Chapter 9 – Recovery
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This chapter is published the 5th April 2022, Happy first contact day everyone! Y-41 !

Enough fooling around, the story begins !

Chapter I.9 : Recovery

Aria's POV, TW: mention of death, mention of menstruations, just after the chapter 6

And then everything went black, then white, then purple, and so on and so forth for all the colours of the rainbow, eventually all of it calmed down and colours were everywhere in my vision, I heard voices but could not understand what they were saying nor who talked, I never died before, but I'm quite sure that was not how dying should feel. I felt heavy and a few seconds later I was asleep.

- “She's alive! She's alive! Professor! She's ALIVE! We did it! We saved her!” I barely heard, I was still feeling heavy, but I managed to open my eyes. My voice refused to cooperate with me, but I should have made a bit of noise because a few minutes later I saw someone I thought I would never see again in my life.

Syl. Syl was here. That was incredible. Was that really them? I am dead and is this a last vision before the eternal darkness ? No no I heard the slight beep of a heart monitor, I think I was alive! And more than that I was awake! And Syl was there! They seemed a little different but given two years passed I think it was fair. I tried to move, to hug them, to tell them I missed them, I wanted to rebuild the world with them. My excitement was so strong that I heard the heart monitor accelerating its beeping.

- “Hello there general Ariana” they said softly with their trademark smile while gently stroking my hair, it felt real, I was becoming more and more convinced it was real by the minutes. I was saved, no longer trapped in Union Central, no longer alone, no longer far from my chosen family, I was with my lover, my best friend, my life, my happiness, if only I had the energy to kiss them, I wanted them so badly, I waited for this moment for two years, they managed to save me just before the end.

- “H...e...llo” I barely succeeded to say before my voice really shut down for good. But that's all Sylvia needed to know I was in there, I was different yes, two years of near-torture do that to you, but I was still their girlfriend, they was still my partner and those two years of longing only strengthened our love.

Syl just looked at me, happy, a smile on their face, still playing with my hair, still gently petting my head and caressing my cheeks, and I just rest there - not that I had any choice - basking into the raw affection I felt for them. We were reunited, and nothing would ever separate us ever again, I will make sure of that.

A few minutes or hours later, my notion of time was a bit broken by the painkillers, the other medications, and my pure love for the person who never ever left my bedside, I didn't even take the time to analyze my surrounding too engrossed by the sheer beauty of the person I could proudly call my partner, the Uin's and Aarin entered the room, all of them looked almost as happy and relieved as Sylvia was, I think they really do missed me, to be honest I missed them a lot too in those two years of custody.

- “Hey Ariana” gently said Aarin, “You're safe now Eleanor stabilized you and your body is regenerating itself with the help of the ship's medical bay field. You should be able to walk in a day or so and sit in a few hours. We almost lost you, sorry for the rude transportation, we kinda were on a hurry. Anyway it doesn't matter now you're safe, and we have you” I'll let you to the rest of the team, but I'll come right back when you'll wake up again, he smiled softly. I think he learned a lot in the empathy department in those two years, I'm pretty sure he would not randomly enter the changing room now, or maybe in a cat form, I smiled happy I'm okay.

- “Hey baby girl how are you? I must say you're really beautiful now this alien-HRT really did wonders to you” at that I blushed as I remembered my menarche, it was a really weird thing to experience, but it also meant that my uterus was fully functional now and this thought sent in me a wave of… rightness? Euphoria? Happiness? All of the above? Not that other trans women or even cis women without uterus were not women, no, that's bullshit and a very UK thing to say, nevertheless I always dreamed of having children, so it felt just right.

Unable to speak for now I just glanced at my lover, and they answered their parent's question. My lover it felt so right to referring to them with this name, I'm so happy it happened, it took two years of torture but at last we were reunited, and stronger than ever, if our relationship survived a two years hiatus separated with more than eighty light years away it could survive anything. Just before the drugs took effect and as I peacefully slipped into a restful slumber, my four guardian angels looking upon me. A last thought came to me, who's Eleanor?

I awoke a few hours later at Aarin entering the med bay with food, as he said earlier I was able to sit somewhat comfortably in the hospital bed they installed for me. I knew he was here alone to talk to me about some things in the Union our other companions should not learn now, for their safety and mental health more than purely to keep secret from them.

- “Hello professor” I said, surprised at my voice, it fully healed in my sleep and was as beautiful as before, my soft high voice, I guess their technological leap on us also extends at healthcare, it should have been obvious to me given the unusual transition I had after all.

- “Hello Ariana, I see you're feeling better, I'm sorry it took us so long to save you, I will explain to you why it took so long and how we saved you as the two answers are linked, but later, and with the others, I am here to debrief you on what happened, what have you learned and to inform you on our current situation and how we will proceed later on.”

I nodded, I knew it was coming of course not only I learned a lot of information about the Union, but I was also now a permanent citizen of the Union, as such I had access to a lot of insider knowledge during my time on Union Central, knowledge Aarin could not have accessed as he was banned from the network.

But I couldn't help from being curious, how on earth they were able to jump right on top of Union Central City's University District, without being detected by the FTL sensors of the planet-wide defense system and more importantly just how they were able to outrun military ship twenty years younger than this old (but still functional) vessel without any defensive capabilities. I'm sure all of these questions will have answers, but now was not the time, it was debriefing.

- “I see, it was Nass' strike force itself who captured you, they really took me as a serious threat to send the admiral ship of the Union Navy and its captain as far as three months of FTL away from Union Central and the Fleet. I wonder why they are so obsessed with me… Taking some locals under our wings is certainly not common, but it has happened before.” Aarin said, lost in his thought.

We just finished our two hours long debrief of the last two years, he was pleasantly surprised at my rank in the University, it was usually a hard one to achieve, creating a whole new department was a big undertaking he said, this cemented our idea that Earth was special to the Union, they may have taken a huge liking for our planet, or our people, or, more frighteningly, of something else entirely.

I however, was thinking at full speed, as a Union's citizen I was now a galaxy wide fugitive, almost as researched as Aarin himself, and we both risked death penalties if we were ever captured. Hopefully it would not happen before we clear up the misunderstanding or discover what exactly the Union is up to with Earth. Aarin and I decided this goal was the must important thing we must unravel before we could even resume our normal lives.

Comparing my and his story, we decided however that Sylvia and their parents were safe, now he was sure we were spotted on Europa we figured out, they were not even thought of participating into any illegal activities with us. Also, I had my answer as who was Eleanor, she's the ship's AI! Her name is so cute to be honest! She chose it while speaking with Sylvia, they was insisting of her picking up a name for herself as they believed she was her own person. She also came with the idea of informally naming the ship after me. Now that my rescue was finished and a success the formal and informal name of our ship and crew were officially “Rogue Science Ship I”. And to be honest it rocked! The initials RSS reminded me of a mod for an old game called Kerbal Space Program where ironically you were simulating a space agency, the mod was eventually ported for the third version of the game Kerbal Space Program 3 published in late 2035. This game was far better than another space simulation called Star Citizen which' publication was canceled in 2038 at the alpha 30.01. But I'm rambling Aarin said I should go back to sleep, and after I could meet my lover again!

My beauty sleep slept, and a pad changed, - I think I'll never gonna habituate myself on how to use this - I managed to walk to the lounge were Sylvia's and their parents were playing a card game and Aarin was reading what looked like a boring technical manual, I sat on the couch as my energy and stamina were still really limited - which is not extremely surprising given that I didn't leave my apartment for the last few months - and looked by the window.

And what I saw surprised me to say the least.

I gasped audibly enough for all the people on the room to turn to see me and immediately Sylvia abandoned her game to come snuggling with me and calming me, but I was calm, I just was surprised! We were in Alpha Century, a system really close to Earth which means we traveled at least eighty light years, and it translated to almost three months of travel, have I really slept this long after the transportation? Or did the regeneration took a lot more time than I thought.

As if he was reading my mind Aarin came close to me and said

- “Yes I know this is Alpha Centaury - congrats on the learning by the way - but no, we did not travel as long as you think we have. In fact, we left Union Central a little less than twenty-four hours ago, we made the journey in a day.”

I sat, dumbfounded, this assertion was simply impossible, and I knew what I was talking about! I spent the last two years learning as much as I could, and the fastest ship of the Navy could make the journey in two months and a week, provided they could rest at least two weeks at the arrival to fix the damage the overcharge of the drive would cause. And this ship is twenty-years old! There's no way they made the journey in twenty-four hours!

Sylvia must have sensed how I felt because they giggled, snuggled a bit more with me, kissed me on my forehead and said

- “You're forgetting your partner is a propulsion genius, and their dad is the best propulsion engineer earth has to offer! Together with the Union's theories personified by our all-mighty professor just here the impossible became possible, we transcended space, we achieved FTFTL! Faster than FTL!!!” my partner was absolutely ecstatic.

- “I want to hear the story, but first, no, FTFTL is a dumb name baby” I said, and as that the entire room with the notable exclusion of Sylvia burst into laughter, the latter though just pouted, I used my super-power of kissing them to make that pout disappear. I'm so great sometimes

- “Ok so let me summarize” they all nodded. “You spent the last two years on this planet testing various methods and finally discovering one to transcend space, you dealt with sketchy unknown crystal dealers” Aarin nodded “You purchased neutron-star plated metal whatever is that thing” Sylvia nodded “You calculated theoretical numbers and were just one error away from making the entire Proxima system explode” Sylvia's mom and Eleanor made a grunt of agreement “And finally you just rushed in front of a supernova to craft theoretical super-space whatever crystals” Sylvia's dad agreed. “And you used that to stabilize a black-hole, accelerate into it with the FTL driveto lose a dimension, all of this while hoping the integrity field protects you of becoming two-dimensional pancakes and with the hope you were exactly where you wanted to when you came back to normal space and not billions of light years in the wrong direction? All of that, just for me” they all agreed at the same time, smiling, clearly proud of themselves, and they were right!

I sighed. “Let me get straight, well I'm not, so let me get gay” Sylvia chuckled at this joke in this context “firstly thanks you, you literally revolutionized science to save me from a boring and depressing life being a University professor without my lover at my side” they smiled, but I would not let them escape this situation this easily.

“However, this was the dumbest idea and plan I ever heard, this could have had disastrous consequences, not just for you but for the lives of billions of lives around this system who could have died in the coming years if a powerful burst of gamma rays randomly shot itself in their direction because your experiment made the Proxima system explode.” They looked a down.

“And that's without counting the fact that you could have die so many times following this stupid plan this was really a stupid idea, not that it surprise me coming from Aarin, Sylvia and their dad, but I'm a little disappointed in you” I said alternatively looking between Eleanor and Sylvia's mom.

“But thanks you for saving me, let's never do a thing that stupid anytime soon, and to be honest, multiplying by thirty the maximum speed of the vessel without overwhelmingly increasing fuel consumption is a genius move, I'm proud of you'all.” I finished smiling warmly at them.

Aarin's POV, A few hours later

We were still in the lounge, all of us needed a bit of rest following the dramatic events of what unfolded, we managed to save her, that's true, but we nearly lost her in the process, it was really close, neither she not I decided to tell them the real reason of her near-death, we let them know she was non-acclimated to the Union Central City life, and it caused her a depression but nothing more than that. Her near-death was - as far as they knew - caused by the rapid transportation system having interference with the residual black matter radiation coming from the black hole. It was complete bull-shit obviously as the dark-matter hypothesis has been disproved by the Union scientists hundreds of years ago, but it was still a popular theory on earth, our three companion gobbled up this explanation. Sylvia likely would soon learn the fact that it was a bullshit explanation if they didn't have already, but I'm sure Aria would already have told them the truth by then.

The truth, itself, was much more frightening, she nearly killed herself due to her depression, she took a huge amount of anxiety medication, powerful one from the Union pharmacies, an amount she knew would kill her, we just were lucky to arrive at the right time, a few hours later, and we would have transported a cadaver into our med bay.

While I was thinking the activity resumed around me, Sylvia's parents were playing a game of card, one I forgot the name of, it was a two player game popular on Earth, or at least was popular as one point in the past. Sylvia and their lover were cuddling and gently talking to each others, talking just like nothing had happened.

The calm was disturbed by a huge rumbling on the ship, Sylvia and their lover recognized it too it was the emergency jump, but no one activated it, it was not Eleanor as she was in front of me - her hologram was to be honest we did not had the time to design her a mechanical body yet - and she seemed as troubled as myself. A few seconds ago the tug disappear and Eleanor said

- “The ship just automatically perform an emergency jump, we're currently in a stationary position about 1 light years from our last known position” she said looking puzzled

- “Why?” I asked, trying not to sound frightened by the ship's behaviour; it never happened before, the ship should not just jump itself without any command by the operator or the ship's AI!

- “Processing” said Eleanor now completely panicked, I didn't know AI's could be this panicked, this must be a huge problem.

A few minutes later she finally finished her calculations,

- “I will project a holographic map of the systems in a 200 lights years radius”

Just as the map showed, all of our eyes just became balloon almost instantly. Proxima's system just exploded in a supernova, something that should not be possible due to its size.

But it was not only Proxima's system.

Twelve systems in the 200 light year radius sphere projected were missing, all of them turned into supernovae.

In them, three were Union's members.

This was the first instances of events which starts what would later be known as "The Greats Explosions"

Chapter I.9 : Recovery, end.

I told you it was gonna get spicy

This chapter unveil the name and plot of the first book/arc of this series, i'm now proudly announcing the official name of this book:

A Galactic HRT - Book I - The Great Explosions.

I have ideas for sequels ( a Book II ) so maybe the Book I is not there just for the coolness (which is part of the reason to be honest it's cool.)

As always do not hesitate to post your thought in comment, leave a recommendation, and any advices or welcomed.

We'll meet up next week for Chapter 10 : The Voyage Home

Until then stay healthy

PS: Sorry for the fans of Star Citizen :p