Seven decks. Detachable command and landing shuttle. Quin-torus cumulative relative field generator. SynEsDyne synaptic computer system. Fully-integrated nutrient and oxy-generation belt. High-yield webscoop power plant and twin Nova-Bridnak energy cells. Megadyne albedo shielding. Modular rail cannon and pulse turrets designed by AstroCorps Special Weapons Division, also known as the Monsters. One thousand feet from nose to emitter torus. Crew complement: 6.
These were the basic statistics of the AstroCorps Starship Conch – but to her crew, and above all her Captain, she was so much more.
The ACS Conch was commissioned in 1010 YM by the fledgling interspecies cooperative known as AstroCorps, and was one of the first and arguably the mightiest ship of the new human-inclusive wing of the Molran Fleet. Captained by human Basil Hartigan, and crewed by a single member of each of the remaining Six Species –Molran, Blaran, Bonshoon, Fergunakil, and aki’Drednanth – she was administrated by a revolutionary high-density computer cortex of mysterious origins. A computer that was actually the digitally-transcribed mind and personality of Nella Hartigan, Captain Hartigan’s late and beloved wife.
While the intrepid crew of the ACS Conch performed their legendary circumnavigation of the galaxy and had swashbuckling adventures – wherever anatomically applicable – with the aliens they met along the way, it was the ACS Conch herself who talked to the natives and made sure Hartigan and his team didn’t get eaten.
These days, of course, everybody knows what a terrible idea human transcription is, and it is outlawed by the Six Species charter … but Hartigan flew in the 11th Century, and may in fact have been a fictitious character invented by AstroCorps Public Relations. The collected tales of the ACS Conch’s epic journey were originally compiled in Loës Artikon’s Tales of the Always Night, and had very little in the way of fact-checking or basis in physics, cultural anthropology or any other scholastic discipline. It was widely accepted in academic circles that Artikon’s romanticised accounts of the ACS Conch and the starship’s personality had been an inspiration, factual or not, for the real-life attempt at transcription that had resulted in the creation of the Bunzolabe.
Starships with quin-torus relative drives were capable of absolute base-registers of relative speed only, meaning that that ACS Conch would have had a top speed of little over ten thousand times the speed of light. Most Artikonian scholars – if you could use the term scholars to describe the sorts of people who sat around figuring stuff like this out – agreed that the overall period of time covered by the Tales was one hundred and seven years. More than sufficient time for a starship of fuel-cell-powered low-register relative capacity to fly around the extreme outer rim of the galaxy – and even more than sufficient to fly far enough inside the galactic disc to ensure a reasonable density of inhabited planets – with some years left over for related landings, kidnappings, misunderstandings over unusually-anatomically-suitable royal princesses, and the cutting of ropes in order to ride the ever-trusty space-chandelier to the ceiling.
It didn’t really matter that they were most likely bullshooey.
They were good stories.