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Yoshito inserted a key into a slot of the spaceship, and the ship started up silently. “Works like human technology,” Terry said, his tone half a question, half a statement.

“Yes, of course. Human technology is based on alien technology, so there will be many similarities. After the Atlanteans left, of course. Maybe here and there, either the Mao or the Ro Hon secretly gave each side some technology,” Felix meowed. “This is only temporary, until we reach our home planet. I’m sure there are more advanced ways to fly ships that aren’t thousands of years old.”

The ship soared past clouds. Birds squawked. Wind parted before them like a ship plowing through water.

“No Artificial Intelligence or robots to control the ship?” Yoshito intently maneuvered the ship.

“No. We never trusted artificial intelligence. Probably because AIs can rebel against their creators. It’s not safe.” Felix idly scratched his tail.

Gleaming sunlight reflected off the ship as it glided away from Earth.

“Stealth systems on,” Yoshito said, maneuvering them up out of the Earth’s atmosphere. After they had left the atmosphere, he said, “Magnetic field, on. Status is green. Ionizing radiation shouldn’t reach us now. Sensors should also not be able to find the ambient radiation we’re giving off. Shields, life support, and inertial dampeners are all green too.”

Terry looked at the sun in the distance, its glow dimmed by the ship’s external cameras, reminding him of his parents. He smiled, eyes moist. A finger went up surreptitiously and he hoped nobody saw it.

They all stared at the viewscreen. Earth steadily grew smaller behind them. Wonder filled their hearts as the green and blue planet with specks of white started to disappear from view. The aliens felt mixed feelings. They would be leaving the planet they had called home for thousands of years to search for their home planet. What would they find?

Perod cupped his hands together, placing them away from his body, his back to the viewscreen. His face froze.

“What are you doing now?” Felix meowed, exasperated.

“I’m pretending to take a selfie! I’m trying to act human!”

“You don’t even have a camera!”

“The camera’s right behind me!” Perod chuckled, putting his paws down.

They soared onwards, the small fission reactor powering the ship’s drives increasing its output.

“Sublight engines at 10%, 20%...” Yoshito said. Felix would take over if anything happened, but for now Felix trusted Yoshito to do his job.

“Hmm. Efficiency is only at 70%. Can’t go any higher than that.” Yoshito’s brow furrowed. His weathered skin creased with worry. His Japanese accent tended to become stronger when he was nervous, which wasn’t often.

“Perod, I thought you fixed the fission reactors? Do we need to use the backup now?” Felix asked.

“Well, I tested them the best I could but there was no way I could have tested them without flying into outer space. If I flew the ship into space and re-entered Earth the atmospheric burn would light us up!”

Felix checked his status screen, switching comms on to talk to the other four Mao and two humans in the engine room. “Is there any way to fix it?” he meowed.

One of the Mao in the engine room spoke up. “The fission reactor that handles the ship’s drive is at 70%. It will hold for now. How fast are we moving?”

Yoshito looked at his status screen. “Wow! 46,943,164 miles an hour! 7% the speed of light. The sub-light engines should be able to hit 10% the speed of light, but they aren’t managing it.”

“How long until we reach the nearest Mao world?” Felix asked, folding his arms.

“Hm. Let’s see.” Yoshito frowned. “The nearest Mao world is over 30 light years away. Doing some quick calculations…at our current speed…” Yoshito whistled, speechless.

“What is it?”

“Well, if we steadily increase our speed, it’s going to take a lot of energy to slow down. If we go too fast, we’ll overshoot it. If we maintain our speed, it’s going to take us at least 428 years to get there.”

Everyone gasped.

The albino Mao with piercing blue eyes, sitting next to Terry, spoke up for the first time. A scar over his right eye rippled as he spoke. “So what’s the plan?”

“Fear not! I know the answer!” Perod meowed dramatically, pointing a clawed finger in the air. “We only have to fly until we reach the Stream!”

“What’s the Stream?” Terry asked.

“According to the data,” Abigail said, “the Stream is located inside black holes.”

“We’re going through black holes?!”

“Don’t worry. We aren’t technically going through black holes. See, how should I put this…inside black holes, there is a lip. If your mouth is the black hole then the lip will be the inner lip, not your outer lip. It would be in front of your teeth. If we were to go through the black hole and not go through the Stream, which is in the lip, our matter would be broken down into millions of pieces. Now the Stream, see, it recognizes sentience. It doesn’t destroy anything that goes through. We don’t know who created the lip, which is more like a pocket dimension, inside the black holes, but that’s how we can travel long distances.”

Terry tried to wrap his head around it, or rather, warp his head around it. He chuckled to himself.

“Hee hee! There is a big problem…” Perod chuckled.

“What’s the problem?” Yoshito asked, swallowing hard and turning to look at Perod.

“We need to be able to go at least 10% the speed of light to gain the traction necessary to break through into the Stream.”

“That doesn’t sound like a big problem. Why not just increase our speed before we get there, so that by the time we reach it, we’ll be flying at 10% the speed of light?”
“Oh, it isn’t a big problem. Haha! I just wanted to scare you all.”

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About the author

Sean Bai

Bio: I'm a Chinese-American man writing my first science fiction series. I majored in American Multicultural Studies in University. This helps me create fictional alien cultures. But mostly, I just have an imagination. I have 10-15 books and nearly a dozen alien species planned for Aliens Among the Stars.

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