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9 Returning to the Andromeda Galaxy

 "Are you serious!? But black holes are black, they don't give off light."

"That's because you don't understand what they are."

"A gravitational singularity, right?"

Mazur had a look of disdain toward Ivan for his archaic thoughts. "You are a fourth dimensional being now, you need to broaden your view. Do you remember I used to research on a top secret project for the federation?"

"I recall, upon which you stole, ran away and sold to someone else, right?"

"It can be understood as such. What they had me doing was studying the extraction of energy from black holes, but it was impossible. Every star has an event horizon in their core, once they collapse into neutron stars, if their radius falls and the event horizon expands. If the even horizon is larger than the radius of the star during the collapse, they form black holes."

"These stars are simply so heavy they are sinking through the third dimension and into the fourth. The event horizon is merely the edge of the third dimension and the beginning of the forth, a black hole is a star that has completely submerged into the fourth dimension and the gravitational pull will pull any matter near it down with it."

"So, your research?"

"Like I said, it was impossible. Three-dimensional beings can't interact with the fourth dimension. We were lucky and managed to find a catalyst in the third dimension to force evolution to go beyond that rule, but the chances of finding such a specimen are infinitesimally close to impossible."

"Then what are these black holes?"

"I've already answered that, but for our current purpose, they are guideposts. That largest star should be the Andromeda Galaxy, where we came from. I'll go fix the ship, after which we will go back."

Ivan began to walk toward the bridge but hesitated and asked, "I just thought about it, but what of food? I'm starting to feel awfully hungry and I don't think our current food will satisfy me."

Mazur also came to a halt and nodded. "I didn't think about it, but it is true that three dimensional matter can no longer sustain us. We need to grab as much of that fish as we can till we find a new source of food. There should be similar creatures inside the galaxy that we can pray on. Pull out several bones which we can fashion into weapons."

Ivan simply descended out of the ship and to where the fish corpse was. He could now see it in its entirety, and a large portion of it had been eaten off, showing it to be completely dead.

Moving around the corpse to where the main damage was, Ivan reached out for a protruding bone and pulled back and forth until it snapped off. He used this bone to pry off scales throughout its body and tear at the meat underneath. He had no method of cooking it, so he could only taste it raw. It had a terrible taste, but it at least filled his stomach.

The ship simply couldn't hold the cut off portions. It was like trying to store a person within a sheet of paper and simply wouldn't fit. He jammed a small amount of scales and meat within the cargo hold, but Ivan and Mazur would have to carry as much as they can on their bodies.

The repairs to the outside of the hull went much quicker than originally anticipated, only taking a total of a month. This was mostly because Mazur could freely move about in space and didn't require a space suit.

It was also during this time that Ivan and Mazur learned was that ordinary three-dimensional matter couldn't be taken into the fourth dimension. Anything that they took with them would rapidly collapse into pure energy and disperse into subspace, no matter what it was.

*****

"We're ready to go," Ivan said with relief as they would be leaving the barren region of space.

"There's no way for the computer to calculate our position outside of the mapped galaxy, so you will have to adjust the vector manually," Mazur informed Ivan will grabbing as much of the fish meat and scales as possible.

Nodding his head, Ivan manually controlled the ship to alter directions until it was pointed towards where the blue star was in subspace, using it as a guiding post to return to the galaxy.

"Primary impulse thrusters at full power, speed is increasing steadily."

Ivan started to become nervous. As the Poseidon increased speed, he felt the danger of accidentally falling out of the ship and into subspace. There was nothing tethering him to the ship, so it felt like he was holding onto it as the ship dragged him through the universe. Most of his body was essentially hanging in subspace after all, where the ship didn't extend to.

Mazur was also feeling the insecurity of riding a three-dimensional ship as a four-dimensional being. His furry paws could be seen holding onto his chair, which was being crushed under the pressure of his grip.

"Approaching FTL speeds. Activating secondary impulse thruster, prepare to jump into hyperspace!"

All eight impulse thruster activated at full power and propelled the ship into hyperspace, there was a bit of resistance and it vibrated dangerously in the process though as it carried both Ivan and Mazur with it.

In hyperspace, Ivan and Mazur couldn't move as they had to hold onto the Poseidon with everything they had to avoid falling out.

"Shit!" Ivan cursed as one of the fish scales dropped off his body. He watched as it fell from the ship and slowly dropped back into normal space.

"Don't mind it! It is completely lost in space now." Mazur said through gritted teeth.

Ivan continued to watch the blue star in the distance which gradually became brighter through the hours. Several other smaller blue stars of varying shades also appeared in the distance, but none nearly as large or luminescent as the central supermassive black hole.

The Poseidon gradually got closer before entering the sea of stars. Ivan waited till they were truly within the galaxy before slowing the ship down and dropping out of hyperspace.

Looking across the three-dimensional surface of the universe, Ivan and Mazur could see that they were truly back in the Andromeda Galaxy.

"Where in the galaxy are we?" Ivan asked Mazur.

"The computer has logged our position according to the surrounding stars. We are in the Gamma Quadrant, close to the border of the Delta Quadrant where we left from. This area is unexplored though so no other information other than our position on the star map is known."

Ivan nodded in understanding before coming to the decision to move to a solar system that was only several lightyears from their position to settle down and search for food.

A quick jump through hyperspace and Ivan and Mazur made it into the solar system.

"The short-range radar is picking up objects orbiting the fourth planet in this solar system," Mazur reported while glancing over the monitors. "It could be some small asteroids in orbit around the planet, but there's far too few for it to be an asteroid belt. We should move a little closer and have a look."

Mazur had calculated the positions of the planets in the solar system, and the one that they were looking at was the right distance from the sun to support life. They just couldn't tell if it has an appropriate atmosphere from the outskirts of the solar system, so they had to approach it to find out.

Ivan and Mazur were carrying enough rations from the fish corpse to survive for several weeks, but the Symbions had eaten all their food and could only survive for another week at most. Ivan thought it would be a massive waste to let creatures worth millions of credits each die, so he had wanted to find a life planet to see if they could eat the vegetation. If not, they could only try to chemically tamper with the food to make it compatible or rapidly jump through solar systems to check for another life planet.

There was no need to manually control the ship as the automated guidance system was working in conjunction to the short-range radar. Once Mazur input the coordinates of the planet the ship automatically flew toward the destination.

The Poseidon only needed to be a light minute away from the planet to be able to get a visual, but unfortunately all the external cameras had been broken during the escape from the Galactic Fleet battleship.

They flew at only a tenth the speed of light and arrived quickly. At close range, Ivan and Mazur gazed outside the ship and were stunned. The asteroids that the short-range radar had picked up were in fact communication satellites.

Ivan had ignored the possibility of them being man-made objects as encountering a developing civilisation seemed impossible to him. Mazur had also ignored it as he knew exactly how unlikely it was to come across a civilisation on a life planet, especially one this technologically developed.

"Would the Andromeda Federation have an interest in this civilisation if they found it?" Ivan asked with a mind full of curiosity.

Mazur squinted his eyes in scrutiny at the communication satellite and shook his head. "No, interaction with civilisations before they reach the stage of being able to leave their solar systems without external aid. This solar system is in the territory that hasn't been properly explored, so it's highly unlikely they know about it."

"Their radars and telescopes can't discover them?"

"No, only short-range radars would be able to discover this. Light is far too dispersed to be able to pick it up in photon telescopes across the galaxy, and no gravitational lensing or similar techniques would be able to tell there is any life here. They would have to physically enter the solar system to find out."

"Well, we need to build a foundation in the fourth dimension, which can't be done with just the two of us. The main purpose is to arrange a stable source of food and method to store it. I'll use this foundation to also start my business. These people can be my first employees."

"So how will you get these people? To them, we are aliens, do you think they will just sign up for some dubious job?"

Ivan looked at Mazur with hint of disdain, "You're not much of a people person, are you?"

Mazur held his silence and snorted in reply, but it only looked amusing with his cat face.

"People can be bought, Mazur. Money, food, authority, or power. There are always people with these desires, and you can use these desires to control them. Lead them to a better life according to their desire and they will even give you their loyalty."

Mazur could only agree with Ivan in this regard. In the field of the sciences, almost nobody in the entire galaxy was his equal, but Ivan had far more experience in dealing with and manipulating people.

The Poseidon descended upon the planet from the night time side, that way nobody would be able be able to simply look up and spot them. Mazur estimated that the civilisation had already spotted them, but there was also the chance that they hadn't.

Deep in the night when all the diurnal species were asleep, Ivan and Mazur silently descended and landed the Poseidon in an ancient forest on the outskirts of civilisation.