Ship's log galactic date 10340.1-12: whilst on our way to investigate the possible life-bearing planet we
intercepted an automated subspace distress signal in old federation encryption. The signal is coming from a
star system eight light years from our current position. The remarkable thing is that the signal comes from a
ship that identifies itself as the starship Photon-Rider, which was built by the same company as the Starstrider
(the Drax-A Star Corp)! We were preparing to jump to a different star system en route to the planet, but will now
have to recalculate our navigation route to head straight for the distress signal. This is the duty of any starship
under Intergalactic law. We have sent a reply to her signal, but she will not receive our signal for another eight

According to our data banks the Photon-Rider was sold to the Nutri-Star Corp, a space company that
specialises in agricultural produce, 84 years ago. We have no further record of her. The Photon-Rider is an
agricultural starship, designed to feed hungry star-systems. She is intended to orbit stars and use the starlight
to synthesis food products. Equipped with biodomes and biopods that contain genetically-enhanced
photosynthetic organisms, she processes the food produced and delivers it to nearby planets with the help of

We had no idea that any familiar starships had penetrated this far past the Galaxy 2 frontier. It is always
possible, as many old federation and Galactic Alliance starships have pushed out deep into space, ahead of
official voyages, but the last physical contact we had with a familiar species was our rendezvous with the small
freelance explorer starship Blazar, over 30 years ago and over 2000 light years from here. We have had no
message from Blazar for the past 23 years, I wonder what happened to her? There are no known heavily
populated planets in Galaxy 2, since all known civilisation was forced to flee to Galaxy 1, ahead of the Ankaragi
Above and below:  The Nutri-Star Corp's agricultural starship Photon-Rider. The twelve panels are not solar
panels, as what we have on the Starstrider, but biopods - capsules containing photosynthetic micro-organisms
that convert starlight into valuable food (after processing in the food-processing plant at the rear of the ship).
She also has three biodomes. This vessel is 719 m in length and capable of producing vast amounts of food!
She has two large atomic engines and a nuclear fusion hyperdrive for interstellar travel. The 'fin' beneath the
bow is the communications antenna. These starships carry minimal weapons and few defenses. The question
is: what is she doing so far from civilisation and in the middle of nowhere and how did she get here? The
Starstrider is on its way to answer her distress signal, ETA: 8 days and 10 hours from present.
Aside: where is Starstrider now? The picture below shows Galaxy 2 as seen in plan view. This galaxy is similar
to your own Milky Way Galaxy - it is  a spiral galaxy that is about 100 000 light years across. A light year is the
distance that light travels in one year, and since light is very fast at about 300 000 kilometres per second
(about 190 000 miles per second) a light year is enormously long at about 9.46 million million km which is about
1483 million times the diameter of the Earth! This galaxy contains about one hundred thousand million stars -
your Sun is just a single star. Spiral galaxies are thin discs, rather like a CD, so if seen edge on the galaxy
would like quite thin for the most part, around 4000 light years in thickness say, but with a bright central bulge
about 8000 light years thick. This shape resembles, somewhat, a fried egg.

Put your mouse over the image to see the region of this galaxy that Starstrider has explored, in its 50 year
ongoing mission, shown as a pale orange disc. This relatively small region contains about 85 million stars and
more planets than that. Clearly the Starstrider has to be very selective about what it explores! The fastest
rocket-ship that Earthlings could hope to make at the present, would visit maybe two stars in this same time!
The spiral arms are bright blue because they contain many young stars (blue stars are generally shorter lived
than red stars). Indeed, some force caused a spiral wave to travel across the galaxy's disc and the pressure of
this wave triggered new star formation in the spiral arms. The central bulge, or nucleus, is a very strange place
indeed! Here the stars are extremely close together and they orbit a central region that is a mysterious object
about one million times the mass of the Sun, which emits intense radio waves. This object is thought to be a
colossal black hole. The Milky Way Galaxy has a similar central black hole, called Sag A Star (Sag A* or
Sagittarius A*). The above image was generated with Pov-Ray and

Ship's log galactic date 10340.1-22.2: We have arrived at the Photon Rider. She is missing her port biopods
and shows slight asteroid impact damage, but otherwise her hull appears intact, but she is adrift. However, the
ship does not respond to our calls  and sensors indicate that she is operating on the bare minimum of power.
The distress signal continues.

Ship's log galactic date 10340.1-22.4: Shuttle One has docked with the Photon Rider and a boarding party has
gained access to the ship. Life support systems appear to be switched off, at least on deck 19 where the party
has gained access. The ship's computer is functioning but is clearly impaired and not responding intelligently.
We have retrieved the ship's log, though the record is damaged and will have to be put together in our
technical labs. Stranger than this, however, a large area of the ship is covered in dry, silvery and web-like
material, which may be of biogenic origin. A sample of this material has been collected. Upon their return the
boarding party will be placed in quarantine until they have been decontaminated. We have found no signs of
the Photon Rider's crew and all her bots are either non-functional or on standby awaiting instructions.

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Agri Ship
Agri ship drifting