave this planet” Sylvia’s mom said to her husband, who nodded, a bit dizzy from the transportation

About an hour later we were on ARIA, in the conference room, soon-to-be reconverted into a bedroom for the Uin’s.

- “The plan from here is taking off the Moon, penetrate into the proxima centaury system and establish a settlement there for the future operation” Aarin started

- “However Proxima Centaury system is magnetically much more active than ours, and to add insult to injury a few of the planets have an ion shield so dense that even the Union sensors can’t look through, that’s exactly why we’re gonna settle there” I continued.

- “So we’re just gonna travel five light years, fly through an ion storm so powerful than even your super advanced tech cannot see through and settle on one of the inner planet? Then we will develop a revolutionizing technology to improve by up to 30000% the efficiency of your FTL drive, we’ll fly right to your main world, jump into the upper-atmosphere, transport Ariana out and flying away so fast that the top of the line military ship of your world cannot catch us?” Dad synthesized the situation.

- “That’s exactly it dad” I grinned I knew what he would say

- “Hell yeah! I’m gonna work on an FTL drive with my apparently propulsion-genius child!” He said smiling like a five years old the morning of Christmas, I knew it would hype him, he was a nerd, a dork, a geek whatever you want but he also was an engineer.

- “Yeah that seems like a good idea, poor Ariana do not deserve that, and to know that my child and her were finally together it frustrate me, let’s find her!” Mom said.

With that, the five of us, Me, Aarin, Dad, Mom and Eleanor, officially started the “revolutionize alien science to rescue the damsel in distress project.”.

Sylvia’s POV

3 months post capture.

It turns out that revolutionizing alien science while learning it because you’re human and have a few centuries of update to make isn’t easy. But we were making progress, albeit slowly, first we settled a little camp on one of the planet, even if we mainly live in the ship. It was big enough for all of us, even if a significant part of both the absolute and subjective space of the ship was occupied by the enormous nuclear fusion reactor powering the sublight engine and one part of the FTL drive.

The FTL drives of the Union were powered by conventional nuclear plasma but passed through complex latices of rare metal, crystals, after that it was infused in a time crystal and the space bent around the ship allowing it to reach faster than light speeds without leaving conventional space. The same infusing latices and crystals could be overcharged to create a short-range near-instantaneous jump of a little less than one light year. Showing that faster speeds were theoretically possible.

The point is the Union didn’t invented it, The Union discovered the properties of the latices and slowly built upon them, for instance powering the FTL drive through the latices only leads to a speed of approximately the speed of light. The time crystal was discovered later and were combined on a working, reliable, production method.

We built our engineering team with Eleanor, the number crusher, Dad, the experienced engineer, Aarin, who has the theoretical knowledge even if he’s a biologist, and myself a student in theoretical propulsion technology and dubbed “genius”.

Mom was making sure our calculation were correct and would not led the proxima star to become a novae. She was a nuclear physicist, former professor of theoretical physics at New Paris University and by formation an applied mathematician. She was perfect for the job, she also was good at tactics, which is welcomed given my best plan was “jump transport her and jump away”, as fugitive we might want slightly better thought plan for the future, but it would do to save Ariana, we didn’t have time to be subtle.

We could try to control the overcharge of the crystal to try to achieve greater speed, we already had actually, but the gain is not worth the energy and the drive overheat quickly. Forcing us to a stop and making the trip slower overall.

No we all agreed on this point, the way to go was not to accelerate in conventional space but to leave conventional space. Obviously we found papers of the Union Science Academy discussing about leaving conventional space to increase speeds, and theoretical calculations were insane, up to 50000% gains with maximum power, considering our goal was at 30000% it would be possible.

There was a problem though. It never has been done, even in laboratories, no one actually succeeded to leave conventional space, it was deemed impossible and the research stopped, way too costly for their results only theoretical.

However, these past five months Aarin and I read all about earth theoretical propulsion tech and came to the conclusion that if we created a black hole at the bow of the ship long enough to bend space to create an anomaly and raced towards it in FTL we could leave conventional space to go in a space with a space dimension less than ours, and it would significantly increase our speed. Theoretically.

The theory was creating and maintaining a black hole, race towards it in FTL and maintains an integrity field around the ship to avoid being crushed in two dimensions. Also calculating the difference in coordinates – thanks mom and Eleanor for these calculations – and lastly the problem of going back to the normal space must be solved, hoping the calculations were correct and we emerge where we wanted to and not on the other side of the Universe.

It indeed was sketchy, but engineering achieve its best in sketchy situations.

We would have to synthesize a new kind of time crystal, a space crystal, this type however was unknown to the Union and only theorized by humans, one of the biggest obstacle to it was the sheer amount of energy needed to finalize the process, it was the reason it was never achieved in lab back on earth. We also need a lot of time crystals as base material and neutron-star hardened metal to create the machine to synthesize the crystals, we must construct it based on theoretical description of it by human scientists. This was definitely sketchy

The integrity fields generators however were easy, The Union have a technology easily available and adaptable by Aarin for our needs.

All of that in as little time as possible for Aria.

Let’s get started?

Sylvia’s POV

six months post capture

When we heard of the result of Ariana’s trial we finally let that breath out after having held it for god knows how long, she was granted citizenship this would mean she would be considered a criminal if she ever join us as Aarin was. But did it meant she would become a criminal if we happen to kidnap her? It also protected her for the time being, in another three months mom and Eleanor would finish the navigation software, and they were crushing the numbers to solve the coordinates transformations equations.

Aarin, Dad, and I went several time to the local black market about 2 weeks of FTL away from our base, gathering raw material such as metal and supplies to construct the machine, we still had a lot of time crystal to acquire and we did not have any clues on how to get enough energy to finalize the space crystals synthesize process.

The remaining of the calculations has already been made,checked, double checked and triple checked, everything would be fine, we will be able to enter the blackhole dimension and leave it on demand. Hopefully where we want to.

The fields generator also has been crafted, installed and tested and my god it’s beautiful, it’s nothing new but it’s beautiful. The calculations on the coordinates transformations were due anywhere from 3 to 6 months and the machine would be completed in a year.

Sylvia’s POV

a year post capture

The returns from our spy on Union Central who conveniently found and served as a counselor for Aria were not good she was depressed, I understood the feeling well enough, I missed her a lot, the only thing keeping me sane is constructing our drive and jump right into these kidnappers and kidnap her back.

We acquired the time crystals from a trusted (by Aarin) source, the delivery was due in three months, the machine was in the last phase of construction and testing, six months from now it would be okay, finally we had identified our potential source of energy to power the machine to synthesize the crystals.

A supernovae. A system approximately 4 months of FTL from us (and in the wrong direction from Union Central so it better works) is gonna enter supernovae in a bit. The tremendous amount of energy released by this “explosion” would be more than enough to power our machine to create all the space crystals we need and would ever need. The supernovae was in a bit under a year, it will explode a week prior to the second anniversary of Aria’s capture. We cannot fail this, either we succeed, or we die and we all knew and accepted it.

Sylvia’s POV

two years post capture, unknown system

That’s it, we’re there, everything has been sat up we were waiting for the supernovae to come, we were about thirty lights minutes away from it so we had time but the machine is capable of mild FTL energy harvesting, thirty lights minutes is its maximum to have. I still have problems with the relativistic notion of simultaneity and prefer not to think about it and let mom tell us what to do.

Once the supernovae starts the harvesting will start, ten minutes later the space crystals will be ready and automatically installed into the FTL drive, I called it the FTFTL drive, Faster Than FTL.

But everyone just call it FTL drive like two years worth of efforts were unnecessary.

Everyone was on board and we were waiting for the signal…

And then the signal came, the drive was installed, we were performing a test jump back to alpha centaury. The jump that took us nearly four months before the FTFTL took us three now. We had one day to spare to perform tests and after, the final jump to Union Central upper atmosphere was gonna take two days. We must make the final adjustment to the navigation system coordinate transformation system the margin of error in the atmosphere of Union Central was non-existent.

Finally it was time to jump in Union Central, the micro adjustment had been calculated by our dream team of numbers crusher and we were ready, I was in command.

- “Ok, final checklist is okay, onto stations, dimensional navigation”

- “Go” announced my mother

- “FTFTL drive monitoring”

- “Go” announced my father

- “Field integrity monitoring”

- “Go” answered Aarin

- “General monitoring”

- “Go” said Eleanor, in her blob form in the middle of the bridge

- “Okay, final countdown call”

- “3… 2… 1…” count Eleanor

At T0 I activated the FTL drive we quickly accelerated to thrice the speed of light,

- “Generation of the blackhole” I pushed the FTFTL engagement button

- “Confirmed” echoed my father’s and Aarin’s voice

- “Activation of the energy flux to the space crystal matrix” I slid the slider to its maximum position

- “Confirmed” said Eleanor whose job was to monitor everything else

- “Ok, final acceleration” I pushed the FTFTL activation button

Suddenly, even with the state of the art inertial dampeners we felt the acceleration as we were leaving conventional space and a second later the calm came back and we were in the dimension

- “Integrity fields”

- “Holding at 100%” said Aarin

- “FTFTL drive?”

- “Stable”

- “Navigation?”

- “The course is followed by the millimeter, the drive will disengage itself in 23 hours 58 minutes and 20 seconds” said Eleanor voice.

We were doing it, exactly two years later, we were saving Ariana, I hope it’s not too late already, suspicion of self harm and suicidal behavior made her staying at home.

Union Central Space Monitoring Center,

Union Central City,

Approximately a day later.

- “Blackhole activity detected sir” said a young officer

- “Where?” asked the commanding officer

- “… in the upper-atmosphere sir…”

Suddenly all alarms went off simultaneously, a ship just entered the planet reserved space without authorization, but it didn’t made any sense to the commanding officer, no one noticed it before.

- “It’s the blackhole sir… a ship is coming out of it..” said the same young officer, afraid

- “Identification, and how is that possible? Ships don’t come out of blackholes!” shot the superior officers

- “Identification matched, it’s the Rogue Science Ship I, it’s Aarin’s ship sir! We found them!”

- “They found us ensign” corrected the commanding officer

- “Coordinates confirmed, the ship is stationary above the university district of Union Central City”

- “The government is gonna be so angry with us” said the commanding officer, knowing it was too late to do anything

Sylvia’s POV

- “Transportation successful, Ariana has been transferred to the medical bay as her state seems to indicate drug abuse, her survival at this moment is unknown” announced Eleanor as she once again pulled the ship into FTL, we were so fast that they could not track us nor could they find us, a quiet blue gas giant star have been chosen as a rest place.

The clock indicated the end of the Ariana’s rescue mission, exactly 31557600 seconds after her capture she was free.

I now hoped she will open her eyes again.

Chapter 8: 31557600 seconds, end.

Do you want to know what will happens to Ariana?

Find out next week in Chapter 9: Oh shit, here we go again.

The plot is now fully engaged and boy, it's gonna get s p i c y.

For those who wonder 31557600 seconds is equivalent to two years