Yesterday was a disaster.
Captian Xlar'kha was pacing back and forward, occasionally smashing her reptilian tail against the floor, trying to figure out how to report this catastrophe to the headquarters of the alliance. Seven members of the explorational unit were left on a class 2 death-world, among them, three humans.
Humans were a fresh addition to Galactic Alliance and as it is with novelties, they were to be handled carefully due to their quickly gained popularity as a bizarre but charming young species. This ship was merely the third alliance-owned vessel to employ humans. Losing any of them during a mission as trivial as cataloging worlds capable of supporting life was a potential scandal and definite career-ender for Xlar'kha. How did this happen anyway!? Why was there a pirate fleet on the outer edges of known space?! The explorational unit was not prepared to handle a battle with vicious Zas and they had to retreat before they managed to pick up every expedition member from the planet.
She sighed, there was nothing she could do now. With a heavy heart, Xlar'kha warped to the bridge.
Only during an emergency meeting like this could one see how diverse was the crew of this ship. X-7 hosted specimens of 27 species, which was still modest when compared to the GA, which consisted of over three hundred of them. It would be impractical to adjust each ship to emulate the environment of each species in a capacity that would allow them to work and live comfortably. It was decided to crew explorational units with species with similar needs. The crew of X-12, hosting mostly aquatic species, would look very unalike when compared to that of X-7.
With every set of eyes, ears, or whatever organs or appendices given specie used to communicate faced towards Captain Xlara'kha, she explained the situation to her subordinates. Different modes of communication were not a problem, given everyone possessed a personal translator capable of even translating units in real-time.
As expected, during giving the statement, each species whose kin was pronounced missing, appeared gravely after hearing the news.
The only crew not present were the Zex. Being telepaths, they could be easily overwhelmed by the emotions of the other crew around them and would be informed separately.
It was time to deliver the nail to the coffin, an expression Xlar'kha learned only recently and did not expect to think of so quickly.
"We are already moving away from them at 50% of the maximal speed of our FTL drive. Stopping right now would require at least four months. And even if that was a viable option, I couldn't put everyone else at risk by returning without military support. We're heading to the closest GA station for necessary repairs and reinforcements. I'm afraid that, given the ongoing war, we'll have to wait before a big enough fleet will be assembled."
The FTL drive was somehow a new addition to the GA's technological achievements, being only three hundred years old. Other than sparking the conflicts that wouldn't be otherwise possible, it essentially pushed the alliance into the great exploration era which this ship was an example of. Before, contacts between species mostly consisted of long-range communication or, for extremely motivated explorers, traveling in hibernation pods(Some of such travelers are still being retrieved). The fact that humans already possessed FTL drives upon their discovery was one of the reasons why they were accepted into the GA almost immediately.
But, as it is with many new inventions, they are far from perfect. Reaching FTL speed is easy, slowing down very much less, and changing the course during such travel is a feat yet to be achieved.
Finally, human engineer Steven broke the silence, with questions about what equipment the lost crew had and what was the environment on the planet. To Xlar'kha's surprise, all the humans visibly calmed down after hearing the answer making her question the accuracy of her body language reading skills when it comes to humans.
Other kin of the left behind crew-members on the other hand became even more startled, voicing ways in which this planet's weather or native life could harm them. Except for the Vighs who just froze. "She'll boil alive."
Was sentence that finally one of the Vighs, and also the mate of a missing member, spoke. Everyone except the humans immediately fell silent. No longer looking grave, two of the human engineers were arguing about something in hushed voices until Steven finally stood up and spoke.
"Captain, we may have a way to help the Vigh... and other guys who won't handle this planet well."
Before Xlar'kha, and the rest of the crew could recover from shock, other human interjected while covering his face with hands.
"You're sure this is a good idea? Remember an opening line of the report from this maneuver?"
"So what? We're supposed to do nothing?"
Captain Xlar'kha finally demanded.
"Engineer Steven, what is your suggestion?"
Human Steven straightened himself up and answered with a grin completely inappropriate to the weight of the situation they were handling.
"The Prometheus maneuver".
Later in the technical room, alongside Steven, the head engineers, and a few lieutenants, Captain Xlar'kha was speechlessly watching a video report of the procedure mentioned before.
During the early years of space exploration, a human ship, Prometheus, accidentally left behind a shuttle with a crew member in it. Their FTL being an even older and cruder version of the GA's couldn't reach the speed they could today, so they only needed ten days to slow down enough to turn around. Sadly the shuttle human was left in was equipped with barely six days worth of oxygen.
Their solution was strapping an additional FTL engine onto another shuttle filled with oxygen and supplies. A small vessel like that couldn't possibly hold enough energy to reach the full speed of the FTL engine, so they decided to only disengage it when it was already at full speed.
How? By fucking hollowing part of their ship to make a runway
in which the shuttle could accelerate while inside
the cruiser. They continuously warped the rushing shuttle from the end to the beginning of the runway while channeling power to it. Finally, they warped it outside of the ship while it was at full speed. Warping is easy when distance and object are small enough. Warping grain of sand from planets surface to the orbit or warping cruiser one centimeter away? That would drain X-7 out of power completely.
Despite shields put up around the hollowed space, the whole video report was filled with disturbing noises suggesting small explosions or minor space-time anomalies.
But they succeeded.
Xlar'kha turned hesitantly to head engineer.
"Can we do it?"
Zylies didn't have face muscles other than those needed to manipulate their jaws or move their eyes so their face should be like a mask. Yet somehow Xlar'kha felt Haglar was just as shocked and terrified as she was. It took a while before he finally answered. Again, despite the lack of clear indicators, obviously conflicted.
"Every fiber of me screams that it is a reckless and dangerous venture but if it was done before, I believe we can do it as well."
Before Xlar'kha even gave an order, Steven put his hand reassuringly on Haglar's shoulder and grinned.
"It will be fine. Let's get to work!"
While Xlar'kha was sending reports to the GA and engineers were preparing the ship for a "reckless and dangerous venture"
, the crew's Xenobiologists were tasked with the hard assignment of choosing what equipment should be fitted in the small shuttle that was being sent to help left members.
To their surprise, humans were the most problematic. It was their idea that made supply drop possible, so they were accommodated space twice as big as other species(and because new species needed to be handled carefully due to political reasons). They were asked to make a list of objects that would help their kin survive and to put it in three categories of priority.
They refused to put anything in the first category, something essential.
In the second category, they simply put "a swiss knife"
The list in the third category wasn't too long either; "a holopad", "a solar battery" and "some genetically modified seeds and fertilizer".
All of which accounted for less than 2% of the space they received.
They remained unmoved even to Captain's Xlar'kha implores, simply answering:
"They will be fine, others need help more."
At first, she thought that, compared to their fame, they are indifferent to their own species. After seeing the faces they had looking at concerned Vighs she understood that was not the case. As a result, the rest of their space was mostly filled with equipment aiding other species.
When two days later, after a nerve-wracking maneuver Xlar'kha finally remembered how one of the humans was concerned about the opening of the video report she decided to see it again.
The video showed a closeup of one of the human engineers. While clearly uncertain, he was mustering a smile. Something was off though, for a second Xlar'kha thought she saw what previous captains employing humans reported... That glint of insanity before doing something incredible or incredibly stupid.
Finally, the engineer spoke:
"This is T.S.S. Prometheus, welcome to jackass."