The Andian Mission Assistance Fleet

Andian Mission Ship in Flight

Andian Mission Ship
Image from Steve Bowers
The Andian Mission Assistance Ship (AMAS) - Anesidora arriving at Nirauthi after the biosystem chaos collapse of 8259.


In the wake of the Version War and in the spirit of the ComEmp, the Andian Mission was instituted in 4744 by some groups in the NoCoZo to help the badly damaged, isolated, or poor systems of the Outer Volumes as well as try to contact the remaining fleets that were unaware of the end of the war.

The Mission was based on a mixture of tolerant and pragmatic NoCoZo philosophies and managed to get support both from the Sophic League and the Mutual Progress Association. This idealistic organization managed to contact hundreds of lost worlds, doing much good in the following millennia. While the core organization soon ossified and lost sight of the original goals, the active arm remained much the same as when it was started due to the amount of interstellar travel.

In 6037 there was a formal break. The core Mission eventually developed into an archival data storage concern, while the Andian Mission Assistance Fleet remains a highly regarded support organization in the Carina-Vela Outer Volumes and beyond the Aquila Rift.

- From the Encyclopaedia Galactica


The Andian Mission Outer Volumes Assistance Fleet consists of tens of thousands of vessels rendering aid to thousands of Outer Volumes star systems each year. Fleet vessels are able to deploy a large and diverse array of vessels, devices, and infrastructure in support of exploration, system development, and rendering assistance to worlds and systems in need. Ship missions may range from brokering social and diplomatic agreements between conflicting parties to rescue, repair, and remediation efforts after a large scale infrastructure malfunction, natural disaster, or failed ascension attempt. While each ship is largely self-supporting and self-maintaining, the exigencies of their missions may occasionally require the activation of a Fleet Advance Support Base or even direct assistance from a sufficiently advanced system.

Vignette - 'Decisions, Decisions' by Lily Harper

The drive stuttered, again, a shiver so small it may as well have been subliminal passing through Anesidora 's hull. Despite how small the vibration felt, Carina knew it was the product of titanic energies, forces well beyond human comprehension, struggling against one another deep inside the Anesidora as the ship's systems manipulated the fine structure of spacetime. She opened a link to the engineering deck, watching as the telepresence fog shifted and danced through a dozen colours and patterns and forms as the connection stabilised. Then, the pastel blue walls of the engineering room whispered into existence, Saeltza hanging from one of the reaction mass pipes which circumnavigated the cramped space, his small, simian face lost in what could almost be meditation.

"Saeltza? We need to talk about the drive, again."

"There's nothing much new to talk about," he said, eyes still shut. "It's a displacement drive. We may as well be ants trying to troubleshoot an internal combustion engine. We're out in the Periphery, lightyears from any kind of civilised system. We'd better just hope that the Anesidora can limp on a few dozen more lightyears."

"It's not the drive itself that's broken, that's what you told me," Carina replied, pinching the bridge of her nose. "You're saying you haven't made any progress on fixing the housing?"

"Fine, I'm an ant trying to fix the supports holding the engine in place. Better metaphor?" Finally his eyes, impossibly ancient, opened a crack. He looked tired. Exhausted. Burnt-out. "It's only gotten worse since you last asked. The matter bound to the void bubble inside is held in place by a self-repairing nanoscale structure, it helps to dissipate heat and absorb shocks and, somehow, integrate with the ship's control systems. The self-repair mechanism has gone wrong, hurt by what happened at Lysaidon." Lysaidon. The memory still burned in her mind, the furious glaring eye of a star's death cutting into her mind's eye. "It's growing tumours almost as fast as I can strip them off. Every time I try and strip it back and regrow the support mesh, it gets corrupted. I'm an engineer, not some kind of doctor. I couldn't fix modosophont nanotech, let alone whatever magic our transapient sponsor is using. All that's changed is that we're running out of feedstock and raw material --"

Carina cut him off.

"You still want to stop off at the nearest star system."

"We need to resupply. There might be people there, people with enough experience in nanotechnology to heal the Anesidora. Right now we're just diving between the stars, waiting for something we can't fix to break. At least if we go to another system we can trade, and can spend a few weeks, or months, away from each other."

Carina chewed her lip. The monkey wasn't wrong -- right now, they were off in the far reaches of the Spinward Marches, almost a hundred lightyears from the nearest link in the Stargate Nexus. The Anesidora -- a long, thin needle of monopole-enriched diamond, with a fletching of gossamer-thin radiator panels growing out of the aftmost face -- was the product of an amazing cooperation between entities of vastly different intelligence, the mission and reactionless drive system came from their fourth-singularity sponsor, Longstrider; a combine of shadowy third-singularity transapients contributed the funding and the conversion drives for the shuttles; and a handful of mere posthumans, somewhere in the wasteland between the first and second singularities, helped design the diamond hull and its monopolium weave. The modosophont crew, almost an afterthought, ran and directed the Anesidora as they saw fit, exploring the Periphery like the heroes of some old space opera of times distant. She was only one of a fleet of dozens, of course, all crewed by regular pre-singularity sophs.

The lowly modosophonts of the crew couldn't effect more than the most basic repairs on the ship, and as far as anyone could tell, neither Longstrider, nor any of er lower-singularity accomplices had accompanied them into the Periphery. The whole point, apparently, was to muddle their own way through the Galaxy -- that was why the crew had been selected from people tired of the safety posthuman polities provided. They'd have to trade trinkets with whatever people or transapients occupied the next star over for the basic amenities of civilisation.

"Most of the worlds in this area fell into barbarism centuries ago, Saeltz. This ship is unique, and I'd rather it didn't fall into the hands of pirates, raiders or scumbags. And, you know, I'd like to keep my skin, if I can."

Saeltza shrugged. The gesture translated uncannily well across the evolutionary divide. Even knowing it was species-ism, she still felt a shiver tickle down her spine.

"My duty is to the ship, Carina," he said, casually. "We can barely get over half the speed of light right now. We're practically limping, and if the drive housing fails, properly, it might just punch a hole in the ship as the void drive skips out. I'd rather risk the ship falling into pirates in some asteroid belt or oort halo than have to abandon it in a conversion-drive shuttle and spent decades in cold sleep between the stars, wouldn't you?"

"Fine, fine. I'll convene the crew in six hours. Be there, or I'll heave you out the airlock myself."

With a dismissive gesture, she closed the link with engineering. The monkey and his machinery blew away like so much desert sand, revealing her own quarters.

"Fucking greasemonkey," she said to herself.

Convening the crew was not a trivial task.

Even with a magic transapient gift drive nestled in the guts of the Anesidora, travel between the stars took years. At their regular cruising velocity, eighty-five percent of the speed of light, about half a minute passed on the ship for every minute in the loose rest frame of the Terragen Sphere. The average journey between any two stars took two and a half, three years, shiptime. Carina had been spending more and more of the journey awake in the years since the horrors at Lysaidon ravaged the ship and crew both, but most of the Anesidora 's passengers passed those years in one kind of stasis or another. Waking them wasn't beyond her abilities, but it was a delicate, time-consuming task.

Still shaking from the freezer coffin, Ananas Lysenko leant across the low table in the middle of the operations deck. She was beautiful, as far as tiger-women went. Colourful, a little intimidating, and sleek as a luxury sports flier. The woman reminded Carina of ancient photographs she'd seen of Italian cars in the information age -- a passing interest of her own brief childhood.

"We all knew about the damage to the drive when we last went under," she managed between acid reflux and cramps. "We agreed to give you time to work on the problem, Saeltza. And now we're all the way out in the sticks, lightyears from even the least established systems, and you're telling us we've got to spend another twenty years on ice so you can find a system you like the look of to jones for new parts in?"

The monkey shrugged.

"Basically, yeah," he grinned. "Look, I know it isn't palatable. It wouldn't be my first choice, either. But drive efficiency is dropping by the week. Ship resources can't fix the Anesidora 's ailment, and if we leave it much longer, there won't be much of a ship to wake up to. Sooner or later, we'd have to resupply even if the displacement drive was working right, anyway. Our reaction control needs more reaction mass, our shuttles need refuelling, and we could stand to give the hull the kind of proper inspection we can't do on the float."

Carina shook her head.

"The nearest three systems all fell to barbarism over a century ago. This ship shouldn't end up in the hands of slavers."

"According to records which are over a century out of date?" Saeltza asked. "Look, I really didn't want this to be the way this came out, but..."

Above the table an image blinked into existence. Some kind of propaganda feed, by the looks of it. An aquatic tweak wearing what looked for all the worlds like some kind of business suit crudely adapted for the soph's morphology began the message with the words, "Greetings, esteemed traveler! We almost missed you against the background of the sky; clearly, your drive systems are incredibly advanced -- a gift from the Gods, one wonders?"

Carina offered Saeltza a look which could have stripped paint.

"How long ago did this come in?"

"Ah..., a few weeks ago. I know, I know -- I should have told you. But I figured it was best to let the ship crunch through every pixel of the message first, in case our new friend happens to be lying."

The system, sensing a lull in the conversation, restarted the message. "In any event, you're welcome in the Synodinae System! Blight-free for sixty-eight local years, the Synodinae authorities are always happy to welcome our rare visitors from the interstellar night. We have all the amenities -- nanoforges, manufactories, even access to a cached copy of the Known Net! It would take only a small adjustment in your trajectory to reach our system, five local years from now. We offer company, friendship, and the exchange of goods, services and information that will be as mutually beneficial as any trade you've had before."

For a long moment, everyone was silent. Carina was the closest thing to a captain aboard the Anesidora, but the ship ran itself more like a democracy. She could see it in their faces, crew weighing the politics of voting one way or another.

Ryu steepled the ceramic fingers of one hand with the chrome gauntlet of the other. "Doesn't seem so unreasonable to me," the cyborgised man said, slowly, like he had to taste each word before knowing whether or not to let it out. "We could stand to at least eat something different for a change. I'm tired of wandering, hoping the ship will just fix itself. We need help, and there's no shame -- no dishonour -- in admitting that.

Fuck, she thought.

They'd have to put it to a vote...

Ship Design and Details:

Assistance Ships are designed for maximum capability combined with maximum flexibility. A brief brief design summary follows:

Hull - Built around a magmatter enhanced skeleton supporting a smart matter superstructure, they are able to quickly alter their size, shape, and interior layout while maintaining sufficient structural strength to engage in high acceleration flight or maneuvering when necessary.

While the nature of the ship means that it is not entirely correct to describe it in terms of fixed dimensions, in its default form an Assistance Ship is usually some 1500 meters in length. The internal structure is highly flexible with chambers and corridors being generated, used, and filled in as circumstances or convenience dictate.

Propulsion - Each ship is equipped with a Displacement Drive allowing it to travel without expending any reaction mass. Cruise velocity varies, but averages 84% of the speed of light, although in an emergency speeds as high as 98% of c are possible. Under normal circumstances the drive accelerates at 1-2 gravities, but in an emergency, accelerations as high as 100 gravities are possible and can be maintained more or less indefinitely.

Control Systems - Each ship is controlled by a superturing AI with transavant spikes allowing it to control the ship's main drive and of transapientech systems. The ship AI is sophont in its own right and generally considered an equal member of the crew. AI and other computing systems run on a distributed network encompassing the entire ship and allow for the loss of the majority of the ship's mass before significant mental downgrading occurs.

Secondary Craft - Assistance ships typically flash manufacture any secondary craft on an as needed basis. Secondary craft are reaction driven (unlike the main ship) and can encompass anything from interplanetary transports to single sophont interorbital/ground-to-orbit Go Pods, depending on the needs of the moment. While the ship contains sufficient nanofacturing capacity to grow ships entirely from scratch, most craft are created by combining pre-fabricated drive systems and components in a smart matter matrix drawn from the main vessel's superstructure.

Production and Power - Assistance ships mount large mattercaches feeding an array of nanoforges and are powered by multiple conversion reactors. While waste heat and mattercache supplies can limit internal ship production, the ability to grow ever larger radiators, extract additional raw materials from the local environment, and create and deploy subordinate neumann systems for the largest projects means that the upper limits of an Assistance Ship's capabilities in this area are hard to quantify. The primary limit in most cases is the modosophont nature of the ship's AI systems, which are unable to create or use transapient technology not built into the ship and which are limited in the scale of projects they can directly manage by their toposophic level.

Crew Complement - Assistance ship crews vary in size over time and with the needs of the mission. Ship's complements as small as one and as large as ten thousand have been documented.

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